My first blogging income report and how you can make money blogging for your financial freedom
So this is my first blogging income report after 14 months blogging and I’m really excited to share what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown my passive income stream to over $2,000 a month. I’ve made money on the two blogs, PeerFinance101 and Crowd101, since April of last year but have held off on starting to post my blogging income. I wanted to wait until I had a real stream of income to show people that blogging could be a legitimate way to earn a living.
In fact, over the last nine months through December 2015, I made $6,681 from the two blogs. January was the first month over $2,000 and I’ve got big plans for 2016.
I’m sharing my blogging income reports because blogging can be an amazing source of income and it can work for anybody. It costs less than $10 a month to sign up for Blue Host WordPress hosting (in fact, click through the link and you’ll get a free website name and hosting for $3.95 per month).
Understand though that blogging isn’t a passive source of income. I love being able to develop my two web properties but it is a business rather than a passive investment. I put in just over 20 hours a week on the two blogs apart from management of two other sites and my work as a freelance investment analyst. I know other bloggers that make double and three-times the amount I make but they all put the time in every week.
Check out The Passive Income Myth to cut through the BS and scams in passive income strategies to see how money is really made in blogging, real estate, stocks and bonds. I lay out a detailed strategy to start your blogging business as well as how to create truly passive income in other investments.
How I got to Making Money Blogging
I started in real estate development and corporate finance in my 20s but never really liked working in a traditional job. Even when I started working as an economist, something I really enjoyed doing, I still hated the 9-to-5 routine and its limitations. All I could think about was early retirement and getting out. It wasn’t too long before I realized that it wasn’t retiring early that I wanted but just a way to be in control of my own future.
I knew I had to find something else, something that would put me in control of my own financial future. Somewhere I wouldn’t be held back by the corporate hierarchy and where my own effort determined my success.
After researching ways to freelance and make extra money, I knew I couldn’t just quit my day job immediately. I began freelancing as an investment analyst in 2010 as a way to build my client base and eventually transition to full-time. I spent upwards of 15 hours a week writing investment reports for financial advisors, venture capital firms and for various websites. I still work part-time as a freelance analyst, making about three times what I do in blogging, but hope to someday transition to blogging full-time.
I started blogging on my own sites in 2014 as a way to develop my own web assets. Freelancing and writing for others is great money and less work that running your own websites but you never have the ownership and continuing stream of income. Besides actually owning an asset that makes more money every month, owning a blog brings with it a great sense of accomplishment as traffic grows. Check out this post on Crowd101 about how I started the blogs and how I get people to visit.
But making money blogging doesn’t happen overnight. The graphic below shows pageviews to one of the blogs. Blogging is all about increasing traffic and then monetizing traffic but it can take forever just to build enough traffic to start making money. It was more than six months before each of my blogs was seeing more than 10,000 pageviews each month.
Stick with it though and you’ll see your visitor stats start to grow. I’m still just starting out. I know other bloggers that get more than 200,000 pageviews a month and a few that get more than a million visitors each month. It’s a lot of work but totally worth it when you start seeing the money come in on a regular basis for something that you love doing.
How I Make Money Blogging
Having multiple streams of income is absolutely key to making money blogging. Very few bloggers are able to make a living off of just one income source like advertising, books or affiliates. You might only be averaging a penny or two per page view from any one source so a blog with just 10,000 pageviews is only going to make a couple hundred dollars unless you can diversify your income.
Affiliate sales are the biggest chunk of my blogging income, at $1,137 for the month of January. Affiliate sales work like the advertising boxes you see on websites except the blogger only gets paid when someone purchases a product or service.
As a blogger, you sign up for affiliate programs on a company’s website or through a marketing company like CJ Affiliates. If a post talks about a type of product, like investing or webhosting, you can place the affiliate link in the article. You have to be careful though that you only recommend products or services which you’ve used and would stand behind. Recommending shady products is the fastest way to lose your audience and stop your blogging income source.
Most of my affiliate sales for January came from one of three sources. Blue Host offers a strong affiliate program and a great deal for new bloggers. Blue Host web hosting is about the least expensive you’ll find with the $3.95 per month deal. I’ve switched my blogs to GoDaddy recently to handle a higher amount of traffic but you may want to stick with the cheaper option before you commit to higher hosting fees.
I write a lot about peer lending and investing in peer loans on the blog so Lending Club is one of my best affiliate income producers. Lending Club connects borrowers and investors directly for personal loans with rates as low as 5.5% on loans of up to $35,000 for three- or five-year terms. Borrowers get a chance to refinance high-interest credit card debt and investors earn returns of 9% on average. Check out my review of Lending Club for borrowers and for investors.
I’ve been investing on Motif Investing for a while but just started sharing my experience here on the blog. Motif is an interesting new way to invest, allowing you the opportunity to group stocks together and buy them all with one commission. In effect, you’re making your own mutual fund to lower your risk and fees. Check out my Warren Buffett fund which holds 15 stocks from Warren Buffett’s portfolio and has beaten the S&P 500 stocks by 3.6% since inception.
Other sources of January affiliate blogging income included:
- Avant Credit: An alternative to Lending Club for personal loans. Avant offers loans to borrowers with credit scores as low as 580 and rates similar to other peer lending sites.
- Udemy: A video education site with courses as low as $15 each. I’ve used Udemy for a social marketing course and bought a writing course for my mom.
- TurboTax: Tax season is here and I recently reviewed TaxAct vs TurboTax for which tax software is right for different needs.
My second largest source of blogging income is from six books I’ve written and have for sale on Amazon. I made $837 from book sales on Amazon and CreateSpace in January, selling an average of 68 copies for each book. Books are a great way to increase your blogging income because you are already writing the content for your blogs.
- Plan on putting together a new book idea every three months, planning out the chapters.
- Write one chapter a week and use it as an article on your blog
- Once you’ve got all the chapters written, put them all together in a single document and reformat for better reading flow. Do some additional research and add detail to each chapter.
- After formatting for publication and some pre-launching, you’re ready to self-publish on Amazon. Books are a source of passive income that can last for years.
I’m releasing the audiobook versions of all six books this month and finishing up a new book on small business funding. Book sales average about $150 a month for each book so the income can build pretty quickly.
Blogging income through Google Adsense was actually my first source of income but is now a minor part of the total. New bloggers can sign up with Adsense and place advertising boxes on their blog to start making money immediately. Unlike affiliate income where a product has to be bought for the blogger to get paid, bloggers make money whenever someone clicks on an Adsense ad. I’ve taken most of the Adsense ads off my blogs because I want readers to be able to enjoy the sites without seeing a lot of commercials. I made $100.80 in January but expect to make less in the future as I take more ads off the sites.
Total January 2016 Blogging Income: $2,074
How I’m Aiming for $4,000 in Blogging Income per Month in 2016
If I’m ever going to switch to blogging full-time, I am going to need to grow my blogging income. I am aiming to reach $4,000 per month in blogging income by the end of 2016 but will have to work just as hard this year as I did in 2015.
I want to publish at least three more books on my own, including the one that will be finished this month. I’d also like to co-author at least two books. A lot of a book’s success on Amazon is the author’s ability to generate a few sales each month through their blog or other promotion. With these sales, the book can rank higher among other Amazon books and more people will see it when searching for something to read. Two authors promoting a book instead of one could be the extra boost a book needs to really rank higher and generate huge income.
My crowdfunding blog, Crowd101, does not make as much in affiliate sales but does very well on the crowdfunding book and I’m creating a Udemy crowdfunding course in the next few months. The course will be approximately three hours and include a complete walk-through on pre-launching and managing your crowdfunding campaign.
The biggest part of growing my blogging income in 2016 will be growing traffic to the blog with great articles on making money, investing and managing debt. I would like to grow traffic to around 50,000 pageviews by the end of the year. To do that, I’ll be posting at least four or five times a week to both blogs.
Making money through blogging income or otherwise is one of my favorite subjects. How are you making extra money and securing your financial freedom? Have you tried any of the ideas above or got any other ideas I can share on the blog?