Here is my January online income report. I am sharing how I make money online from this blog and my business.
I really ended 2017 on a high note! I was excited to start January as I felt ready to continue the momentum I had built in 2017 and keep it going into 2018.
Once noticeable difference going into January was that I felt well-rested and wasn't experiencing any burnout. For the past couple of Decembers, I usually ended the year exhausted, stressed out and overworked! Instead of feeling refreshed, I would start January on a low note.
Not this year!
Because I spent the second half of the year really focusing on working on my blog and business Monday to Friday, I enjoyed my weekends off and really embraced work-life balance. This wasn't always as easy as it sounded!
As a business owner, it's easy to have the mentality of ‘if I don't work, I don't get paid' but that's simply not the case. But I've spent so much of my time growing my blog and business to embrace passive income, that I really could enjoy 99% of my evenings and weekends off and not stress about things.
If you are new to reading blog income reports, here's a quick refresher!
I started my blog in January 2015. My most popular income report is still my very first one! In April 2015, I published my first income report proudly stating how I made $60.
My first income report is still incredibly relevant! If you are a new blogger, you should definitely read my first income report to help you make money online. I have now been publishing income reports for two and a half years. Time is flying by and I still think it's crazy that I am doing this!
If you haven't started blogging, this blog post will provide you with a list of blogging ideas, tips and teach you how to set up your blog in 15 minutes. Read the post here.
It took me about four months to earn any income from my blog. That was the hardest four months ever because I was so new to blogging and wasn't sure what I was doing. Earning that first paycheck was the best feeling ever and confirmed that my hard work was starting to slowly pay off!
Since I started blogging and reporting my income reports, my income has overall steadily grown from the previous year. I'm at an ecxiting point with my income reports because I can look back at 2015 and 2016 and compare how much my income and expenses have changed.
I consider my overall experience with blogging and my online business totally worth it. I also am glad my income reports are fairly personal. I really like going back through all of my online income reports to see what worked, what stressed me out and what big decisions I was making at the time.
I also love the shift my blog and business has made. As things have changed online or with blogging, I've focused on being able to change as well.
For example, most of my income in the early days came from freelancing. I have always used ads and done sponsored post when I felt it was a good fit for my blog.
Today it comes from affiliate income and my own products and courses. It wasn't an easy shift – it took a large part of 2016 to accomplish this – but I am so glad I documented the journey!
There has been a lot of momentum building online as we headed towards the end of the year. I actually felt more pressure on myself to work harder in the fall so I could take part of December off with family and friends.
For the past two Decembers, in 2015 and in 2016, I was pretty burnt out come January. This year, I made a point to work hard the first two weeks of December and then worked towards closing things down.
One of the BEST decisions I made in December was putting an away message on my email accounts for two weeks and it was glorious ?
I am more focused on my blog and online business when I have time away from the computer! By taking some time off, which is usually the weekends and most evenings, I feel refreshed starting work on Monday morning.
It took me a while to realize that this is work – I will never get everything done in one sitting. I will always have a to-do list, need to reply to emails, have projects to work on, etc. These are all blessings! This means my business is thriving.
Now that I have adjusted to this new attitude, I look at things differently! No more stressing that I am going to fall behind if I don't work on something right away or experience FOMO (fear of missing out, ha!).
Overall, I am very happy with my work and life balance.
One tip that has really helped me during the workday is taking mini breaks.
Throughout the day, for about five minutes at a time, I will get out my yoga mat and meditate and/or stretch. Usually, my dogs are ready for some attention too. It really helps me step away from work for a few minutes and zone out ?
Here are some previous online income reports:
- April 2015 online income report (my very first online income report) $61.83
- May 2015 online income report $61.40
- July 2015 online income report $515
- September 2015 online income report $1,530.94
- October 2015 online income report $3,634.28
- November 2015 online income report $2,007.31
- December 2015 online income report $4,238.99
- January 2016 online income report $11,195.28
- April 2016 online income report $5,920.52
- June 2016 online income report $9,700.11
- September 2016 online income report $6,682.24
- November 2016 online income report $10,736.55
- January 2017 online income report $26,288.57
- February 2017 online income report $15,170.31
- June 2017 online income report $29,268.78
- September 2017 online income report $68,856.02
- October 2017 online income report $29,954.89
- December 2017 online income report $18,336.00
Here's the breakdown of my January online income report:
$7,400.23 Affiliate Income
Total Income: $41,502.90
I highlighted my 2015 – 2018 January online income reports to showcase my results over the past few years
In 2015, I made $0. My blog was brand new!
In 2016, I made $11,195.28
In 2017, I made $26,288.57 (This is more than DOUBLE my income from 2016!)
In 2018, I made $41,502.90 (This is a 163% increase from 2017!)
January online income report expenses
Here are my January expenses:
$10 Google Apps
$1,791 VA work + professional services
$1,768 Facebook ads
$17 Quickbooks In 2017, I used the Quickbooks Self-Employed version and it has worked out great as a new business owner. The self-employed version is perfect for someone who is a sole-proprietor or a single person LLC. In 2018, I've upgraded to a more advanced Quickbooks program!
Regular expenses total: $3,586
I also have pre-paid expenses that I have already paid for annually. The reason I switched over to annual plans compared to monthly plans is because of the savings. Pre-paying with an annual plan can save a lot of money!
I would recommend doing this if you feel confident about your purchase. I feel extremely confident about the tools I'm using, but it took me over two years to feel like this with all aspects of being online.
If you are planning on being online for the long term, then you should start looking at your budget. While you don't need to pre-pay for everything at one time, I would start with one service/provider that you love and switch to an annual plan if you can afford it!
I don't include the services below in my monthly budget because I've already paid for them. I do set aside funds for these expenses each month so I can be prepared when their various renewal dates come up.
Bluehost – this is the hosting company I started with in 2015 and still use today!
Tailwind – this is the scheduler I use when I do all my pinning on Pinterest. It’s my favorite scheduler I use for myself, recommend to clients and for all my students.
Teachable – this is the platform where my courses are located. If you are thinking about offering or selling a course, Teachable has a great platform.
SamCart – this is the checkout page I use to sell my courses and products, as well as pay out affiliates. It's a really smooth platform and has so many features that I utilize on a daily basis. SamCart allows me to view my sales, create reports, etc. It's a must have for my business.
Drip – this is my email provider!
LeadPages – I use LeadPages to create my email opt-ins and create landing pages. There is a ‘drag and drop' feature that makes it super easy to design and create pages.
PostPlanner – this is how I schedule my social media posts to Facebook!
Zapier – this is a magical tool that will connect all the different platforms and tools together so it's a seamless, easy experience for a reader or customer. These are called ‘zaps' because they combine tasks when purchasing products or enrolling in a course! There is pretty much a zap for anything for blogs and online businesses.
A few notes about my online income expenses
In 2017 and moving forward, I also decided to work with a local accounting firm. With my blog and business growing so much, it made sense to work with a professional. There were so many different aspects I needed help with to make the smartest financial decisions.
Almost every month, I get together with my accountant and we cover a different aspect of my business I should be thinking about long term. This includes things like various retirement accounts, reviewing my health insurance and HSA account, investing, etc.
Because my accountant handles my personal things as well, it's been wonderful to receive help with my rental home I have back in Florida and other personal expenses.
I've also started spending more and experimenting with Facebook ads. This is a brand new frontier for me to understand! While I feel 100% confident using Pinterest, Facebook is still something of a mystery to me. In January I focused on growing my email list and increasing my affiliate marketing sales. This is still a learning process, but I'm excited to keep testing and trying things out.
I'm also not shy about letting you know that I spend money on Facebook ads. While every blogger is different, I think it would be misleading to not tell you I am spending money on Facebook ads. January's efforts lead to an increase in traffic, email subscribers and an increase in revenue!
Right now, my main source of traffic is still Pinterest, followed my Google and then Facebook!
I also have to pay fees for every product that I sell, whether it's for my joint business or my own business. This is taken out automatically with PayPal or Stripe and hovers around 3% of every sale. Ugh!
Also, if an affiliate receives credit from a sale, that has to be paid out as well. Paying affiliates is the best kind of money to pay out
Finally, this doesn't include things like health insurance or taxes. I was putting 30% aside each month, but now I'm adjusted that to between 30-35% moving forward. I also have to plan for things like savings and retirement!
My online income reports are predictable to me, but to most people they look like they really fluctuate!
I know this doesn't quite make sense, but it does for me. My monthly online income reports definitely vary in terms of how much I make. Some months it looks like I'm having an amazing month, while other months it looks like there's been quite a decrease in my income.
This is based on a few factors.
One of my courses is only open a few times a year. This means that there are a few months out of the year where I will see a major spike in traffic with income. This also means more expenses, such as splitting income with my business partner and paying out affiliates.
When it's launch time, the other aspect of my business is negatively impacted. Specifically, affiliate income tends to decrease when I'm in launch mode because my efforts have shifted.
Income doesn't always have to increase each month – this isn't a contest. This is a business!
I need to figure out a way to do the first two factors at the same time. This is something I have to improve, and I'm currently working on getting better at improving my strategy.
I really don't mind that my monthly income will be at a certain point one month, then decrease (sometimes by half!) the following month. This is the nature of how I run my blog and business and it works for me, but I still need to get better at this!
How I've shifted my income goals from month-to-month results to an annual plan
When I first started out as a blogger, I was super focused on monthly income. This was because I wanted to quit my day job and support myself through my blog and online business, which makes total sense and the correct way of thinking. It was basically survival mode!
Everything was geared around making money and saving money. When I started my blog, I was still at my day job. Now don't get me wrong – I had a great paying day job in my career field that I enjoyed! But I wanted to work for myself and have my own business.
When I launched my blog in January 2015, I already had a date in my head where I wanted to be able to leave my day job and work for myself, which was October 2015.
In order to make this happen, I gave everything I had to blogging in my spare time. I also saved like a crazy person in that ten month period because I was quitting my job no matter what to pursue blogging full time, and needed to have an emergency fund built up just incase my blog wasn't growing at the speed I needed it to. That's how serious and motivated I was!
In my first full year of blogging of 2016, I made around $91,000. As I got further into 2016, my confidence grew and I knew I was slowly leaving the feeling of being in survival mode. At the start of 2017, I started to transition into thrive mode. This meant I knew my blog and online business was sustainable.
Going from survival mode to thrive mode is mind blowing. It's a lot of emotions and confidence building. I felt like a true business woman!
Towards the middle of 2017, my mindset shifted. I stopped thinking about earning income month to month. I had been caught up in figuring out how much I could make in a single month. Then when the first of the new month rolled around, I acted like I had zero dollars and was starting from scratch.
That was the wrong way of thinking!
I wasn't starting from scratch. My blog and online business didn't reset at zero each month. Yes, it was a new month but my blog wasn't new! My business wasn't new either.
Once I shifted to developing an annual plan on how I wanted to earn income, everything changed. My stress level decreased. I had a real plan in place. I could work a set amount of hours per week and have a good idea of what to expect my income would be. Even as I type this, I'm already thinking about what my income will be in March 🙂
I love focusing on yearly results and what I want to achieve. My income is steady enough that I know my monthly income can fluctuate and I can afford to look at the long term picture.
This kind of thinking has made all the difference!
Now don't get me wrong, it's taken me a few years to get to this point. I started my blog in January 2015 and wasn't able to really change to this strategy until mid 2017. So if you are a new blogger, be patient. Your turn will come!
But it's definitely something for you to think about as you grow your blog and online business! Where do you see yourself in a couple of years?
Where does my affiliate income come from?
I don't really break this down in the above online income report. I don't have a ton of affiliate resources!
I only promote products, courses or services that I have personally used or believe in 100%. This keeps my affiliate list pretty small for the most part!
My affiliate income comes from two really different audiences on this website.
Half of my audience is people looking to save money, budget, get started side hustling and are here for the personal finance tips.
This overlaps some with the other part of my audience.
The other half of my audience are fellow bloggers (new or experienced!), Pinterest users, online entrepreneurs and side hustlers looking to make money!
Many of my readers start out in one category, but grow and morph into the other category.
This is really cool to watch because many readers email me to let me know what they are doing to save money or that they have started a side hustle!
Here's a list of where I earn my affiliate income.You can also check out my recommendations page as well!
Blogging resources (includes a couple of my popular products as well!)
Bluehost – This is the hosting company I use for this website! I've been using it since I started my blog in 2015 and still do to this day. When you sign up for your hosting, you get a free domain name. So when I purchased my hosting plan, I got the name ‘Believe In A Budget' for free 🙂
This was the first investment I made in my blog and it was one of my only expenses in my first year of blogging. It's totally critical you own your website.
To learn how to start a blog, getting blogging name ideas and tons of tips, you can learn more about how to start a blog here.
Restored 316 Designs – they have really great feminine themes! After you create your website with Bluehost, you will need a theme. This was my go-to when I first started out!
Tailwind – the premier scheduling tool for pinning your website pages and posts to Pinterest!
LeadPages – great for growing your email list!
Teachable – this is the perfect platform for creating your course!
Pinterest 20 Step Workbook – this workbook crushes it because it allows users to take action ASAP and get instant results.
Pinterest Presence – the DIY course to teach you how to drive traffic to your website with Pinterest training.
Pinterest Templates – Done for you templates to make creating Pinterest images super easy!
Personal-use resources (includes a couple of my popular products as well!)
Ibotta – This is still the best way I save money at the grocery store and the big box stores!
Surveys – I took my first survey nearly 15 years ago!
17 Ways to Side Hustle to Success – beginner's guide that will help you start making money
Side Hustle to Success course – in-depth reading that dive deep into mystery shopping, step-by-step instructions on how to use various cell phone apps to make money, and then higher level ways to make money.
Courses I recommend (I'm picky, so this list is short!)
Become a Pinterest VA TODAY! – how to specialize as an expert Pinterest virtual assistant. This is one of the hottest niches out there and there is not enough Pinterest VAs to keep up with the demand. This is my specialty and I love teaching others how to start and grow a Pinterest VA business with my course partner.
30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success – how to make money online as a freelancer working for other blogs, businesses or brands!
Elite Blog Academy – all in one, overall blogging strategy.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – how to make money from your blog.
Facebook Side Hustle Course – how to work as an online Facebook expert.
So that's pretty much 90% of my affiliate list! I might be forgetting something (??) but for the most part, the above list is what I believe in first, and then feel confident recommending these resources to you guys!
Now that I have wrapped up January's online income report, it's time to get to work on February's income report. I tend to fall one to two months behind on publishing my income reports 🙂