Welcome to September’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 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, doing crafts, hiking, etc.).
A quick reminder on the recent announcement.
I want to repeat the announcement again because I have been asked – 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.
How was business income in September of 2019?
In case you are new to this blog, 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. If you are a new blogger, then another option to check out is Media.net.
I regularly earn over $100,000 a month blogging, and I have earned over $5,000,000 from my blogging business total over the years.
Check out How I Successfully Built A $1,000,000+ Blog for all of the different ways you can make money through a blog.
September of 2019 was another great month for Making Sense of Cents and the whole blogging business. I earned a great income and I had a fun month.
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. I am wanting to grow Making Sense of Cents in many areas – income, readers, more helpful blog posts, and so on.
Some of the things that I plan on doing in order to grow Making Sense of Cents include:
- Getting more media mentions. I’m about to take a course that will teach me how to be featured in the media more, and I’m super excited. I will share more information on this course soon.
- Focusing on SEO. I am taking an SEO course soon from start to finish, in order to start growing Making Sense of Cents in this area. I tried a few years ago, but stopped. While I get decent traffic from SEO without much effort, I do think this area can be a great way to further grow my website.
- Learning about Pinterest advertising and Facebook advertising. I would like to use social media advertising to grow traffic as well as to grow my email list.
- Adding an online shop to my blog. I would like to create a shop for Making Sense of Cents, where I sell products such as worksheets and printables.
- Creating new optins. I don’t have many optins for my email list, and haven’t added a new one in quite some time. This is currently on my to-do list so that I can reach new readers and gain more subscribers.
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 doing well, I have a lot of ideas for the 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 for the first year (a $15 value) through my Bluehost referral 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.
In September, we spent the majority of our time in Utah and western Colorado. We also drove to Estes Park to attend a wedding that Wes was a groomsman in.
We explored several national parks, tons of beautiful backcountry, did lots of mountain biking, offroading, hiking, and more. It was an absolutely amazing month and I’m so glad that we were able to spend the summer in the van.
We’ve also been able to see our family a lot in the last couple of months, and that has been great. We stayed in a lot of driveways visiting family and friends in September, and it was so great to catch up with everyone before we head back to the boat. One of my favorite parts of RVing is being able to visit family and friends so easily!
In case you missed it, you can read more about our decision to spend the summer living in a van – We’re Living In A Van!
Below are several other business and blog-related updates:
- I’m currently less than one month ahead in blog posts. I would like to be around 2-3 months ahead. I do have several months of blog posts planned, though, I just need to finish writing them and hand them to my editor. I have so many good ideas, but now I just need more time, haha!
- Traffic for the month was over 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 build credit, 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 15,000 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 60,000 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:
- Want To Make Money From Home? Here Are 17 Of The Best Online Jobs
- Are Budget Airlines Worth It? Here Are 6 Of The Best Tips To Cut Your Costs
- How To Start As A New Freelance Writer
- The Honest Truth About Van Dwelling: Answers To The Most Common Van Life Questions
- 16 Alternatives To Cable TV That WILL Save You Money
- Is Thrift Store Reselling Good Or Evil?
- Common Phone Scams: The Best Tips To Avoid Becoming A Victim
Featured Question: What are the best ways to connect with your audience?
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.
Many of you have asked me how you can form a better relationship with your readers. This is something that I am very happy about, as I think it’s so very important when it comes to building a successful blog!
There are several emails I’ve received from readers in which they’ve told me that they feel like I’m their friend, that I care about how they’re doing, and that they feel like they’re just having a casual talk with a friend when reading my content.
I always love it when I hear this, as I feel like I’m helping.
There are many great reasons why you’d want to improve your engagement rate, such as:
- You can grow a loyal following. By engaging with your audience, you can create a more loyal and interested following.
- You can better help your readers. As talked about above, your readers may feel more connected with you and put what you say into action (such as paying off their debt, starting a side hustle, etc.)!
- It can improve your social media stats. Your posts on social media will do better if you have a higher engagement rate. You’ll be able to reach more readers and help more people due to this.
- You’re a real person. Readers like to know that they are talking to a real person. I don’t recommend automating this part of your blogging business. I have heard of people using robot-like generic answers for replies even on social media, but I don’t think that can help you connect with your audience better. Quality is better than quantity when it comes to engaging with your readers.
And more! There are so many reasons for why connecting with your audience can help you.
Here are ways to connect with your audience and build a loyal following:
- Ask a question. Whether it’s a blog post or a social media post, asking a question at the end can improve your engagement rate as it will persuade your reader to interact with you.
- Respond to their comments. Whether it’s on your blog or social media, you should try to respond to comments as much as you can. If a reader is taking time out of their day to leave a comment, then you can build a bond with them by replying to them.
- Be personable. This will vary from blogger to blogger, but I always try to write my content as though I’m talking to a friend or family member. This is not only easier for me to write as I enjoy this writing style, but I have heard from countless readers that it makes personal finance more enjoyable.
- Be active on Instagram. I believe that Instagram can be great as it can show more behind-the-scenes, which can help readers see that you are a real person and relate to you more.
- Answer their emails. It’s a lot of work, but I answer my own emails and I enjoy it! I receive many, many each day, and while my replies may not be as long as they once were (due to not having enough time in a day to do so), I do read all reader emails and try to help them to the best of my ability.
Do you have a good relationship with your readers? Do you think it’s important?
- Is it too late to start a blog?
- What blog freebies do you recommend?
- Where do you find photos for your 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 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 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?
- What products can I promote on my blog?
- How can I get the most out of a blogging/writing/media/industry conference?
- How do you have internet while traveling full-time?
- What do you wish you would have done differently with your blogging business?
My plans and goals for my business.
I have so many plans right now for my business that sometimes I feel like I don’t know where I want to start! But, that is a good “problem” to have.
Plans and goals can help you run a successful business. I believe that working towards a goal can help keep a person more motivated as well.
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! I’m hoping to finish the above course and this one by the end of October.
- 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 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 everything that life has to offer!
Affiliate marketing results.
Affiliate income was at a normal Making Sense of Cents level in September of over $50,000.
I believe that it will be increasing in the next several months as I will be promoting a few affiliate offers to my readers. I have the rest of 2019 planned for affiliate offers, which is great. I am also currently planning and scheduling for 2020 already too.
I’m also hoping to improve my affiliate income by growing my traffic through SEO, as well as advertising on Facebook and Pinterest. The media course that I mentioned earlier should be super helpful too.
Some of the areas that 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 all of 2019 and for the first several months of 2020. 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 on 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.
September was an average month for sponsored partnerships. I secured a couple of deals with new advertisers that I’m excited to work with, and I am beginning to line up partnerships for 2020 as well.
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.
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 creating your own blog?
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David Redfern says
I am reasonably new to blogging! What do you think is the best strategy for getting traffic to your
blog?Your lifestyle sounds great! One of my goals is to travel the world! But my blogs get little if no
traffic to them! So the income is about Nill! Your suggestions would be most welcome!
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
I definitely recommend reading this – https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2017/04/how-to-make-money-blogging-online.html
Andy Thind says
Hi Im definitely going to check out those methods. But Im currently looking to create a blog, I read an article,before yours on how to start a blog. Do you think that I should monetise with affiliate marketing?
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Yes, I definitely recommend affiliate marketing 🙂 I talk about it a ton in the income report above.
Hi Michelle, I am just starting out with my blog but I’m not sure exactly where you post the affiliate links on your blog posts?? For example, I am checking out your blog posts but I don’t see any affiliate links … I only see ads and not a lot just some ads but where can I find the affiliate links you posted on your blog??
Thank you for this post Michelle. It is actually really helpful to see an explanation of how money can be made blogging.
I look forward to reading more of your articles going forward.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
This is my favorite blog post that I look forward to reading each month!
I absolutely love blogging and affiliate marketing because one can use the power of their voice plus hidden entrepreneurial ambition to start a side hustle blogging gig and work their way slowly but surely toward achieving financial freedom, thus not relying on a cushy day job for their sole source of income.
Maybe I overlooked it, but I’m just curious about which affiliate did you make the most income from?
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Starting in 2019, I no longer list out the specific sources for my income. It’s fairly similar to last year, though, and you can find the exact income sources in a 2018 income report.
Mama Bear Finance says
Hi thanks so much for sharing this in-depth details of your blog income. Its very inspiring to learn about your journey (I just found your blog)!
I created my personal finance blog last month documenting my journey to F.I. while being a new mom https://mamabearfinance.com/
I’m still navigating and have much to learn. Can you please share a bit more on your experience blogging in the beginning? How did you go from there to being featured on large sites?
Love to hear from you!
Lance Watkins says
Great advice and you have a nice style to your site. Given that you are posting frequently, do you do the posts’ layouts yourself? In terms of placing the graphics in relation to your text, etc.?
Or do you have a maintenance arrangement with your site designer?
Emenike Emmanuel says
This is really inspiring like usual, Michelle.
Facebook blacklisted my site earlier this month but it taught me to focus more search engine that will benefit my blog more.
I’m glad to read the amazing things you’ve been doing on your blog.
Keep it up, Michelle.
Nirodha Abayalath says
Thank you very much for sharing this and for showing us the best methods to earn from blogging. Usually, I do not read income reports, and I think especially newcomers should not read the income reports. Because, when I started my blog a few years back, I thought that blogging is an easy way to earn money. But now I know the truth.
However, your income reports are great, and you explain everything clearly, not just the monthly income.
Thank you Michelle. I’ve already started a blog but I’m not making anything from it. I want to first get your free course on how to start a blog, since I can also learn how to start making my first money from it.
It’s really amazing how much you make from your blog, mind blowing. Hoping to learn a lot from you.
Satnam Singh says
Love the case study you always share! Right now I’m getting 5-10 visitors a day and earning by offering services to my clients, which make me earn $300-$500 from the site itself with only 5-10 visitors per day.
But I hope I could make affiliate earnings soon when I have more traffic.
Keep sharing, love your blog!
What’s the media course you’re taking? 🙂
Affiliate marketing is in my opinion one of the best ways to make money online and you guys are proof of it.
Create quality content that people enjoy reading and refer them to products or services that they need.
I look forward to watching your blog grow and getting some good tips to grow mine!
Can you tell us what to use for website security?
I am starting a blog and was warned about hacking attacks.
please tell us your experience.
It’s interesting to see how your blogging income increased over the years. I am still at the beginning in this journey, but it is really motivating to see your income reports. Also I like that you always try to learn something new.
Just curious about when you started blogging if you had certain standards. What I mean by standards is if you set a goal to blog five days a week for 2 to 3 years consistently. And, blog in excess of 1000 words or more per blog post. Or did you just start out and learn along the way?