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Can you make money blogging? It’s one of the first questions people tend to ask once they find out I have a blog.
I’ve seen plenty of posts that make it sound like you can make a fortune by blogging. Start a blog, put some ads on it, then just sit back enjoying piña coladas on the beach, while your steady flow of passive income rolls in.
Jim, you’re giving me a look – are you saying there’s more to this? Is it possible to make money blogging or not?!
Easy… settle down – we’re all friends here.
Unfortunately, it’s more than just a quick yes or no. The answer is a little more complicated.
Yes, you can make money blogging
First, let me start by saying that it’s definitely possible to make money blogging.
I know a lot of people doing it. In fact, I know some bloggers that make a really good income from their blog.
One of my favorite examples is Joe over at Retire By 40 just because I’ve followed him for so long and because he’s transparent with his numbers.
Joe’s a guy whose blog both inspired me to pursue FIRE we well as to create my own site. So how’s it going for him?
In 2017, he made $64,942 just from his blog. Incredible, right?
He’s one of a good number of bloggers making good money from writing online.
Sounds easy enough, right? So what’s the catch?
It takes both time and work to get there… and a lot of it!
Even though a number like Joe’s sounds encouraging, keep in mind that there’s more to it.
For instance, Joe’s been at this since 2010. It took him seven years to return an income like that. This involves a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication.
And if you think it’s just from writing a few quick posts, you’re wrong.
First of all, the posts you write need to be good content – content that keeps your readers coming back. With research involved, this can easily take up several hours of your time.
Next, you need to give them something to come back to. Joe generally posts a few times a week… with the time involved in each, that’s a lot of work!
And guess what? It involves more than just writing and posting.
You learn fairly quickly the importance of social media and the community. You spend time creating Pinterest-friendly images for your posts, keep up on Twitter and Facebook, and visit and comment on other bloggers’ sites.
And that’s just some of the fun… this blogging stuff can easily be a full-time job!
Sometimes you’ll read an article where blogging gets lumped in as passive income.
You can probably stop writing for a few weeks, but once you do, your traffic will slowly start to head downward. Along with the traffic, your “passive” income goes with it.
Blogging is more like leveraged work. It starts out slow (very slow!), but if you do it right and build it up, your return on investment can be good. And that’s exactly what Joe has shown.
My turn – how’d I do for 2017?
I’m far from making Retire By 40 money, but in 2017, I made $2,062.07 on my blog.
So is that good or bad?
Well, it depends on how you look at it.
Sure, it’s not a ton of money (and not even close to what Joe made!), but it shows that there’s some potential here.
I started Route to Retire in May of 2015. When I started the blog, the goal was both to share what I learned on my path to FIRE and eventually to make some side income with it. I also knew that the site wouldn’t turn a profit for at least a couple of years.
In the meantime, I went to work with it.
With my early days of blogging, the posts were short and (looking back) they didn’t contain much substance. I published a couple of posts a week and each one took a few hours to do.
Over time though, I’ve felt I’m getting a little better at the craft. I now generally spend about 6-8 hours on a post that comes out once a week.
So why not have a little fun with some math?
Let’s say that it all evens out to be just one weekly post since the start at 7 hours a pop. Over the course of around two and a half years (from 5/15 to 12/17) that would come out to be roughly 139 posts (32 months x an average of 4.3485 weeks in a month = 139.1534 posts).
That means I’ve put in about 973 hours of work in writing the posts (139 post x 7 hours per post). Keep in mind that this doesn’t include any of the social media work, working with other bloggers, etc.
I’ve made a total of $2062.07 since the start of the blog. So $2062.07 / 973 hours spent = ~$2.12 per hour.
That’s right – that puts my hourly rate at $2.12 per hour for the blog from 5/15-12/17... Ouch.
And that’s the point, if you’re just in this for the money, you’re going to bail quickly.
But if you truly enjoy the writing and continue to keep up with it, the money will follow eventually.
Keep in mind that 100% of that income was after I hit the two-year mark.
I’m anticipating that this will grow faster and faster every month. In the first two weeks of January 2017, I’ve made $214.72. With the two posts I’ve done in January so far, that puts my hourly rate at $15.34.
Looking a little better, right?
So personally, I’m ecstatic!
I don’t consider this a job – I look at it as a hobby and something I sincerely enjoy doing. I actually get a little giddy talking about this stuff (both the blogging and the personal finance side). That’s why I enjoyed my first trip to FinCon so much – I found my peeps!
Oh, personal finance crystal ball please tell me… will I make money blogging in the future?
I think the answer is yes. In fact, I’ve set a goal of around $20-25k in blogging income per year once I quit my job.
Although this might sound steep, I think it’s a reasonable goal – it might actually be a little low. The fact is, the more time you can put into your blog, the more potential you have to make even more money with it.
Right now, I struggle with time. As a husband and a father, I need to strike a good balance between work, family, and this blog. That’s the big reason why I only post once a week right now.
But once I’m no longer working, I’ll have time to post more often. I’ll also have more time to focus on other Route to Retire avenues as well – like the next book I plan to write. Additionally, I can do more social networking, guesting on podcasts, and other fun. All the while, I’ll be able to do this without it taking much time away from my family.
How to make money blogging
I don’t have all the answers on making money. However, I will tell you what I know from my own blog so far.
Since I don’t draw ridiculous amounts of traffic, ad revenue for me isn’t too exciting. I’m currently using Google AdSense because it’s easy. As my traffic continues to grow, I’ll start looking at shifting over to a more profitable ad provider such as Mediavine.
Of the money I’ve made through the end of 2017, only $211.90 has been from Google AdSense.
What has been more profitable though is affiliate marketing and I’m learning more about that every day.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, you become an affiliate of a company and when you send a referral their way, they give you a cut.
This is where you have to be careful. It’s easy to chase after products and services to promote to your readers and make a buck off ’em. But if you’re promoting junk, you’re going to piss off your readers and send ’em packing.
I made a promise to myself when I started getting into this that I’m not going to chase after a product or service that I don’t like or use. I want to ensure that my readers feel they can trust my recommendations.
That’s why you’ll never see me pushing things like Bluehost for instance. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re a web hosting company and they dangle a pretty nice carrot in front of you to promote their site. I’ve never used them and, although I know some folks are Ok with them, I’ve heard too many horror stories to push anyone that direction.
On the flip side, this site, along with a number of sites I manage are hosted on InMotion. I’ve been happy with them for a couple years now so I decided to become an affiliate and let my readers know this as well.
This becomes a win-win. My readers get a fair and solid recommendation to a company I like and, at no extra cost to them, I get a commission if they sign up from my link.
I don’t go looking for products to make money from. However, if I have a product or service that I’m using and like, I do check to see if they offer an affiliate program. That way, I’m being true to you folks as my readers and only offering products that I think are solid enough for a recommendation.
Sometimes I approach a company directly as I did with InMotion. Another one was for the post I wrote regarding the book I had read from Sam at Financial Samurai – Get Paid to Get Laid Off – How to Engineer Your Layoff. I thought it had a lot of good information so I worked with Sam to develop an affiliate relationship before my post came out.
Other times, I’ll sign up with a network who acts as an intermediary for hundreds or thousands of advertisers.
My favorite of these is FlexOffers. That link is a referral link itself, but I feel good offering it up because they’ve been the bulk of what I’ve received in income so far. I made $1,701.50 using FlexOffers through the end of 2017.
In addition, although I could recommend over 12,000 different products or services offered through them, I focus on what I use and like. If I decide to talk about something I like using, such as Empower (formerly Personal Capital), I search through FlexOffers to see if they have it as an affiliate.
Another big one is Amazon’s affiliate program. Link to any product with your referral link and you get a cut of everything they order after clicking through – not just the product you referred. Pretty cool, right? Just be careful to read through their program before using since they have some goofy rules on what you can and can’t do.
If you just aim to make money with your blog by pitching tons of stuff to your readers, you’re going to be disappointed in the long run. However, if you’re occasionally providing your readers products or services that truly provide value, you’re doing them a service and they’ll be loyal readers for years to come.
So is it possible to make money blogging? I’d say that the answer is yes, but it will take a lot of work to get there.
It’s important to understand that the keys are to have both traffic and trust.
The trust part takes time. The traffic part is more of a variable. If you have more time to focus on your blog, you can post more often and spend more time cultivating relationships across the blogosphere. Both of these will help to grow your traffic more quickly.
So whether you look at my $2062.07 as strong or weak income, know that you have some power to make money blogging over time.
If you don’t currently have a blog but are interested in the idea, I’d recommend you check out my page on creating your own blog.
You might also want to check out my friend Pete’s post “How to Monetize a Blog: A Complete A-Z Guide.” It’s a nice guide that really breaks down the different avenues of making money on your blog.
Are you a blogger or have you ever considered it? Have you figured out how to make money blogging yet?
Thanks for reading!!