Want to make a full-time income blogging? It’s completely possible, and I’ll show you how to do it in this post!
I originally published this post in 2014. I updated it in June 2017.
When I wrote the post on how I make an income from home, I received many requests for a more detailed post on just how I make a full-time income blogging.
I didn’t start out thinking I would eventually make a full-time blogging income, and it definitely didn’t happen overnight. To be cliche, it took a LOT of “blood, sweat and tears”!
Personally, I believe in the slow and steady approach to blogging. I believe it must be about more than the income if you are to succeed. Be authentic to yourself and to your readers.
I feel a bit funny even writing this post. But because people ask me so often, I decided to delve into it. Just remember:
Yes, you can make a full-time income blogging, but money alone does not equal success.
That said, I am incredibly grateful that I’m now able to make a full-time income from my blog. 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 a full-time income blogging without anyone ever having to buy something!
My blog income is made up of eight income streams:
- private ad sales
- affiliate marketing
- Amazon Associates
- my own products
- sponsored posts
- ad networks
- book deals
It almost always take a variety of income streams to make a full-time income blogging.
Some professional bloggers also have a ninth income stream, which I will call off-shoot businesses. I previously co-owned an off-shoot business called Ultimate-Bundles.
Let’s take a look at each income stream that, together, allows me to make a full-time income blogging.
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!
Finding Affiliate Programs
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. Share-a-Sale is one of these big affiliate platforms, and I use them all the time. In 2014, I attended 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!
If you were to calculate my affiliate income earnings over the past few years, they would make up a small full-time income on their own. There are other bloggers who make a full-time income blogging just via affiliate marketing.
Even if you have a great income from affiliate marketing alone, however, I believe it’s wise to diversity your income and not put all of your eggs into one
basket income stream–especially for an industry that is as fluid and constantly changing as blogging.
Private Ad Sales
Private ad sales is another income stream I began exploring early into monetizing this blog.
With these, I sell a small number of 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.
Managing Private Sponsors
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.
Can you make a full-time income blogging by private ad sales alone?
I’ve found that it is nearly impossible to make a full-time income blogging with private ad sales alone. Most private sponsors who work directly with bloggers are small business owners. They have smaller marketing budgets than larger companies who can afford to work with third-party PR agencies. I have never met a blogger who claims to make a full-time income blogging via private ad sales alone.
Because it wasn’t a good time investment to work with lots of private sponsors at once, I’ve scaled way back. I currently only work with one private sponsor.
The Amazon Associates program was illegal in my state my first three years of blogging, and I shouted for joy when it opened in February 2014. (It is still not legal in several states because of tax codes.)
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!).
Using Amazon Associates
To apply for the Amazon Associates affiliate program, scroll down to the “Make Money with Us” section in the footer of the home page and click “Become an Affiliate.”
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. My husband has also been experimenting with paying to boost Amazon deals on our Facebook page, which is helping increase our Amazon earnings.
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.
Although Amazon is not our family’s top income source, I do know several bloggers who make a full-time income blogging by this one income source alone. Again, it’s never wise to rely on only one income source while blogging, though, so be sure to diversify via several streams, even if you do well on Amazon.
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 has designed all of my eBook covers for me.
You can sell eBooks on your site and ask other bloggers to promote them on their sites via your affiliate program. You can also sell your books via Amazon’s self publishing programs (scroll down to the “Self-Publish with Us” link).
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 have four eBooks but only three that I currently sell—Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert and Your Retreat: A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day and The Woven Heart: Essays for Moms on Life, Love, and Loss. You can make money on your site by selling my eBooks. You can sign up for my affiliate program here.
A great resource on turning your idea into an eBook is Idea to eBook by Mandi Ehman.
With the right products, you can very well make a full-time income blogging without any other income stream. Blogger products weren’t as prevalent when I began blogging in 2011, but many bloggers now see products as their primary income streams. This is considered one of the most stable income streams a blogger can take on.
Ad networks are the most passive income you can have. All you have to do is write and generate traffic to your site. 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.
Different Ad Networks
Other ad networks I have used include Sovrn (formerly Lijit), Izea, RhythmOne (formerly 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 RhythmOne/Burst Media.
DFP and Ad Network Management Companies
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 reach a certain number of pageviews per month, you can apply to an ad network 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). Two networks I recommend are Monumetric (formerly The Blogger Network) and AdThrive.
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!
Where to Start with Ad Networks
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 ad networks pay via check, some do direct deposit to your bank account and some pay via Paypal. Most pay monthly, although for some you have to hit a minimum threshold before payout.
Downsides to Ad Networks
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 relate to the site’s content, but others have to do with what the reader has recently been searching for.
Although my ad network income through AdThrive almost always allows me to make a full-time income blogging, there are some months where this stream is very modest, while other months I make significantly more. Because this income stream is dependent on web traffic, it is one of the most unreliable avenues of making money blogging.
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.
Posts for big brands usually pay very well, and it’s feasible to make a full-time income blogging via this income stream alone.
(But, yet again, don’t put all your eggs in one basket!)
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.
Cafe Mom: This one is by invitation only.
The two above are my favorites, but I’ve worked with the following as well:
Linqia: This agency has paid me the best, but I only do posts with them a few times per year. They pay per click, whereas the other agencies pay a flat fee.
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: 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.
Activate (formerly 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. (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 my friend Wardee at GNOWFGLINS has done with her Traditional Cooking School.
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 in 2014, I got a random email from a literary agent named Bill Jensen.
I am convinced that God ordained this meeting. Bill and I threw around book ideas for a long time, and I finally got to meet him in person and also meet with some interested publishers at the Allume conference in late 2014.
It took me a really long time to write my book proposal. I wrote it in bits and pieces, and I finally finished it in late 2015. I accepted a deal from Zondervan, and I’m happy to report that I turned in my manuscript! My book will publish in fall 2017.
Getting a Book Deal
The first step in getting a book deal 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 reasons 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. The niche you choose can make or break your income potential.
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 with my blog.
And just because my income has changed, it doesn’t mean I 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.