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Okay, I told you my next post was going to be a doozy.
I’ve been at this blogging thing a while now, and in the process I’ve been privileged to make some amazing blogger friends. Many of these women have blogs that provide them with a part time or full time income.
I find this inspiring for many reasons. Blogging has enabled them to:
- work from home, with flexible hours – often while raising a family
- do something of significance and have a positive influence in the lives of others
- base their career on their personal interests and passions (whether that be homeschooling, decorating, organising, budgeting, or any number of other niches)
- and earn real money doing it.
And I do mean real money. When I found out how much my friends actually earn month by month through their blogs, I was blown away. I don’t earn anywhere near what they do (yet!) but I have great mentors showing me how it’s done.
It struck me that there are a lot of other women out there who would find this just as inspiring as I do. After all, being able to stay home with our kids is a dream for a lot of us – but for many women, it’s just not possible due to the financial pressure to return to work.
You’re probably wondering… how does this whole thing even work? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked how a blog makes money. After all… it’s free content, right? It doesn’t cost you anything to read a blog. So where do the dollars come from?
I’m going to briefly explain the five main pillars of blog income.
Then, I’ll share some real life figures from four of my blogger friends who were generous enough to give me all the juicy details so you can see how it works for yourself.
How you can earn money from a blog
The basic principle of earning money through ads is quite simple: as a blogger, you provide great, valuable, free content for your readers. This brings traffic to your site. You then place ads on your site (either through Google AdSense, or an ad network, or by private arrangement with individual companies and brands.) The more page-views and clicks you get, the more money you can earn.
The upside of this revenue stream is that it’s passive, which makes it pretty easy. You install the ad code on your blog and you start earning money. The downside is you need to have a LOT of traffic to earn anything more than peanuts. And it can take a long time to get that sort of traffic.
To earn money through affiliate sales, you link to a product or service that has been valuable to you, and when someone clicks through your link and makes a purchase, you earn a commission from the seller for giving the referral. The person who buys through your link doesn’t pay anything extra. As a blogger, you legally must disclose that your links are affiliates.
Using affiliate links is a win-win-win scenario. The reader benefits because it’s convenient. For example, if you’re reading a DIY post and the instructions call for a certain product you don’t have on hand, you can click straight through the link and have that item shipped from Amazon. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and it saves you hunting around online to find what you need.
Personally, I also enjoy receiving recommendations from someone I trust. If you’ve read a great book or tried a fantastic product that you really love, I want to know about it. If you’ve been really successful in a certain area, I want to use the same resources you did so I can try to replicate that success. As a blogger, you earn your reader’s trust by recommending great products that you genuinely love and actually use yourself.
There are many different affiliate programs out there – Amazon affiliates, Rakuten linkshare, and Share-a-Sale are some popular ones. You need to apply to join these programs. Most bloggers who have their own products for sale also run affiliate programs, and these usually offer a much higher percentage commission.
3. Product sales
That brings me to the next point. Most of the bloggers I know who’ve taken their income to the next level have done so by selling products on their blog. A product is anything you can sell online, usually available by digital download – for example, an e-book, a course, a planner, a set of printables, and so on.
The downside of this strategy is that it takes a significant investment of time to create a great product. (Ask me how I know this! LOL.) The upside is that once you’ve invested that time, you can continue to sell your product for years to come. So it’s a really effective way of leveraging your valuable time for the long haul. Product sales has been by far my biggest earner on this blog to date.
It’s also one of the best ways to help people, by providing an in-depth solution to a problem they may be facing. A book or course allows you to go much more in-depth than you can do in a blog post, thus bringing value to your readers. It’s always very rewarding to hear back from people about how much a product has helped them.
4. Sponsored posts
You can also earn money by working one-on-one with brands as an influencer. A sponsored post is when a brand pays a one-off fee for a blogger to share a useful article that showcases their product or company. Brands are increasingly looking to partner with bloggers in this way. We spend so much time building relationship with our reader community and providing consistent value, that our readers are more likely to listen to an endorsement coming from us than more traditional methods of “interruption advertising”.
The key here is to make sure the content of a sponsored post is just as helpful or entertaining to your readers as a post you write for free. It shouldn’t just be one long, salesy ad. That’s icky and annoying. Some of my sponsored posts continue to do very well on Pinterest a year or more after they were first shared, because people find the content valuable and useful.
Lastly, some bloggers often one-on-one services to their readers such as coaching or creating mood boards. This is a great way to start earning money right off the bat, even if you don’t have a huge following yet. The downside is that, as with sponsored posts, you’re trading your time directly for money, so your earning potential is limited to how many clients you can physically take on at any given time. Of course, as demand for your services grows, you can always put up your rates.
Okay, let’s take a look at the breakdown of how my four friends earn their income.
What bloggers are really earning
Jessi Fearon, The Budget Mama
Total income July 2016: $2,094
Year she started her blog: 2012
Pageviews per month: 138,000
This savvy saving mama has a love for budgeting, and enjoys showing her readers how they too can save in their homes. Jessi’s biggest revenue earner is her ads. She also earns a healthy commission from selling Young Living Essential Oils through her site.
Through her blog, Jessi is earning a consistent part-time income of over $500 every week. (What could you do with that extra money coming into your home? Personally, I would love an extra $500 a week!)
Heather Bowen, Life of a Homeschool Mom
Total income July 2016: $20,224
Year she started her blog: 2013
Pageviews per month: 520,000
This clever mama is absolutely killing it. She earns a six-figure annual income from her blog – more than most professionals. The largest portion of her income comes from product sales. She also earns a significant chunk from sponsored posts.
Heather has achieved this success in less than 3 years of blogging. And she does it by sharing about her personal passion of homeschooling, thus helping other homeschooling mamas improve their daily lives, and impacting the lives of their kids.
Rosemarie Groner, The Busy Budgeter
Total income July 2016: $20,577
Year she started her blog: September 2014
Pageviews per month: 359,000
Another double six-figure income from this inspiring lady, and the most jaw-dropping part? She’s achieved this in less than two years of blogging. Actually, she achieved a full-time income within twelve months of starting her blog. Aaaaaand she jokes that she knows nothing about computers.
What I find so interesting about Rosemarie’s strategy is that the bulk of her income comes from affiliates. She says she loves affiliate marketing because she can earn good money by promoting other peoples’ products on her blog without the risk and time investment of creating her own.
Abby Lawson, Just a Girl and her Blog
Total income July 2016: $33,083
Year she started her blog: 2013
Pageviews per month: 450,000
Well, this just blows my socks off. Abby makes in one month what some people earn in an entire year. We’ve been friends since I started blogging, not all that long after her, and her success has been an incredible inspiration to me. What I love is that Abby blogs about organisation and decorating – two of my passions! She’s developed some amazing products that continue to sell like hotcakes year after year, and that is really the cornerstone of her blog’s success.
You can see all of Abby’s income reports here – she’s earned up to $48,000 in a single month.
They’re not alone
I also want you to know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. As well as these four friends who were happy for me to share their earnings, there are another four women in the small blogging Mastermind group I’m part of who did not want their earnings to be made public. So I won’t mention those ladies’ names or blogs, but I will reveal that in July, one of them earned $7,ooo from her blog, one earned $4,200, one earned $31,400, and another earned nearly $20,000. In short, they are each earning a solid full time income from their blogs, some in the double six figures annually.
My point being that these four case studies I’ve shared are not standalone successes. All eight ladies, the ones who were happy to share their earnings publicly and the ones who preferred to keep it private, are real women who I know personally.
They don’t have business degrees, they weren’t born naturally techy, they don’t have some secret blogging magic that no-one else knows about.
They are average moms who decided to work really hard at their blogs using tried-and-true strategies and have turned them into incredible success stories.
Not everyone who starts a blog will make this much money from it. This is NOT some get-rich-quick scheme. The key for all of these ladies has been a lot of hard work, and an ongoing commitment to learning as much as they can about the craft of blogging.
Getting started with blogging
So, you’re feeling inspired. You’d like to see some of these results for yourself. How can you get started?
First, you need a blog. If you intend to make money from your blog rather than just blog as a hobby (which is also totally fine by the way – you just need to be clear on your goals) then you need to have a self-hosted blog right from the start. The free platforms out there like Blogger are extremely limiting, and if you intend to go pro, you will need to switch sooner or later.
I started out on Blogger, and honestly, it was painful. There were so many things I wanted to do on my site that I just couldn’t do. Even simple things like adding a project gallery involved pages of coding. (In WordPress, you don’t have to code anything – there’s a plug-in for just about anything you can imagine.) When I eventually had to switch, it was time-consuming and frustrating, and cost me a lot of extra money to get my site re-done. Do it the right way and start with self-hosted WordPress. It takes less than ten minutes to set up a new blog, including your own domain name – I walk you through it step by step in this post. Don’t put it off, do it now – your future self will thank you for taking action today!
Set yourself up for success
Starting a blog can feel overwhelming. When I started out, there was SO much I didn’t know. The learning curve was enormous. Several times a week I’d spend hours searching the internet, trying to figure out how to do something.
The problem with finding your information online is that it’s difficult and time-consuming to piece together everything you need to know.
I’d watch tutorial videos and then discover they were way out of date. I’d search and search to find some small detail that I really needed, wasting insane amounts of time scrolling through pages of useless information. I’d find an article that recommended one thing, then another that recommended something completely different. It was confusing and frustrating.
I used to wish I had a blogging mentor who could sit next to me and just tell me what to do next.
I didn’t have that… but you can. If you’re starting a blog, please don’t do it the hard way like I did. There is a much, MUCH better way. You need to get yourself some great resources to get you started strong.
I recommend two amazing products for every blogger.
The first, Blog by numbers, is an e-book written by a busy mom for other busy moms. Suzi’s whole premise is that we are all time poor, so she cuts right to the chase and gives you step-by-step action points of what to do and when to do it.
I read this recently and was blown away by how excellent this book is. It is so simple, so straightforward, and SO smart. Seriously, if you just follow the specific steps laid out in this guide, you will be miles ahead of all the other beginner bloggers already.
I love that Suzi doesn’t just tell you to create eye-catching Pinterest images: she includes actual pin templates you can use. She doesn’t just tell you to write attention-grabbing headlines: she gives you a grab-list of 130 clever blog post titles. She doesn’t just talk in general terms about using social media to drive traffic to your new blog: she includes a comprehensive list of Facebook groups and Pinterest group boards you can join to get eyes on your new blog right from the start. (ABSOLUTELY worth the price of the book for that information alone!)
I highly recommend Blog by numbers for EVERY beginning blogger.
Secondly, remember my friend Abby whose stats I shared above – the one who’s earning $33,000 a MONTH on her blog?
I’m a big believer that if you want to replicate someone’s success, you need to study their process and learn from what they do.
Abby’s hugely successful e-book, Building a Framework, has become the gold standard go-to guide both for beginner bloggers and for bloggers who want to take their income to the next level.
It’s not just a book, it’s a complete learning experience. I highly recommend purchasing the Advanced Package, which includes 20 step-by-step video tutorials walking you through everything you need to know about the tech side of blogging. You will save yourself SO many headaches by having these at your fingertips right from the start.
Abby is a former teacher and a really down-to-earth, approachable person, with a gift for communicating concepts in a way that is clear and understandable. She makes the hard stuff look easy.
If you want to set up a solid framework for your new blog… and if you want to be a six-figure-income blogger success like the author… you absolutely must do yourself a favour, and take a look at Building a Framework.
I hope you’re feeling inspired.
If you take the plunge and start a blog, let me know! I’m so excited for you. If you already have a blog and you’re ready to take it to the next level, let me know in the comments what your goals are as a blogger.
Cheering you on, my friends! Here’s to your success.