Professional Blogger:
What It Takes to Make a Living Blogging [Infographic]

While a lot of people start and run their blogs for fun or as a side venture, there will be a select few who aspire for more; those who dream of replacing their regular salary while working on their blogs full-time.

It's hardly surprising, either.

While you'd have been lucky to cover your grocery bill with the income from a blog ten to fifteen years ago, nowadays, it's a legitimate career that more and more people start every year.

That's not to say it's easy, though.

There are plenty of hurdles and obstacles standing in the path of aspiring professional bloggers.

While there's no shortage of blogging tips, opinions, and 'hacks' on the internet, there does seem to be a shortage of cold, hard facts.

Enter our latest infographic, which aims to rectify just that.

We've researched the income reports of six successful bloggers to extract tons of useful statistics that'll help you learn how to start a profitable blog, or how to make a living blogging.

For instance, you'll learn how long it has taken these professional bloggers to reach full-time status in the first place, along with the various ways you can expect to earn money from your blog.

Not only that, but you'll also learn how much a successful blog costs to run on average, and an estimate as to how much traffic you'll need to make money blogging.

So, regardless if you've got an existing blog that you'd like to start monetising, or you're interested in starting a new blog that you aim to make money from, this is the infographic for you.

If you do find this infographic valuable, please feel free to share it using the share icons on this page, or via the embed code directly below the infographic if you'd like to add it to your site.

Enjoy!

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Let's look at the infographic's various statistics and figures in more detail...

What Constitutes a 'Professional Blogger'?

For this infographic and article, we're basing the classification of 'professional blogger' purely on how much income a blogger earns.

We've chosen $50,024 as the minimum salary needed to earn this classification, which is the highest average salary in the United States which applies to 45-54 year olds (as recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

So, to be considered a professional blogger, an individual needs to make the following on a monthly basis:

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A net income (total monthly income minus expenses) of at least $4,168.67 per month ($50,024 divided by 12).

Each of the following blogs managed to surpass this monthly revenue figure and hence their income reports have been analysed for this infographic and article:

Blog NameTopic Area(s)
Personal Development
Home Organising / Decorating / Blog Tips
Food
Internet Marketing
Home Organising / Food / DIY / Blog Tips
Food / Blog Tips

How Long Does it Take to Become a Professional Blogger?

As mentioned above, we consider someone to have achieved the 'professional blogger' status at the point at which they reach the required full-time income figure of least $4,168.67 in a given month after expenses.

The timescales are as follows for each of the six blogs:

an image showing the timescales of how long it takes to become a professional blogger from the how to make a living blogging infographic by the BOOM marketing agency
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The quickest time taken to reach the equivalent of a full-time income was 12 months, while the longest duration was 36 months.

The average time taken to achieve a full-time income from the sample blogs was 21.67 months.

A few notes on the figures above:

  • The start date used for each blog is the date of their respective first posts. Any preparation time in terms of creating the website and writing the first post has not been included as this information was not available. Because of this, the figures above account for how long it took to reach the full-time income figure after going live.
  • A full month has been used for the month that each blog reported earnings above the full time blogger income figure of $4,168.67. No daily breakdowns were given, so we were unable to pinpoint the exact day each blog surpassed this figure.
  • No blog went live on the first day of a particular month, leading to incomplete months. For example, Show Me The Yummy took 13 months and ten days to pass the full time blogger income figure ($4,168.67). In these situations, for simplicity, incomplete months of less than fifteen days have been rounded down so this month isn't included, and incomplete months above fifteen days have been included as full months.
What Can You Learn From This?

Here's what you can learn from this data...

  • It's possible to become a professional blogger relatively quickly.

Based on the above average, just under 22 months appears to be a reasonable estimate.

  • It's possible to earn a full-time income from a blog across a wide range of topic areas.

In this case, personal development, home improvement, food and internet marketing have all been proven to be viable.

  • 2 of the 3 fastest blogs to earn a full-time income used affiliate marketing as their main sources of revenue (Matthew Woodward – 100%, Boho Berry – 82%).

This aligns with Smart Blogger's advice of sticking with affiliate marketing in the early days of running a blog. The reason? It's more profitable, and it doesn't take as long to start making money as it would with creating products.

  • It is possible to grow revenue quickly while focusing mainly on advertising.

Show Me The Yummy achieved this in only thirteen months while earning 99% of revenue from adverts (this is particularly impressive considering that food is regarded as one of the toughest niches to achieve success in, and advertising is considered to be less profitable than other forms of revenue).

How Do These Bloggers Make Their Money?

Earnings from each of the blogs' income reports can be split into the following categories:

Advertising

This involves establishing agreements with advertising networks such as Google Adsense, or directly with specific brands, and displaying adverts on your blog to earn money on the basis of:

  • A fixed fee for how long an advert is shown – for example, if you charged $500 per month to display a banner advert for a particular brand.
  • How many times an advert is displayed to visitors to your blog. This is usually on the basis of a cost per thousand impressions (CPM). For example, if your advertising rate is $1.50 CPM, you'll earn $1.50 every one thousand times an advert is shown.
  • How many times an advert is clicked by a visitor to your blog. Earnings here are typically on the basis of cost per click (CPC). For example, if you charged $0.05 per click of an advert and it was clicked 500 times by your visitors, you'd earn $25.
Affiliate Marketing

Earning money through recommending products and services from other companies.

For example, if you ran a technology blog and you enjoyed using a specific type of camera to capture photos for your blog, you could recommend the camera to your audience and include an affiliate link.

If you were a member of Amazon's affiliate programme, for example, and a customer followed your link and ultimately bought the camera (or another qualifying product) from Amazon, you would earn a commission.

Products/Services

Earning money through selling your own products and services. These could be digital products such as eBooks and online training courses, or physical products such as branded clothing.

The specific revenue split across each category for the six blogs is as follows:

an image showing the income split of various professional blogger blogs from the how to make a living blogging infographic by the BOOM marketing agency
What Can You Learn From This?

Here's what you can learn from this data...

  • Overall, the six blogs earn revenue through a very limited number of income streams.

None of the blogs delve too deep into the available options when it comes to advertising, affiliate marketing and own products and services. This is likely due to each of the blogs still being relatively fresh in their journeys when the full-time income figures were achieved, and still somewhat 'finding their feet'.

  • It's possible to be a professional blogger despite focusing on just one type of revenue stream.

For example, Show Me The Yummy's strategy focused almost entirely (99%) on advertising, the Matthew Woodward blog generated 100% of revenue from affiliate marketing, and Just A Girl And Her Blog mainly earned revenue from products and services (73%).

How Expensive Are These Blogs to Run?

The table below shows how much it cost to run each blog (see monthly expenses column) during the month they reached the full-time income figure:

Blog NameMonthly Revenue (US $)Monthly Expenses (US $)Monthly Net Income (US $)Monthly Profit Margin*
Boho Berry
6,102.84
134.05
5,968.7997.80%
Just A Girl And Her Blog
4,546.89
239.72
4,307.1794.73%
Kitchen Sanctuary
5,652.05
235.45
5,416.6095.84%
Matthew Woodward
6,956.00
571.00
6,385.0091.79%
One Little Project
4,861.44
675.53
4,185.9186.10%
Show Me The Yummy
6,355.56
880.85
5,474.7186.14%
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The average cost (excluding salary) of running the six blogs during the month that full-time income was achieved was $456.10.

The average profit margin (noting the caveat above) of the six blogs was 92.07%.

*Profit margin isn't entirely accurate as the expenses do not include salary.

Typical Expenses

A consistent expense across all blogs was hosting, which ranged from $48.95 (Matthew Woodward) to $249.00 (Boho Berry).

Another consistent expense came from email marketing service providers (shown for all blogs except Matthew Woodward), and this ranged from $45.00 (Show Me The Yummy) to $199.00 (Boho Berry).

Other expenses include:

  • Facebook advertising (One Little Project – $73.77 / Matthew Woodward – $77.10)
  • Subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud – likely for graphic design purposes (Show Me The Yummy – $54.79 / Kitchen Sanctuary – $60.79)
  • Transaction fees from selling products or services (Just A Girl And Her Blog – $356)
  • A virtual assistant (Boho Berry – $149)
  • Freelance coding assistance (One Little Project – $138)
  • Other freelance requirements such as graphic design (One Little Project – $402)
What Can You Learn From This?

Here's what you can learn from this data...

  • Running a blog can be very profitable.

Although we've caveated the average profit margin figure given that the expenses values do not include salary, there is no getting away from the fact that blogging can be very profitable.

How Much Traffic Does It Take to Earn a Full-Time Income From a Blog?

The traffic figures for each of the six blogs during the month their owners achieved 'professional blogger' status is as follows:

Blog NameMonthly Net Income (US $)Monthly UsersMonthly Page ViewsNet Income
Per Thousand Page
Views (US $)
Matthew Woodward
5,968.79
9,485
51,367
116.20
Just A Girl And Her Blog
6,385.00
93,876
217,251
29.39
Kitchen Sanctuary
5,416.60
146,369
229,077
23.65
Show Me The Yummy
4,307.17
224,023
361,616
11.91
Boho Berry
4,185.91
257,291
613,812
6.82
One Little Project
5,474.71
650,210
893,672
6.13
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The average number of page views across the six blogs was 394,466. The average number of users recorded was 230,209.

The average ratio number of page views per visitor is 2.45. Matthew Woodward achieved the highest average (5.42), while One Little Project achieved the lowest (1.37).
What Can You Learn From This?

Here's what you can learn from this data...

  • The gap between the lowest and highest traffic figures is very large (51,367 page views vs. 893,672), while the gap between monthly net income is minimal ($5,969 vs. $5,475).

This indicates that, based on looking at the sample data at face value, the amount of traffic received does not have a significant impact on earnings.

  • By digging a bit deeper, it is possible to find a hint of a relationship between traffic and net income based on how a blog earns revenue.

The top three blogs in terms of net income per thousand page views were those which focused primarily on affiliate marketing (Matthew Woodward) and own products and services (Just A Girl And Her Blog / Kitchen Sanctuary).

Two of the bottom blogs in terms of this metric focused primarily on advertising (One Little Project / Show Me The Yummy).

This appears to show that maximising traffic figures via search engine optimization (SEO), through practices like effective keyword research and building quality backlinks, for example, should be more of a concern for blogs which focus primarily on advertising, versus those which focus more on affiliate marketing or own products and services. Although a larger set of sample data would be needed to determine how significant any relationship is here.

Conclusion

Based on the information above, here's a summary of what the average professional blogger's blog could look like at the point at which they surpass the full time blogger income figure (at least $4,168.67 per month):

  • It has been live for almost 22 months.
  • Revenue is generated from either advertising, affiliate marketing, or through products and services associated with the blog.
  • Revenue streams aren't typically diversified at the point at which the professional blogger status is achieved, with one method of earning revenue usually being preferred.
  • It costs an average of $457.73 per month to run.
  • It has a profit margin (not including salary) of around 92%.
  • The average number of page views per month is 394k.
  • The average number of users per month is 230k.

How does your blog compare to this?

Let us know in the comments section below, and please remember to share this article and infographic if you found them useful.

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