Professional Blogger: What It Takes to Blog Full-Time

As you’re reading this post, it’s safe to assume that you’re interested in becoming a professional blogger. It could be that you’ve got an existing blog that you’d like to start monetizing, or you could be thinking of how to generate income from the outset on a new blog that you want to start.

While many people start and continue to run their blogs as a side venture, there will be a lot of people who will also aspire to replace their regular salary and eventually to work on their blogs full-time.

Regardless of your specific goals, this post aims to provide a realistic assessment of what it takes to be a professional blogger. You’ll learn, for example, how long it takes to reach the level of blogging as a full-time career, how you can expect to earn income, and other key factors such as how expensive a full-time blog is to run, and how much traffic you’ll need.

Let’s get started.

What Constitutes a Professional Blogger?

For this post, I’m basing this classification purely on how much income a blogger earns. I’ve chosen $50,024 as the minimum salary needed to achieve this title, which is the highest average salary in the United States which applies to 45-54 year olds, as recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To be considered to be a professional blogger, an individual, therefore, needs to make the following on a monthly basis:

A net income (total monthly income minus expenses) of at least $4,168.67 per month ($50,024 divided by 12).

The following blogs have managed to surpass this monthly revenue figure and as such their income reports have been analyzed for this post:

Blog NameTopic Area(s)
Boho BerryPersonal Development
Just A Girl And Her BlogHome Organising / Decorating / Blog Tips
Kitchen SanctuaryFood
Matthew WoodwardInternet Marketing
One Little ProjectHome Organising / Food / DIY / Blog Tips
Show Me The YummyFood / Blog Tips

How Long Does it Take to Become a Professional Blogger?

As mentioned above, I consider an individual to have reached ‘professional blogger’ status at the point at which they first achieve the required full-time income figure (at least $4,168.67 in a given month).

The timescales are as follows for each of the blogs:

professional blogger: what it takes to blog full-time (timescales)

The quickest time taken to reach the equivalent of a full-time income was 12 months, while the longest duration was 36 months.

The average time taken to achieve a full-time income from the sample blogs was 21.67 months.

A few notes on the figures above:

  • The start date of each blog has been taken as the date of the first post. Any preparation time in terms of creating the website and writing the first post has not been accounted for as this information was not available. Therefore, the figures above account for how long it took a blog to reach the full-time income figure after going live.
  • A full month has been included for the month that each blog reported earnings above the full-time income figure. No breakdowns were given on a daily basis, so I have been unable to pinpoint the exact day this figure was reached.
  • None of the blogs went live on the first day of a particular month, leading to situations of incomplete months. For example, Show Me The Yummy took 13 months and 10 days to achieve the full-time income figure based on the above notes. In these situations, for simplicity, less that 15 days has been rounded down so this month isn’t counted, and more than 15 days have been counted as a full month.

What Can You Learn From This?

  • It’s possible to become a professional blogger relatively quickly.

Based on the above average, just under 22 months appears to be a reasonable estimate.

  • It’s possible to earn a full-time income from a blog across a wide range of topic areas.

In this case, personal development, home improvement, food and internet marketing have all been proven to be viable. Check out this list of the most popular blog categories if you want more examples of successful blog topics.

  • 2 of the 3 fastest blogs to earn a full-time income used affiliate marketing as their main sources of revenue (Matthew Woodward – 100%, Boho Berry – 82%).

This aligns with Smart Blogger’s advice of sticking with affiliate marketing in the early days of running a blog, given that it is more profitable than advertising, and doesn’t take as long as creating your own products.

  • It is possible to grow revenue quickly while focusing mainly on advertising.

Show Me The Yummy achieved this in only 13 months while earning 99% of revenue from adverts (this is particularly impressive considering that food is regarded as one of the toughest niches to achieve success in, and advertising is considered to be less profitable than other forms of revenue).

Show Me The Yummy is able to offset potential issues associated with its particular niche and choice of advertising by consistently posting valuable, engaging content and from obtaining good levels of traffic (covered further in Question 4).

Professional Blogger: What It Takes to Blog Full-Time

As you’re reading this post, it’s safe to assume that you’re interested in becoming a professional blogger. It could be that you’ve got an existing blog that you’d like to start monetizing, or you could be thinking of how to generate income from the outset on a new blog that you want to start.

While many people start and continue to run their blogs as a side venture, there will be a lot of people who will also aspire to replace their regular salary and eventually to work on their blogs full-time.

Regardless of your specific goals, this post aims to provide a realistic assessment of what it takes to be a professional blogger. You’ll learn, for example, how long it takes to reach the level of blogging as a full-time career, how you can expect to earn income, and other key factors such as how expensive a full-time blog is to run, and how much traffic you’ll need.

Let’s get started.

What Constitutes a Professional Blogger?

For this post, I’m basing this classification purely on how much income a blogger earns. I’ve chosen $50,024 as the minimum salary needed to achieve this title, which is the highest average salary in the United States which applies to 45-54 year olds, as recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To be considered to be a professional blogger, an individual, therefore, needs to make the following on a monthly basis:

A net income (total monthly income minus expenses) of at least $4,168.67 per month ($50,024 divided by 12).

The following blogs have managed to surpass this monthly revenue figure and as such their income reports have been analyzed for this post:

Blog NameTopic Area(s)
Boho BerryPersonal Development
Just A Girl And Her BlogHome Organising / Decorating / Blog Tips
Kitchen SanctuaryFood
Matthew WoodwardInternet Marketing
One Little ProjectHome Organising / Food / DIY / Blog Tips
Show Me The YummyFood / Blog Tips

How Long Does it Take to Become a Professional Blogger?

As mentioned above, I consider an individual to have reached ‘professional blogger’ status at the point at which they first achieve the required full-time income figure (at least $4,168.67 in a given month).

The timescales are as follows for each of the blogs:

professional blogger: what it takes to blog full-time (timescales)

The quickest time taken to reach the equivalent of a full-time income was 12 months, while the longest duration was 36 months.

The average time taken to achieve a full-time income from the sample blogs was 21.67 months.

A few notes on the figures above:

  • The start date of each blog has been taken as the date of the first post. Any preparation time in terms of creating the website and writing the first post has not been accounted for as this information was not available. Therefore, the figures above account for how long it took a blog to reach the full-time income figure after going live.
  • A full month has been included for the month that each blog reported earnings above the full-time income figure. No breakdowns were given on a daily basis, so I have been unable to pinpoint the exact day this figure was reached.
  • None of the blogs went live on the first day of a particular month, leading to situations of incomplete months. For example, Show Me The Yummy took 13 months and 10 days to achieve the full-time income figure based on the above notes. In these situations, for simplicity, less that 15 days has been rounded down so this month isn’t counted, and more than 15 days have been counted as a full month.

What Can You Learn From This?

  • It’s possible to become a professional blogger relatively quickly.

Based on the above average, just under 22 months appears to be a reasonable estimate.

  • It’s possible to earn a full-time income from a blog across a wide range of topic areas.

In this case, personal development, home improvement, food and internet marketing have all been proven to be viable. Check out this list of the most popular blog categories if you want more examples of successful blog topics.

  • 2 of the 3 fastest blogs to earn a full-time income used affiliate marketing as their main sources of revenue (Matthew Woodward – 100%, Boho Berry – 82%).

This aligns with Smart Blogger’s advice of sticking with affiliate marketing in the early days of running a blog, given that it is more profitable than advertising, and doesn’t take as long as creating your own products.

  • It is possible to grow revenue quickly while focusing mainly on advertising.

Show Me The Yummy achieved this in only 13 months while earning 99% of revenue from adverts (this is particularly impressive considering that food is regarded as one of the toughest niches to achieve success in, and advertising is considered to be less profitable than other forms of revenue).

Show Me The Yummy is able to offset potential issues associated with its particular niche and choice of advertising by consistently posting valuable, engaging content and from obtaining good levels of traffic (covered further in Question 4).

How Do These Bloggers Make Their Money?

Earnings from each of the blogs’ income reports can be split into the following categories:

Advertising

This involves establishing agreements with advertising networks such as Google Adsense, or directly with specific brands, and displaying adverts on your blog to earn money on the basis of:

  • A fixed fee for how long an advert is shown – for example if you charged $500 per month to display a banner advert for a particular brand.
  • How many times an advert is displayed to visitors to your blog. This is usually on the basis of a cost per thousand impressions (CPM). For example, if your advertising rate is $1.50 CPM, you’ll earn $1.50 every one thousand times an advert is shown.
  • How many times an advert is clicked by a visitor to your blog. Earnings here are typically on the basis of cost per click (CPC). For example, if you charged $0.05 per click of an advert and it was clicked 500 times by your visitors, you’d earn $25.

Affiliate Marketing

Earning money through recommending products and services from other companies. For example, if you ran a technology blog and you enjoyed using a specific type of camera to capture photos for your blog, you could recommend the camera to your audience and include an affiliate link. If you were a member of Amazon’s affiliate programme, for example, and a customer followed your link and ultimately bought the camera (or another qualifying product) from Amazon, you would earn a commission.

Products/Services

Earning money through selling your own products and services. These could be digital products such as eBooks and online training courses, or physical products such as branded clothing.

RecommendedTeachable Review: Everything You Need to Know About the Online Course Platform

The specific revenue split across each category for the six blogs is as follows:

image showing how various professional bloggers earn a full-time salary from their blogs

What Can You Learn From This?

  • Overall, the six blogs earn revenue through a very limited number of income streams.

None of the blogs delve too deep into the available options when it comes to advertising, affiliate marketing and own products and services. This is likely due to each of the blogs still being relatively fresh in their journeys when the full-time income figures were achieved, and still somewhat ‘finding their feet’.

ProBlogger has produced an excellent ‘money map‘ showing the different possibilities for earning revenue from a blog – it is likely that each of the sample blogs will diversify into more options from this list as they become more established.

  • It’s possible to be a professional blogger despite focusing on just one type of revenue stream.

For example Show Me The Yummy’s strategy focused almost entirely (99%) on advertising, Matthew Woodward’s blog generated 100% of revenue from affiliate marketing, and Just A Girl And Her Blog’s mainly earned revenue from products and services (73%).

How Do These Bloggers Make Their Money?

Earnings from each of the blogs’ income reports can be split into the following categories:

Advertising

This involves establishing agreements with advertising networks such as Google Adsense, or directly with specific brands, and displaying adverts on your blog to earn money on the basis of:

  • A fixed fee for how long an advert is shown – for example if you charged $500 per month to display a banner advert for a particular brand.
  • How many times an advert is displayed to visitors to your blog. This is usually on the basis of a cost per thousand impressions (CPM). For example, if your advertising rate is $1.50 CPM, you’ll earn $1.50 every one thousand times an advert is shown.
  • How many times an advert is clicked by a visitor to your blog. Earnings here are typically on the basis of cost per click (CPC). For example, if you charged $0.05 per click of an advert and it was clicked 500 times by your visitors, you’d earn $25.

Affiliate Marketing

Earning money through recommending products and services from other companies. For example, if you ran a technology blog and you enjoyed using a specific type of camera to capture photos for your blog, you could recommend the camera to your audience and include an affiliate link. If you were a member of Amazon’s affiliate programme, for example, and a customer followed your link and ultimately bought the camera (or another qualifying product) from Amazon, you would earn a commission.

Products/Services

Earning money through selling your own products and services. These could be digital products such as eBooks and online training courses, or physical products such as branded clothing.

RecommendedTeachable Review: Everything You Need to Know About the Online Course Platform

The specific revenue split across each category for the six blogs is as follows:

image showing how various professional bloggers earn a full-time salary from their blogs

What Can You Learn From This?

  • Overall, the six blogs earn revenue through a very limited number of income streams.

None of the blogs delve too deep into the available options when it comes to advertising, affiliate marketing and own products and services. This is likely due to each of the blogs still being relatively fresh in their journeys when the full-time income figures were achieved, and still somewhat ‘finding their feet’.

ProBlogger has produced an excellent ‘money map‘ showing the different possibilities for earning revenue from a blog – it is likely that each of the sample blogs will diversify into more options from this list as they become more established.

  • It’s possible to be a professional blogger despite focusing on just one type of revenue stream.

For example Show Me The Yummy’s strategy focused almost entirely (99%) on advertising, Matthew Woodward’s blog generated 100% of revenue from affiliate marketing, and Just A Girl And Her Blog’s mainly earned revenue from products and services (73%).

How Expensive Are These Blogs to Run?

The table below shows how much it cost to run each blog (see expense column) during the month they reached the full-time income figure:

Blog NameRevenue (US $)Expenses (US $)Net Income (US $)Profit Margin*
Matthew Woodward6,102.84134.055,968.7997.80%
Show Me The Yummy4,546.89239.724,307.1794.73%
Kitchen Sanctuary5,652.05235.455,416.6095.84%
Just A Girl And Her Blog6,956.00571.006,385.0091.79%
Boho Berry4,861.44675.534,185.9186.10%
One Little Project6,355.56880.855,474.7186.14%

The average cost (excluding salary) of running the six blogs during the month that full-time income was achieved was $456.10.

The average profit margin (noting the caveat above) of the six blogs was 92.07%*.

*Profit margin isn’t entirely accurate as the expenses do not include salary.

Typical Expenses

A consistent expense across all blogs was hosting. This ranged from $48.95 (Matthew Woodward) to $249.00 (Boho Berry).

Another consistent expense came from email marketing service providers (shown for all blogs except Matthew Woodward). This ranged from $45.00 (Show Me The Yummy) to $199.00 (Boho Berry).

Other expenses include:

  • Facebook advertising (One Little Project – $73.77 / Matthew Woodward – $77.10)
  • Subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud – likely for graphic design purposes (Show Me The Yummy – $54.79 / Kitchen Sanctuary – $60.79)
  • Transaction fees from selling products or services (Just A Girl And Her Blog – $356)
  • A virtual assistant (Boho Berry – $149)
  • Freelance coding assistance (One Little Project – $138)
  • Other freelance requirements, e.g. graphic design (One Little Project – $402)

What Can You Learn From This?

  • Running a blog can be very profitable.

Although I’ve caveated the average profit margin figure given that the expenses values do not include salary, there is no getting away from the fact that blogging can be very profitable.

How Expensive Are These Blogs to Run?

The table below shows how much it cost to run each blog (see expense column) during the month they reached the full-time income figure:

Blog NameRevenue (US $)Expenses (US $)Net Income (US $)Profit Margin*
Matthew Woodward6,102.84134.055,968.7997.80%
Show Me The Yummy4,546.89239.724,307.1794.73%
Kitchen Sanctuary5,652.05235.455,416.6095.84%
Just A Girl And Her Blog6,956.00571.006,385.0091.79%
Boho Berry4,861.44675.534,185.9186.10%
One Little Project6,355.56880.855,474.7186.14%

The average cost (excluding salary) of running the six blogs during the month that full-time income was achieved was $456.10.

The average profit margin (noting the caveat above) of the six blogs was 92.07%*.

*Profit margin isn’t entirely accurate as the expenses do not include salary.

Typical Expenses

A consistent expense across all blogs was hosting. This ranged from $48.95 (Matthew Woodward) to $249.00 (Boho Berry).

Another consistent expense came from email marketing service providers (shown for all blogs except Matthew Woodward). This ranged from $45.00 (Show Me The Yummy) to $199.00 (Boho Berry).

Other expenses include:

  • Facebook advertising (One Little Project – $73.77 / Matthew Woodward – $77.10)
  • Subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud – likely for graphic design purposes (Show Me The Yummy – $54.79 / Kitchen Sanctuary – $60.79)
  • Transaction fees from selling products or services (Just A Girl And Her Blog – $356)
  • A virtual assistant (Boho Berry – $149)
  • Freelance coding assistance (One Little Project – $138)
  • Other freelance requirements, e.g. graphic design (One Little Project – $402)

What Can You Learn From This?

  • Running a blog can be very profitable.

Although I’ve caveated the average profit margin figure given that the expenses values do not include salary, there is no getting away from the fact that blogging can be very profitable.

How Much Traffic Does It Take to Earn a Full-Time Income From a Blog?

The traffic figures for each of the six blogs during the month their owners achieved ‘professional blogger’ status is as follows:

Blog NameNet Income (US $)UsersPage ViewsNet Income Per Thousand
Page Views (US $)
Matthew Woodward5,968.799,48551,367116.20
Just A Girl And Her Blog6,385.0093,876217,25129.39
Kitchen Sanctuary*5,416.60146,369229,07723.65
Show Me The Yummy4,307.17224,023361,61611.91
Boho Berry4,185.91257,291613,8126.82
One Little Project5,474.71650,210893,6726.13
image showing the traffic data (users and page views) of the selected professional bloggers during the month they first earned a full-time income from their blogs

The average number of page views across the six blogs was 394,466. The average number of users recorded was 230,209.

The average ratio number of page views per visitor is 2.45. Matthew Woodward achieved the highest average (5.42), while One Little Project achieved the lowest (1.37).

What Can You Learn From This?

  • The gap between the lowest and highest traffic figures is very large (51,367 page views vs. 893,672), while the gap between monthly net income is minimal ($5,969 vs. $5,475).

This indicates that, based on looking at the sample data at face value, the amount of traffic received does not have a significant impact on earnings. A similar result was found by Authority Hacker which showed no correlation between Alexa ranking (an indicator of a website’s popularity based on traffic estimates) and total revenue.

  • By digging a bit deeper, it is possible to find a hint of a relationship between traffic and net income based on how a blog earns revenue.

The top three blogs in terms of net income per thousand page views were those which focused primarily on affiliate marketing (Matthew Woodward) and own products and services (Just A Girl And Her Blog / Kitchen Sanctuary).

Two of the bottom blogs in terms of this metric focused primarily on advertising (One Little Project / Show Me The Yummy).

This appears to show that maximising traffic figures should be more of a concern for blogs which focus primarily on advertising, versus those which focus more on affiliate marketing or own products and services. Although a larger set of sample data would be needed to determine how significant any relationship is here.

How Much Traffic Does It Take to Earn a Full-Time Income From a Blog?

The traffic figures for each of the six blogs during the month their owners achieved ‘professional blogger’ status is as follows:

Blog NameNet Income (US $)UsersPage ViewsNet Income Per Thousand
Page Views (US $)
Matthew Woodward5,968.799,48551,367116.20
Just A Girl And Her Blog6,385.0093,876217,25129.39
Kitchen Sanctuary*5,416.60146,369229,07723.65
Show Me The Yummy4,307.17224,023361,61611.91
Boho Berry4,185.91257,291613,8126.82
One Little Project5,474.71650,210893,6726.13
image showing the traffic data (users and page views) of the selected professional bloggers during the month they first earned a full-time income from their blogs

The average number of page views across the six blogs was 394,466. The average number of users recorded was 230,209.

The average ratio number of page views per visitor is 2.45. Matthew Woodward achieved the highest average (5.42), while One Little Project achieved the lowest (1.37).

What Can You Learn From This?

  • The gap between the lowest and highest traffic figures is very large (51,367 page views vs. 893,672), while the gap between monthly net income is minimal ($5,969 vs. $5,475).

This indicates that, based on looking at the sample data at face value, the amount of traffic received does not have a significant impact on earnings. A similar result was found by Authority Hacker which showed no correlation between Alexa ranking (an indicator of a website’s popularity based on traffic estimates) and total revenue.

  • By digging a bit deeper, it is possible to find a hint of a relationship between traffic and net income based on how a blog earns revenue.

The top three blogs in terms of net income per thousand page views were those which focused primarily on affiliate marketing (Matthew Woodward) and own products and services (Just A Girl And Her Blog / Kitchen Sanctuary).

Two of the bottom blogs in terms of this metric focused primarily on advertising (One Little Project / Show Me The Yummy).

This appears to show that maximising traffic figures should be more of a concern for blogs which focus primarily on advertising, versus those which focus more on affiliate marketing or own products and services. Although a larger set of sample data would be needed to determine how significant any relationship is here.

Conclusion

Based on the above, the average professional blogger’s website will likely have the following attributes at the point at which they reach the full-time income figure selected for this post (at least $4,168.67 per month):

  • It has been live for almost 22 months.
  • Revenue is generated from either advertising, affiliate marketing, or through products and services associated with the blog.
  • Revenue streams aren’t typically diversified at the point at which the professional blogger status is achieved, with one method of earning revenue usually being preferred.
  • It costs an average of $457.73 per month to run.
  • It has a profit margin (not accounting for salary) of around 92%.
  • The average number of page views per month is 394k.
  • The average number of users per month is 230k.

How does your blog compare to this? I’d love to hear about your progress in the comments section below.

Recommended: Check out the following post which will help you if you’re keen to pursue blogging as a full-time career: How to Make Money Blogging

Conclusion

Based on the above, the average professional blogger’s website will likely have the following attributes at the point at which they reach the full-time income figure selected for this post (at least $4,168.67 per month):

  • It has been live for almost 22 months.
  • Revenue is generated from either advertising, affiliate marketing, or through products and services associated with the blog.
  • Revenue streams aren’t typically diversified at the point at which the professional blogger status is achieved, with one method of earning revenue usually being preferred.
  • It costs an average of $457.73 per month to run.
  • It has a profit margin (not accounting for salary) of around 92%.
  • The average number of page views per month is 394k.
  • The average number of users per month is 230k.

How does your blog compare to this? I’d love to hear about your progress in the comments section below.

Recommended: Check out the following post which will help you if you’re keen to pursue blogging as a full-time career: How to Make Money Blogging

28 Rules You NEED to Follow to Supercharge Your Blogging Income.

Get your FREE checklist and email course to find how to consistently earn $1,000+ a month from your blog!

28 Rules You NEED to Follow to Supercharge Your Blogging Income.

Get your FREE checklist and email course to find how to consistently earn $1,000+ a month from your blog!

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Hey Jonathan, That’s a wonderful post or a combined case-study. This post actually caught my attention because it’s so detailed, and you have done an excellent job by adding comparisons and details to this. I have got my similar opinion on this. As you said, a blog takes at least a year or so to make some significant income and let’s say $500 – $1500. And, I totally recommend choosing one or two main monetization strategies to make money from blogging because it’s so important to get really focused when you treat your blog as a business, not a hobby.… Read more »

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