ICYMI: Last week, I posted a very intimate, emotional piece about how I’ve struggled with focus since April of last year. And I got a lot of amazing, wonderfully kind and encouraging comments from folks.

…And more than a handful of emails about the graphic I posted on how I managed to increase my income just from blogging in such a short amount of time.

You guys gave me a lot of great ideas for posts, and I plan on covering more about affiliates and releasing digital products in the near future, but for the sake of transparency I wanted to delve into greater detail and do my first “real” income report.

Why I Haven’t Done Income Reports Until Now

I’ve done this awkward dance with income reports for the last three years or so. I also dabbled in charting my net worth for all to see (I’ve since taken those down). Reason being?

I’m single and I date.

Blogging can often make this hard.

I love living my life online and having people read and interact with my stories and points of view, but this also means potentials are able to find out everything they want to know about me –emotionally, personally, professionally– with just a few clicks of the mouse.

It takes a bit of the mystery out of it.

Now imagine that person knowing right off the bat how much money you make. Yeesh.

But it’s not just people you date: it’s parents and friends. Back when I was chronicling my debt payoff, I did loose side hustle income reports.

Back then I was worrying over every penny then (I was trying to pay off $8k in 90 days, after all) and I had a friend who was out with me ask why I was fretting so much.

“I’ve seen how much you make online. You can afford it.”

And it made me feel super uncomfortable and I stopped doing income reports after I paid off my debt.

….But from Fear Comes Growth

Overcoming fear has been a big theme on the blog the last few months.

I realized that I love reading other’s income reports, like Michelle’s and Abby’s and Pat’s because I find them so fascinating and inspiring.

And I also realized my desire to inspire others to be better with their finances (and say, “Eff you societal norms, I can do whatever I want and make money however I want!”) trumps my fear of displaying for the world what I make online.

And finally, I realized that it’s really lame for me to talk about being an online business owner and not share how the sausage is made. Not that super I want this blog to become all about making money online, but it’s an important part of my finances.

And this blog is ultimately about my own financial journey, so here goes.

Online Income Report: How I Made $7,400

I make money from my blog. Click here to find out how I do it, or read how to start a blog of your own on Bluehost. I am a Bluehost affiliate, but I highly recommend them for hosting a money making blog of your own. I use them too!

Last year, I averaged between $2,000 – $2,500 per month in income just from the blog and blogging related activities, and this stayed the same in the first quarter of 2016.

I’m very excited about this increase!

Please note this is income earned and not paid out. Sometimes affiliates take between 60-90 days to pay out influencers. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Native Advertising (Sponsored Posts) – $300.00
  • Direct Ad Sales (in sidebar on site) – $30.00
  • Ad Networks (Google Adsense, BlogHer) – $30.00
  • Staff Writing – $2,700.00
  • Blog Coaching – $0.00
  • Brand Campaigns (Like Sponsored Posts, but with multiples) – $1,100.00
  • Speaking – $0.00
  • Affiliates (Bluehost, Commission Junction, Shareasale, and MSB Cheatsheet) – $2623.00
  • Blog Yourself Rich Workbook Sales – $617.06

Total = $7400.06

Staff Writing

As I wrote in this post, I used to write for businesses as a ghostwriter/copywriter and it really burned me out. Even though I’m still writing, I command more per word/per post as a blogger than I do as a freelance business copywriter. The number above for staff writing is large, and still the largest portion of my income, but it only represents three small projects I did in April.

I’ve steadily been decreasing the time I spend writing each month.

Affiliates

I just started incorporating affiliate marketing into the mix just this year and am excited about the results. I think I avoided it for so long because I wasn’t sure how/where to get started.

As an example of how sticking with your affiliates/refining strategies works here’s what I made from affiliates in the first quarter of the year:

  • January 2016 – $93.10 in affiliate income
  • February 2016 – $14.00 in affiliate income
  • March 2016 – $$450.00 in affiliate income
  • April 2016 – $2623.00 in affiliate income

I’m actively spending time every day learning how to grow and leverage my affiliates so it will be interesting to see how this changes over time.

Product Sales

No one believes me when I say this, but I’ve had the idea for a beginner blogger workbook and the outline for it since 2013. When I started working for myself full time in April of last year, it was always on my to-do list to create a digital product, but I think I was scared. I got caught up in a lot of other things and so I never made the time.

With my renewed sense of purpose, I knew I needed to diversify the income streams I made from this blog, and knew my own line of digital products was the way to make that happen.

So I forced myself to sit down and create the workbook.

The product sales numbers above only reflect sales of the Blog Yourself Rich workbook and single chapters, but in coming months it will reflect sales from The Grow Your Money Tree Tool Kit and (hopefully) a handful of other e-books I have ideas for.

I will say that creating these products, both writing and designing them with my graphic designer Colleen, has been one of the most fun things I’ve had the chance to do this year!

What it Costs to Be a Full Time Blogger

I don’t get to keep all the money I make. (Uhm, I wish). And even though running a digital business is one of the most low-cost businesses you can run, it still costs money. Here’s what I spent in April 2016.

  • Tax Prep – $225
  • Graphic Design – $157.50
  • Social Media Assistant – $63.00
  • Writing Assistant – $330. 00
  • Gumroad – $10.00
  • Mailchimp – $50.00
  • Facebook Ads – $57.74
  • Google Ads – $91.74

Total = $984.98

The list above does not include technologies that I use monthly but pay for in one lump annual sum (My HostGator hosting, Tailwind, and a few others). Maybe next month I’ll go back and do some digging and put those numbers up.

Wrap Up

Be gentle. It’s my first income report.

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Share This Post

  • Nice to see that affiliate income – I really can’t seem to get it figured out, not even breaking $100/month. Looking forward to hearing your best practices.

    • Thanks Stefanie – really it’s a lot of repetition of the same practices over and over.

  • Lena

    Love love love seeing the transparency. Hope May is as good to you as April was!!

  • Kudos to you for sharing “how the sausage is made”. I share a lot on my blog, but I’ve never come right out and shared how much money I make, either from my full-time job or my side businesses. Sure, I’ll share every last detail about my debt, but sharing your income is scary from a whole ‘nother perspective.

    Which is why you rock. 🙂

    • Thanks Jordann! I appreciate your sweet comment.

      Care to come in? The water is warm.

  • Thanks for posting this. I was wondering a lot about it as well ever since you posted that graphic. Reading income reports makes for great inspiration but as you said it does make things slightly awkward in certain scenarios.

    I’ve been studying more of Michelle’s income reports from Making Sense of Cents. At first, I wondered why she would want to release her income every month, but now I see posting the income reports actually helps increase her revenue because more people see it every month and sign up for hosting through her Bluehost affiliate link.

    Good job on breaking everything down in the post! If you don’t feel super comfortable with posting income reports, you could try out releasing them only to email subscribers, I know some other bloggers do that.

    • The idea of doing income reports just for email subs is blowing my mind right now. Thanks for the suggestion- I love it!

  • Rachel

    Great work, Lauren. Thank you for being such a strong mentor. Your work, guidance, and motivation are inspiring!

  • I have been feeling sort of adrift myself, and I loved reading this, what a great dose of inspiration! I feel you on dating- I HATED that guys would google me on a first date (so had to use a different name which felt shady) or when we started, they’d read pretty much everything and it was like “wow, great way to kill our talking points since you know everything already” lol…

    Sending you lots of love and high fives, great job sister!

    • Ugh. I know. The blogger dating struggle is so real, but I don’t like to complain so I’ll shut my mouth 🙂 I mostly just don’t want a guy to see my online income report and think he can not pay for dinner on the first date…lol

  • Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog

    Great job on your blog income this month. It’s great that your affiliate income in particular is increasing, since it’s passive. I’ve made a little over $100 in my first two months blogging. I plan to reach your income levels in the future. 🙂

    • That’s amazing! I went three years without doing any type of affiliates and wish I’d gotten in earlier.

  • Congrats on a great month. The jump in affiliate income from January to April is amazing. I’m working on trying to generate more myself, but I’ve been having a tough time for the most part.

    • Thanks Jason! Keep hustling. Work you put in now (at least affiliates wise) won’t pay off until months down the road… which is the most frustrating part of affiliate marketing. 🙂

  • Giulia Lombardo

    Congrats it is been a good month and I like to read online reports because they are very inspirational:D

  • Cat Alford/ Budget Blonde

    Awesome job! I’m glad you decided to share. It can be scary, but these are my favorite types of posts. 🙂

  • Rock Star! Congratulations Lauren 🙂 Love this.

  • Wow that’s great I’m very happy for you congratulations

  • Congrats! I posted my first income report last month, with a whopping $3 (I think) from ads and affiliates. But I like to think it shows how I grow in the future to other readers who are just starting. You are an inspiration though!