In April 2015, I wrote this piece on how I made $50,000 with a blog side hustle. It was very popular at the time – and THEN I wrote a piece on how I made $100,000 blogging when after I crossed that threshold at the end of 2016. Now, I figure it's time for another update. So, how much money can you make blogging? Now, I'm happy to report this blog alone has made over $100,000 for my personal finance bottom line. But that's not in a month or a year it's over time and has been a very slow build, but personally, I'm pretty proud of the results. Here's the TL:DR before we get started.
- I started this blog (formerly called L Bee and the Money Tree) in May 2012.
- I made money even in the first year. You can see all those numbers in that year in the original post. (And at the bottom of this one!)
- I ran the blog as a side hustle until I left my FT job in 2015 to work for myself.
- During my first year of self-employment I made money primarily as a freelance writer and content strategist, but my blog income continued to grow.
- In early 2016 (about a year ago) I decided to give up most of my writing clients to focus on trying to make the website itself earn more passive income.
- In May 2017, I quit being an entrepreneur and went back to work full time while still relying on the blog as my side hustle (look at the numbers at the end of the post to see how I did!)
My favorite side hustle is blogging and online writing. If you’re thinking about starting a blog of your own, you’ll need to get self-hosting in order to make money. Click here to get your own self-hosted blog with HostGator for just $2.75 per month using my special link, and then come back here for step-by-step tutorial on installation.
So…How Did It Go?
I've written some about this transition from service based writing business to products and affiliates, mostly through my online income reports ( see here and here) which, admittedly, I haven't done in awhile but continue to dabble with. But this is the first post where I've laid it all out and since the last one was so popular I decided to do it again. I also thought it would help those who were considering joining me in my new course, Beginner Blog Accelerator, see how they can start a blog that earns money.
But I do get asked a lot “How much money can you make blogging?” which is a great question and one I wanted to answer, and I thought I would share with you today just how much I’ve made in the last (nearly) five years as a blogger. The answer is, it depends. There are many bloggers who never make more than $500, and others who earn over $100k in a month. In terms of earnings, I find myself solidly in the top 10% in terms of earnings (according to this Lifehacker article), but that it's harder than ever to crack that elusive top 5.
“How I Made $150,000 with a Blog Side Hustle”
The Various Income Streams of a Blogger
Native Advertising & Brand Campaigns
Better known as sponsored posts, brands will pay me for posts that mention their business, review a product, or contain relevant, valuable content related to what they offer. They do this because they want to gain exposure or drive traffic to a certain site or piece of content. I love doing these and it’s nice to see in the last year and a half or so how much brands have embraced working with bloggers!
I participate in a handful of ad networks (like BlogHer and Google Adsense) who run ads on my site and pay me for it. While I was previously ignoring this area, I started really investing time into this revenue stream in late 2016. Previously, I made only a few dollars each month and now I make about $250/month on network ads alone.
Direct Ad Sales
Occasionally I'll sell an ad in my sidebar directly to a business. It's more money than going through an ad network, but not as consistent. It's also directly tied to performance and some ads may not do well on my site.
A lot of bloggers do affiliate advertising. Some do it very, very well.Affiliate advertising works like this: brands (via affiliate networks) will give bloggers links to products or services. Bloggers embed those links into their posts and then they get a “fee” or “commission” of whatever business they bring to that brand. I’m simplifying it, but you get the idea.
This has been a huge area of growth for me in the last year and the only reason I was able to stop trading my dollars-for-time as a writer and earn more from this website with affiliates.Here's how I made my first $1,000 in affiliates.
The ONLY way I did this was by taking Michelle's Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course and implementing her step-by-step action plan. Doing that I was able to increase my affiliate income 2000% last year. These are also some of the most lucrative affiliate programs I've found. (for me at least.)
Products, Courses & Book Sales
I was a blogger for three full years before I even attempted to do my own product. Why? Because I was scared. Then at the beginning of 2016 I decided to really dive in and I built SIX freebies and six-more premium products to sell in my online store that year. The first product I ever launched, The Blog Yourself Rich Workbook, was released just over a year ago!
The standalone digital products still continue to do well, but in 2017 I'm branching out into courses (both free and for sale) to further diversify my income streams.
Products are my favorite things to make for two reasons: they're really fun and you get to be creative and once the work is done – it's done… and you can focus on new ways to promote what you already made. Basically, a lot of hard work up front, but then they make money for you while you sleep. I haven't updated many of my products in awhile, but hopefully I'll be able to tackle them in the back half of 2018.
Additional Ways to Earn
I did these in the past, but only received product as compensation. Although I no longer do this, many bloggers do, and reviewing products (for cash or for free) is a lot of fun. In the five years I've been blogging I've received well over $2,500 of free product and books (and recently, free travel!) I'm going to be doing a lot more travel writing in the future, but most of it won't be branded reviews.
In 2015 & 2016 I offered one-on-one sessions to beginner bloggers (click here to see my services and what happy clients say about me!) who wanted to learn a lot in a short amount of time and expand their brands and websites to become online income generators. I've worked with people all over the U.S. (and even in the Phillippines and Australia!)
Honestly, coaching is one of my favorite things to do. Working from home I especially love the Skype calls and interaction, but I'm ramping down on it as an income stream in favor of promoting my course, Beginner Blog Accelerator. . If you're a blogger and good at any one skill, private coaching is always a great option for revenue as your main mode of marketing (i.e. your blog!) is already built and you can leverage this to build your business.
Freelance Finance Writing
Because of my years (this blog is almost six years old!) Also as my expertise and name recognition grows, I've been able to command more and more for freelance writing gigs. Not directly related to the blog, but I believe I make this money because of the blog so it counts.
I have made money with video sponsorships (like I did with Awkward Money Chat) . Demand for video is only going to increase, so if you have a knack for or a passion for being in front of a camera, I think this will be a big revenue generator in future.
Appearances and Speaking
I’ve also done appearances at conferences and local events for travel expenses + a fee. Sometimes I prepare a presentation and speak, other times I sit on a panel and talk on a given topic (like the awesome one I did with Prudential last summer.)
I won't lie. I was in a weird place and pretty much over “money content.” As a result I tried to sell the website from June 2017 until February 2018. I had a lot of interest, a lot of people who paid the deposit to poke around in my Google Analytics, but ultimately, no one was interested in buying the brand. (“Too much L Bee,” they said.) So, I sat with the question for awhile of if I really wanted to let “my baby” go, and I decided by tweaking the direction a bit (doing more lifestyle + travel content instead of being so money focused) would make me feel like things are fun again and it has helped quite a bit.
Looking at the numbers below, you'd wonder why I'd give up a $60k per year side hustle. If I sold the website (and many people do just that, buy and sell websites for profit!) my earnings for FBL would've doubled, although I'd no longer have income coming in “on the side”, regularly, each month.
How Much Money Can You Make Blogging + My Blogging Income (Year over Year)
With all these ways to make money, blogging can be (and is for me) incredibly lucrative. It isn't a “get rich quick” scheme, it's a lot of hard work, but it can be very creative, fulfilling, and flexible. If you're looking for something that fits this criteria, blogging could be for you!
Now What You've Been Waiting For! The Numbers!
- YTD Blog Income Total (2012) – $1,395 (I blogged 7 months of 2012)
- YTD Blog Income Total (2013) – $8,255
- Yearly Blog Income Total (2014) – $11,345
- YTD Blog Income Total (2015) – $27,647.15
- YTD Blog Income Total (2016) – $52,009.08
- YTD Blog Income Total (2017) – $62,910.42
Total Lifetime Blog Earnings = $163,561.50 (OVER SIX YEARS)
These numbers aren't as big as some of the ones you'll find on the internet, but I'm incredibly proud. To have blogged this consistently for this long and to truly have built something…well, I can't find other words. I'm probably proudest that I was able to double my blogging income since focusing just on the blog. At the time of this update (in 2018) I'm also proud I was able to go back to work, while still maintaining the level of income on the website. Even though I try to balance the job and my side hustle, a lot of this money was pretty passive. That is a win, too!
Of course, making money is nice, but none of this would've been possible if I hadn't taken the leap and gotten started. The first step is to actually start making money online is to blog consistently and I show you how in my new course. Click here to enroll in Beginner Blog Accelerator. or here if you want the quick tutorial on how to start a blog of your very own.
What do you think? Is this what you thought bloggers made? What aspects of it surprised you?
*this post originally appeared in February 2017. It's been updated on 4/9/2018