UPDATE: If you want to start a blog but aren’t sure where to start then I'd love to tell you about a simple and easy resource that worked for me. Bonus points because it’s actually FREE right now. Get the First 10 Steps of a Profitable Blog that walks you through the 10 steps you MUST get right in start and building your blog here.
January 2016 Blog Income Report – $9,362.64
I’m a full time blogger. Which means that I get to work from home, with my kids and help people with something that I'm passionate about. It's an unbelievable job and I pinch myself every day that this is my life. I wanted to share my blog income report because I wanted other moms to realize that blogging is a “real job”, and it's one you can do with your kids at home.
If there’s one thing that I want to pass on to you, is that I am NOT special. I’m not crazy smart. I don’t have a writing degree and I’m certainly not a grammar expert (although a free app called Grammarly helps a ton).
I just love to write and I love to help people and I’m really good at reducing our spending. So, I blog about that and am able to support my family making far more than I ever could in my previous career.
If that sounds like something you want to do, I can help you make that a reality with step-by step instructions (for free!). You can find instructions for how to start your own blog here (even if you aren’t great with computers).
The best part? Blogging is a super cheap (almost free!) hobby that makes you money! Starting your own blog isn’t very expensive! Starting a blog that makes you money while working from home starts at about $3.95/month!
This month was unbelievable. I had taken almost all of December off for the holidays and was so motivated by the fact that my income hadn’t dropped. Getting to see the power of passive income lit a fire in me and I really worked hard in January. That December break was just what I needed to stay focused and excited.
I was also blessed enough to take a blogging retreat with Kim from Thrifty Little Mom, Kalyn from Creative Savings (and Jessi from The Budget Mama was there in spirit while she held down the fort at home). We spent a few days holed up in a beautiful pristine lake house in North Carolina planning what we wanted out of our blogs in the new year.
Pageviews exploded in January. Keep in mind that January is a really popular time for money saving bloggers (as everyone starts committing to paying off debt and recovering from Christmas spending), and I’m expecting pageviews to settle a bit in the next few months. Ad networks earnings usually drop pretty drastically in January as well, but with the crazy high pageviews I was pretty pleased with ad earnings.
Pageviews and Income:
Pageviews: 874.603 (up from 476,264 last month) *That’s extremely unusual growth so I suspect it will go back to “normal” in the next few months.
Income: $9,362.64 (up from $6,469 last month) plus about $240 credit to my absolute favorite budget clothes shop- ThredUp (you can grab a free $20 gift card to them by clicking here). Update: Your credit will be automatically added to your cart.
Income Broken Down:
$1000 Sponsored Posts
$4,832 Ad Networks
(further breakdown of my strategy for each category below)
I started offering Pinterest coaching on a case-by-case basis. I get almost all of my pageviews from Pinterest with a system (using Boardbooster) that only takes me 4 hours a month to maintain. That system has a lot to do with how I can grow the business with the number of hours that I work each week. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Sessions will be ending on April 1st 2016 and we only have a few slots left to fill.
My goals for January were:
Goal Planning for 2016: Set a goal and then work backwards from it to create a road map to achieve it in 2016.
This was such a win! We spent 4 days doing exactly that during our bloggers retreat. I set my goals for the year, and then figured out the action steps that would need to be completed before my goals was possible. Then Kim from Thrifty Little Mom helped me make it into a vision board that's currently hanging over my desk. I have one major goal, and 16 action steps to complete in the next 10 months.
Increase Passive Income: Focus on growing passive income through affiliates.
Win! I had almost half of my income this month come through passive affiliates. I started reviewing my favorite affiliates in blog posts, as well as going through my top posts and adding appropriate links there. I follow the golden rule of never ever recommending a product that isn’t amazing.
What worked this month:
Sensational Headlines: We’re not talking about click bait, since I’m delivering on the title of the post. I’ve noticed though that the posts that go viral all have a sensational headline. Like “Our $70/Week Meal Plan” or “The 4 Side Jobs that make me over $3,000/month”. All of my viral posts have similar headlines- things that grab your attention or seem unbelievable. Now, as I write articles, I take 5 minutes to think if there’s anything sensational about it. Often I can tweak the headline to give it more traction. For instance… “Our $70/week Meal Plan” was going to be “Cheap Chinese Strirfry” until I tweaked it when I realized how cheap that menu was.
Negotiating higher affiliate rates: An easy way that I’ve found to increase your affiliate income is just to negotiate a higher rate. I successfully increased several of my affiliate rates this month. You can do this by reaching out to the program contact and asking for an increase. If you follow my core affiliate strategy found below, mention that you only promote a few companies but that you promote them frequently.
What didn’t work this month:
Mailchimp: While re-targeting a campaign (when you send a campaign out again a few days later to people that didn’t open the first one), I got distracted and sent it out with the same title. Which is a big “no-no” since it looks like spam when you do that. If you do this, you need to change the title and at least a few sentences in the email. Mailchimp suspended my account while they reviewed it right after.
In their defense, I was back in my account in less than 8 hours. But, the fact that they had no customer service number to call and they didn't answer my increasingly panicked emails means that I’m switching to Convertkit. To be fair, I would actually still recommend Mailchimp- especially if you aren't tech savvy since they're so easy to use, but I’m still happy to move up to Convertkit.
The honor system: I had my first sponsor fail to pay after I wrote the post. It actually didn't bother me as much as I thought it would, but likely if it happens again, I’ll reconsider my sponsored strategy of charging less than average. On the flip side of that, I've worked with so many awesome sponsors, that I would hate to change a system that works well for everyone because of one bad experience.
Goals for next month:
Brainstorm 3 months of post ideas.
Link the top 10 posts on my site with affiliate links and links to other posts.
My Income Strategy:
This is an overview, but for the full strategy, you can get The First 10 Steps to a Profitable Blog (<<<free if you click that specific link) that breaks down my strategy for quick growth and income for a new blogger.
I earn income in three major categories with my blog. I’ll run over my strategy for each of them. I should mention that I attribute my success to an amazing class called Elite Blog Academy run by Ruth Soukup. I started that class having no idea how bloggers made a full-time income, and 18 months later, I'm making over $9,000/month. It's only available once per year, your best bet is to sign up for the waiting list here.
I focus most of my sponsored post efforts on reaching out to brands that I use and love and offering a sponsored post package at a rate that’s a little lower than “industry standard” (which is highly debatable). That lets me increase the “yes!” emails I get in response, and ensures that I can count on making a certain amount every month on sponsored posts while still being really picky about which brands that I’ll work with. I also go through each of my brand networks (places like Tapinfluence and Clever Girls) to see if there are any assignments that would be a good fit for my blog).
In general, more pageviews equals more ad earnings. I use Adthrive (you can apply with them once you have 100,000 pageviews) and love them. My RPM (The ad revenue that I get per 1,000 pageviews) bounces between $4.40 and $10.00 depending on the season.
I increase my pageviews by marketing my blog content through Pinterest using a fantastic tool called Boardbooster. I a/b tested everything on Pinterest (and still do) for about 6 months until I figured out a system that works for me. My favorite thing about Pinterest (at least with Boardbooster) is that I spent only 4 hours a month running my Pinterest strategy. That leaves me tons of time to grow in other areas.
I focus on a core group of affiliates that I think almost everyone in my target audience should be using. Since I run a budgeting website, I factor cost into the equation. If something is a great product, but is too expensive for my readers, I likely won’t add them to the core affiliates list. Having the core list lets me easily track special sale dates that my readers shouldn't miss and lets me focus without getting overwhelmed with the barrage of affiliate “offers” hitting my inbox daily.
To me, the key to affiliate marketing is to never promote anything that you haven’t used yourself and you don’t love. My philosophy is that if you only promote companies and products that you would tell your best friend about enthusiastically, then you’re doing it right.
If you need help finding affiliate programs that will work for your audience, I have a list of the top programs in each niche here. 🙂
If you want to see my full list of blogging resources that I use, you can find them here.
Update 3/16/2017: If you’re looking to increase your blog's income, the FREE guide to Finding Affiliates that Work for You is a MUST GRAB. It even lists all of the top affiliate programs in every niche, organized by commission and topic. Grab it for FREE here for a limited time.