How to Make Money with a Blog

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This post contains affiliate links.

We’ve talked a lot about the benefits of having multiple streams of income, now I realize it’s time to take a slightly deeper dive. This is the first of a series on how to make money through different avenues. I’m going to keep each of these to a reasonable length post so while they won’t be encyclopedic, however, it should give you some basic ideas on how to monetize things and whether it might be worth your while to start this particular venture.

How to Make Money with a Blog

This is a subject that I’m quite familiar with having run this blog for nearly 20 months. Before starting the blog I had seen income reports online revealing the revenue of some sites like Smart Passive Income and White Coat Investor. I’m a little more private and like to share mine exclusively with newsletter subscribers.

Some people rely on blogging as a sole means of income, so you know there has to be some way to monetize it and make it worth your time financially. But let’s start from the beginning…

What is a Blog?

A blog is simply a series of online informal entries on a website. It can be a pretty loose term and styles vary from something that looks like a personal diary to something that looks more like a newspaper. The crux of it is that someone creates or publishes content on a site and someone else reads it.

This site is an example of a simple blog. It’s my personal documentation of what I’m learning on the journey to financial freedom as a physician, focused on finding multiple sources of income, and creating long-lasting passive income.

How Much Money Can You Make?

Blogging can be a hobby but if you’re talking about money, I consider it a business. The income made from it can vary widely as it can for any business. I’ve met bloggers who struggle to make enough to cover the overhead expenses of running a blog, and I’ve also met others that make over a million dollars a year. Nothing is guaranteed but what I can tell you is the upside can be tremendous.

The amount of money you make can depend on the amount of traffic you get to your site. I’ve read Financial Samurai mention that you can expect to make 1-10 cents a page view. That means if you have 50,000 page views a month, that works out to $500-$5,000 a month.

Credit: Problogger

I’ve looked all over for some definitive source on how much money is made overall by blogging. This chart above is about the best I can find, and comes from a survey of 1500 bloggers by the site Problogger. 10% made absolutely nothing. 53% made under $100 a month. However, 13% made over $1,000 a month and out of that 4% made over 5-figure a month. That last chunk of the pie equates to 6-figures a year, serious income.

So, How Do You Make This Money?

Bloggers make money directly through their blog and also through opportunities that pop up as a result of having their site. The following are some of the different methods.

Advertising

Advertisers are always looking for exposure and for ways to get in front of a group of potential customers. If you provide a place to get seen, you can get paid for it.

These ads come in a variety of forms:

  1. Display Advertising

    These are ads that you might see on the upper banner spot or on the sidebar, as well as in-content ads. You also might see some scattered in newsletters and email posts.

    A) Direct / Private Ads – This is when you work directly with a company to display their advertising. It’s also referred to as a static ad / banner and they choose what they want shown in a predetermined size box on your page. You set a price and they pay you a daily, monthly, or yearly fee to have it prominently displayed on your site.

    B) Contextual Ads – This is when you utilize an ad management company like Google Adsense, Media.net, or Mediavine. In essence, you’re giving up certain space on your site to an ad company that fills that box with relevant, dynamic ads for your audience. Have you ever noticed that your google searches seem to follow you on certain sites in the form of ads? Well, those are examples of contextual ads. You might get paid based on the number of times the ad is seen (Cost per Impression, CPM) or the number of times it’s clicked (Cost per Click, CPC).

  2. Brand Partnerships

    Businesses will pay to be associated with influencers. Blogs do a good job of capitalizing on this but some people on social media, ie. Instagram, tend to do an even better job with it. Brands know that certain influencers have a built-in audience that can easily be reached by their association with them. All they ask in return is to be mentioned, worn, or just referred to in posts.

  3. Sponsored Posts

    Content marketing is “a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.” – Wikipedia. Businesses like to get their content seen on other sites and know that links to their site will only help their google rankings. They’re willing to pay to have their posts planted on influential sites, anywhere from $50 to thousands.

Affiliate Marketing

The concept behind this type of marketing is that you recommend products or services, and your website receives a commission referral or percentage of sales. Businesses know that you have loyal readers who trust you and will check them out based on your recommendation. This all comes at no additional cost to the reader.

This is a powerful monetizing strategy for sites that have a particular niche. For example, if you write about financial issues for physicians (ahem) and think that a particular course, like the White Coat Investor Course: Fire Your Financial Advisor, would be a great fit for your audience, then for every signup that occurs clicking through your link, you can receive a small commission. Or maybe you talk about Robovacs and you want to recommend certain products on Amazon, like this one I have, then you can be paid if someone makes a purchase.

You can set up your affiliate relationships directly with companies that fit your niche or you can use an affiliate management company like Commission Junction or Flex Offers.

At the end of the day, affiliate marketing can be a huge win for everyone because businesses get introduced to a captive audience, the readers find out about great products / services, and the blogger receives a commission for making the connection.

If you want a nice course on how this all works, check out Michelle Schroeder’s course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, where she shares her secrets on how she makes over $100,000 a month from her site. 

 

Selling Products

This is simply using the content on the blog to drive readers to purchase a product through your site. These are a little more straightforward and can be separated into physical and digital products.

  1. Physical Products

  • Books
  • Other Retail Items – clothing, jewelry, just about anything…

2. Digital Products

  • eBooks
  • Online Courses
  • Premium content & Exclusive access on the site
  • Memberships

Services

Blogging can create credibility and help you become known as an expert on a particular subject. This gives you the opportunity to parlay that into paid services such as:

  • Coaching
  • Speaking
  • Perform skilled services – ex. creating & fixing websites, social media marketing
  • Investments – people invest with you

So How Do You Start a Blog?

I covered the basics in this post, How To Start a Blog (A Step-By-Step Guide).

How Do You Make It Successful?

Well, this isn’t necessarily easy. Anyone that tells you that you can just throw up some content online and start rolling in the cash right away is lying to you. It takes time to create content, build up a readership and trust, and understand the business side of running a blog. It definitely deserves its own post but here’s a quick summary of some key steps.

  1. Start a Blog – I know so many people who express the desire to make money with a blog but never even get through step 1. You have to start somewhere.

2. Content – Create content that focuses on a certain niche that you’re passionate about and that readers can get behind. Obviously, you want the niche to be large enough that there’s an audience for it, but not so large that you get lost in a huge crowd.

3. Consistency – Make sure you’re putting out content on a consistent basis. This helps in building a brand and a hunger for your content.

4. Promotion – It’s great if you write the most amazing blog posts, but if no one knows about it, does it matter? Get out there on social media, network with other bloggers in the space, and don’t be afraid to let people know you exist.

Is Blogging Worth It?

Well, that depends on what you’re looking to get out of it. Initially, I didn’t have high expectations as to how much I would be able to make from blogging. I started the blog almost as a dare from friends, and it’s become something so much more.

I remember reading that the vast majority of blogs die before their first birthday. That’s because, in the beginning, you’re spending a lot more time on it than getting anything from it monetarily. On paper it may not make sense. However, for the persistent ones, that hard work can pay off over time in the form of increased revenue. Sounds a lot like passive income to me – hard work up front, the payoff comes later.

Also I have to mention that the relationships with readers and other bloggers I’ve built as a result of this site can’t be measured in monetary terms, but they’re so valuable and mean so much to me.

I would have never imagined that starting a blog would allow me to have more flexibility with my day job as a physician. I’m able to give up some shifts, hang out more with family, and overall just have more time freedom.

So if any of that sounds appealing to you, starting a blog might just be worthwhile.

Any other questions about making money with a blog?

 

31 COMMENTS

  1. Great follow up on your “how to start a blog”. Could you elaborate on how to attract advertisers? I know of Google adsense but is how else can the blog be discovered? Is Google Adwords worth using as initial way to attract advertisers?

    • If you build your audience large enough, they’ll find you. But in the beginning I went after them. I saw who was paying for advertising on blogs similar to mine and simply reached out to them. Although, I didn’t do that until I some decent numbers to back me up. I wouldn’t pay for Adwords, can get expensive and I think your return on investment will be low.

  2. Thanks for the good overview. A blog is like a piece of digital real estate where you can constantly add value to increase your NOI. For me, a blog is also my own platform where I can express my creative side. Plus the personal finance and FIRE community are a great group of people.

  3. This is a good reminder that there are good ways to monetize a blog. I’m curious if you think a blogger should have a certain size audience before attempting to monetize or start right out of the gate?

    • I had never approached advertisers before so I waited until I had around 1000 pageviews a day. Knowing what I know now, I would’ve done it earlier. The worst they can say is no. I know some bloggers who were able to secure some advertisers pretty much from day one. You just have to make sure to keep up your end of the bargain, keep writing…

  4. Great overview, PIMD.

    The pie chart is an eye-opening bit of reality. Only 13% of the blogs in that sample were making $1,000 a month and only 4% at $10,000 a month. That puts the oversized income reports in perspective — very few are actually earning a living with a blog alone.

    Start a blog because you enjoy writing and connecting with people. If you do that well and find you truly do enjoy it, the ability to monetized will present itself. If you start a blog with the sole intent of making money, you probably won’t.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • I have a feeling that the blogs polled were also ones more likely to be successful. No one polls the blogger who puts up 5 posts and quits. So I have a feeling the number of blogs making 5 figures a month is actually quite smaller.

  5. This is a good post. Thanks. I’ve been thinking of starting a blog cause I like to share and write. When we brought our kids to Disneyworld I started up a blog on the first day we arrived at the hotel, I was surprised how easy it was using WordPress. I was able to take pictures on my phone and upload it to the blog right away. Family at home were able to see our pics on the blog page. Disneyworld wiped us out so after one or two days of blogging I stopped.

    This post is starting to give me some ideas. The thing I’ve been wondering about is do you have to buy extra insurance (e.g. umbrella insurance or business insurance) when you have a blog in case you get sued for libel or for someone trying to copy your investment activities and they lose money (even though you put a disclaimer in all your posts)? Can you be held legally responsible for your vistors’ comments? Have you heard of anyone being sued from their blogging activities? Is it rare/common?

    • This subject of liability comes up quite a bit. I’m sure getting sued can happen although a lawyer I talked to said that it’s highly unlikely. However to protect myself, I’ve actually created an LLC and am running the blog under it. I figure it should help limit my liability.

  6. Great post. I wrote a medical blog for 10 years and didn’t make a cent directly from it. I did, however, get some paid speaking gigs including one in Ireland. It also landed me as a paid blogger on a commercial website. So I guess I did ok in the end.

    The relationships were worth far more than the money.

  7. I started a blog of medical tidbits about 8 years ago. As an academic family physician it helps me keep up with journals and distill the concepts down. I also help the lay population appreciate the issues their family doctor can manage.

  8. Inspired by this post, I finally decided to start a blog I’ve been wanting to do for a long time! It’s a blog about the intersection of mental health, adventure and nature — all subjects that I am passionate about. I’ve also had a travel blog for a while, but it was mostly just for friends and family to keep track of my adventures.

  9. Do you know anything about Amazon Affiliates? Do you know if it is worth it? How much you get from referrals that turn into purchases? Do you feel comfortable giving them your social security number? for tax purposes? Also, how do you become an LLC? Thank you! Just trying to organize myself and create a new blog!

    • There have been some changes even since I started but the number was 3-4% of the total purchases made within 24 hrs that originate from your lead. Personally I had very little worry about my SSN. Perhaps I have too much faith in Amazon’s robust security system. It is for tax purposes. The easiest way to become an LLC is to find someone who can create that for you, most likely a lawyer. You can use legal zoom which is cheap but I liked going to a lawyer to create what I perceive as a more robust LLC. Ask for referrals. Good luck!

  10. I’ve been looking for a post like this. Thanks. I started blogging to connect with like minded people. The relationships are what drives me. I figured I was reading plenty blogs, commenting and using the info so why not start my own so the relationships deepen and I get better knowledge.

    Your pie chart confirms my suspicions, I’m not rushing to monetize, but it would be nice. I’m financially independent so I’d put a big chunk into our Donor Advised Fund. As PoF says in his comment, if it’s meant to be it’ll happen. If not, don’t matter, I like the other parts enough to keep going.

    Either way, great post.

  11. Great post!

    After reading blogs for years, I finally decided to jump in the pool. We will see where it goes but at minimum it helps organize my thoughts and provide a resource for the Residents I work with.

    I hope you don’t mind if I reference your site in some of my posts.

  12. Thanks for the insight. I have been keeping my blog going for about 2 years. I was not regular in my content for a while but it is becoming better. Daily views have gone up over time and I am on route to do 500/month. That’s encouraging me to give it a harder shot and go for the next stage of 1000/month.
    I find it relaxing and a good outlet and who knows maybe one day it will reach further to the stars.

  13. Great post! I’ve also recently joined the fray of starting my own blog and am enjoying the intracies it brings with it. It’s a nice break from staring at the EMR that’s for sure.

    In your early stages, how did you attract new audience beyond your friends and immediate family that read your blog more likely for your sake than their own? Writing guest posts on other well established blogs? Creating a presence on online forums?

    I look forward to your future posts!

  14. According to me, rather than these ways, there are so many easier ways can help you make money online. Nowadays, many online entrepreneurs are attracted to drop shipping because it is “easy”. With drop shipping, you can sell just about any product in any niche. And the best part is you don’t have to deal with the hassles of traditional businesses.

  15. Great post! Blogging can be one of the most successful ways to make money online.
    I think a great way to try to make money with a blog is to start off with advertising, then build a course, while affiliate marketing along the way. Of course, it all depends on your niche.
    Thanks!

  16. These are great ideas for monetizing a blog. I haven’t had much success pulling together opportunities to use affiliate marketing and may need to get more creative to drive that home. So far, I’ve primarily relied on Google AdSense to bring in revenue.

    I’ve also had some minor success with posting my content second hand on Medium. It’s peanuts but it’s something so far.

    Great advice! I’m hoping to make it to my 6 month anniversary before I really feel the urge to push for more monetization. I’m roughly halfway there.

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