How I Make Money As a Blogger

After sharing my recent blogging business update post, I had a number of people comment and email me asking for more details about how to make money as a blogger. I’m happy to share some more tips and insight into how to make money from a blog in hopes that it will be helpful to those of you looking to do the same! (psst: Want to start a blog? Check out my how to start a blog on wordpress post + how to get more traffic and keep readers engaged <- super old post but still relevant.) For those of you who are here for the fitness and food: I’ll be back to regularly scheduled programing on Monday. Stay tuned!

how to make money as a blogger

How To Make Money As a Blogger

There are 4 main ways that I make money as a blogger, all of which are pretty common. They are:

  1. Sponsored posts
  2. Sidebar + in-content advertisements 
  3. Online Programs/E-Books (my Nutrition for Runners Program and my Joyful Eating Program)
  4. Affiliate links

In 2018, of my blog-related income, 69% was from sponsored posts, 23% was from sidebar/in-content advertisements, 6% was from my online programs/e-books, and 2% was from affiliate links. Some bloggers have very different percentage breakdowns depending on their main focus; I know bloggers who are crushing it with their programs or affiliate links, for example.

Here are more details about what all of these things are/how they work. 

Sponsored posts

As a dietitian, I often partner with food-related brands to develop recipes featuring their products. I love doing sponsored recipe posts because I know it’s providing a lot of value to you guys, my readers, but I also enjoy spreading the word about cool products or services that I think you all would love via non-recipe sponsored posts. 

Whenever I share a post that begins with “Thank you to ____ for sponsoring this post”, that means that I have been paid to develop that specific post. When I was a newer blogger, I would usually pitch brands or PR firms directly; now that I am more established, and also given the RD credential, brands will sometimes come to me. It’s extremely important to me to only promote products/brands/services that I truly love and will actually use myself, and also to not oversaturate my blog/social media with sponsored content, so I turn down the vast majority of the opportunities that come my way. 

I’ve previously shared my tips for working with brands as a blogger (reeeeeally old post, but still relevant), if you’d like to read more about all this!

Here are some examples of recent sponsored blog posts: Apple and White Cheddar Omelet, A Date Night InSheet Pan Maple Curry Chicken, and 10 Packed Lunch Ideas Featuring Watermelon.

apple cheddar omelette

Sidebar and in-content advertisements

Ads are a nice form of “passive” income for bloggers (well, kind of passive – you still have to be writing/getting traffic to make money from them – but they are a lot less hands on from the blogger’s perspective). These are the ads that show up on my sidebar and header/footer, and in between the text in some parts of my posts. See below for an example. 

example of sidebar ads

When I first started my blog, and for the first few years before sponsored posts were really a thing, sidebar ads were the main way I made money from my blog. Bloggers get paid for these ads based on how many times their website (and therefore the ad) loads, so the more traffic I get to my blog, the more money I make from these ads. 

You can fill/manage the ads directly yourself, but most established bloggers nowadays use an advertising management agency that does all the behind the scenes ad work, like going back and forth to advertisers, putting all the code on our sites so the ads will show up, etc. All we have to do is keep writing (and constantly keep re-sharing old posts on social media) so people keep reading!

I do still have full control over how many ads appear on my site, though, and where exactly they appear. I’ve opted out of a number of ads that I personally find annoying (like intense pop ups, or ads that show up on my photos), but it’s a balancing act to still make money while also protecting a good user experience. 

(A couple recs for great ad optimization/management agencies are AdThrive and MediaVine, if you’re interested. Mediavine requires at least 25,000 sessions (not pageviews) per month from their bloggers, and AdThrive requires a minimum of 100,000 monthly pageviews. If you don’t meet the requirements yet, when I first started my blog, I just signed up for Google Adsense ads on my own, so there’s always that route, too.) 

Online Programs/E-Books

A lot of bloggers nowadays offer programs or e-books through their blogs, generally focusing on the most common or popular themes on their blogs. (For example, many food bloggers will have mini cookbooks for sale on their sites, or food prep guides, etc.)

Since I’m a dietitian, I have co-authored two virtual nutrition/wellness programs that focus on my main areas of expertise: 1) a Nutrition for Runners Program, and 2) my Joyful Eating Program (focusing on intuitive and mindful eating). I continue to promote these programs via my blog as relevant, as do my co-authors.

nutrition for runners program

Online programs and e-books make some bloggers a really great income – but to do really well here you need to learn a lot about email marketing (specifically drip campaigns – google it for more info). I am definitely not an expert here at all, so I will let you research this form of blogging income elsewhere. :) 

Affiliate Links

An affiliate link is a link to a product or program online that includes a special code that tells the website I’m referring my readers to that I was the one referring them. If that reader then makes a purchase after following my link, I will receive a small percentage of the sale price as a thank you for the referral. (The price is the same for the purchaser, whether someone referred them or not – don’t worry!) 

The most common affiliate links nowadays are products on Amazon — they have a great affiliate program, and of course they have so many products available it’s easy to link to them. So anytime I’m linking to a product I recommend that’s available on Amazon, I go to my Amazon Affiliates to snag a special link so that I’ll be credited for the referral. There are also some larger affiliate marketing networks – each work with different websites so depending what website you are linking to, you may have to go through a different affiliate marketing network to become an affiliate for them. Some of the main ones I know about are: Commission Junction, ShopStyle CollectiveRewardStyle, and ShareASale. And some smaller websites also have their own in-house affiliate programs. 

This is another area in which some bloggers (especially fashion bloggers) are seriously crushing it but that I don’t really focus on that much. Yes, I do like to recommend products I think are awesome, and when I do so I use an affiliate link if possible, but I don’t love when all bloggers do is share a bazillion affiliate links. So, I try to keep this low key. 

And that’s that! I hope this email was helpful for those of you who are interested in turning your blogs into your careers, or into a lucrative side hustle.

Any more questions/things I can clarify, just let me know!


  1. 1

    Great read Anne! I have similar income percentages on my site but digging deep this year to figure out how to up the passive side with programs/affiliates.

    • 2

      The more “passive” income is always great if you can really get it going – I haven’t been great about figuring out how to amp up the program and affiliate income without TONS of hands on time, but if you can really figure out drip marketing campaigns for the programs you can crush it. Let me know how it goes!

  2. 3

    Thank you for providing this insight as to how bloggers make money – I was always curious how it works. The fact that you share this information, as well as always properly disclose links when you post them, shows that you take your work seriously and want to be a respected business person.

  3. 5
    Evelyne Giguere says

    This is super interesting! thank you for sharing!
    An additional question for you! You mentioned that in the past most of the revenue came from ads, and now its mostly sponsored content. Is it that the ad revenue decreased drastically? or is sponsored content just an additional source of revenue that because more important?

    • 6

      Great question! When I first started my blog in 2009 (whoa), sponsored posts weren’t really a thing at all — everyone made all their revenue from sidebar ads. Over the years, brands have dedicated more and more of their advertising budgets to sponsored campaigns vs. sidebar ads, so that has gradually increased over time as a revenue source for me. So, I think it’s mostly just that brands are spending their money in different ways now!

  4. 7

    Can you give us any idea how much you make from one sponsored post? Sorry if that’s too personal I’m just curious!

    • 8

      Thanks for being so open, Anne! Would also love a ballpark figure to get a sense!

    • 10

      No need to apologize! I’m not comfortable sharing any numbers that specific, though – and in some cases I actually can’t because of non-disclosure clauses in my brand contracts. It ranges quite a bit anyway depending on the scope of work (e.g. how many blog posts (I offer a cheaper package rate if we are working together longer term), how many social shares, whether there’s exclusivity in terms of not working with other similar brands, whether they will be using the photos/recipe/content I create in other ways for promotion (e.g. on their own website), how much work is involved for each post… etc.! So much goes into each pricing decision!).

  5. 11

    Super interesting read :)
    I have used a few of your affiliate links over the years and I definitely get recommendations from your blog (Brooks, Lola, Bombas socks haha) so keep it up with the good products! :)

  6. 13
    Roadrunner says

    This is very informative and very open, Anne, thanks. It is great to have a sense, in particular, of how many opportunities you don’t accept because of your principled approach. Thanks!

  7. 15

    This is a great summary. I just started my blog this year, so am still building up both page views and income, but appreciate your summary. My niche is Travel/ Self development. Anyone else here in that area? Anne, I’ve read your blog for years and love the combination of real life recaps and practical nutrition tips!

    • 16

      Very cool – I’ll have to check out your blog! I love travel blogs. My very first blog (in 2008) was a travel blog about my experience teaching English in Prague! Thanks for reading!

  8. 17

    This was awesome ! So easy to understand .

  9. 19
    TrackBuddy says

    Great look “behind the scenes” – thanks for sharing! I can tell that you really stand by the products you recommend, and that’s awesome.

    Hope to see you on a run sometime soon when this crazy snow melts. :-)

  10. 21

    Thank you, Anne! I really appreciate all of this info. Very helpful!

  11. 22
    Beckytherd says

    Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed the specifics here. It seems like a lot to get started with, how do you get brands to sponsor you? Did you reach out or do they reach out to you?

    • 23

      Yeah, it took a long time and quite a bit of work to start making serious money from my blog. In terms of who reaches out first, it’s a mix! In the early days I pitched more often, nowadays I still do some pitching but also have some brands come to me, which is nice. You can read more about it in that “tips for working with brands” post I linked to!


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