How Long It Actually Takes to Make Money as a Blogger

How Long It Actually Takes to Make Money as a Blogger

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Two summers ago, Heath and I were in Portland, Oregon and every single campground was full. We couldn’t find any place to stay, but needed to stick around town for an upcoming film gig. Desperate, we posted on Facebook and a random woman we had never met said we could park in her driveway for a week. (This is a total theme of full-time RVing in our experience 😂)

Marianne Edwards

Her name is Dr. Samantha and our Winnebago took up her entire driveway while she and her husband parked their cars on the street. We hung out with her and her family all week and she shared how she was writing a book and currently sending out proposals to publishers. I hadn’t yet finished writing my book and was really interested in hearing her talk about the process.

I remember specifically talking about how long the process is. And now, over two years later, I just pre-ordered her book that releases on January 1st.

It took over two and a half years (plus years of experience with her own medical practice and writing her own blog) for Dr. Samantha to write her book. (It took two years for me to write mine too.) Seeing Dr. Samantha’s book on Amazon made me really excited because I knew exactly how badly she wanted to put this book in the world and how much people like me needed it.

The next day after seeing Dr. Samantha’s book up on Amazon, I talked to a new blogger who wanted to publish a book before the end of the year. AKA within in the next six weeks.

So often, I see entrepreneurs—bloggers especially—trying to rush products to market. Trying to write and publish a book as fast as possible just so they can have a product on their website. Fudging the numbers to make themselves sound more successful or experienced than they are. Publishing courses on how to be a blogger when their blog is brand new. Begging for people to use their affiliate links. Taking shortcuts to make a quick buck.

It drives me CRAZY.

Because when you try to force success right away, you’re missing the most essential thing you need to become successful: actual experience.

Instead of taking the time to learn and grow and make mistakes and become credible and create something that makes people want to follow you, you’re trying to skip the part that will provide you with meaningful skills.

And gaining those skills take time.

For every “How This Blogger Quit Her Job and Made 7-Figures in Two Months Sitting in her PJs” there’s a thousand “Why This Blogger is Still Blogging After Three Years Even Though It Barely Earns Enough Money for Groceries”. (That second one kinda of sounds like the title of an Onion article.)

Heath and I try to share often that it took us over three years of blogging before we started making any money.  How we filmed for free three days a week for a year to learn video skills before taking on paid any film clients. How it took us a year of “doing our own thing” before we started to figure out what our actual profitable skills were and how to find people who would actually pay us. How we told our first client “we’ve never technically done this before, but we know we can learn how if you give us the chance.” And how starting a client-based business paid our bills and gave us enough free time to hustle on our blog every day.

There’s nothing wrong with taking months or years to accomplish something or get good at something. Don’t rush it. Good things just take time.

You won’t make money in your first month. You might not make money in your first year. You will, probably, go out and buy yourself some ice cream when you finally do get that first amazing check (speaking from personal experience here).

But I don’t want to just share our experience. I asked a few of our blogger friends to weigh in on how long it took them from starting their blog to when it actually started producing a livable income for them. (Livable income meaning enough money to support their family.) Here’s what they had to say:

“It took a solid 4 years of working on our blog to hit a point where we were making a livable income, and even now with the ebb and flows of the season we still have more work to do to hit a consistent income. I have never had a set schedule but instead range between 5-20 hours a week. And make sure that I am posting new content anywhere from 1 – 4 times a month and always going back to update old posts to keep them fresh and accurate. 3 things that have led to our success are: SEO, Pinterest and Networking with other bloggers…

 

And we make the majority of our income from ads, affiliates and working on projects with companies.”

-Bryanna Royal of Crazy Family Adventure

“For the great majority of us, it takes many, many years of dedicated work to earn a livable income from your blog.

 

This is definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact, most of us probably won’t see our blogs generate an income for us. And those that do probably won’t generate enough income for us to live on.

 

That said, it took my blog thinksaveretire.com about 3 years to generate consistent income. And even now, it only generates about a third of our living expenses. To get the blog to this point, I put in many, many hours of work writing new content, upgrading old content, trying new email techniques, making lots of Pinterest images, integrating myself on Twitter and Facebook, and getting as familiar with the community as possible.

 

All this stuff takes a huge amount of work. And, I would say that those bloggers who want to earn an income from their blogs need to treat their blogs like a business.

 

That means that bloggers need to write for the reader, not just for them or their family. They need to be okay with display ads and affiliate marketing. They need to be extremely patient. Sometimes, they need to check their emotions at the door and think of their blog as nothing more than a potential revenue generator.”

-Steve Adcock of Think, Save, Retire

I started my blog as a business. In fact, I normally don’t even call it a blog—it’s a website and I use the blog to generate leads. Because I started with this mindset, I was able to start making money in less than six months through affiliate sales and some freelance work on the side. Of course, this was not nearly enough to live from and I was doing things that took me away from my site, so I launched my first product, a short ebook, and was able to generate thousands of dollars in a short period of time. Woohoo!

 

…I also continued to take on some more higher-paying freelance writing gigs to supplement my income between launches. This worked brilliantly and after about 20 months of blogging as a business, I had a full time income.

 

At the beginning, I would work about 30-40 hours a week. I worked strange hours (read: vampire hours) because of a toddler at home and a husband with a full time job outside of the home. It was exhausting and after about 6-7 months, I was burnt out. That’s when I realized I needed partners. Working with these partners and learning to focus on only one thing in my blog/business at a time has allowed me to cut my workload, serve an audience, and maintain a livable income.

-Liz Wilcox, The Virtual Campground

There are a few really important things I want to point out from these quotes.

1. Bryanna, Steve, and Liz all bring up that to make money with a blog, it’s not about sharing stories from the road or writing because you love writing. It’s about running a business. If you start with a business mindset, you’ll start light years ahead of every other blogger ever.

2. Notice how Liz and Bryanna both point out that their full-time income is not just income from the blog itself. That’s just part of it. They also rely on client work beyond the blog. Freelance writing, social media management, partnerships with companies—working with clients is a necessary part of their income streams. (Oh and Bryanna also runs a whole other business from her RV as well!)

3. It takes years.

For me, I started blogging in January of 2012 and made my FIRST check of money that came directly from the blog in February of 2016. Four years later. And from making that first check to making enough money from the blog to support our family? Another two years and one month.

While I often fall victim to the “What?! Amazon Prime can’t get it here in 48 hours? I need this Ron Swanson magnet NOW!” (inside look at the most ridiculous/awesome thing I’ve ordered on Amazon this month), when it comes to good business I’ve learned it ALWAYS takes more time than you think.

And blogging is no exception.

After talking to my friend Camille of More Than A Wheelin’, she said “My husband and I started [blogging] in November 2016 but didn’t understand what blogging really was or how to monetize one. By April 2017 I was overwhelmed and ready to quit.”

This is how all bloggers start. (But spoiler alert: Camille found her niche and is still blogging.)

I don’t write this post to discourage you from blogging or starting a blog. I think blogging is an amazing way to reach people, teach what you know, and influence lives.

But I also never want to be that person that says “you should start a blog! It’s the best way to make money ever! And it’s SO EASY!” And fail to share the realities behind what it takes to build this kind of business. Because it takes a lot of time, accountability, and mistakes along the way.

Back to Dr. Samantha and her book.

When I saw a tweet that her book was available for pre-order, I thought to myself “I’ve been waiting two years to read this.”

Creating good work takes time. It takes years of research and experience and hard work and growing your email list and building a community and if you’re anything like me, mental breakdowns about what you’re doing with your life and why are you working so hard on something that isn’t actually profitable.

Getting there—to having those 10K followers, that amazing book deal, that community of amazing readers, that consistent income—takes time.

And if what you’re creating is truly worthwhile, no matter how long it takes to get it out there, once you get there people will say “I’ve been waiting for this.”