How Do Blogs Make Money?

Author: Lisa McGrimmon | Published: September 9, 2019


Ever wonder how do blogs make money? Here's how creative entrepreneurs are making money from a blog. Some will even share reports detailing exactly how much they make from each income stream.

Do you every go to your favorite blog and wonder, how in the world does that person make money?

Maybe you're thinking about starting your own online business, but before you make the commitment, you need to know exactly how to monetize a blog.

To answer your questions about how bloggers make money, we're going to explore:

Six popular blog income streams

  1. Display ads
  2. Affiliate marketing
  3. Creating courses
  4. Writing books
  5. Selling other products
  6. Writing sponsored blog posts

Then I'll show you where to find blog income reports to answer your questions about how much do bloggers make with different levels of traffic.

How do blogs make money?

Computer keyboard on desktop. Text overlay - How to blog for money. 6 ways to monetize your blog.

We'll start with a more general answer to the question "How do blogs make money?" and look at several popular blog income streams. Then I'll dive into specifics and show you sources which share actual details and blog income reports.

There are plenty of ways creative entrepreneurs can make money blogging.

This list is not exhaustive, but it does represent common sources of bloggers' income.

Display ads

Displaying ads on your blog is a simple way to earn passive income. The first income I ever made on this site was with Google Adsense ads, and that was the biggest source of my income for a long time.

Monetizing with display advertising can be a great place for beginning bloggers to start to monetize a blog. It's an easy way to start getting some income coming in, so you'll be able to see progress and invest in tools you need to grow your online business.

I still monetize this site with ads, but I've switched from Google Adsense to Mediavine. You do need a minimum amount of traffic to become a Mediavine publisher, so it's not for brand new bloggers, but it is a fabulous company to work with and truly worth checking out if you want to monetize with ads and your blog meets their requirements.

If your blog doesn't yet meet their requirements, it's an excellent goal to work toward, and you can start to monetize with a display advertising company like Google Adsense that doesn't have minimum traffic requirements.

Some bloggers do prefer other options for monetizing because they feel they can make more income with other strategies, or they like to have more control of their income source.

I like monetizing with display ads because it is easy and passive. It requires very little work, which leaves me with plenty of time to focus on writing new content for my readers.

Affiliate programs

Bloggers also make money by promoting products and services. Ideally, they will promote products and services they genuinely believe will be beneficial to their readers! 

How do blogs make money promoting products and services?

Many companies have affiliate programs. They will pay bloggers a fee when the blogger sends a reader to the company's site, and that reader then makes a purchase.

For example, if you publish beautiful craft projects on your blog, you can place affiliate links to the supplies readers would need to create those projects themselves. If a reader clicks on your affiliate link and then makes a purchase, you will earn a commission.

How exactly do affiliate programs work?

  1. Find an affiliate program you want to join. The company should be trusted and offer products that would interest your readers.
  2. Apply to the affiliate program.
  3. Read the affiliate company's terms of service carefully to ensure you stay in compliance with all of the rules of their affiliate program.
  4. Once you're accepted, you'll get access to special links you can place on your blog whenever you mention that company's product. The links track when a reader clicks through to the company's site from your blog, and you'll earn a commission if the reader makes a purchase.
  5. Add affiliate links to any blog posts you've already written that mention the company's product.
  6. Write more new, high quality, genuinely helpful blog posts that feature the company's product and add your affiliate links.
  7. Work hard to promote your blog. Only a small percentage of your visitors will make a purchase, so you need lots of traffic to your site to earn affiliate income.

Which affiliate programs should you join?

The affiliate programs that will be most successful on your blog will depend on your readers' interests and which of your blog posts get the most traffic.

In general, the Amazon affiliate program is a good place to start. Shoppers recognize and trust Amazon, so they are generally comfortable shopping there for helpful products you recommend.

If you add affiliate links in a truly helpful way - linking to items that are most beneficial to your readers - it can be a real win-win for you and your readers. I have affiliate links on this site, and my readers have thanked me for the links I provide. In fact, sometimes I haven't posted links because I didn't want to be overly salesy, and readers have messaged me asking for links to certain products.

While we're on the subject of affiliate programs, there are rules about affiliate marketing, and one of them is, you need to notify readers when you've put affiliate links on a page. This page has some affiliate links, so here's my notification:


I earn a commission for purchases made through links on this page.
To learn more, please see my disclosure.


Creating courses

Do you have a skill you want to teach your readers in-depth? If so, creating and selling courses may be a smart way to monetize your blog.

You can offer plenty of excellent information for free on your blog, but a course takes that information, puts it all together in an organized, step-by-step fashion, and can include more comprehensive information than you include in your blog posts.

There are several services that will help you create and sell your own courses. Each service offers different functionalities and has different pricing structures, so you'll need to do a careful comparison to determine which service best meets your needs.

Selling books

You can also earn income selling books. Some bloggers sell their books in a downloadable format on their own site and don't involve a third party book store. Other bloggers self publish and sell books on Amazon. You can sell with other book stores as well, but Amazon has, by far, captured the largest segment of the online book sales market, so it's a smart place to start.

I haven't written a craft business book, but I used to work as a career advisor, and I have published a resume writing book that I sell on Amazon.

It took a long time to write the book, but once it was written, I really only did a small amount of initial marketing, and now it sells regularly without any effort on my part. I do plan to update the book for 2020, and that will be a large project, but it's well-worth the time spent.

If you're considering the possibility of publishing a book independently on Amazon, there is a lot of information on the subject. Unfortunately, there's also a minefield of people who want to cash in on the Amazon self-publishing boom but don't really know their stuff.

You need to be a bit wary of who you follow for advice.

My favorite self publishing expert is David Gaughran. His advice is smart and sensible. If you check the Amazon Best Sellers rank for his books (available on the sales page for any Amazon product), you'll see they rank very well, which means he actually sells books on Amazon (unlike other "experts").

His book, Let's Get Digital, was immensely helpful to me when I first published my own book, and I guarantee I'll be reading the newest edition of that book when I update my own book in 2020.

Selling Other products

You can also monetize your blog by selling any other type of product you create.

I mentioned courses and books separately because they are two things bloggers often create to sell; however, you're not limited to those options.

For example, I create printable craft booth signs, which I promote on this site and sell in my Etsy shop. I don't use any Etsy promotional strategies. The vast majority of traffic I get to my Etsy shop comes from this site.

I haven't put as much work into building and promoting my Etsy shop as I could, so I don't make loads of sales there, but it's a fun way to diversify my blog income, which I could grow if I dedicated more time to it.

I love that my Etsy customers come from this site because they've typically read at least a couple of articles here before they make a purchase on Etsy. They know I'm a real person who will treat customers with respect, and as a result, my Etsy customers are absolutely lovely and wonderful to work with.

I'm a fan of promoting your own blog vs. promoting a shop on a third party site because you own your blog. You don't own the third party site. If your business is totally dependent on a third party site, it is completely at the mercy of any decisions that outside company might make.

If you promote your own blog, and you don't like the changes a third party service provider makes, you can always switch to another provider without losing customers. For example, because most of my Etsy shop traffic comes from my own site, if I decided I didn't want to work with Etsy anymore, I could switch to another online shopping service provider without losing all of the momentum I've gained promoting my business.

I like having an Etsy shop and enjoy working with them, but I'm not bound to them.

Writing sponsored posts

If you get enough traffic to your blog, you might try writing sponsored posts. In this monetization model, a company pays you to write a blog post that features their product in a favorable light. 

For example, a company that creates supplies or tools for the craft you do might pay you to create and write a blog post featuring a craft that uses their supplies or tools.

Give me the Details!
How Much Do Bloggers MAke?

We've looked at answering the question, "How do blogs make money?" But what you really want to know is, exactly how much money do bloggers make?

Most people are about as comfortable detailing their income in public as they are announcing their weight to a room full of strangers. Luckily, there are bloggers who are less private than most of us, and they happily lay out all of their blog income streams and amounts for anyone who cares to read it.

Since this post stemmed from a question a reader had about a comment I made about Mediavine publishers making a respectable income from Pinterest traffic, I'm going to use that source for monthly income reports.

Where to find blog income reports:

Mediavine has published an article linking to several of their publishers who post blog income reports.

The links at the bottom of that article will give you some very specific numbers showing what people make from different income sources and how much traffic their blog had when they reached those income levels.

Do keep in mind, bloggers who share income reports are typically also promoting certain blogging courses or products, so they want you to be excited about the prospect of making money from a blog.

Also, their income isn't verified.

I'm not saying their claims aren't true. I wouldn't share the link if I didn't trust the quality of the source. I did click through to some of the links from the Mediavine article, and their income claims looked reasonable to me based on my own experience.

However, if you do research blog income reports, it's wise to approach the information you find with a bit of scepticism.

You should also keep in mind, some of the featured bloggers have grown their traffic very quickly. Know that they probably have worked extremely hard to get where they are that fast.

so, How Do Blogs Make Money?

Blogs make money from a huge variety of sources. Some are more appropriate for beginner bloggers and others are a better fit for well-established bloggers. 

Some blog income streams, like display ads, are quite passive, requiring limited work to manage. Others, like selling your own products, can be more lucrative but require a larger investment of your time to run.

When people find out what I do, often the first question they ask is, "Can you actually make money blogging?"

My answer is yes, absolutely you can. However, you need a lot of traffic to your blog in order to make money. To get that traffic you need to work hard creating and promoting high quality blog posts for your readers.

Achieving that goal requires accurate information, the right tools, and whole a lot of self-discipline.

I love my work, and I can always see my business making progress in one way or anther, so I don't have much trouble bringing the self-discipline. I get the accurate information and tools to build my online business here.  

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How Do Blogs Make Money?

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