How I Made $320,888 In One Year – My December Online Income Report and Annual Wrap Up

Welcome to December’s online income report where I show you how I made money online last month. It’s time to look at this month’s update and track how I did. If you’re new here, you may be wondering why I would want to publish my income report each month. You can simply skip to the next section…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: January 30, 2024

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Welcome to December’s online income report where I show you how I made money online last month. It’s time to look at this month’s update and track how I did.

If you’re new here, you may be wondering why I would want to publish my income report each month. You can simply skip to the next section if you’re not new here.

This all started out as my extra income report because in the beginning it was all about the money I was earning from my side jobs. In my side income reports from the beginning, I included all of the income I made except for what I made at my day job.

However, I left my day job as a financial analyst in October of 2013 and now my monthly income reports consist of the many ways I earn a living.

Many have asked why I would ever want to publicly post my income each month. Some think I’m crazy, whereas some are glad I’m open about what I’m doing. Whatever you think, I enjoy publishing my monthly online income reports and I share them publicly for three main reasons:

  • Before I started blogging, I knew nothing about side hustling and making money online. I didn’t think side jobs were worth the effort and I thought the only way to significantly increase your income was through raises and promotions at your full-time job. If it weren’t for others publishing their monthly income reports each month, I don’t know if I would have ever tried side hustling. I want to help show others the positives in side hustling and how it can change a person’s life. There are many different ways to make money online, and I like to share my story each month to help motivate others to improve their financial situation by making more money.
  • Secondly, I like to publish my income reports because it’s a way for me to look back, learn from my mistakes and actually see what areas need improvement. I use my monthly income reports as a way to track how I’ve done and I treat it sort of like a journal.
  • Lastly, I like to show others that making side money is possible and that there are many legitimate ways to make money from your home. If you are looking for information on the many ways to make money online, I published the article Monthly Income Report Roundup – My Favorite Income Bloggers that showcases many successful bloggers who are kind enough to share their income with the public each month. I’ll be publishing an update to this post soon, so please send me an email if you would like me to include your income report.

I know I say this every month, but it’s the truth. Life is great now that I’m my own boss. I look forward to each and every day and it’s a wonderful feeling. I truly love waking up every morning.

Above are just a few of the reasons for why I enjoy publishing my monthly income reports. I like to show others that you don’t have to hate your job and hate your life. You can make changes to your life and make money in a way that allows you to truly enjoy the life you are living. I’m not saying that you have to LOVE your job, I’m just saying that your job should, at least, allow you to do what you like to do outside of work (whether that be spending time with loved ones, painting, hiking, etc.).

$300K 2015 Wrap Up2015 Business Year In Review

Before we begin with my monthly online income update, I want to start off with my 2015 wrap up. 2015 was a great year for many reasons and you will read why below.

In 2013, my business income totaled $116,519. In 2014, it totaled $163,929.

In 2015, I made $320,888.

Yes, that means I almost DOUBLED what I earned in 2014.

Other than being able to double my income, 2015 was also a great year because it jumpstarted our digital nomadic lives. I traveled somewhere every single month in 2015 and we are doing the same in 2016 due to the fact that we will be living in our RV full-time. Being a digital nomad is a ton of fun and I’m glad we are able to live out this dream of ours.

The other main important highlight of 2015 includes the fact that I was able to ramp up my affiliate income throughout the year. In January of 2015, I earned $1,485 from affiliate income. This is a HUGE difference from the $31,915 I received from affiliate programs just in the month of December of 2015.

I think 2016 will be even better too. I learned a lot last year and I plan on improving my business even more this year. Due to this, I am extremely motivated and excited to see what will happen in 2016. I think it will be another fantastic year.

I want to thank all of you for making this possible. Without my readers, I don’t know where I would be.

Update on my business-related goals for 2015:

  • Grow my income by 15% for the year. PASS! I made $163,929 from blogging in 2014 and I made $320,888 in 2015. I almost DOUBLED my income from 2014!
  • Work on affiliate income. PASS! Affiliate income comprises a large part of my monthly income now.
  • Stop being shy. MEH. I would probably consider this to be a fail. This is something I am still working on. Speaking in public just makes me so nervous! I guess a few years of working at home will do that to you…
  • Work on publishing a book. PASS. I’m in the very beginning stages of this.

My business-related goals for 2016:

  • Double my income. Yes, I said double. I would love to double 2015’s income and I think it’s possible considering how well 2015 ended. It won’t be easy, but it will be well worth it.
  • Diversify my affiliate income streams. The majority of my affiliate income comes from Bluehost. While around $15,000 each month comes from other sources, around $25,000 a month comes from Bluehost and that’s something I would like to change. My goal is to increase affiliate income from other sources so that they are equal to or higher than what I’m earning from Bluehost.
  • Stop being shy. Interviews, podcasts, and public speaking still make me nervous, but I know I need to get over my fear so that I can take my blog further.
  • Become a book author. I would like to have this completed this year.
  • Create a course. I really want to create a course and help others more. There are many different topics I am thinking about so this is a hard decision.
  • Increase my page views to 1,000,000 each month. Okay, I realize this is sort of a superficial goal but it’s quantifiable and that’s what I like about it. I would like to hit one million page views a month before the year ends. Wish me luck!

Now, here’s my December income report!

How was my online income in December?

December of 2015 was my best month ever!

It was another great month for business income and work/life balance. I made almost $40,000, which I can’t believe. It’s crazy to think about how I’m managing a great work/life balance while still being able to increase my monthly income.

It’s an amazing feeling. I’m making a great income while enjoying the work I’m doing. I don’t think it gets much better than that!

The business is doing well and I’m very happy with it. I’ve been catching myself saying “Life is really good” a LOT lately. And, I mean it – life is really good. 

Anyway, I earned $39,292 in business income in December, before expenses.

If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial that will help you start a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $3.49 per month (this low price is only through my link) for blog hosting. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free website domain (a $15 value) through my Bluehost link if you purchase at least 12 months of blog hosting. FYI, if you are asking yourself “can you make money blogging?” – my top tip is to be self-hosted. This is essential if you want to monetize your blog as you will appear more professional and this will help you monetize your blog tremendously. My blogging income did not take off until after I switched to self-hosting.

Related articles:

How I Made $300,000 In 2015 - My December Online Income Report and Annual Wrap Up

The number above is for the month of December and before any fees and expenses (some fees and expenses that lower the amount above total around $1,900 (rounded up), which include virtual assistants/staff writers for my other websites, technical assistance on my websites, accountant fees, newsletter expenses, PayPal fees, etc., however, this does not include taxes) being taken out. After expenses and fees, I made approximately $37,392. 

Below are some of my other monthly online income reports. I publish an online income update every month but only included some of them below as it would be a very long list. If you head on over to my online income page you can find all of my monthly income reports from the past few years.

Blog news.

Making Sense of Cents is doing well and I’m very happy with everything.

I have a ton of blog topics already planned for the year and I’m excited to see each one get published. If there’s anything you would like me to cover, please let me know. I get my best ideas from readers!

Pinterest is still one of the main ways I receive referral traffic each month. I’m still using Tailwind and I highly recommend anyone who is interested in Pinterest traffic to try out Tailwind. Tailwind has saved me a ton of time and the analytics the site provides are great. Plus, even though I am automating a lot of my Pinterest work, I am actually seeing an INCREASE in traffic which is great.

Many of you have asked me about BoardBooster as well. BoardBooster is another Pinterest scheduling service and I am currently testing it out on my sister’s blog (FITnancials) to see which one I like better. I’ll let you know soon. They each have their pros and cons so it’s a tough decision.

Also, I have received many questions recently about how I’m staying connected to the internet so that I can work and travel in my RV at the same time. I use a Verizon MiFi and I am able to stay connected pretty much anywhere with it. I don’t know what I would do without this device!

Overall, traffic increased in December and I received around 400,000 page views.

Top new posts on Making Sense of Cents last month:

What should a person blog aboutFeatured Question: What should a person blog about?

I feature one question from a reader in each monthly income report. Please leave a comment below if you have a question that you would like me to include.

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. I always recommend creating a blog around a topic that you are passionate about, that you are an expert in, that you like, or something else along those lines.

This can make blogging more fun instead of a chore.

You can blog about several topics or you can blog about one specific thing such as personal finance. I even recently had someone email me about starting a blog about lizards.

Yes, your blog can be about anything and/or everything. It’s entirely up to you.

Here are some possible blog topic ideas. The list doesn’t end here either. Choose one, all, or some. It’s all up to you.

  • Lifestyle;
  • Home;
  • Family;
  • Finance;
  • Crafts;
  • DIY;
  • Small business;
  • The outdoors;
  • Fitness and health;
  • Food;
  • Inspiration and advice;
  • Animals;
  • Travel;
  • Games;
  • Relationships;
  • School;
  • Electronics; and more!

That’s the beauty about having a blog. It can be anything you want it to be.

Should a person be an expert or have a degree in the niche they choose?

Another question somewhat related to the featured question is if a person should be an “expert” in their niche before they start a blog. I receive this question all the time and, due to that, I definitely think it’s something that needs to be discussed.

I don’t think you need to be an expert or have a degree in most cases when it comes to blogging.

I know many personal finance writers with blogs that track the financial mess they got themselves into. They don’t have financial degrees but are doing very well for themselves and help many people with their blogs. Many times readers just want to hear from you, follow a real person’s journey, read about how a real person made it through a problem, and so on. This is a great example of why degrees are not always needed.

However, if you are wanting to give advice about legal or tax matters where you could get someone in a lot of trouble if you tell them the wrong information, then, yes, you should be an expert.

Past questions:

My plans for my website and making money online.

Without any plans and goals, I think it would be very hard to run a business. Constantly working towards something can help keep a person motivated.

Below are some of the areas I am currently working on:

  • Promote more – I am doing much better at promoting my articles and I’m noticing a huge improvement. One area is still Pinterest – Pinterest brought around 150,000 clicks to my blog just in the month of December. I’m also testing out Facebook ads to see if they are worth it.
  • Create a book – Still working on this.
  • Accept more interviews. – I only took part in a few interviews in December, but I am happy with that.
  • Stop being shy – This is one of my main goals for the future. I am such a shy person and it’s something I need to work on if I want to grow my business.

Staff writing.

I only wrote one article for someone else in December. I only have one planned for January as well. As you can tell, it’s not something I’m working on growing as I am trying to focus on my business and my blog. However, it’s something that I’m still doing on a case-by-case basis.

Related articles:

Affiliate income.

Overall, I earned around $38,000 in affiliate income in December. Last month was the biggest month ever for me in terms of affiliate income.

I won’t see the payments I earned in December until 60-90 days later for most of the affiliate programs I’m in. Due to this, you won’t see those amounts reflected in my monthly income reports until then.

My main form of affiliate income is through Bluehost with my How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost tutorial. However, I am looking to diversify my affiliate income and I have been researching other affiliate programs so that everything isn’t reliant on Bluehost. I’ve been doing somewhat well with diversifying my affiliate income so far, though, with around $15,000 earned last month coming from other affiliate programs.

I spent some time last month looking for new affiliate programs to join. One that I am looking to be more active with is Avant Link and Max Bounty. This is an affiliate link for them, but they have great companies under their program, such as REI. I recommend them if you’re looking for another affiliate program to sign up for.

EDIT July, 2016: I recommend checking out my online course for bloggers, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I earn over $50,000 a month through affiliate marketing and I share my exact strategy and tips in this very informative online course. If you’re a blogger, then you NEED this course.

Annual Income Chart

Breakout of the payments I received in December ($39,292):

  • Staff writing, website management, and consulting – $1,400
  • Website-related (from the 3 websites I own – advertising and partnerships) – $5,977
  • Affiliate income (from BluehostEbates, etc.) – $31,915
  • Miscellaneous (not related to blogging and online income) – $0
  • Mystery shopping – $0

Please keep in mind that I work for myself when you read my monthly income report each month. This means I have to cover taxes (which are over 30%), health insurance, and all other benefits/expenses that an employer may provide.

Comparisons and 2015 online income total (before taxes):

  • Total business income in December: $39,292
  • Business income in November: $30,569
  • Difference: +8,723
  • Total in 2015: $320,888

How was December for you? Are you interested in earning income online?

If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial that will help you start a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $3.49 per month (this low price is only through my link) for blog hosting. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free blog domain (a $15 value) through my Bluehost link if you purchase at least 12 months of blog hosting. FYI, you want to be self-hosted. This is essential if you want to monetize your blog as you will appear more professional and this will help you monetize your blog tremendously. 

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions and statements are 100% mine and links are only placed to help you with your own blogging journey.

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. I’m a HUGE fan of affiliate marketing and did my best this December too. I’m going all in with a new niche and building a website around it. Like you though, I’m concerned about not relying too much on a single program for my income. I have plans though.

    I highly recommend Facebook ads. I did a review of my favorite ad management tool at $37/month with a free 2 week trial without a credit card to try it out. Not enough bloggers use FB ads and are missing out. You will crush it if you start doing them right. http://www.newspapergrl.com/adespresso is my link if you want to check it out. Hopefully I got the spelling right! There’s a review on my blog.

    Congrats! I’m determined to continue to grow my affiliate income too!

    Blog on!
    Janet

  2. FoodLove Girl

    Wow Michelle, so great. Just in case any of us were thinking of bowing out (which I’m not!) – your posts put all those thoughts away. So inspiring. Love it! Congrats!

  3. Sandi

    Wow Michelle. I’ve only just discovered your website (through Pinterest!) and I’m thoroughly inspired. I’ve found it really hard to get enthused to write blog posts and monetize them, but your income report has shown me that it really is possible to make money if I make more effort. Well done on doubling your income and best of luck on you RV adventures. I’m definitely signing up for your newsletter.

  4. tracy collins

    Hi Michelle,

    I have been reading your blog for a long time now and you still give the best financial tips that I have using. And your financial tips have surely helped me with my blog. And this post is truly great you have really grown your income a lot I hope I can do the with my income. Again great post, Michelle. I will continue to read your blog daily.

  5. Nathan

    Congrats on the awesome year. I’d also like to double my blog income but you’re light years ahead of me!

  6. Thanks Michelle for sharing your monthly income reports, they are always a great source of inspiration for me. I just came back and the first thing i did was to check your December income report, great as usual, thumbs up.

  7. Kim Adair

    I am so glad I found your blog, I would like to start affiliate marketing. I am curious to know, how you promote your webhosting (Bluehost) affiliate? You mentioned earlier, that a large part pf your income is from Bluehost, and I have been seeing great affiliates talk about webhosting affiliate income, can be great! So if you can share some tips on promoting webosting, I am all ears,thanks.

  8. Vanessa Jencks

    Michelle, this is encouraging and daunting for me as a writer! My goal is to pay off our debt and move to writing full time as a passionate job rather than my extra time filler. Thanks for laying out all of the details like you have!

  9. TJ

    It’s strange to see so many bloggers get massive money out of BlueHost referrals. How is there that much demand for new websites? I guess the dream of making it big via blogging is very much alive and well.

    Congrats on the awesome success. You are killing it. Is there something in particular that motivates you to want to double your biz income from 300k to 600k? Why isn’t 300k enough annually enough? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I feel llike if I could get 300k in a single year a couple years in a row, I’d have “enough” and might be less motivated by $$$. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Haha, yeah I’m not sure. I can say that I enjoy working with Bluehost. They are great to work with and my affiliate manager is awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

      For your other question, I’m not sure if I know why. I just know that I love setting goals for myself, no matter how crazy they may be ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. TJ

        Whatever works, right!?. Does your husband work on the blog business at this point or does he have another location independent career that was portable for the RV lifestyle?

  10. Congratulations on a stellar month and year! Wow. I seem to have such trouble making affiliate income and I’m not really sure why. I’m very choosy with what products and companies I promote. I think I need to work on figuring that one out this month. Thanks for the push!

  11. You are inspriational! I have blogged for forever and recently switched to self hosting but am struggling on consistency with monetizing and getting my readership up! I need all the tips I can get!!!

  12. Shelly

    This is so inspiring! It sounds like you’ve put a lot of hard work into this, and you are finally being rewarded. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Melanie

    Thank your for sharing – I just discovered your blog and started blogging seriously this year. It’s inspiring to see the opportunities for making money through blogging.

  14. Rosemarie Suda

    I applaud you and all,those who are able to make a successful living this way, but I have never read anywhere, exactly what you and others do to earn this money, whether it is blogging or something else. So again, what is it that these side jobs entail exactly????

    1. Hello,

      I have a blog post that details the different ways to make money blogging – https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2014/07/ways-to-make-pennies-hundreds-thousands-month-by-blogging.html

      If that’s not your question, though, please let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. This is so amazing! I can’t imagine how much work you have put in to earn that kind of income – sometimes the little I do is overwhelming! Congrats on balancing it all and achieving your goals.

    Just “stumbled” upon your blog – I’m excited to see what else is here and discover your little corner of the net.

    Thanks for sharing!
    ~Karina

  16. Great read Michelle, super encouraging as always!

  17. Michelle

    I love reading posts like yours! I’m just starting out and seeing these stories gives me hope as I venture into the blogging world.

  18. Whoa congratulations! The 2015 to 2016 year over year is amazing!
    I hope to someday make enough from my blog to transition to self-employment. One thing I noticed about your blog is that it is very visually stunning and all of the images are Pinterest-friendly. Maybe that is something I will try out on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. Rick Finpari

    Wow 320k, that a lot of cash man. Keep up the good work. At this pace you will double your earnings of 2015 in notime.

  20. Nebly

    Congratulations on all your success! It’s really inspiring and your blog has helped me so much I just love it. I’ve been wanting to maybe start a blog myself, but I feel that I just don’t have the best writing skills. What would you recommend for someone like me?

  21. Hey I just found this on Pinterest!! lol.. Wow you had a great 2015, and i’m sure your 2016 will be even better!!! It is so inspiring to see bloggers post their income reports..I always love to see them.. Congrats!!! This is so awesome!!!