Here is my December online income report, as well as a review of how my blog and online business performed in 2017!

First, I am going to review my December online income report like usual. Once I wrap up the online income report, I will review how my blog and online business performed in 2017. There is a lot to discuss in this blog post!

I really ended 2017 on a high note! This wasn't always the case though and I'll get to more of that below.

If you are new to reading blog income reports, here's a quick refresher!

My most popular income report is still my very first one! In April 2015, I published my first income report proudly stating how I made $60. My first income report is still incredibly relevant!

If you are a new blogger, you should definitely read my first income report to help you make money online. I have now been publishing income reports for two and a half years. Time is flying by and I still think it's crazy that I am doing this!


If you haven't started blogging, this blog post will provide you with a list of blogging ideas, tips and teach you how to set up your blog in 15 minutes. Read the post here.


It took me about four months to earn any income from my blog. That was the hardest four months ever because I was so new to blogging and wasn't sure what I was doing. Earning that first paycheck was the best feeling ever and confirmed that my hard work was starting to slowly pay off!

Since I started blogging and reporting my income reports, my income has overall steadily grown from the previous year. I'm at an ecxiting point with my income reports because I can look back at 2015 and 2016 and compare how much my income and expenses have changed.

I consider my overall experience with blogging and my online business totally worth it. I also am glad my income reports are fairly personal. I really like going back through all of my online income reports to see what worked, what stressed me out and what big decisions I was making at the time.

 

I also love the shift my blog and business has made. As things have changed online or with blogging, I've focused on being able to change as well.

For example, most of my income in the early days came from freelancing. I have always used ads and done sponsored post when I felt it was a good fit for my blog.

Today it comes from affiliate income and my own products and courses.  It wasn't an easy shift – it took a large part of 2016 to accomplish this – but I am so glad I documented the journey!

I wrote this post sharing how I launched a profitable blog and what I did month-by-month. It's a super long post, but shares all my income reports, how I made money, how I grew, etc. Sometimes I go back and read it and am like ‘woah, this is a lot of work‘ ha!

There has been a lot of momentum building online as we headed towards the end of the year. I actually felt more pressure on myself to work harder in the fall so I could take part of December off with family and friends.

For the past two Decembers, in 2015 and in 2016, I was pretty burnt out come January. This year, I made a point to work hard the first two weeks of December and then worked towards closing things down.

One of the BEST decisions I made in December was putting an away message on my email accounts for two weeks and it was glorious 🙂

I am more focused on my blog and online business when I have time away from the computer! By taking some time off, which is usually the weekends and most evenings, I feel refreshed starting work on Monday morning.

It took me a while to realize that this is work – I will never get everything done in one sitting. I will always have a to-do list, need to reply to emails, have projects to work on, etc. These are all blessings! This means my business is thriving.

Now that I have adjusted to this new attitude, I look at things differently! No more stressing that I am going to fall behind if I don't work on something right away or experience FOMO (fear of missing out, ha!).

Overall, I am very happy with my work and life balance.

One tip that has really helped me during the workday is taking mini breaks. Throughout the day, for about five minutes at a time, I will get out my yoga mat and meditate and/or stretch. Usually, my dogs join in and we get in some pets as well. It really helps me step away from work for a few minutes and zone out 🙂

Here are some previous online income reports:

 Here is my recent online income report. I'm in my 3rd year of blogging. I'm sharing how to start a blog, how to make money online and why this was the best side hustle I ever started!

Here's the breakdown of my December online income report:

Grand Total: $18,336

 

I highlighted my 2015, 2016 and 2017 December online income reports to showcase my results:

  • In 2015, I made $4,238.99 (this was my highest month in my first year of blogging!)
  • In 2016, I made $11,195.28 (this is more than DOUBLE from the previous year.)
  • In 2017, I made $18,336.00 (one of my lower income reports in recent months, but I knew this as I took part of the month off and was winding things down. Still a major increase in online income compared to 2016)

December online income report expenses

Here are my December expenses:

  • $10 Google Apps
  • $1,665 VA work + professional services
  • $120.93 Facebook ad
  • $160 Client and reader gifts
  • $9.99 Deposit Photos
  • $0 Quickbooks Self Employed I currently have the Quickbooks Self-Employed version and it has worked out great as a new business owner. The self-employed version is perfect for someone who is a sole-proprietor or a single person LLC.

Regular expenses total: $1,965.22

As I mentioned in last month's income report, I went ahead and changed from monthly subscriptions to annual subscriptions. This allowed me to save over $1,500 in yearly expenses by upgrading to annual plans.

Part of this reason was for tax purposes per my accountant 😉 (Everyone has different accounting methods, so this was the best method for my business. Make sure you talk to a tax professional about what is best for your business!)

I pre-paid for subscriptions like:

  • Drip – how I email everyone
  • SamCart – the software everyone uses to purchase my courses and products
  • PostPlanner – this is how I schedule my social media posts
  • LeadPages – how I get my email subscribers
  • Teachable – where all my courses are hosted)
  • Tech support
  • Tailwind – this is the scheduler I use when I do all my pinning on Pinterest. It’s my favorite scheduler I use for myself, recommend to clients and for my students
  • Bluehost – this is the company I used when I first started my blog and still use today! I was able to buy my domain name for FREE and use Bluehost to host Believe In A Budget.

All of these subscriptions added up to several thousand dollars. Financially, it hurts the wallet right now lol, but it will be worth it in the long run!

I also have to pay fees for every product that I sell, whether it's for my joint business or my own business. This is taken out automatically with PayPal or Stripe and hovers around 3% of every sale. Ugh!

Also, if an affiliate receives credit from a sale, that has to be paid out as well. With it being December, and for business and tax purposes, it was a goal to pay out affiliates in advance by the end of the year. This was quite a bit of money to pay out at once and upfront, but paying affiliates is the best kind of money to pay out 🙂

This lead to a huge expense report!

Between pre-paying on several subscription services, paying out and pre-paying affiliates and paying ourselves, I had the largest expense report of my life 😅

This is 100% not normal and more of an end-of-the-year type thing. I am looking forward to January when my expenses go back to normal! I had also been planning on this for a while, so none of this came as a surprise.

Total expenses $36,635

I also have to pay taxes, which is not included in the above. That's usually around 30% of my income.

Annual Blog Review

I am finally at the point where I can compare my blog and online business for the past two and a half years. In April 2018, I will be at the three year mark for sharing online income reports. For now, I have officially reached the three year mark on blogging. I can't believe I've had a blog for three full years!

Here is my blog income report, as well as my online review of the year for my blog and business. I am sharing how this blog went from a side hustle into a full time job. I have only been blogging for three years!

Here is a comparison of the total revenue my blog and online business made in 2015, 2016 and 2017

  • In 2015, I made $12,895.85. 
  • In 2016, I made $90,302.12.
  • In 2017, I made $289,462!

This is so exciting! I had an increase of over 310% from 2016 to 2017. I can't believe I have made almost $400,000 since launching my blog in 2015.

With pretty much ZERO experience blogging, I am so glad I started my blog in 2015. I always knew I could make a living online, but didn't think my income could grow this quickly. I have worked hard and it's paid off!

Here are some of the BEST decisions I made with my blog and online business over the past year

1. I hired a VA to help with my #1 time suck, which I like to call my inbox.

It's not that I don't like emails – I LOVE getting emails from students, readers and fellow blogger and biz friends. But there's a TON of other emails that I receive that I just can't keep up with in a timely manner. I have two emails for this website, as well as a shared email for Pinterest VA.

Hiring Mallika, my customer service / email extraordinaire guru, was hands down the BEST decision I made in 2017 for my blog and business. She answers a lot of reader questions that we receive, makes sure I don't read any mean emails (ha, I've received a few negative ones), helps with technical issues a student might be having and only sends me the emails I really need to answer (usually from students or if it's a brand she knows I would be interested in working with). This has saved me so.much.time. and mental energy.

If she ever leaves me, I don't know what I'll do, ha!

2. I grew a temporary joint venture into a legitimate partnership.

Gina Horkey (HorkeyHandBook.com) and I got together in 2016 and created a brand new course on the market called Become a Pinterest VA TODAY! With the initial success and interest from so many people, we realized that sometimes two heads are better than one 🙂

We decided to launch a full brand around Pinterest virtual assistant skills, combining my experience as a Pinterest manager and her killer VA skills together. We listened to all the feedback from students (good and bad) and made changes at every launch (we launched once per quarter in 2017.)

Every time there was a launch, we re-did the entire course to ensure we were presenting the best material possible for our students. We added tons of videos, created a private Facebook group that our students rave about it (it's as valuable as the course itself!), host monthly Facebook Live Q+A sessions and more. We've added additional workbooks, checklists, contracts and even a monthly subscription service.

The only way we could have accomplished all of this was by teaming up and working together. We each have unique skillsets, and combining our skills together has completely paid off! We are building the Pinterest VA brand into a longterm project.

We launched Pinterest VA on Black Friday in November 2016. Since then, the brand has skyrocketed, all while putting in very part time hours. We have a one page website, no real social media presence and rely on word of mouth and affiliate to help us promote the brand. We are just getting started and are SUPER excited for 2018.

The best part of all is that we have helped so many students have successful Pinterest VA careers, whether it be a part time side hustle, part time job or a full time job. I got my start as a Pinterest virtual assistant, so to be able to come full circle and now help other people get started and grow with Pinterest is pretty awesome.

It's really great to see these kinds of emails and Facebook posts – here's a small sample of what our students say from Become A Pinterest VA TODAY!:

If you have ever thought about starting your own Pinterest virtual assistant business, you can learn more here.

3. Got outside my comfort zone – my 2017 word of the year was ‘bold'

2017 was my best year to date since launching Believe In A Budget in 2015. I had a lot of big ‘firsts' happen this year:

  • I made my first TV appearance on CBS news about the benefits of side hustling.
  • I was invited to conduct a three hour workshop about Pinterest at the Thrive conference in Houston, Texas.
  • I attended Elite Blog Academy's ACTIVATE conference in Portland, Oregon. EBA was the very first course I took when I started out as a new blogger.
  • Hosted my first in person meet-up with readers of Believe In A Budget and students that have taken my courses.
  • I went to FinCon, a personal finance conference and met fellow personal finance bloggers.
  • I flew to Las Vegas throughout the year to film Become a Pinterest VA TODAY! with my course partner Gina Horkey.

Personal Update

At the start of 2017, I was a little frazzled and burnt out. I was on stress overload and having panic attacks on a regular basis about my blog and business. Even though my blog and online business was growing, I was pretty stressed out about the growth and my work level. Can I maintain this level of income? What if the internet gets shut down? Can I handle going back to a 9-5 job? 

I know, totally ridiculous thoughts, right?!

My blog and business were stronger than ever in 2017, but somehow I let fear and self doubt sneak into my brain. While everything online was taking off and performing well, I was fortunate enough to be able to scale back from full time and re-examine things for a small period of time.

By all appearances online, things were ‘great'. The blog was great, the online business was great, life was great. Inwardly, I was having some serious doubts about myself.

First, I started feeling guilty as my income increased. This lead me to feeling embarrassed to share my online income reports. I was worried people wouldn't relate to me or think I was showing off. All it took were a couple of negative emails scolding me for writing online income reports and calling me inappropriate names to lose some confidence. I could get 1,000 great emails, but for some reason, I focused on a few bad ones.

Next, I tried to arrange a blog meet-up with someone back home where I used to live. Unfortunately, she belittled me and let me know she was way too important to run an award-winning blog with a big staff to hang out with someone like me. Ugh, that hurt!  

Finally, I had enough!

For much of the spring, I worked with an amazing life coach. Together we focused on what was going on inside my head. Once I regained my confidence and my purpose, I was able to take all my positivity and apply it to everything else in my life – personally and professionally.

It was an amazing turnaround! I was able to focus on my blog and online business with what felt like a new, fresh set of eyes. I was able to have a stronger picture of what I wanted to accomplish for 2017 and even 2018.

Fortunately, by summer I was in a great place mentally and had a great second half of the year! I felt really confident with the direction my blog and business was taking, happy with what I could offer and provide to others and really at peace with my work-life balance.

2018 word of the year

In 2015, my word of the year was determination.

In 2016, my word or phrase of the year was travel more.

In 2017, my word of the year was bold.

I really like all of my previous words and phrases. If I look back and reflect on each year, I was right on the money!

My 2018 word of the year is expand.

This is a really great way to summarize my 2018 expectations.

Believe In A Budget

This blog continues to grow at a comfortable pace and I'm happy with things. I really don't control the blog that much; the readers do. You guys pretty much let me know what you want to read more about, so I work by answering your questions in the form of a blog post or a weekly email.

I've got some fun projects on the horizon that will most likely come about in the second part of the year, and that gets me really excited. I feel like Believe In A Budget still has a long way to go (and grow!) and it's a constant work in progress.

Pinterest VA

This brand is growing like crazy. Some days it feels hard to keep up with, but in a really good way! Gina and I have really started to spend a lot more of our time on the brand by creating products requested by students and fine tuning the course.

We have a huge to-do list this year! Similar to BIAB, we are working on a lot of projects that won't see fruition until this summer. It's been really exciting to be a part of something that has grown really quickly and helped so many people.

Secret project

I don't know what to call this and I can't write about it yet, but I'm working on a new secret project that has nothing to do with BIAB or Pinterest VA. It's a passion project that will hopefully earn me online income in the future.

I haven't decided when to write about this on BIAB, but I will at some point 🙂 I am documenting the progress and it is in the form of a side hustle, so I will be sharing how it pans out on the blog later this year. I'm still all about the side hustle and this project has a little more creativity, which is something I have been missing from my work life.

Thanks for reading this online income report and my annual blog report. Cheers to a great new year of accomplishing dreams and goals!

Kristin, is the creator behind Believe In A Budget. She teaches others how to start a blog and how to side hustle. Her course, Pinterest Presence, helps bloggers + businesses drive traffic to increase their website's profitability. 

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