Why Some Bloggers Make Money and Others Do Not

Blogging. It’s all the rage these days.

Everybody’s doing it, and those who aren’t, want to be. Although bloggers blog for many different reasons, most professional bloggers are interested in getting paid for their blogging activities.

How Much Money Do Bloggers Make?

While anyone can “do blogging,” professional bloggers are more interested in creating a stream of income from their efforts. There are some bloggers who earn a very nice income through their blogs, upwards of six-figures per year. Although the number of bloggers who actually generate this kind of money is low, but making that kind of money is the very reason why some aspiring bloggers launch their blogs with inflated hopes of becoming a rich blogger.

Glassdoor offers a rough estimate report on their findings with what bloggers can expect to make at their craft. Indeed also shows us an estimated salary report, but also gives a report on how blogger salaries have trended from 2012-2014.

Glassdoor Salary Trends Table
Salary Trend Table (Image source: Indeed.com)

Blogging does have the potential to create a really nice income for bloggers, especially for those that have an assortment of skills and experience to add to the activity. Income levels cover a wide income range, anywhere from $1 a day to over $100,000.00 a year and anywhere in between. But the problem is that most bloggers fall right at the “anywhere in between” range and have a hard time breaking the set point.

Indeed.com Table of Blogger's Salary
Blogger’s Salary Table (Image Source: Indeed.com)

What a Blogger Is and What a Blogger Does

When online marketers decide to get into blogging, they need to know what they’re doing and what’s expected of them. A blogger journals their thoughts and experiences typically through written content. He or she decides on a topic or area of expertise, then share that information with other interested readers.

The type of blogger you are or the category of your blog style can determine how much money you can make. For instance, as a corporate blogger, you’re probably paid per post, which makes it easy to determine your income if you make [X] number of posts. However, as an affiliate blogger per se, it would be more difficult to determine your exact income as it depends on how many sales you make from your blog links. There are some affiliate bloggers who are making over $100k a year!

Write to Done lists seven types of bloggers which so wonderfully details bloggers categories:

  1. The Niche Expert
  2. The Business Owner
  3. The Professional Blogger
  4. The Journal Writer
  5. The Platform-Builder
  6. The Product Promoter
  7. The Freelancer

Does this list include your type or style of blogging? Are you more than one type or style?

Based on that list, I classify myself as an “Aspiring Professional Freelance Blogger.” I am a freelance writer, which I do for a living, and that service includes blogging for clients (a freelancer). But I also blog about products and services on my website where I provide purchase referral links for my readers (an affiliate). However, I am not making nearly the amount of money I’d like to be making through blogging (and that’s the aspiring part!). I make less than $1,500/month from blogging. Of course I want to make more. I’d love to make more! And I wonder if there are more bloggers other than me who also have that “aspiring” label? I would think so! (Although I didn’t take part in this survey done by Problogger.net, the graph below tells me I’m not alone with not making the big money!)

Problogger.net Survey of Blogger's Income
Monthly Earnings of ProBlogger Readers (Image Source: Problogger.net)

So while researching different sources (and using my own experience) to write this post, I learned a great deal about the activities that set apart the “arrived” bloggers from the “aspiring” bloggers. There are differences, some major, some minor. But I think just by changing a few things around, I and any other “aspirer” should see a difference in our bank accounts.

Know the Purpose of the Blog

It helps to first understand the overall purpose of the blog:

Your blog does not make you money. Activities tied to your blog are what makes you money.

Those activities would include things like advertising, selling physical or digital products, providing online services, referring others to buy services (affiliates), speaking opportunities, selling courses, etc. Pro Blogger Darren Rowse created a simulated mind map of a myriad of activities that you do in response to having a blog, which essentially creates an income. But simply by virtue of blogging, you won’t make money. Income comes from the results related to activities from your blog, not simply having the blog itself!

Darren Rowse's Mind Map of Blogging Activities
Mind Map of Ways to Make Money Blogging (Image Source: Problogger.net)

The most experienced professional bloggers will tell you that it can take months, even years, before you start to see any real income from your blogs. Although bloggers realize that work has to be done before the money comes in, there’s still a slight disconnect on understanding when that’s supposed to happen…and why it (feels like) takes SO long. This is often why many blogs fail before they’ve even started gaining Internet traction.

Treat Your Blog Like a Business

You’ve probably heard and read this before many, many times, but it bears repeating: YOU HAVE TO TREAT YOUR BLOG LIKE A BUSINESS. If you’re serious about making money with it, you have to treat it like you are serious.

1. Develop a Business Plan

Yes, even as a blogger, you need a business plan. This doesn’t mean investing an insane amount of time or money into a plan, but you do need some sort of business strategy template to give you direction with your blog. Here’s a basic blog business plan that I have used. It’s very comprehensive and something you can put into action right away. Just get it done!

2. Choose a Professional-Looking Theme

Any business that wants to be taken seriously needs to beware of its online image. Most aspiring professional bloggers don’t understand the importance of projecting the right image for their blog. It’s more than the words on the page. It’s about creating an experience when visitors come to your site. It’s important to make your site user-friendly and easy to navigate. When I became serious about blogging, I searched around to find a really nice, professional-looking theme because it was important for me to project the right image.

3. Write Frequently and Write Quality Posts

Notice that the big  bloggers always have unique, fresh content on their blogs? They never let their blogs go weeks or months without a new post. Posting is the lifeblood of any blogger’s business, therefore you should do it often. And doit well.

4. Be Consistent with Tasks

Are you planning to be active on any related forums? What about blog contests that you’re promising the readers? It’s important to stay consistent with the things you said you’d do. It shows your work ethic and it really just helps people trust you more. Seller-Buyer relationships are built through seeing consistency with your actions, so make sure you display that to readers.

5. Promote Your Content

This means more than just slapping up a Twitter link or a Facebook status. Look for “opportunities” where you can share your expertise and knowledge. Use those opportunities to direct readers to a related post you’ve written on the topic. Be sure to keep your redirects clean and genuine without “selling.” That’s a total turnoff for readers. I’ve noticed that smart affiliate bloggers will post articles about products, but will never strong-arm readers into buying anything. They just share their opinions or reviews and let the readers decide. That action alone is what makes me want to buy something they recommend!

6. Target Specifics

Visit the site of a big blogger and you’ll notice right away what their site is all about. You won’t even have to click on the “About” tab if it’s well laid out. That’s because serious professional bloggers are specific and detailed. They don’t confuse readers with a blog about healthcare and nutrition with posts about buying office furniture. Mixing in occasional random posts is perfectly acceptable, but if it’s done too frequently, readers will stop following you. I know, because I’ve also unsubscribed to bloggers before when they’ve gotten too far off their target subject, too many times, for too long.

7. Strategize Time Management

Planning your day, answering emails, compiling proposals, writing out lists, scheduling blog posts, conducting phone interviews; it’s all a part of a blogger’s daily work commitments. If a blogger wants to do them all successfully, he has to learn the importance of managing his time and prioritizing committments. I’ve found out that when I plan things, I have a far more successful day than “winging it.” Talk to any big money-making blogger and they will tell you that they know each day what they’re going to be doing.

8. Social Sites Management

Most big bloggers have at least one social media account. It’s good for business because it offers exposure and a chance to connect with new readers. Beware though of getting distracted with the social sites and spending too much unproductive time on them. True blogging professionals use social sites for its exact intent, and then they get off of it. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy themselves, but they control the sites instead of the sites controlling their time.

9. Be Patient

Yes, we’re all in a hurry to make big money, no doubt, but patience is key. Building a successful blog takes time. Mega blogger Pat Flynn shared on his blog how it took him over a year (from June 2007 to October 2008) to start making any significant money from his blog site. Of course, during that time he wasn’t only blogging, because he had a family to support. He worked a regular job alongside his blogging activities (something I’ve noticed that they all do). But he started blogging and worked on it slowly, a little at a time, until the site began bringing in some significant income, most of which came from Google Adsense and affiliate links. Now, he makes 100% of his income from his blogging efforts. It took years to get him to that level. Note: If you’re the impatient type and want to find a quicker way to blog riches, you may not have chosen the best career field. Blogging is time-consuming, hard work but it’s also highly rewarding and pays big dividends after a period of time.

10. Blog Traffic

What’s a blog without traffic? Essentially, nothing. Your blog needs traffic to thrive. Where do you find this traffic? Let’s see what some of the money-makers say:

Problogger Darren Rowse has a really good post from various sources about how and where to find good blog traffic.

Neil Patel offers this really insightful post about how he grew his site’s subscriber base to over 100k.

And here’s one of my favorite posts from blogger Kate Muegel that talks about several really good, applicable methods that any blogger at any level can use to gain good traffic traction right away.

Remember, gaining and growing traffic is only as worthwhile as the time you invest. Make it all count.

11. Blogger/Peer Interaction

I’m really impressed when a big time blogger takes the time to actually interact with their readers. It shows that they’re genuinely connected to their work. It sends a message that they really care about what they do, not just making money. Kevin Muldoon quickly became one of my favorite bloggers because I’ve noticed that he always takes the time to respond to emails, comments, questions, etc. That seemingly small effort can build confidence with your readers and make people look to you first for answers. Not many bloggers will do that, at either end of the money-making spectrum.

12. Invite Guest Posters

The Internet landscape is always changing, always evolving. Not too long ago, Googles’ blogger, Matt Cutts, prophesied the demise of sites that used guest posting as a means to build links. Make sure you read his article carefully and thoroughly because that type of guest posting is not what I’m referring to here. As a guest poster, you should only be interested in giving and receiving quality posts from bloggers with whom you (hopefully) have an established working relationship or those with whom your business aligns. No matter what is said about the state of “guest posting” it is and will always be a productive and beneficial method for bloggers to build up their sites, if it’s done right. Tip: Don’t Google “write guest posts” or anything like that to find posting opps. Take the time to develop a solid relationship with other professional bloggers and offer a way to add value to their readers.

13. Monetize Appropriately

Finally, there’s the topic of monetization. Many of the top bloggers use a combination of methods to create an income. I’ve seen advertising done on a LOT of them. Google Adsense is still a popular method. Affiliate marketing and sales is easy to do for beginners, and is very lucrative. Super affiliate marketer Rosalind Gardner uses her blog to write about her life, blog about product reviews and give out advice. But more importantly, she directs people to her business site on how to become a super affiliate blogger. Now I can’t attest to her product because I’ve never purchased or used it, but I see a LOT of satisfied customer testimonials about it all over the web. This is only an example of how a six-figure income blogger is using their blogs to make money.

Always remember the reason why you started your blog. Always keep the purpose of your actions in mind as you grow your blog. And always remember, hard work, consistency and dedication are extremely important, and only a small portion of what’s going to make your blog a high-income earner.

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