Everyone (myself included) wants to know how long success takes.
The truth is:
No one can answer that.
No one can predict the future.
And everyone’s path to success is different.
But we can examine the success of others to get an idea of how long it might take.
How many bloggers are financially successful?
Before we discuss the time it takes for financial success, we need to know how many bloggers actually succeed in monetizing their site.
Of course, this depends on how you define “financially successful.”
But for this blog post, I’ll define it as making $30,000 or more per year.
This is more than enough for a single adult to live comfortably in most places in the US.
And if I were making this amount from my blog, I’d consider quitting my job.
Based on problogger.com’s survey of their readers, <13% of bloggers trying to make money make a “full-time” income.
Problogger conducted this survey in 2015 and the answers were self-reported.
So it’s not the most reliable or timely data set.
But it’s a good reminder that many people never achieve financial success with their blog.
I’m not trying to discourage the reader.
I just want you to know that few put in the time and effort necessary for financial success.
Time Till Success and Growth Engines
Let’s say you’re part of the <13% of bloggers trying to monetize who make $30,000+ per year.
How long does it take to get there?
This largely depends on your blog’s growth engine.
Growth engines are marketing systems that generate repeatable growth from a given channel.
Without a growth engine, your blog will fail.
Because no one will know about it.
Problogger Jon Morrow likens publishing a blog post on a blog without a growth engine to giving a speech to an empty room.
Without a way to drive an audience to your blog, no one will see your content.
If no one sees your content, no one will make a purchase.
The type of growth engine you choose has a major effect on the timing of success for your blog.
Though there are organic and paid growth engines, I’m going to focus on blogs that leverage organic growth engines for success.
Again, if you need a refresher on what growth engines are and why they are important, click here.
The Financial Success Timeline of Bloggers Using Active SEO with Brian Dean
Ranking in Google search results is one of the most powerful ways to drive traffic to your site.
Visitors to your site from Google search are known to be highly targeted often with strong commercial intent.
(Commercial intent is just a fancy term for the likelihood of your audience buying what you’re selling.)
Of course, their commercial intent depends on the search term that your post ranks for.
But you can reverse engineer how to rank for terms whose searchers are looking to buy what you’re selling.
SEO guru, Brian Dean has mastered this process of ranking for keywords with high commercial intent.
In fact, he took a brand new website to $10k/month in revenue in 120 days using white hat SEO. (source)
The speed of Brian’s success is absolutely stunning.
However, it’s important to remember his success came after years of failure.
Dean’s path to SEO guru was circuitous.
He bounced from a PhD program in nutrition to freelance nutrition writing for E-lance and Livestrong.
Then he finally settled on the path of internet entrepreneurship.
Eventually he cracked the code for ranking in Google search and has experienced spectacular success since then. (source)
Active SEO Success with Richard Marriott
Dean isn’t the only one who has experienced quick success with active SEO.
Richard Marriot who blogs over at clambr.com has chronicled some interesting SEO experiments.
5 months after launching a brand new niche website, Marriot’s site was making $75 a day.
$75 a day comes out to ~$27,375 a year.
However, the site’s revenue was steadily growing.
So it stands to reason that after a year, he was making more than $30,000, (our target for financial success) (source)
Plus, some of his other sites make $12,000 per month! (source)
How does he achieve these results?
According to Richard, his sites’ traffic and sales come from nothing but:
clinical onsite SEO, clever content strategy, and persistent email outreach.
These are just a couple of examples of entrepreneurs using active SEO to achieve financial success with their blogs in record time.
And their success is in keeping with a study done by Ahrefs.
Of a random sample of 2 million web pages, Ahrefs found that only 5.7% ranked in the top 10 in Google search results for their target search term.
And of this 5.7%, the majority achieved their ranking after 2 to 6 months. (source)
A 5.7% success rate is even lower than ~13% success rate of those monetizing their blogs.
So active SEO isn’t necessarily the easiest path to monetization.
But it can be lucrative for those who make it work.
If you want to learn more about using active SEO to rank in Google search results, check out my post here.
How Long it Takes for Financial Success with Passive SEO
Active SEO requires significant research, e-mail outreach, and other promotional marketing techniques.
After all, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization – and optimizing anything requires effort.
But there’s another form of “SEO” that’s passive.
If you take the passive SEO route, you simply publish blog posts and let Google crawl your website like it normally does.
Once you consistently produce content for a long time, your posts will probably start ranking in the top 100 results for long-tail search terms.
After this happens, you can slowly build an audience as people find your content deep in search results.
This path involves no direct marketing effort – simply consistent content production.
Victor Pride, owner and blogger of Bold and Determined, is an example of someone who has successfully gained a loyal following this way.
He’s open about the fact that he doesn’t use social media and didn’t attempt any marketing tactics to grow his blog.
He simply produced content and let his audience find him.
In the first year of blogging, Victor made no money.
In his second year, he made $15,000.
And after 4 years, he crossed the $1,000,000 in lifetime blogging revenue.
Victor’s path to success is impressive.
Seeing little results for 2 years requires iron-willed persistence.
But that sort of persistence clearly pays off.
Victor’s story is inspirational to anyone interested in producing content without making a marketing effort.
The Traffic Driving and Income Potential of Pinterest
Pinterest is a fascinating social platform.
90% of blog posts’ viral shares happen on Pinterest. (source)
The average order value of sales coming from Pinterest is $50 – higher than any other major social platform.
Pinterest is the #2 overall source of all social media traffic to Shopify stores.
Over 2 million people pin product pins per day.
That’s 20x more than there are daily shoppers at the Mall of America.
93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan purchases.
And Pinterest mobile purchases have been rapidly increasing. (source)
Pinterest is also unique in that a large portion of what’s shared on the platform are blog posts.
This is different from Facebook where you share everything.
Or Twitter where you post micro-moments, jokes, and pithy thoughts.
It’s different from Snapchat and Instagram where you share spur of the moment video and carefully curated images.
And it’s different from YouTube where there are longer videos with more production value than Instagram or Snapchat.
Sure, people share photos videos, and infographics on Pinterest.
But mainly, people post blog articles on Pinterest.
And this is why it’s so powerful for the blogger.
Bloggers Crushing It on Pinterest
There are a lot of successful bloggers primarily using Pinterest as their growth engine.
There’s Sarah Titus making $130,000 a year.
Or Abbie Lawson with Just a Girl and Her Blog making ~$420,000 a year.
And of course there’s the queen of Pinterest:
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner making over a million a year from her blog, Making Sense of Cents. (source)
But what’s really inspiring about successful Pinterest bloggers is how quickly they can start making “full-time” income.
This includes people like Allan who made $2950 in his 5th month of blogging at The Practical Saver. (source)
Or Rosemarie Groner with the Busy Budgeter who was making $5,000 a month after a year of blogging. (source)
Or Alex and Lauren with Create and Go who were making $40,000 a month after blogging for a year! (source)
These examples show that you can start generating meaningful revenue in a short time if you dedicate time and effort to mastering Pinterest.
Time till Success: Driving Traffic with other Platforms
It seems that other growth engines aren’t quite so conducive to quick blogging success.
Or if they are, not as many people are reporting about their success.
In Neil Patel’s epic challenge to grow a blog from scratch to $100,000 in monthly income, he initially used Facebook to drive a lot of traffic to his blog.
Though he had great success with this method, Facebook is changing.
They’ve said that organic reach might actually drop to zero. (source)
This means that the only way brands could guarantee an audience for their post would be by paying for it.
And according to this graph, that day appears to be coming soon:
Because Facebook has become more of a pay-to-play platform, I won’t address it further in this post.
Because Instagram is photo and video platform, it works best promoting physical items.
This is why apparel and lifestyle brands can crush it on Instagram but other brand types have a harder time.
Even so, blogs can still have success on Instagram.
I just haven’t found as many bloggers reporting stellar success using the platform.
Twitter gets a lot of flack for low engagement and stagnant growth.
But it still has over 328 million monthly active users. (source)
And many see great website click-through from Twitter. (source)
In fact, some people like Jeff Bullas credit the majority of their audience growth to Twitter. (source)
So can you become a financially successful blogger driving the majority of your traffic from Twitter?
There simply aren’t as many case-studies as there are for SEO or Pinterest showing how quickly full-time income can happen.
Obviously, there are other major social platforms that can drive traffic to your blog.
(like Snapchat, YouTube, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, and more).
But I haven’t found many transparent case studies on how effective they are for driving blog traffic and earning income.
Hopefully, more and more people will reveal how they leverage these other platforms to grow lucrative audiences.
If you know of any case studies specific to these other social platforms, link to them in the comments!