When you're just starting out blogging as an amateur or part time job, there are tons of question that run through your head like "how can I earn money from my blog?" As a full-time blogger, I get countless questions relating to money and how I make a living. So, how does one go about earning money from their blog? What's the best way to monetize a blog (i.e., what types of income streams)? In short -- How do bloggers get paid?
In this article, we'll take a look at some common misconceptions regarding making money with blogs and explain exactly how bloggers generate revenue on the Internet. Let's jump right into the details...
The first thing many people think when they see someone who makes money online is how easy it must be. They assume anyone could do it if only they put enough effort into it. While yes, having a passion project turned business may not come naturally to everyone, it doesn't mean that those with no previous experience couldn't succeed in generating significant amounts of cash. With hard work and dedication, any person has the potential to achieve success. It all depends on how willing you are to give up other things in life so you have more free time to dedicate towards building your website.
However, let me warn you that being successful takes time. There isn't really a shortcut to achieving massive success overnight. Many popular gurus offer quick fixes which promise huge returns but rarely deliver. The truth is: If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Don't fall prey to these scams. Building a profitable site requires patience, determination, persistence and consistency. Those who want instant results will never find lasting success.
Here is a brief overview of earnings for different kinds of bloggers. For each section below, I've included links to relevant posts where readers can learn more about specific topics.
A newbie blogger: $0 - $10k per year ($100-$1K/month)
Full-Time Blogger: $20+ per hour working ($2-$5K/week)
Part-Timers & Freelancers: $500-$2000 per month
Some newbies start off by creating a few blogs before giving up due to lack of commitment. This group includes hobbyists who don't spend serious hours writing content, freelancers who use platforms such as Fiverr to write articles, etc. These individuals usually fail because they aren't able to commit to long term goals. On top of that, they often struggle with finding consistent ways to promote their sites since their main source of revenue comes from advertising.
If you belong to either category above, you should consider looking for another career path until you become sufficiently experienced. You can always try to pick up extra side income while continuing to build your portfolio. However, if you plan to continue blogging long term, here are some tips for succeeding financially...
There are plenty of examples of extremely wealthy entrepreneurs. Some even became billionaires. But can you imagine yourself becoming rich simply by running a blog? No matter how passionate you are about your subject, chances are slim unless you're lucky enough to attract millions of visitors every day and convert them into customers. Even established big names struggled during their early years, so why would you expect anything better for yourself?
Most bloggers tend to focus solely on increasing traffic, rather than turning casual passersby into paying clients. Without additional training in marketing, SEO techniques, social media management, copywriting, email list development, affiliate programs and product creation, you won't reach financial stability without taking several steps further. Unfortunately, it's very rare for bloggers to become millionaires. More commonly, they end up spending tens of thousands of dollars buying products, services, hosting providers, domain name registration and tools needed to create websites. All of this costs hundreds if not thousands of dollars each month.
For example, WordPress offers 3 plans ranging from $3 to $30 monthly depending on features and size of the site. HostGator charges between $8 and $12 per month for shared web hosts. Amazon Web Services offers discounts on various cloud storage options for storing data related to a particular website. And Google AdSense gives advertisers access to display ads placed on your pages. Each service adds up quickly, especially when using multiple ones simultaneously.
It's important to note that although it's possible to make a decent amount of profit selling digital goods, ebooks, software, premium subscriptions, coaching services, consulting and courses, none of these methods provides passive residual income. Therefore, if you hope to eventually quit your current job, you need to be prepared to invest a lot of time upfront to gain sufficient competence necessary to launch a sustainable business. This means you'll need to devote lots of personal time to researching, experimenting with ideas, testing solutions, tweaking existing systems and constantly improving efficiency.
Another reason why most bloggers fail despite putting in loads of effort is that they don't know how to market themselves effectively. Most people rely heavily upon search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns and banner exchanges to bring in targeted traffic. Although these tactics are effective, they are also expensive. That's why many beginners choose to stick to these strategies exclusively instead of exploring alternative avenues that provide greater profits. Here are some suggestions for learning more about promoting your own blog...
Become familiar with basic design skills and HTML code. You can hire professionals to help you set up your site, customize templates, optimize images, update plugins, install security patches, etc. However, if you're planning to grow your site independently, you should learn everything you can yourself. A great place to begin is by reading tutorials available on YouTube and W3C School.
Take advantage of analytics. Learn how to track visitor behavior across devices (mobile vs desktop). Discovering patterns within user habits helps you identify weaknesses, improve content based on feedback and determine areas needing improvement. Try using Google Analytics, SimilarWeb or Quantcast to analyze competition trends, competitors' backlinks, referral sources, keywords used to drive organic searches, geographic locations, demographics, etc.
Use Facebook Ads Manager. This tool lets you target users interested in certain niche markets and show advertisements containing links to your site.
Try outsourcing tasks to specialized freelance workers. Offer projects via Upwork, People Per Hour, Fiverr, etc. Once you establish credibility, you can ask others to refer new memberships to your mailing lists.
Work on high quality content regularly. Write informative, unique, original stuff that attracts attention. Your goal shouldn't be quantity over quality. Focus on producing 1-3 pieces of solid material daily. This strategy ensures maximum exposure while minimizing wasted efforts.
Investigate opportunities for partnerships and joint ventures. Partnering up with other businesses allows you to leverage resources to increase sales and share expertise.
Create videos and podcasts. Video sharing sites like Vimeo allow viewers to watch instructional presentations and video clips privately. Podcasts are audio versions of written materials read aloud. Both mediums provide immediate accessibility, boost engagement rates and encourage repeat visits. Consider joining networks like Podbay (podcast directory), Spreaker (recording studio), Soundcloud (audio platform), iTunes podcast library and Stitcher Radio (listener tracking system). Also check out our guide on how to record audiobooks and turn them into MP3 files.
Although there are numerous factors affecting profitability, the average annual income earned by bloggers ranges anywhere from $1000 to $60,000 according to data provided by Verified Influencers. Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, professional writers, photographers, graphic designers, programmers, engineers, marketers, consultants, coaches, authors, etc. typically command higher salaries. Yet, this figure still represents the median annual income among self-employed Americans. Below are some guidelines for determining whether you might enjoy similar compensation levels.
Freelance Copywriter: $50k-$75k annually ($5000-$7200/mo)
Copywriters generally charge upwards of $300 per page for ghostwritten content. Since they deal directly with clients, they can negotiate fees accordingly. Moreover, they receive royalties for books sold and retain 100% ownership of copyrights. To qualify for such lucrative wages, you must possess exceptional communication skills, extensive research capabilities, strong organizational abilities, superior critical thinking skills, excellent grammar knowledge and proficiency in Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, MS Excel and Outlook.
Content Writer: $40k-$80k yearly ($4000-$8000/mo)
With proper guidance, talented writers can develop compelling narratives, edit technical documents, proofread essays, speeches, reports, proposals and resumes. Although they normally require college degrees, students pursuing creative careers such as journalism, fiction writing, screenwriting, novel writing, screenplay production, photography, documentary film making, animation, comic book art, music composition, voice acting, cinematography, fashion modeling, makeup artist, interior designer, photographer, videographer, photo editing technician, sound editor, television commercial producer, etc. can land positions as independent contractors after gaining valuable industry experience.
Blog Owner: $25k-$70k annually ($2500-$6700/mo)
Full disclosure: I am not a professional writer or journalist by any means. However, for seven years as an active online personality on various platforms (including blogging), I have been asked hundreds of times about my income source.
This post will be broken down into several sections so you can better understand what goes into making your average blogger's salary look like. If you're just starting out with blogging, keep reading; if you already know how to earn cash through blogging, feel free to skip ahead.
For those who want more information than what we cover here, check out our other posts that deal specifically with making money from blogging:
The best ways to monetize blogs: How to create passive streams of revenue without selling ads
Blogging 101: The Beginner’s Guide To Blogging For Money & Making A Living Online
Starting Your Own Business From Home With An Internet Marketing Mentor – Part 1: Getting Started As A Full Time Entrepreneur
It depends. There isn't one magic formula to becoming financially successful as a blogger. It takes time and effort -- lots of both.
If you're brand new to writing, there are some things you should consider before diving headfirst into blogging. Here are two tips everyone should follow when getting started:
1) Write consistently. Don't wait until you've got something amazing written up and then try to figure out where to publish it. Instead, write at least once every couple days. Even if all you produce is junk content, you'll still see progress over time. And even if people don't read everything you write, they might find someone else's work useful enough to share.
2) Focus on quality rather than quantity. When you first begin blogging, think longterm instead of short term. You may end up producing only five articles, but each article has the potential to go viral. Think beyond yourself and focus on creating good stuff for others. Eventually these readers will return the favor and provide feedback on future projects.
There are many different types of bloggers. Some are very passionate about their topics while others simply use their blogs as personal journals. Whatever type of blogger you fall under, take note of which areas you excel in and build upon them. Then continue doing research on similar writers' incomes. Once you gain experience, you could eventually join forces with another writer. This way you can leverage both of your strengths together.
Below are approximate figures for three common types of bloggers based on data collected via SimilarWeb:
Affiliates/affiliate marketing: $0 - $5k monthly
Content creators: $10 - $25 daily rate
Ecommerce entrepreneurs: $50 - $100 weekly rate
Once you've established the basics of a quality site, now comes the hardest part: actually posting content worth sharing regularly. But don't worry! We've put together a few helpful resources below to help get you going. These are also great places to start building relationships within your niche community.
Bloggers often say networking is absolutely essential to success, and that couldn't ring truer. Building trust among peers within your industry will lead to referrals and opportunities later on. Plus, social media sites such as Facebook allow users to comment on individual posts, meaning positive word of mouth is spread far and wide.
Here are a few additional tools to kickstart your journey into financial freedom:
Start publishing immediately using WordPress: WordPress offers tons of customization options to customize your theme and layout. All the themes offered come preloaded with features such as SEO optimization, Google AdSense integration, eCommerce capabilities, etc. Additionally, most plugins available are free and easy to install, giving you complete control over your site.
Find relevant communities to belong to: Finding forums related to your interests that accept newcomers is crucial to quickly establishing credibility. Joining forums allows you to participate in discussions and ask questions directly from experts. While experienced members usually won't respond unless you contribute value, beginners often receive immediate assistance.
Research popular influencers in your field: Using websites such as FameBit [No Longer Available] helps you discover influential personalities within your field. Browse profiles and view photos to determine whether you'd enjoy being around them. You don't need to bother anyone personally -- simply browse profiles for keywords such as "Famebit" and "Influencer."
Create unique headlines: Headline creation is arguably the most important step towards gaining popularity. In fact, studies show that 90% of clicks occur after reading the headline alone. That said, remember that brevity is key. Short titles tend to resonate well with audiences because they pack a punch. Also, avoid clichés. They typically lack originality and add little value to the overall piece.
Use hashtags effectively: Hashtags aren't solely used to categorize tweets anymore. Today, they function as categories in search engines. Thus, choosing appropriate tags makes sure your page shows up high during searches.
Keep track of analytics: Analytics tracking software such as Chartbeat lets you monitor traffic statistics, website visitors and conversion rates. Simply signup for a trial account and integrate the tool onto your domain.
That answer varies greatly depending on the platform you choose to host your blog on. Many hosting companies charge extra for advertising space, whereas self-hosting allows you to set custom prices. Below is a breakdown of typical fees associated with popular web hosts:
BlueHost: $24.95/month for standard shared plans ($20 more for dedicated servers); plus 3 months free when signing up yearly
GoDaddy: Free for basic plan and starts at $8/month thereafter
Google Hosted Pages: Starting at $3.99/month for the smallest package
InMotion Hosting: Starts at $19.95/month (includes unlimited bandwidth and storage)
Kinsta: Starts at $18/month (includes 5GB storage, 99TB transfers, SSL certificate, ad block, auto backups); includes premium support, priority shipping and access to Kinstas library of royalty-free images and videos.
WP Engine: Starts at $29/month (unlimited domains, disk space and transfer quotas, 24x7 customer service, security updates). WP Engine also provides free training sessions for coders willing to learn PHP programming.
MySQL Database: Start at $4.95/mo (for 2 databases); increases incrementally according to usage.
Softaculous Web Control Panel: Starts at $9/month (additional IP addresses cost extra); includes SSH login credentials, FTP accounts, cPanel access, autoresponders and API keys.
WordPress: Currently priced at $16/year for Premium Support, Unlimited Domains, Disk Space, Transfer Quotas, One Click Installer, Auto Backup System, Security Updates, Caching Bins, Social Sharing Tools, Site Migration Service and Reseller Program.
VIPREALITYSTUDIO: Pricing ranges between $12-$30/month. VIPREALITYSTUDIO automatically monitors and optimizes performance, detects problems faster, resolves issues quicker, backs up contents, restores files, and gives reports.
According to a recent survey conducted by PayScale, the top ten highest paying positions were:
Marketing Manager ($110,000+)
Senior Software Engineer ($85,000 - $106,000)
Software Developer ($75,000 - $107,500)
Computer Systems Analyst ($71,250 - $103,750)
Quality Assurance Specialist ($65,000 - $97,500)
Systems Administrator ($60,000 - $96,500)
Database Administrators / DBA ($40,000 - $62,500)
IT Professionals ($35,000 - $58,000)
Network Architects ($34,000 - $57,500)
Information Technology Consultants ($31,400 - $54,200)
Administrative Assistants ($26,800 - $46,700)
Customer Support Representatives ($21,300 - $37,900)
Some of these salaries seem quite low compared to other professions, but bear in mind that this list represents the highest earning hourly wages only. Salaries vary widely across industries, geographic locations and job responsibilities. For example, senior executives generally command higher annual paychecks than entry level employees. Meanwhile, IT professionals often earn less since they must perform multiple jobs simultaneously.
With that being said, let's review a few examples of famous bloggers who earned six-figure salaries:
John Chow — aka The Fat Black Man—is known worldwide as the leading authority on weight loss products. His YouTube channel contains nearly 100 million views and he was named #13 on Fast Company Magazine's Top 50 Most Influential People On Twitter 2014 List. He earns anywhere from $6k to $15k per tweet.
Brian Clark Howard is a freelance copywriter working primarily with small businesses. Previously employed by major corporations including Microsoft, IBM and HP, Brian writes extensively on topics ranging from business productivity to home improvement. At present, his net worth stands at roughly $14M thanks largely to affiliate commissions earned from various programs.
I'm not going to lie -- being a blogger is hard work. It's often long hours spent writing posts on the internet or trying to gain traction with your social media accounts that will bring traffic into your blog, which can then lead to more subscribers, advertisers, etc. And all of these things require time and effort.
So, why do people want to be bloggers anyway? Well, some people just enjoy sharing their thoughts online. Some are passionate about topics they're interested in and don't have another outlet for those interests. Others simply like to express themselves through blogging. But none of them seem particularly motivated by financial reasons.
But what if there was one way to earn money from home without having to worry about any of these factors? What if you could focus 100% on creating content and growing your audience? Wouldn't that be nice? You'd still need to put out quality content regularly so readers would come back over and over again, but once that happened, you wouldn't have to think about monetizing your site anymore. Instead, you'd only have to take care of running your own business (which is also fun). How cool would that be?!
Unfortunately, there isn't really a standard answer to this question because it depends entirely on who you ask. In general though, most full-time bloggers are making less than $10k per year in ad revenue alone. Here's a breakdown of income for several popular bloggers:
Sylvia Anderson makes around $2k/month from her website and other sources such as affiliate marketing, product sales, sponsored ads, and donations. She has been doing this since 2004.
Kaitlin Young makes between $3-4k monthly from various sources including sponsorships, advertising, consulting, speaking fees, royalties, affiliate commissions, subscriptions, and membership sites. She started at age 18 working part-time jobs while attending college.
Cherie Priest makes $6k+ annually from her websites (including products she sells), partnerships, sponsorships, affiliates, subscription payments, speaking engagements, and book advances. Cherie began writing when she got laid off after 9 months as an office manager.
Andrea Ayres earns up to $20k per month from her blogs and related ventures. Her biggest source of income comes from Google AdSense advertisements placed throughout her websites. Andrea writes fiction novels under a pen name and also runs workshops teaching others how to write.
If you compare those figures with full-time employees, bloggers definitely aren't earning nearly enough to live comfortably. Even if you consider yourself fortunate if you're getting $1000-$2000 per month from various sources, that doesn't even begin to cover basic expenses like groceries, rent, insurance, utilities, transportation, medical bills, education loans, entertainment, clothing, etc. For many people, $1000 won't last very long.
Of course, you might find success and earn thousands at first, but chances are you'll eventually hit diminishing returns where you start pulling in significantly lower amounts each month. That's especially true if you haven't built up a large subscriber base yet.
The point is this: If you're looking to build a career based solely upon blogging, you should expect to struggle financially until you've established enough momentum to sustain yourself. This may sound discouraging, but there are plenty of successful bloggers who earned tens of millions of dollars over the years. The odds are stacked against you, but you shouldn't give up hope! There is light at the end of the tunnel...
It's important to understand that some "small" bloggers may be very well known due to high engagement rates, massive followings, and lots of exposure. These types of bloggers tend to have higher earnings because they have more opportunities to generate additional streams of income via sponsorships, product endorsements, direct mail campaigns, and similar methods. However, smaller bloggers who lack visibility typically rely heavily upon one primary form of income, whether it's product sales, sponsored ads, or email list signups.
In my experience, these types of writers usually spend anywhere from 50%-70% of their time generating passive income. Passive income means money made without putting forth too much upfront investment. As mentioned earlier, building a loyal reader following takes time and requires consistent updates, so let's say you had 10 new followers every day. Over the span of six months, that translates to 300 new followers daily. At 2 cents apiece, that adds up to $600 per week ($30k per month) in ad revenue. Now imagine that same group of followers grew to 1,000 members instead -- that's $100k per month in ad revenue! Obviously, larger numbers mean better results, but the principle remains the same.
Now obviously, it's impossible for everyone to reach that level of success overnight, but if you stick with it and develop consistency with your brand, you can achieve similar levels of growth within reasonable periods of time.
Yes. Many bloggers earn a decent amount of money each month, although not necessarily as impressive as what big names pull in. Don't forget that most bloggers are self-employed professionals, meaning they're responsible for paying taxes, handling their own health insurance, dealing with customer service issues, and everything else involved with owning a business. They generally don't count on anyone else for support services.
Accordingly, you should approach this topic with caution. Just because someone says they make $5k per month from blogging doesn't guarantee that's accurate. Always look closely at their actual situation before signing up for anything. Make sure they provide real information with specific examples rather than vague statements. Also keep in mind that a lot of bloggers try to fool potential customers by using fake testimonials (or worse, outright lying!).
One thing that's clear is that no matter how little you currently earn, you can always improve your position with persistence and dedication. If you're willing to invest in training, learning new skills, improving existing ones, networking and promoting yourself, and sticking to a plan, you can certainly turn your passion into something lucrative. Once you've done that, all you have left is optimizing your efforts to maximize profits.
Here are two ways you can use your newfound knowledge to increase your income:
1) Use free resources to help promote yourself. One great place to learn about blogging is BloggingPro, which offers tons of useful tips and tricks for beginners. Another resource worth checking out is Digital Inspiration, which provides helpful advice along with its regular roundups of trending articles across different niches.
2) Start applying strategies to boost your conversion rate. A common mistake among bloggers is focusing exclusively on increasing traffic. While attracting visitors is extremely valuable, converting them into leads and ultimately customers is equally essential. To do so successfully, you must create compelling copywriting and design that converts users into buyers.
Another area that needs improvement is SEO, which stands for search engine optimization. Most bloggers know nothing about it, except perhaps what they learned during brief stints in middle school. Unfortunately, SEO experts charge hundreds of dollars per hour, which is far beyond the budgets of most bloggers. Fortunately, there are quite a few free tools available online that can dramatically improve your ranking positions.
To see a complete overview of ways to optimize your blog, check out our guide on how to quickly become a masterful blogger.
There are three main ways bloggers generate revenue: advertising, sponsorship, and user generated content (UGC). Advertising includes banner ads, text links, sidebar banners, pay-per-click ads, video ads, image ads, display ads, eNewsletter ads, newsletter ads, and other forms of digital advertising. Sponsorship involves partnering with brands to accept payment directly from companies for promotions. UGC refers to the creation, distribution, and promotion of original content submitted by fans that falls outside of traditional advertising channels.
Advertising has proven itself effective for many bloggers, but it's not right for everyone. Banner ads are simple and cheap, but they rarely convert well. Text links and sidebar banners are both somewhat risky because they involve placing ads near sensitive areas of the page that are easy targets for clickjacking attacks. Pay-per-click ads are best used on pages offering specialized information relevant to keywords searched frequently by consumers. Video ads are excellent as long as they align with your overall branding strategy. Display ads allow you to target certain demographics, but they can be expensive depending on your location and demographic profile.
Sponsorships offer flexibility when deciding which partners to work with, but they can prove challenging due to stringent requirements. Partnering with top brands tends to attract attention, but unless you establish strong relationships with corporate executives, you may not receive favorable treatment. When pitching sponsorships, avoid generic pitches focused on profit margins. Showcase unique benefits associated with working together, highlight positive press coverage, and demonstrate value-added contributions resulting from your partnership.
Become CEO of your own lead generation software company, just follow our battle-tested guidelines and rake in the profits.