How do blogs make money?
Before diving into how each one of these bloggers make their money, it’s important to understand the basic ways most blogs make money. Out of all the online business ideas out there, blogging offers one of the most substantial ways to monetize an audience. Some of the ways you can do this includes:
Ads: When a blog gets a certain amount of traffic, you can apply to ad programs that will pay you money for displaying ads on your site. The money you make from ads will depend on how much traffic you get and the kind of content you make.
For example, you can get paid $20 per 1,000 visitors. If your blog has 50,000 visitors, you can make $1,000 just off of ads alone. That’s $1,000 completely passive, you don’t have to do additional work besides maintaining your traffic.
Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing is when you refer the readers on your blog to try a product that can help them. For example, I can refer to WordPress to get your blog started. You will get a discount with a code and I will get a commission if you sign up. It’s a win-win.
If you do that for a ton of products across your blogs, you can start making serious money with affiliate marketing.
Sponsorships: Sponsorships are paid posts and partnerships a blogger can have with a company. With sponsorships, you will get paid a certain amount of money to advertise a product or service to your audience.
Products: Products are basically anything a blogger creates for their audience. This can be courses, guides, ebooks, etc. What’s great about products is that bloggers get 100% of the money they make.
Once you reach a certain amount of traffic on your site, your product sales can start adding up quickly.
Consulting: Consulting is another way bloggers make money. With consulting, a reader from the blog will often reach out and ask the blogger for help with an area of expertise.
The blogger can charge the person or company they are consulting with on an hourly basis and make money from that.
Most of the bloggers in this post make their money thorough one of the ways mentioned above. To learn more about how blogs make money, check out this in-depth explanation here.
1. Adam Enfroy, Adamenfroy.com
Adam built his blog with a unique approach: scale your blog at startup speed by thinking like a business owner instead of a writer.
In just two years, Adam built his blog from 0 to $1 million in revenue. By focusing on content and links, he has grown his blog to over 500,000 monthly visitors and he’s generating over $100,000 per month.
The real question is how does Adam’s blog make money? Here are some numbers from his March 2021 income report.
Affiliate marketing: $78,965
Ad revenue: $12,952
SEO consulting: $8,700
Product sales: $1,197
As you can see, the bulk of his revenue comes from affiliate marketing. In this report, he mentioned he’s in 58 different affiliate programs. This shows the compounding effect of affiliate marketing as traffic grows for a blog.
His blog is definitely a must-watch for the next couple of years. The growth of his blog clearly exhibits his competence in SEO and building a personal brand.
2. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, Makingsenseofcents.com
Michelle started her blog in 2012 and she journaled her progress in paying off her student loans. She had both a bachelor’s and master’s degree so she had her fair share of loans to tackle.
In 7 months, she paid off $38,000 in student loans. She continued to blog about similar subjects and today she has one of the best personal finance and lifestyle blogs. She now makes over $100,000 each month while traveling full-time in her RV.
Although she’s living the dream now with her blog, she has been blogging for over 9 years and she’s a master at affiliate marketing and Pinterest. Out of all the bloggers I’ve researched for this post, she had the highest annual income report.
In 2018, she earned over 1.5 million dollars and she has stopped sharing her income reports since. It’s safe to assume her actual income is more than that now, but the progress of her blog is one of the best representations of persistence and growth in the blogging niche.
3. DollarSprout, Jeff Proctor & Ben Huber
DollarSprout, originally started as VTX capital, is a personal finance blog that has grown tremendously since it started in 2017. Jeff Proctor and Ben Huber are the founders of DollarSprout and they had biology and biochemistry degrees. When they started VTX Capital, they originally wanted to buy and sell securities.
After the blog didn’t generate any money or views in the first 18 months, the founders rebranded and started offering personal finance content on their blog. The rebrand along with learning how to use Pinterest started generating them over 1,000 visitors a day to their blog.
DollarSprout started making the vast majority of their revenue through affiliate marketing. By promoting different types of products to their audience, they started seeing five figure and six figure months primarily from affiliate marketing.
Today, DollarSprout gets over 1 million monthly visitors and generates over $200,000 per month. It’s very possible that the actual revenue figures are much higher. This figure was pulled from an interview in 2019 with one of the founders.
4. Darren Rowse, ProBlogger
Darren Rowse is one of the most well-known bloggers and started the site ProBlogger.com. Rowse stumbled on blogging as a hobby back in 2002. Since then, he has published over 8,000 blogs on blogging and making an income writing online.
ProBlogger is well known for its jobs portion in addition to the blog content. Many freelance writers and bloggers go to the jobs section of ProBlogger to find clients to work with. Since adding jobs to his blog, Darren Rowse has placed over 6,000 ads for jobs on his site and has made over $300,000 passively.
His blog is worth well over 7 figures today. Rowse’s journey with blogging shows a different approach than high-growth blogs that are well-known today. He built his site slowly and organically and it’s one of the most trusted resources by bloggers and aspiring bloggers today.
5. Christina Galbato, Christinagalbato.com
Christina Galbato is an online educator, blogger and social media influencer. She specializes in helping social media influencers scale their business and following online. With over 253,000 followers on Instagram, it’s clear that what she’s preaching is working.
She started growing her blog and Instagram at her day job. By creating valuable content and continuously increasing her social media presence, she started to attract the attention of major brands.
By picking up a few gigs and growing her blog, she became a travel influencer. When people often hear influencer or travel blogger, they think of someone sitting on the beach and selling you a course on how to do it. Christina is the real deal, she focuses primarily on the business side of creating a profitable blog and influencer account.
Since starting her blog, she has helped over 10,000 women build online communities and blogs. In 2020, her blog crossed the 7 figure mark. She now has a team of 12 helping her scale her business, you can check out how she built her business here.
6. Pat Flynn, smartpassiveincome.com
Pat Flynn is the founder of Smart Passive Income (SPI) and has a blog that generates over $2 million per year. Flynn was an architect with no plans on looking for other jobs. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, he lost his job.
During his time as an architect, he created a blog to help study for an architectural exam. When he created a product for his audience, people started buying it in droves. He made over $7,000 in one month from creating the course. He learned how to make money online and this helped create SPI.
What makes SPI unique is how it’s monetized. Many blogs have a ton of traffic and leads, but they are unable to turn those visitors into paying customers. These are some of the ways Flynn monetized his audience in his last public income report:
- Affiliate marketing: $105,619
- Book sales: $2,246.50
- Course sales: $40,855.98
- Niche sites: $3,866.96
- Podcast sponsorships: $3,389
- Software and apps: $10,581.74
As you can see, Flynn has monetized his audience extremely well and he has multiple streams of income. Just mastering one of those revenue streams can create a full-time income for any blogger.
7. Heather Delaney Reese
After Heather Delaney Reese had two daughters at home, she started to look for ways to make money at home. She ran into blogging and decided to launch her own blog talking about topics like personal finance, travel and more. The blog, It’s a Lovely Life, is a 7-figure family business today where Heather works alongside her husband Pete.
Today, It’s a Lovely Life generates over 7 figures each year while allowing Heather and her family to travel 150+ days of each year. As you can see from her 2019 income report, she generated $1,063,559 just off of courses alone.
The total income of It’s a Lovely Life from affiliate marketing, ads, sponsored posts and courses in 2019 was $2,233,236.40. That’s probably the highest reported annual revenue I’ve seen from any blogger. Are there bloggers who make more than that? Yes, but they’re not sharing their numbers.
Although the gross revenue was over $2,000,000, they spent over $1.3 million on ads. The gross net profit is anywhere between $800,000 to $900,000. That’s still amazing for a blog.
This shows the different business models that exist within blogging. Some bloggers invest more in SEO, while others invest money in paid ads. Both methods work, you just need to find one and stick with it.
8. Create and Go, Alex Nerney and Lauren McManus
Alex Nerney and Lauren McManus are former personal trainers and CPAs that became 7-figure bloggers with their blog Create and Go.
They started their blog in 2015 and their first blog was a failure. They started their second blog later in 2015 in the health and wellness niche and it took off.
Several months in they quit their jobs and went all in on all blogging. 7 months later, they hit their first $10,000 month blogging. A few years later they hit their first $100,000 month.
Create and Go found its success primarily through Pinterest. Pinterest is one of the best ways for blogs to get traffic. With pins on Pinterest, blogs can get some of the traffic from Pinterest and use it on their own site.
Create and Go has been steadily earning $100,000 per month for several years now. Alex and Lauren do this primarily through their own blog and by selling courses. They publish an income report each month where they detail how much they have earned.
Their blog is just another testament to the different possibilities that bloggers can make money. Whether you want to gain traffic primarily from Google, Pinterest or any other source, you can do that with enough focus and effort.
This blog post is one of the most inspirational posts I’ve written. Seeing the different ways that bloggers make money shows that building a profitable and sustainable blog is possible with enough time and effort.
One thing you will quickly realize is that most of the bloggers I mentioned have been blogging for years. Blogging is a very long-term game and many bloggers fail simply because of quitting too early.
Most blogs do not generate any money in their first year of blogging. It takes time to get domain authority and start getting a lot of organic visitors to your website.
For example, my blog is going to be six months old in 5 days. In these 6 months, I’ve published 70 posts that are about 2,000 words long. That’s 140,000 words of unpaid work.
Guess how much I earned? $0.
I’m not publishing just random posts, I’m doing the keyword research, the writing and everything else needed to succeed with blogging. The truth is that it takes time, especially for new bloggers.
By the time you end up reading this post, it will be several months from now and I’ll likely have generated some money with my blog then.
I share my blog progress in my income report each month. Feel free to check it out here. I detail what worked for me and what didn’t work, so you can apply that in your business.