Before I “monetized” my blog, I scoured the internet for the income reports of beginning bloggers. My Pinterest feed bulged with reports of making your first 1k in six months and how I make 1,200 in one month. Wow, I thought to myself. If they can make this much in the beginning of blogging, well so can I! Every time I read on, I met with disappointment. They weren’t deceitful. They just weren’t beginners, either. I became obsessed with reading income reports and analyzing just how they did it. Don’t get me wrong, it was all incredibly useful information. But, I found myself craving the honest income of a beginner.
Too many blogs reported the income I can only hope to reach for in the future. Finally, Meredith from Unoriginal Mom posted a link to her income report in one of my Facebook groups. Let me be clear, Meredith’s report is still coming after some decent success blogging. My analytics are nowhere near her success. But, it sparked a thought–
How about I share my whole monetizing journey with the world?
I know — I’m certifiably crazy, right?
Why I’m Sharing My Income From The Beginning
I started looking for ways to monetize my blog from the beginning of my journey here at Adventure & Home. I applied to be an Amazon Associate almost 3 months ago. Excitedly because of how much I loved the book, I also joined Abby & Donnie’s Affiliate Program for Building a Framework*, a resource for blogging I refer to often. For a long time, I stayed idle. I threw in the occasional link to “see what happened.” Guess what. Nothing happened for months.
Bloggers talk a lot about passive income in their reports, but let me tell you, they are far from passive in pursuing passive income. You don’t just throw links to your posts and hope that people click on them. There’s a reason bloggers diversify their passive income. October was the first month I received any income as a blogger. Yes, that’s right. I’ve been blogging off and on for years, but never did it “professionally” before. In the last few months of my teaching career, I purchased a hosting program through Bluehost* and set up my website. I published my first post on Adventure & Home on June 19th, 2016.
The truth is, I didn’t focus on monetizing right away. Everything I read contradicted monetizing from the beginning. There were far more important things like building your following on social media and your e-mail list so you have an actual audience to put your products and affiliate links in front of.
My First (and so far only) Affiliate Sale Was A Friend
It wasn’t until one of my friends from college approached me about blogging. We spent the better part of an hour hashing out her goals and dreams with blogging. I gushed about Abby & Donnie’s book and how it’s helped me with all the nitty gritty details of setting up my blog and trying to get my name out there. She asked for a link, and I sent it. I’d forgotten all about it until the next month I got a notification that someone had purchased the ebook through my affiliate link.
It came on one of those days that my head was spinning with “Why the hell did I even start this blogging gig?!” Needless to say, I believe things happen for a reason. Ironically, the news of my first blogging income reminded me that it’s not about the money. If I worry about the money I’m making, my content takes a quality plunge. It becomes about the potential sale instead of the useful information.
I don’t want to be that kind of blogger.
Do I want to eventually earn some money for the information I’m sharing? Yes. But I also want to do it on my terms. My own, honest, terms.
Things I Tried
Over the past month, I tried to keep a consistent presence on social media. One of the things I didn’t spend much time on in the beginning was social media. I was hyper-focused on getting some quality content on my website, so I let social media fall by the wayside except for when I posted new content. But, this month that all changed. I’ve been using buffer to schedule a lot of my social media posts. Though, I also set aside time to tweet and interact with followers on Twitter on a daily basis. It’s the first time I’ve seen some decent growth in followers. Who knew that being consistent was such an easy thing to accomplish?! You can see how my stats on social media started to gain traction.
Twitter is still where my biggest following is (since I had a bit of a following there already), but I’m interested to see how that changes, now that I’m tracking my Instagram followers as well (more on that next month!)
This month, I also looked for alternative ways to earn money that A) wouldn’t cost too much time away from my blog and projects and B) paid me decently for my time. I joined a few companies as a User Tester, which basically means I poke around apps and websites while attached to a microphone (and occasionally a camera) giving my thoughts and talking through issues I’m having completing tasks. Most of these websites pay $10 for 15-20 minutes of your time. This seemed like an acceptable “sacrifice” for a little extra income. In my old job, feedback was one of my biggest strengths.
I also joined a few affiliate programs. So far, I’ve only gotten one sale — Through my affiliate with Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Guide*. This is one of the first ebooks I read when I wanted to get serious about blogging and to this day, I refer to it often. It is packed with useful information and resources and Abby updates it constantly. Now, it also comes with video tutorials, depending on the level you purchase. For my full review, check here.
The sale actually came from a friend who wants to start blogging but needed a resource to get her going. Since Building a Framework has done so much to answer my blogging questions, it was the first resource I directed her to. One thing I have learned looking through affiliate programs is that I’m not willing to compromise my integrity. If I include an affiliate link on this site, it’s a product I’ve tried and my review is completely my own thoughts. Frankly, lying to my audience gives me nothing but a guilty conscience and heartburn. And I can live without both, thank you!
Blog Stats & Social Media
One of my goals for November and December are to dive further into Google Analytics, which I should have installed months ago — Seriously, what was I thinking?!
Anyways, for this month, I’ll be using just my WordPress and Social Media Stats. I’ll include my Google Analytics in future months when I have more concrete data.
Let’s just call a spade a spade and say that August wasn’t my best month. After a surge of initial traffic in July (roughly 2,500 pageviews), I saw a major drop. I was beyond bummed, so I worked diligently on making sure my content was on point. In September and October there was finally some consistent traffic. Coincidence? I think not. I began posting 2-3 times per week consistently and much more on social media. This resulted in some more steady traffic to my blog. I also shared posts to relevant groups on Facebook, which also boosted some of my traffic.
Honest Income Breakdown
This is the income I’ve earned in the first month of earning ANYTHING from blogging and side hustles. As I said before, I’m writing this income report because I want to be honest about what I’m making from the beginning. This income was with very little effort on my part. I’m hopeful that next month I will be able to increase it, and every month after until I’m making enough that I can live on just doing my thing.
Affiliate Income — $10
Side Hustle Income — $13
Start Up & Recurring Expenses
All right, this is the break down of all the expenses I’ve had for my blog up to this date, including everything I paid at the beginning for my hosting fees (which cover me for 3 years). This means I won’t break even for a while, and that’s okay with me. Again, making money has so far not been a focus for me with regards to blogging. I have merely begun to dabble in ways I can hustle some income together.
Bluehost — $410.09 (Includes domain, hosting, and security package for 3 years)
Restored 316 — $50 (Child Theme — I already had the Genesis Framework)
Askimet — $24 (premium spam blocking for 1 year)
Board Booster — $10 (Pinning Tools for September and October)
Inlinkz — $2.99 (Link Party Premium Tool Subscription)
I will post separately about why I chose these tools and ultimately why I chose to pay for some of the premium features, but so far these have been my blog expenses. You can see I’m far from breaking even. People ask me why I invested so much money into my blog from the beginning. Simply put, I knew that one day I wanted to do this every day. I want to blog full-time, and I think a professional website is important in getting there.
I will say that I saved money specifically for this purpose while I was still working in CT, so the money I used wasn’t meant for food or bills or anything like that. If you’re considering starting a blog and want to take a similar path, make sure it’s A) something you can afford and B) something you’re serious about continuing before you spend the money.
While I have had a very positive experience with Bluehost*, I do wish I had researched more web-hosting companies before I dove in. Three years was a lot to pay for upfront, but I knew I wanted to get started and I might have pulled the trigger on that decision a little soon. Overall, I’ve had an excellent experience with them. I’ve dealt with their customer service department twice (one on a billing issue and one on a site issue) and both times they provided impeccable service. Both service reps were knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. That really helps me feel better about how much money I paid to use their services.
When I started blogging, I overwhelmed myself with task lists, post ideas, and everything that goes into blogging. I was so excited to begin that I didn’t slow down and come up with a solid plan for doing things. In the beginning, my blog suffered as a result. I wasn’t posting on a consistent schedule (actually — still working on that, but I’m WAY better now). I was coming up with lots of great ideas, but many of them stayed only half-finished. Social media was a major problem as I transitioned my old twitter account to my new blog.
It wasn’t until about two months in that I actually sat down and considered my priorities. Once I did that, everything seemed a bit easier. After all, I now have a base of post ideas to work from when I’m lacking inspiration. I also have a basic schedule for when I’d like posts to publish each week. And recently, I’ve even gotten ahead on a few posts. I also started using Buffer, which has been a huge help in boosting my social media because I don’t have to remember to go to Twitter as often. I can just go on and respond to tweets when I have some free time between other blog tasks and Buffer takes care of my pre-scheduled stuff to fill in the holes when I’m doing other things.
Remember You’re Human
We all have off days or off weeks. A few months ago, I overwhelmed myself with guilt when I didn’t post as much during a week as I wanted, or I missed a day in the social media realm. Now, I’m a little more forgiving. I don’t want to completely fall off the rails and never post again. But, if I miss a day or a post isn’t ready until a day later, I’m a lot more forgiving now. I’m only human, and there is still a lot about blogging that I’m learning. The important thing is that I never give up. If I have a setback, I ask myself what I can do better next time. I make sure to schedule time to make up the work I missed because I fell behind or had an off day. I’m still growing as a DIYer, as a blogger, and as a person. It’s okay if I stumble. And it’s okay if you stumble, too. That’s all part of the beauty of learning!
If you’re here because you want to know about the reality of blogging, I applaud you! You’re on the right track! Go and get started! Take that plunge! Dive outside your comfort zone! Just make sure when you do, you’re doing it with your eyes open.
An Honest Income Report
I hope my income report and reflections have been helpful in showing you ONE example of a first month making income as a blogger. There are much more successful bloggers than I am. My emphasis is on growth, not money.
I started this series of Honest Income Reports because I want beginning bloggers out there to have a shimmer of hope that even if they aren’t making a full income, something is better than nothing. Something is progress. Keep pushing, keep making, and keep writing. I know you can do it!
Tell me about your blogging income questions, wins, and setbacks in the comments! I’d love to know more about your blogging journey! This is just the first in the series, so if you’d like to see more in the future, along with the projects I’m working on, subscribe to my e-mail list by filling out the form at the end of this post!
I’d also love to hear from you on social media, so give me a shout out with these buttons–
In any case, I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!
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