2018 research study reveals details of how top bloggers are making their money

The 2018 Blog Income Report Research Study has encouraging results for bloggers.

The study focused entirely on bloggers and their income and it looked at four distinct blogging income brackets.

  1. The hobby blogger making between $0 and $2000 per month
  2. Lower-income blogger making between $2000 and $7500 per month
  3. Middle-income blogger making between $7500 and $25,000 per month
  4. Upper-income blogger making over $25,000 per month

The report is the most extensive research study into blogging income that has ever been completed and is full of great insights that anyone interested in getting started as a blogger or is looking to grow as an existing blogger.

The research looked into what was happening in each income bracket and niche and turned up some interesting conclusions.

The most interesting thing I found about this study is how they turned a bunch of numbers and graphs into a proven road map for taking a blog’s monthly income from zero to six figures.

Here are some of the conclusions

There were 5 revenue categories that made up over 85% of total income for all blogger income brackets.

These were;

  • Ads like Google Adsense or solo ads
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Sponsored guest posts
  • Consulting services
  • Online courses

The average monthly earnings across all brackets was $4236.

The tipping point where the mindset of bloggers changes is around $2000/ month. This seems to be the point where blogging is now seen as a legitimate business starts to be treated as one.

Those making less than $2000/month seem to suffer from the same issues. Lack of hustle and a naive hope that just ads and affiliate links will create the income they want.

The research also revealed that bloggers that make over $2K in monthly income are making money from not just ads and affiliates but also blog post sponsors and monthly client services retainers.

The average income in the “Middle-Income” bracket is $10986.

Once bloggers start to reach this level, they tend to be looking hard for ways to scale their income.

Most of these bloggers have built an email list size of 1,000 and 10,000 subscribers which allows them to sell their own products without having to pay for advertising.

At this level, these bloggers take their business seriously and double down on education to learn more on how they can tweak what they are already doing and scale up even further.

The average income in the “Upper-income” bracket is $99,534.

These elite bloggers are making over $100k per month which means they are making over $1,000,000 per year.

An interesting finding is that the middle income and upper-income bloggers are getting roughly the same number of monthly visitors to their blogs.  The difference between these two groups is the upper-income bloggers have become better at converting their traffic into email subscribers and they have become an expert in is product creation. The data shows that this is where the real money is for bloggers.

4 major statistical trends from the study

  1. The percentage of total blogger income coming from ad revenue drops with each successive income level.
  2. The percentage of total blogger income coming from sponsored post revenue drops with each successive income level.
  3. The percentage of total blogger income coming from consulting and services revenue drops with each successive income level.
  4. The percentage of total blogger income coming from course revenue increases with each successive income level.

The blogging niches that make the most money

The study found that all blogs fell into six niches. These niches were;

  1. food
  2. personal finance
  3. mommy
  4. travel
  5. marketing
  6. lifestyle

Which blogging niche is the most lucrative for bloggers?

Here is the median monthly income of the six blogging niches.

3 statistical trends that stood out

  1. Personal finance is the best blogging niche in terms of making money, and the food blogging niche is not far behind.
  2. The marketing niche has an easy path to the $2K/month tipping point, but it’s tough sailing after that.
  3. The food blogging niche has a unique income distribution footprint.

Ad networks making bloggers the most money

Key findings on Ad networks

  • Bloggers in the lower income bracket averaged $2,070 per month in ad revenue.
  • The ad revenue doubled in the middle-income bracket by moving up to $3,922 per month.
  • AdThrive stands above MediaVine in revenue.
  • Adsense performs very poorly when compared against the other ad networks.

Monthly Blog Traffic by bracket

  • For all bloggers making at least $2K per month, the median number of monthly visitors to their blogs was 135,000.
  • Over 29% of bloggers in the top tier saw between 317,000 and 496,000 monthly visitors.
  • There was only one blog that had over 500,000 monthly visitors. That blog had 715,000 monthly visitors.

The main takeaway here is that the bloggers making the most money have a well-defined traffic ceiling of 500,000 monthly visitors and have recognized they have reached a traffic ceiling and now understand that their ad revenue has peaked. These upper-income bloggers shift their focus to building their email list and creating multiple online courses to sell to their list.

I found it interesting that the majority of bloggers today are simply not aware of any other networks beyond AdSense.  Bloggers that learn this an starting using other ad networks may see a huge uptick in their income.

Affiliate Marketing Income

One of the most interesting findings for me what that affiliate marketing is the most poorly executed income channel of them all. Mainly due to poor execution by newbie bloggers.

Average Affiliate earnings by Income Bracket

Here are the affiliate marketing income percentage of overall blogger earnings by income bracket.

Here are the key findings on Affiliate marketing

  1. Bloggers that reach the middle-income bracket have mastered affiliate marketing.
  2. Average affiliate income peaks at around $6,000 per month.
  3. The middle income and high-income bloggers rely less on Amazon for affiliate revenue.
  4. Amazon accounts for a large percentage of affiliate income in food and lifestyle blogs.
  5. Marketing blogs make the most affiliate income from joint ventures involving courses.
  6. Survey programs account for the majority of affiliate income from personal finance blogs.

The Top Money-Making Affiliate Program Categories

  1. Amazon Associates
  2. Surveys
  3. Hosting
  4. Rewards
  5. Affiliate Networks
  6. Joint Venture Courses

It’s no surprise that Amazon was the top producing affiliate program. Amazon is the easiest way to begin building some affiliate income from your blog.

The 4 most successful tactics of the highest-earning affiliate bloggers.

One of the great things this study highlighted was the four most successful tactics of the highest-earning Amazon affiliate bloggers.

  1. Tactic One: They link to Amazon often.
  2. Tactic Two: They include awesome linked product images.
  3. Tactic Three: They write lots of comparison posts.
  4. Tactic Four: They create “best” lists.

In Closing

There are lots of other great insights, tactics, and learnings in this research study that you will find helpful in advancing your own blogging income.

I hope you found this post useful and if you want to dive into the full details of the study, you can read the full study, click here.

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