Making a Living As a Blogger

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Photo by Vladislav Reshetnyak on

Right off, it would be difficult to make a living just by blogging, although I’m sure a few people are doing it.

Some people who blog casually get seduced by their statistics. I know several friends who have websites and blogs and are rather obsessed with their web stats and analytics. They are always checking to see how many hits the site gets or what pages or posts are most popular or what search terms are being used to find them. Social media has encouraged this with Likes and Retweets and Reposts. Our smartphones love to send us notifications that someone has engaged with some piece of our content.

I do check my websites’ analytics occasionally. I have ten sites and blogs that I do, so it can’t be a very regular thing. I do like to look every few months to see what has been happening, but I also have clients that I do websites for and they are always interested in their stats.

I blog almost every day but it’s not my “job” – though it’s nice if someone clicks on an Amazon link that I use and buys a book or something and a few pennies drop into my account.

I got this alert about one of my blogs last December:

Your page is trending up
Your page clicks increased by more than 1,000% over the usual daily average of less than 1 click.

Possible explanations for this trend could be:

  • Modifications you did to your page’s content.
  • Increased interest in a trending topic covered by the page.

Of course, I was happy that people found this post from back in 2010 and are still reading it and hopefully enjoying it. Google’s “possible explanations” for this are both correct, as I did update the page that month and the topic of the solstice was probably trending across the web as we slipped into winter.

This post was inspired by my browsing Amazon to find a book for a friend who wanted to try to start a blog that would make money. I certainly don’t have a secret formula for that, but I did find a bunch of people who have written about blogging as a job. The idea of having “passive income” is very appealing – and probably quite difficult to do in any meaningful way. Still, give it a try. If you find the secret formula, let me know – then write the book.


Blogging Bucks

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A friend, knowing that I write on a number of blogs, asked me how much money I make from blogging. Answer: Basically, nothing.

The reason he asked was that he had read that the Huffington Post has a monthly income of $18 million. They have recently rebranded from The Huffington Post to the HuffPost and they have changed blogging. They are an interesting case study.

The site launched in 2005 by millionaire socialite Arianna Huffington used her money and her contacts to turn it into a major international news platform. Like most online media companies, they get most of their money from advertising revenue.

It was bought by AOL for $315 million in 2011. Today it is worth an easy $1 billion.

But there are also sites that are blogs or that started out as blogs that you probably haven’t heard of that make a nice profit. Club Thrifty has grown beyond a blog (but still has a blog component) and is said to have a monthly income of more than $25,000. It is a home finance blog+ site run by Holly and Greg Johnson based on their own zero-sum home budgeting.

A blog can make money from advertising, but some also use affiliate links, sponsorship, or as a way to promote and sell products, freelance work or online courses.

A very meta example is run by Darren Rowse who is a professional blogger with a number of profitable blogs, but who has made more money by selling his “secrets of how to blog like a pro.” He earns his income by selling his blogging tips through articles and a podcast and through advertising banners, a jobs page for online writers, and the sale of ebooks.

So, how might I make some money from blogging? Although I have the occasional Amazon affiliate links (click here, buy something and give me a few bucks!), I don’t do the things that moneymaking bloggers do.

Those things would include display ads (generally sold through networks like Google AdSense) or private ads sold directly to clients. Some ads are sold by PPC (pay-per-click) which are ads where advertisers pay for the number of times it is clicked (rather tan running the ad for a fixed length of time or some other contract).

I will say that I have had offers for  “sponsored content” which is when brands and vendors might, for example, pay for a review of their product or to run a blog post that they have written. I have never accepted sponsored content on any of my blog sites. That may sound noble or stupid depending on your point of view.

The little bit of affiliate marketing I do (and so far, only via Amazon) comes from items I mention in a post (often a book, film or sometimes a product) that are part of my own content. They are not “sponsored”ads. For example, in this post I can link to books about how to blog or specifically to a book like Master Content Strategy: How to Maximize Your Reach and Boost Your Bottom Line Every Time You Hit Publish or  to the book that “inspired” this post, The Essential Habits Of 6-Figure Bloggers: Secrets of 17 Successful Bloggers You Can Use to Build a Six-Figure Online Business.

If you plan to use affiliate links, you should know some basics. If someone clicks any of these ads but does not make a purchase, you get nothing. If they click that first general link to a group of books and purchase any of them you get a small percentage of the sale. If they click on a link to a specific product and buy it, you get a bit more from Amazon. But if they click any of your affiliate links and buy anything (that is you led them to browse Amazon) you will get a tiny slice of the sale. And by tiny I mean probably $1-5 depending on the price of the item. on one that inspired this post, such as  They can make money from this by asking for that company to give them a unique affiliate link. Whenever someone clicks that link and makes a purchase, the blogger earns money, effectively as a referral commission. Places to get started with affiliate marketing: Amazon, CJ

Now, if you clicked on this link for the Lenovo ThinkPad P71 Workstation Laptop or the image of it and bought one (or buy something), you would really help me pay off my own Lenovo ThinkPad!

Also, Amazon has a threshold for paying you. If you only have affiliate sales of a few dollars in a pay period, they will wait until you hit the threshold level, yes, there are months when I don’t get a penny or my links.

Feel free to click any of these other format ads which really do look like ads and I find more obtrusive than the embedded links and images. They might be more obvious and work better. Some may show a price which in the case of a low price (book) might encourage you to click or a high price (laptop) which might turn you away.

There are other more sophisticated ways to run ads, of course. Sticking just with Amazon, they offer recommendations ads and “native” ads that can be customized to your blog’s content.