It’s a fair question. Blogging isn’t a typical job where you go to the office and get a paycheck, and most people are curious about how this blog generates an income.
First, a little back story. I started this blog in March of 2006 with absolutely no expectations — except that I probably wouldn’t keep up with it for long. I had never even kept a diary for more than a week.
I was a school teacher before we had kids, and I always expected to eventually go back to some type of work in the schools, but as my blog grew, it became increasingly obvious that I would continue to pursue this line of work. It provides an incredible amount of flexibility, which is awesome when you’re a mom with young kids, and I absolutely love what I do here.
During those early years, I cobbled together an income with various odd jobs — blog design, consulting, freelancing, etc. Now I’m happy to say that I put 100% of my time and attention into my blog because it’s finally self-sufficient, but that took about 8 years.
Nowadays I spend anywhere from 40-60 hours a week on the blog or blogging-related activities, and I make enough that my husband stopped bugging me to go out and get a “real job.” (And that’s as close as I’m going to get to naming a number, but yes, I do make a full-time income from this blog.)
A blog is just the 21st century version of starting your own business. The nice part is, the start up costs are low and the risk is small. The hard part is, well, everything else. Haha!
Like most people who are self-employed, bloggers wear many hats. It can be overwhelming at times, but as my revenue has grown, I’ve been able to hire out some of the tasks that I’m not so good at — like bookkeeping and design and technical stuff.
That said, I don’t have a team — it’s just me, myself, and I! I’m okay with that, but it does make for quite the juggling act.
So back to the original question . . .
There are a variety of ways to make money with a blog. Blogs can generate revenue with a combination of ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and sales of products such as eBooks and online courses.
Many bloggers also take on freelance writing assignments, some form brand ambassadorships, others provide consulting to brands, and some even sign book deals or are paid for speaking engagements. It varies greatly depending on the type of blog and the goals of the person running the blog.
My revenue comes mostly from these three sources: ads, affiliate links, and sponsored posts.
Let’s break it down.
Ads are pretty straight-forward. They are what you see on the sidebar and at the bottom of my site, and there are also some within the posts.
I’m a part of an ad network called AdThrive that manages my ads. I don’t sell ads directly to the brands, therefore, I don’t have a lot of control over what is advertised. In fact, a lot of what you see in the ads on my site is based on what you are shopping for and searching for — that is because Google runs the ads and they tailor the ads you see to your search habits. Pretty clever, huh? And a little bit creepy, I’ll admit, but that’s the way advertising works in this digital age.
With these ads, I’m paid based on impressions — which means how many times my blog is viewed. Every time a person clicks on a page or post on my blog, that is considered an impression, or a page view. Bloggers keep track of these stats with Google Analytics, and we often have to report our average monthly page views to brands when pitching ourselves for brand partnerships. But those page views also determine how much I earn from my ad network.
Affiliate links are commissions-based.
I use affiliate links when I link to the products I’m wearing at Loft, Nordstrom, and other retail sites, and I earn a small percentage of the sales made when you click on those links — anywhere from 2% to 15%.
The way this works is there are affiliate networks that connect brands and bloggers. The two main ones I use are ShopStyle and rewardStyle, so I don’t have a direct working relationship with each retailer; I get paid by the affiliate networks.
Rest assured, you don’t pay a penny more when you shop through my affiliate links than you would otherwise. I also cannot see what you actually purchase; I only see what product links generate purchases.
Sponsored posts are when I partner with a brand and write a post about their product or service — or sometimes just a related topic. I am paid a flat rate that we agree upon. I always tell you within the post that I am partnering with a brand, and I try to tell you towards the beginning so no one feels duped. Not that you should, because I only partner with brands I actually use and trust, but I do understand that feeling and try to be up-front so I don’t compromise your trust.
Besides the time that I put into my blog posts and the behind-the-scenes running of the website, it is very costly to run a website the size of mine. For example, my website hosting and image storage alone is $3000 a year. Plus my newsletter is expensive, there are apps and plugins to subscribe to, and it’s necessary to redesign my site every few years to keep it current. All of these expenses add up quickly, and without revenue from ads, affiliates, and sponsored posts, I wouldn’t be able to provide all of this information and entertainment for free.
I do my best to keep ads from over-powering my content, and I only take on affiliate partners and sponsors that I can wholeheartedly endorse, but all three are necessary for the blog to run smoothly and for me to do this as a job.
I hope this post helped demystify the topic of how to make money blogging. It’s a fair question, and one I know a lot of people wonder about. I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have. Just leave a comment on one of my posts, or zap me an email. My inbox is always open. Ha!