Here is my March online income report. I am sharing how I make money online from my blog and business.It's also the end of quarter one, which consists of the months January, February and March.
This online income report will be a little different than my last two income reports. In addition to sharing March's results, I'm also going to include how my blog and online business performed in the first quarter..By sharing my first quarter results, called Q1, I can use 2018's data and compare it to 2015 – 2018. I sound super techy, right?!
March was one of those months that flew by and at the same time, feels like it was forever ago.
In the first part of the month, I was on vacation and off-line. We also went away towards the end of the month for a weekend as well. I didn't worry about my blog or my business thanks to having VAs and work systems set in place so I wouldn't be needed. 🙂
When I was reviewing my to-do list from March and all my notes in my planner (I've been using this planner company for years and love it), I realized it was a big month of work mixed in with a lot of real life things going on. We all can relate to that, right?
Last month felt like it was meeting after meeting. It was countless doctor appointments, vet appointments and working with my accountant to finalize my taxes (mission accomplished!). I've also been working on my Florida house long distance (I bought my first house when I was 23!) as I plan to sell it this year. Having a rental out of state can be tricky and I'm ready to sell it.
I also worked on setting up my new LLC company for my secret side-hustle project I've been working on since December. It has nothing to do with this site or PinterestVA; it's totally different and nothing I've ever done before.
I'll be sharing more about this secret side-hustle project in the near future. As of now, it's been a huge learning process and I'm really hoping it will be profitable! Either way, I'll be sharing my journey here on Believe In A Budget so you guys can learn more about it and decide if it's a side hustle you want to try. And no, it's not MLM or anything like that!
How to Start a Blog
In less than a year, I was able to quit my full time job and make a full time living from my blog. Learn more!
In March, I continued to stick to my 99% work-life balance rule of working Monday to Friday, with no laptop on the weekends. I'm not going to lie – it's hard not to work on the weekend. I enjoy blogging and love my online business, but I know overall it's healthier for me to step away from work for a couple of days and enjoy time away from the computer.
The only difference right now is that I have been bringing out the laptop in the evenings to work on my secret side-hustle as that's the only time of the day I can accomplish some of the work. Needless to say, I'm definitely in work mode at the moment.
There are some time periods where I might work 20 hours per week and things are easier. Right now, that is not the case. I would say I'm working a solid 40-50 hours per week trying to work on three businesses. All of this is my choosing, so any long days and thoughts of anxiety and stress are all self-induced.
For the most part, my work day is structured in order of what brings in the most income:
- Believe In A Budget
- Secret side-hustle project
The top two things keep me pretty busy! Getting to the 3rd item on the list is the tricky part. Similar to when I first started blogging, I have the same mentality when it comes to my secret side-hustle project. To give you an example, back in the day, my work day was structured like this:
- Day job
- Side hustles
Basically, whatever brought in the least amount of income was on the bottom of the totem pole. Now, that doesn't mean blogging or my secret side-hustle project were/are neglected. It just means they came in last place. Gotta make a living and pay the bills first, right?
When I first started blogging, I was putting in a ton of time and investment to the point I started using all my free time to blog. Blogging became my main focus in my spare time because I wanted to be a full time blogger so bad! I would wake up two hours before it was time to go to my day job and then stay up late at night trying to learn as much as possible.
For almost the first year of blogging, I was tired! But all that hard work paid off. I was able to quit my day job and become a full time blogger and live my version of the dream life.
If you are currently feeling overwhelmed or wondering how you can do it all…you can! Be patient, prioritize and things will work in your favor. In the grand scheme of things, being able to start a blog with no experience and quit my day job within a year is a pretty big accomplishment.
By no means do you have to have the same goal as me to be successful! Maybe you want to blog in your spare time because you want to be a SAHM parent or love your day job. Whatever your blogging goal is, I totally support you and hope my blogging story helps you!
So let's get down to business!
If you are new to reading my income reports…
If you are new to reading my blog income reports, here's a quick refresher!
I started my blog in January 2015. 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 can read my first income report to learn how I can make money online. I have now been publishing income reports for almost three 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 very beginning. I'm at an exciting point with my income reports because I can look back at 2015, 2016 and 2017 and compare how much my income and expenses have changed.
I can now compare monthly, quarterly and yearly income. I never knew I'd be so into data, ha!
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 has been HUGE for me. This blog is like an online data diary for me, so I'm really glad I have been documenting everything for so long!
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 Pinterest VA freelancing and Pinterest management. I have always used ads and done sponsored posts when I felt it was a good fit for my blog.
Today my income primarily 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!
Here are some of my previous income reports:
- April 2015 online income report (my very first online income report) $61.83
- May 2015 online income report $61.40
- July 2015 online income report $515
- September 2015 online income report $1,530.94
- October 2015 online income report $3,634.28
- November 2015 online income report $2,007.31
- December 2015 online income report $4,238.99
- February 2016 online income report $3,787.91
- March 2016 online income report $5,041.85
- April 2016 online income report $5,920.52
- June 2016 online income report $9,700.11
- September 2016 online income report $6,682.24
- November 2016 online income report $10,736.55
- January 2017 online income report $26,288.57
- February 2017 online income report $15,170.31
- March 2017 online income report $19,752.67
- June 2017 online income report $29,268.78
- September 2017 online income report $68,856.02
- October 2017 online income report $29,954.89
- December 2017 online income report $18,336.00
- January 2018 online income report $41,502.90
Here's the breakdown of my March online income report:
$26,157.49 Affiliate Income
Total Income: $33,406.12
I highlighted my 2015 – 2017 March income reports to showcase my results over the past few years
In 2015, I made $0. (My blog was only three months old!)
In 2016, I made $5,041.85
In 2017, I made $19,752.67 (I almost quadrupled this amount from the previous year!)
In 2018, I made $33,406.12 (Yippee!)
What's really amazing about watching my increase over the past few years is that I would not have have been able to do this at my day job. Don't get me wrong – I loved my line of work and had a great job.
Unfortunately, I was also at the point where I had pretty much peaked in regards to my position and salary, and I was still pretty young. The thought of making the same amount of income each year working for someone else started bugging me, which is part of the reason this whole blogging thing began 😉
One of the best perks of blogging and having an online business that I run and operate, is that I control my income. Can you imagine where you could be in 1 year, 2 years or 3 years from now? I had NO IDEA what to expect from blogging and my online biz, so looking at the chart above makes me feel really good.
March income report expenses
Here are my March expenses:
$5 Google Apps
$903 VA work + professional services
$2,494 Facebook ads
$14,870 Affiliate and product fee payouts
Total Expenses: $18,271
I also have pre-paid expenses that I have already paid for annually. The reason I switched over to annual plans compared to monthly plans is because of the savings. Pre-paying with an annual plan can save a lot of money!
I would recommend doing this if you feel confident about your purchase. I feel extremely confident about the tools I'm using, but it took me over two years to feel like this with all aspects of being online.
If you are planning on being online for the long term, then you should start looking at your budget. While you don't need to pre-pay for everything at one time, I would start with one service/provider that you love and switch to an annual plan if you can afford it!
I don't include the services below in my monthly budget because I've already paid for them. I do set aside funds for these expenses each month so I can be prepared when their various renewal dates come up.
• Bluehost – this is the hosting company I started with in 2015!
• 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 all my students.
• Teachable – this is the platform where my courses are located. If you are thinking about offering or selling a course, Teachable has a great platform.
• SamCart – this is the checkout page I use to sell my courses and products, as well as pay out affiliates. It's a really smooth platform and has so many features that I utilize on a daily basis. SamCart allows me to view my sales, create reports, etc. It's a must have for my business.
• LeadPages – I use LeadPages to create my email opt-ins and create landing pages. There is a ‘drag and drop' feature that makes it super easy to design and create pages.
• PostPlanner – this is how I schedule my social media posts to Facebook!
• Zapier – this is a magical tool that will connect all the different platforms and tools together so it's a seamless, easy experience for a reader or customer. These are called ‘zaps' because they combine tasks when purchasing products or enrolling in a course! There is pretty much a zap for anything for blogs and online businesses.
I set aside money each month that go towards my annual expenses. That way when an annual payment is due, I already have the funds set aside. Having a buffer for my business is really helpful! This allows me to be financially ready when payments are due without having to take money from that current month's income.
Aside from starting my blog and selecting a theme, I had very few if any expenses for almost my first year of blogging. As my income grew, I was able to invest in more tools (all the ones mentioned above) one at a time.
Finally, this doesn't include things like health insurance or taxes. I was putting 30% aside each month, but now I'm adjusted that to between 30-35% moving forward to account for buffering my business savings account. I also have to plan for things like savings, retirement, my HSA account, etc.
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.
How to use Pinterest to make money online
Ever since I started my blog and to this day, my main source of traffic is still Pinterest, followed by Google and then Facebook! Pinterest allows me to earn a great living online.
By using Pinterest, I can send traffic from Pinterest directly to my website, blog posts or my products. I did so well with Pinterest at an early time, that I became a Pinterest virtual assistant and then started a Pinterest management company.
To date, I've helped over 100 clients with their growing their Pinterest accounts!
As a Tailwind ambassador, which has an official partnership with Pinterest, I have been really fortunate to hone in on my Pinterest skills and stay up to date on all the Pinterest trends and changes.
If you need help with Pinterest, I recommend doing the following:
• Grab this FREE guide below on how your blog or business can grow and make money using Pinterest.
• Use this 20 Step Checklist to make sure your Pinterest account is optimized and ready to go.
• Sign up for Pinterest Presence, which teaches you how to drive traffic back to your website and is full of technical training and marketing strategies. It's how I went from 5,000 monthly page views to over 200,000 monthly page views in roughly six months!
• If you want to learn how to use Pinterest AND start a $500-$1,000 per month side hustle, check out How to Become a Pinterest VA TODAY!
My Quarter One Online Income Report
I haven't done a quarter update in a long, long time! In my first year or so of blogging, I would do an entire blog post that reviewed the previous quarter, my accomplishments and my upcoming goals. I thought it would be fun to dig through some of my older content and do some comparisons!
- In Q1 of 2015, I made ZERO dollars 🙂
- In Q1 of 2016, I made $12,470.65
- In Q1 of 2017, I made $61,211.55 (that's almost 5X more income than the previous year)
- In Q1 of 2018, I made $96,194.02 (that's more than a 150% increase from the previous year!)
This is the first time I've ever written out my quarterly comparison and I'll be honest – I still think this is all insane when it comes to income earned, ha!
I still get the same excitement about blogging now as I did when I first started. It feels unreal to know that I have a 100% say in the above numbers and this is because of me (and of course, also from my course partner Gina from PinterestVA! on our joint venture company).
If you are wondering what the biggest shift in increase income has been for me, I can provide a few insights on my end:
– I increased my sources of revenue for the side hustle/budget part of Believe In A Budget. The more income I have coming in, the more money I can potentially make. For example, in 2016 I probably only recommended a few products I tried. In 2017, as I started trying new things and getting positive results (like Ibotta and Digit), I shared it with you guys.
– Over time, I've recommended a few different courses for fellow bloggers that read my blog:
All courses are totally different and have been helpful for my blog. I'm really picky about courses and it takes me a long time to make a decision, weigh the pros and cons, the time commitment and what I want the end-results and goals to be, so I feel confident talking about the ones mentioned above.
For the majority life span of this blog, I've been primarily a DIYer and run this website on a budget, so I'm careful about spending 🙂
– Next, I started offering my own products. This was based on your feedback, the skills I could share with you that you wanted, etc. This has been an enormous undertaking (creating courses and products is super time consuming and hard!) but knowing I have a small and solid list of workbooks and courses to help you with your blogging, side hustling and Pinterest needs has really helped me grow and solidify my expertise.
Thoughts on sharing my Q1 online income report
I think it's helpful for me to actually go back and look up all this information.
If you are on my email list, you'll know that I'm much more personal in my emails about my struggles with sharing my income reports, how I am not good at telling myself ‘good job' or acknowledging any accomplishments.
Usually if I hit a goal, I cross it off my to-do list and just get to work on the next thing.
Part of that reason has been because I tend to focus on what I didn't accomplish or get done, which needs to stop.
I really need to have some mini-celebrations, which could mean buying a new book, going for a pedi or doing something I wouldn't normally do.
For the past couple of years, in December, I have a #treatyoself tradition (any Park and Recreation fans out there?!).
This was my way of rewarding myself for having a good year. It was the only time I really let myself celebrate!
In 2016, I told myself that if I could make it my first full year of blogging, I would treat myself to a new purse and wallet. It was the best purchase of my life! I'm not that into shopping, so this was a really expensive purchase (for me) and so worth it! Every time I use my purse I think about how much hard work it took to earn that bag!
In 2017, I told myself if I had a better year than 2016, I would go see a concert that was on my bucket list. I had a good year, so we splurged for amazing seats and it was awesome! I am so glad I got to see this artist and it was really fun. Every time I hear this artist on the radio, I think about how fortunate I was to to able to get to see him in concert!
Also, it's not really about the spending and dollar amount. Both of the above were definitely major rewards for myself. I have a hard time justifying spending money like that, so these were both big decisions and rewards!
This year, I don't have any end-of-the-year goals yet. I'm sure I'll think of something!