Last Updated on December 29, 2020 by ellduclos
It’s crazy to think that last year I set a goal to double my blog income and buy my first house. In 2019 my blog income for the year was about $50,000. I told myself that in 2020 I wanted to double my income and hit my first 6 figure year blogging. Another huge goal of mine was to stop renting a house and finally buy a home of my own! Now that it’s the end of 2020 (what a year)… I am here to tell you that I have REACHED my goals! 2020 is the year I earned my first 6 figures as a full time blogger! I also bought my first home with a down payment and closing costs which I busted my butt to save!
If you have been following me since the beginning then you know that this is a huge deal for me! I had over 15 credit cards worth of debt when I first started my blog in 2017. These milestones are something I have been working towards for over 3 years now.
In this post I am going to share with you how I made $100,000 blogging in 2020 and what I learned along the way because believe me, there have been lessons learned!
The purpose of this post is not to brag. I only hope to inspire you to believe in your abilities so that you can reach your milestones too!
Disclaimer: Affiliate links are used and you can read my full disclosure here.
How I Made 6 Figures Blogging In 2020
Before I jump into how I reached my first six figure year as a blogger I figured I would share a little bit about my journey.
In 2017 I started my first lifestyle blog with zero experience. I was a college drop out and waitressed for about 7 years. My knowledge about marketing was very little, but I was a huge self learner. I think that’s why blogging quickly became my passion! The learning never stops. Algorithms are constantly changing and there’s always something new to learn.
About 6 months into my blogging journey I had my first $1,200 month as a blogger and this was when I started to actually believe that I might be able to finally quit my waitressing job.
Writing was always a passion of mine! When I first started my blog I knew it could become a full time job, but at the time it was more of a way for me to escape my reality. I felt extremely stuck with my waitressing job. I remember reading income reports from bloggers who were making 6 figures annually and I would think, “wow I wish that was me.”
I never thought I would actually be here today sharing the news that I hit my 6 figure blog income goal.
Reaching this goal took me a little over 3 years to accomplish. It wasn’t an overnight success story. If you think you are going to make thousands right away from a new blog, that’s just not usually the case.
However, 3 years of dedication CAN change your life. You have to be dedicated though. I think the one thing bloggers struggle with the most is being dedicated enough to push through those months where the income and blog traffic isn’t there.
You can’t give up a few months into your blogging journey because you haven’t made a sale. You can’t give up 6 months into your blogging journey if your blog traffic is low. What you NEED to do is evaluate and figure out what you need to fix in order to move up to that next level.
$100,000 income report
I made a few income reports in the past and I always like to start out with proof of income. If you have been following my blogs for a while now, then you know I like to be extremely transparent.
I just remember reading blog income reports that didn’t show proof of income and I would think “Yeah, okay…you are full of sh*t”
It must be my trust issues, but I find it important to be transparent when I share topics like this.
This is a snap shot of my PayPal income report for 2020 which is where I collect a majority of my payments and sales.
I also have this snap shot which is from my quick books that shows my income from direct deposits and PayPal combined. I personally love quickbooks for tracking my income and expenses!
This is important so listen up! Even though I made $103,457 blogging this year, I only profited about $77,457 give or take. This is because of business expenses and taxes. A lot of blog income reports leave these details out.
There’s a lot of bloggers who will ask me tips about taxes. If you make money blogging I suggest speaking directly with a tax professional who can help you deal with taxes. When you are self employed it’s important to make sure you are planning ahead for tax season because it is a hefty bill to get hit with.
A few tips for taxes:
- Save at least 25% of your income for taxes
- Pay your taxes quarterly to avoid any penalties
- Track your expenses so you can claim them at the end of the year
- Talk to a tax professional
A lot of blog income reports don’t disclose their expenses and taxes. Just because you make $100,000 from your blog doesn’t mean that’s how much actually goes into your pocket!
I figured it would be helpful to share my blog expenses. These are courses, services and memberships I invested in this year for my blog. I also share some of my top blog investments in this post if interested.
Stupid Simple SEO
I started off the new year by investing in a well known SEO course because let’s face it, SEO is not my cup of tea. This course was on the pricier side but it was definitely worth it! He also has a free master class you can check out if you aren’t sure you are ready to commit to his course yet.
Stock Photo Memberships
Since I am a Pinterest fanatic and Pinterest marketing is a huge part of my business, I needed to invest in quality stock photo membership sites. I use these when it comes to creating my pins and various other graphics.
Here are a list of my favorites:
I break down each membership in this post too!
I am a HUGE fan of Canva Pro. I use this to create all of my digital graphics, monthly planning sheets, pins for Pinterest and so much more.
Mailerlite is my email list builder. I use this to collect subscribers’ emails and to perform my email marketing. If you are looking to start your own email list then I definitely suggest Mailerlite! It’s one of the easier list builders to use.
Something you don’t always think about when you are self employed is paying for health insurance. This is a hefty bill for me every month but it’s necessary. Definitely something to keep in mind!
This is my self hosting service. I love Siteground and I have been with them since 2017. They are always super responsive when I have any issues and they don’t leave me feeling alone. If you haven’t started a blog yet and are thinking about it then definitely check out my “How To Start A Money Making Blog” free course! It will help you get started using Siteground.
Send Owl & Teachable
These are monthly expenses that are used to host my digital products. My 2 courses are on Teachable and I use Send Owl to send out my Pinterest templates when someone makes a purchase.
I use PodBean to host my Boss Girl Bloggers podcast! You can also find my podcast on I-tunes. I am so excited because I am going to be starting my podcast back up in 2021. Stay tuned!
Keysearch is the keyword research tool I use and absolutely love it! This post goes into more detail on how I use this tool as well as other content creation tips.
For email marketing it is required to have an address listed. I didn’t want to use my home address so I purchased a P.O box.
These are my main monthly blog expenses for the year of 2020.
Where my 6 figure blog income came from
You might be thinking, where did your $100,000 come from? I believe that it’s important to not rely on just one source of income. In order for me to have reached my blog income goal this year of six figures I needed to make sure I had multiple sources of income
1. Affiliate Marketing
The first source of blog income came from affiliate marketing. I love affiliate marketing because it’s a great source of passive income (aka income you can make in your sleep) Affiliate marketing isn’t always the easiest to master. You need to have a trusting audience who values your opinion.
Keys to mastering affiliate marketing:
- Targeting the right audience
- Having an engaged audience that trusts you
- Marketing your affiliate links in the best way possible
My Mastering Sales with Ell course goes over some of my top affiliate marketing strategies to help you increase your affiliate sales.
Another source of blog income that helped me earn 6 figures blogging this year is through selling my own digital products. In 2020 I sold 3 digital products.
If you can create a digital product that ties in with your niche, DO IT! It is an amazing source of passive income. Keep in mind your digital products do not need to be courses and you can create a digital product for many different niches!
In 2020 I hit some amazing milestones when it came to selling my Pinterest marketing course. This was my first and only course for a long time.
For awhile I would sell between $1,500 $2,500 in sales for that one course. Then after March I started implementing a better digital product marketing strategy that helped me double my monthly digital product sales.
In April I had a spring sale on my Pinterest marketing course which lead to more sales than the other months shown.
Then in June I had my best digital product sales month to date. June was also the month I finally launched a second digital product that I was working on behind the scenes. That lead to a huge increase in sales.
When you reflect on your sales and marketing strategy each month you can see why some months brought better income than others. It’s so important to reflect and evaluate!
Another way I reached my $100,000 goal is through offering Pinterest managing services. It’s no surprise that Pinterest marketing is something I have always loved to do. If you have been following me since the beginning then you know I swear by Pinterest marketing. Pinterest is one of the reasons I started my blog. I remember back in 2017 I was sitting on my couch when I looked at my (now fiance) and said “One day I am going to make a full time income from Pinterest.”
Now here I am today to tell you that I manifested that dream. Every month I manage anywhere from 6-10 Pinterest accounts plus my own!
If you have a service you can offer that relates to your niche or something that you are good at, start offering! So many bloggers out there are in need of Virtual Assistants.
You can even take a Pinterest marketing course like Pinterest with Ell to learn how to master Pinterest marketing so you can become a Pinterest manager too. There’s a lot of bloggers out there who want to grow on Pinterest but don’t have the time to put into it.
Another great way to make a 6 figure income blogging is to put ads on your blog. I know not everyone is a fan of ads on blogs but it can help pay the bills. Unfortunately in today’s world we see ads everywhere. I don’t regret my ads on my blog and currently it adds over $1,000 to my pocket every month.
What I will say though is that I didn’t find having ads on my site worth it until I hit at least 25,000 monthly blog sessions. When I first started dabbling in ads I used Google Adsense. I strongly suggest not to use Google Adsense. The payout was so little and it was not worth it.
Try to work your way up to 50,000 monthly blog sessions so you can qualify for Mediavine. That’s the ad company I use and they pay great compared to most.
These are the 4 ways I made my $100,000 blogging this year but another great source of blog income is through working with brands on paid sponsorships. I didn’t do any paid sponsorships this year since that wasn’t my focus but I do hope to focus on some next year!
What changes did I make that helped me reach 6 figures blogging?
1. I set blog income goals and stuck to them
Before 2020 I would set blog goals but I would struggle to follow through. I made it an intention to try hard to stick to my goals this year. I am the type of person who likes to prove to myself that I CAN achieve something.
Here’s how I would set my blog income goals:
At the beginning of the year I would set my annual blog income goal. Let’s say for example you want to reach $25,000 blogging in 2021… Once you set that annual goal you need to figure out how much you need to make each month to hit that annual goal.
Annual Income Goal: $25,000
Monthly Income Goal: $2,084
Now think about what revenues of income you want to focus on and set monthly goals for each income source.
Let’s say you want to focus on affiliate marketing, ads, and digital product sales..
There are so many possibilities but here is an example:
Affiliate monthly sales: $600
Digital product sales: $984
This brings you to reaching that $2,084 goal so you can make it to your $25,000 annual goal. Most months you might even out-do yourself while other months you might not hit your monthly goal. I like to always check where I am annually at the end of each month and make adjustments when needed. Some months I might need to try and make a little bit more and that’s okay.
Once you set your income goals it’s important to break down those goals into actionable steps. If you want to hit $500 from ads, figure out how many blog views you need to hit that goal. The same goes for digital product sales. If your product is $50 then you would need to make at least 20 sales that month.
Reflecting on each month helped me make adjustments when needed. Some months were better than others because I did more marketing. It all depends! Try not to beat yourself up if you have a month that is lower than other months. It happens! Making money blogging isn’t a secured, set in stone income. It can fluctuate all the time.
2. I put ads on my second blog
I started my second blog towards the end of 2019. In 2020 I now have two blogs that are generating revenue from ads which helped me double my blog income.
3. I continued to build connections with my audience
I can’t stress enough how important it is to build connection and trust with your audience. If you ever want to make sales from affiliate marketing or selling digital products then it is SO IMPORTANT that you build a community within your blog. No one is going to purchase anything you recommend if that trust isn’t there.
I enjoy connecting with my audience which is something I try to do a lot of in my Boss Girl Bloggers FB community. Another way I connect with my audience is on social media. Personally I enjoy Twitter and my FB group the most, but hopefully in 2021 I will get back into connecting on Instagram more!
5. I showed up consistently where and when needed
I think a lot of bloggers struggle with showing up consistently where and when needed. I don’t mean consistently writing a new blog post every month. What I mean is showing up consistently where your audience is most engaged!
Here’s a fun fact: In 2020 I focused less on content creation and more on content marketing. When it came to creating new blog content I was not consistent. The best part about that is that it didn’t harm me. My blog traffic didn’t drop because of this and that’s because I made sure to instead, market my content CONSISTENTLY.
When you have quality evergreen content and a solid content marketing strategy, the possibilities are endless!
Once you have a decent amount of quality evergreen content you can start to focus on:
- 2-3 quality blog posts a month
- Pinterest marketing
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
Always remember quality content over lots of content.
Setbacks & Lessons Learned
Although I had my most successful year as a blogger there were still some setbacks that I faced this year and plenty of lessons that I learned.
1. Don’t let other’s opinions define you
I felt like 2020 was testing me BIG TIME when it came to learning how to deal with hate from others. There were many times throughout the year that led me to some situations where I had to deal with a lot of hate and negativity from other people.
Those who have been following me through 2020 will know which situations I am talking about. I had my work copied multiple times by others, I have been accused of lying, I apparently give bad advice, and found out that people who never took my Pinterest course think it’s crappy!
If I learned anything this year it’s this: When you start to grow and accomplish things, it makes unhappy people bitter.
At the end of the day I will always stay 100% authentic to who I am. I could have let the negativity and hate stop me, but instead I chose to use it as fuel to push even harder.
Not everyone is going to love your content. Stay true to you and ignore the hate.
2. Self Care Is Important
Another lesson I learned BIG time this year is that self-care is so important, especially as a creative. I don’t know if it was because of the pandemic or what, but I really let myself go this year. I stopped trying to get ready, I felt extremely unmotivated, and I stopped taking care of myself. My mental health struggled a ton. Not taking care of my mind, body, and soul also led to a lot of creative burnouts.
It’s so important to make yourself a priority. When you feel good you will feel more inspired to create quality content.
These are two of my biggest lessons. I think 2020 is the first year I had to deal with so much hate and it took a toll on me mentally. The disappointing part is that it came from a lot people who I respected in the blogging community. Sad to see but it definitely made me tougher!
I hope you found this income report helpful and inspiring! If blogging is your passion and you would love to blog full time then keep at it! If I can do it, so can you!
Karen Chen says
I loved reading this post so much, Ell! I have followed you for a while now, and you never fail to inspire and motivate. I took your course earlier this year and it was super helpful, don’t listen to the haters! Super excited for your podcast to resume and to see what you accomplish in 2021!
Thank you so much Karen! This all means so much to me!
This was such a detailed income report. I learnt quite a bit and learned where to improve.
Thanks for sharing this with us, Ell!
So happy to hear this! Thank you!!
Ell, I love this post so much! I definitely agree with your points about self-care/other opinions. I’ve only been blogging for 1 month and have felt that from family/friends. Thanks for the great advice & can’t wait to continue learning from you! xo
Thank you so much!! So happy to hear this! Self care really is so important!
Kaytee Lauren says
Ell, your content is so helpful, encouraging, and inspires me to keep going.
Thank you so much for all of your posts and for putting the information out for us!
Thank you so much Kaytee! I am so happy to hear this
You are so inspiring Ell! I love learning about your story as it encourages me to keep going with my blog, even on the roughest days lol. Reading your income reports keep me motivated 😹 Happy New Year!! 🙂
This makes me so happy to hear! Sending love your way! Thank you!!
Nipa | Fashionipa says
Congratulations, Ell! I’ve found your posts, FB groups, and courses to be so helpful. Glad you hear that you have met your goals. xo Nipa
Thank you so much! That means a lot to me!
Fashion by Shanty says
Isaw your blog pass by pinterest and I clicked through to your website!
Must I say waaw! I love your blog!
I just started a blog and I’m more than motivated by reading your blog post!
Your blog just gave me more motivation not to give up! I am curious what will await me this year!
Fashion by Shanty
This means so much to me! Thank you so much!!! Can’t wait to see where the year takes you!
Inspirational. Thank you
Thank you so much for this post. I have been working on my blog for about 6 months now and it is my dream for it to be successful! This was so informative and helpful!
Sending you positive vibes! I am rooting for you!
Jane Crawford says
Thank you for your honesty and transparency. You are smart, brave and strong. Unfortunately there will always be people that cannot admire or build others up. Their own insecurities and jealousies keep them from growing, sadly they develop a habit of tearing others down, especially if feel threatened. Stay strong and keep growing!
Thank you so much Jane! This means a lot to me!
Jeanne Sagona says
Hi, I’ve been following your blog for quite a while. Do you do any coaching or even suggest it? My pins are not getting much traction although my comments on my posts are very positive. I’d like to know what I am not doing correctly at the beginning rather that a year into it. Thank you, Jeanne Sagona
I know this comment was posted a while back, I didn’t get to it until now. I have always offered Pinterest strategy calls though and would love to set you up with one if you are still interested!
Camila Monteiro says
You are a great inspiration! Thank you with all my heart!
Thank you so much you are too sweet!
This is a great article. What is your biggest advice for new bloggers? I started blogging 3 months ago. I spend my days on my blog, but I am struggling. I do not get any traffic yet. it is so inspiring to see your blog. Thank you for sharing your experience with us! Your blog is beautiful.
Thank you so much! My biggest tip would be to try not to analyze your numbers constantly! It can really create resistance and frustration! Show up as if you already have the audience and share from the heart!!
Hey Ell! I literally stumbled upon your blog post on Pinterest when I was looking up about the first year of blogging. And then it’s been a rabbit hole 😂 so great job on that! And also- you are doing an incredible job. I love your writing style and admire your transparency with your readers which is what I ALWAYS push for. I am currently in the beginning stages (10 months) to be exact and have been seeing my numbers increase but not so much sales yet! You’ve inspired me to create an ecourse! I’m a fit mama blogger and just wanted to say thank you soooo much for this blog post!
I am so happy to hear this! Thank you so much!!!
Nancy Misra says
Hey Ell, I love all your blog posts and this is truly an amazing article, your information is very insightful.
Thanks for posting!
Thank you so much!
Nancy Misra says
Really Wonderful! I really enjoyed this your post.
Thank you so much!