How do bloggers make money?

By Dan Barraclough

Blogging. It’s no longer only the hobby of the budding writer holed up in their bedroom. Nowadays, it seems like successful bloggers are popping up left right and centre. ‘Influencers’, as they are also known, are changing the way we buy products and the way brands do their marketing. They are the new breed of celebrities. They are ordinary and relatable, although their lives can seem anything but…

How can they afford all those lavish holidays? All those new clothes? All those plane tickets?

How can they make their living solely from their blog, and live rather well while they’re at it?

How Bloggers Make Money:

The first two things to note are:

  1. Not all bloggers are successful enough to be financially dependent on their blog
  2. The vast majority will earn very little, if anything. However, when bloggers make it big, they make it really big. Zoella, a Youtuber, author and fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger, is arguably the most famous blogger around at the moment. She reportedly makes a minimum of £50,000 a month.

  3. Most successful bloggers didn’t start their blog with dreams of self-employment and thousands of pounds
  4. The most successful bloggers of today started their blogs long before brands had a budget for influencer marketing. Most worked at their blogs for years before making their first penny. Their blogs were born out of a genuine interest for something, and their content was natural, relevant and interesting as a result. This allowed them to organically build up a loyal following, and monetise things later on.

So, once blogs have enough traffic, how do they generate money?

a travel blogger with a map, camera and computer

1. Advertising

Have you ever noticed that book you looked at once on Amazon following you around the web? When you land on a blog you will often notice external advertising either as a banner at the top or bottom of the page or in the sidebar. Sometimes they will even be a site takeover ad that will fill your entire screen. Google AdSense and similar networks allow bloggers to receive money for placing adverts for what google deems ‘relevant’ brands or products on their blog. The blogger doesn’t need to be in direct contact with the advertisers themselves, so this can seem like an attractive way to make a bit of money with minimum effort.

The adverts are generally one of two kinds:

  1. PPC/CPC (Pay Per Click or Cost Per Click)
  2. PPC adverts do exactly what is says on the tin. The blogger receives a small amount of money every time someone clicks on their advert.

  3. CPM (Cost per 1000 impressions)
  4. With CPM adverts, the blogger is paid a set amount for every 1,000 people who view the advert. How many people click on the advert doesn’t influence how much they make.

Whilst these types of ads are easy for bloggers to set up, there is a general consensus that they are losing popularity among bloggers, as more ‘authentic’ ways to make money are becoming more popular (see below). Advertising of this kind can also interfere massively with the sleek blog aesthetic that bloggers strive to curate, and can irritate even their most loyal followers.

2. Sponsored Content

If you’ve ever seen an instagram post with ‘#ad’ included in the caption, or a disclaimer at the top or bottom of a blog post saying something along the lines of: ‘This post is sponsored by *brand*, but all opinions are my own’, then you are viewing sponsored content. A brand has paid the blogger to instagram, write about or include their product in a post.

As you know, I’ve had shorter hair for a good two years now and it’s the best thing ever! The only thing is that sudden desire for long luscious locks I get every now and then and then comes the absolute trauma of trying to find extensions that actually match my hair and are easy to style! I’m wearing the “The Superstar” by @easilockshair extensions in these photos in the shade lightest brown ombre (in case you have balayage like me) and I love it! You can shampoo, condition and style them like the rest of your hair & they’ve kindly given me the code ZOELLA to pass on to you in order to get 15% discount from if you fancy giving them a try or if you’re a bit bored with your hair! The team are also available on Instagram to give free online colour matches if you DM them 🙂 Now I’m going to go and swish my hair about! #hairgoals #ad

A post shared by Zoella (@zoella) on

Bloggers may be approached by multiple companies offering very different sponsored content deals. The challenge for the blogger is to know what will work for their site, and what will look too forced and alienate their audience. This means that turning down well paid projects is a regular part of a good blogger’s life, and an important step in keeping their content authentic. Brands will have very different approaches to requesting sponsored content. Some will be happy to leave the blogger to do their own thing, whilst others will be set on shoehorning very specific terms or sentences into their post.

3. Affiliate Links

Affiliate links are a great, simple way for all bloggers to make money, even if they are not yet big enough to attract sponsored content deals. If a product is ‘affiliate linked’, it means that the blogger will take home around 7% of the value of the item if the user goes on to buy the product after clicking through their link. Unless the user clears their cookies, this is true up to 30 days after the user initially clicks through.

4. Freebies

Bloggers are sent a lot of freebies. This seems to be especially true of beauty bloggers, due to the sheer volume of new makeup and beauty products that are regularly released. Whilst this does not, in principle, make the blogger any money, their status as a blogger may allow them to get things for free that they might otherwise have paid for. For example, a semi-established travel blogger looking to stay at a certain hotel on holiday may approach the hotel about getting their stay for free or at a reduced price, in exchange for promoting the hotel on their blog.

5. Other Projects

Once bloggers have built a loyal following, it’s time for them to harness their popularity to branch out into different things. For example, lots of food bloggers will go on to write cookbooks. Bloggers may start their own podcasts, or may be invited to speak at events. They may go on to release merchandise that they have designed themself. A popular blog is a great springboard to success in all kinds of areas.

Wix logo

How much money do bloggers make?

Ah, the unanswerable question. Bloggers are (understandably) not keen to disclose how much they make, so it is hard to put an exact figure on this.

At one end of the scale we have Zoella earning £50,000 per month. In the middle, we have the full-time bloggers who are making enough to live on. At the other end we have the vast majority of bloggers. Their blogs are a hobby, and they will make anything up to a few thousand pounds per year.

Can I start a blog and make money from it?

Yes! Bloggers are slowly but surely taking over the world, and there’s nothing to stop you from being a part of it. Choose something you are truly passionate about and get writing. There is a huge range of website builders with amazing templates for all kinds of blogs. See our roundup of the best ones here – we’ve compared them on price, looks and ease of use, so you can easily find the one that works for you.

Dan Barraclough

Dan’s a writer for Expert Market, specialising in a range of cool topics. He loves web design and all things UX, but also the hardware stuff like postage metres and photocopiers.

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