How much do bloggers make? | Not just the success stories

via Pixabay CC0

If you are thinking of starting a blog, you’ve probably read up on the many ways to monetize it. There are a lot of how to’s for setting up a blog and getting it up and running, but there are fewer stories to justify all the effort. How much do bloggers really make?

You’ve probably heard the success stories about living off of your blog, but this is 1% of the blogger population. These are the stories we all hear about and income reports are available.

What if your blog is only a few months old?

What ad revenue does your traffic really support?

These are the questions I wanted answered and that I tried to answer when I started researching. Taking the Philippines as a case study, I started looking at blog numbers and revenues from bloggers there.

I found that most blogs are doing a combination of advertising revenue, affiliate links and sponsored articles.

So, what can you earn with a blog?

Advertising Revenue | Google Adsense

If you are a new blogger, putting up a site and a couple of ads seems like a simple and easy way to monetize your site.

Publish a few posts, wait for the traffic to come in, and get your check.

And yes, you can totally make a little bit on the side with advertising.

Para sa Pinoy received $201 in commission for March 2017, and posted her Western union receipt. That’s pretty good for a new blogger and a blog only a few months old. Her first few articles were about how to use government sponsored benefits.

Think pesos makes a $40 – $300 a month while yet other blogs are make only $15 a month despite being 4 years old and having traffic of 10,000.

Then there are those blogs that make a full-time income with a large chunk from advertising.

Kawaling Pinoy is a blog with a focus on Filipino recipies. She has been blogging for 4 years as well but her blog brought in $20,000 in Dec 2016 on traffic of 1.5 million.

That’s incredible (and makes me want to quit my day job and just blog forever).

Affiliate links | Lazada Affiliate program

Blogs can make a lot from affiliate links.

For a blog to do this though, it has to present authoritative information on products and brands to encourage purchases. The competition in something like the tech area is cutthroat.

I’ve seen success stories from the top 1% of the blogging world about affiliate links, but I know (and I think you do to) that it isn’t all that simple or easy.

Let’s take the Lazada affiliate program as an example.

There have been several press releases about the Lazada affiliate program and there are tutorials on how to set it up.

This is useful, but before getting into the building of all those links and before doing all that work, the question remains – is the Lazada affiliate program profitable for its partners?

On Warrior forum, most users posted about small commissions of $25 or $50 dollars after about a year of work. Only one posted a commission of $1,000 to $2,000 per month.

SavingsPinay has never earned from affiliate marketing, despite traffic of 10,000 a month and a concerted effort to monetize her blog.

Daniel Gubalane started with Lazada in 2014 and initially had some difficulties. He later reported successfully being an affiliate, stating that Lazada was 30% of his income after 2 years. He seems to have figured it out, but only after first being disappointed and trying the Zalora program instead (where he made $60 in 3 weeks)

Sponsored posts

Blog networks can help by matching a brand with a blogger who has the readership that brand wants to market to.

The Nuffnang network was founded in Malaysia and ultimately spread to the Singapore, Thailand, China and the Philippines. In the Philippines, Nuffnang has a network of over 40,000 bloggers. They also have a network of brands and actively work with them on their PR campaigns.

These are often sponsored posts.

How much is a sponsored post?

Preview recently did a post on bloggers and mentioned that the amount per post is $20 to $200 (Php1,000 to 10,000) – and that’s for a fairly established blog.

Project vanity (love this name)  posted recently about how much she charges for a sponsored post. She gets the monthly page views a month, divides it by 1,000 and multiples it by $1 or Php50 which is the cost per mille in the Philippines.

So for 100,000 page views a month, you would divide by 1,000 and multiply by 50 to reach $100 or Php 5,000 per post. The last time that she had a sponsored post was 2 months ago, so it’s nice to have but won’t exactly built you your dream house.

The Big Takeaway

You can make money from your blog.

How much you make depends on your traffic and your readers profile, and at the end of the day this still depends on your content and your focus. (And yes, this could mean only $10 a month even after 4 years).

Content is King.

Sounds familiar?

It’s plastered everywhere. Everyone who blogs for a living knows that it’s your content that makes it clickable and shareable. All the other tools that we have can enhance it substantially, but at the end of the day what you write and how you tell the story is what makes it work.

What I found fascinating is the live case study by Tung Tran of Cloud Living. He published the story of how he built his site and monetized it to pay out almost $5,000 a month.

But then he noticed a decline in his traffic. He thought of several possibilities. One was that the site was optimized for Amazon affiliate revenue and that the content “was not of the highest quality”.

People seem to think that if they mechanically follow the “rules” (2,200 words, pictures, keywords, etc) then traffic will automatically come.

I think what gets lost is that its about the quality of the story you tell and how much you love what the topic is.

At the end of the day, the product is you.