Learn from these top, self-taught bloggersDipti Nair
Life, as we know, is the greatest teacher of all. What the hard knocks and sleepless nights can teach us, no teacher could ever match with or without a cane. It is another matter how we choose to learn from life’s lessons.
Take these eight individuals, for instance. They learned how to escape the tyranny of the 9 to 5 work cycle and instead teach themselves to earn sitting at home. For many of them what started as a hobby, has now become full-fledged businesses. Here’s what these self-taught, top earning bloggers can teach you a thing or two about keeping your bank accounts warm with these cool tips.
Amit Agarwal, Labnol.org
No list of tech bloggers is complete without Amit Agarwal’s name. This 39-year-old blogger brought professional tech blogging to India. A graduate from IIT Roorkee in Computer Science, Amit worked for a few years in Hyderabad before moving to Agra his hometown. “When I moved back, the only option I had was to start working as a freelancer. Blogging was extremely new in 2004 and it was a very different environment without social media and other online networking/social tools,” he told YourStory in an earlier interview.
Works out of: Agra
Started in: 2004
How much money do you make per month: A few crores per year.
How do you make the money: Contextual advertising (blog + youtube) and we build products that follow the freemium model (link).
One Big challenge of earning through your blog: Earnings are mostly proportional to the search traffic and it is a big challenge to stay on the first page of Google. Ad blockers are another issue though we now promote in-house content to adblock users.
One Big tip to people who want to earn through a blog: User experience matters. Don't let ads spoil the experience of your website.
One Big personal moment related to your blog: I wrote TallTweets as a side project for the blog and Amitabh Bachchan tweeted that he uses the app (link).
Harsh Agarwal, ShoutMeLoud.com
Twenty-nine-year-old Harsh Agarwal started blogging as a hobby but is now making millions with it. He started out working at a call centre in Gurgaon, and when his blogging picked up, he borrowed his friend’s credit card and purchased a host and domain, and that’s how ShoutMeLoud went online.
Works out of: New Delhi when I'm in the country. Otherwise my wife (Shallu, she is handling ShoutMeHindi) and I love to travel and work. We stay as locals in countries like Bali, Singapore, and Thailand, usually at airbnbs.
When did you start: I started with a BlogSpot blog in the month of Aug-Sept, 2008. On December 1, 2008, I moved to WordPress platform and started ShoutMeLoud.com.
Blog's USP: The transparency and the Shouters community.
How much money do you make per month: My last month’s income was $32000. You can see my past report here.
How do you make the money: Products: We have eBooks, WordPress Plugins, which are selling on our platform. We also have a membership program called ShoutUniversity that also adds a substantial earning. The other avenues are
- Affiliate Marketing:One of the majority earning sources.
- Direct ads:Some of our direct advertisers like nativeads.com are with us from last three years and such recurring revenue helps a lot.
- Product review
- Native advertising
One Big challenge of earning through your blog: At times, when you have to leave huge money for the integrity of your blog. From a business perspective, it's the biggest challenge and loss.
One Big tip to people who want to earn through a blog: If you want to make it big, think big! Your attitude is the first thing that will decide how big you will become. Be a learner for life and don't get stuck at one place for long. With the fast changing technology, you should be ready to keep experimenting and adding new stuff to your blog. Along with content, focus on building the community. Be in a niche which has a future and is profitable.
Last but not the least, the way you handle your failures define your success in the blogging career.
One Big personal moment related to your blog: When I got the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award from the college I graduated from (Sharada University). It was only because of ShoutMeLoud. I was an ‘ok kinda’ student and never received such a high-level award while I was in the college. And that was the first time I cried with joy. While receiving the award, I was asked to say something. The only thing I could say was, "Don't let anyone ever tell you how to live your life. Life is beautiful when you discover it yourself."
Shivya Nath, The Shooting Star.com
That's exactly what 28-year-old Shivya Nath does. She lives the dream that most people just dream about. This year, Shivya marks three years of her life as a travel blogger and a digital nomad. In this time, she has hitch-hiked along Romania's northern countryside, lived with the chocolate farmers of Costa Rica, journeyed along Canada's great wilderness by train and swum with black tip sharks on Malaysia's east coast, and more. Shivya, who quit her corporate job to roam the world, says she hopes to inspire the young to step out of their comfort zones and discover the world!
Works out of: I am a Nomad. I stay in a place for a few weeks or as long as it inspires me, and then move on. At present, I am in Goa.
When did you start: In 2011
Blog's USP: Experiential travel, solo travel, and responsible travel
How much money do you make per month: That's a tough one. It can range from Rs 0 to Rs 200,000.
How do you make the money: Blogging and social media campaigns with relevant travel companies that share my travel philosophy. More details here.
One Big challenge of earning through your blog: Unsteady income. I can never predict how much I'm going to make, but I like to think of it as a financial adventure.
One Big tip to people who want to earn through a blog: Start blogging only because you love it, otherwise it's hard to sustain such an unpredictable source of income.
One Big personal moment related to your blog: Every time a reader tells me they chose their travel lifestyle / destination inspired by my blog. You can also find me on Instagram.
Amit Bhawani, amitbhawani.com
Amit Bhawani, started out writing about technology and smartphones, giving insights on how to buy the right mobile phone. He has come a long way since then, having set up his new project PhoneRadar.com in 2014. This year, the 32-year-old reserved a Tesla Model 3 by paying an advance amount of $1000. He says he is awaiting an update from Tesla regarding the configuration and delivery that should happen towards the end of 2017.
Works out of: Hyderabad
When did you start: I started blogging a decade back but the current project i.e. PhoneRadar.com was announced in September 2014.
Blog's USP: We are one of the fastest team in covering technology-related news in India especially around smartphones that also focusses on exclusive scoops and news not heard elsewhere. We are working on building a team that keeps an eye on little details that are generally ignored by the mainstream media that could add value.
How much money do you make per month: I cannot disclose the number, but this month, we have completed two years and are almost close to break-even, following which the venture should become profitable.
How do you make the money: We monetize through Google Adsense Program and an advertising network that works on leaderboard ads. We are planning to start native advertising in the following months to cover the expenses that are increasing by the day. The revenue from the Google Adsense Platform has probably reduced because of the advertisers moving to the Facebook ad platform.
One Big challenge of earning through your blog: One of the biggest challenges we are facing right now is the ad blockers used by readers that blanket ban all the advertisements along with the Twitter ad that strips all the ads & Google AMP that also shows a lighter version of the website without any ads.
One Big tip to people who want to earn through a blog: Focus on the users and if possible, opt for a paid subscription model if your content is worth reading. This is probably the future in the content industry. We are going to test this in 2017 with a small user group and depending on the results will be scaling it.
One Big personal moment related to your blog: We have been growing consistently at a pace of 14 percent month-on-month growth and our announcement this week about the launch of our Hindi website has been received positively. The reader response to the content and the feedback keeps motivating us to work harder. There are many moments that can be considered big but probably one of the worst of them would be when Flipkart sued me wrongly for posting a poll around them.
Imran Uddin, Alltechmedia.org
Twenty-three-year-old Imran Uddin started blogging in college to earn extra money and contribute to the family kitty. Today, he manages a number of other tech blogs.
Works out of: Hyderabad.
When did you start: I started when I was 18 years old and in the second year of my engineering degree.
Blog's USP: When most bloggers are writing articles for traffic based on keyword search, I write a few articles from my personal experiences and this is what makes my blogs unique.
How much money do you make per month: I run two funded companies which are worth several million. But, if you ask how much I make from my personal blog then it's around $10,000 per month.
How do you make the money: Display ads, affiliates, sponsored content and ads.
One Big challenge of earning through your blog: It was hard initially, but after I earned my first Rs 300, it didn't stop. Earning money has become easy for me now. The challenge is in scaling things up.
One Big tip to people who want to earn through a blog: Focus on your strengths and blog on the same. If you deviate from this just for the money, you are probably killing your blog in the hurry to make money fast.
One Big personal moment related to your blog: I meet a lot of people daily, and every day is exciting. But I feel proud when people recognise me from my blog. It's like your baby is growing big and people applaud your baby’s success. For me, my blog is my baby and I do whatever is required to keep it healthy and safe.
Srinivas Tamada, 9lessons.info
Thirty-year-old Srinivas Tamada is known for his Wall Script 8, a social network software to understand social networking concepts and build your own social network websites.
Works out of: I am from Andhra Pradesh, but at present, I am working in the US as a Web Architect. Blogging is my hobby.
When did you start: In 2009
Blog’s USP: Helps you navigate the social media world.
How much money do you make per month: $2500 to $3500
How do you make the money: Direct Ads, Sponsor Posts, Google Adsense and Wall Script 8 (Commercial Social Networking Software).
One Big challenge of earning through your blog: I never think about the money. I always wanted to explain complicated concepts in a simple way.
One Big tip to people who want to earn through a blog: Make people fall in love with your ideas and money will follow.
One Big personal moment related to your blog: My blog has completely changed my life and career. It has brought me a lot of fame on the internet.
Ajay Jain, Kunzum.com
Ajay Jain started on his journey of discovery with his blog Kunzum.com The 46-year-old now runs a Kunzum Travel Cafe and a 'school' to teach people about travel blogging.
Works out of: My passport says New Delhi, but the city is more like a place where I take pitstops for my laundry and to stock up on coffee for the road.
When did you start: Summer of 2007
Blog's USP: An element of surprise. Sharing experiences that people did not know existed and then presenting them keeping the traveller in mind so that others may not only feel inspired but also get the information to plan such trips themselves. I ensure that the text, photos, and videos are of the highest quality. To sum it up, the blog follows a four-part approach: Surprise, inspire, inform, and connect (with travel companies, hotels and other enablers for the journey).
Money cannot influence my opinion. While I work with travel brands, I stick to old school journalism ethics - keeping my opinions true and objective. I am nothing if my word is not credible.
How much money do you make per month: Ouch, this is a confidential one but since you ask, about Rs 3,00,000 per month. But figures go up and down.
How do you make the money: Mostly through brands who work with me to reach out to the traveller community. They pay me to be their brand ambassador, for mailers and ads, events and other branding exercises. I also make money from the sale of my books / e-books, and conducting workshops on travel blogging and photography.
One Big challenge of earning through your blog: You cannot just be a blogger and a creative person. You have to be on your toes to keep the money coming in.
One Big tip to people who want to earn through a blog: Think entrepreneur. You cannot just publish a blog and hope to earn enough through Google Ads. It will not happen. Run the blog like a business - and look at different sources of revenues. These include (but not limited to): Brand promotions, events, workshops, trips (organising ones like NatGeo and Rick Steves), publishing books and mags (especially electronic ones) etc.
One Big personal moment related to your blog: In 2010 when my digital blog took a physical shape in the form of Kunzum Travel Cafe. It was an experiment where we created a space to talk travel face-to-face; the outpouring of love leading to many a friendship has been the greatest personal dividend of the blog.
Archana Doshi, Archanaskitchen.com
Encouraged by her friends, Archana Doshi started her blog to share the healthy and tasty recipes that she would come up with to feed her young children. A software professional by training, she is passionate about cooking and over the years has successfully grown her hobby into a business.
Works out of: Bengaluru
When did you start: Nov 2007
Blog's USP: Archana is the Founder of Archana's Kitchen, which is India's leading recipe and food website with a million plus fans following on social media and website. At Archana's Kitchen, we publish high-quality recipes and video, with menu plans, dinner ideas, lunch box ideas, and more. These recipes inspire millions of people from around the world to start cooking, eating healthy, and lead a fit lifestyle.
How much money do you make per month: Well, I want to say one billion $$ (smilie).
How do you make the money: We work with a lot of brands by way of sponsored articles as well as product placement in our videos. We also continue to use the display ad networks to monetise the website.
One Big tip to people who want to earn through a blog: Be consistent and passionate
One Big personal moment related to your blog: The biggest personal moment was when Archana's Kitchen was the inspiration behind Google Chrome's first TV ad in India and was also featured as the Google Women Entrepreneur. Recently, we were also featured as the face of the brand for Saffola Fit foodie - Holachef Collaboration. Some of these moments are times that I will treasure as I have built on the success brick by brick.