This Is How 10 Bloggers in Different Niches Make $1 Million+ per Year

This Is How 10 Bloggers in Different Niches Make $1 Million+ per Year

by Robert van Tongeren


Do you ever have doubts?

You’re building your blog, hoping to one day turn it into a full-time income, but you have no guarantees it will ever pay off.

What if this blog you created is doomed to fail? What if you’re wasting your time? What if you’re fooling yourself thinking this will ever lead anywhere?

Building a profitable blog is hard work, and it usually takes time to see the rewards. Not everyone has the wherewithal to see it through.

But those who do can find amazing opportunities.

Today, we’re showcasing a few of the biggest blogging success stories. These 10 bloggers built their blogs and today make $1 million per year or more.

We’ll tell you how they got started, how they built their blogs, and how they generate revenue.

These stories will show you that you can take many paths to blogging success, and hopefully they’ll inspire you to see it through.

#1. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner - Making Sense of Cents
Site: Making Sense of Cents
Niche: Personal Finance
Income: $1,536,732 in 2017 (source)

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner didn’t intend for her blog to become the income machine it is today. She started it more as a hobby, not even thinking she would ever make money from it.

Once she made her first $100 from her blog, though, that changed. She saw the potential and got more interested in turning her hobby into a business.

Her blog kept doing better and better, and eventually she was able to quit her job as a financial analyst and work on her blog full-time.

She’s currently traveling full-time, touring North America in an RV and loving her life with her husband.

How she makes money from her blog:

Her blogging income picked up some serious steam in 2016, when she further diversified her income.

Her main source of income up to that point was affiliate marketing, with some money coming in through sponsorships and advertisements. In 2016, though, she created her course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

Her income doubled the month she launched her course, and in 2017 she had her first million-dollar year.

#2. Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina -
Site: Steve Pavlina
Niche: Personal Development
Income: ~$1.2 million/year (source)

Steve Pavlina is an author, a motivational speaker, and one of the most prolific self-development bloggers online. He grew his blog to more than two million monthly visitors without spending a dime on marketing or promotion.

Steve’s passion for personal development began when he was sitting in jail, having been arrested for felony grand theft. At that moment, he decided to work on improving himself and turn his life around.

And it paid off. He accomplished many amazing things. He earned two college degrees in the span of three semesters. He founded a software company that developed computer games. He ran the Los Angeles Marathon and trained in martial arts.

How he makes money from his blog:

Steve has experimented with many income streams to see which he likes best.

He mostly makes his money from affiliate marketing/joint ventures and hosting live workshops.

When hosting one of his workshops, he asks people who register about their personal struggles and uses this feedback to custom-tailor each workshop, which means he never does the same workshop twice.

Steve has also written a book called Personal Development for Smart People, the purpose of which was to create a single framework for growth that people could apply to all areas of their lives.

#3. Pat Flynn

Pat Flynn - Smart Passive Income
Site: Smart Passive Income
Niche: Business & Marketing
Income: $2,171,652 in 2017 (source)

Pat Flynn was thriving in his career as an architect and had no plans to leave — until an economic downturn hit his industry hard and he was laid off from his job.

Before all this happened, Pat had created a little website to help him study for an architectural exam. It got thousands of visitors, and he realized he could leverage this traffic for income.

After studying up on doing business online, he created an ebook which he sold for $19.99 and made over $7,000 in his first month.

This got him so excited that he started Smart Passive Income, a blog on which he would share his strategies that helped him grow his online business. Today, this blog generates over $100K each month, with some months doubling or even tripling that figure.

But it’s not the money or material wealth that motivates him. Pat has remained a down-to-earth guy whose primary motivation is his family. He loves the freedom to plan his day around his family instead of his business, which allows him to spend the day with them and save work for after his kids go to sleep.

How he makes money from his blog:

Pat has done a great job of diversifying his income over the years.

The bulk of his income comes from affiliate marketing and course sales, but he also sells books, software, and apps,  and he makes money from podcast sponsorships.

#4. Chiara Ferragni

Chiara Ferragni - The Blonde Salad
Site: The Blonde Salad
Niche: Fashion & Lifestyle
Income: $2.5 million from her blog in 2015 (source); $20 million from her shoe line in 2016 (source)

Chiara Ferragni’s track record is impressive, to say the least.

She got her feet off the ground posting her daily outfits to Flickr, an image-sharing website, where she amassed a significant following. She then started her personal style blog in 2009 — when personal style blogs weren’t really a thing yet — and within two months she got tens of thousands of visitors per day.

She quickly began receiving sponsorship offers from fashion brands such as Dior and Louis Vuitton.

And three exams away from finishing her law degree, she decided to make The Blonde Salad her main focus.

Since then, Chiara has amassed over ten million followers on Instagram, Forbes named her one of the most influential people under 30, and she was the first fashion blogger to score a cover on Vogue.

How she makes money from her blog:

The Blonde Salad transitioned from an outfit-of-the-day blog to a full-on lifestyle platform with its own e-commerce clothing store.

And Chiara Ferragni has become a brand in her own right and makes thousands of dollars through sponsorships, modeling, and appearance fees.

On top of that, Chiara leveraged her platform to launch her own shoe line, the Chiara Ferragni Collection, aside from her blog. This line has reportedly made made eight figures in 2016.

#5. Vitaly Friedman

Vitaly Friedman - Smashing Magazines
Site: Smashing Magazine
Niche: Web Design & Development
Income: ~$2,5 million in 2017 (source)

Vitaly Friedman was a freelance web designer before he started blogging. He had never taken a single design class at the time, but learned his skills from reading articles online.

He always had an interest in writing and editing as well, though, and he wanted to give back to the design community, so he started blogging.

Through one of his projects he was introduced to Sven Lennartz, who asked him to write for his German magazine Dr. Web. One year later, they started Smashing Magazine. They had no idea it would become one of the most influential resources for web designers and developers.

It grew from two people’s hobby to a business with a dozen employees and hundreds of contributors, and today gets over three million page views per month.

(Sven Lennartz is no longer actively involved with the site.)

How he makes money from his blog:

For most of its existence, Smashing Magazine made money primarily from ad revenues. But seeing those revenues decline a few years ago, they focused more on selling their books and diversifying their income.

They now have a library of 60+ e-books for sale (which they also sell in packages). They run high-ticket conferences and workshops. They added a job board where companies can purchase job postings and find skilled employees. And they offer membership packages which are reportedly their biggest source of income today.

#6. Brian Clark

Brian Clark - Copyblogger
Site: CopyBlogger
Niche: Content Marketing  
Income: $12 million per year (source)

Brian Clark started writing about content marketing before people started calling it content marketing. He had been using content to market products and services for several years when he started CopyBlogger in 2006.

At the time, he wasn’t focused on selling because he didn’t know what he would sell. He focused on building an audience and had faith that he would identify their pain points.

And his faith was justified. As his audience grew, Brian was able to identify the problems content creators were having online, and he partnered with other entrepreneurs to create and sell solutions.

How he makes money from his blog:

Brian has offered a number of training programs, plugins, products, and services through his blog over the years. Many of them have since been taken off the market, and today his main income sources include:

  • Rainmaker Digital — a hybrid service and technology agency that builds sophisticated websites for its clients and offers services to create and implement successful digital marketing strategies.
  • StudioPress — a marketplace that sells premium WordPress themes and hosting.
  • Authority — a membership-based training program and community for content marketers, which also offers exclusive access to an additional course that you can take to become a CopyBlogger Certified Content Marketer.

#7. Timothy Sykes

Timothy Sykes - TimothySykes
Site: Timothy Sykes
Niche: Stock trading
Income: ~$15–$20 million in 2014 (source)

Timothy Sykes took $12,000 of his Bar Mitzvah money and turned it into $2 million by trading penny stocks. This feat got him on Trader Monthly’s “Top 30 under 30” list and on a TV show called Wall Street Warriors.

He then got hundreds of emails per day from people asking questions, which led him to write his book An American Hedge Fund. He initially launched his blog to help promote his book.

Around that time though, his hedge fund lost 30%, which lost him a lot of credibility.  To get it back, he decided to start from scratch and repeat his earlier feat of turning a few thousand into a few million, resolving to track each step of the way.

Now he makes more money from teaching others how to trade than from trading himself.

How he makes money from his blog:

Timothy sells DVDs, offers coaching, and offers a subscription program called Tim Alerts, which lets his subscribers follow his trades in real time.

#8. Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman

Elsie Larson & Emma Chapman - A Beautiful Mess
Site: A Beautiful Mess
Niche: Food, DIY Crafts, Décor, Beauty & Style
Income: $1.5 million/year (Source)

Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman are a sister team who have turned their food and DIY crafts blog into a raging success.

Elsie started A Beautiful Mess in 2007 and Emma started a food blog a couple of years later. They then decided to combine forces, and that’s when things took off for them.

At the time Elsie was running a retail shop, and she used the blog to move products, but the sisters soon realized that they enjoyed the blog more and that it was more profitable. They decided to close the shop and make the blog their main focus.

How they make money from their blog:

They once got business advice from a friend who said they should diversify their income, and boy, have they taken it to heart. They have built up several healthy and reliable income streams over the years and they try to add a new one every year.

They sell banner ads through AdThrive, promote products through affiliate marketing, and offer sponsored content.

They sell fashion, beauty, and wellness products in their online store as well as subscriptions to monthly beauty boxes and monthly stationery packages.

On top of that, they’ve written three books, created several courses, and launched three bestselling photo-editing apps.

#9. Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse - Problogger
Sites: Digital Photography School & ProBlogger
Niche: Photography & Blogging
Income: Seven figures per year (no exact numbers known) (source)

When Darren Rowse started blogging, he was only looking for a new hobby. He blogged about living in Australia, religion, politics, and other topics he found interesting. He didn’t even know you could make money blogging at the time.

A year later, he started another blog on digital photography and discovered he could make money through ads and affiliate marketing.

He only made a few dollars per week at first, but it was enough for him to see the potential. After consulting his fianceé, he decided to treat blogging as a part-time job and devote two days per week to it. He saw his income grow from a part-time into a full-time income, and eventually into an income most only dream about.

Darren has started and been involved with numerous blogs over the years, but learned after a few years that his blogs perform better when he focuses on a few. So today he only focuses on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School.

How he makes money from his blogs:

While affiliate marketing is still his biggest income source today, Darren has since been experimenting with different income streams over the years.

His second-biggest income source is product sales. Between his two blogs, he sells dozens of e-books and several courses. On Digital Photography School, he also sells Lightroom presets.

On ProBlogger he makes additional money through a job board, and also through hosting an annual event in Australia.

In 2016, his earnings were split as follows:

#10. Heather Delaney Reese (and Her Family)

Heather Delaney-Reese - It's a Lovely Life
Site: It’s a Lovely Life
Niche: Family, Lifestyle and Travel
Income: $1,696,672 over the last 12 months (source)

After two of her daughters were born, Heather Delaney Reese looked for ways she could use the journalism skills she acquired in college and still remain a full-time stay-at-home mom.

You guessed it. She started a blog.

At first she wrote about budgeting and saving money, but over time she transitioned to writing about her family’s lifestyle and travel.

Her husband Pete eventually quit his job to also work on the blog, and their three daughters now contribute as well.

Over time, she has turned what started as a hobby into a full-time career for their entire family.

How they make money from their blog:

Until March 2017, the Reese’s blogging income came solely from sponsored content. Every year their income increased as their audience grew and they were able to increase their rates.

From March 2017, they also started promoting products and services through affiliate marketing.

But their income truly boomed over the past seven months when they launched their premium courses, Blogging Blastoff and the Travel Blogging Fast Track, which they launched only months apart.

The launch of these two courses doubled their income and propelled them into their first seven-figure year.

Now Find Your Own Path to Blogging Success

If you ever have doubts whether you’re chasing a pipe dream with your blog, keep these stories in mind.

They all took different paths to success.

Not everyone struck gold with their first blog, and you may not either. Not everyone got rich on their first attempt, and you may not either.

That’s okay. Every step is a learning moment.

If you keep going and keep trying new things, you’ll reach your goals eventually.

It may be faster than you think, or it might take longer than you hope. But. You. Will. Get. There.

Keep that in mind the next time you’re plagued with doubts.

About the Author: Robert van Tongeren is the Associate Editor of Smart Blogger, who helps our writers get their posts in tip-top shape. He also runs his own blog that helps guys dress a little sharper at Restart Your Style. You can find him on Twitter here.
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Robert van Tongeren

Robert van Tongeren is a Smart Blogger instructor who helps our students get their posts in tip-top shape. When he’s off-duty, he also runs a blog that helps guys dress a little sharper at Restart Your Style.


A "cheat sheet" to making 2-5K per month as a writer, even if you're a total beginner.
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Written by Robert van Tongeren

Robert van Tongeren is a Smart Blogger instructor who helps our students get their posts in tip-top shape. When he’s off-duty, he also runs a blog that helps guys dress a little sharper at Restart Your Style.

39 thoughts on “This Is How 10 Bloggers in Different Niches Make $1 Million+ per Year”

  1. This is inspirational, But I always consider you as the greatest blogger . Why did not you add yourself in the list ? Sir , You keeps me motivated . I am glad I am following you. Smile

      • Hey Robert,

        This was such a nice read and I had a good time reading your post.

        I noticed something peculiar about the bloggers listed here… They all seem to have started out quite early when blogging was not too crowded.

        All the same, I feel with hardworking and the right strategy,there’s still a room for new bloggers out there to make something out of their blog.

        Thanks for sharing this.

    • Great list of blogs. They are so successful for one reason: they are consistently producing top quality content for years (if not decades).

      The #1 thing to takeaway from the post: if you’re adding value to your target audience for years, you too can eventually build a website that makes millions of dollars every year.

      It’s also important to focus on building an email list of highly engaged people who are ready to buy stuff from you. That’s the only you can make them to take action such as buying your products, affiliate products, online courses and so on.

      I think it also has to to with the mindset of these bloggers. They know how to build loyal audience from scratch. They are not just focused on making more money rather they focused their time and energy on adding value through their content. Money comes as a byproduct.

      I personally love Pat Flynn for so many reasons: he not only creates awesome content but he shares everything he knows about building a great online business so anyone can replicate the same. His income reports should be read by anyone who wants to get some quick inspiration to make money from blogging.

      Thanks so much for the compilation.

  2. I just notice as long time watcher of blogs. That all these folks started blogging early!!! And with lots of work built it. It is much harder now- to stand out from blogging.

    • Yes, these bloggers started early in the game, and yes, it takes time and lots of hard work to build a seven figure income. But there are plenty of newer bloggers out there who have built a six figure income from their blogs already as well. Keep that in mind too!

    • Yes, there are plenty of affiliate marketers on this list, but money can be found in plenty of other places. The two highest earners on this list don’t do affiliate marketing. And many of the people on this list who started out with affiliate marketing doubled their income when they started selling products.

      If anything, the lesson here should be to diversify your income streams. That’s what ALL the bloggers on this list have done, and it’s often when their income started to boom.

  3. I started 2 blogs and both did not do well. I earned a couple of bucks and got traffic as well, but at the end of the day, I can say that both of them didn’t perform as per my expectations. I was somewhat frustrated but now that I have read your post, I feel inspired! I guess I did not research enough and did not start any blog which aligns with my skills and passion. Let’s see what happens next!

  4. The best writing I’ve read in a long, long time. Maybe that’s because I don’t have much time for reading (most of my energy goes into writing). Be it as it may, I’m glad I stumbled upon yours and read it beginning to end. The 10 bloggers’ quotes alone are worth their weight in gold. Thanks!

  5. Hey, Robert
    From this your brilliant post, I can pick that affiliate marketing is the best place to start online business.

    But I have a problem: little money to start. So I am seriously keen about learning for now only affiliate blogging and I already have a blog.

    Do you know any successful affiliate blogger who can kindly help me through affordable systematic training so I can succeed too?

    Kindly help!

    • Hey Alexander,

      it’s a good place to start making money, as it has a low barrier to entry. You can make money from it right away if you have an audience. Of course, it takes time to build up a full-time income from it, but you don’t need to spend any time creating you own products. You can just sell those of other people.

      As for an affordable training, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s course (Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing) that was referenced in the article is quite good. And at $197, I’d say it’s a good price for the value it provides.

  6. Thank you for this article-I could feel that nervous excitement in my gut just reading it. I am just getting started, and might never have this success, but it inspires me to get to read such stories-and I feel yeah, if I just relax like these guys and put one foot in front of the other, something is coming my way!

  7. Thanks for the inspiration and reminder that it is possible. And thanks for taking the time to put all that information together – I’m sure it was a mammoth effort. It’s always a pleasure to read your posts, Robert.
    Cheers, Mel

  8. I started blogging in 2006 but stopped in 2012. I have started to blog again since June this year and made a promise to myself that this is the path that I will follow. This post is really inspiring.

  9. A great list of blogs, Robert. Anyone reading these article will surely be inspired to take action today. Inasmuch as they’re making millions from their blogs, they’re and have been providing value to their target market from day one to build trust and credibility with them. So, if you can consistently add value to your buyer persona, he will trust you so much as to buy from you. Theist is great and Jon is equally an excellent example of inspiration.

    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  10. I appreciate the article and looked forward to reading it. But in the second person mention (Steve Pavlina) there’s already a huge error: the source you quote says his income is 100k per month — not 12 million per year. Common sense already tells you that 12 million is way too high.

    Please fix the error in this otherwise good article.

  11. Hello Robert,

    This is indeed a remarkable piece. To know that people are making money from blogging by simply doing what they love gives me joy.

    I’m a blogger and I know how happy the little I earn every day from my blog makes me. I’m working hard to see that I get into this list in no distant future.

    As long as I keep my hope alive and work hard, I know the goal is achievable.

    Thanks for always sharing amazing content here, Jon. You are a bundle of inspiration to us, all.


  12. Wow! Wow!! Wow!!

    This is something I’d love to be reminded every day that my vision is possible. As long as I continue to give my best to blogging, I will continue to earn more.

    Thank you so much Robert. If these bloggers could make it, My Top Insurance Blogs will one day become a phenomenal brand.


  13. I’m familiar with most of these blogs and a lot of them started way back in 2006 when nobody was blogging.

    I’ve noticed a few common traits in all the bloggers above that really stand out:

    1. Consistency – They continue producing content and don’t give up.

    2. Value – Most of their content is educational and focuses on the reader, not themselves.

    3. Diversified Income – All of them use multiple streams of income. It’s one of the reasons why it’s hard to become a millionaire working a JOB. Only 1 income stream.

    4. Personality – They have a voice and their followers get to know them. I’ve found Youtube and daily blog posting is the best way to let people know your personality.

    5. Million of Pageviews – If you want to make millions, then you need millions of pageviews. It’s pretty hard to make 7 figures with 10k visitors a month. Scale up everything to achieve more success.

  14. It seems that digital products like e-books sell really fast but getting the first few sales isn’t easy. Many bloggers fail in the beginning stages of the blog because the challenge is very high for new-comers.

  15. Great article. It’s great to see how many others got started, and achieved their dreams of running a profitable blog.
    I’ve been working hard on my blog, and one day I plan to grow it large enough to reach , and help others.

  16. Thanks Robert,

    Very interesting to see the different paths and ways these guys made their money through their blogs. I will have to come back and reread this with fresh eyes and a notebook ready to take down a few key notes so I can figure out how I can turn my own blogging and turn it into a cash cow. I know I can do it and this gives me even more hope. It’s just hard to envision yourself at the top when you are still stuck in the quagmire. But you just have to keep stretching and reaching for your goals.

  17. It was really inspiring to read about these bloggers. Nice to meet and learn more about them. My idea is architectural merch and that’s because I am a student of architecture.


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