Have you ever wondered how people make money blogging? What strategies they use and where does their income actually come from? This is a tell-all post about how I made my first $10,000 blogging, and I’m holding nothing back.
Before you start reading this post, you might be interested in my previous income reports that take you step-by-step through my journey of monetizing my new blog:
A big reason why I decided to do these income reports and add my own spin on it, is because I am obsessed with reading them when other bloggers do it, and they always inspire me and show me opportunities to monetize my blog that I fail to consider sometimes.
And that’s what I hope my income reports do for you: show you that, YES, it’s totally possible to make money blogging and more than that, show you a few concrete ways to do it!
Why I chose NOT to do monthly income reports
Unlike other bloggers out there, I made a decision early on NOT to post monthly income reports. First of all, they take a lot of time! I want to better serve my audience with content they might be more interested in (such as tutorials & blogging strategies). And I also tend to stick to an editorial calendar that only allows me to post 4 new articles each month, and I just couldn’t sacrifice 1 out of 4 each month to an income report.
Another big reason why I decided to only post income report when I reach big milestones is because, at the beginning, looking at my monthly income report was just depressing. I couldn’t figure out how on earth new bloggers were making hundreds of dollars in their first months of blogging, when it took me almost 10 months to make my first $1,000 blogging.
So, I decided to write these milestone income reports whenever I reach a threshold that I can celebrate because it made sense for me and I also wanted to give you an idea of the timeline it took, since launching my blog, to reach these milestones.
So while I truly believe that you can make money blogging (without selling your soul), I just want to be totally transparent about it and show you that:
- It’s going to take time. It’s totally possible to monetize your blog much better and faster than I did and start earning, but sometimes it takes a while for the money to add up or for you to actually get paid. (These income reports only take count of money that actually landed in my bank account.)
- It’s a learning curve. Investing in your education is essential because it’s just going to take you longer to figure it out on your own. So you have a decision to make: can you invest more time or more money at the moment?
- You have to get really good at the strategy behind it if you want to scale your income. That’s where I am right now. I learned the ropes, I’m growing my audience and now I just have to apply some advanced systems and strategies to make it all happen. My point is that is that none of what I accomplished was pure luck. It was a well-thought-out strategic plan.
It’s not enough to just want to make money. You have to figure out exactly how that money is going to come in. What are you going to sell? How are you going to get paid? And that’s where my income reports can be helpful because you can look at some of my options and see what worked for me, and you can try it out for yourself. (I use the rest of my blog as a resource and a library of practical tutorials that you can use when you implement these strategies.)
And the best part about these income reports and what I try to teach through them is how you can get to where I got much faster.
As I said, everything I’m doing (affiliate marketing, selling my own products, working with brands, ad networks and so on) is a constant experiment for me, but I know for a fact they work. And, with a little help, maybe they can work much better for you from the very start.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost for you. That’s just the beauty of affiliate marketing that I’m going to discuss in more depth below!
How I Made My First $10,000 Blogging
But let’s get to the part you’re here for: a breakdown of where my first $10,000 blogging actually came from. As previously mentioned, these are money I actually cashed in, and no outstanding payments are included here. (Sometimes you have to meet a certain threshold to get paid, or you have to wait out their return period, which is why payments can actually take a few good months to materialize.)
This income report is a total of my first $10,000 earned on my blog, including the amounts that I already broke down in previous posts.
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. Here we go:
💎 Affiliate Sales: $6211
As you can see a huge chunk of my income comes from affiliate marketing and that’s why I am such a huge fan of it! Affiliate Marketing is when you promote someone else’s products or services for a cut of the sales. Which makes it so accessible for bloggers.
To break down this category even more and show you what my most profitable affiliate programs have been, I’m including a top three of my affiliate partnerships below:
Ultimate Bundles: $3131
I am an affiliate for the amazing Ultimate Bundles team and I was a contributor to their Genius Bloggers Toolkit this year which resulted in a huge boost in my earnings. You can become an affiliate here! (It’s free + they give you amazing discounts on their products + they actually teach you how to promote their bundles via private affiliate marketing trainings.)
If you’re interested to know how I made $2,500 in sales with them in just one week via a small email list, I’ve included a step-by-step case study in my Affiliate Marketing Training Bundle.
House Of Brazen: $1078
It’s crazy to me that I made over $1000 (even more to date) by promoting a $25 e-book (and working with an independent affiliate program). But this is no regular ebook. I became an affiliate for How to Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours Using Pinterest after I bought a copy for myself and it played a huge part in my affiliate marketing strategy as a beginner.
I highly recommend checking it out if you don’t have the time to invest in maintaining a blog, but you want to make affiliate sales with Pinterest.
And if you want to know more about my secrets on how exactly I leveraged such a low-priced product to make a small fortune, there’s another case study about it in my Affiliate Marketing Training Bundle. (Again, I break down exactly how I promoted the ebook and how long it took me to reach that sum.)
Bluehost is the web hosting company that stores my website and I’ve had the pleasure of working with their affiliate manager this past year in bringing my readers a special discount they can use to start their own blog.
So if you’re feeling inspired by this post and you want a good shot at monetizing your blog, go ahead and start your own self-hosted blog for as little as $2.95/month. I link to my step-by-step tutorial here, that can help you get started even if you’ve never done anything like this before. (If I can do it, anyone can!)
Other affiliate programs
The rest of my affiliate sales come from working with a few other independent affiliate programs and a few networks, out of which ShareASale and AWIN have been the most lucrative for me. But, looking at what appealed to my readers the most, I saw that working with small & independent affiliate programs that I really trust can really pay off.
If you’re a master at affiliate marketing but you can’t seem to find good offers to promote, my Affiliate Programs Masterlist has over 400 recommendations in over 17 niches that can help you find profitable products/services for your audience.
Once I saw how lucrative affiliate marketing is, I’ve started recommending it to everyone like a mad-woman. Why? Because unlike the other monetizing options below this one doesn’t have any entry requirements and it can make you more money than sponsorships and ads put together.
If you’re considering giving it a try, you can read my post on How To Make Your First $1000 In Affiliate Sales or go directly to the source and enroll in the course I put together especially to help bloggers.
Once I started telling people about how profitable affiliate marketing really is, I started getting a lot of questions on how to tackle it if you’re a complete beginner. This bundle answers all the questions you have on the subject and can help you come up with a strategy that you can integrate with your existing blog posts, without appearing spammy.
Once you enroll, you also get access to those case studies I mentioned, along with access to a private Facebook support group (so you can personally reach out to me with questions) and video trainings.
In terms of my biggest takeaways when it comes to monetizing your blog with Affiliate Marketing is to focus more on building relationships with my readers (having an email list is a must!) and trying to help first and sell later.
In other words, understand what your audience is looking for, recommend products that you’ve used yourself and that you know it can help them and be very transparent about the whole thing.
💎 Freelancing and VA work: $176
I took up some paid VA work early on in 2017 when I was convinced that I was going to use my blog as a platform to launch my Virtual Assitant business. Turns out that, as much as I like working virtually, I would rather do it for myself. (As you can see, I didn’t really put time into this.)
So instead, I’ve launched my coaching services this year where I’m working with bloggers 1-on-1 to help them increase their traffic and their income. And that to me has been more rewarding than any VA work I’ve done so far.
💎 Ad Income: $315
My ad income has increased since my last income report, but so did my traffic. Just not enough to get into a more exclusive ad network so I’m still with Google Adsense at the moment and I’ve recently joined Media Net as you can pair them up without any issues.
I’ve been very reluctant to add to many ads on my blog (I’ve refused to allow any pop-up/page level ads for example, and I’m not changing my mind about that) and that shows in how little I earned.
Now, don’t get me wrong, getting paid for displaying ads (aka doing nothing) is still pretty awesome, and I’m trying to diversify my income as much as I can, but I realised I’ve been very sloppy with my strategy in this area, because there’s a science behind it as well.
So I’m currently testing out a few WordPress plugins that can help me insert my ads in more strategic places. If you’re new to this, however, I think my post on How To Get Your First Google Adsense Payment would be helpful.
💎 Digital Product Sales: $3010
I love creating and selling digital products! Not only do I get to write about topics that I love and share my knowledge with others, but they cost almost nothing to make! (I only had to pay for the artwork, but I’ve know bloggers to create their own, which also works.)
My digital shop has been doing extremely well lately and the fact that I’ve launched a few new products also helped boost up my revenue. The Affiliate Marketing Bundle that I’ve launched just a few months ago has been a big part on my income and my Boosting Your Blog Traffic ebook has started to get some traction based on recommendations.
I currently have three products up for sale in total (planning to launch a few more in-depth courses this year) and an amazing team of 150 affiliates that are helping me promote them. (If you’re interested in getting in on this, you can join my affiliate program here.)
If you have an idea for a digital product that you know your readers are going to love, I encourage you to go for it! My biggest takeaway in this department is to gather a team of affiliates to help you promote it (I use Send Owl to sell my products and manage my affiliate team and I highly recommend it), put some effort into designing a professional sales page for it and to make a big deal out of the launch.
💎 Sponsored Posts: $352
A new addition to my income report and a way that I monetized my blog without even trying was by accepting sponsored posts. These collaborations were not sought out by me, so it was a nice surprise when these opportunities came up.
I got to work with a few digital companies looking to promote their services and I was very picky in choosing which ones I want to work with. For example, I refused to accept any pre-written content, as I wanted to actually test out their services and give my readers my honest rendition of what I think.
For example, I was contacted by a WordPress Theme Shop that allows bloggers to use their themes and pay on a monthly basis (which is awesome if you’re just starting out and trying to save money on the web-design), and I loved working with them because they allowed me to write the post from scratch and state my honest opinion.
Sponsored posts opportunities are not that often met in my blogging niche, but they are a viable solution for bloggers of all kinds as content marketing seems to be more powerful by the day, so I am definitely planning to reach out to a few brands myself this year.
TIME ELAPSED SINCE BLOG LAUNCH: 1 YEAR + 3 MONTHS
How long did it take me to get here?
As I was doing the math, I realized that this income report is a bit overdue. I reached this milestone mid-December 2017, so 1 year and 3 months after the launch of my blog.
Overall, I extremely happy with the outcome because, in retrospect, I haven’t been blogging for so long. And, since I catalog my blogging related expenses, and I’ve just submitted my first tax-return one thing is clear: my blog is a business. A profitable one.
In fact, my expenses were so minimum alongside my profits that I had to pay tax on them. What a wonderful problem to have!
And that is why I love blogging so much: it can cost you less than $150 to start a top-notch professional blog (I’ve paid less for an outfit that I’ve only wore once) and your profit margins are so good that they are hard to believe!
📌 PIN ME FOR LATER
I’m not gonna lie, $10,000 is a pretty nice sum. But it’s not all profit. I had to invest in a lot back into my business which was kind of scary but they all paid off in the end! I also had to pay transactions fees, my own affiliates, taxes and because I get paid in both $ and £, there are the conversion rates to be taken into calculation as well.
I just want to paint you a realistic picture, so you understand that even if $10,000 appear in your bank account, you’re not going to actually keep them all. And now that I’ve set some realistic expectations, I just want to smash them.
And I want to encourage you that making money blogging is a real thing! And it doesn’t have to take you over a year to reach $10,000. I’ve spent a good part of my journey fumbling through the dark, trying to figure out what actually works and where Im wasting my time so you won’t have to.
That’s the ultimate goal of my income reports. So if you’re reading this feeling inspired, seize the moment and START YOUR OWN BLOG today! There’s no better time than right now! And if you use my link, you get a nice little discount as well! I would love for you to join the blogging community and get a piece of this pie!