It’s been nearly two years since I started blogging at This Online World.
When I first started out, my blog was a disorganized, jumbled mess of content. I also wasn’t overly familiar with WordPress, how to write content that can rank, or how to even make money blogging in the first place.
Since then, This Online World has grown into a nice source of extra income. Blogging has also allowed me to meet so many incredible people I normally would never cross paths with and to learn a host of new skills.
Along the way, I’ve tried to pass on some of my knowledge and mistakes so that beginner bloggers can hit the ground running. My post on my journey to a $100/month blog is an example of such a post.
However, I’ve also come a long way in terms of my understanding of digital publishing since I started out blogging.
I’ve also developed a much better appreciation of both how hard and rewarding starting your own website can be.
Since blogging still seems to be one of the most commonly recommended online side hustle ideas around, I thought I’d circle back around to tackle the question: is blogging worth it?
Let’s get to it!
Is Starting A Blog Worth It In 2020?
When determining if something is ‘worth it,’ it generally helps to have an end-goal in mind.
In my opinion, there are 3 scenarios where starting a blog is an absolute no-brainer:
- You want to write for the sake of writing.
- You want to create a portfolio to showcase your published work.
- You want to regularly update friends and family on your life.
If this is the case, there’s no reason not to create a blog.
You can start writing on websites like Medium for free (and even earn some money in the process). Alternatively, you can also launch a free WordPress blog and get started pretty quickly.
Don’t overthink the process. None of the options listed above cost a dime, and I truly believe that publishing your writing online is an amazing way to create new opportunities, learn, and network.
If you want to be a bit more serious, blog hosting is still pretty affordable, so this is a relatively low-cost or free side hustle to startup.
Now, if you’re planning on blogging for money and want to develop an online business, it’s an entirely different story.
Is Blogging Profitable?
I think many content creators promote the idea of starting your own blog for two main reasons.
Firstly, successful bloggers become successful by writing about what they know best. Naturally, if someone establishes a prominent website, it makes a decent amount of sense to create content about blogging since they can write with a level of authority.
Secondly, blogging affiliate programs are incredibly lucrative. Between web hosting codes, theme deals, and courses, a blogger can easily make a few hundred dollars by convincing someone else to start their own website.
Honestly, I’ve written blog content for these exact reasons: I think This Online World is in a decent spot to help provide advice for new bloggers, and I also want to increase my income.
However, as I’ve learned more about digital publishing, I’ve also realized that blogging is much more difficult than I originally thought two years ago (back then, I was under the impression I could create a 25,000 pageview blog in about 6 months…this took me nearly 2 years in reality!)
When you take a look at the data, it seems like my story is very similar to a majority of other bloggers.
Just checkout this data from 600 other bloggers, obtained from an awesome survey on the website Digital Nomad Wannabe, to see how the income brackets break down:
As you can see, half of all bloggers are stuck making between $0-$200, and just 10.6% make upwards of $500.
This lines up with a lot of my experience at This Online World as it took 17 months for me to hit the $500 a month mark in blogging income:
Data from the survey showed that only 14.9% of bloggers earned more than $5,000 a month, with a meager 1.9% earning more than $20,000.
In my mind, this data makes a lot of sense.
Anyone can write a dozen posts, get a website approved for Google Adsense/some basic affiliate programs, and then promote their blog on places like Pinterest or Quora to trickle in traffic and earn something.
In contrast, to make serious income from blogging, I believe you need to treat your website as a business and invest both time and money into growth.
So, in short, I firmly believe that creating a profitable blog is possible for most people since you can start monetizing traffic pretty early on with ads and affiliate programs.
However, the longer I blog, the more I realize how much of a long-term play running a highly profitable blog can be.
How Much Time Does Successful Blogging Require?
The survey from Digital Nomad Wannabe had some other interesting data points, including:
- Only 5% of bloggers put in full-time hours (40 hours a week or more).
- 21% of bloggers worked between 21-40 hours a month – this was the largest bracket.
- 32% of bloggers who have been writing for less than 6 months earn $200 a month, but 66% have made $0.
- 43% of bloggers who have been writing for 6-12 months make at least $200 a month.
These last points of data are ridiculously important.
More than half of people don’t make any money within the first 6 months of running their website. However, at 6-12 months, we see that almost half of bloggers are making at least $200.
What does this all mean?
Well, for one, it highlights just how much upfront time you need to put into developing a blog before you can start to make consistent income.
Additionally, it shows why it is important to persevere with this side hustle even in the face of slow or stagnant growth.
Imagine the number of content creators who give up just a few months into their journey…perhaps if they had remained diligent and tweaked their strategies, they too would be earning $200+ every single month!
My Current Blogging Revenue & Time Investment
I probably spend between 10-15 hours a week on This Online World at this point. Some weeks are much busier, granted, while other weeks I may only spend a few hours posting on social media or updating an old post.
When I was a student, my weekly blogging work load was probably closer to 15-20 hours (being an adult and having responsibilities does put a damper on creative outlets I suppose).
However, This Online World is finally at a point where it earns more than $800USD each month.
Here are some screenshots for the last 60 days of income:
I recently switched to Mediavine for my advertising provider. However, with Monumetric, display ads earned just over $1,000 for the previous 60 days.
Additionally, various affiliate networks and payments from the Medium Partner program added an extra $650 or so in income.
FlexOffers, a long-time affiliate presence on This Online World, has also been doing much better as of late:
I’ve also been testing two new affiliate programs since late September, the first being She Is Media.
The second network I’ve implemented is Aragon – this affiliate network actually specializes in financial products and services.
Thanks to Black Friday madness, I was also able to earn $150 from referring users to Rakuten, a popular rebates website:
And, finally, Medium partner program payments have actually had a nice boost since Medium changed their earnings model:
This slow and steady progress should be reassuring (I hope) for anyone considering getting into blogging.
Roughly 2 years of work, at about 10-15 hours a week, and boom: here we are!
You don’t have to put in full-time hours to grow your blog, and you don’t have to invest money into every course under the sun to find a winning solution.
In reality, you just need to learn the basics of SEO, hone your writing skills, and grind it out while accepting that you are on a multi-year journey that will be full of wins, losses, joy, and frustration (if you’re anything like me, the two weeks of learning the WordPress back-end when you first start out will give you an aneurysm).
Sure, some bloggers may get lucky or find that they know the perfect formula for creating viral content or Pinterest images and reach hundreds of thousands of views within just a few months.
However, for most of us, the path to profitable blogging is really a long-term play.
But trust me: if you keep at it, you will hit certain milestones that snowball you into a new bracket of blogging income.
I was stuck under $500 for 17 damn months.
The second I qualified for Monumetric, I was instantly over that amount. That added revenue opened the door for outsourcing Pinterest marketing and paying for some content…at $1,000/month, I’m sure many more doors will open as well. Just keep at it, and treat your blog as a business and work to scale it over time.
Extra Reading – What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging.
Is Blogging Dead? What Does The Future Hold?
I actually hear this question quite frequently, and in some ways, it’s a fair question since blogging has been around for a long time.
Blogging is also incredibly popular. In fact, according to Bluelist, 6.7 million people publish blogs on an actual blogging platform, while an additional 12 million write posts on social media. WordPress alone sees more than 91 million new posts every month.
However, I don’t think the question ‘is blogging dead?’ is very fair.
At the end of the day, a blog is just a tool. Owning your own piece of the internet provides the ability to reach readers and to monetize their experience through ads, affiliate links, or sponsored content.
Perhaps the real question we should be asking is what will the future of blogging look like?
The way we use technology is constantly changing. Plus, the internet is more competitive than it has ever been, and new forms of media like video/YouTube or voice search continue to grow and influence how people consume content.
But, while the days of writing 500 word blog posts and ranking on the first page of Google are long gone, I don’t think changing technological trends spell doom and gloom for bloggers.
Rather, I think the changing world we live in simply demands us to remain more aware and flexible so that we can adapt to changes and survive.
Take recent Google algorithm updates as an example.
The recent November update decimated the organic traffic for scores of bloggers, and 2019 has been a generally volatile year for updates as a whole (I was actually hammered by 2 updates and favored by 2 this year).
Google has also changed how users consumer information on their search engine, pushing video content or info-snippets into higher positions than ever before.
All of this volatility means that we simply have to roll with the punches and diversify risk as much as possible.
Personally, I plan on getting into video for 2020 and to grow alternative traffic sources to organic search like social media or my email list to better prepare for the future. I may also pay for more content to start a second website as a case study (and to hopefully get another money making website up and running).
Whatever the case: just don’t let anyone convince you that blogs are going the way of the dodo bird. The game might change, but we just have to keep up!
So, Is Blogging For You?
Between my own experiences and the data from 600 other bloggers, I think it’s safe to say that you should not get into blogging if you want quick cash.
In fact, I’d probably give yourself a runway of at least 1-2 years for your first blog in terms of setting goals for revenue targets. Again, you may be faster or slower than other people, but very few webmasters can make thousands of dollars in just a few months with their first website.
Now, if you’re willing to put in the work for the long-haul or simply want to write for the enjoyment of it all, I think there’s nothing holding you back.
Creating online content is an incredibly rewarding experience. It also opens a wide range of doors and networking opportunities that you might never be able to experience otherwise.
So, if you’re willing to take on this roller coaster of a side hustle, I argue there’s no better time to start than right now. Just be sure to set realistic expectations and to remain agile in the ever-changing world of digital publishing.
Catch you guys in the next one! Happy blogging!
Tom is a 23 year old recent college graduate from Canada with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and marketing. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
If you’re interested in freelance writing services or want to partner with This Online World, please visit Tom Blake Digital to get in touch!