You don’t need millions of blog visitors to make money blogging but you do need a plan
One reader asked recently, “How much blog traffic do you need to start making money blogging?”
It’s a question I get often, usually something to do with how long until a blog starts making money or how many monthly visitors a blog needs to make a few thousand.
The answer I usually give…if you’ve got one visitor to your blog, you can make money.
Sure, you probably aren’t going to be making thousands a month on a new blog with just a few hundred visitors but you can make money.
I made over $26,000 blogging in the last six months and that was nearly double the amount I made in the previous six months…and on just two years of blogging. It’s all about understanding how to make money with the traffic you have and putting a plan together for multiple income sources.
We’ll first look at some of these income sources and how much a few of my blogger friends are making each month. We’ll then dive into the different income sources and a plan you can use to start making money whether you get one visitor or thousands.
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How Much Do Bloggers Make on Their Blog Traffic?
I thought I would start by sharing three bloggers’ income reports along with my own to show that you really can make money blogging. The income sources and blog traffic differ for each blogger but all have found a way to turn their online property into financial independence!
Lena of What Mommy Does shares very detailed income reports on her blog, sharing both income sources and how much monthly traffic she gets on the site. She made over $9,000 in February from four income sources; advertising, sponsored posts, affiliates and an ebook.
Lena gets a mountain of traffic, around 350,000 page views a month, and is able to make money on passive income sources like advertising and affiliates. Her monthly blogging income works out to about $25 per 1,000 page views (a common measure of blog revenue is RPM or revenue per thousand page views).
Lena didn’t start with hundreds of thousands of visitors. January 2015 started with less than 20,000 visitors a month and she’s worked hard to build blog traffic but the point is that you can make money with any size blog.
Kayla of Shoeaholicnomore just started her blog in 2014 and has only been a full-time blogger since mid-2015 but is regularly booking over $10k a month.
Kayla provides a great example of how bloggers can make money freelancing while they build their blog to higher traffic and more money. She made over $11,000 in December 2016 with $3,115 of that from advertising and other revenue from her own blog.
That’s the most common ‘career path’ for most bloggers, juggling freelancing projects to supplement blogging income as your site grows. You’ll learn a lot in your first few months blogging and that experience is worth big money online.
Kayla averages about 7,000 page views a month and makes one of the highest incomes per page views I’ve seen. She’s done a great job of using what she has learned blogging to turn it into financial freedom.
Carrie Smith Nicholson of Careful Cents made $20,335 in the last three months of 2015, finishing up on a hugely successful year after committing to treat her blog like a business.
In the past, Carrie focused almost exclusively on freelance writing. She did well but knew the long-game in blogging income was in her own products and money from her own blog traffic. She set a goal to make 40% of total income from her own blog…and then blew through that goal!
As for my blogging income, I started two blogs November 2014 and have since added four more and built them to just over 50,000 page views. Last month (January 2017) was my best month yet, making $6,289 from five income sources.
Before you get too excited about making thousands a month blogging, understand that it is a business and you have to build that income over time. I didn’t make any money my first five months of blogging, instead focusing on getting my plan together and learning how to make money blogging.
When the money did start coming in, it still wasn’t thousands a month but it did build quickly. The graph below shows my monthly income (blue bars) and page views.
I started out making about $0.013 per page view ($13 RPM) on Adsense advertising and one self-published book. I didn’t have much blog traffic but it was growing steadily.
Ten months into blogging, I started adding affiliates and income jumped to $0.069 per page view. After adding a couple more books, income increased to around $0.10 per page view which is where it has averaged over the last year.
How Much Money do you Earn from Adsense?
Google Adsense is one of the most popular ways to make money blogging because it is one of the easiest to implement. It’s the first income source for most bloggers but it’s really hard to make a lot of money advertising without a lot of blog traffic.
I’ve never focused much on Adsense, removing most of the advertising boxes on the blogs in favor of affiliates and my own products. I average just $0.008 per page view from Adsense each month.
The problem is the amount advertisers pay Google per click and the amount you get for ads on your website. Google ad rates have been going down for years, especially since Facebook ads started to draw a lot of interest. Google takes about 40% of the money and you get 60% of the cost per click charged to advertisers.
Some topics make more money from Adsense because advertisers pay more per click. Blogs about loans, finance and insurance will see higher rates on ads but you’ll still probably only get a couple of bucks per click.
When you consider that only a small fraction of blog visitors are going to click on an ad, less than one in 100 visitors, you need hundreds of thousands of visitors to make much money.
Making just $0.008 per page view, you would need about 12.5 million page views to make $100,000 from Adsense!
You can increase your advertising income by joining ad networks, many of which pay much higher rates than Adsense. I’ve heard of bloggers making an RPM as high as $36 or $0.036 per page view but this is usually on premium ad networks that require 100,000+ in monthly blog traffic.
How Much Do Blogs Earn from Affiliates?
So real blogging income isn’t usually coming from Adsense or other pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
The best source of income for most new bloggers is going to be from affiliates. Affiliates are just like PPC advertising but you only get paid if a visitor clicks through the ad and makes a purchase.
The upside is that affiliates pay much more per sale, upwards of $150 on each sale.
I made $462 the first money I had affiliates on my blogs and was making over $1,000 by the fourth month. That wasn’t on huge waves of blog traffic either. My two blogs at the time were seeing less than 20,000 page views a month.
Now I make an average of $2,000 a month and about $0.047 per page view ($47 RPM) though I’ve recently added a couple of affiliates that are doing really well.
You will want to join a few different affiliate networks to get access to all the affiliates that will work for your blog. You can sign up for as many affiliate programs as you like but most bloggers find that they make most of their money on just a few that really fit with the blog topic and readers.
Most likely these standout affiliates will be products or services that you use and that serve a special need for your readers. Of the $23,700 I’ve made on 35 affiliates in two years, most of that (90%) came from just seven affiliates.
How Much do Bloggers Make on Other Income Sources?
I’ve made over $20k on self-publishing and am always amazed that more bloggers are not publishing books. Self-publishing gives you more platforms to sell your products, i.e. Amazon and Audible, so you’re not just relying on monthly blog traffic.
I make about 50 sales of books from monthly blog visitors but sell over 500 copies on Amazon websites. That makes it difficult to put an income per page view number on the source because sales aren’t really dependent on how many people visit the blogs.
Self-publishing is a natural fit for bloggers. You’re already creating the content…why not put it in a book!
It will take longer to make money on sponsored posts but it’s an income source you don’t want to miss. I’ve averaged just over $500 a month over last six months but this is one source where traffic really does matter. Sponsors aren’t going to be interested in paying you for a post if less than 10,000 people visit your blog each month.
Once you do build some good blog traffic, you’ll be able to charge premium prices for posts. Lena’s income from sponsored posts was on just four campaigns, almost $300 per sponsored post.
A Beginner Blogger’s Strategy to Make Money with No Blog Traffic
Every successful blog started with just one visitor. You can make money with almost no blog traffic but you need a plan.
From running six websites, I’ve learned that no two blogs make money the same way. You need to try out different income sources to see which work best for your blog and then build a strategy around at least three sources.
- Don’t wait for blog traffic to start making money. Have a product plan from Day 1.
- Learn the different ways bloggers make money and build multiple income sources.
- Blend your affiliate marketing and self-publishing into your content strategy.
- Develop a plan for increasing traffic that includes Google SEO.
Reading about the different blogging income sources, how much you can make on each and what it takes to be successful, will give you an idea of which you prefer. You should be building this into your blogging strategy the very first day. Find the affiliates for your blog topic and put a few Adsense boxes on your website.
Outline an idea for a book related to your topic and then use your blogging schedule to write one chapter a week. This will make blogging and self-publishing seamless and you’ll just need to reformat your content before publishing.
While you can make money with almost no blog traffic…getting more visitors doesn’t hurt. You’ll see your monthly traffic increase just by publishing consistently but real increases come from a strategy to rank your blog on Google.
I get over half of my blog traffic from Google search and it accounts for almost all of my affiliate income. That didn’t happen by coincidence but through a process I developed to get my most important posts ranked on the world’s largest search engine. It’s something too many bloggers neglect and one of the best ways you can increase your traffic.
Get this secret process to rank your blog on Google and boost your traffic. Get Google SEO for Bloggers on Amazon Kindle, paperback or audiobook.
Look at the graph of my blogging income or at any blogger’s income report and it’s obvious that making money blogging takes time. You don’t need a lot of page views to make money but you do need a plan and a little patience. Blog traffic and income builds slowly but it does happen.