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Can You Make Money Blogging? I Am.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!

Can You Make Money Blogging? I Am. - It takes both time and work to get there... and a lot of it!
Time and hard work… and apparently you have to do this without a nose or mouth.

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.

It’s not.

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?

Can You Make Money Blogging? I Am. - My turn - how'd I do for 2017?
This is the way we celebrate at our house… you know that’s Boone’s Farm, right?

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!

 

The Future

Can You Make Money Blogging? I Am. - The Future
This is the only crystal ball I really know! 😉

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

Can You Make Money Blogging? I Am. - How to make money blogging
Plant the seed… plant the seed…

I don’t have all the answers on making money.  However, I will tell you what I know from my own blog so far.

 

Ads

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.

 

Affiliate marketing

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.

Can You Make Money Blogging? I Am. - How to make money blogging
It’s all about the win-win – the fair shake. But you’ll never see me wearing a suit for something other than a wedding or a funeral!

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 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.

 

Are you a blogger or have you ever considered it?  Have you figured out how to make money blogging yet?

 

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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41 thoughts on “Can You Make Money Blogging? I Am.

  • January 16, 2018 at 6:31 am
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    Pretty awesome that you are making any money!:)
    I am trying to get traffic before I start looking into making any money with my blog, I may never get there! Thanks for sharing your experience, always beneficial for newer bloggers.

    Reply
    • January 16, 2018 at 10:44 am
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      There’s three camps on blogging – those who don’t want to monetize, those who want to build their traffic before monetizing, and those who monetize right from the onset. I fall into that last group, but it’s all a matter of preference – there’s no right or wrong on this. The important thing to know is that even if you monetize early, you will likely not see any or much money until you build a loyal base of readers who trust in you.

      It sounds like you’re in that second group of bloggers. In time, you’ll gain enough of a following to know when it’s time to start monetizing. In the meantime, just keep writing good content and be consistent with your posting.

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 8:20 am
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    Blogging income seems to be like a train chugging along and picking up steam. Sounds like now you’ve gotten through the early stages and your income should continue to increase from here. Good to know about google ads and the other affiliate programs. I’ve been using google ads primarily for my blog.

    Reply
    • January 16, 2018 at 10:45 am
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      I’ve actually debated removing the ads because the return isn’t great. For now though, I’ve decided that as long as there aren’t too many and it doesn’t detract from the content, then I’m Ok with them there.

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 8:57 am
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    Blogs are a labor of love and what I’m finding are a lot of work. Congrats on bringing in something. I suspect your numbers will continue to increase.

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    • January 16, 2018 at 10:48 am
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      Definitely a lot harder than it works to stay on top of the blog and the community. If you enjoy it, though, it’s worth it and can be plenty rewarding – and not specifically in revenue, but also learning so much and getting to know some great folks in the personal finance world! 🙂

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 9:33 am
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    The hardest part is building up an audience and traffic. Too many bloggers try to make money too early and it turns people off. You have to learn then earn, you’re doing it right.

    Reply
    • January 16, 2018 at 10:53 am
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      And you’ve built up an audience more than once – that’s impressive!

      It’s a long road, but I’ve love doing this for close to three years now, so any money that I start to make along the way is just icing on the cake!

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 9:49 am
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    It’s certainly harder to make money than it seems from the outside. Nice job on your part to be able to monetize while sticking to your guns on making solid recommendations. On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed blogging way more than I expected. Out of curiosity, at what level of traffic do you think it makes sense to start with a company like flex offers?

    Reply
    • January 16, 2018 at 11:14 am
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      If I remember right, there aren’t any minimums on the traffic to sign up for FlexOffers. However, each advertiser you sign up for in the network then has the opportunity to approve or decline you. I actually think they focus more on what you are posting about than how much traffic you bring in, though.

      My opinion is that there’s not a right or wrong answer on when to sign up for something like FlexOffers – or really when to monetize at all. However, it’s important to focus on your readers first and foremost. If your ads are intrusive or all over the place, it makes for a bad user experience, and that can deter readers from coming back.

      Like you, I enjoy the whole blogging thing a lot, so I let the ads and affiliate marketing just kind of hover passively in the background. The money that comes in is just gravy and should build over time.

      If you decide to give it a whirl, I’d appreciate the referral from my link. 🙂 Good luck!

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 11:08 am
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    Thank you for mentioning us!
    My name is Jenny and I am the Marketing Associate for Mediavine.
    Our goal is to help digital content creators passively monetize their awesome content through display ads, and we aim to do this with ease to the publishers and without slowing down their sites.
    Our threshold to work with a site is 25k monthly sessions and we’re here to answer any questions at publishers@mediavine.com
    We’ll be looking for you in 2018!

    Reply
    • January 16, 2018 at 11:20 am
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      Haha, look at you with the blatant plug! 😉 I’ll let it pass though since I did get to partake in the Mediavine pub crawl at FinCon in Dallas! I had the opportunity to meet Stephie and I think you and I had a quick intro in passing.

      Now you just need to make an exception for Route to Retire on your monthly sessions and I’m all in! I mean, I’ll be there soon enough, so why not get the ball rolling sooner than later? 🙂

      — Jim

      Reply
      • January 16, 2018 at 11:29 am
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        We try to reply to everyone who mentions us, but we’re allergic to plugs, shameless or otherwise.
        Just want to thank those kind enough to talk about us to their audience.
        If you’re approaching the 25k, fill out an application. We’re always happy to take a look!
        Unfortunately, waiving the threshold isn’t in the cards, but you’ll be ready soon enough if you keep creating great content.
        We’ll be at FinCon18, so we hope to see you there again (this time as a Mediavine publisher!)

        Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 11:17 am
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    It takes so long to build an audience, you need to find other indicators of success (and other factors that contribute to fulfillment) before the traffic and money start showing up. 🙂

    Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 2:08 pm
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    I’ve been active on social media for months, but sometimes I feel like it comes in the way of what I really want to do, which is write. It is a challenge finding a balance in the two sometimes. I suppose I need to find more efficient ways of participating in social media so I can continue to concentrate on content. Congrats on your blog’s continued success!

    Reply
    • January 16, 2018 at 2:20 pm
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      It’s funny how that goes – when the idea of blogging first comes to mind, we think of writing. Then you start a blog and realize how much else is involved (if you’re aiming to grow your audience). Unfortunately, it comes with the territory, but you’re right – it’s a matter of finding a balance. I struggle with that as well, but I think I’m getting better because I decided not to try to “own” all the social media platforms and just put most of my focus on one. For me that’s Twitter, but that’s probably different for everyone.

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 4:28 pm
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    I think you can do it, Jim! It’s not easy AT ALL. I love seeing stuff on Pinterest like, “Make $50,000 a MONTH with blogging.” Yeah, okay. 😉 You can do it, but it’s not overnight and it’s not easy! Def a labor of love. Can’t wait to see you hit this milestone!

    Reply
    • January 16, 2018 at 9:36 pm
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      Hmm, $50k per month does sound pretty interesting… where’s this Pinterest link you speak of?!! 😉

      Truly a labor of love, but I like knowing that it’s attainable with some work.

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 17, 2018 at 11:10 am
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    Thanks for the mention! I really appreciate it.
    I think you’re doing it right. The first year, you just need to get into the habit of writing. Shorter posts are okay. Now, you need longer more detailed posts. It’s a different world than 2010. Thanks to Google…
    Good luck with reaching 25k. Once you start working with a good ad network, the income will increase dramatically. Adsense is okay to start off with, but the pay rate is so dismal.
    What’s the time ratio on your time – spending time on your site vs other stuff?

    Reply
    • January 17, 2018 at 11:23 am
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      I currently spend roughly about 6-8 hours on a post (research, Pinterest/Twitter images, etc.) depending on the content. As far as the other stuff goes (social media, visiting and commenting on other sites, R2R site maintenance, etc.), that’s a little more spread out, but I’d say it probably adds up to a good 2-3 hours per week.

      Out of curiosity, which ad network have you been using? I have Mediavine in my sites, but I’m still below their threshold of 25k sessions per month.

      — Jim

      Reply
      • January 19, 2018 at 8:33 am
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        I use AdThrive. The money is good, but they cram a lot of ads in. I’m not happy about that, but life is a compromise.

        Reply
        • January 19, 2018 at 11:27 am
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          Thanks for the info, Joe – I’m sure my readers were interested to know as well.

          — Jim

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  • January 17, 2018 at 1:56 pm
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    $2k is strong in my book considering I’ve not monetized my blog yet. It’s been a labor of love for sure! I did earn some freelance income last year and already this year as a result of the blog though, so that’s a win. Keep cranking out the posts and the traffic will come…or so I hear. Good thing we don’t live off pageviews. HA!

    Reply
    • January 17, 2018 at 4:10 pm
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      That’s really cool you’re spinning off into some freelance work. Has that been pretty good profit-wise and does it send a decent amount of traffic your way?

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 18, 2018 at 12:54 pm
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    That is fantastic the amount of money you have made. I have been at this for almost 4 years and haven’t made more than $100. However, I would like to monetize this a bit more. I do have some affiliate links, but I do have to put more time into looking into this, particularly flex offers. I may PM you to get some advice if you don’t mind.

    Reply
    • January 18, 2018 at 6:47 pm
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      Keep in mind that almost everything I’ve made has been weighted heavily toward the last half of 2017. I’m still learning like the rest of us, but let me know if you have any questions I might be able to help with.

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 19, 2018 at 1:23 am
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    Wow, even though you income isn’t that huge Jim, *any* income is kinda a big deal.

    Most bloggers give up long before they ever reach the levels of readership that will produce any income.

    The fact that you’ve already made $2k is impressive.

    Reply
    • January 19, 2018 at 7:44 am
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      It’s funny because when you take a step back, $2k isn’t a lot of money in the overall scheme of things. However, it’s definitely a start that I’m happy with!

      You’re right about most bloggers and that’s really the key, in my opinion – if you’re just in it for the money, you’re probably going to get frustrated pretty quickly with the long build up. But if you enjoy doing it, any income that shows up over time is really just icing on the cake!

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 19, 2018 at 2:20 am
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    Thanks for the insights. I’m relatively new at this still and blogging is a hobby for me. I’m trying to build an audience while maintaining a consistent posting schedule. It’s definitely a time consuming endeavor. I enjoy reading your posts.

    Reply
    • January 19, 2018 at 7:59 am
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      Thanks, Millionaire Doc! It sounds like you’re already on the right path. Maintaining a consistent posting schedule is really one of the most important keys to success. Make it good content you’re proud of and the audience will build over time. Good luck to you!

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 21, 2018 at 9:09 pm
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    You seem to like the afffiliate approach. If you weren’t monetizing yet and wanted to start, would affiliates be your first step?

    Reply
    • January 22, 2018 at 8:22 am
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      If you’re new to blogging, that might be a tough question to answer. Advertising is easy to setup using AdSense so there’s not a huge reason not to do this early on (unless you don’t want ads littering your site). Affiliate marketing pays much better, but is a little tougher to do if you don’t have loyal readers yet – a reader who doesn’t know you yet will have less of a chance of buying into recommendations you’re making. In other words that trust needs to be there.

      I think ads are the easy way to start with. Then work your way into affiliate marketing once you start to understand what your readers are after down the line.

      — Jim

      Reply
  • January 30, 2018 at 9:29 pm
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    I have been blogging for about 10 years – I have seen so many talented bloggers quit because they focused on monetization and lost the love of just writing about the topic they chose.

    Reply
    • January 31, 2018 at 8:10 am
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      I can definitely see how that can happen to a lot of bloggers. Hopefully, I don’t end up going down that route. Because any money I make is just gravy and not income I’m relying on, it’s great to see, but not my world. I want blogging to continue being fun for me and I’d rather focus on writing on topics I enjoy and that I know my readers will benefit from.

      — Jim

      Reply

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