Can I Make Money Blogging?

Dear Jodee,

I’ve been writing for magazines for a long time, but with the print media struggling to retain readers gigs are harder to get, so I thought I’d investigate writing for on-line sources. From reading e-books and “pro” Blogger sites it seemed that a reasonable income could be earned this way. Some of the professional writer sites (not just bloggers) decry the skill levels of most Blogger forums and state that participating in them will actually hurt a good writer’s ability to get assignments from more reputable publishers.

I’ve been Blogging for Bucks only for a few weeks, but results so far are very discouraging as far as potential income, and I have felt as though participating in certain forums has hurt my chances with the better publishers.

What is your take?


Dear Doug,
Thank you for asking this interesting question. First of all, I think you have done the right thing by considering other ways to earn money writing rather than focusing solely on one type of market.

It is possible to earn money solely by running your own own blog. It does take time to build up a community and start making a significant amount of earnings from this method. If you can commit to a marathon and not get frustrated because this way of growing a business is not a sprint, you can make money. There are some bloggers who do earn a full-time (and in some cases a very high) income from their blogs, but they are also offering their visitors other things, like e-books or coaching services, as opposed to earning money solely from ad revenue.

I am familiar with writer sites where people complain about the quality of content contained in blogs and online generally. This is a medium that allows anyone to start a blog on the topic of their choice and start talking, no matter what their skill level is. They don’t even need to be particularly knowledgeable about the topic to get started. The Internet has become a place where everyone can have a voice, which means that there is a lot of noise out there.

Over time, the people who really have something to say and are adding value by their posts will be rewarded by having regular visitors. The first step to building a community and developing a solid reputation as a blogger is to become an expert in your niche. Make sure that everything you put out there online is something that helps your visitors solve a problem or gives them something to think about. (If this sounds a lot like a marketing technique, it is. You are selling yourself to prospective clients every time you post something.)

Will you be blacklisted from “reputable publishers” because of where your work has appeared before? I have read forum posts where certain editors have stated they would never hire someone who has clips from or what they consider to be an inferior publication. This kind of statement should only bother you if you believe that there are only a couple of places where you can sell your writing. The fact is, there are many, many markets for writers. If a particular editor isn’t interested in working with you, move on.

I visited your blog and I see that you have expertise in a certain niche. To market yourself in that area, you can approach site owners who do not have a blog and pitch them on the idea of having you write one for them. You can develop an e-book or a series of short reports that you can sell pertaining to your niche and approach site owners about a joint venture for marketing them, or sell them yourself. Another idea is to look for opportunities to work as a copy/content writer in your niche. You will have as many opportunities to find writing work as you make for yourself.

Do choose not to write for certain web sites or publications because you are concerned about the loss of future writing opportunities? Do you have a question you would like to see answered in a future column? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


6 responses
  1. Travel writer Avatar

    This is excellent advice in response to a common question. Freelancers often have trouble with this transition because they are used to a simple transaction process: get idea accepted, turn in story, (eventually) get a paycheck. When you create your own content, however, it’s a much longer process of continual writing and promoting. It’s all on your shoulders and it takes a long time to build. I would say no blogger should expect much in the way of earnings in fewer than six months and even that means really going at it full-force. For people with a life, it’s more like a year—even if you’re doing everything right.

  2. Timothy Avatar

    In this day and age, I have trouble believing that any reputable editor would discount a freelance writer because he/she is a blogger. Maybe 10 years ago, but if anyone feels that way now they’re probably about to retire anyway. BAD blogs are a different story of course. If the writing is sloppy and the site looks awful (like most of the content mills out there), then yes, it probably hurts your chances to write for more professional operations. You’re better off running your own and keeping control of it.

  3. Matt Avatar

    It sure is true that there are less and less print markets out there. I used to supplement my income quite nicely writing the odd column for newspapers and magazines here in Australia. However, almost all of those markets have now dried up.

    And the blogosphere is saturated now. It’s very difficult to make an income from blogging alone. However, persistence definitely does pay off on the net. If you just keep at it then you will eventually get to a point where all that content is pulling in solid traffic, and therefore money.

    And even if you don’t quite reach that point I do think it’s still worth continuing because you’ll have amassed all that material. You can always edit it into a book eventually.

  4. Maria Avatar

    I think it depends on what you make of it. I’ve seen some very good writers really make the most out of places like Associated Content and examiner. While they are looked down on as “content mills” if you are a go-getter and aggressive, you can turn that gig into other gigs and really build an audience. It’s rare, but I’ve seen it happen.

    However, I absolutely agree that it takes a very long time to monetize any blog and that you have to put in months of daily writing (some people don’t think you have to update daily, for certain niches this unacceptable) plus social media work to see your efforts pay off. Get a niche you really care about or you will not stick with it. Treat it like a business and it will become one.

  5. Christina Crowe @ Cash Campfire Avatar

    These are all good points. From what I’ve read, I was always told that starting a blog in a niche you are pretty knowledgeable about would HELP your chances of finding clients that will hire you, since they’ll be persuaded through your knowledge and expertise. This is the first time I’ve read otherwise, though I suppose some blogs and content websites might lessen your chances of getting hired if the quality isn’t good on the website.

    Personally, I advise to just create the blog. Don’t worry about what others have to say about it. If one person doesn’t want to hire you because of your blog or the company you write for, he/she probably wouldn’t hire you anyway. Not anything against you, but some clients are really hard to work with and are just very picky. Personally, I wouldn’t work for someone who thinks she knows everything there is to know about writing. Why would she? I’m the writer, aren’t I? Keep this in mind.

    Not all blogs are bad quality. There are some REALLY good blogs out there. Think ProBlogger or WriteToDone. If your blog has quality, you will be noticed. Positively. There have even been cases of freelance writers who find all their clients through their blogs!

  6. Robert Michael McKenna Avatar
    Robert Michael McKenna

    To make any money as a Blogger is a long hard road. To say in the article that writing for certain web sites is counterproductive is snobbish BULL@#$% because writing is about practice and feedback. If you are writing a novel, or have a niche that pays good money but is not always looking for articles, what is a writer supposed to do, watch TV?

    I have picked up jobs on Craigslist, I have written advertising for local companies. I have a lit agent currently excited about selling my 1st novel and I will write anywhere and for anybody just to practice my craft. I have to work a real job as do many writers but that does not mean someday I may make enough money to spend all my time writing. Why does your web site exist if you are so concerned about sites that don’t meet your standards? I know you display some of these sites as writing opportunities. Is that not hypocritical?

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