The Realities of Blogging For A Living – What Is It Really Like?

LAST UPDATED March 30, 2020  |  5 Comments

YouTube video

Interested in the possibility of blogging for a living? Want to know what it is really like? What's really involved?

Well, read on. I've been blogging for over 20 years now. I haven't had a "real job" since I graduated college - and that was 19 years ago (as of the time I'm writing this).

One could say that I've made my blogging blogging for almost 20 years.

So, what's it really like? Is it glamorous? Is it easy... or really hard?

And most importantly, what the hell do you really do all day long?

Well, I'll tell you. 🙂 And we'll do it FAQ style.

Confused And Overwhelmed At The Prospect Of Starting An Online Business From Scratch?

Follow our step-by-step Online Business Roadmap, broken down into 5 distinct phases. This is your map for starting, building and growing a high-revenue blog-based business out of thin air.

What Does My Average Day Look Like?

I run my business from a home office. This means I don't have to commute to work or drive very far. Hell, getting dressed is optional. 😉

I'm usually up by 7AM. 3 days a week, I hit the gym in the morning. And I'm usually in my office between 8:30 and 9AM in the morning.

My typical work day is about the same length as the usual full-time worker. On most days, I'm working until around 6PM. Keep in mind that I am able to make my own schedule. If I want to quit early, I can. If I want to take my laptop and go work on the porch and smoke a cigar, I can.

Despite the flexibility that I have in my schedule, I don't screw around (most of the time). After all, I'm THE guy. If I'm not doing my job, then... it simply won't happen. And nobody will be there to breathe down my neck and threaten me to get my act together.

Freedom comes with responsibility. And even though I can do whatever I want, it is important to maintain some self-discipline and some sense of schedule. It is important that I work by a to-do list and that I manage my time.

What Exactly Do I Do During The Day As A "Blogger"?

You may be surprised to hear that very little of what I do is actually... blogging.

This speaks to a fundamental concept that I pound into people's heads pretty repetitively around here. And that is: Blogs don't make money. Businesses do.

If I were just blogging, then that means I'd be writing most of the day. I'd be pounding out blog posts, hitting that publish button, then moving onto the next one. That's blogging. But, blogging doesn't get ya paid! Unless I were a paid writer for some external company, blogging just doesn't make money. You won't make a living that way.

Blogging is a marketing activity. On most weeks, I spend Mondays working on this blog. On Mondays, I will create content that is designed to go public on this blog. I will also work ahead and prep content that I know I will be publishing (or re-publishing) in the near future.

The other days of the week, I am doing other things. Such as:

  • Working on training content to be published inside THE LAB.
  • Working on sales & marketing
  • Working on technical matters related to the operations of this site or the LAB platform
  • Writing emails to be sent out to subscribers

To be clear, I make my money around here primarily through 3 channels:

  1. LAB subscription plans
  2. Affiliate commissions
  3. Consulting

I do not make my money via blogging.

How Much Money Do I Make As A Blogger?

Well first, and I repeat...

I do not make my money as a blogger. I happen to have a blog. I like writing for this blog. But, this blog that you're reading right here only directly generates revenue through affiliate commissions. The rest of my income is produced by THE LAB.

My business is focused on providing training and support for bloggers and people growing content-based online businesses. I do that work via the LAB platform. And that's where the money comes from.

Now, I long since stopped doing income reports. And I had very good reasons for doing that. And I don't intend to get into specific figures here, either.

Know that I generate a six-figure income doing what I do - and I have been for well over a decade now. I do just fine at what I do. I am not "rich". I do not live an extravagant lifestyle. There are people making more money than I am. And that's OK.

To me, my main goal is to live life my own way. I'm not trying to "get rich". I make a fine living, but I would happily make less money if it meant that I could go out in the RV and go camping when I feel like it.

But, as for exact figures, that's between me, my wife, and the IRS. 😉

What Are The Biggest Challenges?

This line of work is not for everybody. I know that many envision themselves doing it - because they don't want to be in a day job anymore. And, I get it.

But, this line of work is not all sweetness and light and beach-side piña coladas. Those kinds of stereotypes of "making money online" are usually put out there by fakers or people trying to put forth a dream to entice dreamers and get them to part with their money.

As you can see, my day is mostly work. I enjoy my work, but it is still work. I am sitting in my home office at the computer for a good chunk of the day. That does get tiring. Sometimes, I really don't want to sit in my office. Sometimes, I really want to just... leave. And sometimes I do exactly that.

This line of work can be lonely at times. Many don't understand what I do. Plus, I spend a lot of time alone in my office.

Having no boss means that I can work just as hard doing something smart... or something really stupid. Sometimes, as a business owner, you're having to figure things out and figure out what to do. Sometimes you might spend time working on something that just doesn't work. 

When you have a regular job, you get used to the fact that your paycheck comes on schedule. Even if you aren't working as productively as you could. Even if something didn't go according to plan.

When you run your own business, your speed of execution and the strength of your decisions has a direct impact on how much money you make. If you don't execute, you could find yourself working really hard for barely any income. If you execute well, you can revel in the constant flow of income and you feel pretty freakin' good. 🙂

I've experienced both. I've had low income times. I've had high income times.

As a business owner, you must be able to handle the uncertainty. You need to be willing to be in control and take responsibility. You need to be able to make decisions.

How Long Does It Take To Succeed At Making A Living As A Blogger?

I typed that because I know people want to know. I know it might help with SEO. But again...

Wrong question.

Because you're not making your money as a blogger. You're making your money by providing a product or service that people WANT.

Now, how long that might take to build up is really up to you. Like I said before, you could spend your time on smart stuff... or stupid stuff. Spending your time on stupid stuff is going to drag this out and make it take forever - if it even works. But, spending your time on smart stuff - the things that really move the needle - that will get you there quicker.

One big thing is to concentrate on building a business, not a blog.

Learn how to build LEADS and then SELL them something.

Those skills are way more important than blogging. In fact, the only real purpose of blogging is to do those things. At least if you're doing it for business. 

It is why I have taken my own experience over two decades - and thousands of students - and codified it into the Online Business Roadmap.

The process I lay out in there is all about correct order of execution. So that you spend your time on the smart things and not the stupid things.

And sometimes, the thing you're doing isn't necessarily stupid, but it just isn't the right time to be focusing on it. Timing is important. And that's why I made the Roadmap.

Confused And Overwhelmed At The Prospect Of Starting An Online Business From Scratch?

Follow our step-by-step Online Business Roadmap, broken down into 5 distinct phases. This is your map for starting, building and growing a high-revenue blog-based business out of thin air.

My goal with this post (and video) is simply to give a little dose of reality to what it is like to blog for a living - or run your own online business.

It's pretty awesome, I admit.

But, it is also work. It is NOT what some of the stereotypes are. And it isn't for everybody.

If you have any other questions about the day-to-day, feel free to ask in the comments below.


About David Risley

David Risley is the founder of the Blog Marketing Academy, a veteran blogger and online entrepreneur. He founded this site in 2008 after growing his initial technology blog into a commercial success. He has taught and/or coached multiple thousands of students, across a wide variety of niches. He also has a keen skill in the technical side of Wordpress and helps clients build their own platform. He is based in Florida, loves RVing and crypto, and an occasional cigar. Oh, and sushi. Read his full story.

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  • Mark Mobley says:

    Have been following you for over 10 years. You produce a lot of good content. But this was GREAT CONTENT!!! Keep up the good work. Mark

    • David Risley says:

      Thanks, Mark. Good to see you on here again. I think it has been awhile. 🙂

  • So appreciate the reality check for folks. This also applies to things like podcasting, youtubing, and others, right? Seems what you’re teaching is true for those just as it is for blogging. It’s the BUSINESS behind the activity that makes the money. And it’s the true WORK that is done that creates the value people pay for.

    Do you have a particular mindset/attitude you take as you “head to work” that helps make the transition from family life to work mode?

    • David Risley says:

      Yeah, I think it would apply the same way. Obviously, with podcasting and Youtube, there’s also the matter of ads. There are people who generate enough views on YT, for instance, to make a fairly decent income using ad revenue alone. And some YouTubers sell merchandise, which is obviously… business. 🙂 But, SOMETHING has to make the money. Even ads is basically selling other people’s stuff. In the end, content doesn’t make money. People buying stuff they want does.

      My transition to “work mode” varies. Sometimes it is as simple as pour my coffee and walk back to the office. Sometimes, I may make a point to get dressed (as in, normal clothes, not gym shorts 😉 ). Just as a way to be “At work” and not “at home”. Sometimes, I close the door. But, overall, I’m pretty good at just making that transition without any major lead-up. I’ve been doing this long enough now where I don’t personally have too many issues with the distractions of being home.

  • Not sure if my comment went through so I’ll retype it again.

    I got started back in the day because of those promises of instant riches. Not even thinking about the “realities” of what I was going to go through, well, it was both a blessing and a curse haha.

    Everything I thought of was about the “4HWW” and “passive income” back then
    It took me a while to figure things out after that.

    I love what you are doing here David. Keep up the great work.

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