One year ago, I started a lifestyle and travel blog with dreams of inspiring millennial women to say “yes” to more life opportunities while still being financially savvy. In one year, I turned two blogs into a small business that allows me to work from anywhere and be location independent.
These past couple months, I cozied up in Chiang Mai, Thailand while trying to work on this blog. I stopped publishing income reports (my last income report published was after October 2017). Even though that felt totally freeing, it enabled me to get lazy about tracking my income and expenses.
And if you follow along with Reroute Lifestyle, you know that Mike tried coming onto the team full-time. We struggled finding a groove and both ended up burnt out. Eventually, I needed to reclaim my creativity so I could find the fire that initially inspired me to start blogging.
That was going well until I noticed most people who browse this blog’s categories are interested in – you guessed it – income reports.
Still…I’m not totally sure if I’ll continue to publicize these anymore.
But I’m serving you, so if you find value + inspiration reading income reports, and you’re interested in continuing to read these, please let me know in the comments!
Before we get started, you obviously need to know a few things about Reroute Lifestyle. Let’s start by getting some things out of the way.
Let’s get some stuff out of the way.
I’m not a one-woman show.
This is HUGE. For the first few months, Mike helped on Reroute Lifestyle 1 or 2 hours per week. We also hired a Virtual Assistant to help transfer content over from my lifestyle blog to this one.
I could never do this alone.
In fact, after turning Reroute Lifestyle into a solo venture, I found myself overwhelmed and had to step back from the business.
If you didn’t know, a few hours into our rebrand, Mike realized that working on a computer for hours in a day isn’t for him. That left me overwhelmed, stressed, and wanting to throw my laptop out the window. And delete this blog.
Thank goodness for the girls in my Mastermind who continue to act as a supportive soundboard for my dreams and ideas – both blog wise and personal wise.
I’m active in my niche’s community.
I try to be active in my niche’s community. Reroute Lifestyle has turned into a blog that talks about making money online working from anywhere, so I participate in Facebook groups for these niches.
In fact, I befriended someone who said she recognized my name from Facebook groups. And she still wanted to be friends with me, so I think I’m doing something right (not everything, but something!).
Here are my faves:
- BTOP Ultimate Blogging Group: if you’re a blogger, join this group. Jeff and Ben are some of the most real, down-to-earth guys who also happen to be very skilled affiliate marketers. Pretty sure some of their blog posts inspired me to start a blog in the first place, so it’s very cool to see that they are so active with their community.
- Boost Your Blog: This group was paramount to my traffic growth as a new blogger! It’s perfect for finding other blogs to read, and promoting your blog’s latest post.
- Reroute Lifestyle Community: My own Facebook community (HA). People come here with questions + discussions about how to diversify their online income streams.
- Female Digital Nomads: This is an incredible community full of positive, uplifting women interested in working online and traveling the world.
- Bucketlist Bombshells: This group helped me find some incredible freelance gigs, so I could help other girl bosses manage and improve their online presence! The ladies in here are super supportive, too!
I’m still finding my “niche”.
Although this is my “1 year of blogging” milestone, Reroute Lifestyle started 6 months ago. I managed a lifestyle blog before this, but recently brought over most of the content I want to keep.
At first, I wanted Reroute Lifestyle to be my separate blog full of blogging tips. Eventually, we changed the mission:
- My partner felt more comfortable contributing with a broader mission.
- I don’t stress out about creating content, newsletters, etc. for two blogs.
But it comes with its downsides:
- I struggle with segmenting our mailing list and what to send our newsletter each week.
- I had to put in extra effort to design our homepage and make it easier to segment our audience.
With the constant shift in where I’m going, it’s been hard to explode the traffic this blog gets. Now that I’ve found my focus (leveraging a skillset to work from anywhere), I’m excited to find more ways to grow in 2018!
I wanted to take this full-time in November.
Another thing to mention is I intened to blog full-time starting in November. That was the plan, anyway.
I spent the first week of November training my partner to help with the blog. In November, I also planned and hosted my first webinar.
Then, we picked up, packed our bags, and drove across the country. After that, we flew out to Chiang Mai, Thailand mid-November. Right before Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.
It was difficult to get in the groove and I worked part-time on my blog for most of November and December. Finally, Mike bought a ticket back to the mainland U.S.
Even though building an online business and living that laptop lifestyle sounds like sunshine and rainbows to others, it’s a LOT of work at your computer. Plus it’s a TON of self-guided work. Mike realized he needed a more structured work environment. Building a digital business and controlling when I work was my dream.
Living the laptop lifestyle sounds like sunshine and rainbows, but it’s a lot of self-guided work … at your laptop.
After Mike left, I finally found my focus and started working on this blog in January.
But I haven’t made it to “full-time blogger” yet. I still work on this blog part-time, taking on client projects to fill up the rest of my work week.
To be honest, I’m not YET sure what I would do if I had to work on my blog “full-time”. I do know the next step for me will be to pay more attention to conversion rates. like, real business numbers or something.
I made $9,149.60 blogging in my first year.
You can make more if you’re a niche blog, which is what I tried to do managing two blogs. But I couldn’t do it. I need a lot of help and it was too much pressure for me.
If there’s one thing my blog missions had in common, it’s: you really can leverage the internet to make money online and work from anywhere in the world (anywhere with a solid WiFi connection, anyway).
Some people dislike when you list services as blogging income, but the truth of the matter is I wouldn’t have been able to land these services without this blog. It’s my living resumé.
If you want to achieve the financial freedom to quit your 9-5, and you also want to blog, teach yourself a marketable skillset.
In the first few years of blogging, your income may be volatile (I’ve had affiliates dramatically change the partnership terms). Having a marketable skillset ensures you can maintain financial stability working online.
You can use your blog to make money in SO many different ways. Including establishing your authority on a subject and offering services based on your “niche.”
*Note: The income listed below is in USD. And this is all income already paid + processed via direct deposit or Paypal. It does not include pending payments!
Affiliate Sales: $5,850.90 *I want to double this amount in 2018. These affiliates are the main ones I promote on my blog. Overall I’m trying to focus on being less “salesy” and write content with more storytelling.
- Blogging Affiliates (Siteground, ShareASale, Linqia, Ultimate Bundles): $4,189.39
- Ebook Affiliates (The She Approach to Boosting Your Blog Traffic): $79.12
- Lifestyle Affiliates (Ebates, LendEDU, Etsy, Swagbucks, Trusted Housesitters): $1,536.24
- Other Affiliates (Private Internet Access, Amazon): $46.15
Product Sales: $813.95 *Definitely my weakness. I also think I created a product way too early. But, I’m updating Career in the Making to be a resourceful cornerstone ebook. I plan to write and edit the book in February, and market it again in March.
Services: $2,484.75 *Freelance income isn’t included in this amount, but any services that resulted from my blog is included in this amount.
Referral Credits are not included in my income total.
- Airbnb: $191 travel credit
- Tailwind: over $500 (there’s actually no easy way to check this)
- Boardbooster: $5 referral credit
I spent a LOT this first year. A lot of my spending came after taking this blog full-time and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I understand now it’s important to allocate every penny you earn (just like with any budget!), but for a few months I just let money sit in a bank account.
My Monthly Essentials:
- Siteground: $254.75 (the cost of my domain and hosting for 2 websites for 2 years)
- G Suite for Business: $61.00
- Tailwind: $74.88
- Convertkit: $261.00
- Namecheap: $10.87
- Boardbooster: $27.53
Ecourses + Ebooks
- How to Create a Viral Pinterest Pin: $25.00 (on sale)
- The She Approach to Boosting Your Blog Traffic: $15.00 (on sale)
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: $159.00 (on sale)
- Business Registration: $50.00
- Outsourced Work: $60.00
- Paypal Fees: $179.00
- Stripe Fees: $50.59
- Affiliate Fees: $53.00
- Charity: $134.00 (I support GlobalGiving)
- Marketing (Pinterest ads): $40.00 (I want to experiment with more Facebook ads this year)
Total Expenses: $1,402.62*
Total Income After Expenses: $7,493.98 (average of $624.49/mo)
Before January, I hadn’t paid myself from my business. Now, I’m going to start paying myself 40% of what the business makes, allocating 30% towards business growth and 30% towards taxes.
*Not including taxes.
Biggest Takeaways if You Want to Make Money Blogging
Promotion is everything.
If you really want to get your content seen, you need to promote. A lot of newer bloggers publish up to 3 times per week. As fulfilling as it is to write content you’re passionate about… how are you going to make money blogging if no one sees that post?
It’s fulfilling to write content. But if you want to make money blogging, also spend time on getting that content seen.
With that being said, over the past few months I’ve gotten lazy about promoting. Whereas I probably promoted daily in Facebook groups before, I promote in Facebook groups less than 5 times per month total.
How can I get away with this?…and still see traffic growth?!
The answer: Pinterest.
If there’s one thing you want to invest in for your blog this year, invest in Pinterest. This platform brings consistent traffic to your blog… even if you have a small, or zero, following.
- Learn about Pinterest.
- Apply what you learn.
- Invest where you need help – e.g. Pinterest schedulers or a Pinterest course.
My investments in Pinterest (Tailwind, Boardbooster, and How to Create a Viral Pin) have been some of the best dollars spent on my blog.
What makes Pinterest so great?!?
Group boards. Pinterest group boards essentially give you access to someone else’s followers. One strategy I’ve taken away from the How to Create a Viral Pin course is to pin to Pinterest boards with a high repin rate.
Within the last few months, I applied to about 10 group boards on Pinterest and was accepted into 3. According to Tailwind, I’m only on 10 boards with a repin rate of >1.
My goal is to be on 20 group boards with a repin rate of >1 by June 2018.
Related Reading: Pinterest Tips for Beginners
It takes time.
I hate when people say this. “It will happen over time.”
I totally believe you have to be proactive in your own growth. Fitness, career, BLOGGING, whatever. Most of us don’t get things handed to us on a silver platter.
But sometimes, it’s true. Growth takes TIME.
- When I first started my lifestyle blog, it took 7 days of nonstop promotion to make my first affiliate sale (a whopping 0.44 cents).
- I wrote a post about Chicago in February, and that didn’t see its first affiliate sale for 3 months.
- After six months of zero referral commission, I was about to give up hope on promoting Ebates to my audience entirely. And then I saw several referrals pop up!
If something doesn’t work, it’s good to change it. But it’s also important to give certain things time before you decide whether or not something works.
Don’t be afraid to change things to work for you.
If there’s one thing I realized this past year, it’s that I’m the queen of change.
- I rebranded practically one million times.
- When affiliates changed their commission restructure, I changed with it.
- I constantly tweaked my email upgrades, email freebies, and landing pages.
This can be seen as a negative because it’s so much work. And even though I created a lot of unnecessary work for myself…if I didn’t change things as I went, I would not have grown, either.
Pay attention to your conversion rates for affiliate, email optins, etc. Really take the time to think about why a conversion rate for one opt-in is higher than another, etc.
Once you start making money from your business, reinvest.
It’s been one year and I’ve paid myself about $100 or $200 from this business. In 2018, I plan to invest more into Reroute Lifestyle’s marketing.
Here are some ways you can invest in your business:
- Software + tools (Lightroom, a better camera, a microphone, etc.)
- Marketing (Tailwind, Facebook ads, etc.)
- A consultant (an accountability buddy who can help you focus on your goals, and what you need to do to get there)
- Ebooks and courses
Don’t be afraid to reinvest money you make from your blog.
Find your signature.
One of my most groundbreaking moments was when my girl Sheila from InSearchofSheila.com emphasized the importance of finding a blogging signature.
What’s the one thing your readers are going to come to you for?
That’s your “signature.”
For me, it’s affiliate marketing. Income from affiliate marketing made up over half my blogging income.
The truth is, something about affiliate marketing makes sense to me whereas it doesn’t to others. When I’ve hopped onto calls with bloggers, help them refocus, learn, and tweak what they’re already doing.
- 10 Affiliate Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Blog Income
- 3 Lessons from Sales to Increase Affiliate Sales on Your Blog
My millennial mind seems to help my clients save time, yet refocus that saved time to tasks that help them grow + profit.
You CAN create your own success.
Meh. A lot of people look at income reports and think “I can’t do that because (x, y, z).” IT’S LIKE THEY’RE SETTING THEMSELVES UP FOR A LACK OF SUCCESS!
Of course you’re not going to have the same story as I do.
But what separates the people who make money blogging vs. the people who don’t:
The people who make money blogging see these income reports and think “how can I use this as a resource to make money on my own blog?”
So if you’re like, “she puts a lot of time into this.” or “she has help.” or “she writes about blogging.” and you’re using that to justify your lack of income…
You’re naturally going to fall behind everyone else trying to learn more about affiliate marketing, product sales, etc.
Is this something you want?
Do you love writing?
It’s not too late to start a profitable blog (seriously). I’m fortunate to have turned my love of writing into its own job. And that includes learning about other skills including branding, social media, email marketing, and community management.
- 10 Ways to Make Money Blogging This Month
- Affiliate Marketing for Beginners
- 3 Lessons from Sales to Increase Affiliate Sales on Your Blog
2017 was the first year I traveled abroad as an adult, and experienced the reality of passive income – making money blogging while I was away from my laptop.
So, my partner and I saved up, quit our jobs, and moved across the world together. As life would have it, less than 2 months into our adventure, I suddenly went from NEVER being in a place where I didn’t know a soul…to traveling solo in a foreign country (ha ha ha).
If I can do this in a year, you can, too! You don’t even have to travel.
Step 1: Start the darn blog. My favorite host to recommend is my own – Siteground. Sometimes client approach me with web development questions that are out of my scope.
When I instruct them to ask their host… I hear stories of their host shifting the blame elsewhere. This has never been the case with Siteground, who have helped me through every minor and complicated problem I’ve had on my blog. Even the ones I’ve made for myself.
I know a LOT of bloggers struggle with trying to make their first $100, even first $1, blogging. And investing in all these expensive blogging resources isn’t financially available to everyone. So I put together a totally-free, five day course that takes you through:
- Steps to take to make your content stand out
- My favorite way to make money blogging
- The missing piece of promotion most bloggers forget
- 3 biggest affiliate marketing mistakes new bloggers make
My favorite part of the discussion happens in the comments. What’s one thing you will do to boost your blog income in 2018? Also – do you like these income reports? Let me know in the comments below if you want to see more!