Are you a blogger who has a dream of working from home? Maybe you feel as if the full time blogging dream is a myth, or you feel it’s impossible to achieve. That was once me. If you’ve been following me for a while then you might of heard my story already. To give you some insight, essentially I am a college drop out who waitressed for 8 years prior to blogging. If you are a waitress then you know how frustrating that job can be. Sometimes it’s impossible to make ends meet. Waitressing was a dead end job for me, with no potential to take myself to the next level.
Before I started blogging full time I was in a lot of debt (but hey aren’t we all? or maybe it’s just me!) I could barely afford my bills and I was lucky to have one meal a day provided by my job. It’s safe to say I lived off of cheap fast food. Now I am not telling you this to make you “feel bad” or to say “woe is me.” I am sharing this with you to let you know that your current situation doesn’t have to be forever. You don’t have to settle for “barely making it by.” I also share my story to let you know that you CAN be successful without a college degree.
I was very skeptical to share my income report for many reasons. One reason being that the income I make is very personal to me and it’s not something I usually talk about. BUT many of you were interested in reading it and I think it will help inspire those who are trying to blog full time. Especially knowing that you don’t have to be a 6 figure blogger to be successful.
CLEARLY I am not a 6 figure blogger. I’m not going to sit here and say here’s how to make 6 figures blogging in one year. Part of me is always skeptical about income reports because bloggers claim to make 6 figures in one or two years with no solid evidence to back what they say up. When it comes to income reports it’s hard for me to believe them.
If you’ve been following me for a while then you know I am all about HONESTY and backing up my words with STATS. That’s exactly what I am going to do. I don’t make 6 figures blogging yet, BUT I do make more than any job has paid me in the past. Gone are the days of living paycheck to paycheck.
AND GUESS WHAT? If I can do it, SO CAN YOU.
I’m just a college drop out trying to live a not so perfect life that’s PERFECT for me. I don’t need to make 6 figures to feel successful. So don’t feel defeated if you don’t make 6 figures your first, or even second year of blogging. It’s a VERY HARD goal to achieve. With hard work and consistent strategy you will get there.
Disclaimer: I am not sharing my income report as a way to brag, it’s for informational purposes only. I also use affiliate links and you can read my full disclosure here.
What to Keep in Mind When Making Money Blogging
1. The income you make isn’t the income you take home
Just like any job you need to pay taxes. (yuck I know) I am glad I knew this beforehand because if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t have been prepared. All the money you make from blogging needs to be recorded and accounted for.
I use Paypal business to collect most payments. If I use an ad company like Mediavine, they will send me a form at the end of the year to use when filing my taxes. Most companies will send you a form at the end of the year to use.
You should also look into quarterly taxes. This will save you from any late penalty fees etc. It’s a huge topic that I am no professional at. I suggest looking into talking with a Tax professional when filing to make sure you are doing things the right way.
I also like to save 20%-25% of each payment I receive to be sure that I have enough saved for taxes. Sometimes I will over save which is great because it’s like I am receiving a tax return! WOHOO!
2. Don’t compare your hard work to others
This is something I am trying my best to get better at. It’s so easy to feel envy when you see another blogger talk about their income and how much they are making. “Oh, we started blogging at the same time and you are making 6 figures already?! Really?”
Honestly, don’t hate and don’t let the success of other bloggers make you bitter. Instead keep your eyes on your own prize and keep working towards your goals! Let the success of others inspire you and push you that much more. Because if they can do it, so can you!
AND LIKE I SAID, you don’t need to make 6 figures to be successful. Heck, if you are paying even one bill with your blog, that’s pretty freaking awesome! How many people do you know personally who can say the same?! Keep killing it!
3. It’s hard work to make money blogging
I am not going to sugar coat a damn thing. You know how I am. Being able to make a full time income from your blog is soooo much work. I laugh when people try to tell me otherwise.
Sure, everyone’s journey is different but there’s no way (me personally) I would be making money from my blog without spending hours everyday working at it. ESPECIALLY in the beginning! You can’t just post blog posts and hope for the best. There is marketing strategies and so much more that you need to implement in order to make blogging full time actually work. So ask yourself, can you find the time to dedicate yourself to blogging full time?
4. It’s not a get rich over night thing
If you are looking for success overnight you will not find it here. Yes you might see titles like “Here’s how I made 6 figures blogging in 6 months” that screams ALERT ALERT to me. Unless there is solid proof backing that sentence up, I am not believing it.
A lot of bloggers will exaggerate to sell a product or to increase their views. (I get it) you can take from it what you want. Personally, I am only believing you if you got proof.
You can’t go into blogging wanting to make 6 figures right away because it’s almost impossible. I have been blogging for almost 3 years and consider myself to have a pretty engaged audience and I do not make 6 figures. I have goals to get to that point but not there yet.
However, everyone’s journey is different. Just be careful what you believe is all I am going to say about that.
Alright, so now that we got all that out of the way. Let’s dive into my blogging income!
6 Months Into My Blogging Journey – Income
I started my blog the end of April 2017 and I had made my first $1,000 + month in October which was about 5-6 months after starting my blog.
The next month I was able to make $1,600 + and this was when I started to really believe in my abilities. As a full time waitress and college drop out I wanted to make this work SO BADLY it hurt.
Now at this time I was still new. I wasn’t selling products or offering services. I relied strictly on affiliate marketing. Keep in mind this is only my stats from Paypal. There are other programs I used that would direct deposit into my account that I am unable to show.
For example: Amazon. They direct deposit to my account, same with ShareASale. This is just showing income from Siteground affiliate payments (the self host I use) and other affiliate programs that I am a part of that use Paypal to pay.
I have tons of helpful affiliate marketing posts here:
2018 Blog Income
When I started my blog I went in with a business mindset. A lot of people say NOT to go into blogging wanting to make money because you’ll feel defeated when it doesn’t happen right away, BUT I had a goal. I came across blogging because I was at my breaking point. I was depressed, couldn’t afford my bills and felt trapped in a vicious waitressing cycle that I couldn’t break free from. So, YES I did go into blogging with the mindset that I wanted to make it my full time job. I actually think having that mindset helped me grow quicker. I wasn’t messing around.
Want to know something insane? I never once hired a blog coach or bought an e-course to teach me anything. I spent my nights after long doubles staying up until 4am researching and teaching myself. I have always been a self-learner. When I say I was determined. WOW I was determined.
In 2018 my blog really started to bloom and I couldn’t believe it.
Here’s a screenshot of my 2018 blog income:
Again, I had made more than this because not all payments go through Paypal, but also keep in mind this is BEFORE taxes. Needless to say I still wanted to pinch myself. I couldn’t believe that I had doubled my income.
As a full time waitress I made about $25,000 a year give or take. It was difficult for me to survive on that income. Being able to double my income by blogging was insane to me. It still doesn’t feel real.
So what did I do to get to that point?
Well for starters, I had an incredible start to the year because I launched my very first e-course. Also known as “Pinterest with Ell“, you all know how much I swear by Pinterest, it increased my blog traffic from 5,000 monthly views to now 80,000 monthly views most months.
I was extremely nervous for the launch of my e-course, afraid that no one would care to buy it but I was wrong. I ended up selling over 200 courses the week I launched!
You can read all about how to create and launch a digital product here.
I launched that course in February I believe but didn’t get paid out until a month later which is why my income for March was incredible at over $7,000
On top of that, I also started offering Pinterest managing services. Adding these 2 sources of income helped increase my overall blogging income. And of course as my blog and facebook community grew, so did my sales (product + affiliate)
In 2018 I was working with brands but I was not getting a lot of “sponsored” payments because my following was still under 10,000 on IG. I could have been more assertive but brands always have some kind of an excuse to not pay. I still felt lucky to be able to receive free product.
I still recommend pitching and trying to score brand sponsorships if you can, but many bloggers who make a full time living strictly from sponsorships have over 20,000 usually more followers on Instagram. It’s a tough market but it’s still possible so don’t give up.
Want to learn how to pitch to brands? Check out this post.
I didn’t make $7,000 consistently every month. The average monthly income in 2018 was about $3,000 a month give or take.
That’s one thing to keep in mind, ESPECIALLY in the beginning. Your blogging income can fluctuate. I had $7,000 in March because I had a pretty successful product launch the month before. I can make more if I want to add on more clients, increase my prices, try out new affiliate programs. When it comes to making money blogging you want to use as many income sources as possible that make sense for your brand.
2019 Blogging Income
If you didn’t know, even though I made over $40,000 blogging in 2018 I was still afraid to quit my waitressing job. Blogging was still new for me even though I was making a steady income, I always had fears. I wanted to make sure I had saved up at least 2 months worth of bills before I quit my waitressing job.
January 2019 I officially said goodbye to waitressing. It felt SO WEIRD. I had waitressed pretty much all of my “career” and not having to wake up and go to a job I hated, felt AWESOME. I had a weight lifted off my shoulders and a new sense of purpose.
I was afraid that my income wouldn’t be consistent, especially since I didn’t have a second product to launch for 2019, BUT to my surprise, it was consistent.
Here is a screenshot of my 2019 blogging income (and the year isn’t even over yet!):
I have reached my 2018 income and I still have another month and a week left of 2019.
Even though I didn’t have a new product launch I did increase my blog traffic A TON which allowed me to join Mediavine. This was a great income addition! They do direct deposit so that income isn’t included in the screenshot.
I also had awesome growth in my e-course sales and affiliate income (shareasale especially)
You can see there was a dip in my income around the summer time. DON’T panic when your sales or blog traffic dips in the summer, it’s pretty normal.
The beginning of the year is usually always successful for me because of all the holiday affiliate sales the month prior. I am telling you, take advantage of the holiday season as a blogger!
My best months in 2019 were February and March making over $5,000 each
This was when my blog traffic really started to spike which meant more sales. My Pinterest really started taking off more than ever before.
What about blogging expenses?
Most income reports I read have a lot of blogging expenses, ESPECIALLY ADS. I notice a lot of the 6 figure bloggers spend a lot of money in ads. Here’s another shocking truth, I don’t do ads.
I have done a handful of Instagram ads and they never run well so I don’t bother. I have also spent maybe $30 this year trying out Pinterest ads.
I just never get good results with ads so I don’t bother. I instead focus on personal connections.
HOWEVER some expenses I do have:
Tailwind: $119 annually (Pinterest scheduling tool)
Siteground: $300+ a year for hosting 2 sites. (new blogs they start at $48 a year)
Stock Photo Membership: $99 quarterly
Instagram giveaways: $100 a month give or take.
Teachable: $39 a month to host my e-course
Canva business: $15 a month
What I Learned Blogging Full Time?
1. Some months are better than others
I’ll be honest, some months are better than others and that’s okay. Blogging income is consistent to a point, but sometimes you will make less than the month before and that shouldn’t discourage you. Instead think about what you did differently that might of had an affect.
Maybe it was the summer and people were busy outside and on vacation? Maybe you had a great month prior because you launched a product? Or perhaps you just had more traffic the previous month which lead to more affiliate sales!
2. It’s exhausting but fun
I won’t lie, making an income blogging is EXHAUSTING. It’s a lot of hard work and rarely do I give myself time off. The best part for me though is that I actually enjoy it. I don’t mind working on my blog and business because it’s FUN for me.
If you don’t have a passion for it, it’s going to be really hard to stay dedicated. If you aren’t consistently showing up, your results might not be what you want. I went in with a business mindset but I still make sure to be real with myself and audience.
3. You can’t rely on one source of income
For me personally, I can’t rely on one source of blogging income. Maybe in the future. I need to have multiple sources of income coming through at all times in order to make my full time blogging income.
Focus on affiliate marketing, creating a product, offering services on something you’re good at, pitching to brands for sponsored posts, growing your blog traffic to make money with ads. Your options are limitless! I am constantly spinning my wheels to think of new ways to add to my income.
4. Just because another blogger makes more than you doesn’t mean you aren’t successful
I can’t stress this enough. We are so hard on ourselves that we fail to appreciate how far we’ve come. If you are paying even one bill with your blog income, that’s something to celebrate! You don’t need to make 6 figures, and you don’t need to make $40,000 to be successful. Making money blogging is hard and if you are generating any sort of income through your blog, be freaking proud!!!!
5. Protect your blog
When you start making money on your blog it’s important to make sure you are protecting your blog legally. If you don’t have a privacy or disclosure policy I recommend getting one! I use this bundle from a blogger who is actually a lawyer. I always recommend her bundle! She also talks about 3 legal blogging mistakes that bloggers make in this interview.
6. Consider self hosting
If you have been wanting to make money blogging and you aren’t self hosted yet, it’s worth considering. I used to use the free and premium version of wordpress and I was extremely limited! Switching to self hosting was when I started to see an increase in my income.
If you want to read why I chose to self host my blog you can check out this post. If you are ready to make the switch then I suggest Siteground. I’ve been with them for almost 3 years and they have always provided amazing customer service and fast server speed which are crucial for me!
7. Find your tribe
If you don’t have your tribe yet, it’s not too late to get one! I’d be lost without my Boss Girl Bloggers. They are a huge reason as to why I am able to do what I do. Having an engaged audience is an important factor when it comes to making money blogging.
Here’s some helpful articles:
8. Before you quit your job, save
You never know what can happen when it comes to blogging. I always recommend having at least 2 months worth of bills saved before you officially quit your job! It’s better to be safe than sorry.
What are my goals moving forward?
In 2020 my goal is to reach 6 figures blogging. That has always been the ultimate goal. It’s not as easy as people make it look.
I hope to create another product, score more paid sponsorships from brands I love, and hopefully offer more services!
I break down 6 ways to make money blogging in this post that you might find helpful!
I hope this post helped you and you are feeling more confident moving forward! Remember it’s not about the 6 figures but rather the accomplishments you make on your way to 6 figures!!
Maybe you read this and thought I was making more money, but nope! I have been blogging for a little over 2 and 1/2 years and this is where I am at! Remember if I can do it, so can you!
Would love to hear from you in the comments, let me know your 2020 blogging goals!
Until next time!