I used to read income reports all the time. Truthfully, I thought the numbers were either inflated or written by “lucky” bloggers–those who happened to start at the “right time.”
But over the last few years, those shiny income reports always got my click. I would read through to the end and glean as much as I could! If they could earn money from a blog, why couldn’t I?
Those income reports kept me going. I was almost ready to quit my blog in early 2020 and work full time as a freelancer. But something kept telling me that I needed to keep pushing and that those SEO strategies I used on my clients’ blogs would one day pay off if I would just commit to implementing them on my own little blog.
So that’s what I did. Keyword research, on- and off-page SEO, high-quality content, and consistency were the types of strategies I really needed. And they’re what paid off big time after just one year of implementing them on my blog.
Since those income reports were often the only thing pushing me forward, I decided that it was time to publicly share my journey, especially my May 2021 income. I want to give you the motivation that I really benefited from just one year ago.
One year! You can do anything for one year without getting bored, without making much money, and without giving up.
Note: While my blog has been in existence since 2018 (so, more than one year before implementing the strategies I’m about to share with you), it was mainly my freelance writing portfolio. So it had a handful of posts that were there to show potential clients—not necessarily there to rank on Google and earn money.
Why do Bloggers Share Income Reports?
The short answer: motivation. If you found something amazing that made you good money, wouldn’t you want to share it with others who need to provide for their families? I would hope so.
In my case, my blog is all about helping stay-at-home moms make money from home–and not just by starting a blog, but by finding the right opportunity based on different needs, skills, and interests. Blogging is just one option in a sea of many choices.
What Took My Blog From ~$0 in Early 2020 to $11,037.75 in May 2021?
The number one change that brought my blog from earning next to nothing (I did have ads at the time, so I earned a few dollars) to earning $11,037.75 in a month just over a year later was taking the time to understand what my audience actually wanted. How did I learn what they wanted? I did topic or keyword research.
Keywords are the driving force behind Google. As a user, think of it this way: you want to learn how to make pea soup for dinner, but have no idea where to start. So, you hop on your smartphone, pull up Google, and type “pea soup recipes” or “how to make pea soup.”
You may not realize it, but those phrases you typed are keywords. As soon as you hit “search,” Google searches its indexes of billions of articles and pulls up the top 10 that it thinks will answer your question the best. You’ll probably never need to go past page one of Google because those top results are exactly what you need!
Now, think about this concept as a content creator. What can I write that people are actually searching for? This is the first of many steps to getting into the head of your audience so that you can write articles that people want to read.
If you haven’t grasped this concept, then please don’t give up on blogging. Without doing keyword research, you’re just guessing when it comes to choosing new topics to write about.
There is so much more to it, but I can honestly say that this strategy is the main driving factor behind the progress of my own blog. I want to share it with you!
Check out my eBook called Get Your Keywords Together. It’s literally everything you need to know about getting into the minds of your readers and giving them exactly what they want to read. In exchange, you can earn income from display ads, affiliate marketing, or your own products and services.
May 2021 Blogging Income Report for The Pay at Home Parent
Now that you know why I’m sharing my income details with you and how I made it to this point in the last year, here is the detailed breakdown of how much money I made in May.
Please note that some of the income has already hit my bank account and some of it is invoiced. (I have never had an invoice go unpaid—so I am confident this money is mine.) None of these numbers are inflated or double-counted from the past months.
Quick Snapshot: Gross Income – Expenses = Net Income
If you’re just here to see the numbers, then here’s a quick snapshot. Below, I’ll give the full breakdown of my income and expenses. Keep in mind that my expenses are a choice–they are not all a necessity. However, I firmly believe that spending money on your blog can help scale your business quickly.
Blogging Income: $7,795.85
Freelance Service Income: $3,241.90
Gross Income: $11,037.75
Net Income: $9,422.70
Affiliate Income – $6,307.05
$3,795.10 – This is from my top affiliate network and includes programs like:
- Masterworks ($1,680) – This is a neat investment platform that I personally use. It allows you to invest in shares of popular art pieces by artists like Claude Monet, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
- InboxDollars ($1,062) – A site that pays you to take surveys, play games, search the web, answer polls, and complete paid offers. I’ve personally made the most money as a member of this site by completing offers. For example, I knew I wanted to purchase a Noom weight loss program, so I searched InboxDollars and found a $5 offer.
- Instacart Shopper ($300) – I love having my groceries delivered by Instacart as a user, and I’ve talked to multiple drivers who love getting paid to do the work! So this is one of the programs I recommend to my readers.
- Survey Junkie ($108.25) – A high-paying survey site with occasional product reviews and focus groups that pay up to $150.
- Other misc. programs ($644.85) – It’s best to choose programs in your niche that you’ve tested/researched in depth.
$338.70 – This is from Panthera, which I’m currently combing through for new offers to promote, and includes programs like:
- Pinecone Research ($158.40) – The most exclusive survey site that pays $3 for each questionnaire you complete.
- Swagbucks ($66) – Another site for anyone who enjoys making a little money doing easy tasks like answering surveys, playing games, completing offers, etc.
- Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel ($37.50) – A trusted research company that tracks consumers’ data anonymously to find the trends that can help companies improve marketing their products and services.
- Other misc. programs ($76.80) – It’s best to choose programs in your niche that you’ve tested/researched in depth.
$1,902.37 – Work from home courses.
- Proofread Anywhere ($1,725.22) – This course teaches English nerds how to make money correcting grammar, spelling errors, punctuation, etc. It’s great training for bloggers who need to earn an income while building their own brand.
- Earn More Writing ($79.60) – This course doesn’t convert particularly well for me but I still recommend it because a) I’ve taken the course myself and loved it, and b) the course creator is seriously a freelance writing machine. She does a great job teaching writers how to actually make money using their skills.
- The Photo Editor’s Guide ($19.80) – An underrated, lesser-known course that teaches photographers how to build an actual work from home business editing photos for other photographers.
- Other misc. courses ($77.75) – It’s best to choose programs in your niche that you’ve tested/researched in depth.
$270.88 – Additional side hustle and work-from-home programs and affiliate networks.
- Rakuten ($55.42) – My favorite cash back portal for online shopping. I always check for deals while I’m doing my regular shopping online!
- Respondent ($38) – Pays members an average of $140 per hour to participate in remote (and sometimes local) focus groups and studies. The tracking portal doesn’t work right so I can only see the money I earn when it hits my PayPal account.
- Amazon ($35.96) – My business is not product-based, so I do not promote many Amazon offers. However, for many bloggers, Amazon offers a huge selection of things to promote and earn a commission from.
- Clickbank ($121.12) – I only recommend a couple of Clickbank programs on my blog. The programs there tend to use spammy marketing tactics, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good programs over there. I do like that Clickbank always offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. The main one that I share is one that I’ve personally purchased and reviewed.
- CJ ($11.20) – Another network with tons of affiliate programs to apply to. I currently only promote two or three offers here.
- Shareasale ($.50 <- yep, not much) – This network doesn’t have a lot of programs in my niche but I’m including it here because it pays as promised and it has tons of programs in all difference niches. New bloggers should definitely look for programs to promote here!
- Aragon Premium ($8.68) – This network can be hard to get into, but I joined for just one or two offers. I may look for more offers to promote soon.
$0.00 – Blogging-related programs, resources, and tools.
- Bluehost ($0.00) – Believe it or not, my income is not fueled by recommending a blog host like so many others you see! If you want to learn how to start a blog, I’ll absolutely teach you. But since my (unpopular) opinion is that new bloggers SHOULD purchase cheap hosting (hello, I’d rather pay less while I’m getting little to no traffic than more when I don’t need it), I don’t pressure anyone to buy hosting that they don’t want. The nice thing is that you can always migrate to a new host down the road when you’re actually making money.
- Amira’s legal pages ($0.00) – I recently purchased this bundle of legal pages, added them (so easily) to my blog, and heaved a huge sigh of relief that my blog was now legally protected. I hope to promote these pages more in the future because they are so important.
- Stupid Simple SEO ($0.00) – I haven’t earned a commission for selling this course in May, but I still highly recommend it because I believe it’s solid and can help bloggers get more Google traffic.
- Create and Go ($0.00) – I recently took Create and Go’s course called Six-Figure Blogger. The course helped me set up evergreen email funnels and improve my copywriting skills. There is another course for those just getting started called Launch Your Blog Biz.
- Blog Speed Course ($0.00) – Grayson is a blog technician who has helped me fix errors at the drop of a hat. His schedule has been so booked up with speed optimizations because Google is currently rolling out changes that may give faster sites a higher ranking advantage. I highly recommend anything that Grayson teaches but have yet to promote his course in my content (I hope to, soon!).
Digital Product Income – $1,008
- Get Your Keywords Together ($1,008) – I only sell one digital product of my own and am ecstatic that 24 people purchased my ebook in May to learn how to do keyword research the right way. This is seriously the strategy that changed my blog in such a huge and rewarding way!
Miscellaneous Income – $480.80
- E-commerce platform partner program ($199.39) – This is residual income for referring businesses to an e-commerce platform I used to work with regularly.
- Plexus ($281.41) – I am a Plexus ambassador, first and foremost for the product (I’ve used it for almost a year), and I passively earn income for recommending the products in a couple of blog posts.
Ad Income – $0.00
I removed all ads from my blog a few months ago due to low earnings. I plan to put ads back on my blog again with a (hopefully) much better-paying ad program soon.
Service Income – $3,241.90
I had two clients in May and will decrease to just one starting in June. I believe that bloggers who offer services in their first one to three years are most likely to succeed on their own blog because it gives them time to learn and implement the long-term strategies that lead to success.
- Client 1 ($1,200) – I’ve worked with this client as an SEO and content strategist over the last year and can’t wait to see where the business goes!
- Client 2 ($2,041.90) – This is a freelance writing client that I’ve been working with since December of last year. I enjoy every bit of my time with this one! If you are struggling to make money blogging yet have a talent for writing, I highly recommend learning how to become a successful freelance writer to sustain an income while you grow your blog.
Blogging Expenses – $1,615.05
My expenses are higher than most new bloggers because I’m currently scaling the strategies that I know work. Yes, you can move forward by doing the work yourself–but don’t be afraid to invest in your business.
- Cloudways hosting ($20) – I love my host but it’s definitely more robust than a beginner blogger needs. If you need something cheap, it’s okay to start with Bluehost (or another cheap hosting company) and upgrade once your blog starts getting traffic (and earning money).
- Affiliate commissions ($238) – I have some wonderful bloggers who promote my ebook. As affiliates, they earn a 40% commission for any sales they make.
- Writing/editing/proofreading ($1,110.37) – I hire some freelancers to help upkeep my blog. Life is busy, and I don’t want to miss out on spending time with my kids and husband! So this expense is well worth it to me.
- Pin designer ($140) – I have a fantastic pin designer who creates amazing graphics for me to share on Pinterest. I am not a graphic designer, so this is something I’ve gladly paid for over the last year!
- Fiverr ($91.68) – I hired an app developer through Fiverr and had a fantastic experience. I had been looking for help finishing up a project and found this developer based on his high reviews. If you need help on your blog, Fiverr is a great place to find someone.
- Carly’s Pinterest Mastermind Facebook Group ($15) – If you want to learn how to get traffic to your blog from Pinterest, I highly recommend Carly’s group! It includes beautiful pin templates each month to help you save time on designing your own images.
Net Income – $9,422.70
This income did not happen overnight. Remember how I almost gave up on my blog to be a full-time freelancer in early 2020? I can’t tell you how grateful I am that God gave me the strength to keep pressing forward. Because without that strength, I would not be sharing this income report with you today.
What motivates you to push forward on your blog? Find your motivation, set goals, and crush them once and for all! If you don’t have a blog yet, learn how to start one today!