It’s been a good year. Not only did I travel to a whole slew of new cities and countries (Norway, RUSSIA, Mexico, Croatia, BOSNIA, Singapore, HONG KONG, the list goes on), but this year went well for business too. Damn well. And I don’t say that to brag (I worked damn hard for it, kinda).
→ Read Next: 2018 Travel and Life Roundup (all the nitty gritty deets of my entire year, ifffff that’s something you’re interested in…)
But first, where the F did 2018 go? I feel like it was just yesterday we were watching the lanterns float away on the beach in Thailand (but really, how was that over 365 days ago)?! As I say each and every year, the months just seem to fly right on by, forgetting to stop and linger no matter what the season (or lack of seasons here in California).
I like to start each year off by taking a moment to reflect on how the year went, and this post is alllll about the business side of things. The blog business, because in case you didn’t know (or completely forgot), I have a ANOTHER full-time job as well (big shout out to all the other SLP’s out there).
→ You can read more about me, if you’re the slightest bit interested. 😛
From Hobby to Full-Time Income
2010: I started this claim to fame back in 2010 (or so), and shockingly, only wrote a few posts, 5 at most (I had noooooo clue what I was doing). My first post ever riiiight over here, and thankfully the photos didn’t migrate over correctly when I switched platforms. It’s pretty cringe-worthy, but I show you it to prove that everyone starts at the very beginning.
2013: I either got bored or completely forgot about it altogether, and didn’t touch it again until sometime in 2013, when I wrote a few posts about Israel, Greece, Hawaii, and more (as well as accepting a whole slew of 800 word guest posts, ack!) Those alllll need to be updated, and badly.
2014: I guess I decided it was time to officially move to WordPress, and I paid a fellow blogger to help make the migration an easier one. Welllll, that didn’t exactly go to plan, since he left me mid-migration and was no where to be found (yes, he was alive and well; he was continuing to post on his blog and social media). Thankfully my husband was able to pick up where he left off, and I finally did make it to WordPress once and for all. A new premium theme came, as did a handful of new posts. I also worked with my first ever hotel sponsor and got put up in the baller penthouse suite, so that was cool.
2015-2017: After securing that first collaboration, I began taking my blog MUCH more seriously, and started treating it like a business. No, I wasn’t making tons of money (a few hundred here and there), but it was exciting to see my hard work finally (kinda) paying off. By 2017, I was making about 2 grand a month from my side hustle. And once Mediavine came into play in June of 2017, I finally realized that a full-time income (in addition to my SLP salary) was more than attainable. I spent more time than ever focusing all my efforts on the blog, which eventually paid off later on.
2018 – present: More hustling – although I wasn’t relying on my blog income to live, so it didn’t feel forced and I was able to take breaks when mentally needed. I now mostly rely on passive income (which is the beeeeeest thing EVERRRRRR), so can stop blogging for weeks at a time without worry that my income will massively drop. It was finally in 2018 that I found a decent work-life balance; I feel totally comfortable enjoying my life instead of wasting it away on my laptop.
And now it’s already 2019, a full NINE years since I originally put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard in this instance) and started the damn thing. Completely insane.
Who knew this “little hobby” of mine (what it initially started as and what some of my family and friends thought it was for the longest time) would bring in a full time income, only a few years later. And yes, that’s in addition to my typical 8-3 M-F full time job. No, I don’t say this to brag (although I am quite proud of myself), but to show all you conventional full-timers out there that blogging is a fully sustainable and attainable side hustle. Sure, there’s a sh*t ton of haaaard work that goes into it, but if I can somehow make it work (with approximately 3% strategy, 97% who the F knows), there’s no doubt in my mind that you can too.
All the Stats
So yes, I made over 70k (alllllmost 75 big g’s) with this little “hobby” of mine and I’m not ashamed to share that little fact! And because everything’s all relative (meaning you shouldn’t go comparing your 3 month old baby blog to mine, which I’ve been working damn hard on for 5 years or so), here’s the numbers we’re working with:
Page Views in 2018: 2,017,876
Ahhhhh TWO MILLION+ I honestly can’t believe it!
Compared to 1,139,468 page views in 2017
Which is a whopping 77.09% increase – um, what, how did that even happen?!
Income in 2018: ~$73,959.60
Just FYI, taxable income is a bit different – some of this money is still owed to me
Compared to $21,443.66 in 2017
An increase of 245% (not too shabby!)
Here’s a breakdown of it all (2018):
You guys know how much I just loveeee Mediavine (I even wrote them a whole love letter of a post recently). Yes, while I’m not in love with how the ads look plastered all over my site, that money is hard to give up. And my page views and time on page have only gone up, so I guess the majority of readers put up with them to indulge in all my juicy (and FREE) content. It’s a win-win for both of us. With that being said, ads are here to stay for 2019!
I’m head-over-heels for Mediavine, here’s why.
I use a whole slew of affiliates, from hotels, tours, products, and more. This is something I’d like to focus on a bit more next year, because as I’ve hinted at before- no real strategy here. Whoops. I need to run some A/B tests, find new affiliate programs that’ll fit my audience, and really take a close look at older posts to see how to maximize their potential.
Sponsored content : ~$5,500
I only do about 1-2 sponsored articles a month (at most), and hardly any sponsored social media promotion – I turn down 90% of offers that come my way (most of them are downright horrible anyways). I’d love to start charging brands that I love what I’m actually worth, but my negotiating skills are lacking big time.
And yes don’t worry, that money’s all been reported to the IRS…
Blogging and Working Full Time
You may be asking when I even find the time to devote to blogging, considering the little fact that I have the errrday commitment of a FULL-TIME job. Yea, I don’t really know where I find the hours, but let’s just say that I always need to be doing something. I realized not too long ago that I’m sort of a workaholic, and you’ll never find me sitting on the couch just watching TV without doing something else (i.e. writing/editing photos/other mundane blog tasks).
If I’m not grabbing dinner with friends, playing tennis, brunchin’ it up, or going on hikes, I’m behind my computer working away until the wee hours of the night (or until my husband drags me into bed). I’ll never say no to more interesting plans in leu of working on my blog, and will always say yes to date nights with my husband and girlfriends. A bit more on that below.
In all honesty, there’s been months where I wished I could blog full time, but then later that night come to the conclusion that that’d be the absolute worst flippin’ idea ever (I like my pension, ok?) Maybe one day I’ll do part-time SLP work, giving myself extra time/days for blogging work, who knows. I go back and forth, and although we have no clue what the future holds, my full-time speech-language pathology job is here to stay for the time being.
How I Made a Full Time Income this Year
So here’s my “strategy” if you will, but know that I had no structured strategy for the bulk of 2018 (something that needs to change in 2019). I guess I have some adequate internal instincts when it comes to making decisions for my business? Good thing!
A little background:
I used to live, breathe, and dream my blog. I thought about it in the shower, on my drive to work each morning, at dinner with my husband (not proud about that), and everywhere else imaginable. Nowadays, not so much. Don’t let that give you the wrong impression – I’m still mildly obsessed with the thing.
But now that I’m making a nice chunk of change with it (and it’s NOT my only full-time income), I’m starting to scale back a bit. You think I’d be doing the opposite, am I right? Am I crazy for wanting to have a life outside of my blog?! For wanting to see friends and go on dates with my husband and take REAL non-sponsored vacations/trips and eat loads of donuts and avo toast and get messy making açaí bowls (true story) and just not worrying about my blog 24/7? Sounds like a prettyyyy sweet life to me. Balance, my friends, it’s alllll about balance. And I’ve gotten pretty dang good at it, especially in recent years.
Here’s a bit of my logic behind this:
Lemme explain: I work smarter, not harder. It’s really that simple. I think about what’s actually going to help me meet my blogging goals, and do them! Instead of wasting precious time on tasks that I know deep down won’t do a damn thing (hint hint, IG, hint hint, obnoxious social media threads), I focus on what I KNOW will most likely give me the results I’m looking for. And if it doesn’t pan out how I originally thought, there’s limited dwelling involved and I move on to the next task.
My friends even call me the unicorn blogger. Apparently magical things happen to me without me even trying. Its like I have a fairy godmother sprinkling some fairy dust on me every night. It’s possible I’ve been lucky, but I like to think that my past 5+ years pouring my heart and soul into my little slice of the internet has taught me a thing or two, whether I realize it or not.
Here are some of the things I DO pride myself on doing (or did in early 2018):
- use a virtual assistant to help with Pinterest tasks and strategy testing
- invest in Keysearch every month (if you have a blog, you NEED this). Sign up here and use discount code of KSDISC to receive 20% off!
- write in depth articles I know will do well on Google and/or Pinterest
- stay informed and up to date on SEO best practices (aka 1-don’t spam the internet, 2-write super helpful articles that are actually of use to people)
- travel to destinations that really interest me (not solely for the gram or bc of press trips)
- pay my own way for 90% of travel
- talk to like minded individuals who always have my back (hi blogging besties)
- read blogs in niches other than my own
- have ads on my site (despite many bloggers shoving their noses in the air at them)
- work hard on the blog for a few weeks, then take a week (or a few) off
- focus on other hobbies I have, including tennis, photography, hiking, scrapbooking, Zumba, eating pretty food (yes, food is a hobby of mine)
Those things probably seem like no-brainers (is this common knowledge? I never know), so I think it’s important to understand what I don’t spend my time doing, instead.
Some things I DON’T do (anymore):
- spend hours perfecting my Instagram feed
- go crazy in social media sharing threads
- write posts with no direction for the sake of doing so
- chase sponsored posts
- chase press trips
- chase down hotels/PR firms/CVBs/brands
- obsess on taking the perfect photo
- change/schedule my life around blogging tasks (Friday and Saturday BPS for example – if you’re a blogger, you know what I mean)
Now, I’m not saying if you do any of the things on my don’t-do list you won’t find success or that they’re wrong per say. It just works for me in order to keep a balanced life. Let’s face it- if you spend tooooo much time blogging, you may wind up hating it. Your time is valuable – treat it as such.
And don’t spend more time writing about your life than actually living your life.
I guess I’m trying to say that blogging success doesn’t come overnight. It’s taken me 5+ years (9 in total if you want to count those super early years of hardly trying) to get to this point where I can sit back, forget about the hustle, and finally relax.
And anyone who challenges that is either trying to sell you a (let’s face it- really shitty) course or is living in the clouds living peacefully hangin’ with my fairy godmother.