How Do You Make Money on Your Blog?

This is the long overdue followup post to So You Want To Start A Blog that I wrote a few weeks ago. Not everyone starts a blog with the goal of making money, but many do. It sounds like a great gig, right? Sit at home in your jammies and write about your life and get free products delivered to your door and an occasional paycheck. What’s not to like about that!?

working on laptop in bed

If only it were that easy…

You wouldn’t believe the tactless things people ask when they find out you have a blog. I have had people flat out ask me if I make money blogging, how I do that, and my personal favorite, how much I make.

Now I ask you. Who among us would sit down next to a doctor, lawyer, teacher or gas station attendent on an airplane and ask them how much money they make? Yeah, didn’t think so. Well. That has happened to me.

It cracks me up, honestly. I probably should be offended, but people are intrigued because it’s such a new phenomenon. I admit, even I am intrigued and I’m the one doing it! LOL.

The first thing I’ll say is this. You don’t blog to make money.

As the legendary Alli Worthington once said to me, you blog because you can’t not do it. We social media types are a different breed, that’s for sure. And anyone who loves this space will understand her sentiment.

You blog because you love it, and if you make money, that’s bonus. There are many easier ways to make a living, that’s for sure and certain.

The second thing I’ll say is, IT TAKES TIME.

You can’t start a blog today, throw up Google Ads and expect to pay next month’s mortgage with it. Mom bloggers who are paying their mortgages on ad revenue alone are few and far between, and they didn’t get there overnight. Think Pioneer Woman and Deal Seeking Mom. (Certainly not Musings of a Housewife!!)

You can’t make much money on a blog until you have a decent sized audience, so I always encourage people to first build the product before trying to sell it (or advertise on it.) If you’re focusing on monetizing right from the get-go, then you’re likely neglecting the most important part — creating content that is valuable and engaging. It’s best to focus on that for starters. After 6 to 12 months or so, once you have developed a valuable piece of real estate on the internet, then it’s time to start figuring out how to make it lucrative, if that’s your heart’s desire.

There are a variety of ways to make money with a blog.

Most bloggers use a combination of private ads, ad networks, Google Adsense, affiliate links, and sponsored posts. It really depends on the type of blog you’re talking about.

Deal blogs and review blogs can generate a decent income with ads and affiliate links, but they generally have very large audiences and are product focused. They also post multiple times daily.

Highly niched blogs (such as DIY blogs, cooking blogs or crafting blogs) also tend to garner larger audiences, and you will see them with a lot of sidebar ads and partnering with brands in their niche for sponsorships.

Most lifestyle bloggers who are making significant income off their blogs are doing it through other means — eBook sales, spokesperson gigs, sponsorship opportunities, consulting, brand partnerships, freelance writing and things like that. The blog is the platform for these opportunities, but the money isn’t necessarily coming directly from the blog.

That is certainly true for me. I don’t earn much directly from Musings of a Housewife. I have even taken down ad networks that were providing a nice monthly paycheck because the ads didn’t fit with my content. I’m not talking mortgage or even grocery money here, but it was still enough to help make life more comfortable, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss it. But I view my blog as my family room on the internet, and if the ads don’t support my general principles, they have to go. I currently use a combination of Google Adsense and Lifetime Ad Network. Both allow me to opt out of ads that I don’t deem suitable. (And if you ever see one that you think contradicts my content, feel free to let me know!)

I use my blog as a platform for making money doing other things — freelance writing, event planning, sponsorships, blogger outreach and brand partnerships are some of the ways I’m generating an income in this social media space. I also have a client for whom I manage the social media and marketing. Tax time is fun at our house, let. me. tell. YOU. I have more W-9 forms than I have stylish shoes!

Speaking of making money blogging as well as products I can wholeheartedly endorse, I highly recommend the book written by my good friends Audrey McClelland and Colleen Padilla – The Digital Mom Handbook: How to Blog, Vlog, Tweet, and Facebook Your Way to a Dream Career at Home (affiliate link).

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This book is chock full of great advice for the woman who wants a successful career as well as the flexibility to be home with her kids. But I will be the first to tell you, blogging as a career is not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking to make money blogging, be prepared to put a lot of hard work into it before you see a profit.

Of course, that is true of any small business. There’s no magic trick here, folks. A blog is just the 21st century version of starting your own business. The nice part is, the start up costs are low and the risk is small. So if you’re thinking about starting a blog or taking yours to the next level, go for it! You’ve got nothing to lose, and a whole lot to possibly gain.

I hope this post helped demystify the topic of how to make money blogging.

Now, dare ya, the next time you’re out with friends or you meet a stranger in the airport, ask them what they do and how much they make doing it. See what they say. Just for kicks. Heh.

Comments

  1. says

    I still laugh when I hear about the “how much do you make” story-when you told me that during our visit a few weeks ago I couldn’t believe it. Apparently if you write on the internet you must be a complete open book ;) I might disagree with the point about not starting advertising from the get-go. I’ve seen lots of bloggers get big backlash for all of a sudden monetizing their blog. People like to know what to expect and if you have some Google AdSense ads on your site from the beginning at least people know that you want to eventually makes some money doing this. It doesn’t mean that you should go out to get private advertising & an ad network but just simple text ads can make your readers aware that eventually you will be adding more. Just my 2 cents ;)

    • says

      Perhaps, but then, a “PR Friendly” page will do the same thing. :-) But sure, it can’t hurt to throw them up there. Of course, they’re ugly. That’s the only problem with them. I have started using the image based ones, which have come a long way in recent years. I’m pretty happy with those.

  2. says

    Thanks for this informative post and thanks for not making it look easy! I get a little tired of hearing bloggers with a bazillion followers telling me how easy it is to make money online. I like that you keep it real.

    I have a confession, though, I like it when bloggers reveal how much they are making online. It has really helped me decide whether or not I think it’s worth it to put in the effort or if I’d be better off expending that energy elsewhere. I know one blogger that breaks down the income he makes and shows you exactly where it all comes from and I have really enjoyed learning that. However, I respect the fact that most bloggers don’t feel comfortable doing that and shouldn’t feel obligated to do so.

    I also admit that I’ve asked that question to a blogger friend that you and I both know personally, but it was in a private conversation and I would never have asked if I knew she didn’t mind telling me. (She had willingly volunteered the information publicly in years past so I didn’t think she would mind me asking her current status).

    Thanks again for the inside scoop on an area that I’m still learning and deciding on.

    • says

      Well, yeah, we all like it when people reveal what they are making, lol. Especially when they’re doing something like what we’re doing. And discussing rates in private convo is certainly different, and sometimes very helpful.

      It’s not easy, but it definitely can be fun!! :-)

  3. says

    Thanks for the great post! I will be the first to admit that when I first considered starting a blog it was only for the money. But I learned real quick (and 3-1 million closed blogs later) that if I’m not going to blog for the love of blogging or at the very least love of what I’m blogging about then it ain’t gonna happen. My blog is brand new….I started regularly posting on it in July (yes that brand new =)) but I love what I write about and I love the actual blogging/writing part. If I eventually make money great! If not great! I don’t see myself stopping just because it’s not a paying gig.

    Thanks Jo-Lynne for the great advice! =)

    • says

      Anna, I think you nailed it with this, and I wish I had added that caveat: ” if I’m not going to blog for the love of blogging or at the very least love of what I’m blogging about then it ain’t gonna happen.”

      The love of what you are blogging ABOUT is truly key. You get burned out REAL quick if you aren’t passionate about what you’re writing about.

  4. says

    We both started our blogs around the same time and you always have been so good about being focused and knowing what you wanted. It’s amazing the difference in how it turned out! It does take a lot of dedication and determination to make it in the blog world, and you really have shown people how to do it.

    • says

      Honestly I wasn’t focused at all (and I’m still not entirely sure I know what I want, lol) but when opportunities started coming, and I was having so much fun, I started trying to figure out how I could make this internet thing lucrative enough that I don’t have to go back to work when the kids are in school (our original plan). The design biz was definitely the biggest piece of the puzzle, although I am kind of phasing out of that now that paying blogging-related opps are increasing.

      But as you know, I’ve been doing this for 6 years, so it has definitely taken me longer than most to get to the point where I actually consider this a job. Some start out and within a year are making a career of it. But then again, when you and I started out, the idea of making money blogging was virtually unheard of. It’s only within the past few years that it has become a real possibility. So I guess it stands to reason that people starting out now will find success a lot quicker than I did.

      And can I just say that I appreciate you stopping by to comment!? I have been such a lax blog reader/commenter lately.

      • says

        I know, I don’t even post on my own blog, let alone read other blogs. I started my blog for a different reason (to get back into the swing of actually writing) so I have never been focused on how I can “use my blog for good”, ha ha, it was all for a different reason (which eventually, I would love to reveal). I love all of the opportunities that are available to people just through the internet.

  5. says

    Great post, Jo-Lynne! I 100% agree that it takes time! My blog is just about a year old and my goal for the first year was to break even. I Dream of Clean surpassed that goal (but it’s not like it was that much $ in the first place). Now that I’m into my second year blogging, things are definitely starting to pick up more than I can imagine. I suppose releasing an ebook helped in that regard too. It really does seem like patience is key!

  6. says

    Even though I am still very green in this blogging world (I only have had my blog for 1 month), I have read enough about this topic to understand and wholeheartedly agree with everything in your post. Great way to succinctly and eloquently put it all in one place for us.

    I definitely do want to make money in the long run, but for right now I’m trying to focus on building some content, and getting my name out there (FB page, twitter, commenting on other blogs, etc.) My friends and family love reading it, and they can tell I enjoy writing it. THAT is first and foremost the most important thing. Now that I’ve got this ball rolling, I would keep writing even if it was only for my kids to read when they’re older.

    I suppose I could create a PR friendly page. Although I don’t know exactly what to include there. And, I have NO idea what a “media kit” is. LOL! But, I would love to do some freelance writing (actually have been researching that a bit). And, I eventually will move my blog from wordpress.com to wordpress.org where I’ll have more flexibility and control.

    Thanks again, Jo-Lynne!

  7. says

    This is a great post but I would add or at least emphasize the sheer number of hours you have to put into a blog verses the pay. And that it’s not just writing posts, not even close. If you just want to do it for the money but you have some other income source (like say, my engineering job or even my photography job) you have to look at the hourly pay rate to decide if it’s worth it. A really lucrative blog (or income from other sources related to blogging) requires beyond full time hours. They may not be standard 8-5 hours but there’s a ton of evening and weekend hours put in. A TON. I think most people who see blogging as convenient, easy money have no idea the hours someone like Colleen or Audrey put in.

    Anyway, I love blogging for the sake of blogging and I’m happy for the little extra spending money it affords. :)

    • says

      Absolutely, and I almost added that somewhere in there, but it was getting so long, but yeah. It is 24/7, round the clock, weekends, holidays, vacations, and I”m not complaining. It’s just that it is really hard to walk away from it. And when you do, you inevitably miss a great opportunity or something.

      That’s why I said, there are plenty of easier ways to earn a living.

      That said, the flexibility and sheer fun of it make it all worthwhile to me! :-)

  8. says

    LOVE your post. I’ve thought about using my blog to make money (when I was writing on a different blog and for a completely different reason than I blog now).

    In regards to people asking how much you make…my husband does that, but in his culture there is NOTHING off limits to any one. It kills me some times and at other times just embarrasses me but he is such a friendly person that everyone knows he means nothing by it. He is just honestly curious and wondering if he should get in that field somehow.

  9. says

    My friend actually sent me this link via email today. I teach English in a high school and will be utilizing blogs this year with my students. I know quite a few college students–and recent college graduates–who have lined up paying social media related internships because their work is available to see and read in their blogs. It’s a great way to promote yourself when you’re competing with tons of other people.
    Thanks for the info.

  10. Susan says

    I am probably one of those tactless people who would ask how much money you make on your blog ! I mean…I KNOW what teachers, doctors and lawyers and engineers make= $60K, $300K +, 80-300K+ and average of 90-120K respectively, LOL! I have NO idea really what a blogger would make. I mean, sometimes I think PW must rake in thousands a month!

    • says

      LOL. Well, it varies SO widely with blogging, there really is no ballpark. PW is definitely raking in thousands a month, no doubt about it. So are some others I can think of. (I’m not!) LOL.

      (Oh and PW is probably raking in thousands a WEEK.)

  11. says

    Great advice – at least most these days know what a blog is!

    Time is definitely a BIG thing – posts don’t just write themselves.

    Direct questions are great aren’t they. I was demonstrating my jewellery making in a store the other day, and someone said about my jewellery – “it’s a nice hobby for you, but it’s not a real business, is it?” Thanks a lot, I thought!

    How is it going with the virtual assistant? Can what ask what sort of tasks they are taking on for you?

  12. says

    Great post. I think many people assume that an online business is easier but every business takes a lot of hard work and resources. Thanks for sharing this info. And it doesn’t surprise me a bit that people would ask how much you make, although I think that is so rude! :)

  13. says

    i found your post via Giving Up on Perfect’s Weekend Links post today and I’M SO GLAD I DID!!! i’ve been blogging since april and of all the posts i’ve read, this has been the most helpful. thank you!!!

    i didn’t get into blogging to make money, and haven’t looked into that aspect yet (although it does linger in the back of my mind) but reading your post cleared up a few questions about things i knew i eventually wanted to research.

    i plan to go back and read your “So you want to start a blog?” post in a minute and of course, click on all the links you mentioned because i somehow just know they will be helpful too. that’s what i love most about blogs. that people are willing to share information, ideas and feelings with each other so freely. it’s like a comfortable neighborhood with all your best friends.

    i blog because i love to encourage people. it’s something God made me passionate about. writing + encouragement = pure happiness for me. if i never get paid for it, i would still blog. would i love to make a million dollars with my writing?? sure. but if i could make a million hearts find hope…that payment would mean so much more.

    thanks for sharing what you know with those of us who wonder!!!

    happy monday!!!

  14. says

    Thank you for this informative article. I’ve got a New Year’s resolution to actually start putting some content onto my website which I bought but has been vacant for a year. For me the area of focus will be on SEO as you mention because I really want to garner readership and some kind of interest first before I care about generating any income. It is also not my primary job so I want it to be pleasurable and not just a cost-benefit analysis.

    One thing I do disagree with you on is your disparaging tone regarding people asking how much money you make from blogging. Maybe you hang out with gossipy-types who are just trying to be nosy but at least in my experience if someone asks about my salary in my professional job (not blogging) it is because they are interested in entering the field and are looking for a ballpark figure. I blatantly ask my friends how much they pay for things such as an apartment they bought or rent, and we talk openly about salary ranges. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived abroad and in other countries this practice isn’t seen as rude either, but I think your attitude is a little old-fashioned. You’re in new territory and people are just looking to get straight answers and information so I don’t think you need to be offended based on where the comment is coming from there were probably no bad intentions.

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