Reading Time: 9 Minutes
Ever wondered how much you can make blogging? I’m talking about my favorite income-generating idea today. Here are real numbers from real case studies, plus how to start a blog of your own in under 10 minutes.
When I started this blog about 10 months ago, I was just enjoying a hobby. I loved reading about money and I wanted to share my own ideas about what has worked for me. As I slowly waded into the waters of blogging, I realized there were a host of highly successful people from all walks of life – teachers, stay-at-home moms, former finance professionals, doctors, etc. – who were making more than a full-time living from blogs they started as a hobby. Many of them have gone on to put a ton of professional effort into their blogs, and it’s impressive what they have been able to achieve. If you’re wondering how you can increase your own earning potential, I’m now convinced blogging is one of the best ways to do it, because it works for all kinds of interests and fits people from all walks of life.
Let’s talk numbers.
How much can you actually make blogging? Here are a few success stories from a diverse set of subjects.
Cue wolf whistle. Those are some ridiculous numbers. Will you hit these figures if you start a blog?
If you read last week’s Harvard Education in Ten Minutes, your reaction should be “Why not me?” Or a variant: “If I can achieve even 1/10 or 1/20 of the success, would that have a material impact on my life? How can I do this?”
Because the exciting truth is there are a ton of bloggers below the major headline grabbers above who are able to earn significant income in the $20k-$150k range in addition (and sometimes eventual substitution of) their normal working lives. The beauty of being your own boss as a blogger is you set the limits of how blogging will fit into your life. Even several of us retired folks are able to generate meaningful money while distinctly not working.
Root of Good is retired and makes on average $2,500-$3,000 a month from his blog. He’s currently blogging from a 9-week trip with his family in Europe. That’s fan-freaking-tastic. At this point in his blogging career he writes one to two posts per month (mainly just his monthly check-up), so the blog is mostly on autopilot.
Even slacker JP Livingston probably makes a happy case study for this group. When I started blogging, my purpose was – and still is – to enjoy what I’m doing. I highly valued what I learned from self-improvement and finance books when I was just starting out, and I wanted to be able to share what I have learned. I like writing. I like talking about money. And along came this hobby – blogging – that encompassed both.
Last month, the blog generated $1,724.25. I have pretty hard caps on what I’m willing to do and not do at this point in my life, and they’re optimized around enjoyment. You could say my blog reached this level of income despite me rather than because of me. I write 3-5 hours a week. I regularly walk away from big press opportunities because they want my face in the limelight, or they want to follow me around with a video camera for a weekend. I am the most technically unsavvy millennial ever to grace the planet, with no plans to improve that in order to further my blog. There are a thousand resources on how to better market one’s blog and grow one’s traffic, but I’d rather walk my dog and daydream about fish sandwich lunch specials. That means I leave a lot on the table. And even a slacker like me is pulling in meaningful dollars less than a year into my dream hobby.
Again, there’s a large spectrum between slacker JP and the major heavy hitters above, and you might find a nice niche for yourself in between. From my research in the space and discussion with other bloggers, this is a rough guide to how much you can make based on your traffic levels. Categories like personal finance and entrepreneurship tend to be on the more lucrative side of the spectrum vs. sites that are focused on teenagers and gifs and cartoons, but you can see that anywhere in this range can still yield you a healthy side income.
Blog Income Estimates By Traffic
Most bloggers I’ve talked to generally end up averaging about 4-6 cents per pageview. By year two, I’ve seen a healthy number of blogs hit 50,000 to 100,000 page views (The Money Habit is at 50,000 pageviews a month less than a year in with only 3-5 hours of investment per week). Successful blogs seem to be able to get into the 100,000-250,000 pageviews per month category 3-5 years in.
Because of this, I’ve highlighted what I feel are conservative, realistic bands in green. With some dedication and steady improvement, it is conceivable to realistically be pulling in approximately $18k-$150k per year from blogging. And that’s for us regular Average Joe bloggers, not the ridiculous breakout successes we covered earlier who are working full time on their blogs. If you eventually make it your full-time job, you could easily be making $250k+ per year.
Wins All Along The Spectrum
The most exciting thing I’ve learned about blogging is that it is not a winner-take-all activity. There are wins all along the spectrum.
Say you are just looking for a hobby on the weekend that lets you have a creative outlet. Blogging is a horizontal medium, which means you can talk about anything that interests you be it growing azaleas, building e-commerce stores, or perfecting the best shortbread recipe in the state of South Carolina. That’s a win because it adds value to your life. You are a producer, and that’s the best way to enjoy life and curb your appetite for expensive things to fill the void of meaning.
As you spend time doing what you love, you might find you want to expand your reach as well as generate some side income. You can do that, too.
And perhaps your blog continues to skyrocket. Now you can quit your job and travel the world while writing and earning a full-time income.
Whatever your version of success, it all starts with a simple first step. Start your blog. Don’t wait for the perfect time. Don’t spend hundreds of hours locked in a closet trying to craft the perfect message. You will get better by doing. Your first subject may not be the one you stick with, but you will refine and hone your message the quickest by launching fast and incrementing steadily and consistently.
What Will I Write About?
Blogging allows you to write about any interest, no matter how obscure. But if you’re struggling for inspiration, I can think of one subject about which I know you have a lot to say: personal finance.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re clearly interested in money management. Some of the field’s biggest success stories basically started as an online journal for folks to track their monthly progress towards financial independence. Originally created to keep their owners accountable and checking in monthly, those blogs eventually expanded with all the wisdom those folks gained on their FIRE journeys. Michelle at Making Sense of Cents earns over a million dollars a year from her blog, which was started to help her track her student loan debt. Mrs. Frugalwoods of Frugalwoods also began writing to share their perspective on how frugality was going to get them to their dream of a rural homestead in Vermont (spoiler: they’ve made it, and the stories from the homestead are super fun to follow).
The beauty of writing a personal finance/FIRE blog is that it will attract folks who share your vision in life. It’s amazing when you get to interact with others who want what you want; it gives you courage to be different amongst your real life contemporaries, because you have an online community where you are sharing ideas and getting encouragement. So if you’re wondering what to write about, consider a personal finance blog of your own. It will have monetary benefits in many ways: as a way to keep you motivated toward your FIRE goals as well as a potential income generator one day down the road.
How To Start A Blog – Get Up And Rolling in 10 Minutes
It’s amazing how simple and cheap it is to build your own little corner on the internet. I remember the absolutely shitty geocities pages back in the late 90’s. All it takes to build a professional, inviting website of your own is a hosting company, a domain name, and a wordpress template.
I recommend getting started with a Bluehost account for $3.95 a month. They are one of the largest hosting options within the blogging space, which means the ecosystem for tutorials and support further down the road is one of the most robust. This promo will give you pricing of $3.95/month vs the regular $7.99/month. Bluehost will also register your domain name for you for free, a $10+ value. Your hosting service is where you house all the files for your blog, and it is the connection point for users and their servers all across the world to access your site.
Step 1: Select a Plan
If you’re just starting out, I see no reason to go with anything other than the basic plan for $3.95 a month. You can always upgrade as your needs grow.
Step 2: Select A Domain Name
This is the fun part! I admit I spent more time than strictly necessary brainstorming names for my blog. If you already have a domain name kicking around somewhere, there’s an option to transfer that url over to your new plan. The system will come up with some suggestions if the domain you entered is taken, but I actually really got a lot of value of consulting NameMesh for name inspiration. It will combine similar conceptual words for you as inspiration, and you can just take the available one you like back to the registration workflow at Bluehost.
Step 3: Finish Registration
You will go through a couple of screens asking for payment and address information. You’ll be presented with several options for add-ons like site back-up and search engine jumpstart. I find these to be mostly unnecessary. When you install wordpress, there’ll be lots of free plug-ins to get you started which do basically the same things. The only service I chose to add was domain privacy protection. You are legally required to keep a true name and physical address on file with ICANN. I don’t know about you, but it’s weird to think my name and home address are floating around out there for anyone who visits the website to find. Plenty of people eschew the service, so it’s really a personal comfort thing.
Step 4: Install WordPress
Once you finish registering, log into your new Bluehost account and find the ‘Wordpress’ button. WordPress is a free, open-source blogging platform. It is the single largest blogging platform in the world and powers over 20% of the world’s sites. WordPress is what makes it magically easy to run your own blog.
Step 5: Pick a WordPress Template
The WordPress installation guide will walk you through the basics of how to use WordPress, and one of the first things it will do is show you a selection of free templates. Pick one that appeals to you, and that’s it! You’re live on the internet and off to the races.
If you’ve ever had any interest in trying out blogging as a hobby or a side hustle, I can’t think of a better time. The cost is low and the rewards are high. I’ve met a ton of interesting people through this project, which is yet another bonus of the time I spend blogging. Give yourself a chance to live your dreams just a little bit. Put at least one more frying pan in the fire that could add value to your life, both in fulfillment and in a financial capacity. Start today.
Have you thought about starting your own blog? What are you interested in writing about?