I haven’t done a formal blog income report before, but I thought I would give one a try. I want to be helpful to my readers, and one way to do that is through transparency and honesty in the results I’m seeing. I want us all to grow together; whether you’re a new or seasoned blogger, we can help each other with our goals.
I rebranded my blog in January of this year – this meant a new name, new look, refined purpose – everything. More recently, I got a redesign to refresh my brand and present my readers with a clean, vibrant blog. Sometimes you need to clean things up, even if it isn’t spring.
I have been tracking my blogging income and expenses in the lovely workbook I put together for my readers to use. I do love spreadsheets and put together an easy-to-use income tracker that helps me understand where I see the most return for my hard work, and where I’m spending it all.
How did I do last year?
Let’s back up to 2015 with my previous blog name and brand. In 2015 I earned a total of $1,273 in income (yes, this is for the entire year). Only about $200 of it was from the book blog, so the majority was my lifestyle blog. I also received almost $750 in products (which you still have to pay taxes on even if it isn’t actual money). My blog was still in the hobby category, earning enough to cover expenses and leaving some extra to play with or consider investing back into the blog.
The latter is what I chose to do, in my eventual goal of turning my part-time hobby blog into a part-time income-bringing business. So I made plans and decisions to push my blog in the right direction, and that included the rebrand.
2016 Blog Income Report
So let’s look at 2016. My total income for the year (this may change as December isn’t over yet at the time of writing this post): $6,356. That’s a 300% increase! I mean, sure, overall 6 thousand isn’t that much over the course of a full year (it averages in the $500-range a month), but it’s a start, right? This is me moving in the right direction and gives me the motivation to continue pushing my blog toward my goals. About $100 was from the book blog, the rest was from this blog. I also received over $600 worth of product.
One thing I wanted to mention is I only count income that has been paid out to me – so it is in my bank account in some fashion. Some bloggers track income earned/accrued whether it was paid out yet or not, but I don’t and here’s why: some platforms have a high minimum balance that you have to reach before you see your money (Adsense, among many others). Some, if you don’t continue to accrue income, charge you fees and eat up your entire affiliate profit (*cough*CLICKBANK*cough*) or close your account (Commission Junction). So if you don’t see that money, it isn’t yours yet, is it?
Let’s break it down, where did this income come from?
|Sponsored Posts or Social Media Shares||$ 5,833|
|Affiliate Sales||$ 261|
|Banner Ad||$ 38|
|Product Sales||$ 31|
As you can see, my biggest bang for my buck, or my time, comes from sponsored posts/social media or influencer marketing. This is where I have been focusing most of my efforts and will continue in 2017. I have listed out many of the influencer companies I have worked with in my blogging resources page.
Sponsored posts have obviously been my best income source, but it is important to work with many difference brands and companies that connect you to brands. You won’t always have opportunities available with each company. Some examples of this:
- Over $1000 of the sponsored post income has come from working with Acorn Influence. I started working with them after I rebranded, sometime in March. But my last campaign with them was this summer, and I haven’t had any since.
- Over $1800 was through The Women Bloggers, but the same thing happened. I worked with them in the spring and summer but then haven’t had any opportunities this fall.
- About $700 was through Linqia, which has also been sporadic but a lot more busy in the recent few months. (I have one campaign that is ending at the time of this posting and may pay out before 2016 ends, increasing this total.)
- There have been other smaller payouts through various other companies (like IZEA, Influence Central) that overall add up to my total income from sponsored posts.
The next (and biggest potential for growth) source of income for me is affiliate marketing. Most of this affiliate income came to me in the fourth quarter of the year! What changed? Courses! I got addicted to courses, but one in particular, called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, gave me a good understanding of how to promote my affiliates. Sure, the amount I earned so far this year is still small, but it more than covers the course and motivates my earning potential going forward. The more I implement the tips and tricks I learned in the course, the more I expect to see my affiliate income increase.
Here are the programs I earned the most affiliate income through:
- Mom Conference
- Impact Radius (a referred sale for Sucuri malware protection)
- Ultimate Bundles (the Genius Bloggers Toolkit sale)
- Amazon Associates
I did a few surveys or product testing, but not too many. I had some sales paid out from banner advertising (the ad company I use on Chapter Break pays out monthly, so that’s part of it. The one for this blog has a minimum accrual amount before it pays out). I also sold a few of my nanny contract templates, which is the only product I have for sale on this blog. My goal is to expand this revenue source and add another product in 2017.
2016 Blog Expenses
What about spend? Well, yes, my expenses went up considerably as well. In fact, I tallied up $2,705 in spend this year. Ouch! Let’s break it down.
|Website & Hosting||$ 774|
|Courses & Memberships||$ 1,212|
|Plugins & Tools||$ 255|
I tried to combine things into categories that made sense. It helps to categorize and see where the spend is highest, and we can definitely see I got a bit course happy this year.
Website & Hosting includes hosting, domain name, whois guard (to protect my private information) as well as my purchase of Sucuri malware protection.
Courses & Memberships, well, this was part of my growth strategy. I decided I clearly did not know enough secrets to growing my blog and needed to learn from the experts. These are the courses (or ebooks or memberships) I purchased this year:
- Pinaffiliate Masterclass e-course – my very first course, I saw a huge increase in pageviews after optimizing my Pinterest, and my course addiction began
- The Busy Blogger’s Ultimate Productivity Guide – Still need to read this ebook
- Sticky Blogging e-course – I keep going back and re-reading some lessons because of how awesome they are, and how much I still need to work on my writing. This course is phenomenal!
- Twitter Legend e-course – lots of info on how to grow Twitter, and then focuses on earning with Linqia campaigns. I would definitely try the free course first just to get an idea of how to grow your Twitter following.
- The Mason Jar membership – this turned into a FB group and kinda fizzled out
- What Works NOW from PotPieGirl – an ebook with tips on what works to get people to click through
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – as mentioned above, a very thorough affiliate marketing course
- International Bloggers Association – annual membership, bloggers, get their posts syndicated, share groups, etc
- 2016 Genius Blogger’s Toolkit – So many amazing tools and courses. I have only just begun going through them.
- Influential Mama Instagram course – from a lovely lady who runs the Mom Blog Tribe FB group. I still need to watch this video.
- Elite Blog Academy – I got caught in the “buy at last year’s price” (of $499) as the prices were going up even more. The course starts in 2017, so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
Plugins & Tools is a similar idea (and I thought about combining them all together) but rather than a book, course, or membership, is a plugin or some other digital tool I use in my blogging.
- Content Upgrades Pro Plugin (growing your email list FTW)
- EasyAzon Pro Plugin (makes Amazon affiliate stuff super easy)
- Grammarly Premium (to check and fix my writing when I can’t English)
- Board Booster (yay Pinterest set it and forget it!)
- Wondershare Filmora (video editing software)
- InLinkz (for Gratitude and Goals linky party, as well as the ones I run on the book blog)
Office is basically office supplies (business cards, etc) and internet (you can deduct that as an expense!) I’m estimating about $50/month for internet at 50% use for blogging purposes.
Supplies/Grocery is any food items or other stuff I purchase specifically for a blog post. Many campaigns give you a budget/reimburse you something for supplies, so since that counts as income, it makes sense to track what I’m actually purchasing for the project.
Advertising has been either Facebook Ad fees or listings in Giveaway Promote. Finally, fees are PayPal fees that are deducted when I get paid via PayPal. I might be able to think through combining them into fewer categories, but that is how I tracked expenses this year.
What about Traffic Stats?
After rebranding and optimizing my Pinterest strategy, my pageviews went from a lowly 2K per month to 10K per month! But, I’m still sitting steady in that 10K per month range. So one of my goals for 2017 is to break free and keep climbing.
While my blog isn’t earning me a true part-time income just yet, I have seen an improvement from last year and am motivated to keep working on this.
The areas I will focus on for 2017 are sponsored posts and affiliate marketing. I am turning down product reviews for product only, because who has the time to work for free? Most of the time I don’t really need that product myself, so it isn’t worth it to me. I’ve been doing those mostly for gift guide posts, but I have been asking for a small writing fee (or at least an item for a giveaway) to make it worth my time.
I also need to focus on getting through all the courses I purchased, and stop buying new ones! That has significantly impacted my income, so I need to slow that down. Seriously, hoarding courses has become like hoarding books for me. Am I going to read this now? Don’t buy! Same with courses. Get through what I already have before collecting more.
How did your blog do in 2016?