One question I get a lot from people who are considering blogging is, “how much money can you really make blogging?”
The answer, of course, is it depends. Which is absolutely the worst answer you can give, right? Especially on the internet, where we ask the search engine for answers to our most pressing questions, like, “what temperature is medium rare steak?” or “how can I lose 10 pounds in a week?” or better yet, “how much money can you really make blogging?”
Sorry to be Socratic with you, but I'm going to have to answer your question with a series of questions:
- Why are you writing online?
- How many hours are you willing to put into your blog in a given week?
- Will you stick it out during the lonely first six months?
- Are you going to treat it like a business from the get-go instead of a hobby?
- Can you write content people want to read on a regular basis?
Once you get comfortable with your answers to the above questions, then I'll let you know: of course there's money to be made on the internet. In fact, my friend Sarah believes that it's easier to make money online than offline. That's a bold statement, right? But I have to agree. I know plenty of people who are making a very comfortable living from their blog, and I know plenty of people who are clearing $100 a month.
The way I see it, it's all good. Because making money blogging comes in the following tiers:
1. Thai Food
This is the beginning stage. You've been blogging for several weeks (or hey, months, your mileage may vary) when all of a sudden, you see money coming in. Someone's asking about your PayPal address. Maybe you hit an affiliate threshold for the first time. You're starting to realize that there is, in fact, money to be made on the internet, and your blog actually picks up the tab for Thai food (or pizza or your takeout of choice) every once in awhile.
2. Cable (or Internet) Bill
After the blog has paid for some serious takeout, the next level of blogging money comes when the blog starts paying for a bigger bill. Every month, your blog is bringing in somewhere around $100, and it's awesome. The systems are falling into place, and you can reasonably expect revenue to continue to come in. You start counting on the blog to pay one or two of your monthly bills (or, if you don't think about it like that, you're starting to get used to this extra revenue).
Now, all of a sudden, your blog is renting a room in your house. It's the perfect roommate! Sure, it's demanding as all get out, but it's contributing to your financial well-being! You feel more breathing room in your budget because you're doing this blog thing on the side, so it's like you've gotten a raise at work (but of course, you're not working any harder at work, since you're writing all the time on your blog!). At this point, you're starting to get noticed: maybe your writing skills are the bee's knees. Maybe you're a whiz at social media. Maybe you're getting local press. Your pageviews are growing and the future looks bright.
When your blog starts to cover your mortgage or rent, you know you're onto something. Your friends and family no longer think you're just zoning out on Facebook all day. They start to ask what this whole blogging thing is about. They're thinking to themselves, “maybe I should try this…” It's at this point that you start seriously considering leaving that day job you're not thrilled with in order to make a real go of blogging for a living.
5. All Your Expenses
Once you get to this stage, you're reaching burnout, because no matter what you've read online, having a full-time job PLUS having a blog that's covering all your expenses leaves very little time for relaxing/sleeping/eating. If you haven't left your day job yet, you want to… you really want to by now. Because you know that with whatever systems you've built up to this point are sustainable, and you can easily see the next level (unless you're making a TON of money at work, we'll get to that in a minute).
6. Replacing Your Salary
This is the medium-range goal for all bloggers who want to make money. And it's possible. The numbers don't lie, you can absolutely replace your salary from your blog. Unless you're the CEO of a Fortune 100 company and you make so much money you're on a Forbes list somewhere. Sure, you could get there at some point, but it's far more likely that you'll replace a regular ($30,000-$60,000) salary on your blog. And that's fine. Because that's all money you're earning on your own terms.
7. Replacing a Richer Person's Salary
Six-figure blogger? Don't mind if you do! This is the dream, especially when you start wondering whether you can actually make a living online. And I'm telling you: I know you can. If you can make any of the other income levels, you can make $100,000 or more. But a word to the wise: remember that the best way to make money on the internet is to teach people how to make money on the internet, and plenty of expensive online courses will only make the course creator more money, NOT help you get to the income level you need to get to. Simply scale what's working for you, and give it time.
8. Internet Guru Status
Or, as I like to call it, the “take your fancy shoes and Champagne down to the dock because you're so rich you don't even wear sneakers anymore” level of blogging. An example here is Pat Flynn, who makes $130,000 a month. I'll let that sink in. This level is basically 10-20X the “make a rich person's salary” level, which is frankly absurd. I'm not sure you should aim for this, especially because many people who claim to be in this category aren't really making as much money as they say. Money's a lot like pageviews: you can say whatever you want because your readers aren't going to find out unless they break into your bank account or your Google Analytics profile. So, just because you read something on the internet does not make it gospel truth.
These are the different levels of making money blogging, and they're discrete steps. You can't go from level zero to level nine without taking the scenic route through all the other levels, and to be perfectly honest, most people won't ever reach level nine. Including you. Including me, although don't I just seem like a super rich person because of the stock image I found?
Where do you currently fall on this scale? Where would you like to go?