How to make 100k a year blogging?how I make 100k per year by blogging
I run a technology blog with my girlfriend that generates $180k+ a year.
It's been running since mid-2014, we got 2.3M hits last year with 1.1M visitors. My girlfriend has quit her job to run the blog fulltime, while I work on it around 5 hours a week with another fulltime job. We've managed to double revenues for the past 4 years or so each year.
Revenues is mainly made up of 8 sponsors that pay $20k each on an annual basis, with $20k made with a premium subscription.
Below are the questions people ask me with answers.
Did you reach out to the sponsors? Or vice versa?
I've been in my line of work for a while, so I've built up a network of people that work for these various SaaS companies. One of which is an old company of mine. However most of them I proactively reached out to about this new package I designed. I targetted people that have a high product value, as if they sell just 1 deal through my website, this easily pays for the whole years sponsorship. I get a lot of people inbound now asking about sponsorship, but its too expensive for a lot of people, I'm trying to work out a smaller package to benefit those people (Like App Reviews)
At what point did you start reaching out to companies for sponsorship? I am in process of starting my blog. When should I start affiliate marketing?
How should I approach companies for high dollar generating sponsorships/ads?
I started advertising in year 2 at quite a low amount per ad. At the moment we are only doing a fixed cost package, but I have tried affiliate marketing in the past. I wrote an app review for one company and agreed a cost of $50 per lead for every sign up they got (Not deal closed, just form submission to get a demo). I think I got around $1000 for this with 20 leads which was pretty good. I want to work with affiliate marketing more in the future, as getting 10% of a multiple 20k deals could be quite lucrative.
In terms of yourself, you just need to have enough traffic for people to be clicking Ads. Google Adsense is a good indicator, Google might pay you $1 per click for a high ticket item, but a sponsor might pay the equivalent of $5-10 per click.
How did you get started? What expertise did you have before launching and how much did you learn along the way? What did you do to gain knowledge about your topic?
I started working in a new job as a graduate on a technology platform. About a year in I started blogging about the technology platform and it snowballed from there, it's now the largest blog of its type in the world.
As I got more senior in my day job, I was able to blog about more advanced topics. But also, If I didn't know a topic that well, I would research the hell out of it so I could deliver a good blog post. This has a good effect on my day job as well!
At what point did you tell your job about the blog, and did they mind? Were you afraid of non-compete clauses, etc, or was all of that irrelevant for some reason?
I've had 3 jobs in total during the 6 years running it and I didn't actively tell any of my employers about it. The blog is pretty big now and I'm a little bit famous in my niche, so in fact, it massively helps the employers with their brand.
In terms of a non-compete, all I do is write articles so I don't this would ever come into play. I suppose if they had a blog as well this could act as competing, but it's never really crossed my mind.
Has your growth been linear or exponential?
Year 1 - 12k visitors
Year 2 - 115k
Year 3 - 300k
Year 4 - 464k
Year 5 - 761k
Year 6 - 1.1M
What's the blog?
Sorry I'd like to stay anonymous.
What is the nature of the content? News, How-to, reviews, a mix?
Bit of everything really. Originally it was purely tutorials and how-to guides. Then I started writing tips on career tips, coverings big news articles, new releases, products and features.
When did you know you are up to something big? Was there any particular views number or something like that which made you think: “this is going to be big”? And also, how did you promote your blog in the beginning?
I used to use loads of metrics for success e.g. if you type into google "XYZ Blog" (XYZ being the niche I focus on), I loved seeing my blog rise over the years to the #2 spot (#1 is the actual technology companies blog). I used to try and beat my views each month which really spurred me onto write more and compete against myself. I think when I became the #1 blog in my niche, I was really proud of it and saw the potential to help a lot of people in my niche, and also make some money for myself.
Promotion at the start was social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook). I used to go around adding everyone I could to all my networks, now I've got around 25k social followers in total. I focussed on SEO a lot, I used to give titles to my blog posts of EXACTLY what google suggest said. I figured if people were typing this into google exactly, then my blog would come first, the logic kind of held out. I also used Reddit a bit.
How long did it take before you made income?
I think I put Adwords up around 1 year into the blog. This was only £20 a month or so. Then each year it just grew with my traffic. I then started doing one-off monthly advertisements for $500 a month or less if I negotiated with them until I did the packages.
How often did you post, on average, during the first 6 months of your blog? And how often do you post now?
Year 1 - 46 Posts
Year 2 - 86
Year 3 - 133
Year 4 - 129
Year 5 -157
Year 6 - 243
Now we do around 4 a week. We have a big guest poster system in place which is probably 60% of our psots.
Hace you considered diversifying your income sources? Maybe an info product or a subscription service? If you did and decided not to do it, what is the logic behind that?
Yes indeed. I would love to do affiliate at some stage, I think there's a lot of potentials there. I do sell a premium section of the site, which is a one-off cost of $20, on reflection I wish I did do a subscription here. A lot of it is down to lack of time, I've always had a fulltime job running this thing. Now my girlfriend runs it fulltime, there's a lot more opportunity.
How did you get the sponsors and what do they get in return?
I've built relationships with various companies in my network. They are all SaaS companies that have a product that they sell to the type of people that go on my blog. The sponsors get access to this user base by advertising on the blog, on the email newsletter, and also get a chance to write promotional posts.
So did you set up a package? For example (20k a year gets you x amounts of posts, this banner ad, and xyz)? Some proposal like that?
Yup exactly that. We used to sell month by month advertisement that took up a lot of time and ultimatey gave us a lot less revenue. My GF read about this strategy in a book, we implemented it and found sponsors very easily!
Can you explain the sponsorship approach a bit? Do you have any tools to track clicks? Do you run HTML ad codes for the sponsor?
So it's pretty straight forward, one-off cost of $20k a year, they get an email banner ad which goes out once a month to 1000's of people. Banner ad on the site rotating between 8 advertisers, and the opportunity to post promotional content. We are a bit bad at tracking clicks, but we have a Wordpress plugin called Ads Pro, this handles absolutely everything, highly recommended.
Which social media channels are an important source of traffic for your site? Did you give up on any?
Linkedin is about 10x more valuable to me than Twitter or Facebook. I think it's just the nature of my business. I used to post on Reddit but I found it pissed people off lol as it was too promotional.
Are you using any sort of display advertising on your blog, like Google Ads, Mediavine and so on?
We do it manually with a wordpress plugin called Ads Pro. We do display Ads, 2 of them rotating between 8 ads. And an Email banner ad.