Blogging has certainly come a very long way. What started out originally as a means of keeping an online journal or diary has now become a lucrative enterprise. People actually earn money from blogging, with some bloggers earning more than what most people in conventional jobs earn. In fact, it has become a source of livelihood for some, with bloggers viewing it as their bread and butter.
But as lucrative as blogging is, only a few actually make a lot of money out of it. Many earn money, yes, but they only get around a hundred dollars a month. That is certainly not an amount that would be enough to convince anyone to give up their day jobs and devote their time solely to blogging.
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Among these thousands upon thousands of bloggers, there are those who are a cut above the rest, particularly in terms of pay grade. These are the bloggers that earn hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
TOP EARNING BLOGS
Let us take a brief look at some of the top-earning blogs today.
- The Huffington Post. Founded by Arianna Huffington on May 9, 2005, The Huffington Post is a blog that has also evolved into an online news aggregator. Today, reportedly earns $2.5 million per month. Its main source of income is pay-per-click advertising.
- TechCrunch. TechCrunch is now one of the most popular publisher of technology industry news online. In 2007, it registered an annual income of $2.4 million. Today, it is estimated to earn as much as $800,000 monthly. It gets its income primarily from banner ads.
- Mashable. When Pete Cashmore launched Mashable in 2005, it focused on digital media. He stuck to that niche until Mashable became the go-to for anything related to digital and social media. It is reportedly earning $600,000 monthly, also primarily from banner advertising.
- PerezHilton. One of the most visited and influential blogs containing gossip items about Hollywood stars and celebrities, PerezHilton.com was originally started by Mario Lavandeira in 2014 as a hobby where he just wanted to talk about celebrities because he was interested in them. Today, its monthly income is around $450,000 per month.
- Engadget. If you want to read about gadgets and consumer electronics, one of the more popular blogs where you can get this information is Engadget.com. Its multilingual feature is contributory to the large amount of traffic that it generates. The estimated monthly earnings on the blog amount to $300,000, also mostly from banner advertising.
- Lifehacker. Launched in January 2005, Lifehacker featured life hacks or tips and tricks for life in general, as well as topics on software and computer programs. Visitors keep coming back to this weblog for its tips and downloads that supposedly let them increase their productivity both at work and at play. It is said to be earning $110,000 per month.
The blogs mentioned above are the most well-known websites today but, at one point, they all started out as simple blogs.
SUCCESS STORIES OF HIGH-EARNER BLOGGERS
Have you ever wondered about the road that today’s most successful (read: most profitable) bloggers have taken in their journey to become self-sustaining?
Everyone starts from somewhere, and these bloggers started out earning small amounts in the beginning, until they have seen their earning power go up over the years. But what happened in between that facilitated this increase?
There are literally millions of blogs online today, and a lot of them are very good earners, with their annual income surpassing the $100,000 mark. Below are a few of these profitable blogs and brief snippets of how they started earning that amount of money.
Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com
Started In: 2008
Blogging Area: Online Passive Income
Pat’s blog receives a big part of its traffic from referrals from other sites. More than 5,100 domains are linking to smartpassiveincome.com. However, it still ranks well in search engines with an Alexa rank of 7,139. It also has a reasonable social following with over 112,000 twitter followers.
Pat Flynn recently passed the $150,000 a month mark on his blog “The Smart Passive Income Blog with Pat Flynn”. For the month of April 2016, Smart Passive Income (SPI) earned $160,123.99. For the 12-month period from April 2015 to April 2016, the total net income is $1.629 million. You can visit the site directly to find out how much he is earning, because his monthly income reports appear on the blog.
Aside from income earned from advertising and affiliate earnings, Pat also earns additional income from speaking gigs and lectures. The blog also features podcasts and a mobile app. Not to mention the SPI TV episodes hosted by Pat Flynn himself, where he interviews Of course, there is also his best-selling books, “How To Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time Or Money” and “Will It Fly?”. The most recent income source is his newly-launched audiobook, targeting an entirely separate niche of audiobook users.
Pat calls himself the “Crash test dummy of online business” and encourages readers to learn from his mistakes. He is also a good lesson on diversifying sources of income. As seen above, Pat has a large number of income sources each of which helps increase his revenue and traffic. Another lesson from Pat is on consistency. He has been on it for more than 6 years and the progress is visible even on the earnings page. The final lesson is on personal branding. There is a picture of Pat’s face on almost every page on the website. As a result, people know him and his personal brand is far much bigger than any of his blogs.
Kat Kinsman of TastingTable.com
Started In: October 2008
Blogging Area: Food
Kat’s blog was one of the fastest growing blogs in the industry having received more than 300,000 subscribers in the first 20 months of operation. This blog won the EPPY Best Food Website award in 2011. In 2012 NS 2013, the website received more than 1 million monthly unique visitors.
Food bloggers are also becoming increasingly popular, and one of the most notable foodies who blog is Kat Kinsman. She started out doing all sorts of things, from being a metal smith to an office manager. At one point, she also tried her hand at art direction in several publications. Then she became a webmaster of the website Yoo-hoo for seven years, doing everything from design, database management and programming, community management, analytics, online marketing, and content creation.Other than advertisements on the website, Kat is an author of a book published by Harper Collins and titled “Hi, Anxiety” which also contributes to the income. She also earns money as a resource speaker in speaking engagements covering various topics ranging from food and drinks to social media.
It was during her stint with CNN that Kat was assigned an editor-in-chief slot at Tasting Table. A self-confessed “writer, editor and talker”, Kinsman has managed to become a multimedia celebrity, appearing on TV and radio shows as a guest and sometime host thanks to her passion in all she does.
Abby of JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com
Started In: January 2013
Blogging Area: Money, Planning and Organization
With close to 450,000 page views in April 2016, Abby has seen quite some growth in traffic in the three years that the blog has been in existence. Having started as a creative outlet for her writing, the blog started small and it has been able to grow and achieve more than 200,000 users.
In April 2016, this blog earned a total of $48,900. A big fraction of this income was from the Book Boss course that seeks to train buyers on how to launch a profitable book in less than 90 days. Other sources of income include affiliate sources like Bluehost referrals and Amazon affiliates, and an eBook and course on blogging.
Abby lists three passions on her blog: organizing, decorating, and helping others create thriving online businesses. She combined all these three in her blog, which she launched “on a whim” in January 2013. That makes JustAGirlAndHerBlog relatively new, which is quite impressive, considering how it hit the $30,000 a month mark after just two years.
The blog has grown rapidly, and has now become a family business, with Abby and her husband working on it on a full time basis. It was a long road for her and her husband as they learned their way around blogging, but they had a very good foundation: creating good content. The blog contains posts about organization, productivity, and even simply DIY decorating tips.
John Lee Dumas of Eofire.com
Started In: September 2012
Blogging Area: Business and Entrepreneurship
Traffic Analysis: Eofire.com has an Alexa rank of 26,967, which is impressive for a site that has only been around for less than 5 years. In the five years, it has been able to get more than 32,000 twitter followers and more than 1,800 links to the content on the site. Most of the site’s visitors come to listen to the podcasts and also to read the posts on the site.
Revenue Analysis: This site is very impressive when it comes to revenues that have been generated so far. Income from products and services sold by the blog in April 2016 was $199,714 with The Freedom Journal (book) topping the list of products with a gross revenue of $35,806. Affiliate income for April was $23,705 bringing the total gross income to $221,365.
Key Learnings: Podcasting is a good avenue for bloggers to try. John Lee Dumas having earned sponsorship income amounting to $133,500 in March and April alone, there seems to be good money in podcasts. Another lesson is the importance of personal branding. The graphical elements are similar all over the website. Johns’s face also features prominently on the site.
Lindsay Ostrom of PinchofYum.com
Started In: September 2011
Blogging Area: Food
Traffic Analysis: PinchofYum.com received over 3 million sessions in March 2016 with more than 4.2 million pageviews. The biggest portion of the traffic was organic traffic from Google and direct traffic taking the number two spot. Despite having been around for only five years, this site has an Alexa page rank of 17,789 and more than 4,200 domains are linking to it. When it comes to the social standing, Pinch of Yum has 7,920 followers on Twitter.
Revenue Analysis: In April 2016, Pinch of yum was able to earn $57,686.15. The biggest chunk of this revenue came from advertisements though some of it was from affiliates and sponsored posts. There was also something from food photography workshops where Lindsay teaches others to take food photographs.
Key Learnings: The biggest lesson from Lindsay is the importance of visuals. There was a big spike in traffic on the site when Lindsay gave emphasis on the photographs on the site. Still on photographs, the importance of not ignoring Pinterest like most other bloggers comes up strongly. There is also the lesson that standing the test of time is a vital part of the equation. Over the years the blog has been in operation, Lindsay has been injecting hundreds of blog posts and high quality food pictures which have had a big positive impact on the income and traffic.
Michele Gardener of MakingSenseofCents.com
Started In: October 2008
Blogging Area: Money and Savings
Traffic Analysis: Being in the list of top earning blogs, makingsenseofcents.com has also received a good number of visitors in April. The website is updated about 8 – 12 times every month which means that there is sufficient new content for visitors every few days. Michele has more than 300,000 subscribers, which makes it easy to achieve good traffic numbers.
Revenue Analysis: When it comes to revenue, Michele was able to make $71,761.30 in April, a figure that’s slightly lower than the $72,196 earned in March. Up to April 2016, the blog has earned $238,346. A big chunk of this income is from affiliate promotions. Other sources of income include advertising and products and services.
Key Learnings: One of the lessons to learn from Michele is the importance of simplicity. She simplifies complex topics and explains them in a simple way that can be easily understood by laymen. As a result, more people can understand her hence more traffic. There is also the issue of focusing on a specific demographic like in her case, Michele targets millennials seeking to get out of debt.
Becky Mansfield of YourModernFamily.com
Started In: January 2013
Blogging Area: Parenting
Traffic Analysis: Since the first post went live in early 2013, yourmodernfamily.com has been attracting readers to become one of the largest motherhood blogs in the world. This blog has more than a thousand posts and hundreds of thousands active readers from all over the world. The site has an Alexa page rank of 84,087 and 3,700 followers on Twitter. Close to 500 domains are linking to this site. On Pinterest, Becky has over 24,000 followers.
Revenue Analysis: In March 2016, Your Modern Family earned a gross income of $28,200. Expenses for the month were $6,500 to bring the net income to $21,700. This revenue is from advertising, affiliate marketing and the same of her own products and services. Becky is an author of a number of books on parenting which complement income from the blog.
Key Learnings: The biggest lesson we can learn from Becky is that focus should go to your blog’s readers. They should be your main priority. She doesn’t try to sell them gadgets or preach about sales funnels. She aims at helpings moms deal with problems faced as they try to run families. The result is a deep connection that has enabled her earn trust and a loyal following.
Lisa Weber of CelebrityBabyScoop.com
Started In: September 2006
Blogging Area: Celebrity Parenting
Traffic Analysis: Owing to the unique nature of the blog, Lisa is able to get large volumes of traffic from her visitors. This is especially after she interviews famous celebrities and features the interview in the blog. The blog has been featured in top media outlets such as the USA Today, CNN, TMZ and many more hence it doesn’t come as a surprise that it was able to get more than 3.2 million page views monthly by the end of the first 3 years in operation.
Revenue Analysis: As of 2015, this blog was making $300,000 annually and it looks like the trend is not going to stop anytime soon. Lisa adores babies, and she also enjoys following the lives of celebrities. So why not mix both? It started out as a hobby and she mixed these two passions when she launched her blog in September of 2006. It appears that she wasn’t the only one with a keen interest on celebrities’ babies, as the number of visitors to her blog increased to the point that she felt confident about monetizing her blog, starting primarily with banner ads. Soon, her blog became a sort of community, with returning visitors making up the bulk of her traffic. She considers them to be her main source of traffic, in addition to social media and search engines.
Key Learnings: Lisa shares that it took two years until her blog started making a profit enough for her to quit her nursing job and be a full-time blogger. She focused on creating good content, starting with talking about celebrity babies which makes for a good lesson on perseverance and consistency in the quality of output regardless of whether or not we are making money. Despite starting with news about celebrity babies, the blog evolved to become something that gives information to moms looking for advice and information on parenthood.
LESSONS ON BUILDING A HIGH INCOME BLOG
We can learn a few lessons just by taking a quick look at the journeys and success stories of these bloggers.
First, making a living from blogging requires a lot of hard work. You have to put in a lot of hours doing your research, creating good content, reaching out to your audience, building up your network, and keeping them. Some bloggers are of the belief that all they need is to set up an attractive blog, upload photos and write a blog post, and the rest will fall into place. No, there is no shortcuts to this, if you want to start earning more than a respectable amount from your blog.
Second, it also calls for a lot of patience. You will notice that these successful bloggers did not start earning money overnight. It took them at least a couple of years before they started seeing the number of digits of their earnings go up. They did not quit or give up so easily. During the first few months, they did not even earn much and even sustained losses. Did they give up? No. This persistence is something that every blogger should posses, especially when they want to reach the point where they can resign from their stable jobs and transition to full-time blogging.
Third, you have to offer something of value to the audience. If you expect to earn value, then you should also make sure you have something to offer. You cannot expect to get paid for something that will not be of use to anyone, do you?
Fourth, consider diversification. Making money through blogging can be accomplished in several ways. While it is true that they have identified a primary source of income, they were not against trying out other ways to monetize their blog. They did not rely entirely on banner ads or affiliate links. They tried looking for other ways to make money through their blog.
Fifth, they never stopped learning. For them, blogging was a continuous learning process. No one is born as a blogger, knowing everything about it right off the bat. That is why they had met with several stumbling blocks in the beginning. But they were willing to learn, and they are still learning, to this day. This is actually a must, considering how blogging is continuously evolving with technology. What we know of blogging today may be different a few years from now. If you want to be able to earn money from your blog by then, you should continue learning.
TIPS FOR PROFITABLE BLOGGING
We can delve into the technical aspects of blogging, but here are some tips that may sound very simple, but actually make a lot of difference. There are a lot of bloggers who want to monetize their blog, but are having a lot of trouble doing so.
Let us listen to the experts – the bloggers who are actually making big bucks out of their blogs –and hear what they have to say.
- Find a niche that you like or are interested in. You have to be personally interested in it. It should also be something that you know or are familiar with. This will make it easier for you and your blog to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen niche.
- Create good content. Visitors will not return to a site if they are not impressed by the content that they saw during their first visit. You have to produce content that is relevant and provides value to the readers. Otherwise, you won’t be able to engage your audience and you can bid your potential traffic goodbye.
- Stick with the niche and the content. The problem with some bloggers is that they start with a certain niche and, a few months later, switch to another. This results in a lack of consistency on the blog. Stick with the niche that you have chosen, and keep churning out good content within that niche. It is all right to divert once in a while, but you have to go back to your original niche.
- Connect with other bloggers. Networking is a very important tool when you want to monetize your blog through traffic. You may also learn a thing or two from other bloggers, especially on the ways that they monetize their blogs. Cross-promotion is also an excellent way to support each other.
- Use social media to drive traffic to your site. Social media is one of the most effective tools nowadays for attracting traffic to your blog. Using social media is now considered a skill, so it must be honed.
- Keep at it. It has been two, three years, and your blog seems to be going nowhere. Your earnings are not going up, either. Should you quit? Should you simply give up? The experts say “Don’t.” It may be difficult during the first several months and years, but if you stick with it, you are bound to see your efforts bear fruit.