Let me start by saying this, less then three years ago I had not clue what a blog was.
In fact, I thought blogging was what middle school kids did when they were mad at their boyfriend or girlfriend.
Then in 2018, my first full year operating Money Life Wax which is a personal finance blog I started in 2017, I made $5,300.
No, I wasn't writing about ex-girlfriends, but I will admit I was pretty clueless when I first started blogging yet I actually still managed to make money in the process.
2018 marked the first full year of blogging and I was shocked I was actually able to make money blogging.
In fact, because of blogging and applying what I learned, I was able to make $5,300 my first full year blogging, let me share with you how!
How I started making money blogging:
Let me start by telling you this.
In the summer of 2017 I was an aspiring writer of sorts. I stumbled across a “How to get published,” article and it said you start a blog, strike 1.
Then my wife showed me a classmate's blog discussing their student loan payoff, strike 2… and I don't strikeout.
Fast forward to today and now I was able to turn a passion (writing) into an income-generating asset. Over the next 5 minutes, I aim to describe how I was able to make this money blogging, list our blogging expenses, and what I learned in blogging in 2018.
>> Avoid these blogging pitfalls.
Blogging can be a business.
I recently had a meeting with my accountant to discuss our income tax return and filing out filing taxes from 2018. One of the subjects of our conversation… our LLC.
Before I get into how I made the money, I think it is vital to emphasize that blogging is a business and should be treated that way in my opinion. Which is why we have expenses.
However, because Money Life Wax is technically a form of marketing, I operate it with an LLC. Something worth noting. I will leave it at that since I am not a legal adviser or CPA.
Related: How Bloggers Get Paid
How I Made Money Blogging ($5,300)
The break down of how I made $5,300 blogging in 2018 is pretty straight forward. I made $5,000 through digital marketing and $300 through affiliate sales.
So while things like sponsored posts, ads and more affiliate partners could have netted more income for my blog, there are a few reasons why I didn’t leverage them quite yet… I will get to that.
As you can see, most of the money I made was through digital marketing, aka everything I do for my blog I did for someone else’s company.
Whether it was designing content, improving SEO, reformatting or making small site design tweaks, managing social media accounts and tracking metrics are all things you do as a blogger… as well as a digital marketer.
Here is what is cool, I had no clue how any of this worked in 2017 when I started… and in 2018 I made over $5,000. While maybe my blog didn’t make me $5,000, what I learned blogging helped me make money basically blogging for someone’s company.
As far as affiliates, I really only work a few companies – Bluehost, Truth in Equity, Acorns, LendKey, Qoins and M1 Invest. So while there is money to be made using affiliate partnerships, that is not a primary focus for Money Life Wax…right now.
Blog Ads? Or No Ads?
Let's talk about ads real quick before I dive into our blogging expenses in 2018. I don't monetize Money Life Wax because I find ads personally annoying when I go to other sites. Google Ad Sense is just OK in my opinion and if you are under 30,000 sessions per month the money just isn't significant enough to justify it.
Now, once you hit 25,000 sessions companies like Mediavine are a great option and allow for more ad customization.
However, because blogging does require some small upfront expenses, I used the money from digital marketing to fund my blog's expenses that way I didn't have to force monetizing MLW.
Blogging expenses for 2018
Can you relate to this, you see a “How I made this much money blogging,” post and you’ll find yourself asking this question… how much did you invest to make that much blogging?
So to answer your question, YES a blog is a business so there are expenses associated with investing in your business. Here are the expenses broken down into FOR SURE NEEDED and OPTIONAL.
Needed Blogging Expenses and Tools
Starting with first forming an LLC for my blog was first thing, that was $100 to the state of Virginia. The beauty of forming an LLC and making money with a blog – you are able to write off your expenses, or what I consider investments.
Here is a list of the other expenses that I think are critical for all bloggers. Automating social media posts on Facebook and Twitter (100% necessary in my opinion) was a $100 for the year with Buffer.
My Canva subscription was $130 for the year, which is great for designing cover photos and Pinterest graphics. Tailwind is KEY for blogging and using Pinterest. For a long time, Pinterest scared me, but Tailwind has helped immensely and that subscription is $119 annually. That pretty much wraps up social media needs.
Bluehost is what I use to host Money Life Wax and they also provide the platform (Wordpress.org) to design and write content. I also renew all of my domain names using Bluehost each year. Total Bluehost expense: $175
Total Expenses (Highly Recommended) For 2018: $624
Optional blogging expenses
Nothing is required other then Bluehost, so technically all expenses are optional. However, the list above is worth it's weight in gold. Now, if I was going to start with one it would be Buffer first, then Tailwind, then Canva. Canva's free option is sufficient enough to start.
However, I did have $1,200 in expenses that I would consider more optional then those even.
Courses. Most of my optional blogging expenses came from courses. I took a digital marketing course that taught me tons, a FB ads course that is super valuable and an SEO course.
For blogging, I found the Stupid Simple SEO course the most important and vital for my needs. I went from being an amateur SEO person, (Search Engine Optimization if you are wondering what the heck SEO is) to having a full understanding for $247.
Because, I took the Stupid Simple SEO course I can almost look at a website and tell how well their SEO is or isn't. If you are interested the course is actually reopening Feb 11-15th and is worth every $1 in my opinion – even if you are not a blogger. Here is my exclusive link, just tell Mike I sent you.
Most of my other expenses actually came from Click Funnels ($300), FB ads for MLW ($150) and blogging themes/tools (Studiopress & Elementor $200).
What I recommend for new bloggers:
Use the free version of ConvertKit! They have landing pages and everything you need for email sequences. ConvertKit is something I wish I had used from the jump!
I will say, Elementor is valuable for creating custom pages and is only $45 a year.
Total “Optional” blogging expenses: $1200
Update on Blogging Tools & Courses:
Money Mix Insiders Program
Hands down, the #1 factor that has recently helped my blog establish authority in terms of SEO is the Money Mix Insiders program.
Keep in mind, this program is designed for more advanced bloggers looking to grow their blog. I have recently increased my domain rating over 20 points because of the insider information I am learning/receiving.
In 2019 I took one course – Blogger Secrets – to help take my blog to the next level!
If you're a brand new or veteran blogger, this course will help you (It helped me a ton) and one of the biggest things I now do is focus on what is important and delegate where I can!
Kelan and his wife are also awesome people and I found their course very valuable!
What I learned blogging
So you might be disappointed because you were hoping I had made $1,000 here with this particular blogging technique and another $2,000 with this affiliate and you were hoping to use them.
Here is what I will say about that – because I just had fun with my blog and wrote from the heart more often then not – I didn't get burned out.
Because I didn't get burned out as most bloggers do, I broke through the 3-month barrier, learned enough to go help another business basically blog for their website (Their SEO and Google Rankings shot through the roof too) and it was able to fund my blog and my wallet.
I didn't have to sell my blog to crappy affiliates and annoying ads just to break even. If you are a blogger, that personally would be my biggest take away from all this, or at least it was for me.
Find a way to fully fund your blog and make money by using your blog as an asset. Now, here are some things I learned and will make better in 2019 in no particular order:
- Get a virtual assistant for all the boring, tedious stuff
- Have a monthly goal and plan, stop winging it.
- Invest more money into driving traffic, once you understand how it works
- Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest.
- Get good at once social media, then another, don't spray.
- Focus on Instagram in 2020
- Google and Pinterest are for SEO
- Facebook and Twitter are for engagement
- Instagram is going to be a monster in the coming years
- Put out quality content instead of forcing 2 posts per week
- Don't write for just SEO purposes
- Realize you will need to take 1-2 courses per year.
- Don't nickel and dime your blog or it will nickel and dime you.
- Have a schedule to write, use a content calendar.
- Repurpose your blogging content every few months
- Track your expenses
- Track your income
- Plan for growth
- Write for the readers, not you
- Don't worry about making money, worry about growing following
- Have fun with it!
So there you have it, those are the 19 things I will do for blogging in 2019 and how I was able to make a little bit of money blogging in 2018!!! ~Josh
Q: How do you plan to make money blogging or online this year?
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! I got serious with money when I used Personal Capital to track my finances.