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12 Blogging Income Streams [And the Story of My 10 Year 'Overnight' Success]

Today I was speaking with a blogger (I’ll call her Alice for the sake of this post) who was feeling a little overwhelmed with the idea of monetizing her blog. She expressed that as she looked at other blogs in her niche, everyone seemed to be doing such amazing things. She said she felt she’d never be able to compete.

Other blogs in Alice’s niche were running online courses, selling out hundred people live events around the country, selling ads to fortune 500 companies, authoring best selling eBook and more. The thought of even beginning to monetize her blog in these ways was completely paralysing Alice!

It is so easy to be overwhelmed to the point of paralysis when you look at what other bloggers are doing. I know this from personal experience!

My advice to Alice was to keep in mind that all those other amazing blogs started in the same place that she was – without any income streams at all.

Often it is easy to forget this and see a successful blog as always being what it is today.

By way of illustration, I shared my own story

When I started blogging, I did it as a hobby. I had no intention of it ever being more than that and there were no examples of people directly monetizing blogs.

Over the coming year and a half, my blog grew in popularity and the hobby became something of a passion and obsession. It also began to cost me money to run for hosting, domain, design etc.

Phase 1

Blogging Income 6

I began to dabble in monetizing with the hope of simply covering my costs. My first experiments were with Google AdSense and the Amazon Affiliate Program. The results weren’t spectacular but they were encouraging enough for me to keep trying. A few dollars began to trickily in but more importantly – I was learning a lot!

Phase 2

Over the coming months I continued to experiment with AdSense and Amazon. I vastly improved how I was implementing the programs (better ad positioning, writing reviews for affiliate products). I also began to think about how to drive more traffic to my blog. I even started a second blog (and then more followed)!

The results were that my income began to grow. I began to see my blogging as a part-time job and even began to wonder if it could one day be full-time.

Over the coming year I also began to also look at other forms of monetization.

Blogging Income 6

During this time I started promoting affiliate programs with other online stores. I also did something that terrified me but which became a great income stream, I picked up the phone and began to sign up advertisers directly. This was a period where I had to bite the bullet and start to treat blogging not just as a hobby – but as a business.

Again – these new income streams started small and were experiments. My first ad sale was for $20 for a month long ad. It didn’t bring me overnight riches but securing the ad taught me a lot and contributed to my overall income.

It was around this time I realised that while none of my income streams were enough to sustain me alone, a blog could actually sustain multiple sources of small income that could add up to something significant.

My goal was to go full time as a blogger. To do that I knew I needed to grow multiple streams of income and my blog’s traffic.

Phase 3

It was around this time that other Advertising Networks began to appear. I experimented with quite a few but the one I had most success with was Chitika. At the time, AdSense was my #1 source of income but putting Chitika on my site almost doubled that income overnight and allowed me to go full time as a blogger!

Blogging Income 6

Of course it wasn’t just that Chitika worked well. I’d also been growing my traffic, building reader engagement/community etc – but the extra income stream helped a lot.

Phase 4

It was around this time that I’d started ProBlogger as a blog along with a whole new range of income streams. I did monetize ProBlogger in the early days, using all of the above income streams but I found that ProBlogger was actually better to monetize indirectly.

By ‘indirect monetization’ I mean that ProBlogger began to grow my own personal profile and authority on the topic of blogging and I began to be approached to provide products and services that I could sell. The blog itself didn’t necessarily make money – but it enabled ME to make money as a result of the blog.

Blogging Income 6

For example, it was through ProBlogger that I landed my first paid speaking opportunity. I was asked to fly to Washington DC to speak at a conference – (all expenses covered plus a small fee paid).

Around the same time, I was approached to write the ProBlogger Book (the hard cover one that is now in it’s 3rd edition). This only came off the back of the ProBlogger blog.

Similarly, around this time I began to offer my services as a consultant to help people with their blogging strategy (a service I don’t offer any more).

Once again, these income streams started small (in fact writing a Book isn’t generally a big income stream for most authors) but they each contributed to the overall revenue from my blogging, which was now adding up to be a lot more than I’d ever earned from any other job (keeping in mind that I’d been blogging now for 4-5 years).

Phase 5

Most of the above income streams have continued to grow but other opportunities have presented themselves as new technologies emerge. While I’d previously been approached to create a hard copy book, we began to see the emergence of eBooks. While people previously had asked me to speak at their live events we began to see people delivering content via virtual/online courses and conferences.

Blogging Income 6

I began to experiment with creating eBooks and membership areas to my sites. eBooks have gone on to become my main income stream (both with ProBlogger eBooks and Photography eBooks). The main income from eBooks tends to come in fits and starts, when we either launch a new eBook or run a sale/promotion on one but even when we don’t have these events happening they still steadily sell each day in small numbers. Again, contributing to the overall revenue.

I also added the Job board here at ProBlogger.

The job board is an interesting example of what I’m talking about today. It has never been a spectacularly huge income stream but it has actually been a pretty steady source of income over the years. We generally see 1-2 new blogger jobs advertised every day and that $50-$100 per day in income adds up over time. I’ve not got the exact figures but I’d estimate that over the last 5 years it has brought in over $100,000! I’m glad I started it!

By this stage my income was growing to the point where I was able to bring on others into my team. This started with some very part time outsourcing of small jobs but in more recent times has enabled me to hire a number of team members to help run different components of my business.

Phase 6

The final income stream has become a growing focus of my team and I (although I have to say it’s not a massive income stream at this point) has been running events and conferences.

Our annual ProBlogger Training Event here in Australia has grown in number each year and this year we think it’ll probably turn a small profit. Having said that, my intent with these events is not to make a lot of money. Rather, it is about giving something back to the Aussie Blogosphere (it is also great for branding and gives me a lot of personal satisfaction and fun).

We’ve also started to run some smaller more focused workshops (our Email Marketing workshop in Melbourne still has a handful of spots left).

Blogging Income 6

My suspicion is that events will be something we’ll see expand a little in the coming years.

Final Thoughts

Let me sum up with a few thoughts, disclaimers and words of encouragement:

Keep in mind that all of the above has happened over 10 years. While today there are obviously 12 or so income streams (although I’m sure I’m forgetting something) they all started quite small and as experiments.

There have been moments where it did seem like I had rushes of income, those rushes were usually the result of several years work and investment of time and money.

I also would say that in each case, I started each experiment not really knowing what I was doing (on at least some level) but really seeing the experiments as a chance to learn. For example, my first eBooks were taking previously published blog posts and updating, completing and adding to them to offer readers a more convenient way to access my content.

At the time I had no idea if that would work and the design and delivery of the eBooks was fairly basic. In time I learned what did and didn’t work and was able to grow the sophistication of my delivery systems, design, authoring and marketing to the point that it’s become a fairly well-oiled machine.

The key is to pick something to try and to see whether it connects with your readership and to learn as much as you can while you’re doing it. Often you end up evolving what you do to the point that it is a better fit for you and your blog – but you’ll never get to that point without starting.

Update: I’ve since published a followup to this post that gives a split of the different income streams.

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. Veeramani says:

    Hai Darren, Thanks sharing for your amazing experience. 12 methods ways of blogging income streams is very useful to anyone trying to monetize the blog. Newbies before you entering in to monetize your blog learn and analysis every methods. Then process it by long term experience you won it.

  2. Operion says:

    Nice post for sharing
    Please visit my website http://www.operion.com.my for more details about E-commerce

  3. Blogs are great tools for personal branding. While you found out that speaking, authoring and consulting can add additional streams of revenue to your blog, there are some people who blog just to get those opportunities. As you said, the blog doesn’t make money but helps the blogger make money – and that’s a typical case of “content marketing” for a person than a product :)

  4. Carl says:

    I just found your site for the first time today. There is a ton of great information here, thanks for what you do. You’ve been bookmarked!

  5. Terry Kyle says:

    Great post Darren and shows how constantly trying different angles can eventually result in a surprise breakthrough. The point is to persevere and keep on experimenting when confronted by failure on a site.

    Your team should also take a look at the comment spam this thread has attracted.

  6. Alison May says:

    Hi Darren, having been blogging for almost the same time as you (and following you from the very beginning), I can truthfully say that creating a span of little income streams has ABSOLUTELY been the way forward and I am finally making a truly scrumptious living from my blog now… just as you have always suggested is absolutely possible.
    Thank you.x

  7. Steve S. says:

    Great post Darren.

    Seeing your revenue streams laid out in the graphics really emphasizes the different possibilities for monetization. My blog doesn’t make money directly, but it helps me to make money by expanding my brand, like Deepak said.

    After reading this post, I’m going to explore some of these ideas further and see if my blog can earn a bit of extra income on its own. Thanks.

  8. Gurdjieff says:

    I take from this post the spirit of trial and error. Darren recommends picking something and trying out whether or not it works for your readership. This can hardly be emphasized enough, and it also means that taking what Darren has done with his readership (as described above) and duplicating it won’t yield the same results. Herein lies the art of blogging. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Varun says:

    I can follow all the income streams listed in the posts but surely will try some in my reach like direct ad sales, affiliate and try other ad networks. Thanx for this inspiring post

  10. Martin says:

    Great tips that I am going to incorporate. I started internet marketing summer 2012 and I still have not made any money yet. But I keep going.

    Rgds,
    Martin

  11. prince says:

    nice one sir, thanks for sharing you really have been a great source of inspiration to me and other bloggers i say thank you again

  12. Sahith says:

    Very informative, gonna experiment on my blog. Thanks for sharing. :)

  13. Daniel says:

    Very nice breakdown for your path to Blogging Success, Darren.

    Good to see how you branched out further and further, expanding your scope of influence and online presence..

    The one big factor that does throw a spanner in the works is “that was then and this is now” meaning although there would be a few things that still apply, many things were much easier than now(far less competition)….

    On the other side of the coin, it is far easier (and cheaper) nowadays to get up and running….and the tech advancements…..are quite incredible…….

  14. Akhlis says:

    Thank you Darren for the very insightful post, as always.
    It’s totally something I can relate to as you boldened the phrase: “…all of the above has happened over 10 years…”
    A decade, geez! People, especially novices, scarcely understand that. They desire instant results. And it freaks me out when people with a crappy blog want it to generate income within 6 months or so. Insane, I know.

  15. Tom Durkin says:

    Interesting post. I think my biggest mistake when I started blogging was to think that all my money would have to come from ad clicks or impressions. If I could go back in time I would have started blogging about topics that I had a service or product I could offer customers off the back of it.

  16. Sohale S. says:

    Hi Darren, I’ve been reading your posts for a while and I’ve never really commented. Great post, it always surprises me how many different ways there are to generate revenue from a website.

  17. Mr.Darren Rowse Sir, i was searching about it from last few days im new in blogging i was searching something new then adsense i find it from your wibsite i will try all thing which you have mention in this post hope it will work for me.

  18. Parth says:

    Wow nice sir,
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  19. I’m in the first few months of writing my blog and am soaking up as much information as I can about the next steps. So far it has been great to just write about what I love and see people respond positively. Darren, thanks so much for sharing your progress from the beginning and offering tons of resources for new bloggers like myself! Really appreciated and incredibly helpful!

    Lindsay

  20. Michael says:

    Great job Darren!

    It is very inspiring to read what you wrote here. Nothing beats persistence and passion to make it to success. Keep it up. I love all of your posts.

  21. Yasir says:

    thanks dear nice site

  22. kris momo says:
  23. I realized that to get a blog income is not as easy as newborns who wish to run directly.

  24. Caty says:

    The only way to now if something is going to work
    is to experiment. More people should do it.