Affiliate marketing can be loosely devised as a method for those selling products and/or services…
How Much Do the Top Bloggers Make?
And How Do They Do It?
Part of the currency of all great cultural phenomena are the myths and legends which evolve around them. The internet is no exception. Take the story of Jorn Barger, for example, the man who first coined the term “weblog” 20 years ago.
The tale goes that the once prolific early blogging pioneer now sleeps rough on the streets of San Francisco, penniless and forgotten. Whether accurate or not, the contrast with today’s modern millionaire blog stars gives the story a poignant irony.
Blogging is no longer just an anarchic means for dedicated amateur enthusiasts to self-publish. These days, corporations blog to promote their brands and boost their SEO rankings. The arrival of multi-author blogs has blurred the lines of distinction between blogs and the more traditional editorial operations of professional publications.
Blogging has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. As a result, more and more ordinary people are finding ways to monetize their sites and turn their passions into a living.
Here, then, is the power list of the today’s richest and most influential bloggers, followed by a brief overview of how exactly people make money from a blogging.
Monthly income: $18 million
Recently rebranded from The Huffington Post, HuffPost has changed blogging as we knew it. Launched in 2005, millionaire socialite Arianna Huffington has used her wealth and extensive contacts to turn a personal publishing venture into a major international news platform. Funded mainly through advertising revenue and investment, the site was bought by AOL for $315 million in 2011, and today is worth an estimated $1 billion.
Monthly income: $5.5 million
After cutting his teeth on popular tech blog Gizmodo, Peter Rojas was coaxed over to Weblog Inc. in 2004 to lead the launch of Engadget. A blogging franchise covering different aspects of consumer technology in several different languages, Engadget was sold to AOL for $25 million in 2005. Respected for its gadget reviews and advice columns as well as its industry news, Engadget makes its fortune from advertising.
Monthly income: $2.5 million
Proving where the money is in the blogosphere — and how good AOL is at following the bucks — TechCrunch is another tech-focused major-money spinner. Founded by entrepreneur Michael Arrington, TechCrunch deals mainly with the business side of the tech industry. It was purchased by AOL for $40 million in 2010, and earns most of its revenue through banner advertising.
Monthly income: $2 million
Launched from his bedroom by a 19-year-old Pete Cashmore in 2005, Mashable is a lifestyle blog for the digital generation. Originally a tech blog with a particular focus on social media, it has evolved into a global media platform covering technology, science, entertainment, and lifestyle. Still run by Cashmore as a private company, Mashable makes its money through a variety of cross-format advertising.
Monthly income: $1.3 million
Created by UK financial journalist Martin Lewis in 2003, MoneySavingExpert.com offers tips and advice on all aspects of personal finance, with a focus on saving consumers’ money. The site does not allow advertising and instead generates its income from affiliate links to products it recommends in its articles. In 2012, it was purchased by MoneySupermarket.com for $111 million.
6. Timothy Sykes
Monthly income: $1.25 million
Timothy Sykes became a millionaire at the age of 22 trading stocks online, and then decided to show others how it was done. His personal blog earns him a cool $15 million a year through purchases of his “method,” plus additional revenue from advertising.
Monthly income: $1 million
CopyBlogger is, rather aptly, a site about making money from blogs, or at least from so-called content marketing. Launched by online marketing innovator Brian Clark in 2006, CopyBlogger offers highly respected advice on all aspects of digital marketing, and sells a range of online tools which offer things like improved SEO and better social media reach.
8. Perez Hilton
Monthly income: $575,000
What started out as a hobby blog about celebrity culture has turned Perez Hilton, the nom de plume of Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr, into the USA’s most famous gossip columnist and one of the country’s biggest online personalities. Originally launched in 2004, the site makes most of its money through sponsorships.
Monthly income: $325,000
Before Engadget, serial tech blogging entrepreneur Peter Rojas earned a name for himself at Gizmodo, which he launched in 2002. Although Rojas was soon after recruited by the Weblog Inc group, Gizmodo has enjoyed continued popularity and success, covering gadget design, consumer technology, as well as forays into science, science fiction and politics. Its income comes from advertising.
10. Entrepreneurs on FIRE
Monthly income: £220,000 (2016)
Entrepreneurs on FIRE is a podcast and blog owned and run by John Lee Dumas. Launched in 2012, it features daily interviews with business personalities, which has earned it recognition as a Best of iTunes podcast. Getting into the entrepreneurial spirit, the site publishes its monthly income, which comes from selling branded publications, webinars and courses on all aspects of starting and running your own business.
11. Smashing Magazine
Monthly income: $215,000
Smashing Magazine is a B2B information resource for web designers and developers. It was launched in March 2009 by Sven Lennartz and Vitaly Friedman, and is monetised by selling books and ebooks, running industry conferences, job advertisements and a paid-for member’s area where subscribers can access tutorials.
Monthly income: $175,000
Envato’s Tuts+ is an independent eLearning platform for the digital community. Launched in 2007 by Collis Ta’eed, Cyan Claire, and Jun Rundelivering, Tuts+ started out as a collection of 15 educational blogs covering coding, web design, graphic design, video, game development, and more. All blogs were merged into a single site in 2014, and the popular free how-to posts are now complemented by paid-for courses and ebooks.
13. The Blonde Salad
Monthly income: $170,000
If ever you want an example of how a personal blog can transform into a major business, take a look at The Blonde Salad. Launched in 2009, it started out as an outlet for former law student Chiara Ferragni to publish her own unique take on fashion, style, and lifestyle. Nowadays, the site hosts a fashion e-commerce outlet worth $15 million a year, on top of the revenue the blog earns directly from advertising.
14. Smart Passive Income
Monthly income: $148,000
Passive income is a digital business model where you create an online product or piece of content, monetise it, and then sit back and let the bucks roll in. Pat Flynn is very good at it — so good, in fact, that he makes money blogging about how to do it. The hugely popular Smart Passive Income blog and podcast earns its money through a blend of affiliate links, sponsorship, and selling branded courses and ebooks.
15. Making Sense of Cents
Monthly income: $140,000 (January 2017)
Another in the popular genre of personal finance blogs, Making Sense of Cents is the work of Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. A “self-help” blog in the truest sense of the term, finance MBA graduate Schroeder-Gardner launched the blog to share how she managed to pay off $38,000 of student loans in just seven months. The blog now generates a full-time income through a mix of affiliate marketing, sponsorship, advertising and course sales.
16. A Beautiful Mess
Monthly income: $125,000
A Beautiful Mess is the creation of sisters Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, and is about homemade crafts and creative DIY. Featuring tips and advice on home decor, recipes, handicrafts, style and, of course, blogging, the site earns an income through advertising, affiliate sponsorship and the sale of online courses, creative supplies, and two best-selling photo apps.
17. Car Advice
Monthly income: $125,000
Alborz Fallah lives the dream of every petrol head, having successfully turned his passion for cars into a hugely successful business. Car Advice began as a hobby, giving Fallah an excuse to test drive cars and write reviews. Now it is one of Australia’s top motoring sites, and one of the country’s biggest blogs overall. Most of the site’s income is generated through advertising.
Monthly income: $110,000
Founded in 2005, Lifehacker is the brainchild of professional web and app developer Gina Trapani. Lifehacker’s innovative concept, inviting people to contribute “Top Tips” and “How To” articles on every imaginable aspect of daily life, has made the blog a cult phenomenon. While Trapani busies herself with her various other web projects, personal blogging, and social media output, Lifehacker quietly makes more than a million dollars a year from advertising.
19. Melyssa Griffin
Monthly income: $110,000 (2016)
Originally writing under the name The Nectar Collective, Melyssa Griffin began blogging in 2013 as an outlet for her interest in creative design while she taught in Japan. When she started to make money from the site, she turned her attention to blogging advice and free resources for other online entrepreneurs. Specialising in audience growth and generating income through blogging and social media, the blog earns cash from affiliate marketing and e-course sales.
Monthly income: $110,000
Launched in 2003 as a News York City news and lifestyle blog, co-founders Jake Dobkin and Jen Chung have since expanded the franchise to cover eight cities across the US, Canada, UK, and China. Covering local news, food, arts, and entertainment, the Gothamist blog family generates income through advertising. In 2017, the brand was bought by news media company DNAinfo.
Monthly income: $100,000
SmartBlogger is dedicated to advising blog writers how to make a success of their website. It is the second incarnation of a blogging advice site originally called Boost Blog Traffic, which was launched in 2012 by Jon Morrow. The rebrand was part of a switch in focus for the blog, away from simply increasing traffic, to making money. And how does SmartBlogger make its money? Mostly from in-depth e-courses and affiliate links.
22. Steve Pavlina
Monthly income: $100,000
Steve Pavlina is an author and motivational speaker on what he calls “conscious growth,” which falls in the category of personal development. His blog receives a reported 2.5 million visits a month, and makes money from commissions for products it recommendations and from a subscription-based coaching services.
Monthly income: $100,000
Financial journalist Matt Marshall launched VentureBeat in 2006 to plug what he saw as a gap in coverage of tech innovation from an entrepreneurial perspective. The site features business and investment news on everything from gaming to online security, as well as non-tech business content on topics like marketing and enterprise. The site earns money from advertising and sales of research reports.
24. Pinch of Yum
Monthly income: $95,000
Pinch of Yum is a straight-up cookery and recipe blog, but an extremely successful one. Run by elementary school teacher Lindsay Ostrom and her husband Bjork, the site is monetized through a combination of advertising, sponsored content, affiliate links, and an onsite shop selling food products and kitchen equipment.
25. The Busy Budgeter
Monthly income: $86,000
The creation of former stressed-out working mom Rosemarie Groner, The Busy Budgeter is a personal finance blog which shares the tips Groner learned as she managed to reduce her household spending so much she could quit her job — and then found ways to generate an income through blogging. Most of this income comes through sponsored content, plus affiliates and some advertising.
26. Car Throttle
Monthly income: $83,300
Dubbed Buzzfeed for Cars, Car Throttle is a social community for car enthusiasts. It was launched by student Adnan Ebrahim in 2009, and despite being “his” blog, the majority of the site’s content comes from submissions. It also has a huge social media following, with two million Facebook followers and 250,000 subscribers to its YouTube channel. Car Throttle’s income comes from advertising and through producing sponsored videos for big car firms.
Monthly income: $80,000
Consumer tech site SlashGear is the work of Ewdison Then, a self-proclaimed “entrepreneur, techie, open source advocate, and foodie.” With a focus on digital gadgets, computer electronics and cars, SlashGear mainly features reviews, buyer guides and opinion pieces. Most of the site’s income comes from pay-per-click advertising.
28. My Wife Quit Her Job
Monthly income: $80,000
My Wife Quit Her Job was born out of one couple’s experiences launching an online home business so they could spend time at home with their child. That success led to several more, including this blog. Run by Steve Chou, the blog and podcast offer tips and advice on all aspects of running an online business. In 2016, the site made more than a million dollars selling webinars, a course in e-commerce, and advertising, including Facebook Ads and Adwords.
Monthly income: $62,500
Launched in 2009 by Zoe Elizabeth Sugg, Zoella is a beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog with two hugely successful companion YouTube channels. Covering how-to beauty guides, style guides and general tips on life, the blog makes money mostly through pay-per-click advertising on YouTube and brand collaborations. Suggs has also built her own beauty range and book publishing career on the back of Zoella’s success.
30. Just a Girl and Her Blog
Monthly income: $51,000
For a blog which was started “on a whim” in 2013, Just a Girl and Her Blog has turned out pretty well for creator Abby Lawson. Just four years later, the site earns enough to keep both her and her husband Donnie out of work. Blogging on the topics of organization, home decor and, of course, blogging, the couple earn their corn selling digital infoproducts.
Monthly income: $50,000
When Yaro Starak’s set up his first website, about a fantasy card game,and started earning $1000 a month from it, a career was born. More successful online ventures followed, but Starak really found his mojo when he started blogging about his life as a web entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs-Journey.com focuses on the Starak model of online success — creating content, gaining a subscription following, and then selling digital products. In this case, those products take the form of courses, reports and coaching.
Monthly income: $50,000
Justin Weinger’s story is slightly different to many of the other super rich bloggers in this list. A financial consultant by day, in 2013 he bought an existing blog called Sooverdebt, which chronicled one woman’s journey out of debt. Picking up on the theme of personal finance advice, Weinger set about monetising his newly rebranded blog, which he has done successfully through private and pay-per-click advertising.
Monthly income: $41,500
Mariand Castrejon Castañeda, better known as Yuya, is a genuine YouTube celebrity. Her Spanish language beauty and fashion YouTube channel has made her one of the world’s richest vloggers, her 18.5 million subscribers ensuring she makes serious money from advertising.
Monthly income: $40,000
Darren Rowse is a successful professional blogger who runs a number of popular, and profitable, blogs. But his most successful venture yet has been the one in which he reveals the secrets of how to blog like a pro. Launched in 2004, ProBlogger specializes in “How to” and “Top Tips” articles and features a podcast too. Money is earned through advertising banners, a jobs page for online writers, and the sale of ebooks.
Monthly income: $39,000
Johnny FD quit the corporate world to move to Thailand to become a scuba instructor and professional Muay Thai fighter. But rather than rely on either of those for income, he decided to dip into the world of online entrepreneurship. His blog serves two purposes. One, it is a genuine personal blog, documenting his travels around the world since quitting the rat race. Secondly, it is a platform for his passive income streams, mainly the sale of his books and online courses.
36. It’s a Lovely Life
Monthly income: $38,000
It’s a Lovely Life started out as the personal blog of Heather Delaney Reese. Then, in 2014, she and her family decided to leave ordinary life behind and go travelling, and the blog became their means of funding their adventures. Now a true family business, It’s a Lovely Life provides travel tips and destination reports for families, as well as articles on products and services they use, which provides income through affiliate links.
37. Laura in the Kitchen
Monthly income: $35,000
The Italian-born daughter of a restaurateur, Laura Vitale started sharing her skills in the kitchen online in 2010 when she started a YouTube channel. More than 1000 videos later, and now with a companion recipe blog, Vitale is a published author and a successful web entrepreneur. Her YouTube channel earns money through advertising and her blog is linked to an Amazon store selling kitchen equipment and utensils.
Monthly income: $34,000
Billed partly as an online community for bloggers, ShoutMeLoud is a one-stop shop for all kinds of advice on how to make money from a blog, increasing traffic, inbound and content marketing tips and more. Launched by Harsh Agrawal in 2008 and part of his ShoutDreams blogging network, ShoutMeLoud makes most of its income through affiliate marketing, with smaller amounts coming from advertising and sales of digital products.
39. Grav3yard Girl
Monthly income: $32,000
What have ghost hunting and the paranormal got in common with beauty and fashion advice? They are all subjects of videos produced by cult vlogger Rachel “Bunny” Meyer. Originally making videos of her investigations into things which go bump in the night, Meyer eventually switched to the more profitable world of beauty product reviews and make-up tutorials, and has made a killing from YouTube ad sales in the process.
40. Show Me The Yummy
Monthly income: $32,000 average last quarter 2016
Show Me The Yummy is a recipe blog run by the couple Jennifer and Trevor. While Jennifer takes care of the food side of things, Trevor has been marketing the blog full time since 2015. The couple makes its money through advertising, sponsored content, and more recently through sales of video workshops, and now also run a members-only self-help site for bloggers called The Blog Village.
Monthly income: $30,000
One of many of the blogosphere’s rags to riches stories, ShoeMaker founder Jeremy Schoemaker was unemployed, in debt and living on friends’ couches shortly before he started his blog in 2003. After going on to make a small fortune from AdSense sales on a small ringtone site he set up, he shared how he did it on ShoeMoney, and became a sensation. Now a multi-millionaire from his various online enterprises, Schoemaker still makes $30,000 a month from his blog in private advertising.
42. Your Modern Family
Monthly income: $29,000
Parenting and home advice blog Your Modern Family was started by former elementary school teacher Becky Mansfield when she quit her job to become a stay at home mom. With her husband Mickey also blogging under the name Your Modern Dad, the couple earn money from affiliate links, sponsored posts, advertising and from selling and marketing Becky’s books through the site.
Monthly income: $28,000
When a Tinder date paired healthy eating enthusiast Lauren McManus with personal trainer and nutritionist Alex Nerney, it was the start of something beautiful in health and wellness blogging. Avocaduis is the fruit of their shared passion, offering advice on everything from weight loss to yoga, and selling tutorials and courses in healthy living and successful blogging. They also make extra money selling probiotic supplements and affiliate products.
Monthly income: $25,000
Another in the husband-and-wife team category, ClubThrifty is a home finance blog run by Holly and Greg Johnson. After coming up with their own money saving approach based around zero-sum budgeting, the pair were so impressed with the results that the decided to launch ClubThrifty to show others how it is done. Now they also make a great income from the blog, through affiliate links, sponsorship, working freelance for other organisations, and sales of an online course.
45. Matthew Woodward
Monthly income: $24,500
Matthew Woodward writes a highly respected and award-winning blog about online marketing, aimed at both marketing industry insiders and entrepreneurs wanting to make a bigger impact online. Woodward publishes tutorials and case studies covering topics from content marketing to SEO to creating traffic, and earns an income in the process through affiliate marketing.
46. Marketing Creativity
Monthly income: $23,000
After turning a $100 investment in an online jewelry business into a six-figure Etsy listing, Lisa Jacobs took her flair for online promotion in a different direction with the launch of her Marketing Creativity blog. Blogging advice on how to increase website traffic and sales, especially on e-commerce platforms like Etsy, Jacobs makes the blog pay with online courses, book sales, and a premium member’s club.
47. Millennial Money
Monthly income: $23,000
Millennial Money is a blog for the young and ambitious who have their sights on getting rich quick online. Former marketing consultant Grant Sabatier managed to achieve “financial independence” at just 30 years old, building and monetizing websites until he earned more from his side line than from his day job. Millennial Money combines a blog and podcast offering financial advice with a networking service for financial planners and a marketing agency. That all adds up to a diverse income stream from affiliate marketing, sponsorship and consultancy and coaching services.
48. Sarah Titus
Monthly income: $23,000
The blogging world offers plenty of inspiring stories of lives turned around and hardships overcome, and Sarah Titus tells one of the most remarkable. A single mom who was at one point living in a homeless shelter in serious debt, Titus turned her life around through a combination of frugal living and setting up a successful eBay business. When friends kept asking her to explain how she did it, she took to blogging advice articles about personal finance and online business. Within two years, the blog was earning over $20,000 a month, through affiliates, advertising, book sales, and coaching.
49. By Regina
Monthly income: $16,000
Regina Anaejionu says her mission is to help people “monetize the meaningful information in your head,” which translates to providing advice on how to blog and make money doing so. Anaejionu’s model is built heavily around offering courses and resources for sale — she has a significant following of “infopreneurs” signed up to her email subscription list, and the site includes an e-commerce platform for her branded products.
50. Millennial Money Man
Monthly income: $15,500 figures from March 2017
DDebt destroyer” Bobby Hoyt shares a story many of his generation are only too familiar with. Graduating from college in 2011, he started his working life as a teacher with a $40k student debt to contend with. However, Hoyt fought back, cleared his debt within two years, and launched Millennial Money Man to tell others how he did it. The site now covers advice on investment and online business as well as managing debt, and makes money through affiliate marketing, advertising, sponsorship, plus external work Hoyt picks up as a freelance writer and digital marketing consultant.
Summary: How Do They Do It?
So there you have it, the top 50 most stratospheric earners in the blogosphere. But what if you want to follow in their footsteps? How exactly do you make a football player’s income from a simple blog?
The first thing to take away from this list is, it helps if you blog on a certain topic. Technology, personal finance, online entrepreneurial advice, beauty and fashion, food, lifestyle and, of course, how to get rich off blogging seem to be the best routes to making a fortune.
The second thing to say is, none of it is particularly easy. A lot of the income streams associated with blogging are indirect — it isn’t like a salaried position where you get paid for what you write. In fact, the actual writing earns next to nothing, you are simply using the content to create a platform from which to launch other money spinning ventures. That takes a lot of extra hard work, as well as an understanding of how online marketing works. Which is probably why blogs explaining how to make money from blogs are so popular.
In terms of the techniques people use to make their blog pay, here is a glossary of the main examples we’ve seen in this list.
Also known as “banner ads,” display describes the practice of purchasing advertising space on a web page, and therefore applies to most online adverts. Display ads can appear in the header, sidebar, footer or main body of a web page, depending what you pay for. Most display ads are sold through networks like Google AdSense, and the price is usually based on the amount of traffic the site gets.
If online advertising space is bought without a middleman, it is usually referred to as private advertising.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, refers to the terms of sale of advertising space. Instead of paying for an advert to appear for a fixed length of times, or for the number of hits on the page, advertisers pay for the number of times it is clicked.
This refers to any non-advertising content which a third party pays for. A common example is brands and vendors paying for a review of their product, or sponsoring an ebook in their field.
Affiliate Marketing / Links
Bloggers often mention products and brands without the content being sponsored. They can make money from this by asking for that company to give them a unique affiliate link. Whenever someone clicks that link and makes a purchase, the blogger earns money, effectively as a referral commission.
Digital Product Sales
The most common form of direct income generated by bloggers is creating premium digital content to sell through the site. Popular examples are courses, ebooks, and tutorials, which are particularly well suited to advice blogs.
What Are You Waiting For?
Billions of dollars are spend on the internet each year. If you want to get in on some of that action, we’ve just showed you 50 people and how they did it. What’s stopping you?