How Darren Rowse Grew His Blogging Business from $0 to a $30K/month

Darren Rowse is well known in blogging circles as a blogger that helps other bloggers monetize their sites. Not only did he build ProBlogger from the ground up, but he has a unique voice that comes through as a conversational tone in his posts.

Different reports estimate his income between $20,000 to $30,000 a month. It is impossible to grab an exact figure as his income comes not only from AdSense, but private ads, job board ads and other affiliate programs.

He seems to be everywhere at once, hosting podcasts and even hosts the largest, in-person blogging event in Australia.

Those wanting to freelance online can learn a lot by studying what Rowse does. He is a genius at getting people to join his mailing list and pay for his services.

If you implement even a little of what he is doing, you should see an increase in your income.

No matter what type of freelancing you’re doing, you should be running a blog to gain new clients and possibly to bring in a side revenue by monetizing it. Or, if you’re really brave, you may be trying to earn your entire income from blogging.

You might be thinking:

  • “I don’t have the networking connections he does.”
  • “I don’t have enough time in the day to be everywhere like he is and do a blog, podcasts, and (yikes!) a conference.”
  • “There is no way I have time to monitor forums like his site has!”

Darren Rowse didn’t start off doing all of those things either.

Wayback Machine shows that in February of 2005, close to when the site went live, Rowse had just a few categories and a very simple design.

Darren 2005-Feb-Screenshot-Problogger for article


Studying Rowse’s rise to success illustrates a number of things you can take away for your own freelance career.

  • It’s okay to start slow, just start. Rowse started out with a small blog while working three other jobs.
  • You can work a job while you build your business, but at some point you need to focus on your business more. Rowse started his blog in late 2005 and blogged in his spare time. However, by June, he’d broken $1000/month and knew he needed to find more time to blog if he wanted to make more money. He had to make some tough decisions.
  • Consistency creates success. Rowse’s readers know they can count on him for high quality content and that he will post that content regularly.

Obviously, there are some very specific things over the years that Darren Rowse has done to make his blog a success.

Step 1. Be the First to Cover a Niche and Cover it Better

Rowse was one of the first people to cover the topic of blogging for money. This gave him an edge over the competition.

  • If your expertise is in a topic that’s been covered before, you have to figure out how to cover it from a fresh angle.
  • It’s also important to cover it better than anyone else. For example, study your competition and figure out how you can offer more than they are offering.
  • Figure out your unique perspective.

Step 2. Build a Community

Taking a look back at ProBlogger in the early years, it didn’t take long for Rowse to branch out from basic posts to offering a job board where bloggers could not only find work but businesses looking for writers could post jobs.

  • By September 2006, Rowse added a job board to his site. This allowed his readers to begin interacting with one another and building an online community of like-minded people.
Darren job-board-addition-problogger-screenshot(screenshot from Wayback Machine of what the site looked like when he added the job boards)
  • Think about this like having an informal party at your home. You want a group of people you’ll enjoy hanging out with and you want them to feel like the door is open at all times.
  • To achieve this, make the forums on your site easy to access and set up some rules to make sure everyone feels welcome and respected.
  • Moderate your forums or hire someone to and enforce your rules when needed.
  • Require that they offer some basic information to sign up. This also helps with your marketing list.

Step 3. Take a “No Bull” Approach

Darren Rowse doesn’t try to put on airs and he doesn’t try to hide his insider secrets. He is open and frank with his readers both on his blog and in his podcasts.

  • Don’t worry that people won’t want to hear what you have to say. Open up and share your secret tips for your niche topic.
  • Even if you are simply writing for other blogs or clients and you aren’t actually running your own blog for a profit, taking a “no bull” approach is one that your clients will appreciate.
  • When readers trust you, they will share your content and your blog with people they know. They’re putting their name on the line to recommend you, so they need to feel comfortable enough with who you are and what you might post to share.

Step 4: Challenge Your Readers

Darren Rowse offers a resource, a guide called 31 Days to Build a Better Blog for $29.99. Not only does this offer inside information and give Rowse another source of income, but he has built on this concept to challenge his readers to do just one thing each day, for 31 days, to better their blogs.

With that in mind, Rowse uses blog posts to challenge his readers on Day 1 through Day 31 to do things, such as read a magazine in their niche or emailing clients/readers and letting them know you value them.

  • Take a look at your competitors’ websites and make a list of the guides and information they offer.
  • Brainstorm what you can offer that they can’t. Once you have your unique twist, create a guide and offer it for sale or for joining your mailing list.
  • Break that guide into smaller pieces and create blog posts with a theme.

Stick it Out Through the Hard Times

“I stuck at my topic over the long haul – I’ve got over 4000 posts in my archives”

Rowse said in an interview with Retire at 21. Today, he has over 7,000 tutorials on his website.

In the early days, when he was making dollars a month instead of thousands, Rouse no doubt wondered why he was wasting his time. However, he committed to sticking with his projects, increasing his time commitment and eventually it paid off.

If you’re just getting started on your freelance business, don’t give up after the first month or two. Work another job for a while if you need to. After all, you have to eat!

Write out goals. Take baby steps and put as much time into building your business as you can. Know that success doesn’t happen overnight (remember our 1000 days to success case-studies?). Not for Darren Rowse, not for Mark Zuckerberg, not for anyone.

Success only happens after consistent and quality effort.

  • How can you learn from Darren Rowse’s model of building a successful online business?
  • What methods of his can you implement today?
  • What is your own personal niche that makes your business more memorable than others in the same niche?

Get out your notebook and see how you answer these questions.  You might find something new to explore!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela and Elle. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.