“I Made $50k with a Blog Side Hustle” + My Best Tips on How To Earn Money Blogging

For a long time I considered this blog a side hustle, Just like the limited freelance writing work I used to do for clients. Now, they've both morphed into a hybrid income pie that is hard to explain to others when they ask, “what do you do?” Still, I consider myself lucky that I've been able to make decent money from blogging part time.

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 three years as a blogger.

Want to blog but don’t know where to start? Take the FREE email course, Blog Idea Brainstorm: 5 Days to Your Big Blog Idea. Click here for access!

 

“I Made $50k with a Blog Side Hustle”

How I Make Money Thru My Blog Side Hustle

Native Advertising

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!

Blog Coaching

I offer one-on-one sessions to beginner bloggers (click here to see my services and what happy clients say about me!) who want to learn a lot in a short amount of time and expand their brands and websites to become online income generators. Typically it’s been bloggers local to the Atlanta area, but I’m always looking for new clients and do skype coaching sessions regularly. This is something I just started offering this year and it has been exciting to see it take off!

Branded Campaigns

Similar to sponsored posts but the brands will pay for multiple posts and social messages over a set period of time.

Ad Networks

I participate in a handful of ad networks (like BlogHer and Google Adsense) who run ads on my site and pay me for it.

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.

Video Sponsorships

Even though I am just getting into this revenue stream, I like it a lot.With video I have to pay my brother’s production company to help me produce (like I did with Awkward Money Chat) but it’s a double win of exposure for me, exposure for the brand, video for their site + revenue for my pocket. 

Appearances and Speaking

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 this summer.)

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 LBMT.

New Income Streams for 2016

Affiliate Advertising

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. I’ve struggled with doing affiliates in the past because a) I never want to rep something I don’t use and b) I have weird feels about writing about credit cards to use because of my own history with credit. Now that I’ve learned more about it it's something I've incorporated into my income streams in 2016.

In the link above is my first affiliate post advertising web hosting services by HostGator (which I know and use.) I also use affiliate links, meaning that I sometimes receive compensation if someone purchases a product through my links. It's no cost to the reader and it gives me money to keep producing great content and worksheets for free. Me and Baby Roo have got to eat. To learn more about how affiliates can put some cash in your pocket, read this post on how I earned my first $1000 in affiliate income!

Product & Book Sales

I attempted to sell my Grow Your Money Tree tool kit for a hot second before I decided to give it away for free as a thank you for joining the newsletter list (Get your free copy here!). I kept putting off building out more and more products, until one of my clients, Christina, launched her consulting practice for creatives and began selling contract templates online to BIG success. She's doing so well! (The student has totally become the master which means I'm a kick ass teacher.) 

She's also passionate and driven and totally inspiring…so I finally said, enough. 2016 is my year. I'm doing a soft launch and pre-sale of my first product, The Blog Yourself Rich workbook, for novice bloggers who want to learn how to put together a great brand, badass website, and make money from it, just like I do.

In 2017, I also launched my first course, Beginner Blog Accelerator, which builds on the workbook and has found great success with the beginner bloggers who enrolled. Click here to learn more!

Things other bloggers do for money that I Don't

Product Reviews

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 three years I've been blogging I've received well over $1,000 of free product and books.

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 stuff before I got paid and I’d continue to blog even if no one paid me. With that said getting paid for something I'm passionate about (whether it's a career or a “hobby”) is awesome.

It is also important to note here that I did not include any of the income from my content marketing business, Beehive Content, in these totals. While I have gotten LEADS from my blog, my client work isn’t about personal finance and blog articles, so I chose not to include it.

If I included work I got from people who saw my site and said “hey come do that for my company!” the number below would be GIANT, which I didn’t feel was an accurate reflection of the type of money you can make simply by being a blogger (which is what this article is all about!) 

The numbers below also don't reflect the intangibles: like how this blog helped me completely shift careers without going back to school, taught me digital marketing skills and expertise so I now have a solid background in B2B marketing and copywriting, and lead me on adventures I'd never thought I'd have and to meet some of the coolest people on the planet. There are certain aspects of this blogger lifestyle you can't put a price on.

And don't forget—>Having a professional, money-making blog is an excellent portfolio piece and is living proof I know how to write and market myself and my “brand” online. It makes me a compelling, competitive job candidate. 

It's amazing that I've received all of the above, been able to do it from the comfort of my own home, and (for the most part) kept costs relatively low.

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
  • YTD Blog Income Total (2014) – $11,345
  • YTD Blog Income Total (2015) – $27,647.15

Total Lifetime Blog Earnings = $48,642.15 (OVER FOUR YEARS)

$48k over four years (or roughly, $12,000 a year) may not seem like a lot to some, especially compared to mega bloggers who make that much in a month. To others, it may feel like a ton of money. But how good would an extra $1,000 a month feel?

My current take-home income is about 35-40% what I make from the blog. In September 2015 I took home $5,050 in blog income alone, which makes September the first month I matched what my former corporate salary just by blogging, and it happened when I least expected it!

I can't tell you how exciting it is to have something of my own, that I built, and to see the blog growing, especially now that I work for myself and do have time to devote to it.

What do you think? Is this what you thought bloggers made? What aspects of it surprised you?

Most people can only dream of making money online - but I did it! Here's how I made $50k from a blog side hustle, and how you can too!

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  • hereverycentcounts
    September 4, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Also what do you use for the cool images on your blog? Do you do them in photoshop or use something like Canva?

  • hereverycentcounts
    September 4, 2016 at 11:46 am

    That is super impressive. I have been blogging since 2007 I’ve made a measly $300 in adwords revenue. 🙂 Of course, my blog is anonymous and it’s been more of a personal personal finance blog vs a “how to” site. I notice that the sites that do really well are more finance guides for other people, based on personal information. I just write about how I constantly mess up my finances yet have managed to save $400,000. 🙂 I want to start a new blog soon where I can be non-anonymous but then I won’t want to share my networth. If/when I have a kid, I may start a new blog because I’m sure there will be a whole host of money issues that come up that I won’t be ashamed to talk about publicly!

  • Sarah Hartzog
    February 29, 2016 at 10:56 am

    I’m so intrigued to learn you were making money in your first year! Do you mind specifying what income sources were specific to early on?

    http://www.hartzogswag.com

    • Lauren Bee
      February 29, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Hi Sarah- this was back in the early days- it was a lot of selling links and product reviews 🙂

  • Britt and the B's
    February 2, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Congrats – one of my main goals this year is to increase traffic to my blog and start earning some respectable side hustle money from it. Your post is definitely an inspiration. Keep it up!

  • BrokeMillennial
    February 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    I’ll be texting you for tips about how to make a blog lucrative! I’ve never been focused on generating revenue off Broke Millennial, just see it as a way to have a portfolio for freelance. This should probably change…

    • hereverycentcounts
      September 4, 2016 at 11:48 am

      With your blog title you’ll probably be making bank on your blog soon. I should have thought of my blog title when I started in 2007.

  • CanadianBudgetBinder
    October 18, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Well done Lauren. You have certainly made some big changes with your blog over the years and it has paid off for you. 🙂 Keep at it.

  • Cassie
    October 16, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Like many of the readers here, I was discouraged so many times reading about bloggers who make thousands upon thousands of dollars. I often think to myself that i should have started ten years ago, when blogging was just getting popular, maybe then I could have made something. But in reality, I just went live yesterday, and so I need to work with what I have. I know that I will pay off my debt because I’ve set goals to do so. I have $200,000 in debt right now between my wife and I, so the blog is an important side hustle. Hopefully, I’ll earn some from it. Even a few dollars a month would save us thousands in the long run with interest and whatnot. If anyone is willing to check out our blog and let us know what you think, it’s http://www.diyjahn.com

    • Lauren Bee
      October 17, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Best of luck on your journey!

    • hereverycentcounts
      September 4, 2016 at 11:49 am

      I started in 2007 and it hasn’t helped. 🙂 I think a lot of new bloggers from from nowhere and length of blog doesn’t really matter – just quality of content and targeting a specific audience. I want to start a new blog focused on generating revenue vs just being a whine-fest about money soon.

  • Amanda
    October 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I LOVE this. I often get discouraged when I read about these bloggers making $10k + a month… because I’m trying so hard and I’m only making $150. It’s refreshing to read about a more realistic number and expectation. It’s also interesting to see how it grows over the years. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lauren Bee
      October 17, 2015 at 10:16 am

      Of course. Totally get that discouraged feeling, but keep in mind those folks are the 1%. Most bloggers never make any money at all..so you’re really far ahead of the curve.

    • hereverycentcounts
      September 4, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Only making $150 a month is great! I’ve only made $300 SINCE 2007. Hah. How are you making $150? I’ve refused sponsored posts on my blog (they just wouldn’t make sense there) but I’m looking for other income ideas. Or maybe I just need to start over.

  • Tre
    October 11, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Congrats on matching your corporate salary last month! Thanks for sharing how you make your blog income.It’s always interesting to see the different ways bloggers generate revenue.

    • Lauren Bee
      October 17, 2015 at 10:16 am

      Thanks Tre! Yes, Im always interested in seeing how people are making money online.

  • Stefanie @ brokeandbeau
    October 6, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Congrats on the progress girl and I appreciate the transparency. I too use my blog as a platform rather than being much of a revenue generator on its own. I’ve been so blown away by all your awesome brand partnerships this year, that’s an area I really need to work on.

    • Lauren Bee
      October 7, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks Stefanie- it’s always helpful to me when other bloggers are transparent about their finances, so I thought I’d pay it forward. Knowledge is pow-ah!

  • Colin Ashby
    October 5, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    The post about how you made a career change without going back to school is probably one of my two most favorite posts you’ve shared (the other being the $300 move to NYC post).

    I’m glad you pointed out the negatives of posting net worth and income reports. It’s become a popular trend. While they can be inspiring, I personally think the negatives outweigh the positives when it comes to posting them. The most obvious one being you not wanting people to know how much you make and have and making judgements based on that.

    • Lauren Bee
      October 6, 2015 at 9:21 am

      Thanks so much for telling me which articles you like best– that means a lot to me. And I love that article too. I think it’s important for folks to know you can craft the life you want with a little hustle..WITHOUT large amounts of debt.

  • Cheryl Kohan
    October 5, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Good for you! I’m pretty much a novice but I agree with you…I’d do it for nothing. Thanks so much for sharing this bit of yourself with us.

    • Lauren Bee
      October 6, 2015 at 9:21 am

      Thank you for reading, Cheryl!

  • Cat Alford/ Budget Blonde
    October 5, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Some people think I’m a full time blogger too, but really I’m more like you. Some of my income is from blogging. But most of it is from services I offer, like freelance writing and coaching.

    • Lauren Bee
      October 6, 2015 at 9:23 am

      It is an interesting dichotomy, for sure. However you slice it, being a digital influencer is a great way to increase your earning power!

  • Money Beagle
    October 5, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Only a few can get ‘rich’ by blogging, but it can provide a nice side income or work well as a launching pad to other services. Great job and thanks for sharing.

    • Lauren Bee
      October 6, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Couldn’t agree more. Thanks for leaving a comment!

  • Janine Rogan
    October 5, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    I think this is great! I’ve never really focused on making money on my blog but I am hoping to start creating a steady income flow from my blog.

    Congrats on all your success, I can’t wait to see this continue to grow!

    • Lauren Bee
      October 6, 2015 at 9:24 am

      You’ve been blogging for awhile now..I think you’re missing opportunities for additional revenue, Janine!

  • Jessica @ TheBudgetSavvyBride
    October 5, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Great post!! It’s so interesting to see what makes up the different percentages in a blogger’s income. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Lauren Bee
      October 6, 2015 at 9:25 am

      That would be an interesting approach to break down by percentage. I know Branded campaigns are my biggest money maker to date, then probably video.

  • Michelle
    October 5, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Love this post Lauren! Looks like you are doing well!

    • Lauren Bee
      October 6, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Thanks Michelle. Hopefully one day I’ll have “Sense of Cents” levels of income 😉

  • Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies
    October 5, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I love your perspective on this! That definitely seems like a ton of my for someone who hasn’t tried to monetize (hi!), but I also know blogging is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. My favorite part is that you seem content with the number, but are focused on growth. Congrats on all your hard work paying off!

    • Lauren Bee
      October 6, 2015 at 9:26 am

      I’m sure if you were to break that amount down by the hours I’ve put into the blog, the hourly “wage” for running a blog would be low. This is why I wanted to mention the “intangibles” like exposure and career advancement that you can’t put a price on but definitely count. 🙂

  • Cashville Skyline
    October 5, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Great post, Lauren! I love how you’ve outlined these different streams of revenue. It’s great for younger bloggers (like myself) to see. Congratulations on all your success. $38K is amazing!

    • Lauren Bee
      October 6, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Thanks Kate! I hope plans to monetize are in your future 🙂

  • Giulia Lombardo
    October 5, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I like a lot when bloggers share with us how they earn, also if you say that $37 k over 3 years aren’t alot I think it is a great results and step by step I’m sure you’ll achieve more and more!!!

    • Lauren Bee
      October 6, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Yes, that’s what a lot of people have mentioned about this post- is that it isn’t the numbers but the growth over a period of time!

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