Sometimes, when people learn that I write online, they will ask me, "Do you make any money from that?" The short answer is no. I write for a number of reasons, but not a single one includes "income source." (My reasons do include: to keep current on web trends, to challenge myself, to learn from others, because I like writing...)
I used to regard my blog as a money-sink, or an expensive hobby. That was in the days when I knew nothing about webdesign and free blogs were not what they are now. I paid quite a lot for 3 different slick design themes (Medieval stained glass, Louise Brooks, and Boscoreale) and hosting, etc. Now, I pay the barest minimum for a Google hosted blog and domain name.
Some bloggers are successful enough to sell advertising space on their sites. I'm not really a "successful blogger"--although I appreciate all 30 hits per day, and each and every comment left. I hemmed and hawed about "selling out" and finally decided to add a Google AdSense bar. The idea is that with every click through to an advertiser's site from mine, I am given a pittance referral fee. According to the agreement, Google will not send me anything until I hit the minimum payment level of $100. That will probably never happen, since, six months later, I have earned exactly $1.82. One dollar and eighty-two cents. It's a long way to $100 from there.
A long while ago, when I first thought I would "make it" in the blogosphere (my goodness, I really dislike that word), I signed up for an Amazon Associates account. The program was in its infancy then, and I didn't much understand it, just that, if I worked very hard, I could build some code to link to products on Amazon.com and I'd receive a referral fee. Unlike AdSense, this has a payout minimum of $10. I ignored the account for a long while until mid-summer last year, when I was desperate for cash. So desperate, in fact, that I attempted to earn some income from the blog. I began posting links with book reviews, etc. A dollar or two trickled into the account, and it settled at $4.00 for months.
Today, I am happy to report that some wonderful, generous college student bought her Calculus textbook through a referring link to the site, and I have now earned $10.52 from Amazon.com, and I will have finally (finally!) made some money for this blog.
I don't think I'll ever really make any money this way, which is why I'm in business school--to get a real job. Besides, I feel strange trying to ask my readers to pay me. If I really felt good doing that, I'd post a link to my Half.com shop. (Wait, I may have done that once, but only because I was referencing a book I was selling. And still haven't sold. It was a terrible book.)
In any case, thank you, anonymous college student. That $10.52 will buy a portion of one of my textbooks.