The Honest Truth About What It Takes to Earn a Living Blogging10 min read

From time to time, I write a post about making money blogging. It’s not often, because I think that all the other aspects of blogging matter a lot more.

Making money blogging is about consistently producing quality content.

Making money blogging is about networking and building an audience.

Making money blogging is about adding value to other people’s lives.

Making money blogging is as simple as asking yourself, “Would I pay to read a blog like mine?”

If the answer is no, it’s time for you to do more, become more, engage more, entertain more, write more, and care more.

The honest truth about making money blogging is that there’s no magic formula, step-by-step guide, or sleazy marketing technique.

No one cares until you are so good they can’t ignore you. It’s not the services you sell, not the online courses, or the ads, or the affiliate links. It’s how good you are with the words and ideas and thoughts you share, and how your readers love you for it.

If you want to make money blogging, you’ve got to make people fall in love with your words.

It’s as simple as that.


The Bitter-Sweet Truth About Making Money Blogging

Yesterday I wrote a post about doing what you love.

Well, as a blogger, as a content creator, there will be many days when you won’t love what you do as much as you’d like.

Even doing what you love day after day after day is mentally exhausting.

Yes, showing up is 90% of success, but showing up every single day is far from easy. Sometimes you just don’t want to do it.


You’ve Got to Show Up

If you want to make money blogging, you’ve got to learn how to work when you’re not feeling inspired. Or motivated. Or when you don’t have the time.

The money you make as a blogger is the side-effect of your ability to consistently deliver quality content to your audience.

Your readers don’t care about your writer’s block. And, truth be told, there is no such thing as writer’s block.

Creativity is not a non-renewable resource. The more you do it, the more you strengthen your capacity to do more. Just like a muscle.

If being consistently creative is crushing your soul, or if it exhausts your mind, consider that trying to make serious money as a content creator may not be the right path for you.

Because competing with all the creatives who can produce every single day is going to break your heart.

If you want to make money blogging, learn to show up every single day, whether you feel like it or not.


You’re Not Worth Much Until You Become So Good They Can’t Ignore You

If you want to make money as a blogger you’ve got to accept that you don’t earn money based on how proud you are of your work. You make money if what you write is intriguing enough that your readers don’t close the tab and go look for something else to read.

You make money based on your ability to compete with half a billion other bloggers. And a bunch of Instagram influencers. And millions of vloggers. And billions of hours of podcasts.

If you want to make money blogging, you’ve got to accept the fact that you are asking people for their time, and most people don’t want to waste their time.

You don’t get paid for how good you want to be, you get paid for how good you are.

And the truth is that no one cares until you’re so good they can’t help but read your stuff.


There Will Be Haters

If you want to make money blogging, you’ve got to accept the fact that you will have to advertise your content and grow your audience in such a way that sometimes the people who read your content won’t be in your target audience.

And they won’t understand. And they won’t like you.

It’s okay.

If you want to make money blogging, you’ve got to accept the fact that there will be haters, and that part of sharing your work online is receiving various types of feedback.


There Will Be a Lot of Moments That Don’t Make Much Sense

The so-called 9–5 job pays in direct proportion to your contribution and the time you spend at work. Most times, that is.

Content creation is different.

When you’re just starting out, fueled by enthusiasm, you invest a lot of time and energy to earn something that looks like this:

First Medium Partner Payment

Considering that I spent 8–10 hours every day creating content, networking, and promoting that content, it seems hopeless to keep going.

Any reasonable person would quit at this point, and that’s why 99% of content creators either give up or lose their ambition to ever create content that is worthy of making them serious money.

But the truth is that during my first month of blogging, back in April 2012, I earned a grand total of $1.05. Before taxes.

Six months later I was earning around $100 per day.

It took me eight months to get my first $100 paycheck from Amazon from my e-book sales, some 60 days to earn my first $10 from Amazon Affiliates, and five months to earn $100 from displaying ads on my blog.

Mind you, we’re talking about somewhat popular blogs, with audiences of close to ten thousand readers.

This why the reasonable decision is to give up. After all, no one in their right mind would ever want to work full-time for just enough to buy a cup of coffee.

But, on the other hand, you understand the fact that you are developing a stream of income, not working a full-time job, you will begin to see that if a platform offers you the potential to earn $1, you can earn a lot more over time.

You just need to create more content and to grow your audience.

There are a lot of things about making money as a blogger that demand of you to be unreasonable:

  1. 99.99% of your audience will only be there for the free stuff. In order to make any real money, you’ve got to put out a lot of free content in the hopes that a small percentage of your readers will purchase your paid products.
  2. You need to slowly and painfully build a portfolio of work that can earn you an income.

One of the bitter-sweet truths of blogging is that little by little, a little always becomes a lot.

It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak.

If you don’t have the patience, the inner fortitude, the passion, and the enthusiasm to keep going when it makes sense to quit, maybe it’s best to find other sources of income.


The Mindset Shift Critical to Earning Money as a Blogger

A creator doesn’t get paid for their time, for their effort, they get paid for the quality and impact of the content they share.

This is something every content creator must be aware of on an emotional level.

Otherwise, it’s easy to lose heart. It becomes quite understandable to give up on creating content or treat it as a hobby of sorts, never quite investing enough time and energy to grow an audience that is capable of providing an income.

The mindset I adopt when it comes to earning a cup of coffer for a month of content creation is the following:

  1. I become excited by the prospect of earning more because I understand how content creation works: the more effort you put in, the more you earn in terms of income, the more you grow your audience. So, I focus on working as much as possible.
  2. I understand that a piece of content earns money for as long as it’s available to the public. As my audience grows, so does the income I earn from all my content.
  3. It takes a while to build trust with your audience, meaning that it takes a while to build the kind of engagement levels that are crucial to growing an income stream from content creation.

Sounds simple, right?

Well… it is. But it’s not an easy thing to do.

A mindset is not something you know to be true, but something you feel to be true. It may sound corny, but it’s extremely important not to lose heart as you build a income stream from your content.


The Hardest Part About Developing this Mindset

The most difficult aspect of having this mindset is that you have to approach content creation from a different perspective.

It’s a game of patience and consistency, not wishful thinking and high hopes.

This means that you have to invest for a long time before you see a significant increase in your income.

This is the main reason beginners have a hard time building momentum in terms of content creation, building a network, growing an audience, or earning money.

It just doesn’t seem to work. The feedback (or lack of it), the statistics, the engagement, all of them point to you driving a hundred miles per hour towards a brick wall.

But it’s far from being true. You have yet to build enough trust with folks for them to buy your products or consume your content. You probably don’t even have the skills to create the type of content that they most want or need to consume.

This takes time. A lot of it.

But you are setting yourself up for heartbreak and failure if you lose your drive because you are not earning the kind of money you were expecting to earn.

As you create more, you will earn more. The trick is to keep punching those keys, to keep uploading those YouTube videos, even though you’re not seeing an immediate payoff from your work.

Keep in mind that a little by little always becomes a lot.


Accept that you will need to do the work. And you won’t always love the work you do.

And when the thing you love to do loses some of its magical enthusiasm, the moment it becomes a habit you force upon yourself, that’s when you will most feel like giving up. If you want to make money blogging, keep punching those damn keys.

There’s nothing romantic about working with purpose and drive. You need to give up on idealistic notions; idealism destroys every deal.

Lastly, accept that making an income from blogging is not about being a brilliant writer, it’s about consistently producing content that your audience can relate to. Writing this type of content is not magic, it’s not art, it’s a skill like any other that you develop.

Accept that making money blogging is so difficult because 99.9% of content creators mistakenly believe it’s supposed to be effortless. It’s not. It’s risky. It’s painfully slow. It’s terrifying at times. There’s a lot of uncertainty you have to handle, while punching those damn keys until your hands hurt.

But it’s also worth it. Not because you can go out and buy all the things you don’t need with the money you earn, but because earning money from the words you share with others is validation that you have an impact, that you have become an influence in an overcrowded online environment.

This is what the money means: it’s another cold metric that shows you how much people care about the words you share with them.

Cristian Mihai

Became Internet famous by the age of 23. Never recovered. I write short author bios all over the web. I’m an acquired taste. Don’t like me? Acquire some taste.

15 thoughts on “The Honest Truth About What It Takes to Earn a Living Blogging10 min read

  1. Great stuff as usual. I’m lucky that I still feel the drive to keep at this, even though I’ve earned about USD10 from Medium so far. Thanks for being transparent with your earnings and inspiring other bloggers out there!

    1. Hi Stuart,

      The trick is to keep going. Little by little, a little becomes a lot.

      Now I am averaging $12 per day, which is more than I earned during my first week in March.

      1. Since Medium became a paid service I have left. Is it even worth signing up unless your at a certain level with your writing that people actively read your content? Thanks.

      2. To be honest, it’s much more competitive than WordPress.com.

        But there’s so much to learn, so much content, so many brilliant people to connect with.

        It’s an entitely different breed. Well worth the trouble, but it does require a lot more effort to build a platform there.

  2. Your wisdom drips of the page (screen), highly inspirational person. Money is not my aim as a writer reach is, but to get either you have to become a master, you have to write content as you have stated, that people would pay for. 🙂

  3. Haha! I am so psyched at my first $5 after 3 months of blogging! Thank you for that post it’s good to know that I’m in good company. xx

  4. The important thing is to keep going. Great work Cristian.
    I’ve not yet earned anything from Medium though. Lol

  5. Cristian, your honesty is refreshing and so rare. I mainly focus on the personal blogs of those who are old or almost old, and most of us are not blogging for an income. Yet nearly all your advice applies to us too.

  6. That question ‘Would I pay to read a blog like mine?’ Really cuts deep for me. As someone with some confidence issues, I find it really tricky to believe in the things that I write or say. I’m working on it and I suppose the more I get in touch with my authentic voice, the more people will like what I write.

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