Are You Leaving Money On The Table?

Posted on /by Natalie Sisson/ in Entrepreneurs / 7 comments

This is a guest post from Sarah Von from YesandYes

Dear Sarah Von,

What follows is surely an awkward and maybe inappropriate question, but I imagine the entire internet is interested in the answer.  (And I feel like if any blogger was going to be honest about this stuff it would be you.) So, um, how does one become a ‘professional blogger’?  How do you actually earn enough money to support yourself?  I know you offer advertising on your sidebar, but that can’t be enough to pay rent, can it?  And you seem to be traveling all the time – is there some secret way that bloggers make money that the rest of us don’t know about?

Dear curious internet buddy,

I’m flattered that you find me so forthright and honest!  Clearly, you didn’t notice that I totally used all of your shower products that time I stayed at your house.When I tell people that I’m a professional blogger, 99% of them ask me some version of the above question. I totally don’t mind answering them.  Because

a) I think a lot of people mistakenly believe blogging is a get-rich-quick scheme

b) I (and every full-time blogger I know) work much, much harder than you’d guess.  Much.

Really, I think the keys to earning a full-time living off your blog are:

a) create good products that people want and need

b) create a lot of said products

c) use the skills that you’ve honed blogging to help other people accomplish similar things

So without further ado, here’s a run down of my personal finances!  Because I won’t tell you guys when I’m dating someone or let you see photos of me in a swimsuit, but apparently I’ll tell you about my income.

Through my blog, I earn money in seven different ways:

1. The Wanderlust Workbook

Package of 12,000+ word ebook, 60-minute podcast, 9 worksheets to help you plan your long-term travels.  $15

2. Smart + Sassy + Solo: Adventures in Lady Travel

Package of 12,000+ word ebook, 60-minute podcast, 14 worksheets, facilitates awesome, female-friendly adventures. $15

3. The Year in Yes wall calendar

12 months of awesome. I sell out of them most years!

4. Karma Cards

2.5 square inches of joy that you hide in public places for people to find. $7 for 15

5.The Post College Survival Kit Ecourse

(now finished)

An 8-week course on a private blog with a 60-page workbook dealing with life after college.  $79

6. Ad space

150×150 ads and 150×75 ads with monthly sponsor posts read by almost 10,000 people.  $45 and $25.

7. Trip and travel donations

(now finished)

Many of you were kind enough to donate money towards my trip and volunteer work in exchange for postcards, Thai blessings or a package full of surprises.  How sweet are you?!$8, $25, $50


How I earn money online

Because of my blogging (and writing and marketing) experience, I earn money in three different ways :

1. I write and edit copy

You know the funny, slightly conversational tone that I use when I write this blog?  I also use it to make marketing copy, children’s books, textbooks and corporate newsletters more interesting and engaging. One of the editors of Glamour Greece said that my writing was “like cupcakes. After one, you find yourself addicted and in need of more.”  Isn’t that sweet? Yeah, pun intended.

2. I blog doctor

I help small businesses and professionals develop an online presence (doesn’t that sound impressive?!)  Really, I tell them how to create a beautiful site, why they need a blog as part of that site, what they should blog about, how to create an online community, who they should network with, etc.  A client recently told me that he had fired a big-deal ad agency he was working with.  He said he’d learned more from me during a one-hour phone call than he had working with them for a  month!

And then I broke my own arm from all that self-congratulatory back-patting and now I’m typing this with one hand.

3. I speak at colleges and universities

I talk to students about online networking, writing for the internet, developing an online presence that will help them find work and generally how to be awesome on the internet.  And yes, that was the actual title of a talk I gave.

So I work a lot.  A lot!

And if you want to know how I can afford to travel so much, you can read my “secrets” here, here and here.

I tell you all these things not because I’m trying to demonstrate my workaholic tendencies but because I think transparency about money (and about blogging) is really important.  I don’t want to be one of those bloggers who seems to live a dreamy, luxurious lifestyle – and encourages others to do the same – and then acts cagey about where the money that finances that life comes from.

What did you enjoy most about Sarah’s breakdown of how she makes money from blogging? How are you going to monetize your blog this year?

  • We are monetizing the blog by creating an e-product out of the last two years of posts, and developing instructional material and actionable steps to help people be better writers. Hoping to launch the product mid-summer, but we have lots of list-building to do first! I figure people are always telling me how much they love my content – so it’s time to turn that into revenue.

  • Love the transparency (much-needed in this industry), thank you gorgeous!

  • Thanks for sharing your run down! It’s helpful to see how others are achieving what I am working towards. I’m monetizing with some advertisements, an e-book in the works, and hoping to get some more writing gigs in the months to come.

  • Jeanne

    Thank you for REAL information and inspiration

  • I have heard many professional bloggers who talk about the extremely long hours and workaholic tendencies. This is the first time I have seen an actual rundown of day to day activities to explain the life of a professional blogger. I hope this inspires many talented bloggers to try and earn money by blogging!

  • Very helpful. It’s like a checklist of things that make me say, “I could do that.” And I am going to start that this summer!

  • This is so interesting! I just began blogging and though I don’t aspire to live off my blog it’s nice to see how the many wonderful bloggers I follow might manage to 🙂

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