It’s been a few years since I did an income report here on ProBlogger for my business, and so while I was pulling together some reports for the end of our financial year I thought it might be good to give a little insight into where the income on my blogs comes from.
As in previous years I don’t want to get into specifics of exact dollar amounts, and instead will keep this to be a percentage-based report to give a feel for the income streams that have been worthwhile for us.
Note: we’re also currently doing a study into bloggers income levels. You can participate by filling in this confidential survey.
This report is based upon the first six months of 2016. Here’s a snapshot (click to enlarge):
Before I get into each section – let me make a few explanations.
Firstly – this is for my total business and includes the income from both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School (dPS).
To give you some insight on the differences between those businesses – dPS is around 8 times larger than ProBlogger both in terms of traffic and income. I’ve included the logo of each business in the different sections that is relevant (i.e.: we don’t run AdSense on ProBlogger and the event and job boards are purely ProBlogger related).
Secondly – I’ve tried as much as possible to show you the profit of each sector rather than the total revenue that each generates.
I’m not able to get exact on this as the businesses do share some expenses (development, servers etc) but I’ve attempted to take any direct expenses that each income stream attracts.
This is why our ‘Event’ is a relatively small piece of the overall – while it generates a lot of revenue it has a large amount of expenses. Similarly our Product sales revenue is higher than Affiliate Commissions but once we pay for the cost of production of the products the profit is not as high.
I’ll now make a few comments on each category.
This has risen since the last time I produced a report like this, as we’ve put more effort into affiliate promotions at dPS.
Each year on Digital Photography School we run big promotions with our 12 Days of Christmas Sale and our Mid Year Sale. For both of these promotions we do daily deals where we deeply discount a mix of our own products and affiliate products.
These two sales generate a significant chunk of our annual profits and are the reason why this category has grown so much as the affiliate products have done really well for us in these promotions.
Here on ProBlogger we’ve also been focusing a little more on affiliate revenue over the last 6 months through doing some promotions with SumoMe, LeadPages and promoting a number of teaching resources. We’ve also incorporated into our design a new Blogging Resources page which has converted well and are working on promoting Bluehost with our How to Start a Blog page.
Amazon’s Associate program has not been a major focus of our attention but continues to generate a stable income using some of strategies I outlined in my Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program.
Up until 2009 all of my income was generated from running advertising on my blogs and from a little affiliate marketing on my blog. But in 2009 I decided to invest some time into creating my first products on both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. The first products were eBooks and this has been a major focus of what I’ve done since (see the Photography eBook range on dPS and the ProBlogger eBooks). You’ll see in the graphic that 70% of this category is eBook sales still today.
However since 2009 we’ve experimented with other types of products over at Digital Photography School. We created some posing printables that did ok when we launched them, then created some photography courses and more recently have created some Lightroom Presets.
Our Lightroom Presets have been particularly popular both at launch and in our sales and we will continue to create more collections of these going forward.
Courses also did well but during this 6 month reporting period we didn’t promote them with a deal so they didn’t sell many.
Every time I have done one of these income reports I get people who are surprised that I use Google AdSense. I know not everyone has much luck with it but because dPS has a large amount of traffic we find that it works well for us.
I should say that our income from it has decreased in the last two years. This is partly because we’ve attracted a bit more direct sponsorship (see the next category) and given up some of the ad inventory that AdSense used to serve, but it is also because we’ve seen our RPM decline over the last few years.
It’s not the option that it once was for us but is still a revenue stream that I’m glad to have.
On dPS we’ve continued to offer sponsorship options to advertisers who want to work directly with us to reach our audience. This has largely been banner ad campaigns but we also run advertising in our newsletters and have run a few other more creative campaigns including running competitions for our readers.
On ProBlogger we’ve not run any banner advertising (or AdSense) for many many years but have done a handful of sponsorship campaigns on the ProBlogger podcast in the last 12 months with companies like Edgar and 99Designs.
The other place we’ve done sponsorships is via our event (although I’ve included that in the Event category below).
Here on ProBlogger we’ve had a Job Board for Bloggers since 2006. At first it was just a trickle of ads that were placed (earning $50 per ad) but it’s gradually grown and we’re getting close to celebrating our 6000th ad placed!
Considering the initial investment on the board was minimal and it’s been a largely passive income stream I’m pleased to have started it.
In the coming weeks we’re looking forward to releasing a much needed update to the job board which will give a lot more features to advertisers and applicants. Watch this space.
Further Reading: Check out our How to Make Money Blogging page which has a good overview on how to grow your income from blogging.
This event is a massive focus for our team and is largely a labour of love. While it does generate a large amount of revenue from ticket sales and sponsorship the expenses of running an event of this size are huge, and while we make a small profit it really is something I’ve done all these years more because I’m passionate about what happens at the event than anything else.
This year we will offer a virtual ticket so there is some potential to grow this wedge of the pie a little – watch this space.
A Word on Expenses
There you have it – my long overdue income report for the first half of 2016.
The only other thing I’ll add to this is that if I were to talk about expenses (as I know I’ll get asked about) I would say that while our revenue has definitely risen in the last 12 months I would also point out that so too have expenses.
This last 12 months we’ve invested heavily into the development of our sites – particularly here on ProBlogger with the redesign. In addition to our development team I’ve also expanded my team which now includes:
- 2 editors (one for each site)
- 2 business unit managers (one for each site)
- Admin/Customer service team members (one for each site)
- Marketing (one person – for dPS)
All team members (except for one) are part time.
Then there’s a huge array of others who are contractors who help with product creation, writing, proof reading, podcast editing etc.
Lastly in the expense column are of course things like servers (which are not cheap) and the amazing array of software as a service subscriptions that most bloggers have these days to be able to send emails, create landing pages, run webinars, calendarise editorial and schedule social media, etc (most of which you’ll find on our Recommended Blogging Resources page and all of which we pay for).
To make money you have to spend it!
Wow – that was quite the post to prepare (now I remember why I don’t do it that often). I hope you found it useful!
What’s your #1 Blogging income stream? We’d love to hear what it is in comments below or if you have a moment would love you to participate in this study we’re doing on bloggers income.
Participate in Our Study Into Bloggers Income
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We will keep all information that you submit confidential and will only publish the overall anonymous results unless we contact you to see if you’d be interested in participating in a case study post here on ProBlogger (which we’d only do with your permission).