How to Make Money Blogging: The Real Side Hustle Truth

By Todd Kunsman

Make Money

Published on

One of the big questions that people commonly ask about starting to blog is how to make money blogging.

How to Make Money Blogging Is it possible to make a full-time living? Is blogging as glamorous as some internet gurus make it seem?

I’m not going to address those questions right here, but you will get those answers and more from this in-depth post. You’ll also be able to form your own opinions when it comes to blogging as a side hustle.

But, the reason I wanted to address this topic is there is tons of fluff when it comes to making money blogging. I also wanted to write this post to provide the real honest truth about blogging as a side hustle or even as a career.

Hopefully, you’ll come away with a better understanding of blogging, how to make money from your blog, and the realities of pursuing a money making blog.

Shall we dive in?

Challenges with Blogging As a Side Hustle

You’ve probably read some blogging income reports that show $10,000+/month income and you think, “Wow, sign me up!”

It’s easy to get hypnotized by the potential and dollar signs.

Yet what you don’t see, is the amount of effort it took these bloggers to get to that level. I’m talking years of writing, marketing, and consistency to their blogs which has paid off. (Of course timing and a bit of luck may factor in too).

There are always those unicorn bloggers that started crushing it in year one too. But that is nowhere near the norm and their hustle is on another level.

And the fact is, most new bloggers only make it a few months before growing tired and quitting.

When I started Invested Wallet in June 2018, by the Fall I already noticed many others who started around the same time as me had slowed down or quit completely.

The reality is, there is no guarantee you’ll make a lot of money even if you do everything right.

You can make money, but it may take a year or maybe even longer.

Many people have the impression they can get their blog up, create some content, slap some ads and affiliate links, and they are retiring on some island three months later. Or working from their camper at the beach.

If only!

Blogging is also tough and standing out can be a major challenge. According to some data from 2018 recorded by, there were more than 1,883,637,867 websites online.

That doesn’t even account for all the ones that post content then monthly, weekly, or daily! The competition is fierce!

The other challenge is blogging is time-consuming. Think about all the pieces to this like establishing hosting, building your website, writing quality content every week, promoting content, and other marketing aspects (social media, email, etc.).

And all that work, won’t yield many great results for some time, so the ROI can be ugly based on your efforts.

I put probably 20+ hours a week on my blog outside of my full-time job and many others put way more than I do!

Why Am I Writing About Making Money Blogging?

While Invested Wallet is more about personal finances and investing, I do enjoy talking about making money too. Whether through side hustles or increasing your salary, it’s still quite fitting.

Additionally, I’m attempting to use Invested Wallet as an additional stream of income in my pursuits of financial independence.

Although I’m very passionate about finances, blogging, and marketing, I’ve looked at this blog as a potential revenue stream too.

Is Invested Wallet Making Money?

My blog is almost a year old and I’ve now made just over $1,000. You might be thinking not bad, but if you know my story, I work full-time in marketing so I have a slight advantage when it comes to growth and getting traffic to my site.

That’s not too brag at all because my traffic is still peanuts compared to others, but it’s so you know I have some advantages and blogging is still really effing hard!

Since June 2018 and adding all the hours working on this site, I’m sure my hourly return is pennies. I’m not complaining either because I love growing the blog and excited that in my first year, I am making some money.

But this is the reality. If you need to make money sooner, don’t have the time, or patience, then blogging my not be a suitable choice for you as a side hustle.  

Note: This post is not to deter you from starting a blog, but you need to be realistic about results. If you have not been scared off and still want to start one, I recommend using Bluehost or Siteground to get started. Yes, those are my hosting affiliates and I’m not a big fan of globbing these links all over. But I use Bluehost for this blog (easily connected WordPress for me) and have friends who use Siteground. Both are great choices to get you started. Now, moving on (:

How to Make Money Blogging: The Real Side Hustle Truth

How to Make Money Blogging

As I mentioned above, this is not to completely discourage you from blogging. It’s important to confront the realities that just because you start a blog, doesn’t mean you’ll make an insane amount of money.

However, even with the amount of competition, the online world continues to grow and there is still room for you. While content might be shifting, it’s also not dying off quite yet or really anytime soon.

And you can make money blogging in various ways. Many of these eventually bring in some decent recurring revenue and you even have a chance to bring more than a full-time salaried job.


But pump the brakes if you are getting too hyped again and re-read my above sections to bring you back to the realities.

Blogging is HARD WORK.

But here’s how to make money blogging.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is simply promoting products that you link on your blog or within blog posts that when someone clicks and signs up, you get a commission.

I like and dislike affiliate marketing and also cringe when I see blogs –for lack of a better term — whore out their content to stuff affiliates all over.

However, if you do it correctly, have a strategy, and promote products you actually believe in and fits with your audience, it can work out well for you.

I currently only have a few and don’t really promote them heavily.

There are a few websites and blogs who are affiliate-based only and are crushing it. Even some sites recently have been bought out for millions because of how much affiliate revenue the blogs were bringing in.

Pros: It can be easy income for doing little and as your site grows and ranks, that traffic all has potential to convert. Pending your industry, some affiliates have great payouts ($50+).

Cons: Affiliates can shut down or change their pay structure whenever, dumping affiliates all over appears tacky and spammy, making money takes time and there is no consistency. Many affiliates pay very little too.


Probably the most standard form of making money from blogging, is running ads. I currently run some basic ads on my site, although I was a bit reluctant at first.

Typically, I think they sometimes disrupt the user experience if not targeted well and can slow a website down.

I joined a specific network, which offers more tailored ads and better payments for running ads. This is something I’d  recommend over joining Adsense, which has terrible ad experiences and extremely low payouts. You can also sell ad space individually to brands, which can work too but may be more time-consuming.

Pros: Little work involved, potential recurring revenue.

Cons: Can disrupt user experience, income relies on your traffic growing.

Sponsored Posts

The idea behind this is working with a brand on content that promotes them or educates your audiences about their product or services. Sometimes the brand may write it or you may also write it, either way you charge them for this.

I actually like this option and it’s a great way to make money blogging. Typically, if you have a good audience and can provide value, you can charge a few hundred all the way to a few thousand to do so.

However, you need to follow FTC guidelines and also ensure you follow Google’s rules so your website doesn’t get penalized and deranked.

This has been my main source of income on the blog so far, but I haven’t put much focus on on it either yet. These can also branch out into brand partnerships, which are longer commitments but can generate great income.

Pros: Potential to make great money, not always as much work pending how you approach sponsored content.

Cons: No consistent revenue when you are starting, a lot of spammers ask to do this for cheap. Doing this too much can turn audiences aways.


This has also been a popular trend among blogs and bloggers, is creating a paid course. These are a lot of work to set up, plus you need to ensure you actually are providing real value first.

A lot of information can be found online for free and are things you can teach yourself.

However, if you can provide value and you have an engaged audience, courses can bring in some good recurring revenue once they are published.

Pros: Can bring in huge sums of money and can be on a recurring passive basis once courses are created.

Cons: Tons of up front work, you need an engaged audience willing to pay, you need to prove you are an expert and have something worth to say.

Selling Digital Products

A great way to make recurring passive income is with digital products. Things you create that you have for purchase on your website. Think of items like ebooks, toolkits, documents, plugins, photography, etc. Here is some more about digital products.

Pros: Low overhead costs, potential automated income, higher profit margins for you.

Cons: You need to create something worth paying for, can take time to create, need an audience engaged enough to purchase from you.

Contract Work

If you focus on a particular blog niche, you may start offering your services and knowledge to other companies.

For example, I can offer marketing and digital marketing services since that is my background, but doesn’t always translate well since most of this site is all about finances.

But a lot of bloggers actually make their first bit of money this way.

Pros: Great earning potentials, can work on your time and availability, no commutes.

Cons: No consistency guaranteed in revenue, can take time to find clients.

Freelance Writing

Another cool option for making money from your blog, is freelance writing opportunities that are paid. This may depend on your niche and many times it may not be paid, but this does happen.

Your blog is a great content training tool and shows off your writing chops. You might be able to apply for freelance writing gigs or brands may reach out to you.

Pros: another revenue source, expands your brand and personal brand reach.

Cons: Not always easy to get paid writing gigs, not a consistence source of revenue to rely on.

Selling Your Blog

You’ve heard the cool stories of former bloggers selling their websites for six-figures and then some!

Again, this takes a lot of time and many factors in order for this to work in your favor, but it can be done. Marc over at Vital Dollar has done it a few times!

But you can also buy, build up, and flip blogs for money too. Netting a few thousand dollars each time.

Pros: You can get a nice lump sum or if you buy and flip can make decent money from that as well.

Cons: Extremely time-consuming, you have to know how to build up websites so they are worth something in the future, even great websites have no guarantee that anyone would want to buy it. Finding a buyer takes time or you’ll need a broker to help.

How to Make Money Blogging: The Real Side Hustle Truth

Can You Make Good Money with Your Blog?

Absolutely you can, but you need to be realistic. Good money and blogging income reports you have read do not come easy and it takes a lot of work.

But, the cool thing about blogging is there are multiple streams and ways to monetize your work and efforts.

This besides additional opportunities you might get as well from being a thought leader in your blogging niche.

Some bloggers also get paid speaking gigs and others have gotten book deals! It’s pretty cool where blogging can potential take you.

But even if you don’t make money or turn blogging into a full-time career, you will learn a lot.

For me, it taught me so much more about marketing and is also a great resume booster. When I had a music blog, many job interviews I went on at the time loved that I created something and grew it on my own.

I think if you go in with the realities that blogging won’t make you rich overnight or even in a year +, then you have a good shot of succeeding and making some money.

And just because the odds might be slightly stacked against you, doesn’t mean you should not give a shot.

My best advice if you do get into blogging to make money, is ignore the noise and income reports. Stay focused on your blog and be patient.

If you’d like to learn how to set up a WordPress blog in a few steps and grow it, I wrote this post which might be valuable to you.

Why I Chose Blogging As A Side Hustle

I’ve been blogging since 2010, when I started a music blog on the simple platform called Blogger. I had no clue what I was doing, but I created it for a few reasons. I loved music, I wanted to share great artists with people, and want to learn more about blogging and building websites.

I also did not know how many music blogs were out there or that you could make money from a blog. But I loved writing, making connections, getting set cool music, and other perks.

The same thing applied with Invested Wallet. I’m passionate about personal finances and investing, helping others, and writing about these topics. But I approached this one as a business from day one, as a way to potentially make extra money.

After reading all the above, you might be wondering why I chose blogging still, especially knowing it takes time to make money.

Even though it is time consuming and there is no guarantee to make money quickly, there are many potential opportunities with it regardless.

For me, I’ve learned how to start an LLC, open a business bank account, get a business credit card, use Quickbooks to manage business finances, and grow my marketing skills.

I’ve previously always been nervous about doing these things or afraid too, but after learning it I feel more confident in my entrepreneurial endeavors.

So while there are thousands of personal finance blogs out there, I still love blogging, growing a site, writing, and earning some extra income. Will it take off and make six-figures? I really don’t know, but I’m loving the journey with it so far.

If you love the idea of blogging, passionate about the topic, and are okay with putting in the work and potentially not making money for awhile, then blogging might be for you.

Some Additional Blogging Resources

Besides my nuggets of insight, there are a few blogs I dig that help bloggers grow and tips on how to make money.

I’m sure there are more to include, but these are two that I dig. Check them out here:

Have you started a blog or are making money from blogging? What questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below.