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More Full Time Bloggers than Computer Programers? – Thoughts on Making Money Blogging

Posted By Darren Rowse 23rd of April 2009 Blogging for Dollars 0 Comments

I’ve had a lot of people email and tweet me today asking for my opinion on a Wall Street Journal article – America’s Newest Profession: Blogging.

In it the journalist writes about how there are almost more people in America making their living from blogging than as lawyers and that bloggers outnumber computer programmers and firefighters.

I’ll let you read and give your feedback on the article but here are a couple of reactions of my own:

Full Time Blogger Numbers Are on the Up

While the stats can be debated (and they are being around the blogosphere) there’s certainly an increase in the numbers of people for whom blogging is their primary source of income.

I’m not sure that the number is as high as the 2% of blogs that the article quotes – but I know that I’m coming across new bloggers that I’d not come across before carving out a full time living from blogging every week.

Most Bloggers Continue to Earn Peanuts

The reality is that while this article is full of impressive figures about what bloggers can earn that most bloggers earn nothing or very little from their blogs.

Note: this is certainly covered in the article – however most of the commentary I’ve seen about the article seems to be focusing upon how much bloggers make and how there are more full time bloggers than computer programers.

Even here on ProBlogger where most of our readers are attempting to earn money from their blogs every time I ask readers about their earnings the vast majority don’t earn much.

Last time I did such a survey 39% of respondents said they didn’t earn anything from their blogs.

Of the 61% who did make money 54% reported making less than $100 a day.

While the same survey also revealed quite a few of or readers are making good money from blogging the take home message is that it’s not a reality for the majority.

It’s not just an advertising game

There’s a sense in the article that online advertising is the main way that blogs earn income. While most bloggers I talk to do focus upon this model many blogs are also exploring a variety of other models.

Of course there is also the affiliate/commission type model that many bloggers also do quite well from but a trend I’ve been noticing for a year or so now is to see bloggers releasing their own information products for sale and increasingly leveraging the profile that a blog brings them personally to make an income indirectly from their blogs. Even smaller bloggers are finding success as a result of releasing e-books which they sell from their blogs.


I’d like to finish this post with a link to another where I answer the question – Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging?

In that post I attempt to give a realistic picture of blogging for money and getting your expectations right as you enter into the field of making money from blogs.

Other Reading:

Update: Penelope Trunk has published a good read in the last day or two – Reality Check: You’re Not Going to Make Money from Your Blog.

Penelope’s put it perhaps a little more bluntly than I would (I actually think that there’s a little more hope than she says) but makes some great points. I particularly think point #3 (supporting yourself with a blog is crazy hard) and point #7 (Blog for better reasons than money) are good.

It is possible to make money from blogs without a background in media (I was working as a minister and putting myself through a Theology degree when I started) or without a background in design or with a web developer partner (My first blog’s design was like an explosion went off in a candy store and I remember one day taking 3 hours to work out how to align an image to the left) and I did get a book deal and a fair bit of speaking work purely from my blog – but it is a lot of work and takes a long time.

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. Some good points Darren! Teaching Sells really did change the mindset of many bloggers (big and small) and that is why there is an increase in number of paid products released by bloggers like e-books, e-courses, membership sites etc.

    If your visitors show interest in some topic you blogged about, then there is always an opportunity in releasing a product which goes more in detail. It’s better than just sticking some Adsense on your blog, I think.


  2. Very timely article for me as I am ramping up a new blog project and hoping to release it soon. My aspirations are to become a full-time blogger in addition to freelancing as a designer.

  3. This has been a fascinating discussion that I’ve been following on twitter.

    Most people are annoyed that the article claimed that 100k visits per month meant you could make $75,000 a year. The should have used the mean instead of the average which would bring that number down and be much more appropriate!

  4. Very true Dareen, By Education I’m a software engineer, and I was placed in one of the top renowned software firm “Accenture” , But After I started blogging, I realize It has more potential then any other job looking at the current scenario.
    Above all I can work according to my time schedule, Be my own boss.
    In short I can live my own life :)

  5. Darren,

    Nice article …but I’d expect nothing less from you :-)

    I don’t have researched figures but I would hazard a guess that there are far more people out there making money from their blogs via indirect Methods, that via direct methods.

    You’ve already written an article on this subject (indirect methods) and I’m one such person who blogs to maintain a ‘live & dynamic’ profile and not let my network forget that I’m there.

    If I am the consultant that a company turns to because I’m at the forefront of their mind, they are familar with me and they acknowledge that what I publish is good stuff, then a single indirect incident can make me over US$ 200K over a 6 month contract.

    This is more about maintaining a business presence, particularly in my nature of work which is quite international. Blogging to a list of subscribers is an ideal vehicle to maintain my presence as a consultant.

    If there are people out there who have something to offer as a consultant, a blog can be key to their success.

    It’s people like you we look to for that expertise in maximising the effectiveness of our blogs, namely getting readers to subscribe.

    Keep up the great work!

  6. Great Article. I’m shocked to hear that there are so many people blogging professionally, or even that there are so many that someone could think there were that many. I think it’s possible that the numbers were skewed by the fact that the blogs people found were more popular blogs. They may have totally overlooked all the blogs so little that no one has ever heard of them.

    I recently wrote an article about Making Money Blogging myself actually. It quotes one of the surveys you ran in the past, although the numbers seem slightly different than the numbers you quote in this article.

  7. There’s no barrier of entry to becoming a blogger, where as programmers require real occupational training. This is not a fair comparison.

  8. More bloggers than programmers!
    More lawyers than programmers!
    No wonder the American economy collapsed!

    Who is actually building something? Creating something instead of speculating with the easiest way of earning money.

    I have nothing against good bloggers (like Darren). It is another way of journalism. But there is so much rubbish out there. Anybody thinks they can write or have something to say nowadays.

    Can you tell that I am a programmer? ;)

  9. I wonder if the stats for bloggers making money are the same for people who try to do any business online at all.

    Before blogs, most people who tried to make money online failed miserably too. It’s been this way since people started trying to actually make money online.

    Everyone wants to. But only the dedicated really do. The success figures for new offline businesses aren’t much more impressive.

  10. Monetising a blog, with a few exceptions, invariably plays havoc on the content… It’s very similar to underground bands ‘selling out’ and signing to major record labels in the music industry!

  11. “…but it is a lot of work and takes a long time”

    Isn’t anything worthwhile, anything we are hoping to build our lives and futures upon a lot for work, and take considerable time, perseverance and desire?

    Seems to hold true in my life.

  12. Great reality check Darren! I think that article is being just a little too optimistic :D

  13. Whoa! I had no idea you were a minister.

    Crazy awesome!

  14. It is DEFINATELY hard to make money @ your blog.
    I have a blog with 1,200 RSS subscribers and I can only really manage to make around $300 per month from my blog.

    Eventually (within the next year or two) I want to be bringing in a full time income from my blog. But that requires hard work and dedication.

    It is not easy to become a full time blogger (like some articles make it out to be)…you really need to know what you are doing.

    Thanks for the articles Darren. Helps me with my head space and how I am going on my Make Money Blog

  15. As with all careers, many are called but few are chosen. :) Blogging is not just about making money, but it sure is a nice bonus. However, earning should not be the end all and be all. Thanks for this article, Darren!

  16. It is a profession. So much that you have the FTC looking into passing regulations that will affect bloggers (Reviewing Products). Blogging has been under-estimated and like many have said; many bloggers do not see their blogs as a business and they should. Sure, some blogs that I have make pennies (kindda) while others make up for it and more.

    I have seen many more of my competitors soliciting bloggers full time. They want bloggers with social media experience. The opportunities are only going to get better :)

  17. I am making money from blogging, but my skills on programming and SEO were essential when I was starting. And of course, perseverance is key, as well as working in a smart way. It is just like any other business: money comes if you manage your blog well and you give something that people need or want. But it is not overnight. Besides, you can need additional skills other than writing well… or you need be surrounded with friends or mentors who have the skills and are willing to help you in the process.

  18. The information in your book is also worthwhile and interesting, with regard to making money from blogging, and setting some realistic expectations about it.

  19. Well, of course. I personally think in the long run, full time blogger actually earn much more compared to a full time programmer.

    Assuming they are both working the same amount of hours per day or so.

    Mainly because full time programmer are always hired and their income is restricted. Unlike a full time blogger who has unlimited amount of freedom of income as their website/blog grows bigger.

  20. The numbers are there but not that impressive in my view. What I mean is pretty much like any business be it online of offline, there’s always a majority of people 70-90% who don’t make it past the first year.

    In the real world, we consider a company “stable” after it becomes over 5 years old.

    Blogging successfully requires an ability to write quality content on regular basis, this is often driven by your own motivation. People who are “only” motivated by money, without the strong support of being “really” into what they are blogging about don’t have enough motivation to keep writing the way they should do.

    Persistence is key in blogging as it is in any business, trying to take a short cut for a quick buck will always do you more harm than benefit in the long run.

    The biggest misconception about blogging is “I start my blog, I paste my ads, and I wait for the money to roll in!”

  21. Terrific piece of grounding..
    I’m one of the many programmers attempting to move full time into blogging. I still work full time in IT and wont leave until blogging income tells me it’s time.
    I haven’t read the original article yet. I wonder if it mentions what percentage of those working full time at blogging run 3 or more blogs. My plan is based around a threesome…my blogging plan that is. I have 2 blogs that are collectives of many writers and a third that is strictly my own voice. It’s tough finding a balance between how many blogs and the quality/time devoted to each. 3 seems a good starting point.
    – off to read the links

  22. I have to agree with Darren that making money with blogs are super hard and takes a lot of time.

    When I started blogging I never thought that I would ever make money with blogging.

    What actually inspired me to work hard was when I saw @shoemoney huge adsense check.

    I told myself if this fella can make a few hundred thousands dollars a month, why can’t I make a few dollars a month.

    It took me a year plus before I made more than $1000 from my blogs.

    $1000 converted to my local currency is more than what the average people in y country earn.

    So, I guess if you wanna make money blogging, be willing to learn and work hard.

    I’ve never stopped learning, that’s why I’m here reading this :)

  23. In terms of numbers I would venture to say that less than 2% of all blogs are actually considered full time income. Running a single blog it’s probably close to impossible unless you have the perfect niche and some nice funding to start with for traffic and so on.

    However, it is very possible. Granted it will not happen overnight & in most cases may take 1-2 years if not longer. There are some key strategies that I think help bloggers slowly grow their income to $1,000 or more a month. Multiple revenue streams and whatnot but it is very involved (for newbies at least) and you have to market, post good content, network, seo stuff….it’s a lot to start with! Getting to that $2k level and above (net, mind you) is where I think things start getting tougher.

    For me personally the vision has always been to have a network of sites geared toward particular niches…some more broad and some very targeted. Feed traffic back and forth between 5-10 sites and make the content as sticky as possible.


  24. In one post linked above (Making Money Because of Your Blog – Indirect Methods), you talk about book publishing as an indirect method of making money from a blog.

    Would you please do a post about literary agencies and book publishers that are particularly open to taking on books written by bloggers?

    Thank you!

  25. Yes, I do agree that the number of bloggers who want to earn money online is on the rise, but successful ones are relatively few, and many give up easily after a while.

    It isn’t as easy as most of them think.

  26. I’m with Pablo. Though being a blogger myself, I don’t believe there should be more full time bloggers than programmers (btw is Darren missing a “m” here? ;) ). Ah yes, we’re not talking about blogs for restaurants, tourism, food, movies, anime, photography, origami, cosplay, literature etc.

  27. I read that Penelope Trunk post and some other stuff on her blog. She seems very NEGATIVE. And she’s also wrong. Some people do make a living with their blogs even if they don’t have a long background in “big media”. In another article she even advises to NOT do what you love. Ridiculous. I WON’T be taking advice from her.

  28. Darren, Nice article that gives more depth to the original report. I would guess that many bloggers may be doing what they are doing for reasons beyond pure monetary gain. Thanks for the insights.

  29. This is a great post–and I went through to read the post by Penelope, too. She is right–I applaud her for that. Penelope is very blunt–but if you look at what she’s saying, she’s only trying to help people to stay in reality with their hopes of writing the next very successful blog–and the hope that they will become overnight millionaires. On the other hand, if I had read this post when I first thought of beginning a blog, I probably would never have begun in the first place!

    My blog has become a vehicle for gaining opportunities, and was begun as a way to maintain my sanity in a very huge move I made–and it’s been an excellent way to “meet” new people in a virtual way–even making some new friends! My blog’s not been a real money-maker, but that’s OK…I have a very long way to go and a lot to learn about blogging. Money has not been the main reason I blog…it would be nice, though!

    Thanks for all that you write here, Darren…and it’s great to find that you’re a minister! I had no idea! Anyway, I come here often for information and find something new and helpful every time I visit!

    Have a great day,

  30. The people who make a good living from their blogs, like me, tend not to shout about it. That’s why so many people think that blogging doesn’t make very much money.

  31. Typical journalistic piece. I don’t know a lot about it but even I know that around 90%+ of the blogs on the internet don’t make a Dime.

  32. Very interesting article, I don’t think these numbers are going to drop, infact I can see in 10+ years, blogging won’t be a from-home thing, there will be a number of very large companies with huge offices with large amounts of staff all dedicated to blogging for the company, setting up differnt blogs and what not.

  33. i did not make any money!o my god!

  34. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are beginning to be more bloggers than programmers. The internet is a great area to maximize your potential!

  35. Very well said, it is very difficult to have a good income from blog. Here in India, most new commer bloggers are mostly copying contents from other’s blog and pasting on their blog and thinking to earn good maney. If hardworking and dedicated are finding it difficult to earn enough through blog, how can copy master – cheaters can earn maony?

    Delhi, India

  36. It takes loads of work. YOu need people to link to your blogs. This gets increases in traffic. Many of the new viewers may return also.

  37. I’m a programmer also who wish to make money from my source code. But it is too bit complicated that I started to monetize my website using Adsense.

    As of now I am making a fair income. Although I did not reach $500 a month but I’m sure someday thru traffic building this income will be a reality.

    Programming plus Adsense is a win-win solution.


  38. It not always about money (although it does help) I think blogging can help you pick up and practice a lot of new skills especially if you work in a related area…

    Also I, like most other stat heads out there get a kick out of knowing people are spending their time looking at something I have made or wrote kinda feels like being a journalist.

    It’s flattering to think what you write can inspire thought and interaction surely that should be the end goal and making money should be a bi-product

    (mind you I probably only say this because I haven’t made any yet)

  39. The biggest issue is that people treat blogging to be a get rich quick scheme. Wheras it is all but that.

  40. I’m learning this first hand, I launched my blog 2 months ago. I knew it would not be easy, and had been researching, and writng my posts, 4-5 months prior to the launch. I just didn’t realise how involving it would be. Writing good content is just a part of it, there are other things like marketing, SEO, social media, affiliate marketing, that you have to be equally dedicated to. Of course I want to monetize the blog, so I started the Ads from day one as Darren suggests, if in fact that is your intention, but that has almost become secondary. My first priority is of course to get traffic and build readership, which no matter how good your content is, I believe, takes time. As a new blogger you’re in such a difficult position, as you would be if you were starting any new business. For instance, you want to link to people, and want others to link back to you, but you’re so new and the PR is so low, people may stay away from linking to you. There is no quick way, no matter what people say. It takes time to build relationships and people to trust, and you to build your brand, and for you to find your place in this overcrowded world of blogs. Readers have to filter you through a whole bunch a junk out there. I’m not doing this casually, so I’d say my blog is my business (I’m a Work At home Mom), and I’m going to treat it as such. I’ll work as hard as I can and try to be successful with this blog, and probably venture into more sites / blogs, once I get my feet wet with this one. I will focus on the task, rather than constantly worrying about the result – or monetizing it, and in the process I’m sure will learn a lot, as I already have.

  41. I think it is important to note that many people use their blogs as a launching point to earn other income. I make about 300 dollars a month on my blog but have managed to parlay that into opportunities to freelance write. Between the two it is not quite self sustaining yet but well on the way. I have to say it takes a lot of time and dedication but at least I sink or fail based on my efforts and I don’t have a boss looking over my shoulder every two seconds.

  42. Money, money, money

    Now, here is a good read.

    Since I am a relatively new blogger I thought I might need a reality check about whether I might make any money on my blog(s) and websites through advertising and donations. An experienced writer doesn’t think any of us have much of chance to make any serious money. “8 Reason Why You Won’t Make Money on your blog” – from Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist ‘ Advice at the intersection of work and life.’ … [ http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2009/04/21/8-reasons-why-you-wont-make-money-from-your-blog/ ]

    “About Penelope Trunk
    Penelope is the founder of 3 startups — most recently, Brazen Careerist, a web service to help companies find candidates. Her career advice appears in more than 200 newspapers and magazines including Time magazine, San Francisco Chronicle and Boston Globe. In a review of this blog, Business Week called Penelope’s writing “poetic.””

  43. If a blogger can REALLY add value to people and business, they could sell their knowledge as a consultant OFFLINE, but gain the publicity online via their blog.

    Darren adds value, as do many others. But there are also many that post a lot that adds little or no value to people and business.

    If anyone believes they deserve to make good money from their blog, then surely they must add value to people or business. Yes, enjoy the bit adsense income, and if it’s more than a bit then great.

    But there is a massive OFFLINE world of business out there that wants to meet people in the flesh and have a consultant on-site, sitting across a table.

    Use blogging to get your piece of the offline cake – to get on-site and to that chair at the other side of the table.

    I’ve been able to make a few hundred $ a month through adsense so I guess my beers are paid for :-) But my consulting business makes me over a $1000 a day and it’s my niche blog that helps me win the clients who are prepared to spend money on me.

  44. I find it very hard to believe that there are more bloggers than code monkeys in the US.

    I can understand that many WANT to make their living blogging but in reality, I bet most have days jobs live resting actors working in MacDonalds.

  45. Reasons are obvious, there is a consistent increase in income with same amount of work in blogging and if you compare then nothing is suddenly lost while blogging, but it can happen if you are a programmer; recently many programmers worldwide have lost their jobs…

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