Hey and welcome to episode 7 of the Free and Fearless Podcast and the first one for 2021.
I’m so excited about this year and spent a lot of time reflecting on what happened during the previous 12 months, both in my business and personal life. From there, I decided what to release and leave behind, what to keep working on and what new things I wanna do this year.
Tune into today’s episode to hear how much I earned, in what ways, and exactly what I worked on each month of the year.
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- [01:19] What’s an income report and why it matters
- [03:42] How much I’ve earned in the past 3 years and what changed every next year
- [05:58] My current 4 income streams (and what % of revenue comes from each)
- [08:49] How I grew my email list (+ the exact numbers)
- [11:13] How many page views I got in 2020 vs 2019 + my top traffic sources
- [15:34 ] The 2 traffic sources that help me get nearly 100K page views/month
- [18:54] What happened to my traffic and income once the pandemic hit the world
- [21:55] Why I deleted 1/3 of my email list
- [24:18] What I did to take control of my online presence
- [26:39] How I re-designed my blog
- [29:25] How I took massive action in the last 3 months of the year
- Monthly income reports
- Blog to Biz System
- Blog Printables Bundle
- The Life Planner Kit
- $1K Blogger
- The email marketing course I took
- Chic Boss [my premium WordPress theme]
- Elementor [free website builder for WordPress]
- The Blog Income Toolkit
- My stock photo membership
- My hosting provider
- Fearless Content [my new course]
This is my third annual blog income report.
If you’re new to this type of content, let me quickly explain.
An income report of a blogger or any other business owner, means that you get to see exactly how much they earned and spent over the course of a month or a whole year.
I’ve been publishing monthly income reports for the past 3 years I think.
Many people from my audience were eagerly awaiting every next article like that so they can see:
- the exact numbers
- what goes into a 5-figure business
- what things I worked on that month
- what mistakes I made, what I invested
- what new project I started
- how many subscribers there are on my email list
- how many page views I got on the blog
- and other updates.
Over the years as I was growing my blogging business, these income reports of other bloggers really helped me stay motivated and showed me what’s possible online.
So I also wanted to show others what’s going on behind the scenes, to be authentic, and to stay accountable. I mean I can now always go back to these articles – which easily be found on my blog.
But I stopped publishing them monthly. It’s not aligned with my business vision anymore.
They became sort of repetitive. Also, I don’t wanna be focused on monthly earnings anymore but instead wanna manifest my business goals and I know now that this can happen at the very end of the year, and what matters in terms of income, is the yearly revenue.
All previously published blog income reports will stay on my website though and they basically show how I got to consistent $5K months.
What I’ll continue publishing is the yearly report as well as any other interesting things that happen such as let’s say a successful course launch, affiliate campaign, hitting $10K in a month, or anything else that is a milestone and worth sharing.
What You Need to Know First
Here are a few key things you need to know before we get to the exact numbers and stats.
I’ve been in business for 7 years now. I’m a blogger and course creator but started as a freelance writer back in the days.
2018 was officially the last year where a portion of my income came from freelancing. It was $10K or something.
As of the beginning of 2019, I left freelancing behind. I definitely didn’t enjoy it anymore and I just wanted to create content for my platform and my audience.
Since then, I’ve been more inspired than ever and more relaxed because there wasn’t any client telling me what to do, there are no deadlines or things I must write about even though I don’t feel like.
So this was a big milestone for me.
Many people can say I’m leaving money on the table by not wanting that kind of work, but how that money is made is much more important because my happiness depends on it. And without freelancing, I’m mentally and emotionally free to do my best work and use my most productive hours in the day to write or create courses or anything else that serves my audience.
So, to recap, in 2018 I made $47K from my business, but $10K from that came from freelancing. My goal was to never have to write for others again.
In 2019, I earned just a bit more than the year before that ($51,379), but I’m happy to say that none of this money came from freelance work.
It was solely earned from sponsored content on the blog, affiliate marketing, ads, and selling my digital products. That means I’ve reached the next level of my blogging career and even if nothing changed, I was gonna be truly grateful and keep enjoying my work.
2020 was the second year in a row that I earned over $50K, and the exact revenue is $54,389.
Another thing I wanna make clear if you’re new here is that I earn in 4 different ways through my blogging business. Which is also what I teach women to do whether they’re new to blogging or have been doing it for a year or so but want to finally turn it into a business, and I mainly teach that through my blogging courses.
My income streams
First is ad revenue which is directly related to blog traffic. I’m partnering with Mediavine which is a professional ad network and this income is passive and regular.
Next is affiliate marketing which means recommending other people’s products or services, using my special link, and getting a commission any time someone purchases through it.
I only promote tools, courses, services or else that I’m using or have tried or know enough about and trust their creator.
That’s the authentic way to do affiliate marketing, I’m not pushy, and I do believe in what I recommend to my audience. Mostly, that’s my hosting provider, email marketing software and all other tools I use to run my business, as well as courses I’ve taken.
Next is sponsored blogging. That is when a brand reaches out to me or I pitch them and we collaborate on a blog post with a link back to their site. Each sponsored article on my site looks natural and similar to all the content I have there, and it provides value.
This income stream has been my most profitable one in the last few years, which means most of my income is coming from there as opposed to the other 3 ways in which I monetize my blog.
And finally, there’s digital products which is my favorite way. It’s a great way to scale, to provide value, to teach and to have an evergreen product that will keep earning revenue for the rest of your life once it’s created and launched.
So these 4 income streams show how I diversified my income over the years. Things aren’t always stable and you don’t wanna lose your whole profit only because you were earning from 1 thing, and let’s say it depended on blog traffic or on one social media channel and you suddenly lost because of an algorithm update.
Let’s get to the numbers.
Out of the $54K I mentioned, $34,000 came from sponsored content, $12,000 from advertising, $4,000 from affiliate marketing and $3000 from digital products.
The last number is low for the simple reason that I was never actually launching. I had good products already year but I didn’t create any excitement about them. This year, aside from the new programs I’ll be releasing, I’ll also be launching and getting them in front of the right people
Email Subscribers Update
New Subscribers: 4,523
Net new subscribers: 3506
In 2020 4,523 people subscribed to my list, 1017 of them cancelled their subscription, which leaves me with 3506 net subscribers.
Also, the current size of my list is 4,775.
My email list is really important and sort of the biggest asset in my business after the blog, and it’s reliable. I mean these people voluntarily gave me access to their inbox and know they will hear from me every Tuesday. I create and share more freebies with them, new blog posts and podcast episodes, and also they are the first ones to know about new offers I have and to get discounts.
There’s a whole library of resources now, I updated many last year and added new ones that resonate with my audience and the topics I cover.
You can join here. Even if it’s one freebie that you immediately get access to, the others will also be delivered to you over the next days, and you can access the whole resource library from the link at the bottom of any email you get from me.
2020 is also the first full year that I use ConvertKit. It’s my email marketing software and I switched to it at the end of 2019 and everything changed.
For a start, it’s a big investment, as opposed to the free tool I was using prior to that, and that itself made me take email marketing seriously.
I also took a course on that last year and learned a lot, created many sequences and automations and just played with the different features ConvertKit offers. It can be quite overwhelming as every email marketing provider works a bit differently so I had to learn a whole new way of doing things.
I knew it was a good investment of my time though and now I can only get better at it.
I know many of you love hearing exactly how many page views a blogger gets and I’ve always been open about that.
Back in 2019 I hit a really important milestone for a blogger, and that’s not just 100K page views many months in a row, but also 1 million pageviews over the course of the year.
Now it’s less and that’s absolutely okay of course, it happens, I haven’t worked on traffic that much in 2020 because I focused on optimizing other things, email marketing, re-branding, creating digital products, and just connecting with my audience more.
And here’s an important takeaway: more page views don’t necessarily mean more revenue.
Yes, the more traffic you get, the more you earn from advertising every month. But nothing beats being authentic and doing affiliate marketing and providing value to your audience and releasing digital products. That’s where my focus was last year, and as you heard, income was higher than 2019, even though page views were less than that year.
I’ve also had the chance to interview some amazing bloggers who get like a few thousand page views a month and still do this full-time.
And here are my exact numbers for blog traffic, the data is extracted from Google Analytics:
If you’re into numbers, here are some other interesting things:
About the people who visited the blog, over 60% were women. As usual, the most traffic came from the US.
Plenty of studies in the last few years have proven that people now read blogs and just browse the Web mostly from their phone, and not so much from the laptop anymore.
My numbers are confirming this yet again because I see that over 60% of these visitors came to my blog using their phone.
That’s just another reminder that we all need to optimize our websites for mobile, and keep in mind the user experience. I mean if something looks pretty on desktop, it doesn’t mean someone seeing it from their phone will be able to find the button easily. You definitely don’t wanna make them zoom.
Sources of traffic
The biggest one, as usual, is SEO, which means organic traffic coming from Google when other people search for keywords and land on my articles that are well-optimized for that or similar terms.
Nearly 70% of my traffic comes from there, with almost 20% coming from social media, mainly Pinterest as I did a lot in the last 2 years to learn all about it and how to use it as a blogger.
The rest is direct and referral traffic. It comes from other websites linking to me, other pages I have that are not on my blog, people directly typing the URL of the blog in their browser, or else.
If you wanna get into email marketing and SEO and all these things I’m talking about, as well as monetizing your blog and turning into a business, then you will definitely love my signature course called Blog to Biz System.
It’s literally ALL in there, my whole game plan, everything I did and do behind the scenes of my blog and business, and just how to start and grow a website.
There’s a whole module for email marketing, another one for blog traffic, and a module for each of the 4 monetization methods that you can earn from.
The course is not currently open for enrolment but will be some time this year. If you wanna be the first one to know and get a big discount, then you can sign up to the waitlist.
Now that I gave you the traffic update, it’s time for the business revenue for the year. What I wanna do it walk you through each month of 2020 and how much I earned and what interesting things I did so you can see what I was busy with and get an idea of how I’m investing in myself which ultimately leads to business growth and provides more value to others.
In January of 2020 I earned a total of $5,267.
Over $3K came from sponsored content, nearly $1500 from advertising, $200 from affiliate marketing, and $260 from selling digital products.
In terms of traffic, that month I got 86,000 page views, and that was nearly 14,000 more than the month before.
10K page views came from Pinterest. It was a really good month for my Pinterest profile as I hit 600,000 page views on the platform.
Now if you’re familiar with how it works, you know that page views don’t mean traffic or any actual engagement. It just means the Pins, or Pinterest graphics that I create for my blog posts, reach that many people per month, but most of these people just scroll and don’t click on them.
Traffic from there has been consistent for months now and I get 200-400 people from Pinterest on a daily basis.
The ideal combination for blog traffic is to combine organic traffic from Google with 1 other platform, such as Pinterest. That’s why each of these has its own module in my course Blog to Biz System.
I’ve worked hard to make these 2 traffic sources work for me and they are the only reason why I earn passive income from advertising each month.
But it’s all connected. Sponsors contact you more often and you can charge more for sponsorships if your traffic is higher too.
In February I earned $5,437 from my blogging business.
I don’t wanna repeat myself so I’ll only mention fun new things I did or if one income stream was higher and why.
So February was really good for my email list growth as I gained nearly 500 subscribers and it was twice as many as in January.
These weeks I was also going through an SEO course. I did some more technical stuff such as researching my blog competitors, checking out their top pages and keywords, also learning which mine are and going back to old posts to update them so they can rank higher.
That’s a lot of work.
I also created what’s called Silo Pages. It basically means that I turned my category pages from just a list of posts on the topic into a well-designed and optimized page that contains valuable information and also links to the important articles I have on that one topic.
You can see these pages in the menu. I also organized my whole site structure differently. My main categories are now Business, Blogging and Life Design and subcategories of these include Money (such as saving and making money and investing), also Success, Productivity, Entrepreneurship and more.
For each of these, there’s a page for it which helps with navigation and is good for search engines as it tells them what my site is about exactly.
That month I also updated my sponsored post packages, and for the first time, I included a package with a starting rate of $1,200.
I also worked on my current and future sales funnels and optimized these. As with any next month that year, I also published great interviews with bloggers and business sharing their success story, and some guest posts and articles I wrote.
In March 2020 the pandemic was already a fact for most countries and nothing seemed sure. People were worried about their business.
I didn’t feel any changes in my work up until the virus hit the USA (although I live in Europe).
Then ad revenue got lower and few clients I work with (for sponsored content) said they won’t be able to have new orders for me and won’t be working with bloggers due to the current unstable state of the economy.
My income for March was definitely lower than the previous 2 months, it was $4,000 and I knew that might continue decreasing. So, I started thinking about cutting expenses.
It was my best in terms of email marketing as more than 600 people signed up for my freebies and joined my list.
Also, Pinterest had a big algorithm update so I adjusted my Pinterest strategy based on that.
I’ve been working on new products, smaller one, and the one I released that month is the Blog Printables Bundle which includes everything new and intermediate bloggers need to start and grow their blog traffic and income.
Next is another planner bundle – called The Life Planner Kit – but this time related to all other categories I cover on the blog.
It includes everything you need to define your goals, organize your tasks and your whole day, get more done each week and month, improve your financial situation, and save yourself a lot of hassle when traveling or shopping and in your day-to-day life.
In April I earned $4,500, had over 700 new email subscribers.
By that month, my email welcome sequence was designed to connect with new people in a way that provides as much value as possible and encourages them to reach out and share their struggles so I can help them with better content and products.
I did a lot of product work that month.
First it was updating the bonuses in Blog to Biz System.
I’m constantly asked to create a simpler and shorter version of Blog to Biz System (and also a cheaper one, of course). It’s for those of you who don’t necessarily want to turn their blog into a full-time business, but want to start a blog and grow it to let’s say $1K, and have that extra income while working your full-time job at the same time.
Well, in February I start working on that. I had already published the sales page, the whole first module and the course was open for enrollment with an early bird price. It’s called $1K Blogger and it’s definitely my most affordable product for the value it provides.
The next month, in May, income was around $5,700.
I also deleted one third of my email list. This might sound crazy to some of you but it’s actually a good practice to do that once a year or so. Some people simply aren’t engaging with your emails, but you’re still paying for them to be on your list.
The official term for them is ‘cold subscribers’ and I actually removed 1,600 people from my list in May by sending a re-engagement campaign.
Also, aside from publishing interviews and income reports these weeks, I also focused on giving people what they need.
The situation with the virus was getting worse and worse so I covered such as managing stress during a crisis, how I look after my mental health and deal with self-isolation, productive things we can do and ways to stay happy during quarantine, and more.
In June, income was down to $4,000 again.
That month is when I had what I call my best investment in 2020. It was a business bundle that only cost $100 dollars but included over 70 programs from amazing content creators and business owners.
The first one I started with was on email marketing. I actually connected with its creator, interviewed her on my blog, and we’re in contact on Instagram so. So that’s a great way to find new people that inspire you and collaborate.
The first thing I did was to work on my signature freebie. I knew I should have 1 main lead magnet, instead of new and old ones all over the place.
So, I deleted old ones on topics that are no longer relevant to my current audience and added a new one connected to my main topics and products.
I re-designed my resource library, all my freebies are there now and new ones will be added all the time.
In July, I made over $4,000 and most of that month was spent updating my signature course Blog to Biz System. At the same time I was releasing new modules of $1K Blogger, which wasn’t completed yet although the first students were already in.
Which is a reminder to you that you don’t need to have the final product ready before you tell your audience about it, before you get people excited and even before you welcome some students and get paid.
This is the month I also started learning more about branding through online courses. The first steps I took were to find clarity, position myself online in a way I wanna be seen and basically control my online presence.
Here are the exact things I did:
- I defined what branding and business success mean to me, how my personal brand currently looks like and where I see it in 6 months, a year and 3 years.
- I searched myself online and saw plenty of things appearing about me which weren’t relevant anymore (such as profiles in freelance websites and my books on personal development). I’ve published over 10 books, had another podcast back in the days. I’ve done a lot, but it’s not what I currently wanna be known for so I just want to keep the things related to my current business vision.
- I also checked out my Google Image results and updated some pictures.
- I also narrowed down my ideal audience and I want to create content only for that person.
- I updated my bios on different platforms and also added new photos to my About page.
- I created a ‘Work with Me’ page on my site, where I shared the different ways people can collaborate with me which is through my courses, doing interviews, joining my affiliate program, or check out my advertising packages;
- The overall messaging must be consistent on all platforms. For example, there were still places where I refer to myself as a writer or a freelancer, but that’s in the past so I changed it.
In August my income was lower, a bit below $4,000, which is totally fine, of course.
I spent the whole month improving my brand and taking more courses, as well as working on digital products.
In September, the income was nearly $6,000 and that was a really exciting month.
I redesigned my blog, narrowed down my ideal audience, got back on IG, had the chance to be part of 3 bundles and partner with many other course creators (contributing to 2 of them with 2 of my new products, and being an affiliate to the other one).
I also re-wrote my welcome email series, updated my courses, released a whole new product, and learned many new strategies that I was gonna implement over the next months.
I also did some serious goal setting and visualizing and planned for Q4 of the year.
Let me talk a bit about the blog redesign. So I have a WordPress site, of course, and while there are many free WordPress themes that you can easily find and install, I started using premium ones a few years ago.
But each was rather minimalist. Until I found the perfect one. It’s by Bluchic which is a company that creates feminine themes and this exact one is called Chic Boss. It’s made specially for service-based businesses and bloggers selling digital products.
I was so inspired when I found it that I spent the same night and the whole next day tweaking it and just making sure the main pages are designed the way I want.
The theme requires Elementor (one of the most popular website builders) and provides beautiful templates so that took me some time. The previous theme I had was definitely simpler.
What I loved about it the most is that its focus is on branding, testimonials, services and digital products.
It was the ideal time for my blog to have a new look as courses were the main part of my business now, I target women who want to have a profitable blogging biz (and the theme is feminine), am collecting testimonials, and have new lifestyle and work pics that I wanted to add.
Also my new course $1K Blogger was finally completed and I got amazing feedback.
Another product release that month was for The Blog Income Toolkit which has done-for-templates to grow your blogging business.
In September I was also working in a new way to boost productivity. Each day of the workweek had a theme.
Monday was for mindset, Tuesday was for email marketing, Wednesday for digital products, Thursday for branding, and for the rest I went with flow.
This was also the last month I published a monthly income report. Since then I stopped.
October, November and December
The last 3 months of the year were all really good because I was laser focused on personal and business growth and got into spirituality, which was a game-changer.
If you listen to the previous episode, you’ll actually see what fun things happened to me in November and December and how I ended up on the right path, which led to being more aligned with my true self now.
In terms of income and some milestones, in October I earned below $4,000 and decided to stop doing anything that doesn’t feel right.
So I removed some lead magnets and updated some freebies. I displayed only the main blog categories on the homepage and even closed the doors to one paid course and one free one I had simply because they didn’t resonate with my new vision anymore.
In November, I kept taking business courses, started the podcast, had to figure out all the technical again and to decide how to make each episode valuable, and it worked well.
I also updated some products, create a new freebie for my subscribers, was more active on Instagram and connected with people.
In November, I earned nearly $5,000, had many many expenses which are actually investments in my business.
For a start, I got an iPhone for the first in my life cause I never really needed a good phone before. Now I’ll also use it for work and good pictures.
I invested in a stock membership which I had been using 3 months prior to that. It’s where I get access to really good stock photos and Canva templates and I use them all over my blog, on social media, for courses, landing pages, and just everywhere.
Other expenses were my annual payments for my hosting provider, email marketing software, and for Teachable, which is the platform I use to host and sell my courses.
So that a lot, but these are the top tools I’m using in my business and they are all amazing products and really worth the price.
I also got into Human Design and started applying it to my business, began really tuning into my intuition and fall in love with manifestation more than ever.
Then in December I joined a Manifestation Bootcamp and connected with many amazing women thanks to it.
Income was lower than months but that’s fine as most of December was spent reflecting on 2020 and planning for 2021.
In fact, I’ve never had a longer goal setting process. But I just learned a lot along the way, implemented new strategies, released things from the past, mostly energetically, and was really really motivated for this year.
Many things started happening on Instagram for me, there was more ease and fun in my business. I outlined my new course idea, which is a program called Fearless Content and which I’m working on now.
It will help you get clear on what’s no longer serving you and release it energetically, re-organize your whole business from a place of abundance, and achieve radical alignment in your content creation.
Basically, I combined content creation and branding with personal growth and spirituality.
You’ll learn how to create a content creation process aligned with your true self thanks to Human Design. All that through my experience after 7 years of publishing content online and experimenting with different formats, platforms, niches, passions, audiences, goals, business models.
And that’s it for 2020.
If you read this far, thanks for that. I’d love to hear from you so feel free to reach out on Instagram @letsreachsuccess and share this income report with anyone you think it can benefit.