When I left my full-time job in April, I think the majority of people (who didn't know me super well, or who didn't actively read my site, L Bee and the Money Tree) thought I left my job to become a full time blogger. I get the sense this is the misconception because of the handful of times I've been introduced as "This is Lauren, she blogs for a living" or some variant thereof these last six months.
I love blogging. I identify myself as a blogger and influencer, but I do not make a full-time living off the blog. That's not to say I'm not proud of what I've accomplished, but I don't make a full-time person's salary off it. At least not yet.
But I do get asked a lot "How is it you make money from blogging?" which is a great question and one I wanted to answer, and I thought I would share with you today just how much I've made in the last three years as a blogger.
First Let Me Detail the Ways I Make Money As a Blogger
Native Advertising: Better known as sponsored posts, brands will pay me for posts that mention their business, review a product, or contain relevant, valuable content related to what they offer. They do this because they want to gain exposure or drive traffic to a certain site or piece of content. I love doing these and it's nice to see in the last year and a half or so how much brands have embraced working with bloggers!
Blog Coaching: I offer one-on-one sessions to beginner bloggers who want to learn a lot in a short amount of time and expand their brands and websites to become online income generators. This is something I just started offering this year and it has been exciting to see it take off!
Branded Campaigns: Similar to sponsored posts but the brands will pay for multiple posts and social messages over a set period of time.
Ad Networks: I participate in a handful of ad networks (like BlogHer and Google Adsense) who run ads on my site and pay me for it.
Video Sponsorships: I've only recently gotten into this revenue stream, but I like it a lot. With video I have to pay my brother's production company to help me produce the videos but it's a double win of exposure for me, exposure for the brand, video for their site + revenue for my pocket.
Appearances and Speaking: I've also done appearances at conferences and local events for travel expenses and a fee. Sometimes I prepare a presentation and speak, other times I sit on a panel and talk on a given topic (like the awesome one I did with Prudential this summer.)
Freelance Finance Writing - Because I blog about money, I've received many offers through the years for paid finance writing gigs on other websites. I used to do a lot more of this in the early days, although now I almost exclusively write finance content for LBMT.
What Isn't Included (or things other bloggers do that I don't... yet)
Affiliate Advertising: A lot of bloggers do affiliate advertising. Some do it very, very well. Affiliate advertising works like this: brands (via affiliate networks) will give bloggers links to products or services. Bloggers embed those links into their posts and then they get a "fee" or "commission" of whatever business they bring to that brand. I'm simplifying it, but you get the idea. I've struggled with doing affiliates in the past because a) I never want to rep something I don't use and b) I have weird feels about writing about credit cards to use because of my own history with credit. Now that I've learned more about it and more and more brands are working with affiliates, it is something I am looking to expand into this year.
Product and Book Sales: I attempted to sell my Grow Your Money Tree tool kit for a hot second before I decided to give it away for free as a thank you for joining the newsletter list (Get your free copy here!). Eventually I hope to have more digital downloads and an e-book on homeownership to sell on the site... you know, if I could ever find the time to sit down and finish it. ;)
Product Reviews: In the three years I've been blogging I've received well over $1,000 of free product and books.
My Blogging Income (Year over Year)
With all these ways to make money, blogging can be (and is for me) incredibly lucrative. But I love it. I blogged before I got paid and I'd continue to blog even if no one gave me a dime. With that said getting paid for something I'm passionate about (whether you call it a career or a "hobby") is awesome.
It is also important to note here that I did not include any of the income from my content marketing business, Beehive Content, in these totals. While I have gotten LEADS from my blog, my client work isn't about personal finance and blog articles, so I chose not to include it.
If I included work I got from people who saw my site and said "hey come do that for my company!" the number below would be GIANT, which I didn't feel was an accurate reflection of the type of money you can make simply by being a blogger (which is what this article is all about!)
The numbers below also don't reflect the intangibles: like how this blog helped me completely shift careers without going back to school, enabled me to bone up on expertise so I now have a solid background in B2B marketing and copywriting, and lead me on adventures I'd never thought I'd have and meet some of the coolest people on the planet. There are certain aspects of the blogger lifestyle you can't put a price on.
Now What You've Been Waiting For! The Numbers!
YTD Blog Income Total (2012) - $1,395 (I blogged 7 months of 2012)
YTD Blog Income Total (2013) - $8,255
YTD Blog Income Total (2014) - $11,345
YTD Blog Income Total (2015) - $16, 604.59 (thru September 2015)
Total Lifetime Blog Earnings = $37, 599.49 (in 3.5 years)
$37k over three years (or roughly, $11,000 a year) may not seem like a lot to some, especially compared to mega bloggers who make that much in a month. To others, it may feel like a ton of money. For me, I am happy but focused on growth.
My current take-home income is about 35-40% what I make from the blog. In September 2015 I took home $5,050 in blog income alone, which makes September the first month I matched my former corporate salary just by blogging alone and it happened when I least expected it!
And don't forget--->Having a professional, money-making blog is an excellent portfolio piece and is living proof I know how to write and market myself and my "brand" online. It always comes up in interviews and people always want to know more.
What do you think? Is this what you thought bloggers made? What aspects of it surprised you?
This post originally appeared on L Bee and the Money Tree.