Welcome to March’s business report where I show you how I made money online and traveled full-time 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 business report each month.
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 business reports consist of the many ways I earn a living with my business.
Many have asked why I would ever want to publicly talk about what I’m working on 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 business 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 business blogging 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 blogging reports as a way to track how I’ve done and it helps to keep me accountable.
- 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.
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.).
Quick reminder on the recent big announcement.
I want to repeat the announcement again because I know that I will be asked questions – How I Made Over $1,500,000 In 2018 – Is This The End Of Income Reports? so that no one is confused. I’m sure I’ll receive many questions from readers who missed it.
As you all know, for quite some time I have been thinking about getting rid of my monthly income reports. However, whenever I would mention this in an income report, 99.9999999% of you asked me to continue on. Due to that, I want to find a happier way to continue with them.
Now, these will be “Business Reports” where I talk about how the business is doing, my goals, etc. Basically, everything will be the same, except there will be no more numbers.
Instead of breaking my income apart down to the exact figure, I am including a pie chart. Many of you asked that I still do this so that you can see where income is coming from.
If you’re looking for actual numbers, I did publish income reports for several years that talked about how much I earned from specific sources. You can find every single income report here.
I really don’t think too much will change. Instead, I want these monthly reports to be more helpful, instead of focused on just the numbers. I will still be answering reader questions, talking about what I’m working on, and so on, so I still think these will be extremely beneficial.
My monthly blogging reports will probably be a little different month-to-month for a little bit while I play around with this new direction.
Many of you have asked “Did your blogging income drop after getting rid of the numbers in your income reports?”
It’s only been a couple of months since I decided to stop publishing the exact numbers in each income report, and I also definitely do not know what direction I’m going with these still.
Many of you have wondered if my income has dropped because I’m now no longer showing readers exactly how much I am earning.
I was curious too to see if this would impact my earnings at all.
Well, after just a couple of months, traffic appears to be the same, and email subscriber growth is the exact same as well.
Most readers have completely understood me wanting to get rid of the numbers aspect of income reports, which has been nice!
So, it doesn’t look like it will change anything at all.
If there’s anything new that you would like me to add to these monthly reports, please let me know in the comments below!
How was business income in March of 2019?
In case you are new, the main areas I earn a living from include:
- Affiliate Marketing – This is the largest chunk of my income.
- Sponsored Partnerships
- Courses – Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course and Making Sense of Sponsored Posts
- Display Advertising – I use Adthrive. Another great option is Mediavine.
Check out How I Successfully Built A $1,000,000+ Blog for all of the different ways you can make money through a blog.
March of 2019 was another great month for Making Sense of Cents and the whole blogging business. I earned a great income and enjoyed my month.
March was an amazing month for affiliate income, and the other areas were great as well. All income areas were up in March which was especially great because we sailed a ton in March and I spent nearly the whole month not working. Instead, I focused on having fun and enjoying the Bahamas!
I have many plans for the rest of 2019, and I have a jam packed to-do list that I am very excited to start crossing off and accomplishing.
The month was great in many areas – blogging, course-wise, life, and everything else. The business is doing well and I’m very happy with it. My business is growing, I have a lot of ideas for this year, and I am very excited about everything. I really love my business and I don’t know where I would be without it.
Below are some of my 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
- How I Made $1,536,732 In 2017
- How I Made Over $1,500,000 In 2018
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.
March was a really amazing month.
In March, we sailed from the Berry Islands to Nassau (New Providence Island), then down to the Exumas, over to Eleuthera, back to Nassau, back to the Berry Islands, to Bimini, and we are now back in Florida for some boat work.
It was a jam packed month with lots of exploring.
Wes and I both agree that March was our best month on the boat yet, so it was sad to turn around and head back to Florida!
We were going to spend more time in the Bahamas, but we realized that if we want to head north for hurricane season this year, then we really need to get the boat tasks completed to make it in time.
We are very excited to head north, so I’m hoping that actually happens!
Anyway, if you have a website, then you’ve probably heard of the Social Warfare disaster. To quickly summarize, this very popular social sharing plugin that many, many bloggers use, was hacked and it caused sites to redirect to not-so-nice websites. During this fiasco, I decided to switch to Social Pug. It’s very similar to Social Warfare without all of the recent issues they seem to be having.
Below are several other business and blog-related updates:
- I’m currently around one month ahead in blog posts. I would like to be around 2-3 months ahead.
- Traffic for the month was around 400,000 page views.
- I am working on a series where I will help readers with specific financial questions, and tutorials to go along with them. Topics such as: How to open a bank account, How to write a check, Finding an online bank, Building and creating an investment account, etc. What other topics would you like to see me cover?
- My community group for Making Sense of Cents is continuing to grow. 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 14,000 members!
- 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 50,000 people have already signed up. Thank you, everyone, for the kind emails about how great the course is. Glad everyone is enjoying it!
- 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.
- Other freebies I have include 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income and 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog.
Popular new posts on Making Sense of Cents last month:
- Less Stuff, More Freedom
- Is Your Job Costing You Too Much Money Each Year?
- Make Extra Money By Learning How To Teach English Online
- 10 Easy And Affordable Meal Prep Ideas
- 50+ Crazy Things People Have Done To Save Money
- Top 5 Credit Card Mistakes And How To Avoid Them
- How I Made Over $1,000,000 in Photography Without Being a Pro
Featured Question: Where do you find photos for your 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.
This is a question I receive nearly every single day.
As a blogger, pictures are important. They can help explain your story, break up text to make a blog post easier to read, and you need them for social media too (such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram).
For pictures, you cannot just Google Image search pictures and take them. You also cannot just go on Pinterest and take images from there either. Doing one of those two things may get you in trouble with the person who owns the photos. Similar to how you wouldn’t want someone to copy and paste a blog post of yours, you shouldn’t take photos without permission.
Currently, I source the pictures I use from three main areas:
- My own photos. These are usually found in my travel-related content and Instagram. I use both my iPhone 6 and my super old DSLR for pictures. Photography is an area that I’m still looking to improve, so I mainly use the two forms below for the majority of the pictures I publish directly on Making Sense of Cents.
- Ivory Mix. I absolutely love IvoryMix. They have great stock photos that fit perfectly with the vibe of Making Sense of Cents. There are over 100 photos added monthly, you can use them on your blog, social media, and more, and you get unlimited download access.
- Stock Unlimited. AppSumo recently launched a deal I’m super excited about for StockUnlimited, a massive stock photo library with over 1,000,000 premium assets. Yearly access to StockUnlimited is typically $684, but AppSumo is running a limited time deal that lets you have access for $49 for 3 years! I just got Stock Unlimited the other day and it looks like a good deal to me.
Where do you get your blog photos from? Please share in the comments below.
- Is it too late to start a blog?
- How much does it cost to start a blog?
- 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 by 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- Did you start your blog to make money?
- Do you mind sharing a detailed list of what processes you have with new blog posts?
- How should a person come up with a blog name?
- How can a blogger make more money around the holidays?
- How do you keep track of accounting and taxes for your business?
- What are your biggest blogging mistakes?
- What should I blog about?
- How can I learn how to use social media for my blog?
- How do you deal with a blogging slump?
- What’s the best topic to write about so that I can make money blogging?
- How can a blogger build relationships and network?
- How do you come up with ideas for new blog posts?
- What are the top things you’ve learned recently?
- What’s your next favorite way to make money blogging?
- Can a new blogger start with sponsored posts?
- Did you ever think you would earn this amount of income?
- If blogging is so great, why doesn’t everyone do it?
My plans and goals for my blog and my business.
In April, we won’t be moving the boat as we will be focusing on boat work. While it’ll be a busy month, I have a long to-do list of blogging work that I would like to be able to complete.
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:
- Complete the Facebook Ads For Bloggers course. There are two courses that I am really wanting to finish so that I can continue to grow Making Sense of Cents. Learning about Facebooks ads is so important and I think I will benefit from this course a lot.
- Complete the Stupid Simple SEO course. This is the second course. SEO is something I just have never really spent much time on, so I know that this course will be extremely helpful!
- Get to Inbox 0. After several months in the Bahamas, my inbox is out of control. I also have around 5 or 6 different to-do lists that are work, life, and boat-related that need to be addressed before I go crazy, haha!
- Create a freebie optin for affiliates to share for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I have been asked by several affiliates for this, and I’m glad to finally start working on it! This is a great thing to do because my affiliates can easily promote my course with this freebie optin, and then be credited for future sales. For me, as an affiliate for other products, freebie optins are usually the very first thing I promote (as well as my favorite) because it’s a great way to introduce an audience to a new product/service/company.
- Get at least three months ahead on Making Sense of Cents posts. Being ahead in blog posts makes life much more enjoyable because I can focus on other things knowing that the majority of my writing work is already done. This is one of my major 2019 goals!
- Work less than 30 hours per week. For the most part, I am working less than 30 hours per week. However, there are some weeks when I spend all day and night on my laptop, not even sure where the day went. Due to that, I would like to continue to work on a better work/life balance.
- Be more present. My main goal in 2019 is to be more present, and I recently wrote about it here – My Quest To Be More Present And Enjoy Life More. I’m excited for the year of travel and sailing we have ahead of us, and I want to enjoy it as much as we can. I’ve been so focused on the business the last several years, that I want this year to be focused on life outside of business. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE running Making Sense of Cents, and that’s what makes it so hard to break away and be more present outside of work.
- Have fun. Okay, so this isn’t really a goal that is quantifiable or something that I’ll track, haha, but I am really looking forward to 2019!
Affiliate marketing results.
Affiliate income was at a great level in March. I made a six figure income from affiliate marketing in March due to an affiliate launch that I took part in.
And, I have plans to keep it at this level for the foreseeable future.
Some of the things I am working on to improve my affiliate income include:
- Planning out 2019 for affiliate offers. I’m not really much of a huge planner, but I am changing that in 2019. I already have affiliate promotions planned out for the first 7 months of 2019. This will help to keep me organized and better prepared.
- Learning about SEO and applying techniques to my blog. This past guest post has me super interested in starting to take SEO seriously – The exact template that helped my site earn $95,000 in affiliate income last year.
- Using Facebook ads to my affiliate marketing advantage. This past guest post also has me interested in growing in this way as well – How One Blogger Grew His Blog to Over 2 Million Visitors In A Year.
- Creating a high-quality funnel. Funnels are something that I have never really spent any time on, but I would like to change that. I want to create a high-quality funnel where I continue to give valuable information to my readers, and keep them happy for the times when I may not have the greatest wifi.
- Continuing to grow the reach of Making Sense of Cents. Traffic has been a little stuck lately, and I want to change that! I want to see what I can do to grow the traffic, as that will help me to reach new readers.
- Analyzing popular affiliate blog posts to see how they can be improved for the future.
- Seeking out new affiliate products to promote, and seeing what my audience is interested in.
Earning affiliate income is something that I’m extremely grateful for, especially lately. We have been so busy lately and I haven’t spent as much time towards the business as I would normally like.
Even though I am spending less time on the business, I am still earning a great income each month and this allows me to focus on a better work-life balance.
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.
If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing, I recommend getting the free guide 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income. With this time-saving cheat sheet, you’ll learn how to make affiliate income from your blog. These tips will help you to rapidly improve your results and increase your blogging income in no time.
I also have a course too!
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 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 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.
Sponsored partnership results.
March was another great month for sponsored partnerships. That is because the first quarter of each year is usually a popular one for financial blogs. Page views are up and readers are interested in improving their finances due to making new annual goals.
Due to this, I formed new sponsored partnerships with a few financial companies in the first quarter of 2019.
For some reason, sponsored blog posts and sponsored social media ads seem to scare bloggers, whether they are brand new or have been blogging for years.
What do I charge? How do I find companies who will want to work with me? What are the rules?
There are SO MANY QUESTIONS when it comes to sponsored posts.
It makes sense – sponsored partnerships are something that probably 99.9% of bloggers want to pursue, but the problem is that they have no idea where to start.
I started Making Sense of Cents in August of 2011, at the age of 22, without any hopes of ever earning an income from it. It started as a hobby – just a way to journal my life and talk about my personal finance situation.
Then, around six months after I started my blog, a blogger friend of mine connected me with an advertiser and I earned $100 from that advertisement.
It wasn’t a lot of money, especially considering the amount of time and work I had already put towards my blog. However, it was very motivating to see that something I absolutely loved to do could actually make money. I honestly had no idea that blogs could even make money when I started mine!
After that first $100, my blogging income quickly grew.
I now charge, on average, around $5,000 per sponsored post.
You can learn more about sponsored partnerships in my free guide 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog.
Are you interested in earning blogging income?
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This is such a great read. Literally blogging #goals! And I am just blown away by the way you’re organizing your business.
I have one question though, Can you please give me a rough figure of your traffic referral from pinterest v/s other sources(out of the 400k)?
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
I haven’t looked in awhile, but I think around 15% to 20% of my traffic comes from Pinterest.
I have a new Pinterest organic content strategy that’s lowering my bounce rate almost overnight. 🙂
I’m curious to know if you think people leaving comments have decreased in the past few months?
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
I’ve seen a decrease in comments, but an increase in emails and messages. More people seem to be replying to my blog posts via emails lately.
blogging from home or anywhere as a side hustle is a beautiful thing because it sets a person up to to achieve side hustle millionaire status in the future and keeps them off of the day job scene. 🙂
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
J @ Wealthier Lives says
Being more present is my ultimate goal. Spending more quality time with my wife and kids. More fun travel as well. More “in the moment”. There is so much distraction everywhere nowadays that one can sometimes forget to simply live…
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Great goal 🙂
Southern Jolly says
Michelle, your articles are inspiring and very informative. I recently started a blog and I have taken your free how to start a blog courses/tutorials. I am currently learning about affiliate marketing.How can I sign up to your affiliate program?
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Hello! Do you mean that you are taking my affiliate marketing course?
Southern Jolly says
I haven’t taken your affiliate marketing course, but I have taken your free How To Start A Blog email course, and I have read your tutorial 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income. How can I apply to your affiliate program to promote Making Sense of Cents?
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
There is no affiliate program for my free courses.
Why can’t you set quantifiable goals for having fun? This could help you keep your work hours at under 30 a week, two. The goals could include date nights with Wes (on the boat or eating at a restaurant), devoting X hours per week to a hobby you enjoy, or planning to try at least one new thing at each place you stop.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
I already spend a ton of time having fun and do all of the above that you mentioned 🙂
My issue is more with spending less time on time wasters (like social media!), so that I can efficiently spend more time on work and fun.
The Working At Home Man says
It’s so good to see what is possible with hard work!
I have recently started my blog (like some of the other commenters) and have also been tracking my returns. I think that tracking your returns each month keeps you focused on your progress. One thing I definitely need to work on is time management and my writing schedule. I am finding it difficult with a little 8-month-old and a full-time job!
Your posts are very helpful!
Keep up the good work!
Hi Michelle, I do not think I have ever read a “day in the life” post from you. Would you consider that as a future blog topic? I would love to hear the details of your typical work day. Even with your improved work/life balance and reduced hours I would find it very interesting to read. Thanks!
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Here’s the last one that I did – https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2018/06/digital-nomad-lifestyle.html
I’m due for an update, though!
Nathalie Argueles says
Totally DUG this post! I have a blog myself, if you are open, I might curate this post to my audience. Obviously give a link back.