Blogging is a serious business these days. Over 4 Million new blog posts are published every single day. That seems an incredible statistic, until it’s dwarfed by the 20 BILLION WordPress pages internet users read each month.
It’s no wonder lots of people head to their Google search bar to look into how to make money blogging.
A simple answer to that question is hard to find and challenging to provide. There’s a great deal more to blogging than sitting at a MacBook keyboard typing imaginative articles. And that’s particularly the case if you intend to make good money from work you put in.
In this article, we take you through a wide range of different ways to make money blogging. By the end, you should have lots of inspiration, and ideas of exactly how to profit by sharing content about your passions and interests.
Do People Really Make Money Blogging?
Plenty of people make a lot of money from blogging. Six-figure incomes are far from rare. What’s more, there are successful bloggers in all kinds of different niches.
At the top of the tree, you have blog sites that have evolved into household names. These include Engadget (tech), Perez Hilton (celebrity news) and Mashable (current affairs and culture). All of those make several million Dollars every single month.
But don’t assume it’s only the more recognisable names that make the serious money. How about Pinch of Yum (recipes), Making Sense of Cents (personal finance), and Alborz Fallah’s Car Advice? All of those blogs earn more than $100,000 every month.
There are also plenty of bloggers who make a very healthy “job replacement income” or more.
However, it’s important to point out that there are also plenty of bloggers who make somewhere between nothing at all and some casual “side gig” income. There are numerous studies on this, but most conclude that more than 50% of bloggers are in that category.
So, yes, people do make money blogging. Many go on to live the dream of a location-independent lifestyle too. But as with so many things in the real world, the true rewards go to those who put the real work in, and run their blogs like businesses.
How Long Does it Take to Make Money Blogging?
Generally speaking, you can expect to wait at least a year before a blog begins to generate a consistent level of meaningful income. There are some exceptions, but it’s wise to allow for this when making any projections or life-changing decisions!
This “delayed gratification” is why many new blogs fail to go the distance. However, that’s actually good news for anybody who’s prepared to pay their dues and put the required effort in.
There are numerous reasons why a new blog takes some time to become established. On a basic level, you need time to create a good body of content. But that content also has to gain some momentum with an audience, and pick up some social shares, incoming links and other online attention.
Google also takes some time to begin to “trust” a new site and list it high enough in the search results to generate any traffic. This is to stop “black hat” sites from easily manipulating the rankings. However, it means all new sites have to bide their time before truly moving off the starting blocks.
There are certain ways to “jump the queue.” Almost always, this means spending money. For example, you can pay for Google adverts or social media promotion.
Paying for traffic can work, IF you can hit that magic formula of earning more from your audience that it costs to pull them to the site. This is expert-level stuff, and not for the faint of heart or tight of budget.
How do Bloggers Make Money?
There are many different ways that bloggers make money, from posting adverts on their sites to selling products and services – both their own, and other peoples’.
In this section, we run through all of the main earning methods in turn. It’s worth noting that while some bloggers concentrate on one stream of revenue, most use a combination of several. This is a wise strategy.
Many bloggers see their very first pennies of income when they begin to run display adverts on their sites.
In simple terms, you can earn money by allowing various areas of your site to be used by advertisers. Traditionally, this would mean slots in sidebars and headers.
However, there are many other ways to advertise on websites now, from ads within articles to overlays on smartphones. There are also those rather intrusive auto-playing videos!
There are various ways to make money displaying ads on a blog. Ad networks such as Google Adsense and MediaVine simply require you to define where you will allow ads to go. The networks then do almost everything else for you, including making deals with the advertisers themselves.
This essentially means you won’t know exactly which adverts will appear on your site at any one time (although you can usually filter out anything objectionable).
Ad networks provide a relatively low-effort way to make money from online ads, especially after the initial setup. However, there are a couple of downsides:
First off, you do have to apply for the ad networks, and acceptance isn’t guaranteed. The better networks will want to look closely at the quality of your site and the volume of traffic you receive. As such, you can’t expect to make money blogging by displaying ads from day one.
You do also need a meaningful level of traffic to make a meaningful amount of money. With only a few hundred pageviews here and there, you may earn some pocket-change, but little more than that. You are usually paid when somebody clicks on an ad, or a small fee per 1000 views.
An alternative to ad networks is doing deals directly with advertisers. This could work for you if you’re in a very specific niche, and is also a good strategy for regional blogs. You could find that your ad slots are in great demand from relevant local businesses.
Affiliate marketing is a topic all of its own, but it’s also a key part of how many people make money blogging.
Affiliate marketing is where you receive commission for promoting products and services on behalf of others. For example, you could review your new digital camera, and include an affiliate link to Amazon for anybody wishing to buy one. If they do shortly after clicking your link, you receive a commission.
There are affiliate programs on offer for everything you could imagine. Travel blogs can promote hotels and car rental firms; Tech blogs can promote gadgets and software, and personal finance blogs can make money from anything from credit card sign-ups to online survey sites.
Affiliate marketing is easy to get into. While some big-name companies are discerning about their affiliate partners, the majority of companies are very eager to work with anybody who’s willing to promote what they have to offer.
Many bloggers start out with the Amazon Associates program, because this allows you to promote any of Amazon’s estimated 353 Million products. Going beyond Amazon, however, you’re likely to find relevant affiliate schemes for any niche you can think of.
Continuing on the theme of companies paying to use your blog as a shop-front for their products, sponsored content is another option.
If you have a relevant audience, companies can find it very worthwhile to pay for promotional content. For example, if you have a successful mum or dad blog, with an engaged audience of parents, you may be able to sell sponsored content to people selling everything from baby products to family holidays.
Unsurprisingly, the larger and more targeted your audience, the easier it is to make sponsored content details.
It’s worth noting that most blogs that begin to establish some momentum and authority start to receive requests for “sponsored posts.” Sometimes these are about little more than passing on some of that authority to other sites in order to try to influence Google’s algorithm and rankings.
While these offers can be tempting, they do risk falling foul of Google’s terms of service. As such, approach such things with caution. There’s a very fine line between genuine sponsored content and illicitly selling links. It’s wise to stay on the right side of it.
Selling Online Courses
It sometimes seems like every blogger out there is marketing a course. However, there’s a good reason for that: There’s plenty of demand, and selling courses can be highly lucrative.
Selling online courses via a blog is a way to generate almost entirely passive income – once the course is ready to sell. You can use automated email sequences (also known as “funnels,”) to market courses on autopilot to those who visit and subscribe to your blog.
Bloggers make great money selling courses on everything from training rescue dogs to ethical hacking.
If you have knowledge that people can genuinely benefit from, and the drive and tenacity to put in the up-front work required, a course business is a great complement to a blog.
Selling Physical Products
A blog can be a “shop front” for far more than just digital products such as courses. You can use one to shift physical products too.
These could be products related to your niche, such as merchandise if you write about music or movies. You could also sell your own crafts and artwork, or have products specifically made to sell under your own brand.
There are plenty of options, both in terms of the products you sell and in how you go about selling them.
You can sell direct, perhaps using an eCommerce platform like Shopify to handle the orders and payments. Alternatively, you can use platforms like Redbubble and Society 6. These can both manufacture and send out your creations.
Creating a Software Tool
Creating a software tool of your very own is another great way to remove reliance on advertising or affiliate income.
If you’re a developer, give some thought to what kind of thing your target audience is crying out for. Even if you’re not a developer, you can outsource the work. Thanks to global freelancing platforms like Upwork, hiring in an expert help you need may not cost nearly as much as you’d expect.
It’s worth keeping in mind that you don’t necessarily need to sell your tool. There can be plenty of benefits to giving something away for free.
A great example of this is the Ubersuggest keyword tool, given away free by internet marketer Neil Patel. By giving away this tool, Patel generates a huge amount of exposure, and lots of links and traffic to his own blog.
Selling your Own Services
We’ve already mentioned a “shop front” a couple of times. A blog can act as one for services as well as products.
For many bloggers, the ultimate aim is to sell high-ticket-price consultancy services. There are endless examples of how this can work.
If you’re a nutritionist, you can provide tips and menu plans in your content, but also aim to sell personalised consultations; SEO bloggers often write long and detailed articles but are also aiming to provide one-on-one consultancy to those willing to pay.
Another example is providing coaching and mentorship to people just getting started in your industry.
Depending on your business model, blogging could primarily be a way to bring new “real-life” customers to your door. For some bloggers, this is the long-term game plan, and the biggest income stream.
Writing and Selling Books
You don’t need a publisher and a deal to get a book out there these days.
With services like Lulu, CreateSpace and KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), it’s easy to turn an idea into a professional-quality book. And if you already have an audience of engaged blog readers, you have somebody to sell it to as well.
Blogs often evolve into books, or result in off-shoot books. Famous examples include Humans of New York and The Four Hour Work Week. Julie and Julia went one step further and went from blog to book to movie!
As you can see there are MANY ways to make money from blogging.
As we touched on near the start, one really important thing to remember is that a blog’s income doesn’t usually come from just one source. The great thing with blogging is that you can combine lots of different income generation ideas.
For example, you can have display ads next to and within your informational content, links to recommended affiliate products, and an ultimate aim of selling products of your own.
You can build things up over time as well, concentrating on affiliates, for example, until you have your own products ready.
One key piece of advice is to have a clear idea of which income streams you’re going to concentrate on from the start.
It’s not ideal to put lots of work into a blog and then try to work out how to monetise it. While there are almost always some options, some niches have clearer routes to profit than others.
As such, try to think about this the other way around. When you’re first deciding on your blog topic, think about which ways to make money fit well around it. That way you have a plan from the beginning, and something to work towards.
What’s in no doubt at all is that bloggers can and do make money – and sometimes lots of it.
So when are you going to get yours started?