How To Make Money Blogging In 2020

The word blog on top of a minimalist white desk

Are you wondering how to make money blogging? Several years ago, I was wondering the same thing and realized what a great opportunity it is. In some cases, bloggers were making over $100,000 a month! Many of them are just regular people like you and me. So how are they doing it? And could you make money blogging too?

Is it too late to start blogging in 2020?

Blogging has come a long way since the early days of Xanga and LiveJournal (remember those?). Today, there are over 600 million blogs publishing 2 billion posts a year.

It’s more of a crowded field today than it was 10 years ago, but there’s still plenty of room for growth. So the answer is NO, it’s not too late to start blogging.

Consider this:

  • There are 7.5 billion people in the world – that’s 7,500,000,000 potential readers
  • Every year 99% of new blogs will failplenty of room for new successful blogs
  • Most people think about making a blog, but few actually take action

Now here’s where most blogging gurus will tell you it’s so easy to get started and make money.

But its not. It’s hard. It’s a grind. You need to put the work into it to succeed, just like anything else in life. However, if you you’re willing to put the effort into it, it can be VERY REWARDING.

Related:

Why do most blogs fail?

Most blogs fail because the person behind the blog either writes about too many topics or gives up too soon.

Too many topics

Man standing in front of three direction arrows

When you go to the supermarket, you’re buying groceries. If you’re heading to the movie theaters, you’re going to watch a movie. Right?

So what’s my point?

The point is a blog needs to have an overall message and a theme that it’s focused around. You want to build your brand in a way that the audience knows what you’re all about.

The Money Ninja is about personal finance. Lindsay’s Pinch of Yum goes over a gazillion recipes. Kiersten of The Blond Abroad writes about her travel adventures. Each of these blogs have a unique identity that readers can easily understand what to expect when they visit the site.

Think about things that interests you and what you’re very knowledgeable about. Write them down and pick one that you like the best from the list.

Giving up too soon

Cartoon guy lying down surrendering by holding up a white flag

I mentioned earlier that 99% of blogs fail. You might come to the conclusion that they failed because of a bad topic idea or that the person sucked at writing.

The truth is, a lot of the times, it’s because they gave up too early. Here’s what I typically see when someone starts blogging for the first time:

Google Analytics showing a typical blog traffic in the beginning

They get really excited about creating a blog and have the perfect topic; launching their site with a ton of enthusiasm and making new posts every day (sometimes multiple times a day). They share it with everyone they know and are very optimistic about the future.

Then reality sets in.

Checking their blog traffic shows only 2 people visiting the site – and one of the two is really just the blogger himself/herself. It feels like they’re just writing to themselves and no one else is paying attention.

Discouraged, they eventually stop updating the site until it eventually joins the blogging graveyard:

99% of blogs fail and ends up at the blogging graveyard

Here’s a little secret.

Google knows most sites won’t be around for a long time (remember 99% of blogs fail) and therefore won’t bother to rank new blogs and blog posts in their search results for months. That means people won’t see any links to your site when they perform Google searches.

Once bloggers show that they’re here to stay for the long haul (by consistently posting and posting things people find value in), Google will slowly reward them with search engine visitor traffic:

Now instead of just friends and family visiting the site, the blog will attract valuable organic traffic from the rest of world – especially if a blog post or two can land on the first page of a Google search.

How long does it take to make money blogging?

There’s so many factors that play into this, but in general, allow 6 months to start making coffee money from your blog (a few dollars a month), 12 to 24 months to make a part-time income, and 24+ months to make a full-time salary.

Results may vary from blogger to blogger, but after being active in the blogging world for 15+ years, these are reasonable time frames for most people.

Now, this assumes you’ve created a blog and make a new post on a regular basis. On the other hand, don’t over post and burn yourself out. I’ve seen too many new bloggers start their site with multiple posts a day. By the second month they’re going through writer’s block.

Aim to make 1 or 2 posts each week. That way, you’ll have more time to brainstorm great post ideas rather than trying to come up with “just okay” stuff. Remember, it’s quality over quantity. Your audience would rather read one amazing post that wows them than a bunch of short articles that add no value.

How much do bloggers make?

Woman with a laptop blogging in bed

Just like any other job or industry, it varies widely. A few bloggers make millions of dollars per year. Others, like me, make a healthy income. Some gave up too soon and barely made money at all.

Specific numbers are hard to come by because the way bloggers make money differs greatly. A fashion blogger might be making money through sponsored posts with clothing brand partners while a travel blogger may earn most of their income from affiliate fees.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. clumps bloggers into a very broad category of “Writers and Authors” with a median income of $61,170 per year. That’s not too accurate since that category includes a bunch of unrelated jobs.

What I can definitively say is that those who kept at it make a significant amount of money; enough to stop working at their full-time job and pursue it as a career.

How do bloggers make money?

There are 5 main ways bloggers make money. These are called income streams. Under each income stream type, there’s many possibilities:

  1. Advertising
  2. Affiliate Marketing
  3. Sponsored Content
  4. Digital Products
  5. Services

Advertising

Companies want to get their products and services in front of customers. One way to do it is to pay bloggers to display ads on their blogs. What do display ads look like? They can come in the form of text, images, or videos. The Money Ninja has a few of these across our site. Scroll the to top of this blog and you can see an example of one:

Google ads displayed on The Money Ninja blog

With so many blogs out there though, companies can’t contact each blogger individually for advertising opportunities. It would take forever.

Enter Google and their Google AdSense program. In the simplest terms, companies will pay Google to manage their advertising budget and figure out where to put their ads.

As a blogger, you can join Google’s ad program for free and get paid every time an advertisement shows up on your site and every time a visitor clicks on the ad itself.

Once you get enough traffic, there’s other ad networks out there besides Google that pays more like Mediavine or AdThrive.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is when you enter a partnership with a company and promote their product or service to your blog readers. The companies that you partner with will give you a unique link. When someone clicks on that link and makes a purchase (or signs up for a service), you’ll earn a commission.

There are literally thousands of affiliate programs you can join. Choosing which ones to join depends on how relevant they are to your blog.

I’m a personal finance blogger so anything finance related makes sense and would connect with my readers, but if I were to show fashion stuff, I’m pretty sure no one would click on it – it’s just the wrong audience.

Here’s some of the affiliate programs I use on this site:

  • Amazon Associates – get paid when readers purchase things on Amazon using your links
  • SiteGround – the host I use to run this site
  • FlexOffers – a popular affiliate network with 12,000+ companies (eg. AT&T, Groupon, Samsung, Sephora, Travelocity, Walgreens)

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content is when companies pay you to write posts mentioning them or their products. This can be done in many different ways:

  • getting a one-time payment to write about the company and their products
  • receiving a free product or service and in exchange you write about your experience using it
  • collaborating on a YouTube video, Instagram post, or podcast for a fee

As your blog becomes more popular, you’ll start to get e-mails offering sponsored content opportunities.

Be careful to not accept every offer that comes along. You don’t want to be a walking billboard for all these companies and come across as just a marketing shill to your readers. Pick sponsored content you actually find helpful to you (and therefore to your audience).

Now, you’re not going to make $1.2 million for an Instragram post like Kylie Jenner does, but $250 to $1,500 is reasonable depending on your traffic. Maybe you’ll even get a free flight:

Digital Products

Many bloggers create and sell their own digital products. Digital products are great because you only have to create each product once, but you can sell it over and over again. There’s no inventory to hold, no overhead costs, and carry a low risk.

Here are some examples of digital products bloggers create:

  • eBooks – create an eBook and sell it on your site; self-publishing is very profitable for many
  • eCourses – teach others what you know and sell it over and over again
  • Online Classes or Online Workshops – same thing as eCourses, but in a live setting
  • Premium Content – offer exclusive content that readers must pay to access
  • Membership Sites – creating a place offering a mixture of teaching and community (like my buddy Nate at Investors Underground)
  • Photos – sell your photos online (I support photographers by buying their stock photos at Shutterstock)
  • Audio or Video – create music clips, video clips, or jingles/sound effects
  • Apps and Plug-ins – solve people’s mobile problems if you’ve got the coding skills

Services

Some bloggers use expertise related to their blog topic and get paid when others hire them. Services can be offered locally or virtually.

Below are a few examples of services you can offer:

  • Speaking – speak at conferences or gigs that could use your knowledge and get paid a booking fee (you’ll also increase your brand awareness at the same time)
  • Freelancing – earn extra income by moonlighting at other blogs; typically includes writing content (like a blog post)
  • Virtual Assistant – find a problem people need help on and assist them virtually
    • Finance – just the other week, I helped someone with their retirement strategy through Skype
    • Travel Juicy Miles helps you book award flights using your points and miles
    • Visioneering Style By Emily Henderson will offer recommendations on how to redecorate your home based on the pictures of the rooms you send her
  • Cooking – show people how to cook the perfect meal or cook it for them
  • Interior Decorating – provide in-person redecorating services to local readers
  • Organizing – help people who suck at being neat 🙂

Similar to digital products, offering a service is an excellent way to make money quickly because costs are low, little to no inventory is required, and you’re getting paid for a skill you already have.

Unlike digital products, however, offering your service isn’t scalable. Time is finite and last I checked, no one has figured out how to expand a day to more than 24 hours.

You can only earn as much as your time allows. In other words, you’re trading time for money.

How can I start to making money blogging?

The biggest step is the first step, which is to stop thinking about it and get started already. The sooner you start, the faster it will be to get to your goal.

There’s three main steps:

  1. Start a blog. Choose a topic that you’re passionate about and become an authority on it by creating useful content that people would want to read about.
  2. Choose your income steams. You can have one or multiple channels to make money. Whatever it is, make sure it’s relevant to your topic.
  3. Be active. You’re not going to get a loyal audience by posting once a year. Be consistent and interact with your readers. Engaging with them keeps your blog on the top of their mind.

Your ultimate goal is to make your blog the go-to resource for your topic. As people look for advice in your domain, you’ll make money from the various income streams you’ve implemented on your site.

The Bottom Line

Although blogging is almost as old as the internet itself, the business has dramatically changed over the years. If you’re motivated enough and armed with the right knowledge, the possibility is limitless. Your success is what you make out of it. You’re in control.

Now that you know how blogs make money, if you’re interested in starting a blog yourself, I created an easy step-by-step guide that even your non-techy grandma can follow. There’s also info on what to avoid (including mistakes I’ve made when I first got started).

10 COMMENTS

  1. Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group? There’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your
    content. Please let me know. Thanks

  2. That growth chart speaks to my heart. I kept looking at my blog traffic and got discouraged when it stay around 9-10 a day. I stopped blogging for several months and noticed that traffic picked up on my older posts! It gave me motivation to keep going ever since.

  3. Excellent work! Really like how to articulate a complex topic and make it easy for John and Jane Doe to understand. Have you thought about Youtube or vlogs to drive in more traffic to monetize?

  4. How is COVID-19 affecting blogs? I thought traffic would be up, but everything I read sounds like this isn’t the case.

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