How We Make Money Blogging
They say it’s not polite to talk about money. Excuse us as we get a bit “rude” today while we completely throw that rule out the window and talk ALL about money…specifically how we make money blogging.
Honestly, this is a question we get all.the.time. Many well-intentioned friends & acquaintances casually assume that we blog as a hobby and don’t make any money in the process (which we don’t blame them for assuming since this whole blogging thing is pretty darn confusing at times). The truth is though we actually do make money and thought that addressing this awkward topic could be enlightening for fellow bloggers or just curious blog readers.
But before we jump into the details, let’s backtrack a bit. We certainly did not start this blog to make money. Not even a little bit. Instead we started because we thought it would be a fun hobby for us both, and something cool to do together. Fast forward 3.5 years, and we still see this as an amazing hobby we have the pleasure of enjoying together, but one that has also (surprisingly) bloomed into a steady stream of income for us.
Would we continue blogging even if our bank account was at $0? Absolutely!!! Because the happiness we get from this journey truly is priceless, and for us it’s not about the money at all. But if we’re being completely honest here, we must say that the extra income is very much appreciated, and we’re constantly looking for ways to grow our little baby company.
How We Make Money Blogging
Okay, enough being mushy…let’s get to the facts. How exactly do we make money blogging? Well our income mainly comes from 4 different sources. If you’re a blogger we hope this information helps you as you navigate your blog finances. If you’re not a blogger, well bear with us, because this may be a bit boring for ya!
1. Sidebar Ads (22% of total blog income)
We went a long time blogging before we put 1 ad up on our site, specifically because we didn’t know we should even add advertisements to our site (#rookies)! It just wasn’t something we were focused on when we first began this journey. After we started to see a steady stream of page views, we decided to add a couple of ads from Google Adsense onto our sidebar. These made like $.05 a day. Seriously… five cents! But it was still sooooo exciting to think that we were making a couple of dollars from our little website (as in, a couple of dollars over a few months). #popthechampsAs we continued to navigate the blogging world, we joined a few ad networks. Some were great, others not so great. The worst part about this was managing it all. So many logins, so little time to go in and check how all of the ads were doing. Last year, we were able to join a company called AdThrive and they now handle all of our ads for us. This switch has seriously been the best decision we have ever made in terms of the blog’s finances. No more logins, no more managing a variety of ads, no more trying to figure out the HTML to make it all work. Instead they do all of the hard work for us, and we simply get a check every month. We love that we don’t have to waste time trying to figure out the sidebar ads, but instead can focus on creating quality content for our readers.
We also sell ad space on our sidebar to individual companies, but this isn’t nearly as profitable as our AdThrive income. We sell this space in 1 and 3 month increments, and we’ve had some great companies on our sidebar over the past few years. (Thanks Snapbox! Thanks Sailrite!)
2. Sponsored Posts (33% of total blog income)
Creating sponsored posts on our site is another source of income, and a controversial one at that. We’ve been fortunate to partner with a lot of great companies, all of whom we already use in our homes and daily lives. Our main sponsors are Lowe’s Home Improvement, HomeGoods, and Michaels, but we’ve worked with many companies over the years and have formed some great relationships.
When a company reaches out, we usually have a set price range for a sponsored post, depending on the company and the amount of work that will go into the post. We’re not gonna lie, we turn down A LOT of requests for posts. Sometimes it’s because they want to “pay us” in product, but mostly because they’re just not a great fit for our audience or our brand.
We never want to promote something on our site that we wouldn’t use in “real life,” so we’re very picky when it comes to partnerships. Plus because we have day jobs, we’re very fortunate to be in a position where we don’t necessarily NEED to take on a specific number of sponsored posts to get paid that month. And with that being said… because we only have a limited time to blog during the week thanks to those day jobs, we are even more selective when it comes to sponsored opportunities and only take them on if we are really excited about them.
When we do take on sponsored posts, we always try to organically weave it into our content the best we can. We’re not perfect, but we try our best to include a coupon code or giveaway into those posts so our readers can get a little incentive too.
3. Affiliate Links (3% of total blog income)
This is definitely a new source of income for us, and it is by far the least profitable for us. We’re guessing you guys have seen all of the RewardStyle/Like to Know stuff on Instagram? If not, then here’s a brief description. Whenever we link a specific product on our site, we can make it an “affiliate link.” That way if someone clicks the link, buys that product (or anything else on the website), we will get a small percentage of the profits.
This is a big money-maker for fashion & lifestyle bloggers, and we love learning about the latest trends from our fellow bloggers. But, we’re often linking home decor items. And I don’t know about you, but I buy shoes and tops a heck of a lot more often than I buy rugs and couches. Therefore, as a home blogger we’re not making quite as much as other bloggers who focus solely on fashion.
We use both Reward Style and Magic Links, and they’re both pretty easy to create log-ins and get started. However, we also proceed with caution when it comes to this source of income because we NEVER want to make it seem like we’re always selling stuff. If we really do love something, we will link it to make it convenient for everyone to quickly find. But we never want to link items just for the sake of making money. <– there’s a big difference and we try to our hardest to be as authentic as possible (again, we’re not perfect).
4. Writing for Companies (42% of our blogging income)
Writing blog posts for other sites is another way we make money blogging, and this one is by far our favorite. Specifically because it’s separate from our personal blog, and it doesn’t negatively affect our readers. Instead, we’re able to do what we already love to do (write about home decor & DIY projects!) for other sites while getting paid.
Each Thursday we publish a blog post on the HireAHelper blog. They’re a moving site, and it’s been so much fun to challenge ourselves with different moving topics each week. Who knew there was so much to chat about when it came to moving?! For some of our favorite HireAHelper projects, check out this post.
This year, we also signed on as contributors for the new Zillow blog. This is great because it forces us to get some projects done around our homes (sealing granite counters, installing faucets, etc.), and it’s given us the opportunity to do a few more “hardcore” homeowner DIY’s while getting paid.
We write for other sites sporadically too, and overall, these contributor posts make up a large chunk of our income. These opportunities are great because they provide us with a steady income and we’ve been able to form some great relationships with some awesome people from all different companies. This consistent income also allows us to budget for blog expenses in advance (like tech support, photography equipment, project costs, etc.).
So there you have it…a behind-the-scenes look at how The DIY Playbook makes money. We never knew that this blogging world could be profitable, and we’re certainly not experts when it comes to this stuff. But we do feel like it’s good to share… especially for fellow bloggers or small business owners out there!
If you’re looking for more money talk check out some of these posts we’ve done before…
- Blog Finances 101
- How We Save Money on a Daily Basis
- Tips to Make Tax Season Easier Next Year
- Blogging FAQs
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.