Welcome to December's blog income report and update where I show you how I made money blogging last month. I have always struggled with whether I wanted to publicly share this information with the world. After sharing my first one last month and receiving so many wonderful comments, I have decided to continue sharing these articles.
I am a huge fan of blog income reports, and I read them regularly. I guess you can say I am a closet income report junkie. I like reading them, but I have always been terrified of writing my own.
So why did I finally decide to publish blog updates and income reports? Well, there are a few different reasons.
LEARNING: I have learned a lot about blogging by reading other people's blog income reports. A lot of them are filled with helpful tips, amazing resources, and valuable information. As much as I don't want to admit it, I am still new to this whole blogging thing. The Budget Mom is only ten months old. I wrote my first blog post back in February of this year. If I could learn so much from other bloggers through their income reports, maybe another blogger can learn from mine.
I get a ton of emails every week from other new bloggers out there, desperately searching for answers. Since I respond to every single question via email, I figured it could be helpful to write about what I have learned, as well as my blogging journey in these blog update and income reports.
TRACKING & ANALYZING: Nothing is more rewarding for a blogger than looking back at your work and realizing you have made progress. Blog income reports are an excellent resource when it comes to documenting your blogging journey. If you are consistent and write about your progress every month, regardless if you've made income, I believe you can learn a lot from it. So, that's why I have decided to write these reports every month, regardless if I make money.
I started TBM with the sole purpose of helping women manage their money. To be honest, when I first started, I had no intentions of earning an income from my blog. I still work full-time in the financial industry by day, and I make enough money to get by without income from my blog. However, as time passed, my outlook for my blog changed. The more that people referred to The Budget Mom as a business, the more I started to see it as one as well.
My goal on The Budget Mom will always be to help people and to provide the most valuable information that I can. If I can help one person be successful with their finances, then my purpose for The Budget Mom has been met. I don't focus too much of my attention on making income from this blog, so there will probably be reports that I write where I have no income to report. To me, that's okay. Documenting my journey and learning from my past decisions are more important to me at this stage of blogging.
TRANSPARENCY: Nothing is more important to me than being completely transparent with my readers and with other bloggers. I am a little different from other personal finance bloggers. Not only do I write about personal finance and money management here on the blog, but it's also my full-time job. During the day, I work at a financial advisory firm with other advisers. Because of this, I am also registered as a General Securities Representative, and I hold my Series 7 designation. To put it simply, I am heavily regulated by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). I am restricted on what I can write about here on The Budget Mom when it comes to investment advice. I am also not allowed to have certain affiliate links on this site.
Being registered is one of the main reasons I have struggled with monetization. However, it's still important to me that I am as open as possible on how I make money here on The Budget Mom. When you see ads in my blog posts, there is a chance that I earn a monthly fee or commission from them. I have only done a few sponsorships, and those are income generating as well. But a huge majority of income I make is from selling my own products.
I hope one day to make a full-time income from my business, but for now, I am okay with learning as much as possible and figuring out what works best. Trial and error are a huge part of the blogging process, and I still have some time before I know what works and what doesn't.
The reasons listed above are just a few reasons on why I have decided to share these blog updates, but another huge reason is allowing you to see that it is possible to make money from blogging. People look at me like I am crazy when I tell them I make money through this blog, and they just don't understand it. This is my way of showing you that it is possible.
DECEMBER BLOG UPDATE & INCOME REPORT
For the month of December, my page views decreased by nearly 20%. I had 92,783 page views last month, and that dropped to 74,337 for the month of December. One of the reasons for the decrease is due to a viral pin on Pinterest that decreased drastically. It was a Christmas pin, so I was expecting my traffic to decrease since Christmas pins are no longer relevant. I still have several pins that are bringing a ton of traffic to my website:
- The Spend Well Budgeting System Giveaway
- The Ultimate Guide to the Cash Envelope Method
- 3 Steps to Organize Your Bills
Pinterest is the number one contributor for my traffic, so I spent some time updating old blog posts in the month of December. I went back and updated some Pinterest images and changed the meta description for some of the pins. “3 Steps to Organize Your Bills” was one of the articles that I updated for Pinterest. By changing the description from a lengthy wordy description to keywords like (Finance | Easy | Printable | Organize | Bills | Paper Clutter) really helped. It had about 100 repins before I updated the article to over 1000 repins in less than a month. I also gained about 250 new followers, which is a huge increase for me.
I am using BoardBooster for my Pinterest strategy, and I have seen remarkable growth since I started using it. I would be lying if I said I had found the perfect strategy using BoardBooster. I am currently scheduling about 70-80 pins per day, and I am gaining about 200 followers per week.
I also decreased my bounce rate from 83.25% to 76.03%, which is about a 8% decrease. Your bounce rate is essentially the percentage of visitors to your site who navigate away from your site after viewing only one page. You want your bounce rate to be a lower percentage. I pay attention to this percentage because it allows me to gauge whether readers are finding my articles helpful. If they are clicking around to read more articles, it tells me that they found what they read helpful enough to look for more information on my site.
I had a popular post widget on my sidebar, but I didn't like the look of it. After searching for a widget that I liked and not being able to find one, I ended up coding my own. I also added some related articles in some of my existing articles.
INCOME & EXPENSES
I was completely surprised to see such a huge increase in income for the month of December. Even with an almost 20% decrease in traffic, my income increased drastically.
- PHYSICAL PRODUCTS: $2,182.25
- SPONSORSHIPS: $478.70
TOTAL INCOME: $2,660.95
That's an increase of over 109% for the month of December. For me, this proved that views really don't correlate with how much income you can make from blogging. One of the questions a lot of new bloggers ask me is how much traffic do they need to have to start making money from their blog. The answer is you don't have to have a ton of views to make money from blogging. As mentioned above, I am restricted on how I make money from blogging due to my designations as a finance professional. This deterred me at first, but I have learned that selling your own products is a fantastic way to make money from your blog.
Promoting my products on Instagram and Pinterest is what drives a lot of my sales. I have also realized that you don't have to have a huge following on Instagram to turn your followers into buyers. As of today, I only have 1,450 followers on Instagram, but a lot of my sales came from Instagram. I focus on taking high-quality photos of my products and make sure to give each photo a detailed description of how my products can be helpful to my readers.
From the beginning, I have always been a believer in investing in yourself. I was terrified to make my first purchase for the blog back in February, but I have realized that to be successful, you have to be willing to invest in yourself. My blog expenses are for things I feel are necessary to produce the best results for my business or my readers. For the first seven months of blogging, I paid for all blog expenses out of my own pocket. This means that I did not make enough income from my business to cover what I was paying for my blog, and I was and still am okay with that.
Trust me; my husband thought I was crazy to have more in expenses than I did income, but I knew that if I worked hard, the expenses would pay off. My expenses are things I feel are necessary, but I am always looking for more affordable options.
- BOARDBOOSTER (for Pinterest): $20
- CONVERTKIT (for Newsletter): $29
- PAYPAL PRO (for the Shop): $30
- DEPOSITPHOTOS (for Blog Images): $29
- ADOBE (for Editing My Own Images): $10.86
TOTAL EXPENSES: $118.86
NET INCOME (INCOME – EXPENSES): $2,542.15
For the month of December, I made $2,542.15 after expenses. It's also important to note that I set all sales tax and 30% for my personal taxes aside. All income listed in my income reports is money that I have already received.
I had one huge accomplishment this month on The Budget Mom.
FamilyShare.com reached out to me and asked if they could publish one of my articles on their website. If you are not familiar with familyshare, they have a huge following, and it was an honor to be published there. In just one day, my article that was published on their website was ranking on page one on Google.
You can see the article HERE.
Setting goals is something I feel very strongly about. Without them, you kind of get lost in the blogging world. There is so much information, and sometimes you get pulled in 15,000 directions. That's why I set a monthly goal and only focus on one thing at a time. It's realistic to want everything when you first start blogging; a million page views, a ton of social media followers on every platform, income, etc. But it's not realistic to think that those things will just happen overnight. It's also not helpful to focus on achieving all of these things at the same time.
I have always set one primary goal every month and focus on that goal for the entire month. It keeps me on track and allows me to focus on what I feel is really important without getting distracted.
MAIN GOAL: Reach 2,800 email subscribers. (Currently at 2,185)
NOVEMBER GOAL: Reach 2,000 email subscribers. (PASS!)
Since starting this blog, I have always put a heavy focus on my email subscriber list. I have never fully dived into other social media outlets. Even though I know it's important to market your blog where you can, I feel it's more important to pay particular attention to your email subscribers. Your subscriber list is really the only thing you can call yours. It's unrealistic to think that a media platform like Pinterest will just fall off the face of the earth, but with the multiple levels of changes the platforms makes, it's not unlikely for them to change algorithms. You email list is simple. I don't have to worry about algorithms changing.
I also feel the obligation to pay more attention to my email subscribers because they are the ones who ultimately want to read your articles. They signed up for a reason, and even though a small portion only signed up for your freebie, a significant portion is interested in what you have to say. That's an honor for me, and so I focus most of my attention on them.
OTHER THINGS THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE:
I would like to increase my social media followers. Every month, I like to write out individual goals for each platform. Even though I am not focusing all of my attention on social media, I do like to track my progress. For January I would like to see the following:
- Pinterest: 5,000 followers (currently at 4,476)
- Instagram: 2,000 followers (currently at 1,452)
- Facebook: 700 followers (currently at 616)
- Twitter: 1,300 followers (currently at 1,055)
- Pageviews: I would like to reach over 100,000 pageviews for the month of January. That means I will have to see over 3,200 pageviews every day. This seems impossible for me, but I am making some navigational changes on the blog that might help.
- Income: As I have said, income is not my focus here on The Budget Mom. My real goal is to make enough money to cover my monthly expenses, and that's it. That's the most important thing for me. However, it would be nice to see $1,000 net income for January.
DECEMBER GOALS UPDATE
For the month of December, I had the following goals:
- Pinterest: 4,000 followers (currently at 4,476) – PASS!
- Instagram: 2,000 followers (currently at 1,452) – FAIL!
- Facebook: 500 followers (currently at 616) – PASS!
- Twitter: 1,000 followers (currently at 1,055) – PASS!
- Pageviews: I would like to reach over 100,000 pageviews for the month of December – FAIL!
- Income: Make $1,000 net – PASS!
Even though I only passed four of my blogging goals for the month of December when it comes to social media and pageviews, I feel strongly I succeeded in other areas of blogging.
You might be wondering why I am not entirely focused on monetization. Right now, I feel it's important to learn more about blogging, and how to implement what I have learned to be successful. To me, it's all about baby steps.