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This Month’s Blog/Business Income Report (December)

Make full-time money as a blogger!

Thinking of Starting a Blog? Over the years, I’ve received many requests from folks for help on how to start a blog and how to make money blogging. That’s why I put together this comprehensive guide on How to Make Money Blogging with updated information and links.

It includes step-by-step help on how to set up your blog, get started, and make money from blogging. Go here to learn how to make money blogging and get started today!

In 2005, I discovered this thing called “blogging” and decided to try it out. I was a brand-new mom at the time, had recently quit working as a nanny, and was hopeful I could make enough on the side through online ventures to be able to replace my income and be able to stay home.

My husband was in law school and we were living on a beans and rice budget, trying to stay out of debt. We never, ever dreamed that my little blog idea would grow into what it has become.

In all honesty, when I started December212012.com, I remember telling people that I hoped to make a side income from it. I never could have imagined that by the end of 2008, I’d be making full-time income from blogging!

And in all my wildest and craziest dreaming, I never would have envisioned that this blog would allow my husband to come home full-time, would provide the means for us to support ministries we love dearly (in the US, in the Dominican Republic, and in South Africa), and would enable us to provide incomes for our small (but amazing!) team.

Learn how to earn money as a blogger!How I Make a Full-Time Income from Blogging

Over the years, I’ve heard the question again and again and again: How do you actually MAKE money blogging?? People seem intrigued by the idea that our family actually makes a really good income from this blog and other related online ventures.

In these monthly posts, I want to give you a comprehensive and detailed look at our different income streams and expense streams to give you a better idea of what’s working, what’s not working, and how I actually make money blogging. I always find these posts fascinating and inspiring when I read them from other bloggers. It helps me to learn the real nitty-gritty details of what is and isn’t working, how bloggers are diversifying their income, and what they are experimenting with.

Some bloggers share these types of posts and include specific numbers of exactly how much they make every month. I’ve opted not to do that because I feel like sometimes people can get hung up on numbers and miss the bigger picture. Instead, I want share detailed percentages of our income and expenses — not only will this give you a very accurate picture of our earnings, but it will be something that is relatable, no matter the size of your blog or the income you make.

My hope is that these detailed reports not only help give you a better picture of how I make money blogging, but I hope they inspire you with new ideas on how you can increase your income or improve as a blogger or online entrepreneur.

Are you a newer blogger? If so, you’ll find this January 2017 Blogging Income Report from The Simply Organized Home to be very thorough, helpful, and inspiring. And I love seeing how she made $1700 and the breakdown of her income!

Ready for the numbers? Here’s our income and expenses report for the month of December 2016:

December Income

Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. All of the products listed below are products and services we’ve used before. If you have any questions about any of the income or expenses, you can leave a comment and we’ll do our best to reply.

All Revenue Streams

  • Affiliate advertising (See a detailed breakdown of all affiliates we earned income from below.) — 62%
  • Digital products (Sales of Make Over Your Mornings, Make Over Your Evenings, and Make Over Your Year) — 16%
  • Sponsored Posts — 13%
  • Banner ads (We mostly work with AdThrive for this. Erin lists more ad companies here.) — 9%

Affiliate Revenue Streams Detailed Breakdown

Want to know more how affiliate programs work? Be sure to check out my post on How to Make Money Blogging.

  • Sazze (from partnering with BlackFriday.fm for Black Friday ads) — 37%
  • Amazon Digital Services — 23%
  • ShareASale — 11%
  • Other (MySavings, Inc., Survey Sampling International, LLC, DiscountMags.com, 23 Publishing, SecureN1 Transactions, Escalate Network, CotterWeb Enterprises, The Selling Family, TopCashBack, LinkShare, Ultimate Bundles, and more)– 10%
  • Brilliant Business Moms (this was from affiliate sales of Beth Anne’s Brilliant Life Planner) — 8%
  • Commission Junction — 7%
  • Dedicated Media, Inc. — 3%
  • Bluehost — 1%

December Expenses

  • Payroll expenses — 55%
  • Subcontracted services — 12%
  • Web-based tools (InfusionSoft*, Feedblitz, GoDaddy, Dropbox, Harvest, etc.) — 8%
  • Computer, hosting, Internet expenses — 6%
  • Partner & Affiliate Payments (Sign up for our affiliate program for our products here.) — 4%
  • Health insurance — 3%
  • Other (Office space rent, PayPal fees, shipping/postage fees, merchant account fees, bank service charges, utilities, travel expenses, wifi, etc.) — 3%
  • Professional fees (for our CPA, payroll management, etc.) — 3%

Percentage of Income Versus Expenses

Recent Experiments

1. Launching 15 Days to a Healthier You

At the end of December, we launched 15 Days to a Healthier You. We ran this course somewhat differently than most other courses I’ve done in that we released a workbook but then all of the lessons were recorded live via Facebook Live every evening.

Overall, it was a success. We had some hiccups along the way, not everyone loved me doing live videos versus pre-recorded videos, and there were a few technical glitches. However, I was happy with the end result. We ended up have over 2200 people who went through the course live and we got a lot of very positive feedback overall.

The one thing I learned, though, was that it took a toll on me and was hard on our family’s schedule to do a live video at 8 p.m. every single week night for 3 weeks straight. If we do another live course like this down the road, I’ll likely either do the videos earlier in the day or will only have a few per week versus five per week. But live and learn, right?

2. Combining Our Email Lists

We’ve been hard at work behind-the-scenes to re-organize our lists and clean up a lot of things in InfusionSoft (we decided to stick with InfusionSoft instead of moving to ConvertKit). In the past few weeks, we merged two of our mailing lists so that we now only have a mailing list for each of our soon-to-be three sites.

This has made things much more organized for us and made it easier to figure out which list we should send which types of newsletters and offers to. We’re still working on cleaning up and culling the lists, but we’re getting close to having things all in good order — and just in time for the launch of the new sites.

3. Working on New Opt-ins

A few weeks ago, we also defined our ideal subscriber for each of our email list and mapped out plans to do a better job of growing our email lists specifically with these target markets in mind. We’ve been working on new opt-ins for these lists and we’re getting ready to launch and test these over the next few months. I can’t wait to see how it affects our email growth!

 

Highly Recommended Blogging Resources

  • How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup
  • Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook by Abby Lawson
  • Brilliant Pin Promotion Course by Beth Anne Schwamberger

This Month’s Featured Question

This month’s featured question is from Christy from The Harper House:

I just hit the one year mark with my blog and am blessed to have phenomenal growth; however, I can barely keep up and am running myself ragged. Do you have any tips on when and how to hire VA’s? I would love to start outsourcing some things that I hate doing and spend my time focused on what I’m good at. How did you find your team? And what is a good rate of pay to offer VAs? Thanks so much! -Christy

This is a fantastic question! If you’re a blogger and you’re finding yourself stretched with all of your blogging to-do’s, it may be time to hire a VA.

What is a VA? A VA is a virtual assistant — someone who can help you keep your blog running smoothly while taking some of the work off of your plate.

It’s important as a blogger to understand that you can’t do it all. Really let that sink in for you. Your time is valuable and is better spent doing things in your business that sparks joy and feeds your passions.

Don’t risk burning the candle at both ends, all the while sacrificing your quality of content and quality of life for the sake of growing your blog. Know that for all of those tasks that you don’t enjoy whatsoever, there’s a skilled VA out there who does! So if you’re teetering on becoming overwhelmed and burnt out, it’s time to start looking for help.

My first recommendation before you start looking for your ideal VA is to figure out what types of tasks would be the most helpful for you for someone to do. Think about which tasks take you the longest, bog down your time, drain your energy, and are ones you feel overwhelmed by. Make a list of those tasks.

Then, make a list of what your ideal candidate would look like. What are their strengths? What experience would you want them to have? What are the non-negotiables you are looking for? How would you want to work with them (by email, by video call, by phone, by Voxer, by Slack, etc.)? Think through how this is going to work and what this is going to mean for you as far as changes you may need to make in your own work systems and processes.

When considering these things, I’ve found it helpful to know what my own strengths and weaknesses are. I highly recommend taking the Meyers-Briggs personality test to find out what your personality type is. 16Personalities.com is a great place to start (and it’s free!).

Once you find your personality type, you’ll be able to find what other personality types you’re compatible with. For instance, I’m an INTJ so I know that for certain positions, a VA who is an INFJ will be the perfect match for me and other personality types will drive me batty in those positions!

When vetting your VA applicants, knowing their personality type can help you have a really good idea of their basics strengths and weaknesses from the get-go. If they don’t know their personality type, send them on over to that quiz on 16Personalities.com and help them find out! This has been a game-changer for me and my team.

Next, I recommend starting with a very small project. Working together on an trial basis using a small project or two will help you get to know whether or not the chemistry is there. Chemistry is very important when it comes to building a team, which is what you’re doing.

By starting with a small, short-term project, you’re able to see if it’s a good fit for both of you. You’re able to discover their strengths and weakness, see how prompt they are to complete tasks, determine if you like working with them, learn how well they respond to critique, and get a feel for whether this is a relationship that would work long-term.

Remember this: Your VA is going to have an important role in helping you structure, organize, and run your business. Pick someone whom you know you’ll enjoy working closely with long into the future. Going into the hiring process with this in mind will help you be much more realistic and objective in who you choose. And it will likely save you a lot of drama and headache down the road.

Once you’ve found someone you feel like will be a good fit for you long-term, begin with minimum hours — not a full-time position! Ask them to help you for 2-5 hours per week with the projects that are most pressing. As you need to, you can add more hours and/or tasks. But keep it simple at first.

I currently have 3 full-time employees and all of them started with just a few hours per week that morphed into more and then more and then finally a full-time position. This natural progression allowed for both of us to get to know one another, to make sure it was a good fit, and made the transition so much smoother.

Do keep in mind that it usually takes a good 2-3 months before you really start to see a lot of fruit from making the hire. At first, it can be frustrating that you’re spending MORE time training someone, answering questions, critiquing their work, and helping them get inside your brain. Do not skimp on the training part. Trust me, it will pay off!

Finally, let’s talk about pay. There are SO many variables when it comes to the rates you pay your VAs.

Most VAs will present you with their pre-set rates. You can always negotiate with them, but remember that what they charge depends largely on what services they’re offering. Many VAs do general work (formatting and scheduling posts, content development, email management, etc.) while others specialize in one area (content management, project management, PR, etc.).

It’s important for you and your VA to have open conversations about pay. Generally, you can expect VAs to charge anywhere from $15/hr to upwards of $100/hr (and everywhere in between!). Keeping the lines of communication open will ensure that there are no miscommunications AND that you are both on the same page.

Hiring a VA can be the best decision you’ll ever make for your business. Choose well!

Note: Interested in becoming a VA? I highly recommend starting by reading The Boostrap VA.

Make Money Blogging

Want to Start Your Own Blog?

I’m here to help! Check out my comprehensive guide on How to Make Money Blogging with updated information and links. It includes step-by-step help on how to set up your blog, best practices for blogging, and all the details on how to make money from blogging.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up for my FREE 5-day course on How I Make a Full-Time Income From Home. This video course will give you an inside peek into my blogging and business journey, will share lots of inspiration and hard lessons I’ve learned in the process, and will encourage you with ideas on how you can make a part-time or full-time income from home, too.

Previous Income Reports

More Posts on Blogging

Have any questions for me about this income report or about making money blogging? Leave a comment!

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21 Comments

  • Jamie @ Medium Sized Family says:

    Funny that you addressed the exact question I’ve had lately! I’m really considering using a VA in a very small way so I can figure out how best to utilize their time. It feels like a catch-22. I’m not making a lot of money blogging yet, but it seems like hiring a VA could help me make more money if I made the investment.

  • Rosanna says:

    I’ve noticed that I haven’t received any emails from you lately, Crystal. I miss them because they were always so encouraging and helpful for me. Is this because of your merging of lists?

  • Lauren @ funky monkey children says:

    Do you have recommendations for where to find VAs?

  • Christy @theharperhouse says:

    Thanks so much for answering my question Crystal! I really appreciate your insight and the recommendation to take the personality quiz is great advice. Now I just need to decide what to start delegating. Thanks again!

  • S. Trstenjak says:

    I missed the expenses vrs. revenue graph you’ve included in the past.

    • Jo says:

      Oh! That’s weird. It was there and then I think it must have somehow gotten deleted before I hit publish — and I totally didn’t realize that! Let me see if I can get that added back in. Thanks so much for mentioning that!

  • Aubree says:

    Love these posts! I am a VA for a few money savings blogs and it is interesting to hear your insights from the other end!

  • Deborah says:

    Wow, Thanks for all the information. Its a lot to take in. My daughter and I are baby bloggers and need as much advice as possible. I will read and re-read this blog. Again, Thank you.
    http://4000miles.com/

  • Kaitlin @ The Simply Organized Home says:

    Thank you so much for featuring my post, Crystal. 🙂 I really appreciate your support.

  • Lisa Morosky says:

    Crystal, you have been SO generous in your consistent recommendation of my eBook. It never goes unnoticed by me. Thank you! “The Bootstrap VA” will see a new edition this year and I’m excited about that. 🙂

  • Ronaldo @ switchlead says:

    Congrats on making this your full-time gig! That goes to show if you stick to anything long enough and work hard at it, you’ll definitely go a long way. Awesome tip with the VA too. I know plenty of marketers who use them for the long boring stuff like you said and they really do come in handy.

  • Sarah says:

    Fantastic post!! Thanks for sharing this! I make most of my money from affiliate sales, too. The ultimate goal is to be able to pay all our living expenses with just my blog income. It’s really amazing that you can do that (and more!) in this day and age! Family first 🙂

    -Sarah http://www.thefrugalmillionaireblog.com

  • Nikki Collins says:

    I have a question regarding starting a blog. I completed both your make over your morning and evening courses and found them very empowering. I had a blog previously, for the sole purpose of trying to make money (while I was working full time out of the house and had an infant), but it never went anywhere. I realized I was blogging for the wrong reason, but that I miss the joy that came with it. After your courses, I really wanted to start a blog to keep myself accountable in my priorities and goals, while sharing my experiences along the way and helping other moms find the faith, grace and breathing room they need to serve God, and everything he blesses us with. However, due to some changes we tried with me staying home, then realizing we really needed my income, but daycare is more expensive than it was in the past, we are really really tight. Taking money-making out of the equation for the first year, do you think I could still build an audience for my blog using a free hosting sight while we get back on track. I feel like God is calling me to blog again, this time for all the right reasons (and if in a year I can afford to get hosting and own my sight, great, and if we can make money somehow then, as a side income it would be a bonus and not a goal!). Any advice on free hosting sites, would be so awesome! Sorry, this is so long!

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