I just finished reading your post about how one is unlikely to earn significant money from a blog (http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2009/04/21/8-reasons-why-you-wont-make-money-from-your-blog/).  I generally agree with what you say, but I’ve also noticed that you’ve mentioned in other posts that you now make a substantial amount (maybe most?) of your income from your blog.

I understand that you’ve built the blog, its readership base, and your professional reputation up over the years to get to the point you’re at now, and I know you have other businesses as well, but my questions is: how do you actually make money from your blog?  What is the mechanism through which you earn?

I’d like to set up a blog or two, mostly for my own creative outlet, but it wouldn’t hurt if I was able to eventually earn a small side income from it.  How does one go about doing it?  Just enabling Google Ads or going out and courting ad companies to get them to plaster their sponsorship all over your page?

I don’t like the idea of ads on my blog (or at least “over-commercializing” it) and would rather not put too many on there, but I don’t understand the underlying business dynamics of how one makes money with a blog otherwise.  You don’t appear to have any ads on your blog, and in the above article you’ve even mentioned how you dislike them, as well; so how does one go about generating (even the tiniest) income from a blog, website, or writing/media platform if not with ads?  I don’t think I understand the underlying business model here or the revenue-generating alternatives that exist in the internet world.

7 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I do make a lot of money from my blog. But before I started blogging I wrote for free every week for six years.

    And when I started blogging I almost immediately was spending about 60 hours a week on the blog. Some years I have spent close to 80 hours a week on the blog.

    Every year for the past 12 years I’ve made money from my blog differently. The economy online changes really fast and I always have to change what I’m doing. List of some of the things that have worked for about one year, in no particular order:

    Selling blog posts to print
    Getting book deals
    Banner ads
    Speaking gigs
    Contextual ads
    Being a spokesperson
    Spinning off a startup
    Consulting to help publicists leverage blogs
    Teaching people to blog
    Selling the domain name

    So I think the advice I gave about how you won’t make money from your blog is really about how you get from your work what you put into your work. And if you want to make a living from a blog you need to work full-time on your blog, day after day after day, for years.

    Penelope

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      Add in that most major blogs are fully staffed to deal with not only content and writing (substance), but ad revenue and new business leads (sources of revenue). It’s basically the same as running a small business.

  2. Emily ENTP
    Emily ENTP says:

    My earliest memory of P is when Brazen Careerist was doing a live webinar, and we were allowed to submit questions through this chat. I showed up a little late and threw into the question box “how do you make money from blogging” and it was literally the fifth time that question had been asked, and Penelope went BERZERK. “these people have no idea how much work it takes! this is the stupidest question!”

    That day I learned a lot about stoicism and upward management as Ryan P maneuvered through the rest of the webinar by not letting P look at the question screen anymore. Good bless him.

  3. Melissa Davies
    Melissa Davies says:

    To generate any income, it’s important that your blog solves a problem for people who have money to spend. That problem could be anything!

    There are people who work full time trying to find blogs to work with. The companies that employ these people will reach out to you and offer something (money, products) in exchange for being mentioned on your blog. But it’s not really about you, it’s about the audience that your work attracts.

    So if your creative outlet is appealing to an audience with cash to spend, the monetization opportunities will come to you.

    • Adrianne
      Adrianne says:

      This is a good summary of how it works.

      It does come down to the audience, at the end of it all. I have a cartoon blog (http://geekyhybrid.com), which I originally planned to use as leverage and a portfolio to move over into illustration and/or graphic design. However, I also received commentary from viewers that they were interested in seeing some of the characters printed up on different kinds of merchandise (stickers, shirts, etc.)…which led to me setting up an online shop (http://shopgeekyhybrid.com). So, now my goal is to expand it all into a comic character empire of sorts…!

      In my case, the audience also came up with additional suggestion for monetization. Which leads to another benefit to point out: A blog with a solid following can serve as a source for additional business ideas via feedback from your audience.

    • Adrianne
      Adrianne says:

      Melissa described the core of the issue well.

      You may also need to try a few things to sort out what works for you. I started my cartoon blog initially thinking I’d focus on using it as a portfolio to help me pitch book ideas or freelance design work. Over time, it turned out I’m actually a decent cartoonist, and some readers suggest some items be put out on stickers and shirts (merch). So, it can be an experiment.

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