Have you ever wondered, “How much money do bloggers make? Can a blogger salary ever be enough to pay the bills?” Well, I have such a special blog income and expenses report to share this month that will answer those questions for you!
My business hit a huge milestone in August 2017 with over $7,800 in monthly revenue and to celebrate, I’m sharing details about my “blogging for money” journey. I'll be talking about what I did right (like how I made my first $200 blogging), what I did wrong, and what this means for the future of AllisonLindstrom.com!
I wish we could sit down and pour through every detail of the past two years together but that blog post would never end! Instead, I'll be hitting all the high notes of what I think really made the biggest impact in my quest to become a professional blogger. This will hopefully give you a picture of the behind-the-scenes perspective and help you with your own blogging business journey.
I made a deal with my husband before I created my blog...
When I started what is now AllisonLindstrom.com back in March 2015, my husband and I had made a deal. We agreed that if I didn’t have a full-time salary making money blogging by the time our son James (he wasn't even 12 months at the time) started his Pre-K3 classes, then I would put the blog to rest and I would go back to work outside our home.
WELL...James started his Pre-K classes last week and I am thrilled to say that not only is the blog generating a full-time income but it's far exceeding what I imagined it would do!
Hooray! I get to keep my job as a professional blogger blogging!
There are so many emotions I'm going through with this milestone. The fact that my son is already starting his Pre-K3 classes has me happy/sad/emotional/excited. But I'm also over-the-moon-thrilled as it coincides with this wonderful business milestone and the fact that I can continue doing what I love while also financially supporting my family.
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A Big Thank You to All of You Subscribers and Readers!
Before I dive into the details, I just want to say THANK YOU. Thank you to anyone who has ever supported, subscribed, purchased any of my products, visited my website, or supported my business in any other way! You’re the reason I made my first $200 blogging, was able to grow my business into blog courses like Blogging to Win and the Blogging Business Club, and why I get to continue to be a work-at-home mom.
And before we go any further, I also want to point out that this income report is not about bragging or anything nasty like that.
When I started my own blog, I enjoyed reading other bloggers' income reports because I felt like they gave me great insight as to where the money was coming from and what those bloggers were working on to make that sort of money. It was incredibly helpful and this is my way of giving back and hopefully giving you some insights that might help.
Blog Income Report - August 2017
Okay so let's talk about making money blogging...
The nature of my blogging business in particular is that I have a lot of different products that go through product launches and re-launches throughout the year. Sales will vary a bit every single month.
Life certainly isn’t like the jobs I used to have where I got the exact same amount every 2 weeks (sometimes I miss my librarian days...). Income will fluctuate throughout the year, which is great in a way because the harder I work, the more money I can potentially make.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. You can read my Disclaimer for more info.
With all that in mind, I’m ready to spill the details now:
Income - August 2017
Income from Products: $5,931.88
Income from Affiliates: $1,165.83
Ad Income: $798.24
Total Blog Income: $7,895.95
Expenses – August 2017
VPS Hosting: $29.99
Payment and Landing Page Software: $66.00
Social Media Schedulers: $30.00
Adobe Premiere Pro: $32.46
Freelance Team: $75.00
Plugin Software: $75.00
Total Blog Expenses: $439.10
Wait. Don't you make money from freelance writing jobs, Allison?
You’ll notice that I no longer earn money online as a freelancer writer or Virtual Assistant. This is because I quit offering freelance work back in 2016. There was too much "trading time for dollars" and I’ll go into more detail about that down below.
*Note: This was the best path for me but I have ZERO judgement if your experience/path is different. Always go with your gut, even if it's not what I suggest here in this post. You know what's best for your own situation. :)
Do you see the common theme in this blog income report?
It doesn’t look like I have very many blogging income sources because I only listed three. But I offer multiple products, partner with many affiliate programs, and have two sources of ad revenue (my site and my YouTube channel).
Do you see the theme here? DIVERSIFY! Diversify your streams of blogging income because every little penny will add up. I talked about this in my post about what really makes a successful, sustaining, less-risky blogging business.
Is your cost of running the blog the same each month?
Monthly blogging expenses are not fixed to what I’ve listed here. I actually never have the same amount of expenses month-to-month.
For example, some of the stuff I use for the business is on a yearly subscription (i.e. the many domains I have registered). Fortunately, I almost never have more than one yearly subscription expire in the same month. That would be a bummer!
The typical range I see in expenses every month for the ongoing maintenance and functioning of all of my websites is between $350 to $500. (This proved true even when I posted this blog income report almost 7 months later.) I normally stay within this range unless I have to buy software or a new piece of equipment, like a new microphone or camera.
For instance, August 2017 expenses were only $439.10, but June 2017 expenses were over $1,300.00 because I had purchased a lot of expensive equipment. This is a very rare occurrence as most of what I use to run the blog is online software that is subscription or one-time purchase based.
Keeping expenses low is tough but honestly, I’m a frugal person by nature and I also love to take home as much money from this business as I can. I truly believe that when you’re a new blogger, you should only have two expenses for your blog. And then when you grow your blogging business, you should do everything you can to keep costs low.
What about taxes, insurance, etc?
You’ll notice that I didn’t list taxes or retirement expenses but this is something I actually take into consideration privately and just didn't list here (I doubt anyone reading this is interested in my retirement plan #snooze).
Lucky for me, I don’t have to deduct costs for health insurance because I’m married and on my husband’s insurance, so that isn’t something I have to worry about.
Your tax rates will likely be different from mine and will be based on what country you live in, whether or not you live in a state with no income tax (yaaaaay, Texas!), federal tax rates, etc.
So I don’t get to bring home the whole $7,895.95 of income as I still have subtract taxes and retirement in addition to the expenses I had this month.
What Worked For Me
Now that we’ve gone over the main details, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the actionable steps I took to grow my blog. These may not be all the things I feel I did right over the last 5 years but they’re the ones that really stick out.
1. I spent the majority of 2016 coming up with passive income ideas for my blogging business for 2017, as well as creating products that I hoped would eventually add up to this income flow.
I made the hardcore decision in 2016 that I would not be offering any type of freelance work anymore. Who knows if I'll ever change my mind, but right now this looks like it's going to stick. (I go into more detail about the whole freelance gig down below in #3.)
So I bit the bullet in 2016 and said, "This has to end so that I can move onto more passive income streams."
This was an incredibly tough decision because (naturally) my income dropped for a little bit. But I focused on the big picture and just kept looking forward to what I really wanted in terms of income streams for 2017.
I constantly reminded myself:
"I want passive income to be a larger percentage of my yearly revenue."
"I want to have more control over my schedule instead of living by the deadlines of my clients."
"Right now, I can only earn as much money as my time allows to take on clients. This needs to change."
"I want to build a blogging business with multiple active streams of passive income."
"I want to spend more time with my family without the stress of missing out on freelance work."
I focused on making 2016 the year of creating products and only creating passive income streams. I stuck with this path even though it was a gamble and that consistency has now more than paid off. *sigh of relief*
2. I created very specific blog income and content goals.
I have never said to myself, "You know, I really just want to make a full-time income." I have always had actual income figure goals written down and 2016-2017 planning was no exception.
As I wrote down goals like, "earn $2,000/month by XYZ," it was easier to identify how many products I needed to sell, what the prices of those products needed to be, and how many email subscribers I needed. Those are the kind of detailed plans that I made back in 2016 and I just kept sticking with it and trying to tackle as many as I possibly could.
3. I resisted the urge to pick up freelance clients again.
My making money as a freelancer gig is worth mentioning twice in this post because I feel like it was an integral part in the eventual growth of my blogging business. Remember my tips on making passive income sooner so you can blog on auto-pilot? I applied them to myself!
If you didn’t know this already, I ran my own freelance business as a writer and Virtual Assistant before I started blogging. But I knew it wasn't my "forever" job because I hated that I was always trading time for dollars. And I also knew that the closer we got to James going to school, the more I would want flexibility with my schedule.
I felt like a crazy person letting go of consistent, dependent income. But there just weren't enough hours in the day to both create products, prepare a passive income stream for 2017, and continue working for clients.
It was a tough decision and I was this.close. to giving into a few clients who asked if I'd be willing to work part-time, but it was absolutely the right thing to do to focus on my own products and move on from that chapter in my business.
4. I kept treating every single month like this was my last chance.
James didn’t start Pre-K3 classes until this fall (August 2017) but I treated every month of the year like it was already August 2017!
I would hustle hustle hustle and placing a timeline over my head just put a fire under my own bootie! I would try to learn as much as I could, be strategic and savvy to the best of my ability, and would just wake up early and push through my tasks as hard as I possibly could.
I knew that my schedule was just going to change as James got older (hello, soccer practice schedules) and I wanted my business to be prepared with passive income before it got harder.
MISTAKES I'VE MADE
Now that I’ve covered the things I did right, I think it helps to talk about things I did wrong too...and trust me when I say there’s been many hiccups along the way. But it really helps to learn from other people’s mistakes so I’ll willingly share mine!
There’s always comfort in the fact that many of us bloggers make the same mistakes so comment below and let me know if you’ve done any of these too!
Here are the main things that really hurt me in the past year or so:
1. I stuck with freelancing for too long.
Yeah, let's talk about the freelancing thing again.
I feel like I kept hanging onto my freelance projects because of the fear that I wasn’t going to be successful with just passive income.
Passive income of over $100/month is one thing but that wasn’t really ever my goal. I wanted to push myself to surpass my wildest expectations, which was closer to a couple thousand dollars per month.
I let that fear hold me back and it’s one of my biggest business regrets.
2. I started my blog with too many categories.
I was writing about everything and anything under the sun when I started this blog. Yeah, sure we've all got to figure our true passions out when we start blogging. But I wish I'd gone through the process a bit faster.
When I finally narrowed down my niche, I lost the fan-base I had already built around the categories I was retiring.
This isn't a massive mistake but it's one of those main "shoulda coulda woulda" moments for me.
3. I made the switch from an http site to an https site...with no professional help.
This mistake had an impact on my traffic partially into this year. I did not bring in SEO experts or even consult with anyone before I made the switch from HTTP to HTTPS. I failed to consider the impact it was going to make on my traffic or on the "SEO juice" I had built up, if you will. Can you say naive?!
I'm sure you've seen this article from Forbes or other articles like it. As Chrome makes it more apparent to readers whether or not they're on a secure sight, I felt the pressure to just jump in and switch from HTTP to HTTPS since I'm a product-selling blogger.
I did a little research before making the switch but I was also building the Blogging Business Club website at the same time, so the HTTPS project kind of took a back seat to everything else. Big mistake.
I know that the move to HTTPS will help with rankings over a period of time and that my stumble is only temporary but it still bothered me.
I should've just hired someone to handle it since I didn't have enough time on my hands and that brings me to my next mistake...
4. I hesitated hiring people because I wanted to continue doing everything myself.
You guys already know that I’m a very frugal person, but I became so focused on keeping pennies in my bank account that I was slow to bring on the team that I needed.
I was also partially stuck in thinking, “Well, I’m not big enough to hire an assistant so why even bother?” But the problem with that thinking was yes, I was big enough and I was quickly drowning in the blogging workload.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and your blog is starting to generate income, re-invest that money in a team or software to help you run things. You need help to get you to that next level because you can’t do everything on your own.
So there you have it, my big milestone and the details of what I did right and wrong. I hope you found it helpful. And if you’re really serious about creating a blogging business and looking for more helpful advice you can join the Blogging Business Club here or you can join my blogging course for women who want to run a blogging business here.
With very specific goals, focus and strong determination as well as the right tools and the help of a great team you can surely get your blogging business to start working for you. And if you need help, I’ve got tons of advice and tips here on my blog and my YouTube channel.