In April 2015, I wrote this piece on how I made $50,000 with a blog side hustle. Now, I'm happy to report this blog alone has made $100,000 for my personal finance bottom line. Here's how I made $100,000 with a blog, but first a little back story.
- I started this blog (formerly called L Bee and the Money Tree) in May 2012.
- I made money even in the first year. You can see all those numbers in that year in the original post. (And at the bottom of this one!)
- I ran the blog as a side hustle until I left my FT job in 2015 to work for myself.
- During my first year of self-employment I made money primarily as a freelance writer and content strategist, but my blog income continued to grow.
- In early 2016 (about a year ago) I decided to give up most of my writing clients to focus on trying to make the website itself earn more passive income.
So…How Did It Go?
I've written some about this transition from service based writing business to products and affiliates, mostly through my online income reports ( see here and here) which, admittedly, I haven't done in awhile but continue to dabble with. But this is the first post where I've laid it all out and since the last one was so popular I decided to do it again. I also thought it would help those who were considering joining me in my new course, Beginner Blog Accelerator, see how they can start a blog that earns money.
But I do get asked a lot “How is it you make money from blogging?” which is a great question and one I wanted to answer, and I thought I would share with you today just how much I’ve made in the last (nearly) five years as a blogger.
“How I Made $100,000 with a Blog Side Hustle”
The Various Income Streams of a Blogger
Native Advertising & Brand Campaigns
Better known as sponsored posts, brands will pay me for posts that mention their business, review a product, or contain relevant, valuable content related to what they offer. They do this because they want to gain exposure or drive traffic to a certain site or piece of content. I love doing these and it’s nice to see in the last year and a half or so how much brands have embraced working with bloggers!
I participate in a handful of ad networks (like BlogHer and Google Adsense) who run ads on my site and pay me for it. While I was previously ignoring this area, I started really investing time into this revenue stream in late 2016. Previously, I made only a few dollars each month and now I make about $250/month on network ads alone.
Direct Ad Sales
Occasionally I'll sell an ad in my sidebar directly to a business. It's more money than going through an ad network, but not as consistent. It's also directly tied to performance and some ads may not do well on my site.
A lot of bloggers do affiliate advertising. Some do it very, very well. (Looking at you, Michelle) Affiliate advertising works like this: brands (via affiliate networks) will give bloggers links to products or services. Bloggers embed those links into their posts and then they get a “fee” or “commission” of whatever business they bring to that brand. I’m simplifying it, but you get the idea.
This has been a huge area of growth for me in the last year and the only reason I was able to stop trading my dollars-for-time as a writer and earn more from this website with affiliates.
Here's how I made my first $1,000 in affiliates.
The ONLY way I did this was by taking Michelle's Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course and implementing her step-by-step action plan. Doing that I was able to increase my affiliate income 2000% last year.
Products, Courses & Book Sales
I was a blogger for three full years before I even attempted to do my own product. Why? Because I was scared. Then at the beginning of 2016 I decided to really dive in and I built SIX freebies and six-more premium products to sell in my online store that year. The first product I ever launched, The Blog Yourself Rich Workbook, was released just over a year ago!
Products are my favorite things to make for two reasons: they're really fun and you get to be creative and once the work is done – it's done… and you can focus on new ways to promote what you already made.
Things I'm Phasing Out from my Blog Side Hustle in 2017
I did these in the past, but only received product as compensation. Getting paid to review a product just feels a little iffy. Although I no longer do this, many bloggers do, and reviewing products (for cash or for free) is FUN. In the five years I've been blogging I've received well over $2,500 of free product and books (and recently, free travel!)
In 2015 & 2016 I offered one-on-one sessions to beginner bloggers (click here to see my services and what happy clients say about me!) who wanted to learn a lot in a short amount of time and expand their brands and websites to become online income generators. I've worked with people all over the U.S. (and even in the Phillippines and Australia!)
Honestly, coaching is one of my favorite things to do. Working from home I especially love the Skype calls and interaction, but I'm ramping down on it as an income stream in favor of promoting the aforementioned course. Though I'm not ruling out that I may bring it back down the road.
Freelance Finance Writing
Because I blog about money, I’ve received many offers through the years for paid finance writing gigs on other websites. I used to do a lot more of this in the early days, although now I pretty much exclusively write finance content for this website. This is different from my writing for marketing clients, which I get just because I have experience vs. someone seeing me on Financial Best Life and being like “We want Lauren!” I also get paid much more to write as “Lauren Bowling” than as a freelancer too.
I have made money with video sponsorships (like I did with Awkward Money Chat) but have no plans to make any future videos.
Appearances and Speaking (Maybe)
I’ve also done appearances at conferences and local events for travel expenses + a fee. Sometimes I prepare a presentation and speak, other times I sit on a panel and talk on a given topic (like the awesome one I did with Prudential last summer.)
My Blogging Income (Year over Year)
With all these ways to make money, blogging can be (and is for me) incredibly lucrative. But I love it. I did this before I started getting paid for it and I’d continue to blog even without payment. With that being said, getting paid for something I'm passionate about (whether it's a career or a “hobby”) is awesome.
Now What You've Been Waiting For! The Numbers!
- YTD Blog Income Total (2012) – $1,395 (I blogged 7 months of 2012)
- YTD Blog Income Total (2013) – $8,255
- Yearly Blog Income Total (2014) – $11,345
- YTD Blog Income Total (2015) – $27,647.15
- YTD Blog Income Total (2016) – $52,009.08
Total Lifetime Blog Earnings = $100,651.23 (OVER FIVE YEARS)
These numbers aren't as big as some of the ones you'll find on the internet, but I'm incredibly proud. To have blogged this consistently for this long and to truly have built something…well, I can't find other words. I'm probably proudest that I was able to double my blogging income since focusing just on the blog (instead of writing). My big gamble at the beginning of last year seems to have paid off!
Of course, making money is nice, but none of this would've been possible if I hadn't just…started. The first step is to actually start making money online is to blog consistently and I show you how in my new course. Click here to enroll in Beginner Blog Accelerator. Pre-Launch pricing disappears March 15th.
What do you think? Is this what you thought bloggers made? What aspects of it surprised you?