How I Earn a Living as a Blogger from ProBlogger and Digital Photography School
This post is based on Episode 150 of the ProBlogger podcast.
One of our main goals here at ProBlogger is to help people make money (if not make a living) from their blogs. And we’ve certainly talked a lot about it over the years. We even have a portal on this topic.
But this week I want to give you some concrete examples by telling you how I make a living with ProBlogger and Digital Photography School.
Before I go into the details, I have a few things to tell you.
First, this information is based on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School (dPS). Since dPS is about eight times the size of ProBlogger, most of the profit comes from. However, these numbers (or rather percentages) apply to the entire company.
Secondly, I’m talking about profit and not sales. It’s two very different things, and talking about earnings without mentioning expenses isn’t very useful. If you spend a thousand dollars to make a thousand dollars, you won’t get very far.
Finally, I’m going to talk about percentages rather than actual amounts because I feel a little uncomfortable talking about what I deserve. And depending on what stage you’re on your blogging trip, it’s much easier to refer to the percentages.
Let me tell you how I make a living as a blogger.
1. Affiliate commissions
Almost half of my income (46%) comes from partner commissions. Around 10% of these commissions come from Amazon, the rest is spread over eBooks, courses, software and online services.
The great thing about commissions is that there are no expenses (other than the time it takes to set up) so you can keep everything you deserve.
2. Product sales
My second largest income earner is product sales with 31%.
Do you remember, as I said, that it is important to look at profits rather than earnings? I earn almost the same income from product sales as from partner commissions. However, the eBooks, Lightroom presets, courses and printouts I sell don’t just appear out of nowhere. People invest time and effort to create them. And we pay them for their time and effort, which reduces our profits.
3. AdSense earnings
My third highest income stream (8%) comes from Google’s AdSense program.
This was the first source of income I ever tried (somewhere between 2003 and 2004) and it still works for me. I don’t have to share the money with anyone, and since AdSense has already made cuts, there’s not too much direct spending.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that it works for every blogger and every type of blog. The Digital Photography School registers four to five million visitors a month, which is very helpful for banner advertising. AdSense also seems to like our website.
I should also point out that our AdSense income is no longer what it used to be. Some of this has to do with the direct sponsorship that we have secured. But even if we ignore this for a moment, AdSense’s earnings have been slowly declining in recent years.
And it’s not just us. Most users of AdSense or other ad networks have seen similar drops in earnings. And many ad networks are now developing different products because their earnings are falling.
AdSense accounts for about 8% of our total income. That sounds small, but it’s pretty important. It is certainly a nice direct deposit to deposit into my bank account every month. There is not much going up and down. Traffic really matters. As I said, slowly declining.
Next up are sponsorships with 6% (i.e. direct collaboration with brands).
I started doing it between 2004 and 2005. I can remember the first time I called a photo store and said, “Hey, do you want to reach people who want to buy cameras? Because I have a photo blog. “
Of course I had to explain what a blog was. But I finally persuaded a photo retailer to pay me $ 20 a month for advertising on my blog. And if my traffic increases, I would increase the monthly amount accordingly.
At the Digital Photography School, we offer advertisers sponsorship options and replace AdSense with their ads. However, we will only do this if we earn more from sponsorship than from AdSense. (We know how much an AdSense slot earns us, so we try to at least double the amount of a direct sponsorship advertising campaign.
So far we have sponsored:
- Canon and Tamron
- other photography education sites
- Centers like the New York Institute of Photography.
We also offer:
- Placements in our newsletter (which is sent to around 700,000 readers every month)
- Opportunities to run competitions on the website
- Social media advertising (which we always disclose).
We didn’t use a lot of banner ads or AdSense at ProBlogger. However, we did some sponsorship campaigns on the podcast and at events. In fact, the profit we make at events comes mainly from sponsors.
(I’ve put the money we make from events into a separate category, which I’ll cover shortly.)
5. The ProBlogger job exchange
The ProBlogger job exchange, which we started in 2006, follows with 5%.
People pay $ 50 to place their ad on the job board for 30 days, which we then inform our audience about on Twitter.
The jobs hardly came in at first, and weeks passed with just one advertisement on the board. But it has grown since then and although I have probably spent several thousand dollars to put it into operation, it now provides us with 5% of our income.
6. ProBlogger events
Around 3% of my income comes from the ProBlogger events we hold.
In the first three or four years we have just passed the breakeven point. But then the event grew to around 300 to 400 bloggers, and expenses also increased. (I once received a hotel bill for $ 100,000.) I started to think: If this doesn’t work, people don’t show up, or something goes wrong, a lot of people get hurt.
And so I started building a profit margin to cover these potential risks.
But we’re still trying to keep it as affordable as possible. And we have to do a pretty good job because we always get comments from our participants saying, “It’s just so cheap.”
We charge our participants around 80% of the cost of running the event. The profit comes from our sponsors and varies from year to year when different sponsors come and go.
We have had some great sponsors in recent years. Olympus is a constant sponsor for us, Olympus Australia, the camera manufacturer. We have had different sponsors over the years.
The last 1% comes from the following things:
- Speaking fees
- Book license fees
- Copyright fees (if Australian schools use Digital Photography School material).
Over to you
And there you have it: my income stream is divided into the different categories from which it comes.
How do you make money if you make money with your blog? Do you use affiliate links or AdSense? Do you sell products or services? Or are you doing something else? Let us know in the comments.
Credit: Volodymyr Hryshchenko