How I Make Money Blogging: Blogger’s Honest Monthly Income Report
If you’ve ever wondered how bloggers make money online and you want to find out, you’re in the right place! This is a tell-all post about how I made my first $25,000 blogging where I share my most profitable blog monetization strategies and I show you where all my blogging income comes from.
If you’re a new blogger, eager to make money with your blog, and curious about the steps you need to take to get where I am (or even further!), first of all, you need to start your own blog!
To help you avoid some of the blogging mistakes I’ve done as a beginner (which is why it took me 4 months to make my first $10 blogging), I put together a free course that will help you start a money-making blog from scratch. Enroll below!
You can also check out my previous income reports where I celebrate other milestones in my blogging income journey and I share the steps that I took to get me there:
- How I Made My First $100 Blogging
- How I Made My First $100,000 Blogging
And, as a point of reference, all my income reports are based on money that actually hit my bank account. So when I say that I made this money, I mean I’ve already been paid in full.
(There are some affiliate networks or collaborations where you have to wait to hit a threshold or a waiting period to be paid, so I have, at the moment, made more money than it’s reflected in these income reports, but because I haven’t been paid yet, so I don’t count it.)
Why do I write blog income reports?
The answer is simple: transparency.
The entire core value and mission of The She Approach is to show new bloggers the ropes of the industry and to share my own blogging journey. The good, the bad, the not so great and the awesome.
In order to do that, I feel like I need to be totally honest with my readers, and that goes beyond sharing my strategies. It all comes down to sharing my results.
In an attempt to do that (and to inspire aspiring or struggling bloggers in the same time) I try to make these income reports as detailed as possible, so you can take away what’s useful and try it out yourself.
It’s also important to mention that:
- This is my blogging income, not my profit. In other words there are certain expenses, taxes and supplies that I need to pay for out of this money, so as flashy as these numbers may appear, you do need to consider the full story. (The earnings might not be spot on, due to the fact that I have to convert US dollars to British Pounds
- I do not blog full time. In other words, not all my time is dedicated to my blog. I have certain responsibilities (such as a part-time job and my studies) that take up quite a bit of my time. That being said, I am constantly amazed that I can achieve these results with my blog consider the time and effort that I afford to put into it.
- I do not have a huge following. At the moment I’m writing this, I have just under 20,000 pageviews a month, an email list of 4,000 people and my biggest social media following is on Pinterest where I’m just shy of 12k followers. Those are not awesome numbers when you look at bigger bloggers out there, but even with a modest blog I manage to make a profit that pays better than my part-time job. That’s pretty crazy to me!
- I do not pay for advertising. Something else that I want to stress is the fact that I am growing my blog organically. I do not use any type of paid advertising to promote my blog posts or products, and even though I might experiment with Facebook Ads or Promoted Pins in the future, I just want to stress yet again the fact that I’m making consistent income online organically.
In the name of transparency, I also need to mention that this blog post contains affiliate links. Any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission (at no extra cost for you) but I only recommend products and resources that have helped me get to where I am.
How Do I Track My Blogging Income And Expenses?
Every single month, I use a custom Google Spreadsheet for bloggers to input my blogging income and expenses. These are categorised by type of income (affiliate, digital product sales etc) and type of expenses (software, marketing, etc).
This helps me stay on track of how much I get paid and when + calculate my taxes and profit in the same place, along with a monthly and yearly overview of my blogging income.
I’ve been developing this income tracker for the past 3 years, making sure that it smoothly runs. If you want to grab a copy for your own use, you can now find it in my shop!
But for tracking purposes (to see if your blog is profitable) and tax purposes, you should track every transaction you make for your blog!
How I Made My First $25,000 Blogging
But let’s get to the part you’re here for: a breakdown of where my first $25,000 made with my blog actually came from. As previously mentioned, these are earnings that I actually cashed in, and they include everything that hit my bank account since I started my blog, back in September of 2016.
This income report includes the earnings that I already broke down in previous income reports, but I’ll reflect the difference and growth as best as I can, to illustrate what kept working and what I gave up on.
For each method, I will include some resources you can check out to learn more about how it’s done and some general takeaways. I hope those are helpful in helping you decide if that’s a valid way in which you can monetize your own blog.
You can also take this quiz to find out what the best way to make money from your own blog is. (It’s free, quick and incredibly fun!) Here we go:
💎 Affiliate Marketing Sales: $13,565
(+ $7,354 since the last income report)
Affiliate Marketing remains one of my top earners and one of my favorite ways to make money blogging. To find out what affiliate marketing is, and how you can get started with it, you can take my free Affiliate Marketing course.
Since my last income report, my affiliate marketing income was grown quite a bit and it’s consistent at over $500 a month through passive income strategies. (Which means I don’t actually do anything to earn this money.)
Affiliate networks such as Share A Sale and AWIN have been the main earners for me in this regard, along with a few other small individual affiliate programs from bloggers I know. Blog hosting earnings have only contributed to around 15% of this income.
But I also had some really successful affiliate campaigns (where I promoted limited time offers or courses to my email list) that have earned me $1,000 – $1,500 per campaign. One of my biggest affiliate campaigns in terms of earnings lasted only 2 day and it was a promotion of the Ultimate Bundles and their blogging bundle flash sale (become an affiliate for them here).
I absolutely love being an affiliate for them, and they seem to have a bundle for every blog niche, so it’s definitely worth applying to become an affiliate for them.
MAKE MONEY WITH AFFILIATE MARKETING:
Despite not growing my traffic substantially over the past few months, I realized that an email list is an amazing tool to boost affiliate sales and I’m planning to focus more time and effort in that area in the future.
I also recently took Carly’s affiliate marketing course and was able to make some tweaks to my blog posts and that was one of the reasons why I increased my passive affiliate sales without increasing my blog traffic. This is just proof that traffic isn’t everything as long as you get the right people over to your blog and you actually try to be helpful.
One of my other takeaways was to keep learning. (Taking a peak to see what works best for others and adapting it to fit your niche / blog is also a great idea!)
If you’re ready to give affiliate marketing a try, check out the following resources:
- My Free Affiliate Marketing Course – if you’re brand new.
- My Affiliate Marketing Training Bundle – if you haven’t made your first $1,000 in affiliate sales.
- Carly’s Affiliate Marketing – Everything You’re Missing course – if you’re stuck at earning under $500 a month from affiliate marketing. (Carly is a mommy blogger / genius that makes around $15,000 a month in affiliate sales. Her course blew my mind, but it’s not aimed at beginners.)
- My Affiliate Programs Masterlist – if you’re looking for new affiliate programs to join. You would be surprised at how much money there is to be made by representing smaller companies and bloggers. And this list has over 600 affiliate programs that you can join today!
💎 Ad Income: $520
(+ $205 since the last income report)
Although in my last income report I was set on increasing my ad revenue, I realize that would be a really poor waste of my time. After trying out a secondary ad network, I realized how much I hate disruptive ads, so I decided to stick with Google Adsense only until my traffic is high enough to join one of the more exclusive (and better paying) ad networks.
I am, therefore, not relying on ad income for my blog (and I’m refusing to add any more ads on it), so I consider any extra income a nice surprise.
To find out more about how this works, read my post on How To Get Your First Google Adsense Payment.
💎 Digital Product Sales: $8,188
(+ $5,178 since the last income report)
Another big earner for me, and something that I actually put in a lot of effort in, is selling digital info-products. (Check out my shop here to see what I mean.)
Due to the launch of my new ebook, The She Approach To Making Pinterest Possible (that I sold for only $15 in the launch period), I made over $2,000 in one week and my sales funnels did the rest.
I absolutely love creating digital products and teaching, and I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction of my last launch. If you’re planning to create a digital product or ebook yourself, make sure to survey your readers, create a solid launch strategy and learn about sales funnels as a way to drive sales to your products, even when you’re not promoting them.
I use Send Owl to store and sell my digital products, and I’ve recently started using their upsell feature (that allows you to offer a discount on a second product once someone adds something to cart) which has increased my earnings as well.
UPDATE: In my new income report, on How I Made My First $50,000 Blogging, I show how digital product sales have surpassed affiliate income, and how my eBooks are earning me more than any other method I tried to make money blogging.
What this tells me is that writing and selling eBooks has an untapped potential, and I want to help you discover it as well.
If you are considering writing an eBook, but you’re not even sure where to start, get free access to my Ebook Author Starter Pack to find out exactly what tools I use to write, edit, design and publish my eBooks online.
💎 Sponsored Posts: $617
(+ $265 since the last income report)
As I’ve mentioned in the previous income report, I do not seek out sponsored posts opportunities, but I do agree to collaborate from time to time when being contacted by brands.
I earned the last $265 on 3 paid collaborations only: a blog article and two Instagram posts that I secured through Social Native. I got to work with a pretty famous sports brand (my Instagram account is more lifestyle bases) and even though I don’t plan to focus on sponsored content, it was a great opportunity.
💎 Freelancing and VA work: $176
(+ $0 since the last income report)
When I started my blog, I was convinced that I would end up be a part-time Virtual Assistant, but I realized that I barely have time to work for myself and keep everything organized.
So while I did get earn some money as a Pinterest VA (I did one hour of work haha) and by doing weird little tasks on Fiverr back in 2017, I moved away from this direction and haven’t accepted any client work since.
I still think that freelancing is a great way to supplement your online income (especially if you’re working from home and your blog is not growing as fast as you would want it to) and if you love Pinterest, I recommend you check out this course on how to become a Pinterest VA.
You can earn up to $500/month by helping others with their Pinterest account, and I know this because I actually hired a Pinterest VA myself!
💎 Coaching Services: $1,978
This year I’ve launched my blog coaching services and I’ve been working 1-on-1 with a handful of bloggers each month, helping them get started, increase their traffic or income and create a solid strategy for their blogging business.
As I’ve been gaining experience in the field of coaching and learning more about the needs of my clients, I’ve decided to keep my prices quite low and I’ve also been offering some audits of the side (such as blog reviews or Pinterest audits), but starting with September (2018) I plan to increase my coaching rates.
If you want to work with me and get some help with growing your blog, check out my coaching packages and rates and join my waiting list. I open up a few spots each month and I’d love to share what I know with you.
If you’re thinking of starting your own coaching, consulting or group coaching services, make sure to have a Coaching Contract in place. This will not only build trust with your clients but you will also protect yourself and set clear boundaries to protect your time.
You can mooch around Google for a free version but I love this coaching contract template from The Contract Shop. It’s an investment, for sure, but it’s key to protecting your coaching business, your clients and your time. (Not to mention this template has been drawn up by an actual lawyer!)
TIME ELAPSED SINCE BLOG LAUNCH: 1 YEAR + 10 MONTHS
📌 PIN THIS POST FOR LATER
My Blogging Expenses
As I already mentioned, I write these income reports in an attempt to be totally transparent with my readers and the money I earn with my blog is not all profit. So I’ve decided to break down some of my expenses as well, to show you what it takes to build, run and upkeep a profitable blog.
- Blog hosting – $170.64 (paid upfront for three years)
I started my blog with Bluehost for less than $3/month and my domain name was included for free. This is one of those necessary blogging expenses that you can’t avoid and that’s going to make such a difference if you plan to monetise your blog.
- WordPress theme – $49
A good blog theme is essential when starting out because you want your website to look professional. It’s a one time payment for a stunning website design and it’s so worth it! Find your perfect WordPress theme here.
- Tailwind subscription – $119 (paid annually)
Tailwind is the social media scheduler I use to automate my Pinterest account and it’s well worth the money, considering the fact that I get around 80% of my traffic from Pinterest. Plus, because you get $15 credit when you refer a new user, I only had to pay for the first year and I’ve been using it for free since. Try it for free here!
- Email provider – $168 (paid annually)
Growing my email list is a big priority of mine, because that’s how I make most of my sales (affiliate sales and sales for my own digital products). Mailerlite, my email provider, was free to use until I reached 1000 subscribers and really affordable after that. I currently pay for it annually, and the price went up a bit once my email list passed the 2,5000 subscribers mark.
- Social Media Scheduler – $20.99 (paid monthly)
For my other social media scheduling needs (in particular Twitter and Facebook), I use a tool called Smarter Queue that I pay for monthly. Worth the price because it allows me to stay active on social media even when I’m away.
- Stock photography membership – $69 (paid quarterly)
When I started taking blogging seriously, I stopped using free stock photos and I joined a couple of memberships instead. I’ve spent around $100 – $150 so far and I have a good library of photos to choose from.
- Send Owl subscription – $24 (paid monthly)
I use Send Owl to sell and deliver all my digital products (my ebooks in particular). It’s only $15 for the standard plan, but I upgraded to allow upsells. Highly recommend it if you want to start selling your own products.
Amongst these standard expenses, I’ve also spent around $150 on Facebook Ads (in total), had to cover Paypal feels, pay my affiliates, pay taxes and get some office equipment such as a microphone , a new laptop and a DSLR camera (I consider these long-term investments).
Out of my blogging profit, I also make sure to invest a part of it back into my blog by enriching my blogging education. I do so by purchasing several ebooks and e-courses a year. If you’re curious to see what some of these resources are (along with the rest of the tools that I use to run my blog) check out my resource library.
Final Blogging Monthly Income Report Notes
It’s no secret that there are bloggers out there who make this kind of money monthly, but I can’t help but feel proud of what my little blog has accomplished.
While it took me 1 year and three months to reach my first $10,000 (keep in mind that I was quite oblivious to what it takes to run a profitable blog in the first few months), the fact that I’ve made $15,000 in less than 7 months shows that I am in fact growing.
If there’s anything I’ve learned while writing this up, is that it’s important to know your strengths as a blogger, but you always want to be open-minded and diversify the way you make money online.
Experiment and see what works for you! While others are moving away from the 1-on-1 coaching business model, I’ve embraced it because I love connecting with my readers, and it’s been paying off. And I’ve refused to pay too much attention to ads or sponsored posts because those are not means that are ever going to bring me too much money.
That being said, I think this, once again, proves that there are countless ways to make money blogging. And you can start a blog for only $2.95 per month. Take my free course and find out how you can set up your website and start earning money from it in three easy steps below:
And there you have it! This is how I make money blogging, and it’s all out on the table for you to dissect, interpret and replicate. I think that there is plenty of success to go around in the blogging community and I cannot wait to see more bloggers doing well.
Are you earning money from your blog yet? Let me know if the comment section below.
How To Grow Your Blog In 2020
I know things have been challenging in 2020 overall. And the blogging world also had to adapt. Some bloggers quit. A few took a step back. Others persevered.
And I believe that if you’re here – reading this – and you’re reading this right now, you are one of the bloggers that are not going to give up anytime soon.
You are one of the bloggers whose only option is to “make it”. And I want to encourage you in that!
But I also want you to be armed with the right tools, strategies and resources to make that happen.
Because blogging isn’t about wishful thinking and pretty photos. It’s about being savvy, learning to adapt, and being there for your audience. So before you go, be sure to check out the following blog posts & resources:
- The Best 20 Courses For Bloggers At Any Stage
- How To Make Money Blogging – The Ultimate Guide
- The Best Email Marketing Providers for Bloggers and Entrepreneurs (if you don’t have an email list, you’re leaving money on the table)
- Best Blogging Income Reports – How Much Do Bloggers Make?
- 7 Key Elements Of A SEO Friendly Blog Post (essential to growing your organic blog traffic)
- How To Make Passive Income By Selling Ebooks
- How To Create Multiple Streams Of Passive Income With Digital Products