Are you wondering, “How do bloggers make money?” Get the answers revealed by a full-time blogger here.

the words make money blogging on top of money

I’m writing this post on my one-year anniversary of becoming a full-time blogger. It’s also three and one-half years after I started this blog, about eight years after I started learning about search engine optimization (SEO), and about twenty years after I created my very first website in college, back in the “Stone Ages” of blogging! So, I definitely know exactly how blogs make money.

And I’m writing this post with a specific purpose: for transparency with the average blog reader.

Many of the blog posts already out there on blogging income are meant more for the aspiring blogger. While aspiring bloggers can gather some inspiration here too, this post is meant for the non-blogger.

It’s meant for everyone I’ve talked with over the course of several years that has me asked a variety of questions, like:

  • How do bloggers earn money?
  • How does blogging make money?
  • How do people make money with blogs?

(Actually, usually, it’s something super inquisitive like, “So, how does that all work?” Or, it’s something surprising like, “You can make money from that?” I find people’s unique reactions to be so interesting!)

Also, this post is meant to inform readers of this blog how their readership translates to dollars… because I think you deserve to know this as a reader of The Literary Lifestyle and/or any other blogs!

And, lastly, it’s meant to inform the general public more about blogging as a career… because, often, in real life, when I say I’m a blogger, most people have heard of the term but don’t fully understand it the way they understand more traditional careers.

So, with this in mind, below I answer the question, “How do bloggers make money?” by discussing both how bloggers get paid and who pays bloggers. Then, I try to answer the very complex question of how much money bloggers make (hint: it’s an extremely wide range), as well as a few more frequently asked questions about how bloggers earn money.

How Do Bloggers Make Money?

As mentioned, this is one of the most common questions I hear as a full-time blogger. It’s also usually the first question I get asked when someone finds out I’m a full-time blogger. So, here’s the answer below!

But first, it’s important to know what the term “blogger” means. Here, I use the term blogger to refer to people who primarily write articles and/or posts on websites. This is somewhat different than a “social media influencer,” who primarily posts content on social media platforms (but there is some overlap).

As a blogger, my main focus is my blog/website and making money from the articles I write on it. I post on social media too, but that’s sort of just a byproduct of my main business… not much different than something like a local business that has social media pages to promote their business. In other words, the main business is different than social media.

For a social media influencer, social media content is the main business.

As mentioned, there’s some overlap, as I can make money as a blogger from the audience of both my website and my social media content at the same time. For example, I can sell products both on my blog and my social media channels. To me, the distinction is mostly one of where the primary focus lies.

I also want to note that some bloggers are employed by a company to write articles for the company’s blog as either an employee or a freelance writer. Those people get paid by the company in exchange for an article, and that’s not really what I’m going to get into here.

This post is about sharing how bloggers who run their own websites get paid.

How Bloggers Get Paid & Who Pays Bloggers

Most bloggers earn their income by way of some combination of the following:

  • display ads
  • affiliate marketing
  • sponsorships
  • products
  • services
  • and memberships/subscriptions

Let’s talk about each one and who pays!

Display Ads

Who pays the blogger: ad networks and/or any person, brand, or company that buys ad space directly from the blogger (not the blog reader)

Display ads are third-party marketing images and videos you may often see on websites, including at the bottom of this page, in the sidebar, and sprinkled throughout this post. They are similar to tv commercials and magazine ads.

Bloggers generally get paid for each time an ad is merely seen by a reader. The amount is calculated by a rate for every 1,000 views.

Most bloggers rely on ad networks to do ALL the back-end labor on this, from the technical side of things to getting companies to buy ad space, serving the ads, and collecting and distributing payments to the blog owners.

There are a variety of ad networks, and they pay a wide variety of rates for every thousand views. I’ve heard as low as $1-2 per 1,000 views, and I’ve heard as high as $100+ per 1,000 views. It depends in part on what network you’re with, and bloggers with higher page views (50,000-100,000+ page views per month) get access to the better networks.

It also depends on a vast array of details, including what topic your blog is about, how long people stay on your site, how fast your site is, what countries your viewers come from, where your ads are placed on your site, and many, many more factors.

Display ads can also be bought and sold directly between a blogger and a person or company. For example, sometimes authors request display ads for their books on my site.

What’s good about display ads for bloggers is that we can earn income from articles just by people reading them, even for months and years after we first write them. And, they keep this content free for the reader!

What’s bad about display ads is that it takes a lot of traffic for the blogger’s income to become substantial, the blogger still has to maintain the site and the articles to both keep and grow traffic, and ads can look unappealing to the reader.

On The Literary Lifestyle, ads account for a large percentage of my income, and all of this income comes from my blog/website and not social media. All bloggers differ.

Affiliate Marketing

Who pays the blogger: People, brands, and companies that sell products or services (not the blog reader)

Affiliate marketing refers to the process by which bloggers can earn commissions by referring customers to purchase other people’s/company’s products (or take some other specified action, like signing up for a newsletter).

Usually, a blog reader would have to click on a link that has a blogger’s unique code embedded in it, and then purchase an item within a certain time frame in order for the blogger to get paid.

The terms vary greatly. Some purchases must be made immediately for the sale to “count,” and other times they can happen at a later time. The commissions can generally range from pennies to $50-100 (and even more, but that’s really rare) per sale. Bloggers usually receive a small percentage of the total sale amount, which is why the commissions vary so much.

Affiliate relationships are required to be disclosed by the Federal Trade Commission, which is why you see disclosures at the top and bottom of my pages.

There’s a lot that’s good and a lot that’s bad about affiliate marketing. One thing that’s great is that bloggers generally earn commissions on the sale total. So, if you click on a link for a book, then end up buying a tv (or both), the blogger can get a commission on everything. Another great thing is that bloggers can make sales long after writing articles that promote the links, so long as people are still reading the article and buying the recommended products.

I also love that affiliate marketing helps keep my content free for the blog reader, and that I can pick whatever products I want to promote, as well as talk about them however I want. It helps maintain authenticity, which is really important to me as a blogger.

There’s a lot that’s bad about affiliate marketing too. For example, someone can be influenced by a blogger online, then go into the store to make their purchase, by which the blogger won’t get a commission. Brands/companies can also change the terms of the program, so bloggers may put in a lot of work creating content upfront, only to have the commissions reduced dramatically (or completely canceled). Both of these have been fairly common in my experience.

Additionally, only the last link clicked gets the commission for the sale, so someone can learn about a product from both you AND someone else, but only the last person whose link is clicked earns a commission. Lastly, it can be hard to close a deal, and then keep closing them. Average rates for affiliate sales are pretty low generally speaking (1-2%), so again, bloggers really have to build up their readership, be strategic, and be repetitive for affiliate commissions to add up.

On The Literary Lifestyle, affiliate marketing accounts for a large percentage of my income, and most of this income comes from my blog/website and not social media. All bloggers differ.

Related Post: The One Affiliate Marketing Platform Every Creator Should Join


Who pays the blogger: People, brands, and companies that sell products or services (not the blog reader)

Sponsorships generally mean that a person, brand, or company has paid a blogger to talk about its product or service on the blogger’s blog, email newsletter, and/or social media platforms. In recent years, this has occurred a lot more frequently on social media than on blogs.

The sponsor may also pay for the actual content created, meaning ownership rights to the images and videos created by the blogger (to be used for further marketing, etc.). The sponsor may pay for even more things, including exclusivity, which means that the blogger won’t talk about a competitor for a set amount of time. It’s all handled by contract, so it’s negotiable.

What’s good about sponsorships is, again, that it’s a paid ad that helps keeps all content free or low cost to the blog reader. Sponsorships can also help bloggers earn in more unique circumstances, such as where there is no affiliate program for something they want to share, or where a brand primarily wants to buy the digital work product of the blogger for the brand’s own use. It’s also always nice as a blogger to know exactly what you are going to earn from a project ahead of time.

There’s also a lot that’s bad, or tough, about sponsorships too, though. Contrary to what it may seem like from the outside, they can actually be both hard to get PLUS a lot of work on the back end. Most of my sponsorships have taken months of negotiating, planning, producing, editing, approving, posting, and reporting.

(They also make me feel a lot of added responsibility to give the brand its money’s worth, especially when so much of the actual performance of the sponsorship is out of my control at that point.)

Sometimes sponsorships never pan out at all after a lot of negotiation and/or collecting payment can become an added task afterward. And, again, bloggers need a substantial following to earn substantial money from them.

Sponsorship income can range from a free product to thousands of dollars (or even tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of your audience and what’s being delivered). Lastly, some sponsorships may also seem insincere to the blog reader, especially when they are frequent or off-brand.

On The Literary Lifestyle, sponsorships account for a small percentage of my income, and most of this income comes from my blog/website and not social media. All bloggers differ.


Who pays the blogger: the blog reader

When I talk about bloggers earning from products here, I mean from the sale of their OWN products. This, for example, can be merch, handmade goods, books, or digital products (like my Reading Journal and Blog Planner).

What’s good about this is that it’s another stream of income for the blogger, and it can solve a reader’s problem or just provide them with something tangible beyond blog content, like a cookbook by their favorite food blogger, for example.

On the negative side, while some products don’t require a lot of effort from the blogger after they are produced, some require a lot of management. There’s also a lot more to do and to invest from a business perspective, from taxes to insurance, customer service, storage, upfront investments, etc.

Bloggers can earn a few dollars here and there on their own products, or they can run their own stores and even their own empires, plus anything and everything in between.

On The Literary Lifestyle, products account for a small percentage of my income, and most of this income comes from my blog/website and not social media. All bloggers differ.


Who pays the blogger: any person or company that purchases them, including the blog reader

Many bloggers also earn money via services, and these services can take on an infinite number of forms. A few examples include coaching, consulting, creating content, managing social media, and even really niche-specific tasks, like an accountant blogger doing your taxes.

A lot of bloggers use services to supplement the other types of blogging income while their blog is growing. Some bloggers even use their blog as the marketing vehicle for their service. For example, I know a very successful home decor blogger who is now using her blog as a way to grow her true dream business of interior designing.

And, again, income for bloggers’ services can range from extremely low to extremely high.

I think the pros and cons can be really specific here, so I’m not going to comment on them much further. For example, one food blogger may love selling cooking lessons as a stream of income, whereas another may hate that it takes away time from blogging itself. And, some people may not struggle to get clients, whereas others find it easy, or they may only need one or two clients to make it work well for themselves.

On The Literary Lifestyle, services account for zero percent of my income. All bloggers differ.


Who pays the blogger: any person or company that purchases them, including the blog reader

The final answer to the question, “How do bloggers make money?” is memberships and subscriptions. They are both fairly common, yet I don’t think they fall squarely into products or services, so I made them a separate category.

Subscriptions are essentially payments by the reader for content, whether it’s all content or some extra content. Bloggers that offer paid subscriptions generally offer a mix of free and paid content. One common subscription is a free email newsletter with the option to buy a premium newsletter, usually with much more exclusive or detailed content. Some websites also offer the first few paragraphs of an article for free, but they require payment to see the entire article.

Memberships can be like subscriptions, but they can also take on a variety of forms. They can include clubs, mastermind groups, discussion forums, etc. Some bloggers also sell e-courses as memberships, by which members can access the content for a prescribed time and/or get more content over time.

Memberships can give the reader more 1-on-1 access to the blogger, which can be especially helpful in certain learning niches. The downside to the reader is that the content isn’t free.

For the blogger, he or she may like earning from a smaller group and it may work well for them, or visa versa. It likely requires more effort to get (and retain) paid members than free readers, and that can be seen as a positive or a negative.

And, again, it’s possible to make anywhere from a few dollars to a substantial income from memberships or subscriptions.

On The Literary Lifestyle, memberships and subscriptions account for zero percent of my income. All bloggers differ.

How much do bloggers make?

By now, you may realize that how much bloggers make varies dramatically based on their unique readership, their unique sources of income, and how effectively these income sources are implemented.

And remember, in addition to blog earnings varying dramatically, blogs are also businesses that pay expenses, taxes, government fees, payroll, marketing, and so on.

There are bloggers who make $0 (or below $0), and there are bloggers who make over $1 million (yes, really) per year.

For more specific numbers:

I have used the data in the video below as a guidepost for years now, and I have found that it offers pretty good averages overall at a variety of levels.

But, note that just because a blogger publishes a certain number of posts does not mean he or she earns the amounts specified in the video automatically. The blogger also needs a solid business strategy that’s well-implemented.

Eb over at Productive Blogging also published these updated statistics about the general range of bloggers’ income.

blog post planner


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Frequently Asked Questions

How do bloggers receive their money?

Most bloggers receive their money from some combination of the following: display ads, affiliate marketing, brand sponsorships, product sales, services, memberships, and/or subscriptions.

Do bloggers get paid for views?

Bloggers get paid for views if they have ads on their blog, which are usually paid per view. Otherwise, bloggers generally do not get paid for views but rather for the sales of any variety of products and/or services.


Now you know the answer to the question, “How do bloggers make money?” I especially hope that readers of The Literary Lifestyle feel they better understand how their readership supports my business.

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