2 years later..
I've finally got the guts to do this.
So hi awesome! Welcome to my first ever “income report”.
This is not only an income report, but I’m also writing this to inspire and motivate you. Because what is possible for me can also be possible for you.
Plus, writing this kind of post could help boost my motivation and become better at running a business. It helps me realize the mistakes I make and how I can do better next time (and so do you!).
I am sharing with you my journey to $15K months; how I got started, the failures I’ve had and how I continue to make it all happen.
BEWARE: Long story ahead, but, you’re invited to read it anyway!
My $30K-$50K Months
Let’s start at the beginning.
During the MySpace years, I used to earn $30 to $50K per month from Google Adsense and some other ad networks. I was fifteen and I didn’t really know anything about business; I simply knew how to make free MySpace layouts to generate visitors and then display ads on my website (Hot-lyts.com) to earn money.
But then, MySpace died. The traffic was gone and so was my income.
For three years, this is where I stayed. I got really frustrated and teetered on feeling depressed. I was used to earning those cash each month and then it disappeared. Like WUT?!
So, I applied for jobs and worked for other people. Sure, it was fun but I was never really satisfied. I didn’t love the idea of getting ready and driving to work every damn day especially dealing with traffic! Because DUH. And to top it off, I wasn’t making money that I felt like I deserved. In other words, I WANTED to be my own boss.
While I was working for other people, I still kept building my own websites and hired some people to manage them. After about several months, one of them started to grow which meant growing income.
My $20K Months
I was getting about $15K to $20K+ per month from Google Adsense again! The website was generating 200K+ unique visitors per day mostly from the Google search. Yes, I used the same method as the first website; doing SEO magic on my website, giving visitors what they want and generating lots of traffic. Then sit back and making money.
I’ve always relied on the search engines to generate traffic, along with a bit of social media. Other than that, I didn’t do anything to keep my visitors returning like common strategies such as email marketing, engaging with them, and others.
After several months of this, Google changed how the search engine works. Traffic dropped again. Income dropped. Again. Dang. Cue the tears and disappointment and all the cursing.
Sad, right? I cried. But not much; I guess I was getting used to it!
At this point, I was thinking of getting a job offline but my heart told me that I will never want to work for something that I am not passionate about or happy with, ever again.
My $15K Months: From Blogging to Business
I told myself, “If others could be their own boss, why can’t I?”
I knew that this time, I had to think of something solid; something that will not just disappear in two to three years. Right then, one of my websites (this website!) started growing and it was because of the search engines. Again. Google probably loved TwelveSkip because of the long-form content (articles longer than 700 words).
See, this website used to be my web design portfolio, then it became a “I don’t know who my audience is” blog. The website was managed by the people I hired. This was one of the websites I built with the goal of generating lots of traffic by creating multiple content and get traffic from the search engines then earn money from Google Adsense (just like the previous websites).
Let me tell you, that didn’t really work too well anymore. Because (like I've mentioned), Google changed the way how searching works. I needed large traffic in order to generate that tons of money again.
So around 2013, I decided to take this seriously. I actually blogged myself, prettified + optimized my content and promoted them consistently.
Although, I knew the traffic wouldn’t grow as fast as the previous websites, from the bottom of my heart, I knew that I could build something solid with this website. I have seen how other bloggers have built businesses and earned money from blogging. I knew it was possible.
It was hard and slower at first than I was used to, but when people started coming to my site and actually engaging + sharing my content, it motivated me to keep going. Soon after, people started emailing me to ask if I offer web design and other blogging services.
That made me realized that… I have the audience. I have the skills. I thought to myself, “why not offer relevant services and products that will be useful to my audience?” And so I did!
After several months, I started offering services, and eventually opened my own online stores.
Blogging Can Be Really Powerful
Through all of this, I realized how blogging can be super powerful. Here is how:
- Blogging has helped me built my reputation as a “web designer” and an expert in internet marketing (SEO + Social Media). I consistently prove my expertise through my blog posts. (That’s right! You can actually build a fanbase via effective blogging)! People share my content and even feature me on their blogs. When people need help with web design or marketing, they will remember me as that person and that expert, then they hire me.
- Blogging has helped me built my community. I manage very active groups on Facebook with 5K+ bloggers; some of which are customers and very loyal clients!
- By blogging, I’ve learned a lot of new things. I write, I research and I read other blogs. Results? I learn new ideas and new techniques every time! It taught me the other ways to make money online, how to run a solid business and other awesome things which helped me improved my skills BIG TIME.
If you want to start your own blog, click here for a step-by-step guide.
What does this mean?That simply means I don’t have to fully rely on the traffic I get. I am not working for large traffic anymore. I’m working on me, to introduce myself and my expertise which I believe is a more solid way to generate money.
This sets me up so that when Google lets me down again, I won’t have to worry because I’m going to continue to make money from the community and reputation I’ve built via blogging. Repeat customers. Referrals. My Portfolio.
But You need a strategy
In order to be successful with blogging, you need a strategy. You need a plan.
For example, you can't just keep creating new content and leave them there. You need to optimize them for the search engines and for your users. You have to learn how to keep your visitors engaged (e.g. adding relevant visuals, making your posts easy to read, using language that speaks to your idea audience, etc.).
You can start with learning the basics of effective web design (you need to look good), blogging and marketing (SEO, email + social media marketing). I highly recommend reading blogs or books that talk about internet marketing or business blogging. They will help a lot. Trust me.
You can do it too!
It is an incredible feeling to do something I’ve never imagined doing. Sure, it’s not as much as before but this time, I’m actually making money doing business (that I love) and not totally relying on Google.
Over the last two years of full-time blogging, I’ve grown so much. It took a lot of hard work and perseverance, but it didn’t really felt it was work because I loved every bit of it.
I still have a lot of things to learn; I’m still on that stage where I am experimenting, and learning the ropes of business. We never really, fully arrive. I hope you will join me on my journey!
The final lesson here? KEEP GOING! Don’t fear failure, but learn from it instead. Just believe that you will get there and YOU WILL get there.
OMG. That was very long story. But my story is proof that you can do it too. Quitting is not an option. Not now, not ever!
Hey, I got a little dramatic there.
Now onto the income report!
September 2015 Income + Traffic Report
During the first several months of blogging, my only income source was Google Adsense. Can you imagine that?!
Then I did some affiliate marketing.
So I started offering services which eventually became my main source of income (YAY!).
This year I started creating digital products and added them on my ETSY store (it used to be so empty offering only 1-2 custom services. Ha.), then I have opened my own online shop (HIPMediaKits).
It’s not that obvious that I’m going cray cray over online businesses eh?!
- BlueHost Web Hosting: $1,840 (via How To Start a Blog)
- Web Design + Development Services: $4,906.55 (changed my pricing this month)
- Social Media Marketing + Management Services: $2,943.94
- SEO Optimization Services: $1,131
- Media Kit Templates: $957.84
- Etsy Shop: $877.87 (converted CAD to USD via Google)
- Sponsored / Promoted Content: $1000
- Social Media Banners: $679
- WordPress Themes For Women: $56.66
- Envato (WordPress Themes): $73.8
- Elegant Themes: $89
- Disqus: $108
- Google Adsense: $576.45
- Amazon: $317
- Donation: $26 (yes, I make a few bucks from that sidebar! Lesson learned: Always add value!)
Total Income: $15,583.11USD
- Hootsuite: $9.99 (social media management)
- Namecheap: $41.25 (domain name registrations + renewals)
- ViralTag: $29 (Pinterest management)
- Aweber: $29.00 (email marketing tool)
- Independent Contractors: $1370
- Host + Server Manager: $259.99
- Microsoft Word: $11.30
- Etsy Seller Fees: $86.5
- Misc: $300
Total Expenses: $2,137.03
Net Income: $13,446.08
Traffic Report: How Do People Find Me?
Here's a screenshot of the total traffic I've had last month September (data from my Google Analytics).
Most of my traffic comes from the search engines, social media and referrals (other websites + blogs). And as you can see, I need to work on my email marketing and that's one of my priorities right now.
Here's my top 20 traffic sources (more detailed): Google Search, Direct, Pinterest, Yahoo Search (WOW), Bing, Twitter (t.co), Disqus (oh!), Designcrazed, Facebook, DuckDuckgo, Google+.
Lesson here is, if you want to maximize your reach, you definitely need to integrate SEO, social media marketing and blogging into your marketing plan. But you need to know how to use these methods effectively (read blogs that teach internet marketing!) or hire the right people to make them work for you.
What’s New + Upcoming Plans:
I have tons of ideas, but here are my current priorities:
- Revamp TwelveSkip – TwelveSkip is kinda all over the place right now. I haven’t really touched the site lately because of the new websites I’ve been building. I need to revamp my strategy, update some content and do some clean up. But hey, take a look at the services page, it’s been updated and it looks a lot cleaner and more organized now!
- Launch SixPushMedia – Since I’ve built some active groups on Facebook and have worked with plenty of brands, it’s about time to build a network where I can connect bloggers and brands to make money together. It’s 70% done. If you’re a blogger or a social media influencer and you’re looking for brands to collaborate with, join our Influencers club here.
- *Now done!* >>> Check it out here! <<<
Publish the mini guide about “How I Made 5 Figures From One Blog Post” for my email subscribers. I will share how this magic happened plus tips on how you can do it too. Sign up for my newsletter so you won’t miss it! (sign up using the opt-in form at the very top of this website!)
- Create more digital products for businesses + business bloggers. Like pre-made WordPress themes, social media banners, email subscription form designs, etc.
How about you? How do you monetize your blog? I'd love to hear your methods!
I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something from it. Stay inspired. Xo!