Learning Curve: Low
Time to Profit: 6 Months
Earning Potential: $10,000+/year
Startup Costs: $100+
Time Requirement: Low
A professional blogger is somebody who makes a full-time living from their online publishing efforts, which is in direct comparison to a “hobbyist” blogger who simply publishes for fun.
The most successful pro bloggers will write and publish content in one specific niche, such as travel, parenting tips, cooking, or technology, for example. Your income can come from a number of sources such as promoting the products and services of other companies, selling display advertising space, or even creating and selling your own digital products.
The really neat part about being a professional blogger is that there's very little investment required to get started – you need a computer, an Internet connection, a website (free or paid) and the ability to write in a way that engages people. You can also run this type of business from anywhere in the world, which is exactly what many “digital nomads” do.
Your earning potential as a blogger is almost unlimited, but it does take time to build your audience and your income. With that being said, the most prolific professional bloggers earn anywhere from US$10,000 to US$100,000 per month.
How Professional Blogging Works
Blogging, or weblogging, has been around in one form or another since the late 1990s. The idea was that you'd keep an online journal, sharing your thoughts, ideas and everything else with the world through your “posts”. Posts are simply web pages that can be as long or short as you need them to be.
A blogger will generally publish information in a specific niche or market. So, a travel blogger might write a post about the “20 best hotels in Vietnam”, but a food blogger might create a post about the “10 things you need to know about cooking a great thanksgiving dinner.”
If this is starting to sound familiar it’s because you've been unknowingly reading “blog” content, and enjoying it.
The thing is that the world seems to be overflowing with bloggers – you can't walk 20 feet in most large cities without bumping into one.
But what separates the professional blogger making a full-time income from the hobbyist who's just massaging their own ego?
Regardless of the topic, the most profitable bloggers are those with strong personalities, and opinions that make them stand out in a crowd. Anyone can make money blogging, but if you want to do it full-time you need to have something to say, and an audience willing to listen.
The best way to create a personal brand is via social media. And with a wide variety of free platforms to choose from, this is the only time in human history that one person can literally build a business empire from nothing, using freely available content and video marketing tools such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
The reality is that most bloggers get a lot of traffic from their social media marketing efforts, so running a truly successful (and profitable) blog means embracing social media as part of your business model.
How do Blogs Make Money?
The most profitable blogs rely on multiple streams of income – you should never put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to making money online. So here are the most popular ways to make money from your blogging audience.
You recommend a product or service you’ve used in the past, providing a link from your blog to the company selling that product or service. If one of your visitors buys through that link then you're paid a commission. Some affiliate commissions are tiny – in the $5 per sale range – but some of them can pay out $50 – $100 for each customer you refer.
The smartest bloggers will only recommend products or services that resonate with their audience e.g. food bloggers won't recommend an auto accessories supplier.
Amazon, and their Associates Program, is one of the biggest affiliate networks on the planet, and their product range is especially popular with “mommy bloggers” whose visitors tend to make impulse purchases.
You basically rent out “slots” on your blog to Google or other companies interested in purchasing advertising space from you. AdSense is completely passive, in that you copy and paste some code into your blog, and when people click on the ads you get paid.
Banner advertising is slightly more complex because you'll need to deal directly with different companies, discussing how many visitors you get per month, and how much you'll charge them for x number of impressions (or views) of their banner ad.
If you have a really popular blog you'll be approached by companies or individuals offering to “buy” a blog post from you. They write the content and send it to you. Once you've approved it they then send payment, and you publish their blog post.
What you're getting paid for is providing a link back to their website for search engine optimization purposes, or their blog post might be just a recommendation for their own product or service.
You should only accept sponsored posts from companies that match your audiences' needs, and also aren't promoting anything spammy, seedy or just downright illegal.
Your Own Products
These normally take the form of digital products, in the form of eBooks or video courses. What some bloggers do is take their accumulated knowledge on a given topic, and then package it as a course for Udemy, or maybe just a downloadable PDF document.
Creating your own products is one of the quickest ways to build recurring passive income, because you only invest time in creating the product once, but you can sell it over and over again to your new visitors.
Your Email List
The most successful bloggers start building an email list from the day their blog goes online. This list will initially struggle to get past 100 subscribers, but once you have several thousand people on your email list you can quite easily generate money by sending them a daily or weekly email promoting your own products, or products sold by other companies.
So, in the end you can potentially earn thousands of dollars per month for sending one email per week to people who already love what you do.
How Much Can I Make From Blogging
There are two types of bloggers in this world: Those who are making a full-time income (and then some) from it, and those who make absolutely nothing. But when it comes to how much you can earn, the sky is pretty much the limit – and that means income in excess of US$100,000 per month, every single month.
One of the most famous bloggers out there is a lady named Ree (Ann Marie) Drummond, who started her blog ThePioneerWoman.com way back in 2006. What was initially a blog detailing her personal journey as a city girl moving to live in the country, quickly became a full-time job, generating enough money for her to build a media empire.
This “hobby” blog quickly went from zero visitors to over 4 million unique visitors per month by 2011. Experts estimate, based on her traffic and audience, that she's earning US2 million dollars each year just from selling display advertising space on her site. Oh, and her life story has been optioned as a movie with Reese Witherspoon set to play her.
So, if your goal is to make a couple hundred extra bucks per month to help pay with the bills, then that's entirely doable. If, however, you're willing to dream big and work hard, there's no reason why your blog shouldn't replace your salaried income within a few years.
Examples of High Earning Blogs in Action
The idea of blogging appeals to you, but can the average Joe or Josephine generate a full-time income from blogging? Yes, they absolutely can.
There are many different niches you can choose for blogging – here are four of the most popular:
Matt Kepnes is something of a personality when it comes to travel bloggers, mainly because he earns over US$50,000 every single month from his blog, doing something he loves and helping others. He generates the majority of his income from selling budget travel guides, with titles like “Travel the World on $50 a day” and “The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking”.
Matt built a hugely profitable blog while traveling the world, visiting 80 different countries in the process.
As the title suggests, these are moms who put their knowledge and skills of being a parent and managing a family, to work in their online publishing efforts.
A great example of what's possible here is Holly Homer's blog Kids Activities, which helps parents find lots and lots of activities to keep tiny hands productive and out of harm's way. Holly generates most of her income through selling display advertising, but she also earns income from a number of affiliate programs.
The 2008 financial crash taught millions of people the actual value of money, the dangers of unsecured debt, and how important budgeting is. Trent Hamm – the founder of TheSimpleDollar.com – had financial issues that came to a head in 2006, forcing him to take action.
Once he'd figured out how to resolve his own money problems, he then went about sharing that same information with others. His site currently gets one million unique visitors per month, with significant income coming from affiliate commissions for promoting credit card offers.
Pinch of Yum , a blog that started as a way of sharing their love of food with others, has turned into a full time business for Lindsay and Bjork Ostrom. This husband and wife team has grown their blogging income from just $20 per month in 2011, to over US$90,000 per month at the end of 2016. Yes, that means they're on course to earn over US$1 million per year as you read this.
Pros of the Pro Blogger Business Model
- Starting a blog is ideal if you don't have an awful lot of time or money to start out with.
- You can start slowly, and ramp up the blog as you start generating income.
- Actual start-up costs are minimal – all you need is a domain name and a WordPress web hosting account.
- Blogging doesn't require that you're some kind of marketing or SEO genius – there's very little technical knowledge required.
Cons of the Pro Blogger Business Model
- Are you prepared for that moment when you might need to decide between your day job and running a blog full-time?
- The most successful bloggers are minor online celebrities, which makes it difficult to sell the blog if and when that time comes.
- Your income can vanish if there's any issue with your Google or social media traffic.