I started my blog in August 2015 and, just 14 months later, I hit my goal of matching my husband’s income. Even though I had my first post in 2015, I didn’t get serious about my blog until 2016 (more specifically, the end of February 2016… more on that later); making 2016 my first full year blogging. I want to share with you how I made a full-time income from my blog in 2016 to show you that, yes, it is a real thing to earn money blogging!
I’d be lying if I said it was easy; it absolutely wasn’t! But was it worth it to make more money that I ever have and to be able to stay home with my children while doing it? Abso-freaking-lutely!
First, a little about me…
I’m not that special. I’m not a rocket scientist. I don’t have the “easy button” for blogging and life somewhere. And I hardly have it all figured out.
I’m just a mom of three boys 6 and under who decided that if I was ever going to make an income, I wanted to do so online. We homeschool so being out of the house for 10 hours/day just wouldn’t be feasible. Not to mention, after crunching the numbers, almost all of the income that I would make would be going to childcare and school costs for the kids. Basically, any work that I did out of the house wouldn’t actually be helping my family.
I started my blog after having read one-too-many blog income reports. Like an idiot, I thought to myself if THEY can make $5,000 this month, so can I!
Wrong. Wrong. Oh, so wrong.
But I started nonetheless. And, lemme tell you, THAT was a humbling experience.
I started my blog in 2015 and fiddled around aimlessly for the first 5 months trying to figure out how to make money and to emulate what the big bloggers were doing. I’d post to Pinterest all the time, I’d go to link parties to try to get other people to read my stuff, I’d just spin my wheels getting up early and staying up late and seeing no real results.
I thought I was on my way to making the big bucks when I went from 100 pageviews/day to 150-200 pageviews/day. But I still only made $.17 from AdSense and $61.96 from Amazon affiliates in January 2016 (my highest earning month at that point). I was working 8 hours or more each day and seeing very little results.
Thankfully, I got on Rosemarie Groner’s email list and in February, she sent out the email that changed my life. And that’s not being dramatic. It’s true.
I heard about Elite Blog Academy and it was all over from there. I signed up and immediately knew that it was the best thing I’ve ever spent money on.
This isn’t an exaggeration. Thanks to Elite Blog Academy, I made:
[I skipped the income report for September… OOPS! But the income was $1,843]
December Income Report $5,333
Between January and May, I made a total of $1,451.
Meaning that in 2016, I made $19,783 in my first full year blogging!
If I average that out, it comes to $1,649/month. That might not sound like a lot to you, but it was more than my husband used to make at his old job in order to support our family of four.
Ready to hear how I made a full-time income from my blog?
There’s not just one way that I made money from my blog. There are many! Of the top 5 ways that bloggers make money, I used 3 very heavily.
For the most part, I spent this year finding my groove and figuring out what works best for me. I spent a lot of time learning in classes and courses and listening to as many podcasts and webinars as I could.
So while I hardly made a staggering amount of money, I made enough to consider this a real job. It was enough to prove to myself and plenty of others that I could make a full-time income from my blog and that it was something that I wasn’t planning to stop.
One of the biggest keys to growing my income wasn’t necessarily in pageview numbers (although that helps ad revenue), but it was in my email list.
One of the best things I heard all year was from my friend Rosemarie of the Busy Budgeter. She said that pageviews only serve as a way to get people on your email list.
MIND = BLOWN.
I’d never seen pageviews like that! Up until that moment, it was like the higher number of pageviews you had, the better off you were as a blogger. But that’s not the case.
If Pinterest takes (another) serious downturn and cuts everyone’s pageviews in half again, you have no control over that. What if Facebook decides to ban all blogger’s pages. You can’t control what happens to social media platforms or search engines. But you do have complete control over your email list.
You could send out 15 emails every day (side note: don’t do that) and no one can take that ability from you. Your email list allows you to have a relationship with your readers. They are the people who will buy from you; who will listen to all of your recommendations and take them to heart.
With that in mind, I made the switch to ConvertKit this year and started upping my email game. I made 2 (very successful) e-courses (Side Hustles that Work© and Start a Profitable Blog the Right Way©)and lots of new freebies (like my budget binder and blog resource guide)that have brought in a lot of new email sign ups.
Thanks to Convertkit, making these courses and freebies was easy and has made all the difference in my blog.
Let’s get back to the ways that I earned a full-time income from my blog.
If you’re not familiar with what affiliate income is, affiliate income is basically a sales commission. I’m not sales-y at all. It actually makes me really uncomfortable to say “you should buy this” even if I believe in it simply because I hate sales pressure. I hate giving it, and I hate getting it. I took a class to help me to use affiliate marketing and it’s made a HUGE difference for me!
Instead of always looking for the highest earning affiliates that other bloggers were using, I focused on promoting products that I use and love. For example, I talked about one of my favorite cookbooks in a few posts and through my affiliate link more of these cookbooks have been sold than anything else each month since adding the links.
My highest earning affiliates were:
- Bluehost – I could talk all day about blogging, and people share my affinity for how awesome it is to make an income online… legally, of course!
- Ebates – Cash back on almost everything that you buy online. I don’t really think I need to say much more about that!
- Amazon – Who doesn’t use Amazon? They have a great cookie that gives an affiliate commission for everything that someone buys, not just your one linked item. Even if you’re just starting out, get an Amazon affiliate account. This will be one of your biggest sources of income when you’re starting out!
- Elite Blog Academy – This was the turning point in my time as a blogger. You can get their free resources now, but seriously… take this class if you want to get serious about blogging.
- Swagbucks – Swagbucks was my first “side hustle.” I paid for all of my cloth diapering supplies, Christmas presents and birthday presents all with Swagbucks money.
My favorite affiliates to work with are:
- The only other comprehensive blogging course that I recommend to anyone. If you can’t wait until Elite Blog Academy becomes available or can’t throw around that kind of money, this is the next best thing.
- This is where I send people who ask about my Facebook strategy because she’s got 100,000 likes that she gained in 5 months.
- The best Pinterest guide from my friend and blogger pro, Rosemarie.
- If you need help picking your affiliates, this is where you can learn about affiliate strategy.
- The very biggest course in growing my affiliate income.
- Unrelated to blogging, thanks to this, I learned how to cook and use a meal plan.
- The reason that I can work, homeschool and have a life.
I don’t do too many sponsored posts. It’s not that I hate them, necessarily. It’s just that I prefer to have control over my own content.
The sponsored posts that I have done are opportunities that I’ve found through the Clever Girls Collective or from IZEA (who also does sponsored tweets).
My goal this upcoming year is to do at least 1 sponsored post each month. This will get me more than $6,000 alone!
I started the year using Google Adsense, which was a really depressing. I was earning maybe $1 per thousand pageviews. Probably even less. So at the end of a month, if I made $2 from ad revenue, it was a win.
Fast forward to joining AdThrive when my pageviews skyrocketed in April, and what a difference that made! I go from earning $8-$15 per thousand pageviews. With higher traffic, that’s a huge jump in my earnings! In December I almost made $2,000 from ads alone. (Granted, December is the highest earning month for ads, so that will drop like a ton of bricks for at least January through March.)
Training that made a HUGE difference.
I didn’t do any of this growth on my own. There are many classes and ebooks that I used to teach me about all of the ins and outs of blogging.
- Elite Blog Academy – Seriously, it’s worth mentioning again. If there’s only one class you take about blogging, let it be this one. Everything from why you need to be self-hosted to hiring help once you’ve grown to be a business gets covered in this course. Trust me, it pays for itself.
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – Who wouldn’t want to learn how an affiliate marketing master brings in $50,000+ each month from affiliate marketing(and $100,000/month total)?! Seriously. This is everything you need if you’re sitting there saying “I stink at sales.”
- Pinterest Strategy Cheat Sheet – Every question you wanted to ask about how to be a Pinterest master gets answered in this straight forward, no fluff guide. From where to find group boards to how to set up a killer strategy with BoardBooster, it’s all here.
But the most important thing I learned…
Blogging isn’t a get-rich-quick kind of thing. It takes a lot of time and energy to make into something great. But in the end, it’s completely worth it all.
I’m hardly to the point where my friend Michelle from Making Sense of Cents is, where she makes almost $1 million/ year and travels the country in an RV. But I’ve provided my family with an extra source of income and I still get to stay at home with my family.
My plans for the next year are to grow and learn more about making my business work for us. But for now, I’m going to put my computer down and go cuddle with my boys.
What’s your biggest goal this year?