This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.
My first two years blogging have been an amazing experience. As I prepare myself to share my first official blogging income report (for January 2017), I think a background story is necessary. On December 20th, 2016, my blog officially turned 2 years, so I would like to share a report of my traffic and income for 2015 and 2016.
Earning money online is not new to me. I have been earning money online since 2011 when I first opened my Etsy shop. I will never forget that afternoon of June of 2011 when I heard my first ‘cha-ching’ sound from the Etsy app. One second later, I received a notification of a Paypal payment of $11.50… Making money online was a real thing!.
That day, changed my life forever. I will be forever grateful to God for giving me talents and wisdom to start up my Etsy business, which ultimately led me to start a blog. It is all connected.
Earning money online through the blog, however, hasn’t been as easy as listing a product on Etsy and cha-ching. But don’t fret. I am precisely sharing this information to share my experience with you. As I advance, and hopefully up my income, I will show you what to do – and what not!- in order to be successful and earn money.
My First Two Years: Blogging Earnings
Side Note: when I joined the Elite Blog Academy, I learned my lesson about why monetizing my blog from the get-go wasn’t the best idea. There are far more important things to take care of when you start a blog. Since I had already installed AdSense codes, and plugged affiliate links in different posts, I left it as is. Never took them down. However, I changed my mindset and concentrated on other areas.
As of today, I have been blogging for 25 months. But it wasn’t until a year ago when I started seeing steady and solid earnings.
I would need to lay this on the table: I started monetizing my blog from day one. If you ask around or hop through various blogs, you will find mixed opinions. Some bloggers will tell you that monetizing from day one is a big no-no, others will tell you why not?.
What do I tell you? Monetizing your blog since the very beginning has its pros and cons. From my perspective, these are:
|Helps you learn a little about ad and affiliate links placement, what works and what doesn’t.||It takes up a lot of your valuable time when you really should be concentrating on writing good and original content.|
|Seeing money (no matter if it’s only cents) in your dashboard, motivates you.||You get addicted to checking your dashboard, and making money turns into your number one priority. That’s a big no-no.|
|Your blog layout with ads incorporated looks like you mean business. Nothing wrong with that. From my perspective, a blog with no ads gives the impression of a personal journal.||Without proper education about ads or affiliate links placement, you might overdo it and not only violate policies but also scare readers away.|
|By joining social media influencers networks (to write sponsored posts, tweets, Instagram or Facebook posts), you start building reputation and self-confidence.||If you don’t have enough pageviews to meet a sponsors’ criteria to choose you for a campaign, you will feel defeated. Psst…You’ll get over it!|
So, I will leave it up to you. It’s your blog. But my advice number one about monetizing your blog from the start is: do not, and I repeat, DO NOT expect to make money, and be rich, and be famous, in a blink of an eye. It takes time to build content, audience, trust, and reputation, just to mention a few of the many important aspects of building a blog and -eventually- a business.
I assure you that every blogger that is making a decent amount of income today, has been blogging for quite some time. And I assure that they all agree on this: blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme.
If your ONLY goal in starting a blog is to make money, you will fail. (Ruth Soukup, ‘How To Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul’)
Don’t focus your attention and don’t put all your efforts in making money, you will lose your direction and fail. Focus on the things that are going to take you in that direction: great, compelling, amazing content, and building your audience.
2015 Blog Traffic at a Glance
In 2015, I dedicated most of the year working on 5 major areas, in no particular order:
- Creating original content.
- Tweaking my blog’s and blog posts design until I found a layout that I was comfortable with.
- Creating my blog’s social media accounts, content creator accounts, and building a follow.
- Building my list of email subscribers.
- Mastering photography skills.
I was also extremely addicted to Pinterest, and I mention this because of all the social media platforms I joined and started building a follow, this was the one that grew the fastest and brought me the most traffic. I attribute this to the fact that I put a lot of effort in creating highly pinnable images.
Total Blog Traffic in 2015: 44,549 Pageviews
2015 Blog Income at a Glance
In 2015 my income came from 3 main sources:
1. Ad Networks
- Google AdSense – $88.45
If you are familiar with it, you probably know that there are two ways to make money with AdSense. Impressions: based on the pageviews of pages or posts with ads, and clicks: based on how many people click on those ads.
2. Private Advertising
- Izea The Creator Marketplace – $55.26
I joined Izea on August of 2015. I started with their basic subscription plan for $1.00/ month. I earned money posting sponsored tweets for companies such as HP, Toys R Us, the City of Daytona Beach, etc.
3. Affiliate Sales
- Amazon Associates – $32.71
As I created new content, I plugged in Amazon Associates links to products I used for my projects.
Total Blog Earnings in 2015: $176.42 (Whoop!)
Many newbie bloggers give up at this point. A whole year of blogging for that?. Definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme.
I think that my blogging income in 2015 could have been higher. I published only 37 posts, that’s an average of 3 per month. On average, a full-time blogger publishes 3 times per week so I should have published 156 articles in a year. But I was not blogging full-time (I am still working on that), and I did not give up.
2016 Blog Traffic at a Glance
No, I wasn’t giving up. Au contraire, my friends. I was so excited, and passionate about my writing, so pumped to see my little but steady growth, that on January of 2016 I decided to join the Elite Blog Academy because I knew that in order to succeed, I needed a formal education in blogging.
Side Note: If you are a new to blogging and want to take it seriously and to the next level, read here my top 10 reasons why you should join the Elite Blog Academy.
In 2016 I got a hang of publishing, photography, and learned many tricks of the trade. At the end of 2015, I virtually met Meredith Greenberg, she has been a great friend and a mentor since then. She has excellent marketing skills, and many of the tactics and tools I know today, I learned from her. She was my accountability partner for EBA and to this day we try to maintain a weekly facetime meeting to catch up on blogging and business.
My work in 2015 on those 5 major areas I mentioned before, and joining the Elite Blog Academy in 2016 definitely paid off in 2016. After publishing those 37 original blog posts in 2015, a few of them went viral:
- Setting Daily Goals: this free printable caught the attention of a positioned University, and once they pinned it to their board, I gained lots of traffic
- Weekly Meal Planner: another free printable that has made the rounds on Pinterest. It has been shared over 35K times.
- 5 Encouraging Blogging Tips For Beginners: this was my first post on the topic. It’s very personal, but it has definitely touched the hearts of many newbie bloggers. If you’re starting your blog, I recommend it, it’s a great read!
I published a total of 54 blog post (46 original and 8 guest posts). Even though I increased the number of posts per month, I didn’t publish nearly half of the posts I should’ve. I attribute this not only to the fact that -again- I did not blog full-time, but I also spent a lot of time studying the curriculum of Elite Blog Academy.
Total Blog Traffic in 2016: 690,191 Pageviews
2016 Blog Income at a Glance
In 2016 my income came from 4 main sources:
1. Ad Networks – $1,576.08
- Google AdSense – $469.38 – Earnings from January 1st – July 17, 2016
- Monumetric – $1,106.70 – Earnings from July 18 – December 31st, 2016
On July of 2016, I switched ad networks and joined Monumetric (formerly known as The Blogging Network). This was one of the best decisions I made on 2016, thanks to Meredith who recommended me to apply once I reached 50,000 monthly pageviews.
What makes this ad network different from AdSense is that you don’t have to worry about placing the ad codes yourself. I paid an initial flat fee of $99 and the Monumetric team installed the ad tags on my website. There is not extra cost, or monthly fee after the initial fee is paid.
An important measure that changed when I switched ad networks was my RPM. This is Revenue per Mille or Revenue per a thousand pageviews. This chart summarizes 2 important stats to look at:
|January 1 – July 17||Google AdSense||$469.38||168,786||$2.78|
|July 18- December 31||Monumetric||$1,106.70||346,050||$3.20|
Coincidentally, I switched ad networks halfway through the year so on the table above I am comparing ‘apples to apples’ (six months on each network). My blog’s RPM was $3.20 compared to Google AdSense’s RPM of $2.78. That means that the difference in RPM was $0.42. It is worth pointing out this measure for two reasons:
- In six months, my earnings with Monumetric increased by 58% – This is due to advertisers paying higher rates, in both cases: pay per click, and pay per ad impression (or view).
- The number of ads viewed increased by 52%, this is a big positive change. This is due to the fact that my traffic increased significantly in the second half of the year, and also because Monumetric places ads in all pages and there’s no limitation in the number of ads per page. With Adsense, it is clear in their policies, that you can only show 3 ads per page.
2. Private Advertising – $1,615 + $1,275 in free products
- Izea – $335
- Social Fabric, also known as Collective Bias – $1,055 – On November of 2015, I joined Social Fabric and I published my first sponsored campaign with them on December of 2015. After that, I have completed several campaigns, one of them being so successful that it was chosen by the advertiser to be promoted on Facebook. That campaign alone, sent me significant traffic for an entire week while the ad ran.
- Clever (formerly known as Clever Girls Collective) – $225 – In 2016, I also joined another network for social media influencers called Clever (formerly known as Clever Girls). I landed a campaign in the fall, that paid $225. This was a campaign that made me very happy because I was representing a brand I love and use.
- Free products $1,075 – I also received free products in exchange for my honest opinion. I received a $800 ARV beverage cooler in exchange for my review, and I was also selected by Brentwood Home to host a giveaway of their sleep wellness bundle, a $275 value.
3. Affiliate Sales – $433
- Amazon Associates – $199.80 – This number could have been much higher. I have yet to find a strategy to up my Amazon Associates income. I only promote products that I use. I plug these links in my posts whenever I find it fitting. This post went viral on Pinterest and drove the majority of my traffic to Amazon, due to the list of resources I created.
- Bluehost – $195 – On July of 2016, I posted my tutorial on how to start a self-hosted blog on WordPress, and my affiliate income increased by referring Bluehost as my web hosting company of choice.
- Share-A-Sale – $38.10 – I am affiliated to a few merchants through this network.
My total affiliate income in 2016 was $433.00 – a 92% increase compared to the year before.
4. Direct Sales – $365
- Products $172 – On May of 2016, I opened an online shop in my blog. I started selling printables and instant download items. This is an example of another post that went viral on Pinterest and made the most sales.
- Services $193 – Consulting and Photography for private clients who contacted me via my contact form. This has motivated me to create a ‘hire me’ page, and my Media Kit.
Total Blog Income in 2016: $3,989 + $1,075 in free products
Without counting the free products received my blogging earnings increased 96% from 2015 to 2016.
The graphic below shows a comparison of my blog’s traffic between my first two years of blogging. The numbers went trough the roof! Sessions, users, and pageviews: all these measures show an incredible increase of over 1,000% each.
The graphic below shows a comparison of my blog’s earnings (and traffic) between my first two years of blogging. The numbers surpassed every expectation I had, considering that I did not have a plan in place at the beginning of 2016 in order to achieve that.
My first two years blogging were a learning curve. Putting this post together, helped me analyze in detail all of my statistics, and if you’re new to blogging, I highly suggest you do this too. Not necessarily on a blog post form, but for your internal records. It will help you grow immensely.
I am looking forward to sharing my first monthly blogging income report soon. I can tell you right now, you will be amazed when you see my earnings for January of 2017 (compared to my total earnings of 2016).
Thank you for taking the time to read this post! If you would like to start a money making blog, I wrote a full detailed tutorial that includes a free printable checklist!