This report is the most extensive research study into blogging income that has ever been completed. My research focused entirely on bloggers and their income, and it looked at what was happening in each income bracket and niche. That’s where the magic happened. This is what turned a bunch of numbers and graphs into a proven roadmap for taking a blog’s monthly income from zero to six figures.
I identified four clear blogging income brackets in my research. I defined them as hobby, lower, middle, and upper income brackets.
The focus of my statistical analysis was primarily on the lower, middle, and upper blog income levels. While I reviewed hundreds of blog income reports at the hobby income level ($0 to $2k/mth), I left them out of the report because the large majority of these bloggers had less than $200 in monthly income. This left me with very few statistics to draw number backed conclusions from.
As for the earnings, there were five revenue categories making up over 85% of total income at all three blogger income brackets. These were ads, affiliates, sponsored posts, consulting and services, and courses.
Now let’s take a look at the percentage makeup of the five major revenue categories for each of the three blogger income levels. After I reveal the numbers, then I will explain the four big findings from this part of the research.
Lower Income Bracket
Average Monthly Earnings Per Blogger = $4236
$2000 is the first tipping point that leads to blogging success. When bloggers are making just hundreds of dollars a month their blogs are treated as hobbies. Once it gets to $2k per month, the mindset of the blogger completely changes. Their blog is now seen as a legitimate business, and the bloggers treat it like one. This leads to dedicating more time and resources towards their blogs. In turn, this pushes the monthly income up even further.
When I looked through the hundreds of income reports of bloggers that were making less than $2,000 per month, there was a clear trend. That trend was a lack of hustle and a hope that their ads and affiliate links would eventually make them money.
You have to do whatever it takes to get your total blogging income over $2k a month. My research revealed the majority of bloggers that had over $2k in monthly income made money from more than just ads and affiliate links. They hustled to get sponsors for their posts, and they got on the phone to sell people on paying them money for monthly client services.
Middle Income Bracket
Average Monthly Earnings Per Blogger = $10986
With the average yearly income being beyond six figures, getting to this level is a lifestyle changer. Bloggers that break into the middle income level start to look hard for ways to scale their income.
At this point, most of them have accumulated a nice email list between a thousand to ten thousand subscribers. Their email list puts them in a position to begin selling their own products, without having to pay for advertising.
Most of these bloggers are also taking their education seriously. They are consistently listening to podcasts and are occasionally purchasing an online course to further their marketing education.
Upper Income Bracket:
Average Monthly Earnings Per Blogger = $99534
With the average monthly income right at $100,000, these elite bloggers are pulling in over a million dollars a year. The middle income and upper income bloggers are getting pretty much the same amount of monthly visitors to their blogs.
The big difference is the upper income bloggers have become experts at two major areas. The first is in converting their traffic into email subscribers. They recognize their blog’s traffic has reached a plateau and their email list continues to grow. These bloggers are masters at optimizing email subscriber conversions across every single blog post.
The second area they have become an expert in is product creation. Most of the upper income bloggers have several course related products. They understand that their subscribers will buy virtually every course they make. The middle income bloggers tend to have only one course.
The Four Big Findings From The Distribution of Income
When I finished analyzing this part of the research, from every possible angle, there were four statistical trends that clearly stood out.
#1 The percentage of ad revenue of total blogger income drops with each successive income level.
This finding conveys that almost all bloggers are going to throw a quick piece of code on to their sites to start making money from ads. Most ad revenue is going to have a direct correlation to the number of page views. In the first 12 months of a blog, you might see 100% month-to-month growth in page views. As time goes by, even the best blogs will only have 10% month-to-month growth.
My research revealed the ad revenue for middle and upper income bloggers were relatively the same. The blogger making $15,000 a month and the blogger making $100,000 a month were bringing in the same amount of money from ads. This is why you see the huge drop off in percentage from 30 percent in the middle income level to 3 percent in the upper level income. At some point the ad revenue will just top off.
#2 The percentage of sponsored post revenue of total income drops with each successive income level.
While the drop off was not as significant as with ads revenue, the sponsored posts also saw a sharp decline between the middle and upper income level. Sponsored ads are a great way to diversify revenue and can easily add $2k to your monthly income, but they are hard to scale. You have to find the sponsors and write the posts. Many of the upper level income bloggers most likely ending up dropping sponsored ads altogether because of the time it took and their lack of scale.
#3 The percentage of consulting and services revenue of total income drops with each successive income level.
There was a large drop off between the lower income level and the middle income level for revenue earned from consulting and services. When you are just starting out, it is a good thing to build some residual revenue from client services. A few clients can add several thousand dollars to your bottom line. However, most bloggers have the long term goal of passive income. Having five clients is like having five jobs with five bosses. Once bloggers built their passive income beyond $7500 a month, they say goodbye to their clients forever.
#4 The percentage of course revenue of total income increases with each successive income level.
The course is the clear difference maker that separates the blogging lower class from the blogging upper class. If you want to be part of the blogging elite, then you need to have a signature course. The upper income bloggers made 80% of their income from their own courses.
If we look at the course revenue stats a little deeper, then it reveals a compelling stat. Every single blogger that made over $25000 in monthly income had a signature course making at least $15000 per month. Let’s think about this for a second. We are not talking about the law of averages. There was not one blogger in the upper income level that was not making a significant amount of money from a course.
In the middle income level ($7500-$25k), 45% of these bloggers had a signature course making between $600 and $6000 per month. And in the lower income tier ($2k-$7500), only 12% of these bloggers even had a course.
From all the data and key findings of this part of the research, there was one thing that was crystal clear. As we progressed upward through the three blogging income levels, the focus shifted to scaleable revenue. This eventually led to an avalanche of earnings from online courses.
When I classified the blogs in my research study, they all fell into six niches. These niches were food, personal finance, mommy, travel, marketing, and lifestyle.
The bloggers included in the lifestyle niche wrote about a variety of interests that made up the author’s everyday life. This included some blogs that had an secondary emphasis on fitness, fashion, journaling, and sewing.
The mommy blogs could theoretically fall into a sub category of the lifestyle niche. However, I gave them their own category because they had a clear focus on being a mom. To qualify as a mommy blog, the blog had to have the word “mom” within the blog’s name and have a collective theme of mom related topics.
The marketing niche included any blog with a focus on marketing and business topics. This included SEO, blogging, social media marketing, and small business.
There were no gray areas in defining the blogs that fell into the niches of personal finance, food, and travel
Which Niche had the Most Bloggers Making $2000+ Per Month?
One of the questions I get asked a lot by new bloggers and bloggers about to launch their second blog is..
Which blogging niche makes the most money?
Here is the percentage breakdown of bloggers, by niche, that were making above $2000 per month.
The statistics in this graph shows us the easiest path to the $2000 per month tipping point. The top three… personal finance, marketing, and food blogs made up 62% of the bloggers in this study that were making $2,000+ in monthly income.
This is first component of a two component Venn diagram like equation. The second component of this equation is the median income of each blogging niche.
Which Niche had the Highest Median Monthly Income?
Here is the median monthly income of the six blogging niches.
For the median income, food and personal finance bloggers lapped the rest of the field. The food bloggers had a median monthly income of $9169, and the personal finance bloggers were just a hair below that at $9100. The remaining four niches were all between $4200 and $5200 in median monthly income.
The Three Findings From Researching Blogging Income by Niche
There were three statistical trends that stood out when I had finished combing through all the income statistics of each blogging niche.
#1 Personal finance is the best blogging niche in regards to making money, and the food blogging niche is not far behind.
While the personal finance and food niches were neck and neck in median monthly income, the personal finance niche had 30% more bloggers that had broken $2,000 in monthly income. This was from the first group of statistics where I looked at the percentage breakdown of bloggers that were making above $2000 per month by niche.
I created an equation to include the median blogging income and the percentage of blogs making at least $2,000 per month. This weighted equation would yield the answer to one of them most asked question by bloggers.
Which niche is the easiest one to make money in?
The equation gave each niche a score between 0 and 100. A score of 100 would be the easiest path to making the most money.
And here are the final results.
Personal finance was at the top of the mountain as I expected. The real surprise was the marketing niche ended up being number three on the list. This was in spite of the fact that it was dead last in median income.
This is why you have to look at all sides of the research before jumping to a quick conclusion.
#2 The marketing niche has an easy path to the $2k/month tipping point, but it is tough sailing after that.
The marketing niche ranked number two in overall percentage makeup of bloggers making at least $2000 per month. In the median income, it ranked last. This is due to two facts about the marketing niche.
The first fact is that most people are willing to pay a premium for a marketing course or product. A marketing blog only needs to make a couple of sales each month to breach $2000. Most marketing related courses start at $797 and go all the way up to $3000. In comparison, it is pretty hard for a food blogger to sell a $3000 course to their audience.
The second fact is that the marketing niche is very saturated because of the intense amount of competition. If you do a closed quotes Google search for “marketing blog” versus “personal finance blog,” then you can see there are over 500% more results returned for the “marketing blog” search. This heavy level of competition makes it hard to build your traffic and email list. Hence forth, keeping marketing bloggers from breaking out into the next income level. This is why the median income was the lowest out of the group.
#3 The food blogging niche has a unique income distribution footprint.
Here is the income distribution of food bloggers.
The ads revenue compared with affiliate revenue stood out the most. Food bloggers were making 42% of their income from ads and only 10% of it from affiliates. After going a few layers deeper I was able to find some statistical correlation for why this was occurring.
The majority of the food bloggers making over $2k+ per month were using AdThrive as their exclusive ad partner. The ad CPMs that food bloggers were getting were much higher than the other five blogging niches.
This is most likely due to the fact that AdThrive has a primary focus on food bloggers. AdThrive serves their ads to 96 million unique visitors a month. 49 million of those come from food blogs. Because of this, they have a high volume of quality food related companies competing to place ads on the food blogs. This leads to more competition for ad placement, which in turn increase the average CPM. In addition, the ads are highly relevant. This creates greater engagement, and in turn pushes the CPM even higher.
If a blogger’s ads are making super high CPMs and serving very relevant content to their audience, then there is no reason to mess with placing affiliate links.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be adding the final two sections of my research study to this blog post. These two sections will break down which ad networks and affiliates drive the most money to the wealthiest bloggers in the world.