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Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? [7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging]

Every now and again I am pulled aside at a conference or am emailed and/or tweeted by someone wanting to get the “real” scoop on whether it is possible to make money blogging.

  • Is it really possible to make a living from blogging?
  • Is it just a small number of people making money from blogging?
  • Is it only really possible to make money blogging if you write about the topic of making money blogging?

I completely understand the questions and would probably want to add one more:

  • If it is really possible to make money blogging, how likely is it that you’ll succeed?

I’ve written many times here on ProBlogger about this in the hope of giving a realistic picture of the topic, but I think it is worth touching on again because there is a lot of misinformation out there right now.

On one hand, we see hype on the topic. Periodically someone will claim to be able to make millions from blogging quickly. These claims are usually accompanied with the release of a product or service (i.e. they are marketing spin).

On the other hand, I periodically see people writing about how it is impossible to make money blogging (or that anyone claiming to be full time is either a scammer, a liar, or is selling something on the topic of making money online).

The reality is somewhere between these two extremes.

7 Things I know about making money from blogging

1. It is possible

I’ve been blogging for just under ten years and for nine of those I’ve been making money blogging. It started out as just a few dollars a day but in time it gradually grew to becoming the equivalent of a part-time job, then a full-time job, and more recently into a business that employs others.

I used to talk about the specific levels of my earnings when I started ProBlogger but felt increasingly uncomfortable about doing so (it felt a little voyeuristic and a little like a big-headed boasting exercise and I didn’t really see the point in continuing to do it)— but my income has continued to grow each year since I began.

On some levels I was at the right place at the right time—I got into blogging early (in 2002 … although I felt I was late to it at the time) and have been fortunate enough to have started blogs at opportune times on the topics I write about.

However I know of quite a few other bloggers who make a living from blogging, many of whom have not been blogging anywhere near as long as I have.

For some it is a hobby that keeps them in coffee; for others it is the equivalent of a part time job/supplementing other income from “real jobs” or helping their family out as they attend to other commitments (raising a family). For others it is a full-time thing.

I’ll give you some examples below.

2. There is no single way to monetize blogs

Recently at our Melbourne ProBlogger event I featured numerous Australian bloggers in our speaker lineup who fit somewhere in the part-time to full-time spectrum. They included:

The year before, we had others, including:

Most of these bloggers are full-time (or well on the way to being full-time bloggers). They come from a wide array of niches and all monetize quite differently—doing everything from selling advertising, to having membership areas, to selling ebooks, to running affiliate promotions, to promoting their offline businesses, to selling themselves as speakers, to having book deals, and so on. Many have a combination of different income streams.

They are all also Australian, and are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is happening here in Australia—the same thing is being replicated around the globe.

There are many ways to monetize a blog. To give you a quick sense of the many methods check out this “money map” I created a year or so back, which outlines just some that I brainstormed (click to enlarge).

Ways to Make Money Blogging.png

I also recorded this free hour-and-twenty-minute webinar giving an introduction to the topic.

3. There are no formulas

From time to time, people have released products that claim to be formulas for success when it comes to making money online. They outline steps to follow to “guarantee” you’ll make money.

In my experience there is no formula.

Each full-time blogger I’ve met in the last ten years has forged their own path and has a unique story to tell. They have often acted on hunches and made surprising discoveries along the way.

There are certainly similarities in many of the stories but each blogger has their own personality and style, each one is reaching a different audience, and each niche tends to monetize differently.

The key lesson is to be aware of what others are doing and to learn what you can from each other, but to also be willing to forge your own path as well!

4. Many niches monetize

One common critique of the topic of monetizing of blogs is that the only people making money from blogging are the ones writing about how to make money blogging.

This is simply not true.

In the above list of speakers from our Melbourne event you’ll notice I included topic/niche of each blogger. None sell products teaching others to make money blogging—all are on blogging on “normal,” every-day topics.

My own experience of having a blog about blogging (ProBlogger) and a blog about Photography is that it is my photography blog that is by far the most profitable blog (I’d estimate it’s ten times more profitable).

I’ve interviewed numerous full-time bloggers of late in a webinar series including:

Interestingly, none of them make money by teaching others to make money online. Sarah largely blogs about health and wellbeing, Tsh blogs about simple living, and Ana blogs about woodwork.

5. Most bloggers don’t make a full-time living from blogging

Every time I’ve surveyed readers of ProBlogger about their earnings, we’ve seen that those making money from blogging are in the minority.

In a recent survey of 1500 ProBlogger readers we asked about their monthly earnings. What you’re seeing below is the spread of earnings from readers who are attempting to make money blogging (note: not all ProBlogger readers attempt to make money, so not all are included in these results).

Keep in mind that ProBlogger readers are generally newish bloggers—about half of those who took this survey had been blogging for less than two years.

So of those trying to make money blogging, 10% don’t make anything and 28% are making less than 30 cents per day. A total of 63% make less than $3.50 per day.

Let’s be clear—most bloggers who are attempting to make money are not making a living from blogging.

Having said that, of the 1508 bloggers surveyed 65 (4%) are making over $10,000 per month (over six figures per year) and a further 9% were doing over $1000 per month (which is at least a part-time level of income).

My feeling, having been attending blogging conferences for six or so years now, is that the number of full-time bloggers is on the rise, and there are actually quite a few more people now at least making the equivalent of a couple of days’ work a week in income from their blogs.

However, most bloggers don’t make much.

6. It takes time to build

When I dig down into the stats from the survey on income levels above, and do some analysis of those who are in the top income bracket, it is fascinating to look at how long they’ve been blogging.

85% of those in that top income bracket have been blogging for four years or more. Almost all of the others had been blogging for three or four years.

This certainly was my own experience. I blogged for a year without making money and once I started monetizing it was around two years of gradual increases before I approached a full-time income level. It would have been four years before I joined that top bracket of income (over $10,000 per month).

Blogging for money is not a get-rich-quick thing. It takes time to build an audience, to build a brand, and to build trust and a good reputation.

And of course even with four or five years of blogging behind you, there’s no guarantee of a decent income.

7. It takes a lot of work

Longevity is not the only key to a profitable blog. The other common factor that I’ve noticed in most full-time bloggers is that they are people of action.

Passivity and blogging don’t tend to go hand in hand.

Blogging as “passive income stream” is another theme that we hear in many make-money-blogging products, however it is far from my own experience.

I’ve worked harder on my business over the last ten years than I’ve worked on anything in my life before this. It is often fun and gives me energy, but it takes considerable work to create content on a daily basis, to keep abreast of what’s going on in the community, to monitor the business side of things, to create products to sell, to build an audience, and so on.

The key is to build blogs that matter to people, that are original, interesting, and helpful. But this doesn’t just happen—it takes a lot of work.

Conclusions

Yes, it is possible to make money blogging. There is an ever-increasing number of people making money from blogging at a part-time to full-time level —however they are still in the minority.

Those who do make a living from blogging come from a wide range of niches, however one of the most common factors between them is that they’ve been at it for a long while.

How long have you been blogging? Are you looking to make money from it—and have you already? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Elena says:

    This is very uplifting. I like the fact that those who make $0 are far less than those who make $99-$499. Some people blog for the pleasure of writing and earning is not their primary objective. In addition, if they are new to blogging world they simply had no time to figure out all the options they have. I am glad I made it to another side of that pie chart very fast, although I made every single mistake in the beginning from choosing topic to monetizing. Monetizing needs a strategic thinking and foundation. If you didn’t prepare the foundation first, you basically start over.

    Another interesting point is that you felt you were late to start in 2002, that’s how I felt in 2010. Now I am glad I did, because everything is much harder now. At least I had some time to build a reputation.

    • I totally agree with this post, Darren. And I agree with Elena, if you want to make money from your blog, you need to strategize it. I’ve only been blogging over 5 months and I have already reached the $1000 mark per month. But I also spent 4 months to do research and strategize. In the next two months, I am launching a personalized service and selling an ebook which I know my audience is interested in so I hope to make more by then.

      Good luck to everyone! It is possible to make money from blogging.

      • I am happy to see that strategizing is something worthwhile doing. I have been spending the last several weeks putting things in place and gathering information etc to maximize the blog I’ve currently had since 2008 and to give a big push to one I am just starting up. For a bit there I felt like maybe I was wasting time doing all the pre-leg work, but I feel it is better to go into it with knowledge at least that way I won’t drown right out of the gate….

        • It is super worthwhile Allison. Because it pretty much sets the foundation of your website. So its never a waste of time. It feels like that but you will see it that you did the right thing.

          I just launched my personalized eurotrip planning service and I already have orders for even my most expensive price point! Super amazing.

    • I loved this article! It was informative, honest, and uplifting. I have considered blogging part time, but never realized there were so many ways to make money. I knew that you could money via advertising and freelancing, but ebooks and flipping/selling blogs? Who would have thought! I have a passion for writing about holistic medicine & therapies and organic food. Do have any advice for this type of blog? Is it a good topic, something people want to read about? Are there too many health bloggers out there? Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. Beth Hewitt says:

    Hi Darren,

    I love this post. It is honest and true and makes the very important point that blogging is a long term strategy. Too many think they can blog for 6 months and make a fortune. But like you say it’s hard work. It’s about building a strong following, delivering quality content, defining your niche and putting your stamp on the world.

    Thanks for your inspiration,

    Beth :)

  3. Really good stuff. I have been blogging for a couple of months and while I love it, it takes work. Probably the most important element is focus and consistency.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Tom Clark says:

    Love the honesty here. I write in the making money teaching guitar niche as that’s exactly what I do when I’m not writing about it. Impact is what drives me, one of my ebook customers did a gig with Ed Sheeran and when I found out I was over the moon! Write because you love it.

  5. Rita says:

    Thanks. This is helpful. I write for baby boomer consumers, and I need ideas about advertising and other ways to monetize. As a journalist, writing post is easier for me than learning about ways to make money.

  6. Toni says:

    Yes we can make money but it’s take time and a little effort more than write an article

  7. Asif Billah says:

    You have given 7 very good and value rich points here. For me, #3 and #5 stand out the most, nice article. But i want to know that if we are posting are article in various article directories then will this also improve out search engine ranking?

    Thanks for sharing this information.

  8. Christiano says:

    I am impressed by the results on the piechart, it is almost a pareto principle.

  9. Bella says:

    Great article. I keep reading about “making money blogging”, but I sill wasn’t sure how to do so besides just placing ads on a blog. I didn’t know there were so many other creative ways to make money from blogging. It’s definitely an art and science and I hope to start earning a little something someday.

  10. Prime Aque says:

    Thank you so much for this post Sir Darren. You know, you always inspires me! I have started blogging late 2010, and you are 100%, making money from blogging requires a lot of hard work, and it takes time. I am doing freelance job lately, but I have found out that I cannot really create a passive income, so I decided to create a blog, it’s not my first time though, in fact I have bought one of your ebook before deciding to retire my old blog and concentrate on this one… and I am open-minded now, I know I have to wait, work hard and wait to build my own name, and not just that, I have to spend money to invest on my blog… Anyway, thanks for the sale, am looking one for me!

  11. Love your list and your down to earth explanations and links to the other greats in the non blogger field

  12. OH MY GOSH! once again, what a perfect blogpost!!!! since may 2009 I’m learning, reading a lot of ebooks, PDF’s, watching videos, taking action, going back, learning again, no partying, doing nothing more than learn how to blog, about branding, design, marketing and so on, and after all this, I can understand all the advices like this, but anyways, read posts like this makes me totaly happy because I think “cool! I wasn’t doing it wrong, it’s just I need to keep doing it!”

    With posts like this I can see clearly I’m doing it well

    Greets from Paraguay

  13. Dave says:

    We’ve been blogging for around 6 months and are above the 1k a month phase so I guess that’s doing really welll! See our income reports here (another one for November coming out tonight).

    http://acoupletravelers.com/a-couple-travelers-by-the-numbers-october-12/

  14. ansh says:

    Contrary to some of your facts, I have seen many bloggers making more than $10,000 from very 1st year of their start.

  15. Andrew Booth says:

    Superbly helpful article, thank you. Like many others, I didn’t start blogging in order to make money, but to provide a service. Now money is trickling in it is heartening to know that it could grow! I guess that’s what happens naturally – if the money starts coming in you start devoting more time to the blog, which makes more money come in. ProBlogger is a great resource, thank you.

  16. girish anand says:

    so many newbies waste their time to find fast way of earning from blogging. and Darren you are the GOD of blogging. and you put the point with 100% honesty that here is no formula.and it take a lot of hard work and time.you motivated us to do more hard work.
    Thanks for showing real path from your exp.

  17. Ferb says:

    ]I’ve just started a blog looking the way to make money online with my new blog and I believed that make money online does exist, but those who have never made will say it does.

  18. Rinkesh says:

    Each and every point mentioned in the post above is absolutely true. When I began blogging almost 5 yrs back, I used to wonder whether it is possible to make money online or not and now after many years I’ve realized that it is actually possible to earn full time income from blogging.

  19. grasya says:

    It took me quite a few years to learn how to monetize my blog and although I’m still not earning that much as compare to super star bloggers, I still have to say that passion should be the main reason why bloggers blog.. then money can always follow

  20. Slavko Desik says:

    I’ve been blogging for nine months now, and it’s been an interesting journey. I started by reading one of Darren’s books and by scanning through this site for something more than three months. Then back in February we started the blog. We, cause I work together with a friend of mine, and it is something that I recommend to every novice blogger out there. You will learn more by simply discussing things that concern blogging, internet marketing, user experience; things that are closely connected with your niche, hence becoming authority even faster; learning and testing ways to monetize…
    The journey so far has been volatile to say the least. It’s never a steady, paved road. It’s rather paving the road as you go, discovering new things along the way that may or may not lead you where you wanted to go.
    And with experience expectations change too; the picture pertaining your approach, tone and voice, overall structure and appearance of the blog… everything is a subject to change sooner or later. After a while you get comfortable and you discover your style, your way of blogging. With other words, you are closer to mastering your craft.

    About the money; it was after six months before we started making some. We made a cent or two even before that, but let’s not count that. The first time we made some money was actually quite exciting considering the fact that 200$ were earned in less than 10 days. It was an affiliate marketing method, by ranking high for a product we made a review of. The review was something based on my experience with the product, something as far from biased as it can get, and people found it helpful actually buying the product in the end. This convinced me that there isn’t a magic formula. You just make valuable stuff, whether we are talking about content that solves some problems, some worthy information, something that maybe entertains…

    And you have to keep learning. The review that we made, albeit being one of the best on the net so far regarding this product (100+ lengthy comments and all), fell down in the SERPs. So we started learning SEO more intensely, and we stumbled across things like improving user experience, search marketing as a whole… It’s about constantly learning and improving. The niche in which we blog in, is a rather wide one, so we are constantly learning and improving our knowledge there too; Reading materials, making connections with other bloggers, trying our best. Other people will listen to the wizard and that’s their business. I’d rather poke the curtain and see things for myself. You should always experiment with every information that you take.

    Once you learn the craft it gets easier by the day, and the opportunities are growing exponentially.

  21. Thanks for this post. This is encouraging and mind opening. I think what opened my eyes the most is your comment that you photography blog makes 10x the income of Problogger. I might have to just discover some way to create a second blog that isn’t in the help others to build a business online niche.

    Thanks for all you do.

  22. Zenee Miller says:

    Darren,

    Thanks for the reality check! Maybe you can do another one where they can show the time it takes to make this money! Giving people real stats shows them the real side of blogging and how some of us are making it in this online world!

  23. Kate Luella says:

    Great points Darren, and I think you are spot on with this one. I fear too many bloggers don’t collect email addresses, and I’m not talking about Feedburner, making money is much easier if you have a list, as I’m sure you will agree! :) Kate

  24. James says:

    Very relevant, timely, and useful information. Thanks Darren. The schematic and pie chart rock!

  25. Dave Butler says:

    First of all, a big thank you Darren for being an inspiration for several years. Without your valuable articles I may have given up on blogging years ago. I’ve been blogging in my current niche for just over 5 years now.

    I agree that it does take a year or two of establishing yourself as a blogger in your niche to start gaining any momentum. While I don’t blog for a living, the money I do make is starting to become a nice supplement to my regular income. It took a good 3 solid years before I started making several hundred dollars a month. My sources of income come from 3 difference sources: 1) Google AdSense – this is an extremely SLOW way to earn money and now accounts for less than 10% of my monthly income. 2) Affiliate programs – I chose to work with established businesses that offer sales commissions for every product I help sell for them. Those 10% commissions can add up, but these sales tend to come in waves and are not always consistent. 3) Sponsorships – once my blog garnered enough followers, traffic and trust I started attracting sponsors. I sell them ad space and also give them regular mentions in my blog posts. In some cases, the sponsors approached me first, but the majority of the sponsors I got I had to go out and work for. I insist that all of my sponsors have some direct connection to the niche I am blogging about whether in products, services or events. I avoid non-niche related sponsors like the plague as my readers would ignore those sponsors completely and not give my sponsors the needed attention they were looking for. It’s a slow process, and if I would ever be able to work full time on this I could probably double or triple the number of sponsors I have now. So there is a lot of potential for making more money.

    But blogging is a lot of work. Not only do you have to constantly have to write good and interesting articles, but you also have to become active in the niche community in which you write about. Getting out there and becoming an advocate for the subject you are writing about and participating in events associated with your subject.

    For me, my subject is craft beer and the brewers and breweries in my region that produce them. There’s never an end to the number of fans who love beer and that gives me a nice audience to draw from. It takes time to garner their trust and support, but making money can be done with persistence, hard work and enthusiasm.

  26. One interesting question that I would appreciate you researching is how many regular readers does a blog require to earn certain amounts of money. I feel like having people that keep returning to read would be more profitable than relying on search engine traffic, but perhaps I am mistaken about this.

  27. Victoria says:

    Love this. I have been blogging 1 month shy of a year and have just recently broke even. I am of the mindset that this is a long term growth gig. My view is that most people spend 4 years and thousands of dollars to get a a degree before they start earning money why should blogging be any different.

  28. Thanks for this article, Darren. I have been wanting to monetize my dental photography blog for some time, but biggest single barrier is the amount of time it takes to do it consistently. It’s definitely a niche market, and one that no one else is really doing as I am, but with a full-time day job that makes a lot of money (dentist), it’s hard to justify the time necessary to pursue what is needed to get the advertisers, or to build a subscription base, but it would be great to build that second, passive income. One of these days I may get around to it……or maybe I’ll just keep doing it because I love it.

    Anyway, great thoughts as always.

  29. Ryan says:

    What a refreshing article. When I started making money blogging on personal finance advice there were a lot of people close to me that wanted to start blogging too. I am on the smaller end of that income scale so I have never been able to quantify the various levels of income like you did. Great stuff!

  30. David Boozer says:

    It took me a few moths to generate within the “grey” area, but today it is all a “purple” haze. Blogging does work, but it does take some time. Using other methods like video, which is becoming the largest platform for information consumption today is a great help to your blogging efforts. Click through rates went up 35% the day I added video towards the top of the content itself, it let people know that you don’t have to read, you can listen and scan away…
    Thanks for the post Darren…

  31. Veronika says:

    Very useful and great post. I am only blogging for 4 months and all runs on free services, so that would reveal which earning category I fall into. Anyhow, your points are excellent starters, but I got the feeling that many newcomers will just stop working harder or give up after reading it. I know facing the reality is tough to accept for some. Cheers to the ones that stick around!

  32. Taran says:

    Great points Darren, you have shared such nice info.I really like this post, very useful for me.Thanks for sharing this post.

  33. Rena says:

    You have a great article there. Comprises a lot of topic especially on Make Money Blogging.

  34. Kade says:

    Build a blog that make money really takes time. So we should consistent and delivery a good content. thank you for sharing.

  35. TJ Driggers says:

    Thank you for such an informative article. I am just starting out and I really appreciate your honesty in what it really takes to make a living blogging.

  36. azmi says:

    if doing blog, i could get extra money, so i would like to try it… but i don’t know how to start it… by the way, i’m malaysian…. i know a little bit english, really hope someone can teach me to start it..

  37. Lisa says:

    Nice informative article. I am glad you pointed out that it’s not a get-rich-quick thing and takes lots of time and patience. So many people mistakenly think they can write a few articles and make a ton of money. They are usually disappointed. A well-crafted blog over the long-term is one of the best assets a person can have out on the Internet.
    Thanks for the great insight :)

    Lisa

  38. John Purcell says:

    I started off trying to make money from having Google ads on my blog, but I could never bring myself to really put enough ads on there to make it work. Instead, I started offering online lessons via Skype, scraped a living doing that, then finally made some Udemy.com courses which I now advertise from my site, and now I make a good living, full time — more every month. I’ve never worked long hours either — I sleep like a cat and am utterly unfocused most of the time. Selling either your own product or at least signing up as an affiliate seems much better than Google ads. If I could go back and do anything differently now, I’d start ten years earlier, I’d create a site about whatever I absolutely loved the most (which I’m only now starting to do — my current site is a bit of a compromise between passion and practicality) after checking in Google keyword tool that people are actually searching for it, and I’d post like crazy and only worry about money when I’d built up traffic. Once you have lots of targeted traffic, selling stuff seems comparatively easy.

  39. hariyor says:

    i created 3 blogs since 2011, trying diff. niche with the hope that i’ll make money if i try diff. niche, one of the blog is down now because i cant make a cent with it. This post has really helped me to understand a lot more about blogging income but most people will agree with me that when we first heard about blogging, we thought it was a easy cash generator. Thanks for this info and i’d like to say we need more post like this.

  40. Ahmed says:

    in the post Google Panda world it has become really tough to get high traffic.

  41. Great article, thanks for sharing your knowledge with the up and coming bloggers out there. I’ve been a blogger in the golf community for a few years now ,and as you mentioned in the article, I have seen my audience continue to steadily grow over time.

    Stick with it, have some fun and be creative. If you give up on something, you’ll never know how close to success you were.

  42. Pheng Heng says:

    Do I need IT knowledge in order to create blog?