If you are considering becoming a 1M/1M premium member and would like to join our mailing list to receive ongoing information, please sign up here.

Subscribe to our Feed

Making Money With Blogs

Posted on Thursday, May 19th 2011

Blogs are no longer new, bloggers no more a rarity. Many of us have travelled the path of blogging, and some like Michael Arrington and Arianna Huffington have made serious money leveraging their blogs as significant media platforms. In this post, I want to give you some thoughts on making money blogging, an endeavor that has left most journalists and writers decidedly frustrated.

First, you should not expect to directly monetize your blog with CPM advertising unless there is serious traffic flowing to your site. And ‘serious’ means millions of unique visitors a month which few blogs ever get to.

Second, there are indirect monetization models that work well, and if you take my example, for many years, I used my blog to generate consulting business, successfully. The blog serves as a living, breathing résumé through which prospective clients get to know you, and it works very well to establish good, solid, sustainable connections.

Third, and this is where I will be spending the bulk of our discussion today, is that you should look at affiliate programs as possible ways to make money by blogging.

Let’s look at an example.

Say, you are an experienced and really good journalist who has focused your entire career on business journalism, especially technology and entrepreneurship. Given the rate at which media companies are imploding – Business Week was purchased by Bloomberg for less than $5 million, putting many stellar writers out of work – it may, actually, make sense for you to do your own blog, and explore affiliate programs that could be of interest to your readership.

How do affiliate programs work? You promote the product (s) on your site – through ads or editorial content – and as you send traffic over to the product site, and the sale happens, you get a commission for it.

Now, it is important that you focus on programs that offer enough incentive to market their products. In other words, you cannot make a living by selling $5 products. You need to sell higher ticket items.

Let’s do the math: Say, you sell a $1000 product, and get 10% commission on it. You need to sell 100 units to make $10,000 a month, which is a reasonable income level. And it is conceivably viable even if your traffic level is modest, say, 30,000 unique visitors a month. Even at 10,000 uniques a month, you could make some decent money, definitely more than what you would make through the Ad Networks like IDG selling CPM ads. Those really suck from a ‘how to make money with blogging’ point of view.

The numbers, however, will not compute if you try to sell lower priced products, because then you need much larger volumes, and hence, much higher traffic to make the target compensation.

As you can imagine, as a business blogger myself, I have given an inordinate amount of thought to this issue, and it has, in fact, led me to create the 1M/1M affiliate program. The terms are exactly as I described above: 10% commission for a $1000 product, and using this model, I believe, business, entrepreneurship, technology, and related bloggers CAN support themselves.

We are definitely looking at a time when journalism is going through an immense existential crisis. I hope that the model I have defined will salvage at least a portion of the journalism universe, and give people ammunition for survival.

Will this help all bloggers? Not necessarily, certainly not the 1M/1M program alone. But, if you apply the model and try to find products to sell that fit the kinds of characteristics I have described, you would be able to find or create affiliate programs that actually help sustain journalism in different sectors.

For my part, one of my aspirations is to also create some media entrepreneurs within 1M/1M who can build million dollar ventures using the model presented above. Here, if you do the math, to generate $1 million a year in revenue, you would need to sell 10,000 units of whatever product you are selling @ $100 per unit commission. That means, you will need to build traffic up to a much higher level, and for that, you would need a team of writers, not just a solo blogger. But at least in the domain of entrepreneurship, business and technology, I feel that this is quite viable. Over the course of the 1M/1M journey, we will look for entrepreneurs who have the ambition and the resilience to make this happen.

I am especially interested in working with media entrepreneurs whose primary passion is advocating entrepreneurship and innovation. I know so many of you, personally, and you are unable to monetize your talents at the right level. I hope, by joining hands, 1M/1M will be able to create a framework for you to do the work you do best: unearth great stories, cover news, trends, heroes, impact policy, and do what media, at its best, is meant to do.

In addition, I’d like to also see entrepreneurs who are interested in creating affiliate networks and programs for other sectors to support journalism and media activities facing similar existential crisis.



Hacker News
() Comments

Featured Videos


Everyone looks forward to a day when they break the 1million readers milestone! I think the model you suggest works best when backed by a newsletter of some kind and products that sell across borders and beyond limited demographics.
I look forward to re-inventing myself as a freelancer:)

Mutimba Mazwi Friday, May 20, 2011 at 10:52 PM PT

The new Affiliate program attached to 1m/1m is certainly a good initiative. Marketing Statistics denote , many ventures tasted success by affiliates and I hope you will get a share of your success soon with this strategy. All the best Sramana.

Manisha Rawat Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 3:07 PM PT

[…] So can you make a career out of blogging? Well, it all depends on you, as mentioned above, the entry requirements into the field are simple, but what you want to achieve from blogging will depend on how much efforts you want to put into it and if you really want to make a career out of it? .topsy_widget_shortcode,div.topsy-sm {display:inline;} .post {padding-left: 10px;}       Comment     RSS Feed     Email a friend […]

A career out of blogging!!!!!!!!! - IT Project Management Monday, May 23, 2011 at 8:42 AM PT

thank you for this article. showed me other means and ways in promoting a yet to launch business incubator in this part of the region, with blogging as a medium not only in promoting the facility but more importantly, educating about innovation and technopreneurship. all the best! -http;//,

ethel tangalin Monday, May 23, 2011 at 7:30 PM PT

Maybe someone can help me…I'm tired of reading all these blogs and websites promising everything…Here's my brief story..I am a 25 year newspaper man…mostly sports…I lost my job two years ago and haven't found work yet…I wanted to start a website featuring local sports and then someone suggested do a blog..Well I need to make money to live…I've tried Demand Media, Associated Content, Suite 101 and maybe it's me..they don't seem to offer the package I want..I want to service a certain area in my hometown with local sports and support it through some advertising..In simple words, can someone help me…Thank you

mike Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 12:06 PM PT

Mike, you can start following the 1M/1M program, and we would be happy to help you. Also, you should look at Bleacher Report.

Sramana Mitra Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 4:58 PM PT

it was great to read your article. I'm a young entrepreneur that has been working on my startup for the last year. Need a little assistance to pull the trigger and finally launch our platform. Currently, I have a basic blog however, launching a new blog website in a few weeks. Your article was very inspirational. Would love to discuss my concept and business model and see how your platform can be of assistance.

Javier Friday, June 3, 2011 at 12:37 PM PT

When people are discussing how to make money from blogging, and especially expert bloggers, I find it curious that no one (?) mention the obvious: why not charge for your advice, if you are already spending a lot of time learning (and writing on) a particular subject?

And I do not mean engage the visitors and then turn them to consulting clients, and then charge for your advice. But instead you should install an AskMe widget and let people ask you questions and offer payment for your answer.

Perhaps they do not want you as a 200 usd/hour consultant for 6 months, but are more than happy to pay for some key piece of advice?

I will end by saying I am very much biased, since I am the CMO at Mancx (and we offer one of these widgets).

However, without mentioning this type of solution for bloggers, I do not think a discussion on this topic is complete.

Mattias Guilotte

Silverreven Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 12:24 PM PT

Mattias, Can you provide some examples of blogs that use this to monetize, and how much money they make from these widgets?

Sramana Mitra Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 6:23 PM PT

Hi Sramana,

We launched Mancx just two months ago, but I am more than happy to share the figures we have. Just not in a comment field.

Drop me a Hello to firstname.lastname AT Mancx com, and I’ll be happy to send you the details.


Mattias Guilotte Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 8:49 PM PT

Excellent tips for bloggers. I'm one of those who supports entrepreneurship and financial independence for women in India and am proud to promote 1M/1M.

priyaflorence Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 11:08 AM PT

Sramana, I have been writing legal blogs for a while, experimented with several models, found consulting clients through blogs. My mission has been to make law that matters more accessible to anyone with an internet connection rather than making money. Sometimes, I do wonder if I could make money through this and pay something to the number of young and brilliant students I have inspired to write about legal issues. thanks for the post – only I cant think of good products to sell through my blogs to the target audience! 🙂

ramanuj Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 2:31 AM PT

If you cover startup law – incorporation, patents, etc. – then you can become an affiliate of 1M/1M.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 10:12 AM PT

Thanks Sramana.

sudip Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 11:36 AM PT

Making money by blogs writing may be wonderful idea foe home based Business for unemployed persons. Thanks.

avnish gautam Monday, April 16, 2012 at 11:20 AM PT

it was great to study your content. I'm a youthful business owner that has been operating on my start-up for the last year. Need a little support to take the induce and lastly release our foundation. Currently, I have a primary weblog however, releasing a new weblog web page in a couple of several weeks. Your content was very motivational. Would really like to talk about my idea and business and see how your foundation can be of support.

homemoneyopp Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 1:37 PM PT

I don’t have a foundation. 1M/1M is a for-profit business. You are most welcome to join the 1M/1M program:

Sramana Mitra Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 2:19 PM PT