150: How I Make Money Blogging – My Profit Streams Revealed


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Profit Streams Revealed: How I Make Money Blogging

Today, I’m going to go through exactly how I make money blogging. I’m going to talk you through the income streams that I use to monetize my blogs and build an income for my family.

This is something that I have done on the blog, but today I’m going to give you the information on the podcast because some of you don’t read the blog.

A photo by Alejandro Escamilla. unsplash.com/photos/ABDTiLqDhJA

Today’s podcast is based off of this article on ProBlogger, “My Blogging Income Breakdown for the First Half of 2016”.

This report is for my total business including ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. I will give you a little insight as to what site each income stream I mention is generated from.

I will also be talking about profit as opposed to revenue. I will also be talking in percentages because I don’t generally reveal my actual income.

In Today’s Episode How I Make Money Blogging – My Profit Streams Revealed


  • Affiliate Income – There aren’t a lot of direct expenses from affiliate income, so it is profitable.
    • On dPS we do two big promotions every year. We have our 12 days of Christmas sale and our mid year/summer sale. In each of these, we have daily deals on photography products.
    • On ProBlogger we have been focusing on affiliate income from some of the tools we use. Plus links to hosting and themes.
    • On dPS we regularly link to Amazon.
  • Products – These are eBooks, lightroom presets, courses, and printables. In 2009, I decided to invest time into creating my first products which were eBooks.
  • AdSense – dPA has a large amount of traffic, so it pays to use AdSense along with other income streams.
  • Sponsorships
    • On dPS we offer sponsorships to advertisers who want to work directly with our audience.
    • On ProBlogger we have done a handful of sponsorship campaigns with companies like Meet Edgar and 99designs.
  • Job Board
    • On ProBlogger we have had the job board since 2006. At first, it was a trickle, but it has now grown to 6000 ads places. We plan on releasing an update to the job board in the coming weeks.
    • Take a look at the How to Make Money Blogging page on ProBlogger for a good overview.
  • Event
    • This year will be out 7th ProBlogger Event held here in Australia. The event generates a large amount of revenue, but the expenses are huge, so the profit is about 3% of my blogging income.
    • This year there is a virtual ticket available for those people who can’t make it to Australia. This should offer a revenue increase.
  • Other – I have a couple of other small income streams.
    • Speaking
    • Book Royalties
    • Other Royalties/Copyright payments such as when my content is used in schools in Australia.

A Word on Expenses

Even though our revenue has went up in the past 12 months so has our expenses. In the last 12 months we invested heavily into the development of our sites. Such as with the ProBlogger redesign. I’ve also expanded my team to include:

  • 2 editors (one for each site)
  • 2 business unit managers (one for each site)
  • Admin/customer service team members (one for each site)
  • Marketing (one person for dPS)

All team members except for one are part-time. We also have a huge array of contractors who help with product creation, proof reading, podcast editing, etc.

We also have to have dependable servers and a number of software subscriptions to keep everything running smoothly. You can find these on our resources page. To make money you have to spend it!

Further Resources on How I Make Money Blogging – My Profit Streams Revealed

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

This is ProBlogger. Hi there, its Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to Episode 150 of the ProBlogger podcast. Today, I want to go through exactly how I make money blogging. I want to talk you through the income streams that I use to monetize my blogs and to build an income for my family off the back of my blogs. This is something I have done from time to time over on the ProBlogger blog.

Today, I want to give to you on the podcast. I know some of you dont read the blog and prefer to listen. Thats what were doing today.

Back in 2002 when I first started blogging, and then over the next couple years started to make money for my blogs, the first question I would almost always be asked when I say to someone Im a blogger. The question was almost always,Whats a blog?It would usually come with sort of a glazed overlook. Sometimes Id say, “Whats a blog ball?” There was just almost no comprehension back in 2002 what a blog was, at least here in Australia.

Almost everyone asked it. I would have this little spiel about what a blog was for anyone who genuinely seemed interested in finding out what it was, which wasnt everyone, I have to say.

Over the last few years, when I say Im a blogger and thats how I make my money, most people now know what a blog is but the question I get asked more than any other is,How do you make money from a blog?Sometimes people know what a blog is and they may even have a vague idea of how you make money. The most common thing that people guess at is something like,You make money like a newspaper from ads?” Its rare that people know too much more than that unless they are a blogger, or have some online experience, or know someone that doing it full time.

Even today, I was in a café getting my long black in the morning which is my coffee of choice. The barista there asked me the question again,How do you make money blogging?His brother actually was a blogger who wanted to go full time. He thought his brother was on a road to nowhere. He was amazed when I mentioned that I was a blogger making a full time living from it. He was amazed that someone was actually doing it full time. He asked the question. As I was explaining to him how I make money from my blogs, I realized I havent really talked about it explicitly on the podcast. Thats what I want to do today.

What Im going to share with you today is based upon a recent income report I did do over on the ProBlogger blog. I summarized my income streams of the first half of 2016. As I record this, it’s September. Its a couple of months ago that I published that. I will link to it in todays show notes. I thought it would be useful to go through because it does represent the last couple of months as well.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of it, let me say three things. Firstly, this is for my total business. Its a combined profit for both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School that Im talking about. I have two main blogs, my biggest one is Digital Photography School. Its about eight times bigger than ProBlogger. The bulk of what Im talking about today in terms of income is from Digital Photography School but I will be referring to ProBlogger from time to time as well. Think of it as the overall. For each income stream that I mention, Im going to give you a little bit of insight into which of the sites Im talking about. Hopefully you can get it straight in your head.

The second thing Ill say is that Im talking here about profit rather than revenue. These things are very different. I see a lot of people doing their income reports based on revenue but it doesnt really take into account the expenses. I dont know that thats overly helpful. What you’re going to hear me go through today, Im going to give you a percentage of what each income stream makes in terms of profit.

The reason I do this is there are elements in what I do that generate a lot of revenue but which also have significant expenses. The main one Im thinking of here is the ProBlogger event which is happening in the next week. That bring in a lot of income. We have hundreds of bloggers paying $300 or $400 a pop, $400 or $500 a pop. That brings a lot of income. It mounts up very quickly but the reality is we have massive expenses as well.

When you hire a hotel for two days for 500 people, the mind boggles at the bills you get. Theres a lot of revenue there but its not as much profit. Youll see how little the profit is in a few minutes.

The last thing I want to tell you is that Im not going to tell you my actual income in this particular podcast. I dont generally reveal specifics of how much. Rather, Im going to talk in percentages here.

I do this for a couple of reasons. One, I always found a little uncomfortable talking publicly about exactly what I earn. Its probably just the way I was brought up. Also, sometimes I think when people share the figure, people dont actually see the lesson behind that. Sometimes for a small blogger just starting out, it can seem, I think almost detrimental when youre comparing yourself to someone whos earning a lot of money. It can perhaps not be helpful.

Really, the point of this podcast is to show you the diversity of income streams and how they are mixed together to build up a full time income for me. I will say in terms of how much, back in 2006 I revealed that my profit was over a $100,000 a year. Its only gone up from there. Thats about all Ill say on that particular front. I will say when I did the blog post, someone tried to calculate it based upon some of the publicly available information as well. You can probably dig in and find out a little bit more, if you did choose to do so.

Lets get into breaking it down, if youve got it in front of you, youll be able to see that the number one income stream for me for the first half of 2016 in terms of profit was affiliate income, affiliate commissions. It makes up 46% of my overall profit for the first half of this year. When I calculated this out, I was actually a little bit surprise when this category came up as high as it did. I knew it would be number one or two but Id been thinking in terms of just basic revenue.

Number two category is product sales. Usually, the revenue that products sales brings in is pretty similar to affiliate but theres a lot more expenses with product sales and thats why affiliates is number one because any earnings you make, you keep. Theres not really too many direct expenses with affiliates. Thats one of the reasons I really like it.

As you look at that 46%, I will say upfront, it comes from both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger. I do some affiliate promotions on both.

Generally, my affiliate income comes from three different sources. Lets break them down for you. Over on Digital Photography School, we do two really big promotions every year. The biggest one is our 12 Days of Christmas Sale. We also do a mid-year sale, we call it our Summer Sale even though its winter here because most of our audience is in America. Our mid-year sale is the second biggest one.

In each case, we for a week in our mid-year, and for 12 days Christmas sale, we release a new deal everyday. The deals are half our own products. We might reduce an ebook by 60%. Say for 24 hours, you can get now your book at 60% off. Or, its an affiliate deal where we negotiate with someone else whos got a product. It might be a course, in might be an ebook, it might be a membership site, it might be some software that’s relevant for photographers. Again, we say for 24 hours you can get this deal. Thats where that affiliate income is coming from.

These two promotions are our biggest earners of the year on Digital Photography School. They’ve done amazingly well over the last couple of years. Our ebook and courses, our products do pretty well but our affiliates, some of our affiliate deals do very well as well because theyre new to our audience.

Many of our audience have already seen our ebook and might have them already but some of these affiliate things are really new. I think last year, the year before, we had one that just went massively huge. It was a presets package. The year before that, it was a course that we promoted. I can earn a lot of money very quickly in 24 hours. Thats the main source of a lot of that affiliate income.

The second one is on ProBlogger, we do a little bit of affiliate marketing as well. We dont do the deals like on Digital Photography School that has something weve talked about doing. We do have some partners like SumoMe who Ive mentioned on this podcast. When I mention them on the show notes, theres a link, an affiliate link to their product. LeadPages is another one. We also mention those on our resources page on ProBlogger as well. That resources page we linked to very prominently around the site so it gets quite a bit of traffic.

We also have affiliate promotions on ProBlogger with Bluehost, a serve option which we mentioned in How to Start a Blog Page as well. Theres lots of mentions of the partners that we use, and recommend, and their affiliate links around ProBlogger. We dont tend to do big campaigns like we do on Digital Photography School.

There have been a few times where Ive recommended training programs on ProBlogger as well. But in this six month period, there wasnt any that were included in that. The other type that we occasionally will link to is WordPress themes on How To Start a Blog Post. As well, theres links to StudioPress, I think there. That would be the second category that makes up this 46%.

The third one is Amazon. I linked to Amazon a lot on Digital Photography School. Anytime I mention a camera, a lens, a photographic accessory, a photography book, anything that is mentioned on Digital Photography School that can be bought on Amazon, we link to it with an affiliate link. Amazon makes up about 9% of that 46%, just to give you an idea. The other 81% is ebooks, courses, software and online services that we recommend.

Affiliate marketing is big. It does go up and down a little bit from month to month. Usually, its in our number one or two category for profit. Its great. The other good thing about affiliate, I mentioned this a few times on the podcast is that, when youre promoting ebooks, and courses, and software, and services with affiliate marketing, it gives a you a real insight into what your readers like, which might give you some insight into the type of products that you might like to create.

The number two category that Im going to talk about in a second is product sales. Most of the products that Ive created to sell on my blogs, Ive tested whether they will go over well with my audience by promoting a similar product that someone else has made as an affiliate.

Affiliate marketing is great for that. It brings in an income, you dont have too many expenses apart from actually writing some content to promote it. Number three, you can test a lot of ideas. You learn a lot about marketing as well. When you promote an affiliate product, youre pushing people often to a sales page that someone else has created. By looking at those sales pages and seeing how they convert, it will help you a lot when you come to create your own sales pages as well.

The other thing I actually would say about affiliate marketing is when youre promoting someone elses ebook, then later you create an ebook, sometimes the people youve promoted will then promote yours. You kind of end up with this win-win partnerships as well. Some of the people that weve promoted in the past have then created products for us as well. Its all kinds of opportunities that come from doing affiliate marketing.

Number two, income stream. Ive already mentioned it a few times is product sales. You’ll see if youre looking at the graphic that 69% of our product sales come from ebooks. For this period, 28% come from Lightroom Presets. Lightroom Presets are like a little plug in that you put into Adobe Lightroom to help you create different effects in your images. 2% came from courses, 1% from printable.

Up until 2009, pretty much most of my income came from either affiliate marketing or working with advertisers or ad network. Mainly sponsorship and affiliate marketing. But in 2009, I decided to invest a little bit of time into creating my first product. Theyre both ebooks. The first ebook on Digital Photography School was a Portrait Photography ebook which was largely a compilation of posts that Ive already published on the blog with a little bit of new information. On ProBlogger, the first ebook was 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Both of those ebooks did really well with my audiences. I saw enough profit from both of those ebooks to know that it was something that I want to do more often.

Since 2009, weve released at least two or three ebooks every year since. I think weve done 35 or so ebooks now. Since 2009, ebooks have been one of our biggest income streams. Again, youll see that for the first half of this year, 69% of our product sales came from ebooks. 69% of the 31%, that is. Ebooks still are really great for us.

Since 2009, weve started to experiment with other types of products as well. Youll see in the list there’s printables, these are things where you just might create a few sheets where people can print them out at home. We had some posing printables. Our audience on Digital Photography School very often liked posing suggestions when theyre photographing people. We created a posing guide that they can print out and take with them.

We also have had some courses. The reason that courses in this period were only 2% of that product breakdown is because we didnt really promote them over the first half of this year. I will say courses have been quite profitable for us as well. To this point, weve only got three of them. We didnt promote them in the first half of this year, but literally over the last month, finishing tomorrow actually, weve been launching a new course. If I was to do this breakdown for the second half of the year, I would suggest that courses would be a lot higher. Launching a course for us can be as profitable, if not more profitable, that launching an ebook. Usually they are higher price point.

The other thing that youll see in that list is Lightroom Presets. We have, in this case, in the first half of this year, we launched one, out first ever Lightroom Preset bundle. Since then, we’ve launched another one. Again, theyve been very profitable for us.

Again, that’d be similar sort of revenue to a course or an ebook depending on the particular ebook Im talking about there. Presets have been particularly popular for us. Courses have done well. Ebooks have done well.

ProBlogger also had some ebooks, although we haven

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