I’m so glad you’re here!
Welcome to my January 2016 income report. Written in June.
Hi, my name is Lena and I’m a professional procrastinator. 🙂
I read an article recently that indicated people who procrastinate and are perpetually late are die-hard optimists. Apparently really optimistic people think they can do ALL THE THINGS in a limited amount of time. Good thing it’s true!……….I CAN do all the things!!
Just not on time. lol
I’ve had this income report on my to do list since February 1st! When I got to April and still hadn’t started it, I considered scrapping it. I actually did scrap it. I figured who wants to read a January income report several months late?
But then last week I realized I was being silly. I am constantly getting emails from bloggers asking me about monetization. I still have a story to tell, even if it’s a little late!
I hope my story will help other bloggers struggling to build up their income and many others who are thinking about starting a blog. I’ve pulled out my income report spreadsheet and my notes, and here we are!
Let’s do this thing.
January 2016 Blogging Income Report
If other bloggers before me hadn’t shared their income reports publicly, I probably wouldn’t have started a blog. And I know I probably would have given up far too soon. Reading income reports like these is all that kept me going on some days when I felt completely lost and didn’t know how to do anything for a blog.
I am so glad I stuck with it, learned the ropes, and eventually started making a good income from my blog. Now I’m here to share my story with you so you can see what is possible with a lot of hard work.
If you’re reading this and haven’t actually started a blog yet, I have a detailed tutorial just for you – it’s a step-by-step guide to what I would do if I were starting a blog all over again knowing what I know now. In fact, my sister just used this guide to start her own blog!
As soon as she’s ready to announce it publicly (she’s still writing her first few posts), I’ll unveil it here on the blog. 🙂
Past Income Reports
I have published 3 other income reports to date:
I will go back and catch up on as many as I can over time, but like I said, I’m the biggest procrastinator you will ever meet, and I’ll be happy if I get one up every few months. 🙂 Set the expectations low and over deliver…that’s my motto! lol
Sources of Income ($9,997 total)
My January income came from 4 different sources – sponsored content, ads, affiliate products, and my own ebook.
Sponsored Posts & Tweets – $571
My sponsored posts this month were through Influence Central and Massive Sway, and I had a handful of sponsored tweets from IZEA. I suppose sponsored post income was down this month due to the natural flow of things…I don’t remember specifically NOT applying for opportunities in December but then again I didn’t aggressively pursue opportunities either.
I go back and forth on whether or not sponsored posts are worth my time. The income is nice. For a few hours worth of work I can make $100 per hour minimum. But more than one a week and they become burdensome to me (I feel like they completely zap my creativity). But you have to apply for a lot of them to get a handful and sometimes you find yourself drowning in them when all you wanted was 4 for the month. It’s like playing with fire, I tell you! 🙂
Ads – $3,830
This income was from four different ad networks – Media.net, Sovrn, AdSense, and Amazon (CPM ads). The majority of my ad blocks (and 80% of my advertising income) comes from Media.net with Sovrn, AdSense, and Amazon CPM ads bringing in less than 8% each.
This month I started telling my rep at Media.net which posts I thought they should optimize.
Sometimes I notice that the ad companies aren’t the best about displaying the most relevant ads on each post. Oftentimes, the ads will take into context the other content on my blog so when I write about a new type of topic, the ads don’t match up. For instance, in a post about my home mortgage, the ads displayed were about kids crafts. I gave feedback to Media.net whenever I saw this ad mismatch, and they were able to fix the issue on a per-post level. I made sure to take a special look at any posts that start to do well in Pinterest or anything seasonal that might take off and of course my best performers overall. It isn’t practical to do this for every post (I have hundreds!), but by doing this for my top 30 or so, I think it’s made a difference.
I’m pretty pleased my ad revenue this month so I’ll keep doing this!
For Media.net I got $7.70 combined CPM for their 3 ads on my blog. After talking to other bloggers, I think this is really good. I’m still very pleased with Media.net and recommend them to just about any blogger willing to put in a little extra work to play with ad placement. It’s been a great fit for me and my blog. If you’re interested in working with Media.net, I reviewed my experience with them and explain the 10% earnings bonus you can get on your first three months of earnings in this post: Recommended Blogging Resources.
Affiliates – $2,165
My affiliate income is starting to grow. This month I saw an increase in some key affiliate commissions because I focused a lot of energy on those content areas AND my traffic was up (which always helps with conversions).
I earned affiliate income from around 20 affiliate programs. The largest being Bluehost and the smallest being iBotta. I think this is partly due to the variance in the amount each program pays out (Bluehost pays a big commission whereas iBotta only pays a few dollars), but mostly because I only mention iBotta once or twice on my whole blog, but I mention Bluehost many times throughout my blog. I’ve found in affiliate marketing that you really get the best returns on what you focus on.
I promoted approximately 50 affiliate products (I don’t have an exact count because I promote a lot of smaller items from Amazon and several programs within Share-A-Sale and I don’t separately track each item I promote on the blog). In case you’re wondering books were hands down my best sellers on Amazon. People love books! I have quite a few coloring pages published on my blog and write about getting kids to eat veggies, so most of my books sold are coloring books and picky eater books. And, of course, I earn Amazon commissions on random stuff people purchase once they’re there!
The best thing about this month was that my higher than normal traffic – it was my second highest page view month to date – allowed me to see which affiliate programs converted the best. I know about how many pieces of content I have written about every one of my affiliate products, and I was able to look at overall traffic to each blog post and how many of those visitors took an action.
I will say that my lowest performing affiliate program for the amount of traffic it received is the Media.net referral program. For the number of people that read about my experiences with Media.net on the blog and the number of people who actually sign up and use those ads on their blogs, the earnings are really low, in my opinion. Perhaps it’s a function of how many bloggers actually need a new ad company – I guess I will never be able to tell. I can’t make people sign up for Media.net…it will have to remain my best kept yet publicly mentioned secret of all time. lol
One of my favorite products to promote is Abby Lawson’s ebook and videos bundle, Building a Framework. I mention the product here and there and it literally sells itself! If you are a blogger and have not heard of this ebook bundle before, you need to check it out. It’s a really motivating ebook and the videos are crazy helpful. I’d say it’s perfect for you if you are a beginning to intermediate level blogger. That’s not a technical definition. 🙂 But if you don’t consider yourself an expert, then I say you’ll probably like it.
A close second in my list of favorite affiliate programs is Pinning Perfect by Blog Clarity. It’s the Pinterest course that literally changed the course of my social media strategy last year. My Pinterest traffic has been steadily growing over the past year, and I learned much of what I know about advanced Pinterest strategies in Pinning Perfect. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Blog Traffic Ebook – $3,431
I released my ebook in mid-December while I was accompanying my husband on a work trip to Salt Lake City. I rarely get uninterrupted time to work on my blog (except late at night), and having three glorious days to do whatever I wanted (including work on my blog) gave me the free mental bandwidth to do the final edits necessary to publish my book.
This ebook is a recounting of the things I did over the course of 2015 that took me from 17,000 monthly page views to over 400,000 page views per month in 2015 while simultaneously decreasing my workload from around 40 hours a week to an average of 25-30. It’s an explanation of all the things I started doing differently once I realized I was working too hard for little return and also the things I stopped doing that were a big waste of time! You can read more about my ebook here >>
I sold 143 copies of my ebook in January, mostly by focusing my efforts on Facebook group networking and reaching out to blogging friends for reviews on their blogs and helping them promote those reviews. I also promoted my ebook on social media (Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram). The $3,431 income reflects sales revenue minus coupon codes I offered to the first round of people who bought it.
I probably could have sold more if I had had an actual ebook launch plan in place! 🙂 I had no clue what I was doing with all of this and really just threw it out there and hoped for the best. I couldn’t be happier with the results!
I can’t imagine a better sales month for this ebook. Maybe I will plan an official launch sometime later this year and try to do it right. And maybe I’ll get an actual landing page with something pretty like LeadPages. We’ll see!
January Blog Expenses – $1,284
January was an unusually high month for blog expenses. But then again, my average 2015 expenses ended up being 16% of my revenue, so this month turned out just right if you look at it that way.
My biggest expense this month was ebook-related. I paid out $710 (or actually accrued payments…they don’t get paid until the following month) in ebook affiliate payouts and PayPal fees related to my ebook. I also paid another blogger $240 to create food posts for me (to make the recipes and create images because taking pretty pictures of food is so NOT my strength lol), and my sister also started writing for me. Other than that, I had smaller costs like technical services from iMarkInteractive (technical support), CoSchedule (content planning & social media scheduling), and Aweber (mailing list).
Monthly Blog Traffic – 397K
In January, my blog had 397,160 page views. This was down from December, but income was up due to my ebook, and I’m extremely pleased with this fact.
The longer I blog, the more I realized that income is not necessarily tied to traffic. While it does affect aspects of your income directly, it doesn’t dictate your overall amount. The more I learn about email marketing, affiliate products, and marketing in general, the better I get at turning more visitors into paying customers.
Thankfully, ad rates were high this month (I expected them to decrease after the holidays, but to my surprise they did not drop). Also, as I mentioned before, I spent time optimizing my ads across the blog, which seemed to help overall revenue, but I can’t know for sure.
Blog Goals for 2016
- Another product. Now that I have a taste of what it feels like to have my own product (my ebook), I’m excited to see what will happen if I add more products to the mix. I am not sure which direction I will take this. I personally like to listen to videos/podcasts in carpool, but I like writing more than speaking. I’m in no hurry to publish another ebook or create a course, but I hope to add another one to my blog by the end of the year. One thing I’ve been toying with is writing short ebooks to teach newer bloggers how to do very specific things like figure out where to place ads on their site for maximum revenue. I think I might start here because it sounds easy! I like easy and fun. 🙂 I have been asked many times to help other bloggers figure out where to place ads on their blog. I’m thinking a mini ebook with screenshots, size guidelines, color recommendations, etc could work, but I want to gauge interest first. If this sounds like something you could use, would you kindly comment below and let me know? If enough people are interested, I’ll work on it!
- Increase average monthly income. My blog income for the past few months hasn’t dipped below $5,000. I would love to get my average income up to $10,000 by the end of 2016. I think if I produce more content (several new posts or more per month) and also work on my affiliate income strategies, it is a reasonable goal to achieve. Anything more will just be icing on the cake!
- Implement a real work schedule. For over a year now, I’ve spent several hours each evening working on my blog. Some weeks I work 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m five days a week with a few more hours thrown in here and there. Working late into the evening isn’t working for me anymore – I need a break (and more sleep)! I’d just to keep this realistic. This little blog of mine is now more than a hobby. If I am going to work 25 hours per week long term, I need to move my work hours into the daytime. I will be talking to my babysitters to work something out soon hopefully!
**UPDATE: As of July 2016, I now have a plan to get my monthly blogging income up to $16,000 within one year. I wrote all about it here.
Friends and family are always asking me why in the world I would blog. I think they don’t understand the income potential….blogging is my absolute favorite way for just about anyone to bring in some extra money each month. There are many reasons I love this field and here are just a few:
- You can work on your own schedule (to make a full time from my blog I work most nights from 8:30-12:30 and then fit in more blogging time when my kids are at gymnastics, when my youngest is at preschool, etc….I’ve done almost all of this WITHOUT a babysitter to help so far!)
- You are paid according to your abilities, not time put in – when you create content readers love, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been blogging one week or 2 years….you have just as good of a chance of reaching people and making money from your content. Blogging, especially when you have kids at home, is about working smarter, not harder.
- You can afford life’s emergencies & luxuries – hands down, the best thing I like about having a blog that makes money is knowing that if my husband lost his job, we’d be okay. Knowing that if we needed a new car, I could pay for it. Knowing that we can afford to take a beach vacation and redo our master bathroom this year without breaking the bank. I could go on and on! Financial security is a tremendous perk of blogging.
That’s it for this month! I hope I was able to answer some questions you had about making money from a blog.
What’s Next for You?
If you would like to start a blog, I have a tutorial + lots of blog posts just for you:
Want to Grow Your Blog?
If you already have a blog and would like to grow it like crazy this year, I also have a tutorial for you! 😀
UPDATE: My New Ebook!
I put all the lessons I learned about creating an ebook into a short Ebook Creation Guide. This guide is designed to help you get your first ebook published. Perfect if you have an idea or even a partial draft and just need help getting it out into the world!