When I wrote the post on how I make an income from home several months back, I received many requests for a more detailed post on just how I make a full-time income blogging.
I didn’t start making a full-time income blogging overnight. To be cliche, it took a LOT of “blood, sweat and tears”!
I personally believe in the slow and steady approach to blogging. I believe it must be about more than the income if you are to succeed. I believe in being authentic to yourself and to your readers.
I feel a bit funny even writing this post. I don’t particularly enjoy writing or talking about money. But because I’ve been asked so often, I decided to delve into it. Just remember:
Money does not equal success.
That said, I am incredibly grateful that I am now able to make a full-time income blogging. It has provided in so many ways for my family–much more than I ever dreamed!
When people find out my work-at-home mom job is blogging, they often can’t wrap their minds around it. “Don’t people who read your site do so for free?” They ask. Well, yes, they do, and that is part of the beauty of it!
I love that I can make an income without anyone ever having to buy something!
I have six main income streams on this blog: private ad sales, affiliate marketing, Amazon Associates, products, sponsored posts and ad networks.
It almost always take a variety of income streams to make up a full-time income blogging.
Some professional bloggers also have a seventh income stream, which I will call off-shoot businesses. My off-shoot business is Ultimate-Bundles. I co-found Ultimate-Bundles with Stephanie and Ryan Langford in 2013 and continue to run several bundle sales per year with them. (The next bundle I am organizing will launch in March, so be on the lookout!)
Lastly, some bloggers also turn into traditionally-published authors. I will touch on this at the end.
Let’s take a look at each income stream that, together, allows me to make a full-time income blogging:
This was the first income stream I began to explore three years ago. Many businesses offer affiliate programs as part of their marketing plans.
When a blogger wants to promote their products, they use a unique affiliate link. When a reader clicks on the link and makes a purchase, the sale is tied to the blogger’s account, giving the blogger a percentage of the sale.
Some affiliate programs pay only 5-10%, but there are some that go up to 50% or more.
Many bloggers offer affiliate programs for their eBooks and other products. I offer an affiliate program, and I love when I get to pay other bloggers for promoting my eBooks!
To find if a business offers an affiliate program, look for an “affiliates” tab in their menu bar or in the footer of their site.
There are also several big affiliate platforms who host affiliate programs for hundreds of businesses.
I recently returned from the Share-a-Sale Think Tank Conference, which was all about affiliate marketing. You can join Share-a-Sale here and begin to explore companies that offer affiliate programs.
If you really want to bless a blogger that you love, be sure to click through her affiliate links if you are going to make a purchase of something she has mentioned in a post or on social media!
Private Ad Sales
This is another income stream I began exploring early into monetizing this blog.
With these, I sell a small number of sidebar (or above or below post or in my newsletter) ads each month. The advertiser, usually a small business, pays a fee for the ad.
The final thing I offer as part of private ad sales is sponsored posts. These can be review and/or giveaway posts or a post that is content-rich (like this one on detox baths) that mentions the advertiser’s product somewhere in the post.
The sponsors pay me via check. I do not get any extra kickback if someone makes a purchase because I get paid a flat fee. Although, it really makes private sponsors happy when they are able to see customers/interest coming from the blogs they have advertised on!
I strive to only work with private sponsors whose products I can endorse.
I have used an ad manager in the past and am now selling my own because I am cutting back on private ad sales, as they are not the most passive income. I will be honest in that I often feel pressure to make sure the advertiser gets good results (which creates more stress on me).
An alternative to selling your own ads is to go with a company like Beacon Ads.
The Amazon Associates program has only been available to me for less than a year, as the program was not legal in North Carolina up until February 2014. (It is still not legal in several states because of tax codes.)
I was so excited when the ban on Amazon Associates was lifted, so I could explore this income stream!
This program is basically an affiliate program–for just about every item on Amazon. But it doesn’t matter if people purchase the item you have linked to or any other product on Amazon: You will still earn a small commission if people click to Amazon.com directly from your link and make a purchase of any kind!
Again, I strive to only link to products I can vouch for or that I want myself (especially if it’s something on sale!).
I am still learning how to use this income stream. One thing I like to do is search out the Daily Deals on Amazon.com and link to them on my Facebook page if I think the deals are something my readers will enjoy.
If you are already going to be making an Amazon purchase anyway, it really blesses (and very literally provides for the families of) your favorite bloggers to click through their links to place your order. My general Amazon link is here.
Products are a really great blogging income stream because you actually own them yourself. Most bloggers start out with selling eBooks, but many have branched out to sell eCourses and even tangible products as well.
I recommend getting your eBooks professionally designed and edited if you can afford it. My husband has design skills, so he designed both of my eBook covers for me.
I did not personally format my eBooks for Kindle (remember: I’m not techie!), but I hired someone to do this for me. Many blog designers also do eBook formatting for Kindle and Nook.
My very first product was an eBook I co-wrote with several other bloggers called Real Food, Real Easy, but we are not currently selling it. To be honest, I recommend focusing more on single-authored eBooks unless you want to collaborate to put your eBook into a bundle sale together and know that is where most of your book’s income will come from. When you co-author eBooks, especially with more than two or three bloggers, splitting up the revenue can get tricky.
I currently have two products–Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert and Your Retreat: A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day. You can make money on your site by selling my eBooks. You can sign up for my affiliate program here.
A great resource from taking your idea to an eBook is Idea to eBook by Mandi Ehman.
Ad networks are the most passive income you can have. All you have to do is write and generate traffic to your site, and the more traffic you have, the more likely your passive ad network income will add up!
I really love this income stream because it allows me to focus on what I love the most–writing and connecting with my readers.
There are a plethora of available ad networks, with the biggest/most widely-known being Google Adsense.
Other ad networks I have used include Sovrn (formerly Lijit), Izea, Burst Media, Media.net, Content.Ad, Rivit and Triple Lift. There are also premium ad networks like Martha’s Circle, Federated Media, BlogHer and AdThrive.
When you sign up for these programs, you will get html code that you can copy and paste into a widget on your sidebar. Some of the networks base earnings per click (so readers have to actually click on the ads), but others base them on impressions, or pageviews.
Earnings will vary greatly, depending on your site’s content, what topics are currently trending, your site traffic, the ad’s fill rate (how often the ads show up) and pay rate (some networks pay a lot more than others).
I do not recommend signing up for every single ad network and plastering them all over your site. In my experience, it’s better to just stick with a few. I have personally seen the best results with Google Adsense, AdThrive, Sovrn and Burst Media.
There is a way to get the ad networks to compete against each other called DFP, but I am not techie enough to figure that out. This is the best way to really increase your passive income.
If you are not techie, you can hire someone to manage DFP for you. There are many individuals that run businesses doing just this.
But if you have at least 100,000 pageviews per month, you can apply to one of two major ad networks who will actually do the DFP part for you–at no upfront cost to you (they take a cut of one of the ad’s earnings, instead). These two networks are The Blogger Network and AdThrive Media.
The Blogger Network seems a lot easier to get into, while AdThrive usually has a long waiting list. AdThrive has recently rolled out AdThrive Edge, for those bloggers with a minimum of 100K pageviews/month. I am with AdThrive Premium, which gives me an individual to manage my ads (which is incredibly helpful!). You can apply for AdThrive Premium once you hit 750,000 pageviews per month.
I have been incredibly pleased with AdThrive Media and highly recommend them!
If you are not able to afford someone to run DFP for you and are not yet at the 100K/month mark, I recommend that you start small with three Google Adsense ads (that is the maximum AdSense will allow you to run per page) and two or three Sovrn ads.
Google AdSense is customizable, and I know one thing I noticed that increased my earnings (before I was running DFP through AdThrive) was creating “customized channels.” I had someone help me do this because, once again, I am not techie. But I think if you have even one techie bone in your body, it’s not really hard. Customized channels make your ads a little more suited to the content of your site. For mine, we checked off “healthy living.”
Some of the ad networks pay via check, some do direct deposit and some pay via Paypal. Most pay monthly, although for some you have to hit a minimum threshold hold before getting paid.
The only downside to these ads is that you have little control over what ads show up. BUT, you can block certain types of ads. (I try to make sure all of my ads are family friendly.) Some of the ads that show up have to do with the site’s content, but others have to do with what the reader has recently been searching for.
Many bloggers find sponsored posts to be a very lucrative income stream. Though they are time intensive, they are also the most financially rewarding. The rate a blogger is able to charge for each sponsored post is based on a variety of factors, such as social media influence, pageviews, and the quality of work as evidenced by sponsored posts written for other companies.
I do take a very select few privately-sold sponsored posts, but I have found the most success through sponsored post agencies. These agencies line up sponsored posts for you. They offer you posts they and the advertiser think will be a good fit for your site, and you can accept or reject the offers.
I will admit that I have made mistakes and have accepted too many sponsored posts in the past. Instead of accepting every post that now comes my way, I try to stick to no more than four posts per month and only accept those posts that I feel would be beneficial to my readership and also pay my rate. (By raising my rate, I do not feel like I have to accept every post that comes my way.)
There are quite a few sponsored post agencies across the web, but the following are ones I have personally worked with:
TapInfluence: This is currently my favorite agency and the one I work with most frequently right now. They have been able to provide posts that I feel are more applicable to my readership, and they pay well.
Linqia: This agency has paid me the best, but I only do posts with them a few times per year. They pay more click, whereas the other agencies pay a flat fee.
Cafe Mom: This one is by invitation only.
The Motherhood: The ladies who run this agency are super sweet. I typically only do a few posts per year with them. Post opps come via email. I have enjoyed working with them.
Mom it Forward: I have only done one post with them, but it’s worth it to sign up and get their emails to see if any posts are applicable to your readership!
Izea/Social Spark: I used to do quite a few with this one, but they started to feel like a stretch to fit into my audience, so I haven’t worked with them in quite a while now.
SITS Girls/Massive Sway: This is one of the first sponsored posts agencies I began working with. I attended their Bloggy Bootcamp when they came to Charlotte in 2013. They offer some good posts, but their rate is usually lower than what I am currently charging.
Clever Girls Collective: I did a few posts with this agency when I first started accepting sponsored posts, but, ultimately, I felt the posts weren’t a good fit for my readership, and the pay was minimum compared to other agencies.
Sverve: I think I’ve done one post with this agency ever, and they weren’t the best fit. They don’t always pay, and they have a funny rating system, where bloggers rate each other (which I honestly just don’t have time to go around rating people or ask for ratings from others…that’s just not my style).
Collective Bias: I used to be a member of this agency, but I finally asked them to take me off of their roll. Other bloggers rave about them, but these posts require the blogger to get out and go shopping for whatever item they are blogging about. I.don’t.do.shopping. Seriously: Make me a dentist appointment, but please, please, please don’t make me go shopping. (I am so not kidding.) But if you like to shop, this agency might be right up your alley!
Other sponsored post agencies I have not tried:
One2One Network: I get their emails, but I’ve never seen anything that seems super applicable to me.
Sway Group: This agency is a premium sponsored post agency under the same umbrella as SITS Girls/Massive Sway. They only accept a select few bloggers. I haven’t tried applying yet, although I might do so sometime in the future. I hear they pay very well.
If you do a google search, you are bound to find even more sponsored post agencies. But remember: You can only write so much, and blogging should be about more than the income. Try to focus on creating good content for your readers first and foremost.
A lot of bloggers will use their blog platform to form what I call an off-shoot business. Many of these include selling for direct sales companies, like essential oils, Lilla Rose, etc.
Other bloggers form their own business concepts, like how Wardee at GNOWFGLINS has done with her Traditional Cooking School.
I do not count this income in my blogging income. I count it as an entirely separate business.
I currently run The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle and Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle with the Langfords, but we stepped out of the current Ultimate Christian Living Bundle (which you should totally check out!) and the upcoming Ultimate DIY Bundle so I could put more energies into this site again and into the final income stream, which you will read about below.
Some bloggers who love writing set out with the intent to eventually get a book deal. Others just fall into it. I am the latter.
While I have always enjoyed writing, I don’t think I would have ever sought out traditional publishing on my own. But a little less than a year ago, I got a random email from a literary agent named Bill Jensen.
I think it was God ordained. Bill and I have been throwing around book ideas for all this time now, and I finally got to meet him in person and also meet with some interested publishers at the Allume conference a few weeks back.
I hope to finish my book proposal by the end of the year. I am incredibly humbled and excited about this opportunity and look forward to where it may take me!
The first step in getting traditionally published is to secure a literary agent. There are a plethora of agencies to choose from. But I will advise to first begin building a platform via blogging. A solid platform is often instrumental in securing a book deal (and even in getting an agent who will help you get that book deal).
Why I don’t reveal my blogging income
Very few bloggers reveal their blogging income–although some do. I know this can make things hard in knowing the potential there is to make a full-time income blogging.
But there are several reason why I personally do not reveal my exact blogging income:
1. I do not want to give others false expectations.
Sure, it would be easy for me to say: “Do x, y and z, and you will be on your way to making a full-time income blogging.” But what works for one does not always work for all.
But I do guarantee if you follow the steps in my post on how to grow a blog and begin tapping into some of the income streams from this post, you will start to see some income.
2. Income potential can vary greatly.
Certain blog niches seem to do better than others. Not all niches are suited to making a full-time income blogging, and that is OK.
3. I don’t want to incite jealousy; instead, I want to give hope.
Money does a funny thing to people; it can separate the best of friends. I do not want people to read about my income and become jealous.
Instead, I want to give you hope that you can, indeed, make some money from home.
4. I hold my blogging income with an open hand.
I am keenly aware that we could go back to being low income and barely making ends meet tomorrow. The Lord has blessed in this season, but it doesn’t mean that I will always make a full-time income blogging.
And just because my income has changed, it doesn’t mean I still cannot relate to those who are still low income. In fact, I often feel more comfortable around those who have less than those who have more.
Remembering where I came from–and knowing I could go back there–keeps me grounded.
5. My parents taught me not to share income.
My dad has worked in the corporate world for many years. He has a good position with the largest hospital system in the Carolinas. But my parents have never once revealed their income to me and my siblings. I have no idea how much money they make. And it’s none of my business.
And, frankly, the details of my full-time income are no one else’s business either.
I hope this post will help you if you seek to make a full-time income blogging!
Start out small–with something easy, like affiliate marketing, and remember to keep focused on your readers first. If you do that, the income should come.
Do you make a full-time income blogging? What are your tips on how to make money blogging?
Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Thank you for supporting my site!