Today I’m excited to share my very first blogging income report! If you’re new to the world of personal finance blogs, you might wonder why I would choose to share my blogging income.

There are a couple of reasons.

First of all, I want to show others that it is possible to make money blogging.

If it weren’t for other bloggers sharing their income reports, I never would have known that it’s possible to make money with a blog. Looking at others’ income reports makes me feel inspired.

Income reports are also helpful because they show how bloggers are making money.

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If I see that a lot of bloggers in my niche are earning a solid income promoting a certain affiliate product or service, that tells me that I should look into promoting that product myself.

If I notice that a different affiliate item isn’t very profitable for most people, I know I probably shouldn’t waste my time promoting it.

Another reason to share my income report is because it will help me to track my progress, learn from my mistakes, and improve my blogging income in the future.

Earning side income with this blog is important to me because my husband and I are working on paying off $117,000 of student loan debt in just three years. You can read more about my story here.

*This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure policy here.

So…without further ado, here is a breakdown of my blogging income for June!  I earned $462 blogging in June.

$100 – Freelance Writing
$175 – Sponsored Work
$187 – Affiliate Income

For those of you who are interested in specifics, here is a breakdown of my affiliate income.

$2.18 – Amazon
$75.00 – Bluehost – check out my tutorial on how to start a blog
$91.68 – Ibotta* – read my review on how to earn cash back on groceries
$5.50 – Inbox Dollars
$12.64 – Ebates – check out my review of how I earn cash back online

*$16.68 of this was paid out in June. The remainder ($75) is pending. This means that referrals have downloaded the app but they haven’t actually started using it yet. Once they start using it, the referral is complete and it will be paid out.

Please keep in mind that my blog isn’t huge and I don’t get a ton of traffic each month. Bloggers with a large audience can make a lot more money!

There are many bloggers out there making thousands of dollars in side income every month, and many of them have even quit their day jobs to blog full-time.

It is so amazing to live in a time where it’s possible to make an income this way. These bloggers are location independent and can work from anywhere, set their own pay, and work whenever they want.

There are bloggers who live in RV’s (traveling all over the country) or take month long vacations to exotic places.

So…back to HOW bloggers make money blogging.

Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts have been my largest source of income so far. These are great for newer bloggers or blogs that don’t have a bazillion page views each month because sponsored posts aren’t entirely dependent on traffic.

With a sponsored post, a company will pay me a set amount to publish an article on my site that has links to their website. A smaller blog might earn $30-$100 per sponsored post, whereas a large blog could earn several hundred to thousands for sponsored work.

I could make a lot more money with sponsored posts than I’m currently making. I’ve worked with companies that will send me 20+ sponsored posts each month. The reason why I’ve cut back on sponsored posts is because they start looking too spammy.

When your website is full of sponsored content, no one is going to want to keep reading your site (especially if the content is low quality and poorly written).

It would be nice to have more money right now (since I’m trying to get out of debt), but I have to think about my long-term strategy for my blog as well.

Freelance Writing

Many bloggers write for other popular websites or blogs for a flat fee. The Penny Hoarder, for example, pays $75 per approved article.

A new freelance writer could earn anywhere from $20 to $100 per article, while a more advanced writer might bring in $300 per piece.

This is another area where I could be earning more. I haven’t focused much on freelance writing because I prefer to focus my time on building up my own website instead of building up someone else’s.

Again, it would be nice to have more money in the short-term, but I have to keep my long-term strategy in mind as well.

Affiliate Income

This is the area where I’ve been putting in the most effort.  Affiliate income is the key to making good money blogging. With affiliate marketing, a blogger puts a link to a product or service on her blog.

When someone clicks on a link and makes a purchase, the blogger earns a commission on the sale.

Pretty much every blogger who makes a full-time income blogging is able to do so because of affiliate marketing.

The earning potential is essentially unlimited, but traffic matters. A lot. If no one is reading your blog, no one is going to click on the links.

I’ve been spending most of my time lately focusing on improving my Pinterest strategy (to increase my traffic) and improving my affiliate income using the strategies I learned in the amazing course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

Michelle from Making Sense of Cents created this class, and she makes over $50,000 per month with affiliate marketing!

The course covers how to pick the best affiliate products to promote, how to increase conversions, different strategies for promoting products, and much more.

Advice for New Bloggers

It took a while before I started making money blogging because I wasn’t doing a lot of things I should have been doing. I created blog posts, shared them on Facebook, and hoped someone would read them.

Only a few people did.

I did some research on how to increase my traffic and found two effective methods: guest posting on other popular websites and creating a smart Pinterest strategy.

Once I started doing these two things, my traffic shot up. Still, I wasn’t getting as many page views as I wanted to.

I heard a lot of other bloggers talking about classes like Pinterest Traffic Avalanche as well as tools like Boardbooster and Tailwind. I didn’t want to spend money on these things though. I’m frugal and I’m trying to pay off massive debt.

Eventually though, I finally decided to try a few things and here’s what I’ve found.

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The Best (and Worst) Tools for Bloggers 

Because I’m so frugal, I’m very selective about which courses and tools I will try. I only want to spend money on something if I think I’m going to see a huge ROI for my blog. Here are couple tools I highly recommend:

  • Boardbooster
  • Pinterest Traffic Avalanche

Here are a couple that I don’t believe are worth it:

  • “Free” classes and webinars
  • Tailwind (for Instagram)

Boardbooster has had an enormous impact on my traffic. Before I started using it, only about 5% o my social media traffic came from Pinterest…now more than 90% of my social media traffic is from Pinterest!

Boardbooster is a tool that allows you to schedule Pinterest pins in advance, and this is a must for any busy blogger. Automating your Pinterest strategy will free up time for you to focus on other more important things – like monetizing your traffic. At just $5 per month, it’s well worth it.

*UPDATE* After this post was written, Boardbooster shut down because the way it pins is no longer allowed by Pinterest. I started using Tailwind for Pinterest scheduling instead and will be sharing thoughts/insights on Tailwind soon!

Once you have Boardbooster set up, I’d recommend taking Pinterest Traffic Avalanche. I was a little hesitant at first because of the cost, but it’s SO worth it.

In this class, you’ll learn how to maximize Pinterest SEO, how to get your pins to the top of the feed, how to create viral Pinterest pins, and so much more! This is hands-down the best blogging course I’ve ever taken.

Tools To Avoid

I encourage you to be skeptical about free classes and webinars. There might some out there that are worthwhile, but I have never taken a free class that has been useful.

Every free class I’ve taken was a complete waste of time.

Most bloggers aren’t going to give their best tips for free…unless they’re getting something in return. If someone is offering a free class, there’s a good chance it will just be an advertisement for a class that does cost money.

Or it could be a way to convince you to join their email list. Either way, you probably won’t gain anything valuable from it unless you are 100% brand-new to blogging and don’t know anything about it yet.

Another tool I don’t find valuable is Tailwind for Instagram. Many bloggers swear by Tailwind for Pinterest, and I just started using it.

I tried using Tailwind for Instagram a while ago and I wasn’t impressed.

Tailwind is a social media scheduling tool and it allows users to schedule Instagram posts in advance, which sounds like a great thing.

The truth is, you can’t publish to Instagram from a computer (it has to be done on a phone), so you can’t actually use Tailwind for Instagram on your computer.

When you “schedule” an Instagram post from your computer, you are essentially just asking Tailwind to send a reminder to your phone. You still have to manually publish the Instagram post from your phone.

Why pay $14+ per month just to do something you can do for free?

My advice: skip Tailwind for Instagram, and instead save a note in your phone with the hashtags you use most often. When you publish a new post on Instagram, you can just copy and paste the hashtags from the note.

Blogging News

Overall, things have been going well and I’m excited to see what the future will bring for FM! This extra side income is helping us to pay off our massive student loan debt. We’re on track to be debt-free by the end of this year!

Here are a few fun stats:

Most popular recent post: My 3 Year Spending Ban: 25 Things I Stopped Buying <— This post did really well on Pinterest, which was funny because I didn’t expect it to be so popular!

Most popular freebie: How to Create a Budget + Budget Worksheet Download

Most commented recent post: What a Reverse Bucket List Is – and Why You Should Create One <— This post was shared on Rockstar Finance’s summary of noteworthy PF articles, which goes out to their email list.

My favorite recent posts:

Why a 3 Year Spending Ban Isn’t as Crazy as it Sounds
Is This Extreme Frugal Living? 10 Crazy Things We’ve Done to Save Money
5 Apps that Will Help You to Save Money
How to Start Meal Planning to Save Money + A Free Printable

My Blogging Goals

My main focus is on improving my affiliate income, which means I need to increase my traffic.

Making money blogging isn’t a get rich quick scheme. It requires time and a lot of effort. That being said, the formula is quite simple:

Find out what your readers want and give it to them -> increase traffic -> monetize that traffic

I’m going to do this by using the strategies I learned in Pinterest Traffic Avalanche. I’m excited to see what happens!

I’m also going to continue guest posting on other websites. I write for The Financial Diet regularly and I recently became a contributor to GOBankingRates, which will hopefully help me to increase my exposure.

I currently get anywhere from 10,000-30,000 page views per month. I’d like to get to 50,000 and then 100,000. I would also like to grow my email list to 2,000 subscribers.

I’ve been creating freebies and adding calls to action in my blog posts and that seems to be helping! I’ve seen a large increase in subscribers recently.

It’s awesome to be able to make some extra money from home!

Ready to start your own blog? 

Sign up for website hosting with my Bluehost link to start your blog for just $3.95 per month. Check out my guide to setting up a WordPress blog on Bluehost here.

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