How To Make Money Blogging ($12,000 in 6 months!)

how to make money blogging
how to make money blogging

Whenever I tell people what I do, the conversation immediately turns to money. It seems like everyone wants to know how to make money blogging. 

For a long time I dodged those questions because, frankly, I wasn’t making any. But this summer I started blogging full-time and really figuring out how to make money with a blog.

That’s why I’ve decided to sit down and let you know how I created an awesome flexible job for myself and fulfilled my dream of being my own boss straight after graduating. After all, my dream might be your dream too!

how to make money blogging

 

Before we start, I’d like to point out four things. Firstly, I’m not some crazy money-hungry monster trying to rob her readers of their hard earned cash. The money I make comes from PRs and different companies and it enables me to write lots of awesome free content for you guys.

Secondly, although I occasionally get paid (I’m definitely not getting paid for every post I write on here) I have as much integrity as I did when I was starting out and making nothing – or making big losses if you believe that time is money.

I’m glad I get to do this full time but I know that my success is mainly down to you – my readers – and that I owe you a lot. That’s why I’ll never be dishonest with you or compromise the quality of my writing for a slightly bigger pay check.

Thirdly, although I mainly write about travel, lifestyle and fashion my advice on how to make money blogging applies to all niches. Whatever it is you write about, these tips should be useful – albeit some more than others.

And finally – this post isn’t a roundabout way of fishing for compliments or rubbing people’s noses in my success. I’m definitely not rolling in dough and could be making a lot more if I was working at a “normal” job.

The median wage in the US is $26,695, in the UK where I live it’s £26,500 ($39,584). If I make $12,000 again in the next 6 months – and there’s no guarantee that I will – I’ll be making $24,000.

And that is not even my actual profit. I have business expenses from travel costs and insurance to web hosting, design and plugins. And don’t forget all of my photography and video gear as well as my beloved MacBook Pro aka basically my entire office.

I also have normal human expenses like wanting to sleep in a warm bed, eat food and wear clothes. Greedy, I know.

But despite not making much money (yet…) I also get to be my own boss, get paid to travel around the world and have a lifestyle many people who are twice my age and make three times my annual salary only dream of.

In 2015 I visited seventeen countries and even got to shoot a cinema ad for the European Commission, travelling to five different development projects on three continents!

How did I do it? Business Sabina is going to take over and tell you all about it. She jokes a little less but really gets shizz done and knows how to make money with a blog. My apologies for the blunt delivery – it’s not me, it’s my alter ego.

oberderdingen germany wine region
Check out my office…

How To Make Money Blogging

I would be doing you a big disservice if I just wrote down the ways I make money without a huge disclaimer. You see, you can’t just start a blog and make money using the methods below.

If you’re new to the blogging world, read my post on how to start a successful travel blog (my advice applies to all kinds of blogs, not just travel blogs) first and then come back here. Don’t worry, I’ll wait!

Ready? The truth is you need a solid social media following, steady traffic and contacts to take your blog from fun hobby to money-making business. If you don’t have an audience, nobody will pay you (aside from spammy online casinos looking for a link to their website in exchange for $10).

There’s no good definition of what constitutes “good” traffic or social media numbers. For me, crossing the 1,000 follower threshold on Facebook was the breaking point when I started getting sponsorship offers – you can read about how I got there here.

But I only really started monetising my blog last summer, one and a half years after launching it. At that point I had about 50,000 followers across all my social media channels. Sure, I’d been on a few unpaid press trips before that – but none of that is helpful when you’ve got rent to pay.

I spent those one and a half years bringing out regular high-quality content, attending lots of travel blogging conferences, meeting new people in the business and growing my social media following… all while getting my university degree and working part-time (here’s how I managed to travel as a student).

In short, I worked pretty damn hard – and for free – before ever getting paid. There is a lot more to blogging than posting pretty pictures on Instagram (although that is a big part of it and you should totally follow me #shamelessplug). You need to hustle a lot just to make a dime!

Even now with more than 70,000 followers across my social media channels, I still spend a lot of time growing my following. I’m constantly liking, sharing or commenting. Constantly – I can’t remember the last time I took a day off.

My iPhone screen is the last thing I see before I go to bed and the first thing I see after I wake up (although I’m trying to change that). It drives my boyfriend crazy and it’s far from healthy.

In short, I put in a lot of work behind the scenes and although you may not see it, that is the true key to my success. Blogging is like any other industry – you get what you put in and working hard is an important precursor to success.

One further disclaimer – I’m not saying you will make $12,000 in half a year using these methods. You might make a lot less, you might make a lot more. It all depends on your business savvy, the size of your following and who you know.

I’ve only included how much I made to give you an idea of what someone who has just started doing this full time is making. I have no idea how much other bloggers make because a) I don’t ask and b) people are secretive (understandably so, to be fair).

As a result I’m not sure if what I’m making is the industry average or if I should be making a lot more.

What I do know is that I’m making an amount I’m able to live off – and I’ve only just started properly monetising my blog and doing this full-time six months ago. It takes many businesses years to actually make a profit, so I’m not complaining.

This concludes my long but very important introduction. If I haven’t completely discouraged you yet and you’re still keen to learn how to make money blogging read on…

how to start a successful travel blog

Sell a product or service

Selling a product through your website is hands down one of the best (and smartest) ways how to make money blogging.

I know, it seems like weird advice coming from a girl who is not actually selling anything through her blog at the moment. But trust me – it’s something I’m working on at the moment and wish I’d started sooner.

So… what should you sell? Tonnes of stuff. If you’re crafty, you could create things and sell them on Etsy. If you’re a digital design whizz, you can offer those services to other bloggers – selling blog designs, banners or logos. If you’re a good writer, try getting freelance gigs through your website.

Some bloggers also teach blogging courses, but for this you need to be very advanced and experienced in my opinion. And that’s not all – being an expert at something doesn’t mean you’ll also be good at teaching that thing. Teaching is a skill and it’s not as common as people tend to believe.

Try to pinpoint what you’re really good at – the things that make you stand out – and figure out how you could sell that as a product or service. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here, you need to analyse your skills and find ways to monetise them.

The key is using your blog to reach potential clients and then market your services to them. Subtly. Do not convert your blog into a horrible marketing machine though. If your blog loses its soul I guarantee your readers will notice and that they will not be happy.

Press trips

I realise this isn’t the case for everyone, but press trips and FAM (familiarisation) trips are one of my biggest earners. Many bloggers are happy to go on trips for free but I’m not one of them.

Press trips aren’t just for travel bloggers – many lifestyle, food and fashion bloggers now go on press trips around the world as well.

If you’re promoting someone’s product, hotel or destination via a specific hashtag you’re essentially doing marketing for them and that should, in my opinion, be a paid service. I have a proven track record of delivering great results to brands and a very engaged audience, so why should I not be paid?

However, make sure you can always deliver what you promise. Never lie about your stats or be dishonest with PRs – it will come back and bite you in the butt.

Note: If you’re receiving any free items or payment for a post, you must provide a disclaimer at the bottom of your post stating this. Keeping these things to yourself is not only dishonest, it’s illegal or at least a legal grey area.

Here’s an example: “I was compensated by Kittens R Us to write about these fluffy kittens on ‘My Awesome Blog’ and received them free of charge for the purpose of this review. But as always all opinions are my own.” (And so are the kittens now.)

santo domingo slum children 2

Video and photo production

In order to get paid, I sometimes offer additional services to brands such as video or photo production. Both my boyfriend (check out his channel here) and I make travel videos for different clients, from tourism boards to hotels.

These videos can either go on your YouTube channel (here is mine) – this is usually a good idea if you have a large audience and they’re more person-centric. If you’re doing a general promotional video, you can also sell it to the client and let them feature it on their channels.

If you have impressive video or photography skills, put them to good use. They’re a great way to make money blogging and to set yourself apart from others in the same field.

Sponsored posts

Sponsored posts come in many shapes and forms and I refuse 99% of the offers that come my way. I’m not even exaggerating. I never have (and never will) published a post written by somebody else about I company I have no prior experience with.

I only ever accept sponsored posts when I get full creative control over them, write them myself, know and love the company and feel like the promotion feels natural.

Rates depend on the size of your audience and whether you’re including social media promotion in your price or not. The Guardian interviewed a few bloggers from different niches and you can have a look at their figures here.

Sponsored giveaways

Sponsored giveaways aren’t too different from sponsored posts, but I decided to make them into a separate category to remind you that (if you have a large engaged audience) they are something you can be charging for as well.

How much you charge can depend on many factors including the value of the prize, what the company are asking for and what you get out of it in return.

Do what feels right – you don’t always need to ask for money and if you do, you always need to justify why you should be paid.

how to make money blogging

Brand ambassadorship

A brand ambassadorship is a longer-term partnership where you promote their product or service more seamlessly, often across your blog and social media. I think brand ambassadorships are one of the best ways to make money blogging.

Sponsored posts are like one night stands, where brand ambassadorships are like proper relationships that allow both partners to grow and improve. They also stop your blog looking too commercial and constantly promoting new brands.

Affiliate links

Affiliate links are a great way to make a bit of cash. Anytime someone purchases a product through your affiliate link you make a small cut of the selling price at no extra cost to the buyer.

I know many bloggers make serious money through affiliate links and while I’m not one of them, I do occasionally get a little welcome boost.

The most popular affiliate programme out there is Amazon Associates, but you can find many others from Etsy to smaller fashion boutiques or e-book stores.

The key is inserting affiliate links into posts that get a lot of traffic and contain things people are likely to buy – like my post on ‘How To Start a Successful Travel Blog‘ or ‘20 Inspiring Female Travel Memoirs‘.

Note: I always write a disclaimer at the bottom of any post that contains affiliate links to make sure I’m being fully transparent.

banff hot springs

Twitter chats

Twitter chats are a fun way for brands to connect to their customers and they often use bloggers and online personalities to reach a new potential client base.

I’ve worked on Twitter chats for a number of brands including KLM and Air France, both airlines I like and trust. The key is – as always – choosing brands you believe in and which are relevant to your followers.

In other words, if a football manufacturer were to reach out and offer me $1,000 for a Twitter chat I’d still have to politely decline. I write about travel, fashion, lifestyle and food – nobody comes here to read about football.

Instagram marketing

This summer I became completely obsessed with Instagram and have since amassed a following of more than 20,000. While that isn’t much in the world of Instagram, brands are definitely beginning to take notice.

I haven’t done many promotions on Instagram, but it’s something I plan on doing more of in the future. I’d also love to grow my account and do some work through it separately from the blog… are you following me already?

Featured blogs

This year I’ve decided to feature a few travel blogs in my sidebar every month. This gives you guys more exposure, helps me get to know some amazing up-and-coming superstars and also allows me to cover some small costs of running my blog.

If you’re a blogger and would like to book a spot, click here for more info.

how to make money blogging

As ‘Girl vs Globe‘ moves from pure travel into more of a lifestyle and fashion blog working with brands is becoming easier. We all wear clothes every day, but not everyone travels regularly. With that in mind I have big hopes that in 2016 I’ll be able increase my profits.

But at the end of the day, this blog isn’t a get-rich scheme. I appreciate that it allows me to travel and do what I love, but I refuse to compromise my integrity for a few dozen/hundred/thousand bucks. The best part of my day is reading your comments and emails, and realising that I don’t need to be a qualified psychotherapist to improve people’s lives…

What do you think of my tips on how to make money with a blog? Are you using any of these and how are they working out for you? What would you add? Let me know! 

PS: If you found this post helpful, please don’t forget to share, pin, tweet, like… you know the drill. It would mean a lot to me.

PPS: If you’d like to chat to me about travel, blogging or are simply looking for like-minded ladies (many of whom are bloggers as well) check out  Girls vs Globe – my Facebook group for female adventurers.

  • Really interesting read. Most people are quite cagey about money so it’s good to see you being honest and open about the possibilities!

    http://francescaandrews.com

  • Loved this post, very helpful! Thanks for being so open 🙂

  • TheBritpacker

    Thanks for this, it’s really helpful and nice to see somebody being so open about how much they earn 🙂

  • Bruce

    And anoher well written blog ! Lots of good information there !
    Cheers

  • Janet

    Excellent post, Sabina! I love your insight & transparency. Your income streams are very creative and the Twitter chats are an excellent idea. We just started a travel blog for couples and your tips are very helpful. Thanks so much!

  • Amanda

    Thanks for the breakdown. I’m still in the building an audience phase…so it doesn’t look like I’ll quitting my bartending job anytime soon. Haha.

    • Keep at it! You’ll get there!

      xx Kasey

      kasestyles.com

  • Thanks for this post Sabina, I love your honesty! I’m still a newbie blogger so not thinking about monetising my blog just yet, but definitely bookmarking this for the future 🙂

  • Adelaide

    Fantastic list!!! So honest! This is a goal of mine for 2016 and I’m definitely excited to get it underway!
    http://aworldlyaddiction.com/

  • A very well written article with some great advice! Building a blog and a solid following on Social Media takes a great deal of time and energy. You have definitely proved that hard work does pay off! It’s encouraging to read about successful bloggers as yourself. Great job! 🙂

  • This is a great post, but to me it seems like a no brainer that you would earn (decent) money from your blog based because you have pretty good social followings! It’s so hard to get that following in the first place! x

    http://www.hollysparkle.co.uk

    • It really is, I am still working at it, but there are definitely tips and tricks that help! Don’t worry you’ll get there. It takes time!

      xx Kasey

      kasestyles.com

  • Great post!! I’d also love if you shared how you got to so many followers!

    http://www.maggiealamode.com

  • cielo

    Gosh! I’m so happy to read this. Very informative and it opened my mind on how making money in blogging really is. Thanks for this! 🙂

    http://www.cielofernando.com
    FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM

  • Stellah Charles

    Very impressive.
    I hope i start earning from my blog soon
    http://www.itgirl.co.ke

    • You will girl! Keep up the good work!

      xx Kasey

      kasestyles.com

  • Great tips! xo
    alliesfashionalley.com

  • Linsay Openshaw

    These are great tips. Thanks for sharing.

  • Very nice post, I love your tips, your honesty and the way you write is so comfortable for me to read 🙂 I have the attention span of a chicken sometimes lol but this was a joy to go trough. Thank you so much!

  • Awesome post, thank you for sharing your story. And congrats on the great work, you can be proud. wow!!

  • March and May

    Very honest and useful tips. Thanks for sharing. Working hard will always pay of at the end. 🙂

    March and May

  • Shannon

    Thanks for sharing this! Your honesty and candor are so refreshing. You’ve built a great business!

  • Great post! I love reading about how others do it!

    xx Kasey

    kasestyles.com

  • Kellie Mogg

    I’ve just spent the last hour going through your posts on blogging tips. This one, the intro post you linked to, and the one specific about Facebook. As of this past fall, I’ve decided to commit to being a travel blogger. I’ve been traveling for years, love writing, and forever want a location independent job where I can inspire others that life is what you make it. The point of all that….I’ve been studying the blogging industry and reading other blogger’s advice posts for months. This is one of my favorite compilation of posts on blogging advice I’ve read thus far.

    I’ve been struggling with twitter, but I didn’t really even know about twitter chats. I’ve added all the facebook groups you suggested as well, including yours who him particularly excited about. *girl power*

    Anyway. Much thanks for the time you’ve put into these posts. cheers!

  • Awesome tips here. I totally agree…and there are SO many avenues to form income streams in nowadays! Would love to chat strategy with you some time and compare notes, because we have different business models but similar end results.

    Coming Up Roses

  • A Great Perhaps

    I really love how honest you are with your advice. I’ve just found your blog (through your Facebook group) and it has really inspired me. Hopefully hard work will pay off in the end!

  • Aaron K

    There are some great tips here! Thank you so much for breaking it down in an easy to understand way. As a new blogger, it’s a bit overwhelming to decide where to start monetizing, this post helps alot. Thank you, and keep up the great work, love your blog!!!

  • Lots and lots of great tips! I still feel like I’m new in the ‘proper’ blogging world, and would love to start earning some cash from it one day 🙂

    — LisaLDN.com

  • Global Brunch

    Thanks for sharing this! Lots of helpful advice 🙂 I have been thinking about joining an affiliate scheme for a while and now I know how to.

  • Great tips – it’s really interesting to see what does work for people. I’ve done a mix of a few of these (although not the selling, I am not a crafty or techie person!) but while mine’s not on the scale of yours, it definitely takes effort to get to the cash. And a lot of time on social media 🙂 #gvglinkup

  • Clare Thomson

    These are really helpful tips especially for a newbie blogger. It’s good to see someone being really honest about potential earnings.

  • Wow, you’ve done so much in such a short time. It’s really inspiring to me. Thank you Sabrina 🙂

  • Veronica

    Such a helpful post! I recently started my (mostly) travel blog! It’s more of a hobby now, but I am hoping after I put more content on it I can also see if it could possibly grow to something more!
    Also love that you’re czech, my parents are too 😉
    xoxo

  • Sabrina. Thanks for a good post and honest. It is a lot of hard work growing traffic to the point you can make money. Running a blog is not a get rich quick scheme!

  • Thanks for being open an honest about this. I’ve been blogging for six years now but only just started monetising things, just ads at the mo but hopefully more soon – I’m secretly hoping I can use blog earnings to have bucket list experiences.

  • NABN

    i want to do marketing & sponsored post for only $2 for 12-14 hour’s per day …please email me at ynabin3@gmail.com……please thank you

  • AlexLarson

    It is the most motivating article I’ve ever read. Thanks to you, coz I decided to make money on blogging :). Maybe it’s time to stop making money on 777spinslot?:)

  • Such a helpful post and incredibly motivating – you should be so proud of the amount of work you put in, it definitely shows!

  • You’ve done so well, oh my goodness! Thank you for writing this 🙂 It’s been really interesting!

  • Tarni

    Thanks for the tips!! Taking some of these on board for sure x

    http://www.basicallylife.com

  • Priscilla Ngwenya

    my blog has been running for a while now and im so grateful i came across this blog post. If you have time please visit my blog and rate it ..I feel like its time to start monetizing my blog and i have already started working on some of the tips you offer here. Please follow me on instagram @gameoftrend this goes out to any blogger reading this , i will follow back simply because i would like to grow my blogging network. Also on my blog http://www.gameoftrends.wordpress.com

  • These are fantastic tips! I am definitely not in the blogging game to make big cash as much as I am for the freedom, but I definitely want my blog to reach the lives of many! 🙂
    Thanks so much!
    C | http://thisgirlc.blogspot.ca/2016/07/dont-be-beautiful.html

  • Lindsey Nicole

    Your information is so insightful. Ive been reading for weeks about being a better blogger, but I struggle with how to approach businesses about buying the services I’m selling. Also having the confidence to promote yourself as a entrepreneur whose entering in this industry. Any tips in regards to that?

  • Lindsey Nicole

    Your information is so insightful. Ive been reading for weeks about being a better blogger, but I struggle with how to approach businesses about buying the services I’m selling. Also having the confidence to promote yourself as a entrepreneur whose entering in this industry. Any tips in regards to that? Thanks

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  • Thanks for sharing such a informative post, your view about making $ with blogging is great. I am going to make some changes in my monetization. This is my lyrics blog post > Lo Maan Liya Lyrics

  • Thank you so much for this wonderful post. Very helpful for me as I try to get my lifestyle blog more to be a travel blog.

  • Kate Martin-Williams

    This is quite possibly the most useful thing that I have ever read!
    Did you have any specific ways of contacting brands that you want to work with? I usually start with twitter but is this the most effective / professional way?

    Big Love

    Kate

  • Hapinesswherever

    thanks for sharing! would love to hear more about how you built up your IG as I’m really struggling with it 😉