Kate and Sara were in the same boat in life: new moms looking for something to occupy themselves during the down times at home. Together, they created a blog as a way to share new recipes with friends and family.
Before long, they realized they could potentially make money off their blog. Their first month's earnings were a meager $7, but it has only grown from there.
Today, these two women are making enough money from their blog to contribute significantly to both their family's finances.
For many moneymaking bloggers, the secret to success is the same. Whether it's a craft blog, a food blog or a blog with insightful writing, those with a passion for blogging who enjoy whatever they write about can end up making money when they least expect it.
Millions of bloggers
A Pew Research Center study, referenced on forbes.com, found there are around 34.9 million bloggers total; 18.9 million women and 16 million men. Most dedicated bloggers, which are those who post content on their blog in a timely and scheduled manner, make money. However, it is only a few dollars a month for the majority.
The study showed that although many men have been able to earn money from blogging, they "haven't been as aggressive or profitable as their women counterparts in generating financial support from brands."
According to an article on Mashable.com, which posted results from a study performed by Scarborough Research, about 3.9 million moms in the United States consider themselves a blogger, yet only 500 of them are considered to be "influential" among others. Influential is defined as those who have enough followers and readers to make money.
Melanie Gunnell of "Mel's Kitchen Café" started her food blog at the end of 2007 as a way of exchanging recipes with her mom and sisters.
"When I first started my food blog, I had no idea I even could make money," said Gunnell via email. "Money definitely wasn't a driving factor in me starting a food blog."
About a year after starting her blog, Gunnell noticed she was getting a lot of comments from people she didn't know. Soon after, an advertising network approached her, asking if she wanted to place ads on her blog. She agreed to do so.
Although Gunnell describes her revenue as "making peanuts" during the first year, eventually she was making enough to help with some of her family's expenses.
"As my blog traffic grew, the revenue grew with it and now the revenue definitely helps cut the grocery costs of keeping a food blog," Gunnell said.
Gunnell is a stay-at-home mom to four boys and one girl. Having moved six times in her 10 years of marriage with her husband, blogging has allowed Gunnell to hold onto something familiar while dealing with numerous moving changes.
Gunnell said she feels fortunate to work from home.
"I am my own boss and I create my own hours. That is probably the biggest benefit I see," Gunnell said. "Plus, the fact that I am a mother of five young children means that I can still be home with them while keeping up with my blog. It truly is the perfect work-at-home scenario for me and my family."
"Make It and Love It" has become a popular blog for those who are into making their own crafts. Ashley Johnston started her blog during the fall of 2008 as a hobby for herself while her husband was in school.
Johnston's blog eventually turned into a full-time job, one she wasn't planning on.
"I would have never considered myself a crafty person, which is funny because that's what my blog is about," Johnston said. "The topic of crafting came about because I wanted to make things I would want for myself instead of buying them."
Once Johnston discovered she could start making more money than she originally thought with her blog, she looked into different money-making methods.
"I had seen on a lifestyle blog little advertising buttons you could tell were smaller shops, and it made me wonder how I could have a button for my own blog," Johnston said.
Deciding to start with Etsy sellers that sold items relating to her blog, Johnston sent out formal emails saying she would advertise for their shops in return for a certain amount of money. She would also run giveaways to help draw more people to their shops.
Johnston now works with two other larger networks and posts advertisements for them to earn revenue. Other large companies will also approach Johnston and ask her to make a craft to help with a charity, for which she receives compensation.
"This blog has been a huge blessing," Johnston said. "Since my husband has been in school for most of our marriage, he hasn't had a full-time job. So the profit I make off of my blog has been able to pay some of our bills and provide for our kids when needed."
Kate Jones and Sara Wells, two women who met on an online parenting forum, created a recipe blog in 2008 as a fun way to share recipes among friends and families. But four years and more than 500 recipes later, they are known as the women of "Our Best Bites." They have won a national cooking prize from Better Homes and Gardens and are getting more than a million visitors each month on their website. They have also published two cookbooks.
Even though they seem to be living the good life by making enough money to help support both of their families, their love of food, cooking and family continues to keep them motivated.
"I don't even think we even knew what a cooking blog was when we started it," Jones said. "I was planning on being a teacher and going back to grad school and Sara was doing some work as a landscape designer."
They said starting their business was more fun than anything.
"People have asked us if we've ever been frustrated with growing a small business, and the truth is it was never frustrating because we set our sights so low that anything good or profitable just came as a pleasant surprise," Wells said. "In the beginning, we never expected anyone besides our aunts and our old roommates to read it."
Jones and Wells started to post ads on their blog when it was only a few months old. They only made $7 the first month to split between the two of them. But over time, traffic to their blog increased and they developed a strong working relationship with their advertising partners.
Money has never been the driving factor for the bloggers of "Our Best Bites."
"We do it because we love it," Wells said. "We love the challenge, we love the food, the writing, the photography and the creativity. We love connecting with our readers and the opportunities we have been blessed with."
Just starting out
Valerie Stratford, a soon-to-be graduate of BYU-Idaho, started her blog in January 2010. After reading an article in the university's newspaper, the Scroll, she figured she would give it a try.
Recently, Stratford changed her blog's name from "Taking a Bite out of Life" to "Valpo Studio." Redesigning her blog with a new name and look, Stratford focuses on art, crafts, cooking, and life's ups and downs.
About a year after starting her blog, she noticed new followers she did not recognize. She then received an email from another blogger asking her to "swap buttons."
"So I made a few buttons, swapped with a few people and saw my following starting to grow," Stratford said.
Also known as badges, blog buttons are becoming a popular way to promote, track and link back to your blog. Bloggers simply choose a logo or photo to represent their blog and attach a link to their blog to it, creating a "button."
Within the last year, Stratford has had companies contact her to do sponsored posts and pay her accordingly. The highest-paying post she's had was one for $50, which for a college student is a lot of money.
"I've probably made an accumulated $250 total, which went right around to pay for some of my standardized certification tests," said Stratford.
Stratford mentioned how many bloggers will attempt to increase their blog's followers by paying to have their buttons on other well-known bloggers' sites. Once they have more followers, they then can charge others who want to place buttons on their blog. Many bloggers earn a decent amount of money this way, though Stratford currently doesn't pay to have her button on other's blogs.
"I love blogging and would be so humbled to have my blog bring in a steady income someday, but without money to invest in having your buttons on other people's blogs, I don't foresee that happening anytime soon," she said. "Regardless, I'll keep writing."Comment on this story
For now, Stratford will continue to blog in hopes others will be able to benefit from what she writes.
"I want my blog to be relatable and not just to make money," she said. "I want those reading it to know that they really do have a friend in me, and I hope I can touch others."
Kylie Lewis is an intern for the Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and does other feature articles. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho, receiving a bachelor's degree in communications.