How I Made My First $1,000 Blogging

67 amazing comments

This is the second post in my little series about how I started to make money online using blogs and other online businesses.

In the first part, we looked at how I made my first dollar online and how a lazy university kid figured out that a few AdSense ads on your blog could make a decent income.

This post is going to focus on how I managed to get that up to $1,000.

If you’re looking to start a blog or build a business online, I genuinely hope this post gives you some inspiration and ideas that make you really believe that it is possible.

Scaling up on what’s working

Previously, I talked about how I had discovered AdSense and put a few ads on my blog.

After a few days of this I realized that I needed more content so I could have more ads showing to more people. It was an admittedly crude approach, but it worked.

So I started focusing on writing evergreen content that focused primarily on basic keywords that a lot of people would be searching for. Back then, it was a lot easier to rank for this type of content and, after a while, I started to get a fair amount of Google traffic to my blog.

The big lesson for me at this point in my career was that you should scale what works until it works at bigger levels.

Basically what this means is that if you can find something that makes you $1 then have a think about what you need to do to turn it in to $2 and then $3 and $10 and $100 and so on.

This really comes down to a few things like whether there is traffic, how much it “costs” you to reach the audience, how long that method will last for, and so on.

But don’t just be happy with the initial $1 that you make because there could be a lot more waiting there if you just try to tap in to it.

Back then I realized that if I was earning $2 per day from one blog post then if I had 100 blog posts it was possible I could be making $200 a day. Of course it wasn’t as simple as that, but my version of scaling up was to pump out as much content as possible, interlink my posts, and then begin adding more AdSense ads and other variations of EPC like Chikita Minimalls, Amazon Affiliates, etc.

Within a short stretch of time I had hundreds of posts, images and a few videos and they started to rank really well with just a bit of forum commenting and the occasional mention from a powerful site in my niche.

Again, this was the days when not many people were doing long form content and so it didn’t take a lot to see results, especially from techniques that are now totally out of date or ineffective. In the next post we’ll look at a more modern and sophisticated approach.

A Google penalty and a new blog

It was around this time that my first self-hosted WordPress blog got hit with some kind of Google penalty and my traffic dropped off significantly.

I remember waking up in the morning, logging in to AdSense and seeing a massive drop in earnings which I then figured out was due to the blog’s traffic falling off a cliff.

To this day, I still don’t know what that adjustment was about, but it was enough of a wake up call for me to start thinking about the fact that I needed to diversify my income and come up with some kind of a back up plan.

These days you really need to start a mailing list and get subscribers on your blog because this will help shield you against those kinds of random events. But back then I knew nothing about email lists, if they even existed!

make first $1000 blogging

So I started a new blog in the same niche but with a slightly different angle and basically started re-creating the content but with slight variations for the new brand.

I really was desperate to find a way to get out of this college degree.

And it worked, eventually.

Within a few months I’d built two blogs in similar niches that were making a decent income from AdSense while providing content that was (hopefully…) pretty useful to people.

Diversify it, idiot

At this point you might notice that I’m still relying heavily on AdSense income, even though I had created a second blog that was somewhat insulating me against any issues with the first.

But now I started thinking about other way I could make money because – as every AdSense user realizes – I was just sending visitors away from my blog for a few cents.

This was not a good model.

All that work we bloggers do – researching, image editing, writing, formatting, promoting, etc. – it all seems like such a waste when you get a visitor and then they click an ad on you site and are potentially gone forever.

I needed to figure out how I could make money from the Internet in a way that wouldn’t negatively impact the content of my blog (you can’t choose what ads appear…) or the bounce rate that occurs from people clicking ads and leaving.

It wasn’t until much later that I figured out how to do this properly…

Selling a blog for the first time

I can’t really remember the reason why, but before I finished college I ended up selling that first blog for almost $20,000.

In what was an absolutely nerve-wracking moment, I signed contracts and transferred the domain name to the new owner once the cash hit my account.

I remember explaining it to my mom who just couldn’t understand why someone would pay all that money for a website. It was all very new.

For a college kid it was such a huge amount of money and it was at the point that I really understood how powerful blogging was going to be and how I wanted to be part of it in some way.

It felt like the magic solution that was going to help me work from home on a business that I actually liked… and that was very exciting.

And you know what I did with that money..?

Dropped out of college and wasted almost all of it on takeaway food while I fiddled around with new ideas.

It was here that I learned the important lesson about making mistakes and learning from those mistakes.

It was at that time that I really figured out how I was going to make a full time living from blogging.

We’ll talk about that in the next post…

Have you made your first $1,000 online yet?

Just like last week, I’d love to hear your stories about how you made your first $1,000 from blogging or online business. Sharing those stories might really help someone out there so please leave a comment below and let us know.

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67 Comments. Join in. *Closed after 30 days*

  • Kirsten Oliphant

    I LOVE everything about this post. (And the email that you sent to get me over here.) Super helpful and can’t wait for the next!

    As for why this hit me just as it did: my latest podcast episode is about creating binge-worthy content by crafting stories and creating serial episodes with content and using cliffhangers.

    Sharing this with my peeps tonight as a great post for learning about diversifying and why that matters, but also as an example of binge-worthy content. 😉


    1. Jennifer Waddle

      Kirsten, I love the topic of your latest podcast episode! How can I take a listen?

      Jennifer


    2. Ramsay

      Oh that is too kind! Thank you. And nice to see you here as always!


  • Ai Igamoto

    Am I leaving the first comment!? I’ve been following you for a while Ramsay and wanted to thank you for making me realize Adsense is not a sustainable option.


    1. Ramsay

      I think AdSense is fine for some things, but not for high quality blogs.


  • Vishal Ostwal

    Ramsay,

    Although I’m in the industry since the past three years, I feel like I’ve still got lots of gaps to fill.

    Right now, my single concern would be somehow using my work for a stable, recurring income. In short, establishing a business having multiple income sources.

    Though, I haven’t earned anything yet through the conventional and most common blogging methods – such as affiliate marketing, advertisements, sponsored posts, and all that stuff.

    Whatever I’ve earned, it’s with writing.

    So just a quick question: What would be the right approach for me to scale up?

    Actually, I feel like I’m having the ‘working’ mentality and need to shift towards a more sophisticated, business-like method. Just find a way to prepare before I take off.

    PS. Would love to listen to more details of how things exactly happened. I always “note” certain details and advice in my mind and use them the next time I work.


    1. Ramsay

      I think the question is: what would you like to do to earn money? Do you want to write for a living?


      1. Vishal Ostwal

        Definitely.

        Writing is something I’d want to do forever.

        Though, I feel like I’ve got something positive to contribute through this industry.

        It’s like I know I have a bit potential to serve businesses out there. So I wish to experiment with marketing and creativity, and work as much as I can.

        And having a business seems like a right thing to do, because it would somehow help me create the change I silently wish could happen.

        I’d feel sad if that doesn’t happen.

        Sooner or later, not sure when, but I feel I’d want to have a team prepared to sweat for art, and throw some sparkle here and there.

        You see, all aspects of our industry hold an enormous potential – through videos, doodles, individual opinions and all.

        PS. Sorry for the incessant rambling. There are times I get carried away and talk to myself in the comments section.


        1. Ramsay

          Have you ever thought about approaching a few companies that you really love and offering them something for free as an entry-way to getting more work? It’s a good strategy to get started.


          1. Vishal Ostwal

            Did that.

            Once.

            And I landed a job – on which worked remotely for a few days – and then left.

            Though, I feel it comes down to how well I can co-ordinate and execute tasks.

            For instance, I almost die when I write, do the client newsletters, and manage social media and stuff – all at once. So having a team definitely makes a difference.

            Yet, a contradictory thing I noticed was that even the companies, who are advertisement or marketing agencies themselves and have a team, keep complaining about how they’re unable to manage their presence.

            And they serve clients.

            Which is odd.

            As for now, I feel I’m “raw.” So I’d rather spend some time learning more, until I’m able to grow things bit by bit.

            PS. Do you know of any bloggers, or contacts who might want to work with me? Happy to do it free, anyway.


  • Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui

    Love reading this. I am so happy I get to work from home in my pj’s – a strong introvert’s dream:)

    I made my first $1000 online probably from client work (I’m a Joyful Living Educator); my writing is my calling card.


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah, how good is working in pajamas!?!


  • Anand

    Selling a blog is great idea,

    I recently heard Neil Patel was taking about buying niche blogs as an SEO strategy for 2018.

    In this space, CMI is great example, How Joe Pulizee set up CMI and then sold that out to UBM.

    Second thought is if one can not sell the blog then he or she can think about posting sponsored content.

    Though I am 9:00 to 5:00 profession, so hardly made these kinds of direct internet money.

    Regards
    Anand


    1. Ramsay

      That’s an interesting SEO strategy. Very interesting….


  • Mike

    Very interesting Mr Ramsay, I like very much how you have developed an authentic voice here, it is an achievement!

    Yes, I am looking at trying to help people who are by nature wary, and perhaps overwhelmed by the technical skills needed to build their own path-and perhaps just need a prod to see that the gates are wide open.
    Great stuff mate


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks, Mike. Glad you liked it!


  • Cobus

    Ramsey, what did you do initially to get more traffic or subscribers to your blog?


    1. Ramsay

      Hey Cobus. I just wrote an absolute boat-load of content. Like, really long articles on very basic topics. Back then it was so much easier to rank, and in the pre-Twitter and Facebook age it was easier to get traffic from bookmarking sites like Digg and Delicious.


  • Kwehangana Hamza

    Hi Ramsay
    Yes, another good piece here.
    I haven’t even made 5 dollars yet through advertising evening after running two blogs for two years. But I have got offers for product reviews which i did for 50 dollars. Should I call that internet money? However, still here struggling and always eager to read that email from you.
    Still thinking of selling on blog 🙂 ?


    1. Ramsay

      Hey there. I think if advertising hasn’t had any results after two years it might be time to try something new. What’s your back up plan?


  • Himanshu Gupta

    Great Post Ramsay.

    Loved the post. Great tips there.

    Keep writing


    1. Ramsay

      Thank you!


  • Tegan

    Hey Ramsay, thanks for the post.

    Great story! The idea of selling a blog for 20K while still at uni sounds nuts to me (in a good way).

    I have always been a bit doubtful about ads on blogs, mainly because from a reader’s perspective I’d rather not see them. I’m somewhat relieved to learn they aren’t that great from a business perspective either. I’m going to focus on affiliate marketing and eventually my own products.

    Thanks
    Tegan


    1. Ramsay

      Awesome to hear!


  • Carm

    I am concerned about the AdSense Google issue. Does any one else have the same experience with AdSense or using something else?


    1. Ramsay

      What do you mean?


  • Freddy G. Cabrera

    Hey Ramsay!

    What a story man!

    And that is a lot of freaking money for a college kid. I agree. You could’ve easily spent it all and not have accomplished much, but you did not. When you get your hands on that much money, and being young, it can go either way.

    I have made a few thousands online already. But, I started back in late 2010. And I didn’t make much up until late 2012 (I think, can’t quite remember the date).

    It’s an amazing feeling to have this passive income. And if you love what you do, it’s even better. These days is not very hard to make money online. All it really takes is the right guidance, the right tools, and the right amount of consistent action with the right type of actions.

    I made my first thousand with network marketing. I built my teams all through the internet. This is another great business model that uses the leverage of people and teamwork. I no longer do network marketing but that got me off to a great start when I went back to blogging and internet marketing.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story here! It is inspiring and I know a lot of people will benefit from your journey!

    Best regards! 😀


    1. Ramsay

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing. I agree that it’s a fun feeling!


  • Natalie

    Hey Ramsay – huge fan here 🙂 . It took me around 10 months or so to make my first $1000 and that was through various Affiliate programs. It’s been around two years doing this now and I still have lots of ups and downs and plenty of work to do. I think sometimes people think that once you start making money, it sort of all works out more from there… but I haven’t found that in my own case.


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah, it is a lot of testing and tweaking!


  • Shafi Khan

    Hi Ramsey,

    I’ve earned my first $1000 but in bits and pieces. I’m still waiting to reach my first $1000 per month goal and hopefully I’ll achieve it soon.

    Currently the studying and other work are eating up my time and hence it becomes difficult for me to manage the blog.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. It motivated me a lot!


    1. Ramsay

      Hey Shafi. What’s your plan to get to $1000 p/m?


  • Arvind

    great post Ramsay…it took me 2 years to make my first 1000 dollar but without selling my blog through adsense….you have really went through lot of ups and down in blogging and this only had made you a Master in blogging….I am learning a lot with your blog..thanks for sharing all your experiences with us…!!

    Arvind


    1. Ramsay

      I am definitely not a master. Still learning a lot and making lots of mistakes. They are just bigger mistakes now!


  • Mary Wogan

    Hi Ramsay, can you give some detail about how you made the $1000 ? Was it where the adsense ads were placed? How many etc? Also is it a thankless task blocking ads from adsense only for them to reappear again? I have nearly 10,000 a month visitors now on my blog. Can I charge to do reviews like the above commentator mentioned? Thanks!


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Mary.

      Yes, most of the money from that time came from AdSense and other similar types of EPC ads.

      You might like this article for more ideas for your blog: https://www.blogtyrant.com/dont-put-ads-on-your-blog/


  • Ahmad Imran

    Inspiring story Ramsay, great to see the steps and thought process from humble beginning to more established success.

    It just shows that blogging is not a get rich quick type of work (generally). Yes there is always exception but as a rule of thumb, it takes grind, continuous improvement and ability to flex to make things work.

    Thanks again for sharing your story, looking forward to the third part.


    1. Ramsay

      Yep, it’s hard work that takes lots of planning and effort.


  • Rick Rouse

    Great post as usual, Ramsay.

    Like you, I also started out running Adsense exclusively, and I did extremely well the first 2 years. But then Google changed the way they compensated us for clicks (by charging the advertiser what they thought a click on my site was worth). Literally overnight my income dropped from the low triple digits per day to low double digits. That’s when I realized there had to be a better way. I removed Adsense and switched to affiliate ads and I’ve never looked back.

    Don’t get me wrong – Adsense is a great way to start 9u5 because it’s so easy to set up. I still recommend it for new bloggers just so they can earn a few bucks while they’re learning the ropes. But long-term it’s hard to beat affiliate marketing for earning a serious income.


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah, I remember that time. A huge blow for a lot of people. Congrats on being able to adapt!


  • BrianO

    The lesson here is how to rehash old content into new. The next lesson hopefully is how things have changed since the inception of the tyrant. The days of the blogging world being the wild wild west are over. How would a person today make their first thousand? Blogging entirely? Marketing? Leveraging tech? spending money on both and more? The field is a crowded one, and the upfront costs are real, unless you are a tech guru you need to hire a tech guru, and if you wish to make money either sell a product or be an actual expert.


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Brian. I talked about something similar a couple of years ago and try to touch on it regularly: https://www.blogtyrant.com/dont-build-a-blog/


  • Jennifer Waddle

    Ramsay,

    I think my favorite line in this post is “…wasted almost all of it on takeaway food while I fiddled around with new ideas.”

    I feel like that is similar to where I’m at. (on a much smaller scale)

    I made my first $1,000 in 2016 from selling my books, freelance writing, and contributing. Some traffic came from my blog–but not enough!

    Now, I honestly feel like I am wasting my profits on “takeaway” food while brainstorming ideas.

    My biggest question is…do I have to engage in affiliate marketing to have a successful blog that brings in steady income? (Please say “no” to this girl who really hates marketing!)

    I cannot wait for your next post.

    Jen


    1. Ramsay

      Why do you hate affiliates? Have they ever bothered you here?


      1. Jennifer Waddle

        I don’t hate affiliates. I personally hate marketing something.

        However, a good friend reminded me today, that affiliate marketing is simply supporting something you believe in while helping your own online business.

        And no, I’m never bothered by your offers! You are one of my favorite bloggers with awesome content.


        1. Ramsay

          Perfect!


  • Kat Lewis

    Ok, I swear I could replace your name with mine in this post. It’s like you wrote about me and my blogging endeavor. Except for the selling a blog part. Like you, I suffered a major Google ranking loss and had to say “bye-bye’ to my good positions and all my nice Adsense income. And I didn’t have a mailing list to fall back on.

    So, long story short, I pretty much ditched that blog but re-purposed some of the better content to create a more niche-y blog. Things are slow moving with this new blog – life happens – but it’s slowly growing, I’m seriously considering a mailing list, and making a bit of money (Adsense as well as some affiliate marketing).

    I am dying to read your next post because I don’t want to rely on Adsense. And to be honest, I can’t seem to work in a whole lot of affiliate items that suits my niche.

    Thanks for sharing; I devour all your posts.


    1. Ramsay

      Did you ever discover what caused the Google drop?


  • Darius Gaynor

    Great read! I made my first $1000 online by buying a website from Flippa that sold social media followers and likes. Then I sold it for more on Flippa. Now I run my digital marketing agency and started side projects. Thanks for sharing!


    1. Ramsay

      Great move!


  • Rick

    Thanks Ramsey. Great topic! For those just starting out, it does take some work to get a steady revenue stream or at least it did for me. From my experience, start out by playing with a free blogger site until you get a rhythm, learn to develop a voice and see if you are really passionate about your topic. Once you find it, then switch to a self hosted option. This process might not take more than a few months and you’ll know it when you hit your stride.

    When I first started out, I wrote about a variety of topics and quickly learned that WHAT you wrote about made a big difference in the payouts for ads clicked on. I used Google Adsense because it was easy. My first month I made less than $1, however, the second month increased to $62, the third was $143, and so on. This trend continued, but it was wildly inconsistent. One of the keys to Google Adsense success is to constantly experiment with ad placement.

    It is important to note that you will have a hard time monetizing your traffic if you are not reviewing products and services or something people ultimately look to purchase. Also, you should identify who you target audience is. The newer the audience is to a given topic, the more likely you will have sales. Writing to established professionals is a very hard sale from my experience.

    Always experiment with different affiliate programs. There a ton of programs available and it is really hard to say which will convert for you until you try them. Amazon pays smaller commissions than most other affiliate programs, HOWEVER, they are THE mall of the world. New Amazon affiliate users may not know that once you send a visitor to the Amazon site by clicking on your link, a cookie is placed in the visitor’s browser and you get a commission on everything they purchase for the next 24 hours. There are also tools you can use that claim to extend the cookie life to 90 days, but I have never tried them.

    My first month using the Amazon affiliate program, I made $0, that’s right. The next month I made $2. I made a total of $63 my first year, then $1455 my second, $4355 my third. Success again is based on continue to craft your post for use with text affiliate links. Linked products must flow naturally for visitors to want to click on them. It is also worth noting that only a third of my sales from Amazon came from the products I was recommending. The other two-thirds came from them browsing and buying other products and goods.

    My last bit of advice is related to the use of email autoresponders. There are several good ones out there and I’m sure Ramsey can recommend a great one. Write a short e-book and give it away to get them to sign-up for your newsletter. This is a great way to stay connected with your audience and recommend affiliate products as well. Google search traffic changes all the time, for the good and bad, but your newsletter is the perfect tool to pass along your valuable postings to them.

    Sorry about the long winded post!


    1. Ramsay

      Absolutely love this comment. I think what you’ve suggested is that it takes a lot of experimenting and trials, and that is exactly how it’s worked for me too. Nice work!


  • Anthony

    Interesting post. You don’t touch upon how you actually managed to get visitors to your site to make your money. It’s all well and good writing ‘evergreen’ content with a sprinkling of good keywords, but in my experience this is never just enough by itself to ‘pull in’ visitors or readers. What sort of link-building efforts did you use?


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Anthony.

      There will be more on that in the next post. It was a lot easier back then and you’re right that it doesn’t work these days without some consistent effort and a promotional plan.

      I’m hoping to really cover off the more professional aspect of my business in the next post – this was just the story of getting started! 🙂


  • Kat Lewis

    Hi Ramsay,

    Yep. The drop was caused by the first Penguin update back in 2012. And even though I did a ton of cleaning-up on that first blog, it never seemed to be enough.

    Oh well…at least I learned a few lessons.


  • Luis Medilo

    I haven’t made $1,000 from my blog yet, as I started it last December. I’ve made several blogs before but I closed down due for some reasons. I hope my current blog will last way longer.


    1. Ramsay

      Good luck, Luis!


  • Emily

    Doing an experiment gives us the inspiration of new invention.
    Thanks for sharing the ideas with us. I can learn many new things from this post. Now I realize my mistake that I did in the past, and of course I will apply the basic rules for my blogging journey. After I follow this guide, I will be able to create a trusted reader for my blog.


    1. Ramsay

      Hope it helps!


  • Marc

    It’s great to hear more about how you got started. Selling a site for $20,000 while still in college is a pretty awesome accomplishment.

    I made my first $1,000 by using a blog to attract traffic and then selling a service (web design). Back in 2007 I was doing a lot of reading about social media and blogging. I had no idea what a blog was, but I was familiar with old school article marketing where you would submit huge numbers of crappy articles to article directories. Fortunately, there were some good articles that helped me learn how to change my mindset and get traffic to my blog.

    I remember one day my site traffic went from 10 visitors to 2,000 visitors because one of my blog posts made the front page of Delicious. That got me hooked! Over the next few months I was able to build some steady traffic to the blog and I landed a few paying clients.


    1. Ramsay

      Using a blog to grow traffic to a separate business is, in my opinion, still the best way to use blogging to make an income. I wish more people would do it that way instead of ads and so on. I think I might need to write more about this.


  • Cara Manual

    Hi,
    I really enjoy your writing, this article is easy to understand so help me and increase my knowledge about this, thanks for sharing with us, I wait for the next update.


    1. Ramsay

      Thank you!


  • Vishal Arora

    No, I haven’t made my first $1000 online yet.

    I tried infolinks, adsense, chitika but CPC was very low.


    1. Ramsay

      What’s your promotional strategy?


  • mahadbt

    I had faced lot of problem in getting first payment of 1000$ so can you give me some important advice to make money and sustain that amount for few months.


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