Blog Income Report: How I made $243 and why I’m putting it all back into my biz

(Last Updated On: May 15, 2017)

When I started my blog I loved reading income reports (Oh, who am I kidding?! I still love reading income reports!). Sometimes I’d be intimidated by a blogger’s success, and sometimes I’d be inspired, but I almost always got some new insight into how I could grow my own blog.

I finally get to write my own income reports now (HURRAY FOR INCOME!), and I want to make them as insightful and helpful to you as possible. Let’s dig in!

Here's how I made $243 exclusively in passive income (no freelancing or services!), and why I chose to reinvest all that money back into my blog. Read now to get tips for monetizing your own blog!This post includes affiliate links, which means if you choose to buy something using my link, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read more on my disclosure page.

Background

I started blogging in February 2016, but I didn’t make any money from my blog in 2016.

I knew that I eventually wanted to monetize, but in 2016 I was a little unfocused and didn’t know what I was doing.

I always intended to turn my blog into a business though, so I invested in good hosting, a professional blog design, and a real email service provider, among other tools.

I was able to pay for all of my blogging expenses through freelance writing, but didn’t make money directly from my blog.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to grow at your own pace. And don’t be afraid to invest in your blog.

My Goal

In 2017, my goal is to make $10,000 through affiliate marketing and selling my time management course.

Tempted by my course, but not ready to commit? No problem. Sign up for my FREE mini course instead!

There are other ways to monetize a blog, but right now this is all I’m focusing on.

Why I’m Not Doing Sponsored Posts or Ads

A few companies have offered me sponsored posts, and one company has asked if I’d be willing to host ads on my site.

I was flattered and excited to hear from them all, but ultimately decided not to go that route.

I had a blog years ago, and I wrote some sponsored posts. While it felt good to make some money from my blog, I realized that sponsored posts weren’t helping my reader.

As for ads, I didn’t want to clutter up or slow down my site just to make a few dollars a month.

Breaking Down My Goal Into Sub-Goals

In late December I did some serious calculations to figure out how I would earn $10,000 from my blog.

Here’s how it breaks down.

  • I want to earn $4,000 from affiliate marketing.
  • I want to earn $6,000 from selling my own products.
  • In order to reach these two goals, I need to get 3,000 email subscribers by the end of the year.

As for the $10,000? It’s the amount that I think I can realistically earn this year based on how much time I have to work and the pace my blog has grown historically.

Need help setting your own blogging goals or breaking those goals down into action steps? Sign up here for my FREE 5-day time management e-course.

This Month’s Progress

Income

From course sales- $235

From affiliates- $8.70

  • ConvertKit- $8.70

Total- $243.70

Although I only made a few hundred dollars, I’m pleased with how February went. I had projected that I would make no income in February, so it was great to launch my course early and bring in a little money.

Expenses

Teachable- $58

My course is hosted here. If you’re thinking of creating your own online course, sign up for this free training from Teachable, where you’ll learn the 7 steps you should take to launch your own course.

RELATED:  7 time management habits of highly successful bloggers

ConvertKit- $29

This is the email service provider I use to stay in touch with my fabulous email subscribers. Check out this blog post to take a sneak peek at my ConvertKit dashboard and learn how CK works.

BoardBooster- $10

I use BoardBooster to automatically pin a new blog post to my group boards, and now the majority of my blog traffic comes from Pinterest. Want to learn how to use BoardBooster? Check out my tutorial video over here.

Canva for Work – $13

I pay for Canva because it’s easy for a beginner like me to use, and it saves my templates and branding materials, so creating graphics is much quicker.

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – $169

One of my goals for next month is to come up with a strategic plan for affiliate marketing, so I bought this course when it was on sale in February.

Total – $279

I spent more than I made, which I was expecting to do. This early in monetizing my business, I do plan to re-invest most of what I earn.

Annual Expenses

I also pay for these services annually.

Hosting – WPEngine – $290

I’m not gonna name any names, but I’ve tried cheap hosting plans in the past and it always comes back to bite me in the butt. I don’t want to build my blog on a shaky foundation, so I pay for the best hosting.

Domain name and professional email – Hover – $35

Did you know that most email service providers require that you send emails to your subscribers from a professional email account and not your personal account? Well, it’s true! So I get my professional email and inbox from Hover.

Takeaway: You have to spend money to make money. Yes, that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. If you’re not confident enough in yourself and your business to spend some money, then your potential customers will not be confident in you either. So don’t be afraid to pay for the tools that will help you reach your goals.

Email subscribers + Traffic

Current List Size- 514 (+96 new subscribers this month)

I won’t lie, my list is tiny considering that I’ve been at this for a year. I don’t know why my list growth is so slow, but in order to reach 3,000 subscribers by the end of the year, I’m going to have to figure it out!

On the plus side, I’m proud that I’ve already made some money from such a tiny list. There are bloggers with thousands of email subscribers who aren’t making any money or who make less than me each month. My email list subscribers are also super engaged, opening and replying to emails regularly, which is awesome.

Traffic- 3,205 pageviews/2,033 visitors

Yep, I wasn’t lying when I said my blog is tiny. My traffic is really low. Someday I’ll focus more on improving my traffic, but right now traffic is just a means to an end (more traffic = more $), so it’s not my primary focus.

Also, side note: I broke my Google Analytics, so this screen shot is from Jetpack. So one of my small goals for March is to fix Google Analytics. 🙂

Takeaway: It’s hard, but try not to compare yourself to other bloggers. Also, you can still do amazing things with a tiny list and very little traffic, you just need a strategy!

RELATED:  How to Get More Done Without Going Insane (Pro Tips From a Single Working Mom)

Next Month’s Action Steps

For list growth

Guest post

This is kind of a cheat task because I’ve already written 3 guest posts, which are all coming out in March. I’ve heard that guest posting can help you grow your list, and I haven’t guest posted in months, so we’ll see if it helps.

Giveaway

I’d really love to do a giveaway, both to grow my list and to share some awesome productivity and time management resources with my readers. I’ve never done a giveaway, though, so I’m intimidated by the tech and the coordination involved. But this year I’m trying to take action and do things even when they feel scary, so my goal is to do my first giveaway in March.

Optimize old content

After creating my course, I feel burnt out on creating content. Instead of churning out new blog posts, I want to focus on optimizing my most popular posts. Because my ultimate goal is to make money from my blog, I plan to add affiliate links and awesome opt-ins or content upgrades to get more people on my email list.

For affiliate income

Create affiliate strategy

I bought a course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, and I can hardly wait to dig in. As you can see from this report, I’ve made almost nothing from affiliate marketing, so I’m obviously doing something wrong. 🙂 I want to finish going through the course and map out a real strategy for myself.

For ecourse income

Launch course to segment of email list

I did a beta launch of my course to about 300 of my subscribers. Now that I have feedback and testimonials from my beta testers, I’m launching to the rest of my list (all 200 of them :p). This is a very small launch list, but I’m hoping to get 2-3 sales. These sales will also help me gauge how effective my sales funnel is.

Get feedback and revise

I’m purposefully keeping my course evergreen for now so that I can get feedback early and often. I plan to send an email both to new students and to those who checked out the sales page but didn’t buy so that I can get some feedback.

What I’m not doing this month

I’m not going to stress about posting weekly on my blog. I’m also not going to stress about posting in Facebook groups. In a typical month, I would post weekly and interact several days a week in various Facebook groups, but this month I want to prioritize some higher-level tasks, so these will take a back seat.

Takeaway: You can’t do it all, so get clear on your goals and the action steps that will help you reach your goals. Ignore the rest!

Need help clarifying your goals and action steps? Sign up for my free 5-day email course (below)!

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  • Emily,

    I love this post! I love all income posts, but yours is authentic and bloggers will definitely learn from you and invest in your journey (I’m one of them!)

    I actually emailed you (via your contact form) about income reports so I hope you can give me some insights!

    That’s amazing you generated income on a small list. When I started affiliate marketing last year, my list was around 1k and I barely made $100! So that’s fabulous…

    Congrats on your course sales and creating a course! I just relaunched mine and that process also included moving my course to Teachable and it was hella hard! Now my entire family is sick (fever and all) but we are recovering. Launches really work you hard (and I haven’t even told my list about it!)

    Love your blog and design and can’t wait to read about your affiliate marketing success!

    • Thanks so much, Elna! I was nervous about putting this out there because my numbers are all so small (traffic, email list, money). But I know when I was starting from scratch I actually got more inspiration from small blogs because I felt like I could do that.

      My goal is to be pretty darn transparent, so if I have refunds in the future, you all will hear about it. And if I make even less money, you’ll hear about that, too. (This is already my big fear for March!)

      Congrats on your re-launch! And I hope your family feels better soon. 🙁 You all have been sick so much this winter, boo.

    • I think I’ll be spending most of the money I make this year on blogging stuff. I’m trying to take the long view that this will all pay off and be worth it!

  • Congrats! I cannot wait to be able to publish my first income report! I subscribed to your email list. Your site is very professional and you have a lot of great info and resources! Thank you!

    • Yay, I can’t wait for your first income report either! And thanks for the kind words about my site. If you had seen it a year ago, yikes…. so it’s taken some time to get it looking so nice, and I so appreciate your compliment!

  • Emily, i’ve been following you for a little while now and I really enjoy your honesty, its really refreshing ! I’m about to put a ton more effort into my online venture this year and I can honestly say it’s pretty scary thinking about the amount of work involved. I do like how you say you’re only focusing on a few things. I tend to start with something and then get distracted and start something new, magpie effect I call it! Anyways, really pleased to see you are doing well. Keep up the great posts 🙂

    • Nisha, you made my day! Lol, with my traffic I was kind of worried that I was blogging into a black hole. 🙂 So it’s so nice to hear that you’ve been following along.

      It is so hard to stay focused, I feel the magpie effect pulling me all the time. I swear, time management is a never-ending battle, so I guess that means I’ll never run out of blog post ideas! I can’t wait to see/hear how your online biz goes this year. It sure takes a lot of time, but I do think it will be worth it later!

  • Way to go Emily. So happy for you. I just made my first income of .77 cents lol! But I’m just happy to get started! Thank you so much for sharing and giving your tips. I’m working on some opt ins to grow my email list. I loved you mini course also as you know 🙂 thanks for helping me get more organized. Looking forward to keeping up with your blog as you grow!

    • Thank you so much Tiffany! Hey, .77 is just the start! You’re on your way. 🙂 I’m excited to hear about your opt-ins, too. I think people will jump on your ideas for minimalist living, so I can’t wait to hear what you create.

  • Lady, you are a breath of fresh air. Although little of this makes complete sense to me just yet, I love the transparency of your goals and struggles. So glad I somehow stumbled upon you 🙂

    • Haha, I’m so glad I’m a breath of fresh air! And I’m so glad you found me here, too. 🙂 As you can see from another one of my replies here, sometimes I feel like I’m blogging in a black hole, so please feel free to email me or just leave a comment here with any questions you might have.

  • It is great that you posted your income report when it is this low. It gives me encouragement as a new blogger. I like reading the large income reports, but find yours more relatable at this point in my blogging journey. Thanks for having the courage to post it.

  • Emily – congratulations! I’m sure you can totally relate to the “brace yourself, I’m comparing myself to others” feeling when reading an income report. I just love that you jumped in right away to show what it actually looks like to start building a profitable business/blog. It’s slow, it’s baby steps, and it’s scrappy as hell.

    Thanks for sharing – it’s a great benchmark to see what other people are spending their cash on. I also use Teachable and ConvertKit. I’m going to check out the other tools you’re using. Thanks again

    • Yeah, it’s such a struggle to not compare myself to others, and I know almost everyone else can relate to that feeling. I’m glad you found my expense part useful. I actually think an Expense Report might be more useful to me than an income report because I know a lot of bloggers have to spend money to make money, and I want to see how they spend!

  • Okay, Emily, you’ve done it. You have inspired me to start work on my first e-course! It’s a scary idea, but if you can do it as a “small-time blogger”, so can I. Thanks for being such an inspiration!

  • Huge congratulations Emily and thank you for your transparency. You are doing so great and I have no doubt that you’ll hit your goals (blow them out of the park actually!) this year. When I started my photography business in 2010, I was in the military and had a full time job that let me invest my own money for equipment. For 2 years, I didn’t write myself a paycheck, I just paid myself back for the cameras and lenses I had bought. When I got out of the military, I was able to start giving myself a paycheck every month and it was such a good feeling.

    Long story short, you’re inspiring 🙂 Keep up the amazing work and can’t wait to see your business grow this year, and hopefully grow a new business myself!

    • Thanks for this comment Linnea, I needed it today! I’ve been feeling discouraged at my slow progress (or at least it feels slow for how much work I put in). So it’s really nice to hear from someone who made it to the other side and started giving herself a paycheck! I’m looking forward to hearing about your business, too!