I’m about to get very honest about blogging for money. It’s going to crush some people’s hopes, and it will liberate others from the misery of wondering what they’re doing wrong.
After all, isn’t Pinterest FULL of pins that say “I made $4,000 in my second month of blogging” and “I’m making a full-time income after less than a year of blogging” … yada yada yada.
**HINT: This almost always pertains to WHEN they started their blog. We’ll get to that…
My personal favorites are:
“How I make $3000 a month ON Pinterest.” [Or from Pinterest or with Pinterest… but never “using Pinterest”… that wouldn’t be as much fun.] I’ll tell you what’s wrong with these statements a little later. 😉
People will either love this post because I’m telling the truth, or I’ll ruffle some fellow bloggers who’ll claim it’s not true, because they’ve done it.
*This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, we earn a commission at NO extra cost to you. Full details here.
Here’s the thing:
I’m telling the truth, and some of them are telling the truth also.
What does that mean?
Hundreds [or thousands] of you will be relieved that someone in the blogging world isn’t writing YET ANOTHER income report detailing their five-figure income for the month.
And about five of you [or less] will argue that you DID quit your job after four months of blogging … having started your blog in 2017 or later.
Let’s set the blogging for money argument ground rules:
- Nearly all of the rich bloggers started their blogs in 2016 or earlier … many of them MUCH earlier.
- Why does this matter? Because there is now one blog on the internet for approximately every seven people … hundreds of millions of blogs. It’s a THING now.
- Most astounding blogging income reports DO NOT report any/accurate expenses nor do they mention what they had to take out for self-employment and income taxes.
Okay, now we’ve covered the foundation from which I’m writing. We can now talk honestly.
I’ll start by saying:
There will be exceptions to everything I’m saying about making big money blogging.
SOME people who’ve started blogs post-2016 do make a good to full-time income each month.
BUT, the reality is that most blogs that are two years old or less will be fighting to make $500 per month for a while (or never get there).
A few successful bloggers who’ve started blogs in 2017 or later and are making good money:
- Unconventional Prosperity
- Finsavvy Panda
- Bullet Journal Addict
- Drew DuBoff
- Coffee and Coos
- Planning Mindfully
- Mom Envy
- The Mummy Front
- By Sophia Lee
- Inspiring Life Dreams
- And I know there are a few Keto sites doing well
Inflated income reports
I’ll touch on this misconception fairly quickly. This is a vital piece of the puzzle when young blogs are trying to figure out what they’re “doing wrong”. Income reports can make any newer blogger feel like a failure.
They make it sound so easy, but it’s NOT. And it’s most often due to HOW LONG they’ve been blogging [how old that blog is].
Most income reports for “wealthy” bloggers with young blogs are missing a few key pieces of information.
- How long their blog has been in existence and monetized.
- What their honest monthly expenses are.
- The amount of that monthly income that was set aside for taxes (which is typically in the 25%-35% of income range).
- ONLY after these factors have been considered, can you get an honest view of whether that blogger is indeed making a full-time income with a young blog.
How bloggers used to make big money
The days of successful blogs made up of short list posts or roundups of the top 100 bread recipes is long gone!
This blows my mind:
There are a few VERY WEALTHY bloggers whose blogs are almost entirely made up of short pieces of garbage. Many of the blog posts are less than 300 original words, and the rest is linked out to other blogs.
Back “in the day” … aka 2016 and before … you could get away with a LOT of unoriginal blogging content and still get rich. NOT ANYMORE.
I’m definitely not saying that roundup posts are bad. They aren’t, and I’ve got a few myself. But notice, I said a few [out of 70 posts].
Bloggers can have income taken away for poor content
With the millions of blogs online now, in 2019, Google has a LOT more content to choose from. So, it’s unlikely that large blogs full of roundups will rank well anymore.
This past year, Mediavine, the prized ad network that bloggers use to monetize, sent a strong warning to a wealthy blogger. Their blog is almost entirely roundup posts that utilize other people’s hard work.
This blogger was warned that income would be going down or taken away if they didn’t shape up.
So, be warned. You’ll need to put in lots of time and energy creating STRONG and USEFUL content of your own, if you want to make steady money.
Which leads me to the next big point:
The effort it takes to make money blogging, is severely underestimated
Again, I’m going to call out the Pinterest pins out there that say “I made $2000 in my 4th month of blogging, and you can too!”. Some even say that it wasn’t hard.
If it wasn’t, then I’m wondering what they were doing. And I don’t believe them for a second.
When I click through to read some of these, most bloggers include the side jobs they’ve been doing.
For some reason, just because these jobs are done online, they’re including them in the “my blog made $2000” statement.
So, read these posts thoroughly. And don’t believe anyone who says that it was easy or that their “BLOG” was what actually brought in that level of income.
Here’s the truth of what you’ll need to do & know if you’re blogging for money:
- You’ll need to post GOOD content CONSISTENTLY [most successful bloggers post at least once a week].
- You’ll need to MASTER Pinterest to build traffic for a newer blog.
- SEO training is a MUST … Pinterest traffic is extremely volatile.
- Systematically using good keywords [from that SEO training] is the way to Google traffic which brings more buyers. Pinterest visitors are NOT always/usually great spenders. Sometimes … but not as consistently as search engine traffic.
- Speaking of Google traffic, building valuable backlinks to your blog is a HUGE part of the SEO formula… do not skip that part!
- Know how to develop, grow, and nurture an email list.
- Become very good at affiliate marketing and/or selling your own products.
- You’ll need high traffic that’s consistent if you’re counting on earning good ad income.
- For the most consistent, full-time income, you have to diversify the ways your blog makes money. For example: a mixture of ad income, selling affiliate products, and selling your own products or courses.
Those are only some of the things you’ll need to prioritize if you’re serious about blogging as a full-time or decent income these days.
As you can see, NOTHING about that list looks easy. Therefore, the bloggers who say otherwise are lying.
Those false Pinterest statements
I told you earlier that one of my biggest gripes is with pins that claim “How I make $3000 a month from Pinterest.” Sounds like that person gets paid by Pinterest, doesn’t it?
It does to me. And I’m pretty sure some people have felt very misled once they read the post. One blogger even says right at the beginning, “I bet you’re wondering if Pinterest pays me money… ” or something like that.
The answer is:
Pinterest never pays anyone anything unless you work FOR their company. These bloggers don’t work for Pinterest. What they’re actually doing is USING Pinterest to get more traffic to their blogs.
Many of these posts don’t even mention the blogging part until much further down in their articles. It’s scammy, if you ask me. And dishonest.
CAN you make money ON Pinterest?
No. But you can USE Pinterest to help you make money.
Pinterest is a great tool for “driving” traffic to your blog.
If you master the art of making great pins, learn how to set up boards and name them correctly, and schedule pins strategically, you should eventually see a good traffic boost by people clicking over from Pinterest.
THEN, if you’re getting good traffic to your blog from Pinterest, you MIGHT make some money with ad income. Ad companies pay bloggers a certain amount per every 1000 visitors.
You could also make some affiliate sales if your most popular Pinterest pins are leading to blog posts with good affiliate links in them.
Some people claim that they make good money using Pinterest to sell products/services without a blog. And it’s true that you can make a ton of pins that lead directly to a sales page for a product.
But this rarely works. Most readers want more information (like a blog post) before they buy.
The exception to making money ON Pinterest all day is by being a virtual assistant. Bloggers frequently hire VA’s to manage their social media accounts for them.
This includes “playing around on Pinterest” all day. And you get paid great money for it.
BUT, this has nothing to do with Pinterest paying you, and everything to do with being paid well by the person who hired you.
What I’ve been doing with my blog
I’m a good writer, and a very hard worker. I do not give up easily, and when I decide to do something, it gets done.
This blog was started in August 2017. It was always meant to be a business, and I treated it that way from the beginning.
That meant long, long hours of learning WordPress, blogging courses, Pinterest and SEO training, and devouring everything I could about running an online business.
I applied to and was accepted to dozens of affiliate partners in order to monetize. And I’m part of some amazing Facebook groups that are encouraging, enlightening, and very educational.
What I’ve done right with this blog
I mastered Pinterest early on. Hours were spent studying high-quality Pinterest courses and eBooks. It was worth every penny and all the time spent. My ad income and traffic are still good because of this investment.
With much trial, error, and time on Canva, I’ve learned to create beautiful pins.
**Except for the butt-ugly one that’s gone viral three times in the past six months — one of my first ever pins. Don’t delete those awful first pins!
I’ve never taken shortcuts with my content. My blog posts are carefully thought out, and purposed to HELP people. They took hours to research and write.
Instead of regurgitating round-up posts of the 12 houseplants you can never kill, or a dozen laundry hacks found on other blogs … I’ve put my heart and soul into writing content that’s GOOD.
And it’s mine. I didn’t dig it off of 30 other websites and write one sentence before I linked to another person’s article.
What I’ve done wrong or wish I’d done differently
Start an email list
After a few months of blogging, I should have started making opt-ins [lead magnets] to grow my email list right away.
Readers who join your email list are usually your biggest fans. They may also boost your blogging income when you have a quality product to offer (your own or an affiliate).
Learn high-quality SEO strategies
I also would have learned high-quality SEO practices very early on. In December, I again made a great investment in my blog and paid for an invaluable SEO consult from an expert.
She now has two eBooks, and her SEO knowledge is pure gold.
SEO for beginners is how to optimize the content within your blog posts and on your blog to get more Google traffic.
SEO for intermediate/advanced bloggers helps you build backlinks to your blog so you’ll gain authority with Google!
What might work today if you’re blogging for money
These will be suggestions. There are no guarantees with blogging. And everyone is different in their capacity for hard work and consistency.
Many of you have blogs and full-time jobs. So, the amount of time it may take to replace your income from the 9-5 could take well over a year. Or maybe not.
- Choose a popular topic for your niche. Generally speaking, relationships, money, fad hobbies (bullet journals etc.), and health topics tend to do well on Pinterest.
- You need to be able to gain traction on Pinterest. It will be your best source of traffic until you learn SEO.
- In that light, you’ll need a very professional and well-keyworded Pinterest business account.
- Write long, in-depth content with plenty of images, videos, and graphics when you can. The more interesting the topic and extras are, the longer your audience stays on page. Google notices those things.
- Study copywriting and marketing. This will NOT be time wasted, I promise!
- Learn the important business practices of developing a business plan and mission statement/goals for your blog.
- Get very familiar with your Google Analytics account. Learn the numbers and what they mean. This is your business.
- Invest in your knowledge base. No business will grow or be successful without the right training. It just won’t.
- Spend time developing lead magnets for your readers. These are FREE tools and things of value that HELP them. They’re an important part of growing your email list.
- Post regularly to your blog. Consistent, good content is the key to growth and monetizing.
- You’ll also want to create several pins for each post so that you have plenty of pins to circulate.
- Early on, I joined a couple of Pinterest Facebook groups, and quickly gained my first 1000 followers. Even though it’s basically a follow-for-follow, it will help get the ball rolling. **Only follow a few new people a day so it’s not spammy!
- BE PATIENT … AND DON’T GIVE UP! If you’re truly serious about making the blogging for money thing work, this is a MUST.
Again, these are only some of the things you can do to keep your blog moving toward a full-time income, if that’s your goal.
The realistic time frame for making $2,000 or more per month is almost always one to two years [or more].
You could definitely be the exception to that. And I hope you are.
Blogging is hard freakin’ work. And it can throw your life out of balance. Don’t let it. Slow and steady wins the race.
Am I telling people NOT to start a blog?
Yes, and no.
I’m saying to you that this whole blogging for money thing isn’t anything like those Pinterest pins you’ve seen. Building a blogging business is very slow and tedious work.
If you don’t have the time, don’t do it. Or, if you’re in it for quick money… I’d do a hard pass.
No one says it better than awesome blogger, Natalie Bacon. Skip to minute 4:15 for a really honest account of the HARD work that goes into blogging!
After hearing my very honest account, if you’re sure you’d like to blog for income, I’m very happy for you.
I do love blogging, and it’s opened up some amazing opportunities for me!
Here’s a simple 7-step guide for getting started now that you have a realistic view of blogging.
Be prepared. But also, if it delights your heart — don’t get discouraged, and keep going. With great content and the right readers, you’ll grow and possibly make great money.
If you need good, steady money faster than one or two year’s time, you’ll want some backup income like I’ve had.
Most of my side jobs have required some training that also costs money, time, and effort. But some of them paid off well and quickly.
Freelance writing is by far the most lucrative — and it honestly CAN provide a nice, steady income in less than a year.
Some fellow students from my class started making great money in a few months. I worked my way up to $350 per article in less than a year.
Here’s a free workshop that I highly recommend if you love to write and want to be paid well!
My other suggestion for a side job that’s in high demand is becoming a virtual assistant. As a blogger, you’ll most likely be very good at some of the 150+ services VA’s can offer!
This training course for VAs is one of the most successful. I’ve interviewed four people (for an upcoming post) who make 4-5 figures per month as a VA.
Will I keep blogging for money?
I’m glad you asked. 😉
I will keep blogging, for sure. My focus is changing, and that’ll take place this year.
My San Diego lifestyle blog is very important to me and will take priority over this one in the coming months.
[Note from Dagmar and Debbie, the new owners of this blog. We will adding new life to this blog, especially focusing on blogging tips. This allows Stephanie to focus on her passion, and it gives us a new outlet to blog on different topics.]
As for the world of opportunities that blogging has opened up for me … it TRULY HAS!
I’m now a WordPress website developer and troubleshooting tech. I absolutely LOVE creating websites for bloggers, friends, businesses etc.
In my wildest dreams, I would have never seen myself as a website builder.
Especially since there was nothing that could reduce me to tears faster than WordPress a few years ago!
Life is full of surprises, isn’t it?
This hidden talent of mine would have stayed that way if I’d never started blogging.
So, if you start a blog, enjoy the journey. And keep your eyes open for where it could lead you, as well.
I’m rooting for you all the way!! Whatever you decide to do.
Blogging resources to jump start your blog traffic and income
- Amazon – I love affiliate marketing on Amazon. For the last 2 months, I’ve been earning over $7,000/month just from Amazon. Here are 2 super helpful Amazon ebooks that allowed me to leap frog my previous results.
- Cracking the Code on Amazon – This is for beginners and really covers the types of articles you should be writing to drive Amazon commissions It’s for beginners.
- Niche Post Conversion Strategies – Seriously, I think this is the best ebook/course I’ve ever taken. I can not recommend this enough. You will not find these tips anywhere else. It skyrocketed my sales on Amazon.
- PINTERESTING STRATEGIES: – Pinterest is one of the easiest and most effective ways to drive massive traffic to your blog, especially if you are just starting out. I generally get 140,000 to 180,000 pageviews a month from Pinterest. If you want a jump start on how to use this amazing platform, check out Carly’s course. It is simply awesome. She is so down to earth and straightforward, and you’ll see that in her writing. I LOVE this course (it was formerly an ebook, but now it’s new and improved.
- SEO – As you know, I’m hugely into SEO and it has been the key to my success. I generally get 300,000+ SEO pageviews per month, and this traffic converts much better than Pinterest and other social media channels (especially when it comes to affiliate marketing, products and email sign ups. I estimate that every pageview from organic traffic is worth at least 3x as every pageview from Pinterest! Yes, 3 times as much! And, it’s much steadier, more sustainable and more passive. Check out my 2 SEO books.
- Affiliate marketing – I love affiliate marketing and have been earning over $7,000/month just from affiliate marketing. I highly recommend Carly’s affiliate marketing course. It’s amazing and half the price of some of the bigger bloggers’ programs…and I think it’s much better, too.
- Email marketing – Learn from the master, Jennifer Maker. She has over 100,000 subscribers in around 2 years. She’s an incredible teacher. Her ListLove course is amazing. Or get started with her FREE email course here.
- Sponsored Posts – Sponsored posts can be a great way to supplement your income, especially during the first few years. Many just don’t even know where to get started or how much to charge or how to create a media kit or where to find the best sources. Well learn from a master, Tracie Fobes. She’s been doing this for 10 years! And, she charges well over $2,500 + per post. Her course comes complete with a media calculator and templates to set you up for success. Check out Sponsored Success here. If you just need the sponsored post calculator, you can purchase it a la carte here.
- Getting started/setting up your blog – If you’re a very beginner and need help in just setting up your site and getting everything set up, check out Tracie Richmond Fobes’ FREE intro course. She goes over all that critical stuff at the beginning that no one seems to cover, but everyone needs to know such as site structure, how to set up google analytics correctly and google search console, which plugins to use (and which to avoid). She is a wealth of information. (and she has may other courses that are soooo good).
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