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How the Most Highly Visited Blogs Earn Money

Posted By Darren Rowse 28th of April 2005 Pro Blogging News 0 Comments

update: How to blogs earn money? For more information on this topic check out ProBlogger the Book.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon wading through some of the most highly visited blogs going around at Truth Laid Bear’s Traffic Ranking page which ranks those blogs with Sitemeter statistics. I quite often head over there to keep track of who is doing what. Whilst it doesn’t track all blogs it does give you a hint at what blogs people are reading in terms of topic.

Today I was surfing through the top 30 of these blogs and I started to keep track of how many of them have some sort of income stream (whether it be ads, affiliate programs, donation buttons, merchandise for sale etc). I did the same exercise informally about 12 months ago and found that just over half of the top blogs had income streams. This year I found that things have changed – the Blogosphere is becoming more commercial (or at least the most highly visited blogs are). I’ll outline what each of the top 30 are doing to earn an income below – but let me first share some initial findings:

  • All blogs in the top 30 have an income stream. Only one blog had no advertising or affiliate programs (it did have a donation button though).
  • The most popular Income Stream on these Blogs is BlogAds – 23 of the top 30 have them.
  • The next most popular income streams were donation buttons and Amazon links (mainly to books).
  • Also popular were AdBrite text ads.
  • Only 8 of these blogs use Adsense.

There are plenty of other observations to be made from what I found but I’ll let you chew over them a little and make your own remarks below in comments. Here are the notes I took on each of the top 30 blogs in the list:

One note of explanation – I deleted two of the blogs listed in Truth Laid Bear’s Traffic Ranking page due to them being duplicated in the list. The numbers below are their daily visitors (averaged from their last 7 days traffic).

1) Daily Kos – 443841 visits/day – Runs Blog Ads (15 currently running) ranging in price from $13000 per month for the premium position down to the classified position at $500 per month)

2) Gizmodo – 175706 visits/day – Runs a variety of Ads including an Affiliate program with CNET, a variety of private sponsorships and button ads, text ads using AdBrite ($400 per four week campaign). They also run Adsense ads on individual and category pages. Details on their Advertising Rates.

3) Instapundit.com – 129981 visits/day – Runs BlogAds (8 ads currently showing) – ranging in price from 6000 per month for the Patron Position to Classified $500 per month. They also have a Donation Button and Amazon affiliate links.

4) Gawker – 104460 visits/day – Runs a variety of sponsorship/banner and affiliate ads (CNET again). They also have AdBrite text ads available at a cost of $600 per 4 week campaign. More information on their Ad packaages.

5) Eschaton – 103837 visits/day – Running BlogAds (currently with 8) which range in price from $2500 per month down to $100 for a classified ad. They also include a donate button and see to be running an affiliate program with a book store.

6) Defamer – 91942 visits/day – Similar to the above Gawker blogs with CNET affiliate program, banner ads, text ads with AdBrite ($450 per four week campaign). More on their ad packages.

7) lgf: journey heaven is a funky moose – 82475 visits/day – Blog ads (currently running 10) which range in price from $2750 per month for the premium spot down to $800 for a second tier ad). They are also running Amazon affiliate ads and have options for donations.

8) Power Line – 62304 visits/day – Blog ads (currently running 11) which range in price from $1400 down to $450 per month. They also have an ad for an insurance company (could be CPM or could be affiliate ad). Lastly they have a store which sells merchandise (t-shirts, cups, caps etc).

9) Wonkette – 54963 visits/day – Similar deal here to the other Gawker Blogs with the exception of some BlogAds (currently running 10) ranging in price from $1700 per month down to $650 per month). Their AdBrite text ads are $150 for 4 weeks. They also sell Wonkette T-Shirts. More details on their ad packages.

10) www.AndrewSullivan.com – Daily Dish – 48804 visits/day – BlogAds (3 currently running) range from $3200 down to $250 for 4 weeks. Andrew also runs Adsense ads on a few pages, with a few Amazon affiliate ads and runs a successful ‘Tipping Point’ donations campaign.

11) Michelle Malkin – 45661 visits/day – Also runs BlogAds (six at present) ranging in price from $1900 to $650 per month.

12) The Smirking Chimp – 41947 visits/day – Runs BlogAds (2 at present) at a cost of $425 per month. They also run some amazon affiliate ads and a merchandise store.

13) The Washington Monthly – 41482 visits/day – BlogAds (4 of them today) cost $395 per month. They also have affiliate links for Amazon, Adsense ads and a Donate button. You can of course also subscribe to the print edition.

14) Go Fug Yourself – 38742 visits/day – BlogAds (7 of them) cost $275 per month). They also sell t-shirts.

15) Blog for America – 33746 visits/day – No ads that I can see – but you can make a contribution/donation.

16) HughHewitt.com – 26517 visits/day – Currently 5 BlogAds running – the cost of which is $1000 per month. You can also buy Hugh’s book via an affiliate link on the sidebar where he has a few other books linked to also. There is also a site sponsor banner ad and a tip/donation button.

17) Captain’s Quarters – 20817 visits/day – BlogAds (currently 23) cost between $200 for premium ads to $125 for second tier ads per month. They also have affiliate links (amazon) in their sidebar as well as a donation button.

18) Lifehacker – 19185 visits/day – Similar to other Gawker Blogs with a range of banner ads (some served by double click – impression based I guess). Details of their advertising.

19) Blogcritics.org – 16078 visits/day – This blog focuses heavily upon Amazon affiliate links (they are in every post). They also have 3 BlogAds ads at ranging from $700 to $210 per month. There are also a few other affiliate program ads scattered around their blog.

20) Wizbang – 15379 visits/day – BlogAds (2 at present) ranging in price from $500 to $100 per month. They also have a text link or two on the sidebar through AdBrite ($150 per 4 week campaign) as well as amazon affiliate links to books.

21) washingtonpost.com – White House Briefing – 15125 visits/day – Has a variety of ads including banner ads and text ads run via a number of systems including Overture, doubleclick etc.

22) The Volokh Conspiracy – 14337 visits/day – Runs a DoubleClick campaign at the top of its sidebar as well as a donation button.

23) Kim du Toit – Daily Rant – 14179 visits/day – BlogAds (currently 4) cost $140 per month. They also accept donations via PayPal.

24) PoliPundit.com – 14025 visits/day – BlogAds (currently 8) range from $280 to $140. They also run Adsense ads in their sidebar and some sort of impression based ad or affiliate program on individual pages under posts.

25) MyDD – 13964 visits/day – Blog Ads here cost $500 for premium ads and $100 for classifieds per month – they currently have two running.

26) Drudge Retort: Red Meat for Yellow Dogs – 13667 visits/day – This blog runs a variety of ads including Adsense Ads across the top of their blog and BlogAds (currently 3) which cost $200 per month.

27) Roger L. Simon: Mystery Novelist and Screenwriter – 13388 visits/day – Roger runs BlogAds (currently 3) which cost between $800 and $300 per month. He also has Adsense ads in his sidebar and affiliate links to his books as well as a donate paypal button.

28) Matthew Yglesias – 13353 visits/day – BlogAds here as well (currently 6) ranging in price from $220 to $130.

29) Crooks and Liars 12933 visits/day – BlogAds here (3 at present) cost between $230 and $75 for a month campaign. They also run Adsense Ads in the side bar, accept donations

30) Digital Photography Blog – 12518 visits/day – The most prominant ads here are Adsense ads on all pages. There are also Adsense Adlinks and is a Adsense Search Bar. There are also Amazon affiliate programs, BlogAds (2) at $107 per month, text links from $49 per month and other affiliate programs.

Ok – I spent too much time on this today so I’ll stop now. I’ve got a few more observations and reflections to make – but I’ll open it up for some discussion first. What strikes you about these blogs? Looking forward to your comments below in comments.

Update: I’ve written a second piece on a few more of my reflections on this little study here.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Matched says: 12/20/2007 at 2:26 am

    If you want to earn money by advertising on your website then you should take a look at Matched.co.uk. You enter the details of your website and any pages you wish to have advertisements on. They then match you with advertisers and pay you £3 per advert that you display on your website for a month. You can enter up to 5 websites and 5 pages on each site so potentially you could make £75 a month for doing vitually nothing and you could earn even more through their affiliate scheme with an extra £5 per referral.

  2. :D Direct Marketing

  3. Really we need to appreciate your efforts and opennes to put the experiences here. It’s really helpful , we will explore under your guidance.
    Best regards,

  4. I have been contributing regularly as a blogger with articles on varied subjects particularly concerning Information Technology, Industry, Business, finance, Entrepeneur, How to start an Internet Business at Home.

    I wish I too knew the secrets of these top bloggers who are generating large chunks of traffic and making the most in terms of revenue earned.
    I wonder how do they really get all those information to write about thats unique and interesting. Whereas I have great difficulty to find articles or ideas that are fresh and unique.

    I wish I too make that amount of money as the top thirty does so that I too can contribute more.

    Visit me at http://roylinfo.blogspot.com

  5. Just wanted to say that I also wonder where these bloggers get these extensive amounts of information to blog on day after day, if anyone has any insight towards this, i’d be extremely interested.

  6. The higher amount of traffic to a site and the less expensive is the best way. There are many ways to be seen on the world wide web. You can advertise everywhere but if no one is looking then the money is wasted.


  7. […] Darren Rowse just posted an analysis of the revenue models top 30 blogs (that use Sitemeter) and found that all the blogs had a revenue stream (versus half the number a year ago). The most popular sites used a mix of Blog Ads, Amazon links or donation buttons. […]

  8. Yes, highly visited blogs earn mostly in adsense like Google, they have more chances that Google ads on their sites are often clicked and will be credited into their accounts. That’s why we keep on doing everything just to get high traffic. But there are also other ways in earning money aside from adsense. :-)

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