Welcome to May 2017's business income report where I show you how I made money online last month. It's time to look at this month's update and see how I did.
If you're new to Making Sense of Cents, 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 at your full-time job. If it weren't for others publishing their monthly income reports, 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 that showcases many successful bloggers who are kind enough to share their income with the public each month.
I know I say this every month, but it's the truth. Life is great now that I'm my own boss and a full-time blogger. I look forward to each and every day and it's a wonderful feeling. I truly love waking up every single 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.).
How was business income in May of 2017?
I earned $120,104.93 blogging and online in May of 2017, before expenses.
June will be an interesting month for the business. I am going on a 2-week long sailing trip (yes, living on a sailboat and sailing to numerous islands), and I will also be spending a few days both at the beginning and at the end of the sailing trip in the Caribbean at two different hotels. I don't plan on working while on the sailing trip, so that means for over half the month of June I won't be working. This will be my longest trip without working, because I usually have access to internet 24/7. However, I want things to be different this time and try to take a real vacation.
Thankfully, my business has been running pretty smoothly on its own lately with minimal work from me. However, this will be a good test to see what it's like to not work for an extended period of time, as well as to see how the business runs without me checking in on it all the time, haha!
As many of you know, one of the big things I've been working on lately is managing a better work-life balance.
And, I am doing MUCH better lately. In fact, in the month of May, after writing articles for Making Sense of Cents, I found myself only working a few hours each day. This has been true for the past few months, and it has felt great!
I will say that it's been an odd feeling finally having a work-life balance more under control. I feel like I'm forgetting things and thinking that I must be doing something with my time that I must not be realizing.
However, this is just a better work-life balance. I'm no longer wasting time and I'm much more efficient. And, I'll be going over this in a blog post in the next month.
Anyway, to get back to my monthly income…
This makes May my fifth consecutive month with income over $100,000. I never thought that I would ever earn over $100,000 a month, especially with a blogging business, and it's crazy to think about how I earned over $120,000 last month alone.
While my income levels are high, I do want everyone to remember that I started at $0 a month and have grown my income to where it's at now through a lot of hard work.
Before you think that $100 or even $1,000 is out of your league, you should remember that it is not!
I, myself, used to think that it would be great to one day earn $1,000 online and through my blog. I looked up to many bloggers who were earning over $10,000 a month, and I thought that was impossible.
Now, I'm here to show everyone that it is possible! Through hard work and dedication, you never know where life may lead you.
This great business income month, despite minimal hours worked, was due to a few different things that I've been working on lately:
- I'm focusing on diversifying my income. In 2016, I finally created my first for-sale product, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. This helped me to diversify my business and try a new form of income. Now, my business income primarily consists of affiliate marketing, a product, sponsorships, and advertising, which is a mix that I’m very happy with. Also, I'm making a better effort at diversifying my affiliate income as well, so that I earn a larger share of income from different companies.
- I'm focusing on my email list. I didn’t start taking my email list seriously until around April of 2016 when I switched to Convertkit. Convertkit makes sending an effective and efficient newsletter so much easier and better. I never really understood email marketing before, but ConvertKit makes it so easy and now I feel like I’m an expert! I now have over 50,000 email subscribers. One of my biggest blogging mistakes was waiting years to start my email list. If you don’t have one yet, you should start ASAP!
- I'm spending more time on Facebook. I started 2016 with just around 6,500 Facebook followers and ended the year with 38,000. At the end of May of 2017, I was already at 68,000. I owe a lot of that to the ebook Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing. Growing my Facebook page has allowed me to reach new readers, improve my blogging income, grow my email list, and more.
As you can see, May was another great month. It was great on all fronts – blogging, course-wise, life, and everything else.
I'm very excited for the year. I know it will be another great year! The business is doing well and I'm very happy with it. I've been catching myself saying “Life is really good” a LOT. And, I truly mean it. Life is really good!
My business is growing, income is increasing, I have tons of amazing ideas for 2017, and I am very excited about everything. I really love my business and I don't know where I would be without it.
My Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course is still doing very well and I had many new students join the course last month. I think a lot of this has to do with all of the amazing reviews that I'm hearing about my course such as:
“Since taking Michelle's course 5 months ago, my page view average has been 36,715 but my affiliate marketing income has grown from an average of $272.94 per month to $4,400.19 per month. That’s more than 1,500% growth! Within just 5 quick months, I’ve made more than $21,000 directly from the affiliate marketing tips in this course…. I made more than $10,000 in just March 2017 alone! Low page views is not an excuse for low affiliate marketing income. You don’t have to struggle to earn a few dollars a month. Invest in yourself & get educated to start building your business right away. Let Michelle show you how an expert does it!” – Saira Perl, Blogger, MomResource
And these as well:
- One blogger went from $0 in Amazon affiliate income to over $1,500 after taking the course.
- One blogger went from $87 a month in affiliate income before taking the course, to over $1,700 a month after!
- One blogger received their first affiliate sale just two days after taking the course (and they were a brand new blogger too!).
- Another blogger doubled their monthly affiliate income from $2,500 to $5,000.
Plus, I've heard and read many other great reviews about my course.
If you're a blogger, I recommend checking out my blogging course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I share my exact strategy and tips in this very informative online course. If you're a blogger, then you need to check out this course.
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 $2.75 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-hosted WordPress.
Breakout of May 2017 income – $120,104.93
In May of 2017, I earned $120,104.93 from my blog. Below is how my income breaks apart in the different blogging income categories:
- Affiliate income – $56,918.93 total:
- Bluehost (check out my tutorial on how to start a blog) – $33,855.00
- Survey companies – $11,720.50
- How I Grew My Facebook Page From 2,000 to 100,000 in Five Months – $1,695.60
- Bookkeeper Business Academy – $1,377.50
- Ebates – $1,000.00 (estimated as this is a tiered affiliate program)
- Student loan refinancing – $600.00
- How To Work From Home Selling On Amazon FBA – $403.50
- ConvertKit – $308.61
- $5 Meal Plan – $252.24
- Personal Capital – $200.00
- Uber – $190.00
- Beautiful Dawn Designs – $141.00
- Izea/SponsoredTweets – $123.98
- Ibotta – $50.00
- 17 Strategies Used to Go From 17K to 350K+ Page Views in 9 Months – $40.00
- Miscellaneous affiliates – $4,961.00 (I had a launch earlier in the year which I'm not allowed to share the exact earnings from, as well as a few other products that I sold as well during the month).
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course – $41,586.00
- Sponsorships and advertising- $18,775.00
- Display advertising – $2,825.00
The income amount above is for the month of May and before any fees or expenses (some fees and expenses that lower the amount above total around $4,100 (rounded up), which include virtual assistants, Teachable course platform fee, technical assistance, newsletter expenses, PayPal fees, Stripe fees, etc., however, this does not include taxes) being taken out. I also had expenses for the affiliates promoting my course, which totaled $11,834.45. After expenses and fees, I made approximately $104,170.48
Please keep in mind that I work for myself when you read my monthly income report. This means I have to cover taxes (which are over 30%), health insurance, and all other benefits/expenses that an employer may provide.
Check out The Ultimate Guide To Making Money Blogging for all of the different ways you can make money through a blog.
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 income page you can find all of my monthly income reports from the past few years.
- $672 extra in May (2012)
- $6,523 in January Extra Income (2013)
- $11,927 in October Income – I Finally Left My Job (2013)
- $12,640 in January Income (2014)
- $23,758 in February Income – My Monthly Online Income Report (2015)
- How I Made $300,000 Online In 2015
- How I Made $979,321 In 2016
Comparisons and 2017 business income total:
- Total income in May of 2017: $120,104
- Total income in April of 2017: $131,448
- Difference from the previous month: -$11,344
- Total in 2017: $681,852
Making Sense of Cents is doing very well and I'm happy with how everything is going. The summer months tend to be a slow time for blogs so it is expected for income and traffic to dip as well.
I spent most of the time in May working on future plans for Making Sense of Cents, which I'm excited to see happen.
I also had a coaching call with Ruth Soukup from Livingwellspendingless so that I could learn more about how she runs her successful 25+ employee business. I did this so that I could see how someone was running a blog completely opposite from my methods. Ruth has a huge team, which is completely different from Making Sense of Cents. I made many notes and it led to a lot of things for me to think about.
Overall, traffic for the month was around 415,000 page views.
Below are several blog-related updates:
- I finally started a community group for Making Sense of Cents. This is a Facebook group in which you can seek advice from other readers on all sorts of topics such as finance, blogging, travel, running a business, and so on. There are already over 5,000 members!
- I created a new series on my blog where I interview extraordinary people who are doing interesting things in life. First, I interviewed JP, who retired at the age of 28 with a net worth over $2,000,000. In May, How This Couple Bought an $11,500 RV, Traveled To All 50 States, and Built A Thriving Business went live. Other interviews I already have in the works include a landlord under the age of 30 with 8 rentals, a full-time sailing couple, and more. I'm extremely excited about this new interview series! If there's anyone you would like me to interview, please leave a comment and let me know.
- I released my How To Start A Blog FREE Course. If you’ve been wanting to start a blog, then check this out. I created this email course for those who are interested in starting a blog, but haven’t done so yet. The course is free, and over 20,000 people have already signed up just in the past few months. Thank you to everyone who has sent me kind emails about how great the course is. I don't know why I didn't do this sooner!
- Due to how well my first free course went, I also created the free Master Your Money email course. It's full of great money management lessons and financial worksheets (such as a free budget template), and I'm loving the positive response from this email course as well.
- I have plans for my third free email course and I will most likely put that together sometime in the next month or two.
Just a quick note before we continue. I recently created a time-saving cheat sheet that can help you increase your affiliate income. Sign up below!
Popular new posts on Making Sense of Cents last month:
- I’m a Female Breadwinner! I Earn Much More Than My Husband – So What?
- How This Couple Bought an $11,500 RV, Traveled To All 50 States, and Built A Thriving Business
- 28 Money And Life Lessons I’ve Learned
- How I Saved $45,000 In Three Years To Create A Life Of Travel
- How To Save Money In The Summer And Still Have Fun
- 6 Important Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying A Home
- Every Dog/Cat Deserves a Home But Not Every Home Deserves A Pet
- The Danger Of Normalizing Your Debt – Stop Living Like Everyone Else
- Challenge Everything! Are You Wasting Thousands of Dollars On These 14 Things?
Featured Question: How can I start my own blog?
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 answer.
I started my blog in August of 2011, and it’s something that has completely changed my life.
Back then, I never thought about making money blogging. I don't think I even looked into how to make money with a blog back then, as it was never my goal. I certainly never thought blogging would drastically change my future, but I’m so glad I gave it a shot.
Blogging has allowed us to leave our day jobs, travel full-time, see family and friends more, meet great people, and have one great life.
Although I publish income reports and have a free blogging course, I am still often asked how a person can start their own blog. My number one tip would be to sign up for my free blogging course. This will go over the exact things you need to do.
Starting a new blog is a lot of fun. However, you may have many questions about what to do next so that you can make money blogging, attract readers, and have a great blog.
I never had an official blog launch, but it probably would have helped things go a little more smoothly in the beginning!
Here are my quick tips for starting a blog of your own:
- Pick a topic you enjoy. Blogging can easily get tiring if you don't enjoy what you're writing about. Due to this, I always recommend blogging about a topic that you enjoy. Luckily, you can write about whatever you want: Food/cooking/baking, family, lifestyle (your life), travel, finance, photography, humor, and more. I recommend thinking of a topic, and then making a list of 10-20 blog post topics to see if it's a topic that you'd enjoy having a whole blog about.
- Start a self-hosted blog. If you want to start a blog the correct way, you must be self-hosted. This can help you grow a following, improve your traffic, make money, attract advertisers, and more. If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I also have a tutorial that will help you start a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $2.75 per month for blog hosting. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free website domain (a $15 value).
- Produce high-quality content. If you don't want to read your blog posts, I doubt anyone else does! Luckily, this isn't as hard as it sounds. This is one big reason why I recommend writing about a subject that you enjoy. This way, you can pour passion into your writing and it's much more enjoyable.
- Have blog posts already published. I recommend having at least a few blog posts already published on your blog so that new readers can have a sense of what your blog will be like. This way, they may be more likely to subscribe and click around. However, having a ton of blog posts most likely is not needed because in the beginning you probably won't have a ton of viewers right away.
- Have blog posts scheduled. As a new blogger, you may feel overwhelmed in the beginning. This is a normal feeling. Having blog posts ready and scheduled for future dates can take a lot of the stress off.
- Create social media accounts. There are many social media outlets that exist. I recommend looking into creating an account for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and more. While that may seem like a lot, you can automate a lot of it.
- Have an About page. New readers will want to know more about you and who the writer is.
- Network with other bloggers. Many new bloggers see other bloggers as competition. You should not feel that way! Instead, make friends with other bloggers, attend conferences, help other bloggers if you can, interact on social media, and more.
- Publish a blog post at least once per week. If you disappear for 6 months at a time, readers may forget about you. You should publish a blog post regularly, and this amount varies from blog to blog. The key here is to make it regular and consistent.
- Guest post on other blogs. This can help get your name out there, bring new readers to your blog, meet other bloggers, and more.
As you can tell, there are many things you can do in order to launch your blog successfully. The best thing you can do, though, is to have fun! I still get excited about blogging each and every day, and it's a great feeling.
Past featured questions:
- How do I increase my affiliate income?
- Do I need millions of page views a month in order to make money blogging?
- How do you build websites up to sell them?
- Do only celebrities make money through owning websites?
- How much money can a person make blogging?
- Where does blog income come from?
- Is there enough room for new bloggers to make money?
- What should a person blog about?
- How can a blogger increase their page views?
- Should my blog be self-hosted?
- What blogging tools or resources do you recommend?
- What should you do when a blog post goes viral?
- What is affiliate marketing?
- What did I learn from launching my course?
- What should you do when you're feeling blogger burnout?
- How can a blogging conference help me?
- Why does a blogger need to have an email list?
- How can I make more blogging income around the holidays?
- Where do you get your photos from for your blog?
- What are easy affiliate programs for new bloggers?
- What are some affiliate program ideas for different niches?
- What blogging ebooks and courses do you recommend?
My plans for my blog and my business.
Plans and goals can help you run a successful business. I believe that working towards a goal can help keep a person motivated too.
Below are some of the areas I am currently working on:
- Earn $1,000,000 from my business in 2017. This is a new goal for 2017. Many of you have asked why I didn't increase my goal to $2,000,000 for 2017 since I was so close to $1,000,000 in 2016 already. Well, the main reason for that is because my overall goal for the year is to have a better work-life balance, and, instead, earn more passive income from my blogging business.
- Have a better work-life balance. This is my main goal for 2017 as quickly mentioned above. This is an area that I have been doing much better with. While I have quite a nice work-life balance compared to just a few months ago, I would like to be able to take a break from my blog without constantly checking my phone or laptop. Even just a day would be nice! I love my business, so that makes it hard for me to step away from it, even for just a few hours.
- Get at least three months ahead on Making Sense of Cents posts. I am currently 2 months ahead in content. I would like to be at least 3 months ahead in content. Being ahead in content makes life much more enjoyable because I can focus on other things knowing that the majority of my writing work is already done. We plan on visiting many new places this spring and summer, and we have a 2-week sailing trip coming up, so I am trying to get as far ahead as I can in preparation for no internet (or really bad internet service).
- Grow Making Sense of Cents to 1,000,000 monthly page views. I would love to help more readers, see even more engagement, have higher traffic, and so on. I love my blog and I would love to see it grow! I’m hoping to see at least 1,000,000 monthly page views by the end of 2017.
- Start doing more live interviews, such as podcasts and webinars. I’m not as shy as I used to be, but living in an RV and not always having internet or a reliable schedule makes podcasts and webinars are a little more difficult. I hope to find a way around that (perhaps planning out a better schedule?) and dedicate more time to this area.
- Create one more product to sell. In 2016, I created Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, and that has completely changed my life and my business. I would like to think about and create another product to sell in 2017 so that I can continue to diversify my income.
- Promote the blog and business better. I am doing much better at promoting my blog and content, and I'm noticing an improvement. I started focusing more on improving my traffic from Facebook, and I've been very pleased with the results. I used to only see around 100 visits a day from Facebook, but for the past few months, I have been seeing around 2,000+ visits a day from Facebook.
- Continue learning and improving. I am not currently working on any ebooks or courses. What are some good ones right now that you're taking?
Affiliate income results.
In May of 2017, I earned $56,918.93 in affiliate income, as outlined earlier in this blog income report.
May was a great month for affiliate income and I didn't spend more than one hour on my affiliate marketing strategies for the whole month. Instead, it was nearly 100% passive affiliate income (which is my favorite form of affiliate income) and reliant on old content here on Making Sense of Cents.
I didn't publish a single affiliate-related blog post in May, so it just goes to show how passive affiliate income can be!
I'm a very big fan of affiliate income, of course. It's something that I enjoy due to how passive it can be. It makes full-time traveling much more enjoyable when I know I can bring in an income while having fun seeing new areas.
As I always say, blogging income is not dependent on page views. Even brand new bloggers can make money through affiliate marketing. If you know the correct way to promote a product, you can succeed at affiliate marketing. This is one of the main things I teach in my Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course.
My affiliate marketing course went live in July of 2016. I've already had over 2,500 people purchase the course, and I'd love to have you as a student as well!
In the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, there are 6 modules, over 30 lessons, several worksheets, bonuses, an extremely helpful and exclusive Facebook group, and more. I go through everything that you need to know about affiliate marketing, such as:
- A quick introduction to affiliate marketing and how it works
- The benefits of affiliate marketing
- The exact steps I've taken to earn over $500,000 from a single blog post
- How to correctly pick affiliate products to promote
- The steps to increase your conversion rate
- 80+ Affiliate program ideas for different niches
- How to build trust with your readers (this is a MUST!)
- The required disclosures you need to know about
- The major tool you need for affiliate marketing
- The many different strategies to promote your affiliate links
My course is anything and everything about affiliate marketing. This course is perfect for you whether you are a new blogger or if you've been blogging for years, no matter what topic your blog is about, what country you live in, and so on.
I wrote this course so that it would benefit everyone, and there is so much to learn from it.
How was May for you? Are you interested in earning blogging income?
How To Start A Blog FREE Email Course
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