Can You Make a Living From Blogging?

A question I get asked quite often is about how much money I made as a professional blogger. I used to like to avoid the answer because I was making enough to pay the bills, but not enough to be able to buy luxury items on a whim.

Simply put, blogging was my full time job and required much more than the forty hour work weeks that people put into their nine to five jobs. When I first start working as a full time blogger, I was bringing in around $1200 per month after taxes. Unfortunately, I was probably putting in around eighty hours a week doing various tasks, and realized I was actually earning around four dollars per hour.

By the time I had been working full time for three years, I was making $2500 per month blogging. All of this income was working on blogs owned by other people, and usually my responsibilities included more than just writing. My technical skills probably allowed me to make a premium over other bloggers of the same caliber.

Back when I first started, there was a lot less competition and the market hadn’t really figured out yet how valuable content would be in terms of search, advertising and conversions. Now, despite many posts about making money online, and the growth of the industry, I feel like it is harder to get into blogging as a full time career than it was back when I started in 2005.

If you really have a passion for blogging, then I still believe you can find or create opportunities to become a full time blogger, but until you prove your value, don’t expect to be paid what you are worth. It can be a humbling experience and it may test your resolve, but if you stick with it, the rewards and dividends can be truly amazing.

2 responses to “Can You Make a Living From Blogging?”

  1. It’s funny how almost overnight the so-called world of blogging has evolved into just another form of media, where the bigger, more-established players have taken over. With the exception of a few niches (the multi-level marketing and affiliate bloggers and others focused on getting rich quick) and some of the Tumblr niches — fashion, pop-culture and humor — it’s rare to find a major, sustaining blog or online publication that isn’t backed by a major media company.

    What’s most fascinating to me has been the death of the blog network. With few exceptions, every major networked blog has moved from a pay-per-post era to a salaried option. You don’t find offers to work for $10 and $25 a post by sites that get millions of visitors a month; those sites have evolved into more traditional types of publications, which means hiring full-time staffers and payinf salaries. Gawker, almost all Aol-owned blogs (there are maybe 2 or 3 still at PPP), Huffington Post…it’s all

    Five years ago, when I started writing professionally, blog networks were the rage. After a freelance stint with USA Today, I wrote for peanuts for Weblogs Inc. The pay was NOT good, $10 or $25 a post and no benefits — but the exposure I got was worth it. When Mashable came calling in 2009 with a full-time, salaried offer — I was ready. At the time, Mashable was slightly ahead of the curve in the move, but it became the norm. Two and a half years later, I’m still at Mashable, live in New York City and am doing my part to build the next great media company. We’re not a blog anymore — and we haven’t been for at least 2 years.

    All of this is to say, you’re right that it is harder to breakout as a full-time blogger or online writer, but that’s in part because the game has changed.

    When you and I started building our brands online, it was enough to have a personality and a voice and some chutzpah. Now you also usually need a degree — if not in journalism — in something you can try to parlay into a writing job. I was plucked out of obscurity because I was a good commenter on various USA Today blogs. That wouldn’t happen today — I’m still surprised it happened then. I often wonder if I would be able to get an interview at Mashable today. No doubt, my writing would be good enough to get a job (it was good enough five years ago), but the level of competition is different than it was when I applied for an open call that TUAW posted in August 2007.

    That isn’t to say it can’t still happen now. It can. But it takes even more tenacity. This is no longer a career that most of the big players “fall into” — the industry, as it were, has matured.

    Still, like you, I contend that the best thing an aspiring blogger or writer can do is to write. Frequently, often and without stopping.

    Apologies for the length — I’ve been trying to write an essay on the death of the blog network and I remembered you from the old days and wanted to see what you were up to. Keep writing, David. Keep writing.

    • Amazing comment Christina, and I really appreciate it. I enjoy your articles on Mashable and even more so your ability to continue to display your chutzpah and make a living from it. I think being able to evolve and learn with the changes has helped set you and a few others apart from the rest, but I definitely agree that with traditional media leveraging their writing talent, the game has changed from one where anyone can play to something more difficult, and often more expensive.

      I watched the rise of TheVerge with great interest, and always felt that what they did was, is and will be the future of online publishing.

      I really appreciate your comment though, and I hope you’ll republish your thoughts someone larger as you seem to have an amazing depth of understanding and a strong opinion on the shifts in the marketplace, and that’s something that many bloggers may be both ignorant of and interested in.

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