A Full Time Blogging Income — When Can You Quit Your Day Job?

Every blogger has a price point.

No, not a point at which they’d sell (although they might have that also!) but a blogging income price point. The point at which their blog is officially a full-time job. This is the point at which they can quit their full-time job or make another drastic professional change (like having their working spouse now stay at home and help with the blog business).

One of my favorite bloggers, Amy, has stated that her 2011 goal is to bump up her blogging income from a part-time one to a full-time one. But what is full-time in her mind may be different in your mind — or mine, as I asked her below on her Facebook wall:

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Just like you’ll never meet your goals if you don’t set them first, you’ll never become a full-time blogger if you don’t have a price point in mind.

Do you have a blogging income price point?

In trying to find out what others thought, I circled the web. Here’s what some think:

  • John Chow – who likely now makes over seven figures a year – has a post back from 2006 where he says that $1,800 a month is “a pretty good part-time income”.
  • Darren Rowse of ProBlogger – who now does make more than seven figures (as he showed in one of his presentations at BlogWorld this year) once wrote a post saying that for some people $30,000 a year is a full-time income.
  • When Blogging with Amy asked some other bloggers what they made each year here, at least one who claims to be full time reported between $2,000-$3,000 in monthly earnings.

Depending on if you agree or not with some of the conclusions from others, you likely have a number in mind. Perhaps it’s the amount you or your spouse makes currently working outside the home. This number is not your income price point. Thus, you don’t have to wait until you get there to quit your full-time job. In fact – if you do this you might be waiting forever because you’d never have the time to take your blog to the next level!

I’ve heard Dave Ramsey talk before about the idea that when you are trying to make your side-business your full-time job, there is a point at which you have to actually quit the full-time job so you can make the side-business flourish to its full-time potential. (If you’re a stay-at-home mom trying to make a full-time work from home job, think of a similar sacrifice — say, cutting back on your husband’s hours to help you facilitate your business.)

I’ve heard Dave say before that reaching a certain percentage of your full-time income with your side business is the way to determine when you can leave that day job. So, let’s say I make $70,000 a year in my day job. I decide that I won’t quit my day job until I make 70% of that in my side income. Thus, I would need to make $49,000 before taxes on my blog before I quit my day job. This makes perfect sense.

However, I think there is another way to find the number that will get you out of a day job you don’t like much sooner.

I recommend you quit your day job when your side income reaches a certain percentage of your blogger income price point (the point at which you’ll quit your day job).

Let’s break it down:

Do you really need the $70,000 a year your outside job pays you, or could you make it on less? It’s time to pull out that calculator and start looking at all the costs that families often consider when they wonder if they can really afford to keep one parent at home. What are all the costs involved in your commute, your office clothes, your office lunches? Do some paring down and you might easily find that your blogger price point is $50,000, not $70,000. If I need to make 70% of that ($35,000 before taxes) I’ll be quitting my day job a heck of a lot sooner.

I’d say that if you’re at close to 70% — and are optimistic — you are ready to go.

So, what is your price-point?

Which Blogger Do You Want to Be?

In a session at January’s Blissdom conference, the blog monetization session included some real-life snapshots of blog earnings from real bloggers. Check out these two bloggers to get a sense of what they are charging.

Which of these two bloggers would you rather be?

Blogger A:

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  • Ad rates: $50 for 125X125; $60 for 250X250 per month
  • Sponsored Post: $100
  • Twitter Party: $1,000
  • Consulting: $50-$150 depending on the duration
  • Events: Paid $250 as a stipend for a 2-day trip to NYC

Blogger B:

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  • Ad rates: $50- $100/month
  • Sponsored Post: $100
  • Guest Post on a Brand’s site: $500
  • Consulting: $50/hr for a bigger job
  • Focus Group: $50-$150/hr
  • Product Reviews: $50
  • Brand Event: Paid up to $1,000
  • Spokesperson role: $700 plus related expenses

Monetization Lessons from Savvy Blogging: Part 3 (The Qualitative Conclusion)

At this point in my Monetization Lessons from Savvy Blogging series (see part 1 here and part 2 here), I’ve thrown out a bunch of numbers.

  • Income numbers
  • Traffic numbers
  • Subscriber numbers
  • Time Spent Blogging Numbers
  • (You name it, I’ve thrown it out!)

But what’s the point of all these numbers, and what can we really learn from JD Roth’s monetization talks at Savvy Blogging?

What’s the qualitative (read: not number based) take-home message?

I’d argue that there are three. Here they are:

  1. Monetizing takes work.
  2. Monetizing goes hand in hand with overall blog success (you can define the phrase “overall blog success” however you want, but typical metrics might include traffic, engagement, quality writing).
  3. However, monetization is not necessarily dependent on overall blog success. Monetization is also a choice. Even the most “successful” blogs in terms of traffic, engagement, and quality writing may not be monetized, or may not be monetized well. For evidence of this, take one look at the chart, Real Income Stats from Bloggers, that JD Roth shared with us during the session. As you can tell from the chart, and you can tell from simply talking to bloggers everywhere, the actual amount that a blog earns is highly dependent on the monetization strategies of the the bloggers at hand. If you have a blog with 10,000 hits a day, you are more likely to earn more than a blog with 1,000 hits a day, but this hardly guaranteed! Your actual income stats depend on a host of factors, and one of those factors is intent.

Now, many bloggers don’t have an interest in monetization. Monetizing is not a goal and (rightly for them) does not hold a place in weekly strategy sessions or blog daydreams for all bloggers. And in that case, I accept that A Blog Job may not be the blog for you.

However, if you are someone who is trying to monetize, and trying to monetize well, there are distinct things you should be doing aside from just concentrating on content.

Now – don’t get angry I just said that!

Obviously we all hope that quality content is a cornerstone of your blog already. However, if you are really trying to improve the income on your blog the answer may not necessarily be to “write better content” or “get more visitors”.

In the weeks to come here on A Blog Job, we’ll be looking at exactly the type of things you can be doing to up your income – even if you have a static following, and even if you don’t want to spend more hours in your day trying to write better.

One of the sources we’ll be looking at is actually JD’s new (old) blog about animal intelligence, which he’ll be using as a case study on Get Rich Slowly about blog monetization ideas (see more on his plans here). He’ll be writing about this topic once a month, and I’ll be sure to share his findings here as we work through some of these sticky monetization strategies.

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Oh, and if your first question is, “How is a blog about animal intelligence going to make money?” wait for my next post – where we’ll look at this very issue!

Monetization Tips from Savvy Blogging: Part 2 (Income Breakdown of a Six Figure Blogger)

In the first part of this series, I was sharing some information about JD Roth’s keynote and monetization session at the wonderful Savvy Blogging conference in Colorado. {Note: If you’re interested in buying a transcript and recording of this monetization sessions, and others, you can do so here.}

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Let’s dive back into more lessons and thoughts from JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly. As I shared last time, I think we can safely say that JD Roth is a six-figure blogger.

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So how do I think his income breaks down, based on both the information he gave us, and what we can learn from evaluating his website? There are some important clues we can learn from looking at Get Rich Slowly that tell us about JD’s monetization practices:

  • JD appears to post less than twice a day on average. On average, we can say that he posts somewhere between 9-13 posts a week.
  • Not all of these posts are done by JD. Some are written by staff members, or done by contributing writers to Get Rich Slowly.
  • The bulk of the posts are information-rich, but affiliate-poor. JD does not use affiliates widely, and many (if not the majority) of his posts seem entirely free of any type of revenue share on his end.
  • Those affiliates he does use he does so sparsely.

If we add to these points his estimated traffic (he mentioned around 20,000 visitors a day while he was speaking at the Savvy Blogging conference) and other information we have available (like what different kinds of ads we see on his site),  we can put together a potential picture of JD’s monetization strategy.

I think we can say that the bulk of his income comes from the following three revenue sources:

  • Adsense
  • Private Sales
  • Occasional affiliate products (bank offers would be a good guess)

So what is the breakdown of these revenue sources?

Here’s my best guess:

  • Adsense – 55%
  • Private Sales – 20%
  • Occasional affiliate products (bank offers would be a good guess) – 25%

Does it seem high to say he makes more than half his income from one source? It may be a bold guess, but I think it just might be true;)

Why?

What we see in JD’s model is that he probably makes the bulk of his money simply from the fact that he has lots of daily readers. As opposed to many “deals bloggers” who post many times a day and have more opportunities to include small-revenue generating affiliate income in a larger number of posts, JD probably gets his volume simply because of his high traffic numbers.

When you have high traffic, and you are passionate about keeping your content free of affiliate mentions, this can be a great tactic.

Since I’ve just finished saying he doesn’t use affiliates widely, does it seem high to say he still might make 25% of his income from affiliates?

I don’t think so. If you are a blogger and you use affiliates only sparingly, you know that your readers are much more likely to listen to you when you do suggest something. For JD, using affiliates sparingly probably helps rocket the conversion rates on the affiliates he does use.

So what do you think? Does this seem like a correct diagnosis of the revenue breakdown on Get Rich Slowly?

Monetization Tips from Savvy Blogging – Part 1 (Lessons from a Maybe-Six Figure Blogger)

After a whirlwind weekend in Colorado at Savvy Blogging, it’s hard to really sit down and thoroughly digest exactly everything I learned at Savvy Blogging about monetization, but there are a few gems to start with.

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Not surprisingly, the monetization session held by JD Roth’s Get Rich Slowly was one of the most packed sessions there – and the last session as well! Not only do many bloggers like me love JD, but everyone was dying to learn more about monetization and to get good info from a blogger who has turned his blog into a full time living. In my ongoing quest for information about what is possible in the blogging world, I was eager for some real numbers!

As Carrie from Springs Bargains joked with me after his keynote, “Are you going to ask him what he makes?!??” Not exactly, Carrie, but I will be trying to figure it out on my own;)

So, first things first, what do we know about the person teaching us about monetization? Is JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly a – gasp – Six-Figure Blogger?

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What do we know about Get Rich Slowly as a monetized blog?

  • JD made about $1 his first day on adsense many years ago.
  • JD now has staff writers to help him out with his blog (It wasn’t clear to me if these individuals were paid or not).
  • JD mentioned traffic in the range of 20,000 hits per day.
  • JD has about 80,000 RSS subscribers.
  • In JD’s keynote, he mentioned it took about 2 years to be able to quit his other full time job (at the family business) and start blogging full time.
  • JD now blogs mostly from his nearby office – which he pays $325 to rent and says is well worth the rent given the fact that he can better separate his work and his personal life. [Note this point for any of you bloggers struggling with work and home balances;)]
  • JD was once offered $20,000 to do a series of credit card posts he was not happy about. Rightfully, he turned down this offer. Money isn’t worth your integrity!
  • In the monetization session, when JD mentioned that he believed Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Confirmity made an income off his site, The Happy Housewife raised her hand to ask what he meant — “A full time, middle-class income?” I remembered a post I had read on Chris Guillebeau’s blog a while back about his stats, and I answered that he made around $30,000 – $40,000 a year (it turns out Chris said he made $48,000 here). JD thought that was small potatoes, saying: “I bet it’s more than that!”

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  • JD has paid off his debts with his blog, and now lives – as he put it – a very comfortable life.

So what do all these tidbits add up to?

All this leads me to believe that JD probably makes around six figures – say, $100,000 – with his blog.

Although I don’t get the sense he is nearing Pro-Blogger’s seven figure a year claims, I do believe JD is probably doing quite well with his quality, regular, content. He is clearly a successful blogger who has paved the way for other personal finance bloggers in the niche.

What do you think? Do you think JD is a Six Figure Blogger?

Next up in the series: In the next part of this series, I’ll do a breakdown of where I believe his income comes from and what his income model looks like;)

IMPORTANT: Remember, trying to ascertain the incomes of a blogger like JD isn’t about comparison as much as it is about learning. By evaluating what he can do, you can perhaps set your goals more powerfully, and more realistically, to achieve your own success in blogging.