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

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I love blogging. I identify myself as a blogger and influencer, and after a year of hard work in 2016, I do make a full-time living off the blog alone.

For a long time I considered this blog a side hustle, Just like the limited freelance writing work I used to do for clients on top of my full-time job was a side hustle. Now, they’ve both  morphed into a hybrid income pie that makes my eyes cross to understand. Still, I consider myself lucky that I’ve been able to make decent money from blogging part time.

I don’t do income reports. For a brief period I did, when I side hustled, but mostly just to track how much I was making to put toward my $8k in 90 day challenge. I did for a time reveal my net worth on a quarterly basis, but then that got REAL weird. Mostly with comments like, “Why are you freaking out about money, you can afford it. I saw your net worth update.” So I stopped doing them. Also because since I started working for myself, my net worth hasn’t been that exciting.

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.

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“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.

The idea from the workbook came from the fact that I have a lot of interest in blog coaching, but very few clients because of the price tag of the packages ($350 for four 45 minute sessions.) I understand not everyone has that kind of cash to burn, so I wanted to create something for those who couldn’t participate in the private coaching. It’s win-win for everybody.

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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