Update: 3/13/17: Ever wish you had a cheat sheet to help you build your blog the right way? Not an overwhelming book, just an easy to follow guide that tells you what you need to do next? You can get one for FREE here! https://www.busybudgeter.com/
February 2016 Blogging Income Report
If you're wondering why I post a blogging income report, it's because this journey was only made possible by other bloggers posting their blogging income reports and inspiring me to give it a shot on my own. This is kind of my way of “paying it forward”. Plus, I love the fact that I work in the only industry that I know where it's totally normal to post your income every month. If you are a blogger, or end up being a blogger, I would love to see you post your blogging income report too!
February was absolutely insane. I was able to see all of the hard work come together from the past several months through affiliate income and I spent most of the month pinching myself and trying to figure out if this was a dream or if this was really my life.
But first… About me…
I’m a full-time blogger. Less than 2 years ago, I had no idea that was an actual thing. To say the last two years have been a wild ride is the understatement of the year.
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 certainly helps).
I just love to write and I love to help people and I’m really good at reducing our spending. So, I walk people through the baby steps that we took to completely transform our finances. I’m 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!
February 2016 Blogging Income Report:
February was insane and I’m actually slightly hysterical just thinking about it. I made more this month than many people make in a year and I’m fully aware of how insane that is.
One thing I was surprised at is that growing your business so fast can make you feel kind of guilty. There are police officers and soldiers in the military who spend a year in the line of fire and make less than I made last month. That's not something I can easily swallow.
Granted, I need to pay (a lot!) of taxes and some expenses and I’m at the point now where I’m hiring people, but it was kind of a sobering experience. I also took a heck of a risk in blogging by working for 6 months for relatively free to get to this point, but good grief, that’s a lot of money.
I try to remind myself that I’m growing a business and it’s one that I believe in passionately. I can see the good that I’m doing through letters from readers and the debt free stories I get.
Maybe it’s a girl thing? I have a hard time believing that Bill Gates is sitting around his office and thinking “Well, I want to make money this month, but not quite that much.”
I digress, one thing you should know is that this isn't normal! We had a HUGE affiliate sale for the blogging class that changed my life this month (Elite Blog Academy, which you can find out more about here), as well as a post with affiliate links for Ibotta (my absolute favorite free app that saves you money) go viral.
So, don’t expect these crazy high numbers next month!
We also saw pageviews settle a little from their crazy unnatural January spike, they’re still higher than I was expecting, but I can hardly complain about that.
Pageviews: 619,225 (down from 874,603 last month)
Income: $39,239.57 (up from $9,362 last month) plus about $120 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:
$2,380.00 Sponsored Posts
$5002.00 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 (about 20 hours/week, always under 30 hours). You can email me at email@example.com for more information.
My goals for February were:
Brainstorm 2 months of post ideas: Done! I ended up doing 3 months of posts in my editorial calendar.
Link the top 10 posts on my site with affiliate links and links to other posts: I actually didn't finish all 10 posts, but I got through several and then started writing review posts on the affiliates that I use and love (more on that under my strategy written below).
What worked this Month:
Affiliates that you believe in: I’ve turned down a lot of money over the past year in affiliates that I just didn’t use myself and love. But this month showed me in no uncertain terms that’s the right path to take. I only promote about 10 affiliates and each of them are products/services and companies that I use routinely and love.
I saw the power of that strategy in the Elite Blog Academy sale this past month. This is the class that took me from $18/month to well, now $39,000/month. I’m crazy passionate about Elite Blog Academy (two of my best friends and my sister even bought the class!) and I ended up being the top affiliate for the sale.
Which is shocking, because I am most definitely still a “little fish” in the blogging world. (Okay, maybe not this month- but usually I am!)
By concentrating all of my efforts on things that I love so much that I think you would be crazy not to use too, it makes using affiliate links super easy and natural on my part and I see fast success from them.
Splitting my income streams: I started as a budgeting blog and didn't write anything about blogging. A few months ago, I started sharing my blogging income reports when I was inspired by Michelle Schroeder Gardner (who is totally a “big fish” blogger). I started writing content and newsletters for bloggers as a way to get all of the exciting stuff out of my head and on to paper and maybe make someone else's journey a little easier.
While I didn't realize it at the time, that decision split my income streams. This month, I made about $12,000 from my budgeting list and the rest was from my blogging list. Last month it was about $6,000 from my budgeting list and $3,000 from my blogging list.
I often hear people say “The only people that make money blogging are people that blog about blogging” and I completely disagree. $12,000/month from writing about budgeting is an insane amount of money to me. Insane. But, I also can't deny that splitting your income streams into separate email lists and content is a profitable idea.
My recommendation is the same as always, write about what you love. If you grow to love blogging as much as you love your “usual” blog topic, then go for it! If you never have an interest in that, then you don’t need to “blog about blogging”.
What didn’t work this month:
Knee jerk reactions: Pinterest (reportedly) released a new algorithm on February 1st, and I caved to the increasing panicked Facebook status updates from other bloggers and spent almost 6 hours digging through Google and Pinterest analytics to find out if I was affected.
I usually have a strict rule to ignore things like that and wait a few weeks to let things settle and then a/b test small changes over time to figure out if my system needs tweaking.
While spending 6 hours checking into that may not seem like a big deal, I made about $392/hour this month… In opportunity cost, that 6 hours cost me about $2,356 and in the end was pointless. I saw that the change (if there was one) seems to favor me but I would have seen that without wasting 6 hours if I had just stayed the course.
Stress: I touched on this above, but one of the most surprising things that happened this month was my reaction to having the most profitable month of my business ever. Instead of being elated and thrilled, I was tense and stressed. No idea what that means.
In the words of my best guy friend, “If it was me that grew a business to be that successful, I’d be rolling around on the bed in Benjamin's and taking selfies for Facebook.” Which cracked me up and made me feel a bit better.
I mention this, so that if it happens to you, you know at least that you aren't alone.
Goals for next month:
Efficiency plan- I’m slowing down a lot for March and not focusing on income at all so that I can set up processes and get ahead of my writing schedule to work more efficiently. It’s a good time to set myself up to make things easier going forward. I'm getting my bookkeeper sorted out, getting my email flow chart working correctly, and working through Ruth Soukup's Productivity for Bloggers Guide. (This hasn't been released yet, I got a copy in the Elite Blog Academy Launch).
Launch a second opt in- I've been getting between 3,000-4,000 new subscribers a month with my current opt in, and I have a new one being released this month that I’m hoping will eventually double that.
My Income Strategy:
I earn income in three major categories with my blog. I’ll run over my strategy for each of them.
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 let’s 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 equal 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 $6.40 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 should 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 ever 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 want to see my full list of blogging resources that I use, you can find them here.
Need a step by step guide on how to start a blog? You can find one by clicking here (you don’t even need to be great with computers!).