Wondering how much money can you make blogging? Interested in how bloggers actually make a living? And is earning money blogging a realistic side hustle?
For a few years now, blogging has been listed as one of the top side hustles around because of its flexibility and income potential. The truth is there is a very wide range of income when it comes to blogging — from a few hundred a month to a million dollars a year. The longer you stick with it the more income potential you’ll have.
How much money can you make blogging?
First things first, the income range among bloggers is wide. Like, really wide.
There are bloggers who consistently make six to seven figures a year. If you want proof, check out these sites:
- Making Sense of Cents: Michelle is a friend of Laptop Empires and she earns around $100,000/month from affiliate income, course sales, and sponsored posts.
- NatalieBacon.com: Natalie is a lawyer turned certified life coach, blogger, and podcaster who earns around $40,000/month from her site
- Pinch of Yum: Popular recipe site that brings in $50,000+/month from affiliate income, course sales, and plug-ins.
- Millennial Money Man: Laptop Empires very own Bobby Hoyt has built a seven-figure blog with course sales, affiliate income, and sponsored posts.
The money those bloggers make is kind of insane, but what you have to realize is that they’ve put in a ton of work (lots of it unpaid in the beginning). They also outsource work so they can focus on higher-value tasks like creating course content, for example.
So that’s the high end.
The other end is bloggers who make $500-$5,000/month. The highest concentration of bloggers earn in this range. And brand new bloggers — those who have been blogging for less than a year — might earn $0-$500/month.
Before we move on, here’s a thought exercise…
That income spectrum is incredibly wide, and it might appear that some bloggers are more successful than others, but spend some time thinking about what “success” means to you.
It means lots of money to some, but to others, it means flexibility, reduced financial stress, and/or doing more of what you love. It doesn’t take a 6-figure income to be successful under those latter terms.
Blogging, as a side hustle or full-time job, lets you achieve those things. You can earn extra money in your spare time. Money you can use to pay off debt, save for early retirement, pay for an epic family vacation every year, etc.
This is important stuff to think about because it can prevent you from feeling like you’re not making it.
How do bloggers get paid?
Most non-bloggers have no freaking clue how bloggers actually make money. Every blogger has a story about being at some family gathering and having to explain to their aunt/grandpa/cousin that they do make a living writing on the internet.
There are 6 main ways that bloggers make money, and while new bloggers will only focus on a couple sources of income in the beginning, you eventually need to diversify your income sources. It both helps you earn more and protect your income.
1. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is when a blogger promotes companies or products through their blog and earns a commission when they convert a reader into a customer. Here’s how it works:
- The blogger applies to be an affiliate with different companies
- If approved, you’re given a special tracking link that you use when writing about the product or service
- When a reader clicks on that link and purchases the product, you earn a commission
Affiliate marketing can feel like a fairly passive source of blogging income because you can keep generating income from that post for months or years in the future. However, it’s not entirely passive because you still have to maintain the post and get traffic to it.
We suggest Michelle’s course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, if you want to learn from the affiliate queen herself.
How much money do bloggers make from affiliate income?
What you make from each conversion depends on the affiliate. One like Amazon Affiliates — a popular one for all kinds of bloggers — pays out 4-8.5% commission on sales. There are app affiliates that might pay a flat rate. You can become an affiliate for online courses and make a couple hundred dollars per sign up.
Since he started his site in 2008, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income has made $3 million from affiliate marketing alone. And one of his partnerships has generated more than $400,000.
2. Display ads
These are on-page ads that you might see up by the header, at the bottom of the page, on the sidebar, or in the middle of posts.
Display ads are managed by different networks — Google AdSense, Mediavine, and AdThrive are all popular networks. And the networks payout for these ads in a couple of different ways:
- CPC (cost-per-click): You make money based on the number of people who click on your display ads.
- CPM (cost-per-impressions): Income is based on the number of views each ad gets.
Besides determining where you want the ads to go on your site, it’s fairly passive. Some bloggers don’t use them because they can take away from the user experience, like slowing down your site or just getting in the way of your content.
How much do bloggers earn from display ads?
But think about a blog post that gets 100,000 page views per month. There’s the potential to make $200 for every ad in your post. If you have 4 ads per post, that’s up to $800 from one post alone.
3. Sponsored posts
Sponsored posts are when a company pays you to write content that promotes their product or service. You see a lot of sponsored content on Instagram these days, think influencers talking about the lotion that makes their face extra glowy.
Bloggers can be paid to write social media posts in combination with social media content — it all depends on the sponsorship agreement. A lot of the time, sponsored posts are reviews, but they can also be used to promote some new service or feature the company is offering.
You run the risk of coming off as spammy if you run too many sponsored posts or don’t share your genuine feelings in the posts. But when they’re done well, you can introduce your readers to companies that can have a positive impact on their lives.
How much do bloggers make from sponsored posts?
Newer bloggers can make anywhere from $150-$250 per sponsored post, and as your site grows, you can make $1,000-$2,000 or more per post.
If you have a large following, you can make considerably more. For example, Michelle-Schroeder Gardner of Making Sense of Cents makes $10,000-$20,000/month from sponsored posts alone. Yep, she has a course for that too! Check out Making Sense of Sponsored Posts.
4. Freelance services
Some people might not consider this true blogging income, but if you offer freelance service through your blog, it’s blogging income in our book.
Lots and lots of the big-name bloggers who’ve been mentioned in this post have offered freelance service through their blogs at some point because it’s a good way to sustain your site until you make money from affiliate sales, sponsored posts, etc.
You can offer all kind of freelance services, like:
- General virtual assistance
- Pinterest virtual assistance
- Graphic design
- App development
- Web design
- Running Facebook ads
- Social media management
So if you have a marketable skill you can offer through your site, freelancing is a good way to go in the beginning. You’ll need a “Work With Me” or “Hire Me” button on your site so people can find your services.
Once your blogging income begins to grow from other sources you can stop freelancing to focus on more profitable sources.
How much money can you make by offering freelance services through your blog?
It’s really hard to say because it depends on the services you offer. For an idea, working as a freelance ad manager on Facebook nets around $1,000-$2,000/month per client. Pinterest VAs average $500/month per client.
5. Create and sell digital products
Digital products are things like ebooks, printables, how-tos, planner pages, budgets, calendars, etc. You can list them on your site, readers purchase the product, and get a downloadable file to print.
There are lots of benefits to creating this kind of revenue stream:
- Because they’re not physical products, there’s very little overhead
- You can tailor the products to fit your audience’s needs
- You own the rights to your products
- You get to keep a much larger share of revenue (there are always some processing fees associated with selling things)
- It’s a source of fairly passive income
You’ll have the most success with digital products if you offer your first one for free, but it still needs to be valuable. That free product shows your audience what they can expect from you, but you can also use it as a lead magnet to grow your email list.
Pro tip: All successful bloggers have an email list. Your list is gold, and it’s all yours. Email lists are so valuable that they have an ROI of $38 for every $1 you spend on them. You’ll need a list to promote your products, bring readers back to your site, and when you’re ready to launch your first course.
How much do bloggers make from digital products?
Digital products can range widely in costs — from $39 for a family emergency binder to budget printables for $3. One of the more successful blogs in this realm, Ivory Mix, makes $6,000+/month from digital products.
6. Teach online courses
If you’ve been paying attention for the past couple of years, you may have noticed that more and more bloggers are selling online courses. To explain why, here’s something you need to understand about blogging…
The most profitable blogs are ones that help people solve problems.
If someone can help fix something in your life, make it better in some way, you’d pay money for that, right? It’s why you pay to see a chiropractor — they fix your back. It’s why you pay a CPA to do your taxes — ugh, taxes!
Online courses allow bloggers to teach their readers something that will improve their lives by addressing their readers’ pain points. Bloggers leverage their experience and knowledge to create their courses, and then market it to their audience.
Selling an online course is almost like the culminating project that takes every important blogging strategy you’ve learned as a blogger:
- You need an email list ready for launch
- You’ve been growing your blog traffic
- You’ve dabbled in marketing
Despite all of the work bloggers put in on the front end, the surprising thing is that you can create and launch a course in less than a month if you really wanted to. For an easy-to-digest guide, check out Learn How to Create An Online Course in Just 9 Steps.
How much money can you make blogging with course sales?
What’s wild about this source of income is how much you can make. Seriously, there are bloggers who’ve made over $2 million in course sales in just a couple of years. Our first course, The Facebook Side Hustle Course, which was primarily launched through the blog Millennial Money Man, had a 6-figure launch.
Not every blogger who creates a course will earn that kind of revenue, but the point is that this is where the money is for bloggers.
How many views do you need to make money blogging?
This is a fairly common question about blogging income, but there’s not a simple answer for a couple of reasons.
- One, it depends on how you’re monetizing your blog — you’ve now seen how many options are out there
- Two, your email list is just as important, if not more, than your page views — cannot stress enough the value in your email list
Most brand new bloggers will earn their first revenue from display ads. Google AdSense doesn’t have pageview requirements, so pretty much anyone can start here.
As your traffic grows, you can apply to other ad networks and affiliate programs. Again, most don’t have strict pageview requirements, but they may ask you to share some numbers about your blog, like unique visitors, monthly views, page views, and return visitors.
You open the door to more monetization opportunities as your traffic increases — companies will be more willing to go in on a sponsored partnership, affiliate networks will want to use your reach, etc.
How much money can you realistically make blogging?
If you’ve just started a blog or are thinking about starting one, there is still a lot of money to be made online. That’s the first thing you need to remember.
The second thing is that it takes time to make money blogging. Like, you might be blogging for 3-6 months and not earn a dime from your site. Blogging is a fairly slow business model overall, but as long as you’re willing to put in the work and stick with it, you can earn some decent side hustle cash.
Now that those things have been said, it’s not unrealistic to make $1,000-$10,000 in your first year.
That might not sound like a ton compared to what some of the wildly successful bloggers mentioned in this article bring in each month or year, but know that they all started from the same spot — a big fat $0 in blogging revenue.
How much money can you make blogging — the final word
Blogging is a very real source of income for many people, from those who earn a couple thousand dollars a month on the side to those who make millions of dollars from their site.
That should be your biggest takeaway — there is a very wide range in the amount of money you can make blogging.
What differentiates you is the time and effort they are able to contribute to your sites. There is a ton of mostly unpaid work in the beginning, so it’s hard to sustain your motivation. But that works pays off down the line.
As far as what you should do, I highly encourage you to click on the links throughout this article as they will take you articles that provide actionable advice for increasing your page views and monetizing your site.