Every now and again I get an email from a ProBlogger reader excitedly telling me that they’re about quit their jobs to become full time bloggers. More often than not they are new bloggers who for one reason or another have it in their minds that blogging for money is a quick and easy thing to do.
This post is yet another attempt (I’ve done this 2-3 times a year since 2004) to help bloggers thinking about blogging for money to get a realistic picture of what is possible.
I always struggle a little with responding to these emails. On the one hand I love the enthusiasm that new bloggers often have and don’t want to be responsible for squashing it and leaving them despondent.
The reality is that most bloggers never sell their blog for millions…. in fact most bloggers don’t even come close to a full time living from blogging. Every time I’ve surveyed my readers on how much they earn the majority report that they’re earning less than $100 a month with most of those earning less than $10 a month.
Can you REALLY Make Money Blogging?
The simple answer to this question is - yes.
It is possible to make money blogging. In fact it’s quite likely that if you try to make money blogging and stick with it for the long haul that you will make at least some money blogging - however ’some’ money is different to ‘much’ money.
Can you Make MUCH Money Blogging?
Again - the simple answer is yes. You can make a lot of money blogging. The example of the $15m blogger above is one example. My own experience is less spectacular but is another story of a blogger making a good living from the medium (I’ve been earning well into the ’six figures’ range for a number of years now.
It is possible - but every statistic I’ve ever read shows that it’s not likely, at least for the majority of bloggers, to make ALOT of money blogging.
While 7% reported earning over $15,000 a month (I suspect this is a little inflated - some people tend to pick extreme results in polls just because) 57% report earning less than $100 a month. 30% reported earning less than 30 cents a day.
I don’t know about you - but that chart is both sobering and inspiring all in one. It shows quite clearly that most bloggers are not making much - but does also seem to indicate that there are some bloggers out there who are at least making at least a part time supplementary income from blogging.
Getting Your Expectations about Earning Money from Blogging Right
OK - some of you are possibly quite depressed by this stage. Should you give up on your dreams of making a living from blogging? Is it all too hard? Is it worth it?
Don’t give up but be Realistic.
My encouragement to all bloggers with the dream of building a blog that makes money is simple. Get into the game - but do so with realistic expectations. A few thoughts and tips to help you get those expectations right:
Aim for the sky but set your sights on the next step
There’s nothing wrong with having big dreams. Very early on in my own blogging for money story I began to see the possibilities of earning a good living from blogs. Dreams are great for motivating and inspiring you - but they can also be a distraction and set you up for disappointment. Allow yourself time to think about ‘what could be’ but then get yourself focused upon the next step you need to take to take yourself in the direction you want to end up.
For me this was about setting realistic goals of what I could achieve in the next month. Each month I had the goal of increasing monthly traffic to my blogs by 10% on the previous month. This meant that over time I would see exponential growth to my blogs. With a goal of 10% growth in mind I then set myself ‘tasks’ - concrete things that I could do to achieve the goal (writing certain amounts of posts, networking with other bloggers etc).
Don’t give up your day job
There may one day come a time when you can give up that job and focus upon blogging full time - but that time is not likely to be now for most people reading this. My own experience of this (I share an extended version of my story of taking blogging from a hobby to a full time thing in the ProBlogger book by the way) was that I worked a number of part time jobs and was studying part time in my early days of blogging. As my blog income grew I slowly decreased the time I was working other jobs.
I actually was working a part time job even after I was earning a full time income from blogging. I wanted to have a backup in case things went pear shaped (in fact this was smart because at one point Google reindexed my blogs and my blogging income largely disappeared for a couple of months).
It’s really important to be responsible with cutting off other income sources in order to ‘go Pro’ as a blogger - particularly if you have a family relying upon your as the main income earner. I’ve seen a number of very sad stories of people taking this drastic action only to leave their family without income.
Most successful blogs take years to build to their potential. It takes up time to:
build a large enough archive of posts
to build up loyal readers and subscriber numbers
to become known in your niche, to ‘get blogging’
to find your voice
to get authority in the eyes of the search engines…. etc
None of this just happens. It takes years to grow a blog.
It’s NOT Passive Income
Another common misconception about blogging for money is that it becomes ‘passive income’ - that you can sit back and let your blog earn you big dollars while you enjoy your lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong - there are a few ‘passive’ elements to the income that a blog can generate. For example:
I could go away for a week today and not post anything on my blog and it would still earn me money
posts that I wrote 4 years ago continue to generate income for me
Yes it could be argued on these fronts that the income is somewhat passive. However blogging for money is a lot of hard work. Most bloggers whose blogs make it big time put a lot of time and energy into building their blogs. Most that I’ve met have worked beyond full time hours on their blogs over years.
This isn’t to say that it’s not fun - one of the things I’ve discovered in the last few years is that hard work can be a lot of fun (who would have thought) - but there are days when it is very time consuming and challenging work.
Not all Blogs are Created Equal
I am often asked - ‘how many visitors a month do I need to earn $XXX?’
While I’d love to be able to give people a formula for working out the answer to this question the reality is that every blog is so different from every other blog. I’ve worked with hundreds of bloggers over the years and each time I do I relearn the lesson that no two blogs are alike.
Blogs vary from niche to niche (ie a finance blog will earn differently to a craft blog which will earn differently to a tech blog) - but even within niches they will perform very differently (I’ve had two photography blogs over the years and they couldn’t be more different).
I bring this up because quite often I come across bloggers who model their blogs after other blogs - sometimes to the point of copying every aspect of them. Unfortunately this isn’t a great way forward. Most successful blogs cut new ground, have their own voice, blog in their own style and tackle a topic with their own perspective. As a result they grow differently, attract their own audience and monetize differently.
Do learn from other blogs and bloggers - but also attempt to find your own way.