Don’t we all wish book blogging could be our career? Just sit at home (or Starbucks), read books, review them, and somehow manage to financially support ourselves.
Today I’m going to talk about whether or not I think it’s possible. Can you make money from book blogging? Will it be enough to support yourself?
Now, I’m not necessarily an expert. This post is purely based on my own research and observations.
How do bloggers make money?
If you look around at famous or well known blogs, they make money in a few key ways:
- Advertising banners
- Affiliate sales
- Membership areas
- Sponsored posts
Keep those in mind while reading this post, because I’ll be addressing most of them from the perspective of book blogging.
The Question: Can book bloggers make money from their blogs?
My answer: No. Let me tell you why!
Problem #1: We don’t get enough page views
This is the main reason why advertisements (and actually most of the other methods) won’t be hugely beneficial on book blogs. We don’t get enough page views.
When I surveyed book bloggers, one of the questions I asked was how many page views the blogger got per day. The results showed this:
As you can see, most book bloggers get less than 300 page views per day. In my survey of over 300 bloggers, only 2 reported getting over 1,000 page views per day.
So for the rest of this post let’s say the average book blogger gets 300 page views per day, which is 9,000 per month. (And even that’s very generous, considering most of the respondents reported getting less than 100 per day.)
Next, I dug around a bit to find out how much money bloggers earn per month. I came across Beauty Through Imperfection’s website, where Paula surveyed bloggers to find out how much they earn. Using her statistics  I compiled this graph:
As you can see, the bloggers who make over $2,000 per month (which still isn’t much to earn a living..) mostly get over 125,000 page views per month. Now compare that to our average blogger’s 9,000 per month (feel free to cry a little).
If you look into the 9,000 page views per month range, you’ll see that the bloggers are earning about $100 and under. Sure, that might be enough money to buy a few extra books, but it’s not really going to get you places. It’s certainly not enough to quit your day job!
Just to reinforce these findings, I stopped by ProBlogger to check out their statistics. According to their results (from 1,500 entries), 63% of bloggers reported making less than $100 per month.
Of course, there are a couple book bloggers out there who do crank out over 100,000 page views per month, but they’re certainly in the minority.
Why do book bloggers get so few page views?
We can sit here all day and speculate, and I’m sure there are a lot of different reasons. Just based on my own speculations, I think one of the main reasons is just that reading isn’t super popular in the world. It’s sad, but I think there’s some truth to that.
If you compare book reviews to other blogging topics like:
- Weight loss
- Web design
- How to blog
…how are books and reading going to compare? It’s sad, but I think more people are interested in fashion, health, and beauty than they are interested in reading. Just recently, one of my professors polled a class of 40 students and asked How many of you read books? and I was the only one who raised my hand. O_O
And if you want to just purely look at entertainment, I bet blogs about movies and video games get more page views than book blogs. Most people prefer to watch/play something than read it. That same professor I mentioned before said, “Of course none of you read! Why read when you can just watch the movie? All books have movies these days.” Seriously? That statement hurt my soul in so many ways. But that’s how people think these days.
Problem #2: Bloggers wouldn’t trust paid reviews
In the book blogosphere, it’s pretty common knowledge that paid reviews are frowned upon. More than that, book bloggers kind of despise them.
So if you consider that another big way to make money blogging is through sponsored posts (getting paid to write certain things or review certain products), I don’t think that would go down well for book bloggers. People will know that you’re getting paid to write your posts and you’ll probably lose traffic, and thus page views, and when you lose those you’ll get paid less for sponsored posts anyway.
Even if you don’t let your earnings affect your review, your readers may not see it that way. They’ll be skeptical of your review and your opinions.
Problem #3: Publishers won’t pay us to review
But building onto the previous point, sponsored posts require someone to sponsor you in the first place. If you’re running a book blog, your main sponsors are going to be publishers and/or authors. But let’s think about this… are publishers really going to pay bloggers to review books anyway?
I can picture it, and it’s not pretty. I imagine I’m a publisher, the ARC requests are rolling in, then one blogger approaches me wanting money (and an ARC) in exchange for their review. I just throw my head back and laugh, because I can either pay that blogger to review the book, or I can say “Screw that” and give the ARC to one of the other thousands of book bloggers DYING to review the ARC for free.
The book blogosphere is overflowing with people reviewing books for free.. so why should publishers pay for it?
I think the only chance in hell that’s going to happen is if you somehow turn your blog into the next Kirkus, where your word becomes law, to the point where people will pay for it. You would have to be extremely well known in both the online and offline world for that to even possibly happen.
Problem #4: Book-related affiliate links give you almost nothing
How many of you are Amazon affiliates? How many of you make more than $5 per month from that program?
I personally have made less than $10 from Amazon affiliates in over 1.5 years of book blogging. Maybe even less than $5. And I’ve heard many other book bloggers report similar figures.
Why are the numbers so low for book bloggers?
What comes next is just pure speculation on my part, but I definitely think it’s a serious possibility.
As book bloggers, our traffic mainly comes from other book bloggers. Other book bloggers read our posts, and most importantly: our reviews. HOWEVER, how often do you see book bloggers mention that they “Don’t read reviews from other bloggers until after they write their own”? I see that statement a lot. It makes sense. Bloggers don’t want to read spoilers, they don’t want their own review to be influenced by someone else’s, etc.
But what’s the problem with that? It means by the time people DO read your review, they’ve already read the book, so they have no reason to click on your affiliate link to buy the book.
That’s just one possibility, but I’m sure there are a ton of reasons:
- People read reviews on their phone, but aren’t in a position to actually buy the book in that moment. So they buy it later when they’re on their computer, but at that point they just search for the book directly instead of clicking on an affiliate link.
- If most traffic comes from book bloggers, maybe those bloggers already got a free copy of the book from a publisher (ARCs).
- Book bloggers read a lot and many of them are super selective about the books they purchase, or they place themselves on book buying bans, or they just get books from the library.
So how can you make money blogging?
I think the best way to make money is not through blogging itself. Instead, use your blog to drive traffic to a freelance business.
For example, blog about books and build up a good following. Then launch a book-related business (blog tours, editing, book cover design), and your blog will funnel traffic into your freelance business.
With this method, most of your money will come from your client projects, but your blog will help increase traffic to your website, thus increase your number of clients. So you’re not exactly making money through blogging, but your blogging does help you make money. Blogging can drive traffic towards a freelance business.
Examples of this in action:
- Icey Designs: Hafsah’s book blog, Icey Books, is very successful. Her popularity there brings attention to her design site, where she makes blogs, websites, and book covers. She also just published her first book and I think her popularity in the blogosphere is definitely helping her get the word out about her new novel.
- Parajunkee Design: Rachel’s successful blog helps her find clients for her design business, where she makes blogs, websites, and book covers.
- Xpresso Book Tours: Giselle started with her book blog Xpresso Reads, and the success of that helped drive traffic towards her book touring business.
And my own site, Creative Whim. Starting my book blog Nose Graze has definitely increased my clients and sales on Creative Whim!
Summing it up
With advertisements on a book blog, you might make enough money to fund a few giveaways or pay for your web hosting. But don’t expect to be able to turn this into a real living.
It’s hard enough to be a successful blogger and make money. Period. But to make money book blogging is a whole other ball game. I think our niche is at a disadvantage because we already get ARCs for free, and because our target audience is quite small (thus reducing page views).