How I Earn a Six Figure Income as a Full-Time Blogger

Last updated on August 9, 2020  ∙ by Edwin Contreras18 comments
How to earn a six figure income blogging

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Origin story

Hi there! I'm Edwin Contreras, the full-time blogger behind this website. Today, I enjoy the freedom of working from home making a six-figure income from my blogs - but it wasn't always that way.

Let me take you back to the beginning.

The network

I started making money online as a teenager in the late 90's. After bouncing around trying lots of different things, I ended up building a network of small websites.

Each had 5-10 pages and got traffic from the search giants of the time: Yahoo, Altavista, and Ask Jeeves (Google wasn't even a thing yet).

At the time, you could get search engine traffic simply by having a keyword in the domain and the keyword in the title. With almost zero competition it was a no-brainer to go all-in, and go all-in I did.

I had websites on weddings, weight loss, travel, car loans, debt, etc. The goal at the time was to get free search traffic and make money via Amazon links and selling ads.

I actually remember placing links to Now That's What I Call Music CD's on those pages!

The spark

Wanting to squeeze a few more dollars out of my weight loss site, I wrote a weight loss ebook.

I wrote the book after losing weight by eating nothing but McDonalds. The jist of it was replacing unhealthier meals with lower-calorie ones. (This was back in my meat-eating days, I'm now fully-vegeterian.)

After putting it on the site, this was the end-result: I sold one copy for $5.

Rather than see this as the total failure that it was, that $5 filled me with so much pride. You can't imagine just how happy I was that somebody believed in me enough to allow me to share my journey and help them.

That $5 was all I needed to know that there is money in sharing your knowledge and experiences with people. It's also when I learned that people pay for improvement.

Offer a little improvement, make a little money. Offer a big improvement, make a lot of money.
- Edwin, DoSixFigures.com

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That $5 was the spark I needed to know I was on to something...

I didn't know it at the time, but I had unintentionally created "blogs" and "information products," long before that became a thing.

Starting a blog in 2004

WordPress launched in 2003 as a free open-source blogging platform. Since I was building websites with HTML, I jumped right in and started my first blog: cashthechecks.com.

That first year I put my head down and got to work, publishing multiple articles per week. I was a content-generating machine.

I also put up a bunch of ads and affiliate links and waited for the money to roll in!

The result? I made a grand total of $0 in my first year blogging.

Why did this happen? In short, I did the exact opposite of what you're supposed to do.

Mistakes I made with my first blog

My focus in the first year of blogging was to build, build, and build some more. I thought I could win with an overwhelming amount of content since my competition had more posts than I did.

One year in, I had made every mistake you could possibly make blogging.

  • My content quality sucked.

I thought I had to keep up with a blogging schedule so I wrote lots of short blog posts at the expense of quality.

  • My content lacked emotion.

My content was beyond basic. I never mentioned the pain and the struggle of money issues. I just spit out facts like a robot. Because of that, I wasn't able to build up an audience.

  • I wrote content nobody wanted.

Rather than listen to specific questions my ideal reader was having, I wrote whatever I wanted to write. Including personal updates on my finances. Cringe!

  • I outsourced additional content.

This was an even worse idea. I went to Fiverr.com and purchased content at $5 a pop. Boy, I thought I was bad, this content was barely readable. And of course, I published every word of it.

  • I didn't grow an email list.

I never built an audience so I didn't have any way to reach someone after they landed on my blog. When I finally did start an email list, it was a box that just said: "subscribe for updates".

  • I didn't email my list.

Once I had a list of poor unfortunate souls who somehow signed up, I only emailed them my new articles as I published them, you know, so they wouldn't have to come to my blog to read them.

What a great way of ensuring you don't get traffic.

  • I filled up my blog with ads.

I wasn't interested in building an audience. I just wanted to make a quick buck so I plastered ads all over my blog. But with little traffic, that was beyond pointless.

  • I kept redesigning my blog.

I can't tell you the number of wasted hours (weeks!) as I kept "upgrading" the look of my blog. What a waste of time that was.

Re-designing your blog is good if you're trying to improve conversions. But if you don't have any conversions (sales), it makes little sense to waste time with this.

  • I thought I didn't need help.

I thought I could make it work on my own. It wasn't until I had clearly failed that I realized I didn't know WTF I was doing.

  • I used "free" everything.

If it was free, I was using it. My blog theme was free (now I use Thrive Theme Builder). I didn't use a social media scheduler because there were no free ones (I use Tailwind now). I used Mailchimp to send emails for free (now I use ConvertKit). My opt-in form was a generic one in the sidebar (now I use Thrive Leads).

  • I didn't invest in myself.

I learned about blogging from anyone and everyone, as long as it was free. Most of the stuff I was learning was outdated or just plain didn't work. I should have invested in a blogging course or two.

The issue wasn't that there wasn't information out there. The issue was that there was too much information out there.

I should have just chosen one person (or two) and learned directly from them.

How I made my first $1 blogging

When you have no traffic, it makes no sense trying to monetize. This was the valuable lesson I learned during my first year blogging. I spent a long time on optimization and not on traffic.

So I put the focus on trying to get traffic. My thought was: where do people hang out online? Back then, popular sources of traffic were Google search, Digg, StumbleUpon, and Squidoo.

So, off I went to try and learn each traffic source. I did pretty well and finally had traffic.

Once I had traffic, I put my optimization skills to good use.

I made my first dollar with Google Adsense. I recommend signing up after you have 5+ blog posts.

While you won't make that much money with Adsense, it helps for motivation purposes to earn that first dollar.

How I made $100 per month blogging

In addition to using Google Adsense, I also had links to Amazon books in my blog posts.

Using Google Adsense for display ads and Amazon Associates I was able to start making $100 per month on the regular.

The beauty of Amazon affiliate links is that you get paid for everything in someone's cart, even if you didn't link to it. So if I linked to a $10 book and they bought $50 in dog food and a $200 vacuum cleaner, I'd get a cut of the entire sale.

While I was happy to make consistent revenue, there were some mistakes along the way.

I tried to learn how to get traffic from multiple traffic sources at the same time. While I did get some traffic, I would have gotten much more had I mastered just one source.

Another mistake I made was chasing short-term traffic sources and not going all-in on Google search traffic.

How I made $1,000 per month blogging

I got an email out of the blue from a canvas printing company wanting to pay me $225 to place an article on my blog.

I was like, uh, you want to pay me AND give me the product for free? Sure why not!

Site note: I inexplicably negotiated the price down to $175. Yeah, don't do that.

It felt so good to make some real money blogging. This was the proof I needed that I can make good money with this.

I didn't know then, but this would be the first sponsored post opportunity of many more to come.

Seizing on this, I quickly put up a contact page (mentioning that I accept sponsored posts). This allowed advertisers to find me easier on Google.

To get more exposure to that page, I also linked to it from the main menu so other advertisers could easily get in touch with me.

After that, I listed my blog in advertiser marketplaces so other companies could also contact me. You can read my guide on how to get sponsored posts here.

An empire state of mind

After having success with my first blog, I decided to copy myself and do it all over again. I ended up starting a few more blogs in the finance niche (debt, frugality, saving, credit cards, etc.).

While none of them did that good, each one was bringing in anywhere from $100-$1,000 per month.

After a while, I took a major shortcut and just bought abandoned blogs instead. This scaling up is what caused my income to explode (in a good way).

This has been a principle I have always followed: Find something that works and 10X it.

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Becoming a six-figure blogger

After having found success in one niche, I decided to start a blog (okayketo.com) in an entirely different niche: health and wellness.

I had an intense interest at the time in the keto diet, so I researched it a bit and found it had recently had a huge spike in searches.

Since I knew what I was doing, this time around I was able to take that blog to $3,000 per month in just 6 months.

It was only after having been successful with multiple blogs in multiple niches that I decided to launch dosixfigures.com.

Starting Do Six Figures

Blogging has totally changed my life. But I didn't feel like I was actually making a difference in anybody else's life.

As a result of this blogging mid-life crisis, I started DoSixFigures.com to help people start a blog and experience the six-figure lifestyle.

This blog is my passion project that has been 15 years in the making.

Where to learn more

If you want to take the fast lane to building a profitable online business, I recommend you take my premium course, Do Six Figures Bootcamp.

Is blogging the best way to make money online?

There are countless ways to earn money online.

  • You can fill out surveys for a few bucks at SurveyJunkie.
  • You can earn cashback on your purchases with Swagbucks and ibotta.
  • You can teach an online course at Udemy.
  • You can become a freelancer on Fiverr.

You can try them all. But what is it going to get you? Lots of hard work and not too much money.

But a blog can turn into a vehicle that generates passive income while you sleep.

I'm confident in saying that there is no better way of making money online right now than by starting a blog.

But don't get it twisted, I don't really mean creating an online diary where you share your thoughts. No, the goal here is to create a thriving business that drives free traffic through content marketing.

How to make money blogging in 2020

Here's the process of making money with a blog.

  • Choose a profitable niche. What are you going to write about? Check my guide on how to choose a niche that makes money.
  • Get a domain name and hosting. Use this link to see the incredible sale Bluehost is hosting right now. A free domain name is included with your hosting purchase.
  • Install WordPress and design your blog. I recommend using Astra as your blog theme and Elementor to design your blog.
  • Add content to your blog. Start with keyword research to write about content people are actively searching for. I recommend Grammarly to help you write your content.
  • Get free traffic to see your content. Pinterest is the best traffic source for new bloggers. I use and recommend using the Pinterest scheduler Tailwind.
  • Offer a freebie to get email subscribers. I create my freebies in Canva and all of my email signup forms using Thrive Leads.
  • Send a series of automated emails. You can do this using ConvertKit. Bonus: they now offer free accounts.
  • Turn that subscriber into a paying customer. You can create a digital product like an ebook in Canva and let SendOwl handle the checkout/delivery experience.

This is a proven formula that has worked for not only me but countless others who earn a six-figure income blogging.

Lessons from a six-figure blogger

Here are the key takeaways from my journey to a six-figure income online.

  • 1. Evolve.

You must evolve your strategies through the years. When I started, Facebook pages were hot and Pinterest was nothing more than recipes and gardening. Nothing lasts forever.

Keep changing and adapting with the times. You don't want to be the last person at the video rental store turning off the lights.

  • 2. There are no shortcuts.

There is no elevator to success, just a ladder. I don't believe in "marketing hacks" or any gimmicks to making money online. If you want to see results, you have to put in the time.

  • 3. It's not too late.

No, it is never too late to start a blog. A blog is just a website that has updated content. If your content helps people, your blog will always be useful and profitable.

  • 4. Hard work beats talent.

Perseverance is a pretty cool thing in my opinion. Because even if you're not that talented as others, you can win if you just keep working hard.

  • 5. Failing doesn't make you a loser, quitting does.

I've lost a lot. In fact, I'm fairly certain I'll lose again! But you've got to go head-first anyway and believe in yourself.

Failing, after all, isn't really failing. It's just learning the wrong way to do things.

If you haven't started a blog yet, see the newbies guide to starting a blog here.

How Edwin earns a six-figure income as a full-time blogger

Until next time,
Edwin, DoSixFigures.com

just a little > about me

About edwin

Edwin Contreras is the professional blogger behind Cash The Checks and Do Six Figures. Over the last 17 years, he has started over 100 profitable blogs on his way to a six-figure income as a full-time blogger. He is now obsessed with helping people just like you escape the 9 to 5 and make serious money online. You in?

learn more > earn more

continue > the conversation

  • Awesome and helpful insights! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Great article! This it was recommended to me by the creator of Blogging Guide, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised:)

    • Thanks so much! If you see this, could you let me know if this mention was from a podcast, website, or social media? I like to give a shoutout and/or thank people who mention me.

  • Thank you for writing such an honest post. My friend owns a social media company and wrote down my to-do list when I started blogging just a few months ago. He said plan on not making a dime for one year. I have made income on my writing (hired guest post) from a company I used to work for and I’m focusing on learning my audience.

    • Yeah I agree that making income directly from a blog is hard. Offering services is a bit of a shortcut to making money online.

      You can offer services via a Services link in the main menu and by posting your writing gigs on Fiverr & UpWork.

  • Winnie Xu says:

    I never realized flipping blogs existed but that was so interesting to read about. It sounds like you learned a ton from your first year so thanks for sharing your tips. Hopefully it can help prevent other beginner bloggers from making the same mistakes.

  • You have a nice blog. I started blogging in 2006 but did things the wrong way. I was blinded by the “adsense gold rush” way back then and did BAD SEO to rank my sites. I raked a lot of adsense coins but everything was short-lived.

    My sites were all wiped out during the penguin update and gave up blogging. But recently I started blogging again and here I am surfing the web for useful information.
    Great article by the way, thanks.

  • Besana Motha says:

    Is true nothing last forever, I started my blogging journey in 2012 then went hidding for sometime, but now I’m back I want to make this work

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