This year I started blogging as a side hustle. After being only cents short of earning $75 during my first month of blogging in February, I felt nervous about my performance in March. What if I don’t earn anything? How awful would it look if I didn’t earn any money my second month of blogging? I felt nervous about publishing a second income report.
The anxiety was real.
Since I felt successful in February, I felt earning any less would be a failure.
Somehow, I still saw growth…and not just a small amount of growth, either. This month, I earned over 9 times the amount I did in February. For my second income report, I was dollars short of earning $700. I ended March having earned $693.94.
Honestly, I love reading other bloggers’ income reports. I find them to be inspiring. If other bloggers did not post their income reports, I would not have started this blog. And, starting this blog turned out to be an incredible journey. It serves as a creative outlet for me and gives me so much to be excited about with each day. While it’s a lot of work, I never feel like I’m working.
The best part? Blogging for business is more than just writing. As a blogger, you are also your own social media manager. And your own graphic designer. You are your blog’s chief creative. Business manager. The list goes on and it’s freaking impressive.
At this point in the game, I don’t really think that earning money from your blog is “luck”. I think it’s a combination of time, hard work, and the correct marketing strategy.
That’s not to say I will always see upward growth (it’s hard to believe I will still see growth in April).
But, as you’ll find out, I performed a lot of experiments with my blog since its inception. The primary way I earned money is from affiliate marketing. I think affiliate marketing is a great way to begin monetizing your blog, so much so that I wrote a detailed guide about affiliate programs you can use to monetize your blog.
This post contains affiliate links to help keep this blog running.
To learn more about affiliate links, click here.
Because affiliate programs each have different payout terms or minimum payouts, bloggers report their income in (primarily) two different ways.
Some bloggers report their income as it enters their bank account. Others report their income as they earn it.
I choose to report my income as I earn it. This helps me identify what is a successful (or unsuccessful) month. That way, I can specifically target what works and areas of improvement.
Another important disclosure is I chose to report my Awin income as it is tracked. My Awin income, which is the highest amount of income for the month, will take a significantly longer time to reach my bank account.
All commissions resulted from my efforts in March, which is why I’m including them in this report.
Top Posts in March
- How to Use Affiliate Marketing to Monetize Your Blog
- Student Loans 101: Easy Steps Towards Becoming Debt-Free!
- 3 Ways to Use Pinterest to Boost Your Traffic
- First Income Report: How I Earned $74.62 My First Month Blogging
Social Media in March
I think from this point forward, I’m not going to set goals but let my social media grow organically. It is far too stressful to worry about numbers! I’m more concerned about obtaining engaged followers and building an amazing website for them to visit.
With that being said, I put on a lot of work to boost my social media game in March. Here’s the condensed version:
Committed to Boardbooster’s $5/month plan to schedule pins.
Last month I said I would try Tailwind.
I tried both Tailwind and Boardbooster and turns out I’m a huge fan of Boardbooster.
I started with Boardbooster‘s free trial and finally signed up for their $5/month plan to schedule my pins onto group boards. It saves me so much time that I get to put towards creating content for my blog.
Oh, and somehow Boardbooster helped me gain an 85.6% increase in monthly followers on Pinterest (I went from 233 to 524 Pinterest followers last month, like what?!).
Started using Hootsuite’s free plan to schedule Facebook and Twitter posts.
Hootsuite has an amazing free plan that lets you connect and schedule to three social media accounts. I chose to use Hootsuite to schedule to my Facebook page, my Twitter, and a Facebook group I co-admin. I love planning ahead, so I enjoyed going through my calendar scheduling posts through the year.
Altered my approach to social media.
Facebook. Last month I noticed my Facebook page’s engagement was super low on posts I shared from others. I decided to narrow what I share on my Facebook page. My shares will be limited to links to my own blog posts, positive quotations, and of course my own photos. I want to try using my Facebook page to share stories and thus connect with my audience.
Twitter. This month, I started tweeting! I’m still trying to figure out this platform, but I mostly use it to keep up with other bloggers and occasionally share my own thoughts or content. I’m also retweeting when bloggers link to my articles in posts and trying to reply as often as possible when people mention me in their tweets. You can see more of what I’m doing here on my very own Twitter page.
Pinterest. I also created new Pinterest images for older posts. While doing this, I went through my photos and realized that some photos totally fit a title I had for a post. For example, I used a (very happy and handsome) photo of my boyfriend to create an exciting Pinterest image for 8 Simple Ways to Make and Save Money in Your 20s. Hopefully, he’ll give me more opportunities to use him as my Pinterest photo model.
What I Accomplished in March
I accomplished so much in March, I’m not sure if I should list it all! But I will go over as much as possible. Why am I doing this?
Well: all these projects overwhelmed me at the beginning of the month. But, by breaking them into small projects, I accomplished all of this in just one month!
As you’ll see, I accomplished so much for my blog in one month. If you have any questions, or would like an in-depth explanation (i.e. follow-up blog post!) of any of these items, please feel free to drop a line in the comments!
- Created a Blogging Resource Library. I created a blogging resource library with links to tools, blogging guides, and plugins for bloggers! This already earned me some passive income, so I’m glad I took the time to write it.
- Rewrote my How to Start a Blog post. Last month I said I wanted to rewrite my How to Start a Blog post so I could inspire others who knew nothing about blogging to start a blog. Keep reading to see how I did this month!
- Created an Exclusive Content Library for my e-mail list. I created an Exclusive Content Library for my e-mail subscribers, with links to Pinterest group boards and printable blogging worksheets and checklists! It grew my e-mail list from less than ten to 45! Small numbers, but it’s a start.
- Decided on more specific tags, and effectively used them to be subcategories. In March I accidentally learned I can turn my links at the top into drop-down menus. So I tidied up my post tags (they were previously all over the place) and decided which subcategories I wanted to blog more about. Then I created those drop-down menus with subcategories at the top of my page!
- Collaborated with Tourism boards. My boyfriend and I are currently planning a trip to France. We are doing all of this on a budget (click here to see which resources we use to plan a trip on a budget). In exchange for articles on certain towns we plan to visit, some tourism offices have agreed to work with us! Subscribe to my newsletter to stay tuned for an article on How to Work with Tourism Offices as a Travel Blogger.
- Planned content ideas through June. I hold myself accountable to publishing a new post at least once per week. Because I will be traveling for three weeks straight starting at the end of this month, I needed to ensure I would not run out of ideas to write about. So I pulled out my customizable discbound planner and started putting sticky notes with ideas everywhere.
- Added AdSense to my blog. Then removed it. Listen, it’s cool that AdSense gives you money in exchange for views (aka cost-per-click or CPC advertising). However, because I have low traffic I was earning literally pennies per day (it averaged out to be $1 per week). And it made my blog look ugly. So I removed AdSense and added a “Partners” section to my sidebar for my higher paying affiliates (aka cost-per-action or CPA advertising).
- Used Jaaxy to do keyword research before I wrote posts. This month, I used Jaaxy to perform keyword research. When you search for one keyword using Jaaxy, they give you a list of similar keywords and you can easily see which keyword is the best choice for your article! I learned people are totally searching how to use social media to drive traffic to their blog and ended up writing this post on ways to use Pinterest to boost your traffic.
Second Income Report: Income for March
Awin: $450.00 (I definitely recommend joining Awin due to their partnerships with Etsy, Trusted Housesitters, Swagbucks, and Fiverr. It’s $5 to sign up, but you can get the $5 back in its entirety when you receive your first payment.)
Share-a-Sale: $9.00 (Because there are so many advertisers on Share-a-Sale, it’s highly recommended by many bloggers.)
Siteground: $100.00 (Do you want to start a money-making blog, too? Use this link to get a 60% discount on your first hosting plan!)
LendEDU: $70.00 (Have you completed this free, three-minute application to LendEDU to compare student loan refinancing rates? The application doesn’t even affect your credit. Read this article to learn more about student loans.)
Grammarly: $25.20 (I’m proud of my writing, but Grammarly has helped me immensely! Read this article to learn more about how to improve your writing with Grammarly. Or sign up for Share-a-Sale to partner with companies like Grammarly!)
Ebates: $0 (Although I did not earn from Ebates this month, others have signed up for their first $10! You have to make a purchase to get that free $10 from Ebates into your bank account.)
Inzpire.Me: $0 (Although I did not earn from Inzpire.Me this month, plenty of influencers have signed up so they can start working with brands to promote products on social media! If you have a high follower count on social media, definitely sign up for Inzpire.Me.)
Boardbooster: $0 (Although I did not earn from Boardbooster this month, others have signed up for their free Boardbooster trial! This is my faaaavorite Pinterest scheduler and it’s made focusing on my blog so much easier.)
Total Income: $693.94
Total Expenses: $15.28
Affiliate Programs I Want to Focus On
- Flexoffers: I applied for Flexoffers and I love their interface. I started by applying to a few programs with companies I’ve used before so I am definitely excited about diving deeper into this. If you’re a blogger, you should definitely sign up for Flexoffers! They have sooo many categories, you’re bound to find a program for your niche!
- Jaaxy: Like I said, Jaaxy helped my SEO and keyword research a ton. Not only does it tell you which keywords work, but you also get an insight into what people are searching. When you search for one keyword, they give you a list of similar keywords and you can easily see which keyword is the best choice for your article! I learned people are totally searching how to use social media to drive traffic to their blog and ended up writing this post on ways to use Pinterest to boost your traffic.
- Maven: I think Maven is so interesting and I would like to use it more for my blog! This website is seriously just Pinterest on steroids because you can “pin” products to boards. But then, when people actually click your links and buy the products on your boards, you get a commission! Definitely interested in using this to create travel wishlists or gift guides.
- If you want to put up an advertisement, consider placing an advertisement from one of your high-paying affiliates, instead. I used Google Adsense for two weeks this month. Adsense doesn’t feel worth it. It takes up so much space; I’m not computer-savvy enough to customize it; and, I received literally pennies a day from it. After I made the switch from AdSense to affiliate advertising, I earned $50 from one of my affiliates.
- Promote your host. Despite your niche, you are going to attract readers who are not bloggers. You can inspire your readers to start a blog just like yours! And you should. What you are doing is amazing, and you will definitely peak someone’s interest as to how to start a blog.
- You don’t have to listen to every rule you read about blogging. A lot of people say you should share others’ content on your Facebook page in addition to your own. However, it’s not the same for every platform so make sure you do what works best for your audience. I decided to post only my own content on Facebook, and it hasn’t hurt my engagement at all.
- If you’re earning an income, automate some tasks. Using schedulers such as Boardbooster for Pinterest and Hootsuite for Facebook and Twitter seriously saved me so much time this month! My social media schedulers posted pins, tweets, and Facebook posts while I was at work! Hootsuite is free, and you can try out Boardbooster for free to find out how amazing it truly is!
Goals for April
- Rewrite my “How to Monetize Your Blog Through Affiliate Marketing Guide.” This is my highest traffic article so I want to make sure the information stays helpful and up-to-date!
- Spruce up my Blogging Resources Library with some images. This is an area I’m struggling to update. I just need to grab a glass of wine, sit back, and try to make this Blogging Resources Library prettier.
- Write content for the rest of this month, and for my posts in May. Since I’m going on vacation at the end of this month, I want to keep content rolling! So I’m trying my very very best to prepare posts as much as possible so I’m not stressin’ out about this website while I’m on vacay with limited internet.
- Schedule social media posts through April and May. I’ve scheduled a few posts to publish per week, but ideally, I would like to be more consistent with my posts on social media. So this month, I plan to use Hootsuite to schedule posts on Twitter and Facebook through the end of May!
Related Blogging Posts
First of all, thank you for joining me on my blogging journey! Check out these posts for other blogging tips and advice:
- How to Start a Lifestyle and Travel Blog
- Affiliate Programs You Can Use to Monetize Your Blog
- 3 Ways to Boost Traffic with Pinterest
Most importantly, remember that blogging is definitely a “learn-as-you-go” activity. At first, you might feel overwhelmed by the tasks you have to conquer. After my first month, I can confidently say that to build a successful blog, you first need to conquer your fears and stop worrying!
Starting a blog can be intimidating. In fact, I felt apprehensive before I started this blog. So many questions ran through my head. Would people think I’m weird? What if I’m unsuccessful? Now, in retrospect, I’m only overwhelmed by all the fantastic, positive support I received!
Even better, blogging is a great way to make money on the side. You can really turn your play-thing into a pay-thing. To learn how to start your own blog, use this guide. Or, you can jump start and use my link to sign up for web hosting at only $3.95 per month!
Considering starting a blog? Or, are you already blogging? What are your goals for the upcoming month?