It’s a very common question and what you’ll find, at least from people who aren’t actively involved in the business themselves, is that you’ll get two very disparate set of answers. How much money can you really make from blogging? Some people will tell you that earning a comfortable living from blogging alone is little more than a pipe dream and there are far greater opportunities worth exploring. Other people will tell you that with the right content, the right audience and the right strategy, the possibilities are literally boundless.
As you might suspect, the truth can be found somewhere in the middle. From the outside looking in, the life of the professional blogger sounds awfully attractive. You get to work from the comfort of your home, at the schedule that works best for you, working on subject matter that you’re really passionate about. You get all kinds of “cool swag” and you’re invited to incredible events. You can continue to earn your living whether you’re partying it up in Las Vegas or exploring the Australian Outback.
But none of that lifestyle stuff really matters if you can’t afford to pay the bills, right?
The exact data is really difficult to acquire because there are far too many variables involved and not all the information is widely available. You can’t know for certain how much money a blog makes unless you ask the blogger (and he is being 100% open, honest and transparent with you). And it’s also very much true that many bloggers run more than one blog too.
And you also have to recognize that a significant number (likely even a majority) of bloggers have no ambition to make any money from their blogs at all. It’s a hobby for them and they’re doing it just for fun. It wouldn’t be fair to include this subset in our discussion, because it would not be an accurate portrayal of income potential. You can’t expect to make money if they’re not even trying.
That’s why an annual report put together by iBlog Magazine is so useful. They surveyed thousands of bloggers and because the report focused on the women’s blogging industry and business, the assumption is these bloggers did have financial aspirations. Again, the data is understandably limited and focusing solely on women bloggers limits the scope too.
If We Set $30,000 as the Benchmark…
According to the survey conducted by iBlog magazine, only 11% of those who responded indicated that they earned more than $30,000 a year. That means for every nine bloggers, only one is earning more than $30,000 annually from blogging alone. That’s decidedly at the lower end of the middle class in a lot of places and it’s nowhere near enough to live in some of the more desirable cities, like New York or Los Angeles.
Of those 11%, a little over half indicated that they are earning more than $60,000 annually. That’s a much more respectable figure, but it also means that if you’re making that much from your blog, you’re definitely among the blogging elite. To put this all into perspective, about two-thirds of bloggers are making less than $5,000 a year (about $400/month) and more than half are earning less than $2,500 a year (about $200/month).
That sounds really disheartening, but we have to put all of this into a bigger perspective.
Are You Treating It Like a Business?
John has discussed in the past why so many bloggers don’t make money and part of this has to do with the fact that the overwhelming majority of bloggers aren’t taking it as seriously as they should be if they want their blog to produce full-time income. It’s because the barrier to entry is so low, so they don’t feel like they’ve invested that much.
If you took out a giant bank loan so you could start a brick-and-mortar business, surely you’d feel a lot more invested in the project and you’d be willing to put in a lot more effort to ensure it succeeds. The urgency is much higher than the few bucks you spend on domain registration and web hosting. There are some bloggers who think they’re trying to make money blogging, except they’re even using a free platform with free hosting.
You need to take it seriously and it becomes a chicken-and-egg type scenario. The same iBlog survey indicated that 42% of those surveyed still work full-time or part-time at some non-blogging job, 30% are stay-at-home parents (who are working on the blog as a side hustle), and 18% own a non-blogging business. This means that they’re not as fully committed to the blog as someone who may be running a more traditional business full-time.
Speaking for myself, my personal blog is hardly my primary source of income. Instead, I make the overwhelming majority of my money from my freelance writing business. On some level, my blog is an extension of that business as it helps me hone my craft and it also serves as a lead generator.
Yes, it’s true that most bloggers don’t make any “real” money from their blogs at all, but most bloggers don’t approach their blogging endeavor in such a way that is conducive to maximum profits either. Don’t be like most bloggers if you want to make more money. Be better.