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How To Make A Living Blogging (Yep, Even In 2021)

Danielle Willatt
WRITTEN BY
UPDATED
September 24, 2021

The year is 2022. You’re swinging from a hammock in the Maldivian breeze.

 

You’re making a living blogging. You’ve made it. You sip on cocktails and watch the numbers climb in your bank account. You’ll never need to work another day in your life.

 

Um – hang on there. Let’s be real.

 

You can definitely make a living blogging in 2021 but you’ll need to be more realistic than that.

 

 

Make a living blogging in 2021, realistically

 

Let’s start with the great news: there’s a huge amount of money to be made from blogging.

 

Some blogs famously outearn CEOs and turn over millions of dollars every year. And there are thousands of smaller bloggers who are also enjoying a lucrative income and a life of freedom.

 

However – blog monetization is a journey.

 

Let’s have an honest look at how you can make a living blogging. It starts with putting some myths to bed.

 

girl hitting a pinata with baseball bat

 

Myth #1: Blogging is a ‘passive income’

 

If anyone ever dares to describe blogging as ‘passive income’, hit ‘em with a big stick.

 

Monetizing a blog is neither passive, nor easy. It can take hundreds of hours of hard work to get there.

 

Is it worth it? Absolutely. But don’t start blogging with the mindset that you’ll be able to work ‘less’ than a regular day job. Especially when you start out.

 

Myth #2: There’s only one formula that works

 

Everyone’s written a guide on how to start a blog. Heck – so have we!

 

But, you can’t follow ONE article’s formula and be guaranteed success. Every blog needs trial and error to figure out what resonates with THEIR audience in their niche.

 

The best bloggers are constantly learning. They’re checking the income reports of other blogs and getting inspired.

 

We love seeing what other blogs are doing and seeing what it’s possible to do with a blog. We’ve actually made a list of 43 inspiring blog examples we found – go check it out!

 

Myth #3: Only huge blogs make a living blogging

 

Getting millions of page views feels great. But it’s not a prerequisite to earning money.

 

You can make a decent income from blogging even if you don’t have massive traffic. I’ll talk more about this in a bit.

 

Myth #4: Blogging in 2021 is dead

 

Some people say ’s too late to start blogging; that the ship has sailed. Sure, the face of blogging keeps changing. But the potential of blogging as an income source is still just awe-inspiring.

 

  • HuffPost: $500 million per year
  • Moz: $44.9 million per year
  • PerezHilton: $41.3 million per year

 

And thousands of other, smaller bloggers are earning from their blogs too. It’s undeniable – there’s lots of blogging potential to go around.

 

 

How to Make A Living Blogging On Your Own Blog

 

So, let’s take a look at some ways you CAN legitimately make a living blogging in 2021.

 

Starting with the common ways bloggers earn money from their own blogs.

 

Partnerships with brands / agencies

 

Most bloggers start earning money by collaborating with brands. As your traffic grows, you start to attract advertisers who will pay to get exposure to your audience.

 

This can take a few forms.

 

1. Display ads

 

Bloggers can be paid for displaying adverts on their website – for example, on their sidebar. Kind of how magazines sell ad space to advertisers.

 

The easiest way to display ads is to sign up for an ad network like Google AdSense. These ad networks work as middlemen between bloggers and brands.

 

google adsense logo

 

Blogs with larger traffic may be eligible to join premium ad networks like Mediavine and AdThrive, who can pay you more.

 

However, dear blogger – manage your expectations. It’s very difficult to make a living JUST from displaying ads.

 

If your blog only gets small or moderate traffic, you’ll neither earn much from ads, nor be eligible to join the higher-paying ad networks.

 

You can go ahead and use Google AdSense’s calculator to get an estimate of your earnings.

 

google adsense potential revenue calculator

Try the Google AdSense calculator here.

 

However, if your blog receives millions of page views a year – then why not! Display ads can be a great supplementary income.

 

2. Brand sponsorships

 

Many brands have marketing teams who are looking out for bloggers with a strong connection to their target audience.

 

They may reach out and offer you a sponsored post opportunity. That’s when you’re paid to promote a product or service on your blog.

 

You might write a full product review of a product, or perhaps just feature the product in your native content.

 

If you can really prove your worth, a brand might engage you in a longer-term partnership like a brand ambassadorship.

 

Brand sponsorships are great since they can pay really well.

 

Just be sure that you partner with brands that suit your brand. Readers can smell a sell-out a mile off.

 

Affiliate marketing

 

Another very common way that bloggers earn money is through affiliate marketing.

 

This is when you recommend another company’s services or products. If a customer makes a purchase after reading your content, you’ll receive a % commission on that sale.

 

That’s the gist of it.

 

amazon associates program page

 

Affiliates are generally a MUCH more lucrative way to earn money than display ads. Here’s what some other blogs have earned from affiliate marketing:

 

  • EOFire – $710,835 in affiliate income last year.
  • Smart Blogger – $100,000 per year promoting affiliate products.
  • Digital Photography School – $500,000+ from promoting photography equipment on Amazon Associates.

 

How do you start? You can get signed up with one of many affiliate marketplaces and check out your niche.

 

Here are some of the reputable ones:

 

 

 

How to grow your traffic

 

How much you earn from brand partnerships and affiliate marketing depends a lot on how well you build quality traffic to your blog.

 

How?

 

1. Building your social presence

 

Hang out in places where your readers are. Participate! Leave comments on blogs, social media and forums. Answer questions and make yourself useful. Building traffic is all about making yourself visible.

 

2. Write good content regularly

 

It’s been proven that updating your blog regularly can help build traffic. How often? Well, HubSpot recommended that small blogs should aim to publish 3-4x new/updated posts a week, and larger blogs should aim for 4-5x posts.

 

3. Write guest posts

 

Writing blog posts for other blogs is a great way to introduce yourself to wider audiences. The trick is to find blogs that you think are being read by people who would enjoy your blog too.

 

4. Learn how to use SEO

 

If your blog content can solve people’s problems, you’ll keep them coming back. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools can show you what keywords people are searching for, so you can write content to answer their needs.

 

You should learn everything you can about SEO and apply it to your blog. Here are some resources I always pass to new blog writers:

 

  1. Learn how to check the search volumes of keywords.
  2. Use AnswerThePublic to see what questions people are asking.
  3. Learn how to do a content gap on Ahrefs (it’s a paid tool, but you can do a 7-day trial for $7).

 

Keep writing high quality, keyword-researched posts and you should see your traffic grow.

 

 

Note

If you’re blogging for the long run, you need to choose your web hosting or blogging platform carefully. See why we think Hostinger is the best option for most bloggers.

 

Other ways that your blog can generate revenue

 

Sponsored content and affiliate marketing are not the only methods to monetize your blog.

 

Here are some other tried-and-tested methods:

 

1. Sell your own products

 

Your blog can also be your publishing house and product launch pad.

 

If you’re able to prove you have something valuable to say, people might be willing to spend money on your own products. These could be physical or digital.

 

Common ones include:

 

  • Reports
  • Courses
  • Webinars
  • eBooks / Books
  • Software / Tools
  • Merchandise (t-shirts, jewellery, etc)

 

Products will usually require more resources and time. However, they can be extremely profitable.

 

2. Subscription content

 

Some bloggers make money by setting up a recurring income stream. Kind of like a membership programme for readers.

 

Readers who pay a regular recurring amount (often monthly) can usually get some form of special access – for example:

 

  • Coaching time with you
  • Access to special tools
  • Premium content (e.g. your best in-depth articles)
  • A community area (like a specially curated Slack group)

 

Of course, you’ll need to make this higher ‘tier’ worth the money of paying subscribers. You’ll need to plan your resources accordingly.

 

3. Appearances and speaking gigs

 

Many people start a blog because they want to ‘brand’ themselves as an expert in their field.

 

If that’s you, and if you’re successful – people might start to invite you to share your expertise at events.

 

Some bloggers get invited to speak at online conferences, or physical get-togethers. These sorts of gigs often pay really well.

 

4. Lead generation

 

A blog can also be a fantastic platform for getting and managing leads.

 

A business blog can be a great place to promote your product/service to customers. If you’re a freelancer, your blog is also where you can be discovered by clients.

 

You can offer services for anything at all – anything from copywriting, graphic design or social media marketing.

 

Or it could be one-on-one consulting sessions. This selling of freelance services is often the main source of income for bloggers. Bear in mind though, it’s also the most hard work!

 

 

Make A Living Blogging On Other People’s Blogs

 

It’s also possible to earn an income from blogging on blogs that aren’t your own.

 

1. Earning as a guest blogger

 

Most bloggers write guest posts in exchange for a backlink. But it’s also possible to earn through guest blogging. The tough bit is finding blogs that are willing to pay. Tough – but not impossible.

 

Dedicate some time to search for blogs who pay for content topics you want to about. When you reach out to them with your proposal, make sure both of you are clear on the payment terms.

 

2. Earning as a ghost blogger

 

Ghost blogging?

 

 

Yes – as in writing blog posts for other ‘bloggers’, without being attributed as the writer. It’s similar to regular freelance writing work in that you simply submit the post as writing in return for payment.

 

Whilst it’s a controversial subject, ghost blogging is another means to make a living blogging. In fact, it’s usually easier to find paid gigs from ghost blogging, than guest post blogging.

 

Just bear in mind:

 

  • You’ll need to deal with client feedback.
  • You’ll need to be okay with not getting recognition.
  • If you’re building a writing portfolio, your guest written posts may carry less weight.
  • People often outsource the boring/tedious content so you might need to write on things you don’t care about. That means you’ll need great research skills.

 

If you want to make a living ghost blogging, you can either work with the client blog directly, or through an agency.

 

 

Start Now: It’s not too late to make a living blogging

 

In all – you have a lot of options. Let’s recap the ways most bloggers make a living blogging:

 

  • Display ads
  • Sponsorships
  • Ghost blogging
  • Lead generation
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Paid guest blogging
  • Subscription content
  • Selling your own products
  • Speaking gigs / appearances

 

The key thing is to keep learning and stay patient! It usually takes bloggers some time before they can start earning from a new blog.

 

But with the right niche, strategy and perseverance, you’ll be able to turn your blog into a lucrative living too. The rewards can be incredible – keep at it!

 

 

Danielle Willatt

About The Author

Dani is an editor and writer based between KL and Mexico City. Sprung from the advertising and travel industries, she’s also spent the last 10+ years freelancing for a slew of creative online businesses around the world. Connect with her via LinkedIn.