July 2017 was another great month for our blog. We were able to top $90,000 for the 2nd month in a row and we learned some great things that will help us increase our income for the future.
I know some people think we're crazy for sharing our income reports publicly. It sounds a little strange, I know…
Here are the reasons why we are publishing our income reports for the world to see:
- We want these reports to motivate other bloggers, both new and established, and help them attain their own income goals.
- This is perfect way to motivate ourselves and keep us accountable for our own business goals
- I have recently started working on the blog full time (beginning of 2017.) Since I am more of a business and numbers guy, this is the exact type of project that I love.
- Reading other blogger income reports over the years have really inspired us, so I guess it is our turn to pitch in. We hope others will find inspiration and tips from reading our reports too.
Blogging can be a great way to earn an income, and the lifestyle associated with it is simply amazing.
If you are new to the blog, here is a little bit about us and what we do:
It's A Lovely Life is a family lifestyle and travel blog. We love to share about products and services that make life better and easier. We love to travel and we do so 150+ days a year as a family, featuring resorts and many family friendly destinations.
Heather is the main writer for the blog, and she has been blogging for over 10 years now. She started writing about budgeting and saving money and gradually transitioned to writing about our lifestyle and travel. She has built this blog to what it is today, and she loves every second of it.
I have been a licensed real estate broker for the past 10 years, owning our own successful brokerage. At the beginning of 2017, we made the decision that I would work on the blog full-time because the income potential is so great. I was also not enjoying real estate as much as I used to and we both believe that happiness is important for our family (especially me…haha)! I learned so much in the real estate world that directly benefits our blogging business, so this was a natural transition.
Just 5 years ago, the climate in the blogging world was much different than it is right now. At that time, there were very limited opportunities for bloggers to make money unless you had an enormous following.
Things in 2017 are completely different. Brands are very excited to work with bloggers to feature their products and services in the form of sponsored posts. Sponsored posts are essentially advertisements, but are crafted in a natural way that is much more effective than standard print and online ads.
For the past 4 years, the majority of our blog income was derived from sponsored content. Each year our blog income has increased dramatically and it shows no signs of slowing down. As our following and traffic grew, we were able to increase our sponsored post rate and stay very selective in what brands we choose to partner with.
Our income has risen to the level that Heather and I can work together, and we absolutely love it! There is no more commuting to work for me (unless we are traveling for a story) and we are able to spend much more time together as a family. When it really comes down to it, that is the most important thing of all!
A few years ago, we started to get involved more with travel blogging, and we are so glad we did! Last year we traveled 150 days out of the year to Cancun (twice), Hawaii, A 19 Day Tour of Florida, A Dude Ranch in Tucson, Aruba, Jamaica, Virginia, Maryland, Austin, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin Dells, Colorado Springs, Park City Utah, all over California, and more. We were hosted on these trips, and in most locations, we received VIP treatment!
So far this year we have been to Cabo San Lucas, Lake Tahoe, Rapid City South Dakota, The Cayman Islands, a European River Cruise with Adventures By Disney, and Miami (just Ashley and I). We have also done some local overnight trips including trips to Disneyland, and an overnight trip to San Diego for a conference. We have some BIG trips planned for the near future that we will be able to share about soon.
While the travel blogging does not contribute to the majority of our income, it is increasing. We feel the travel blogging market is still in its infancy as many resorts and destinations are now beginning to offer payment in exchange for sponsored coverage.
We also have gotten heavily involved in video over the last year. We film some standard vlogs, travel vlogs, room and resort tours, as well as some short funny videos. We have been hired to do numerous sponsored video content projects over the past year for lifestyle and travel. According to all the research, video will become increasingly important, and we want to be poised to take advantage of that.
Starting in March 2017, we added a major aspect to our business. We began to help other bloggers on a formal basis to increase their income and incorporate travel blogging into what they do. Heather has always had a passion for helping new and fellow bloggers in any way that she can. We decided it was time to organize her knowledge and we introduced the following free email course this past March:
- Start A Money Making Blog – Free 5-day Email Crash Course (click the link to signup) – this course was designed for new bloggers to help them start a money making blog the right way
So far, the results have been amazing. Over 23,000 people have signed up since mid-March, and we plan on expanding our marketing considerably in the coming weeks and months.
A big step forward for us came in June when we launched our new premium course, the 30 Day Blogging Fast Track. This is an intensive course that we designed to provide bloggers with exact money making systems, the steps to dramatically increase their social accounts, and also provide a defined system to drive lots of traffic to their blogs.
Our first launch in June was a huge success and the launch in July (for the August course) was also very successful. There is a new class that starts on the 1st of every month.
The course is structured in a unique way. Each day a new lesson is presented and there is a corresponding assignment/activity that is provided for those that wish to participate. The course comes with a lot of bonuses including access to the VIP Blogging Fast Track Facebook group, and those that take the course will also be able to resell the course as affiliates.
To read all about the 30 Day Blogging Fast Track course, click HERE. The curriculum is what we are most proud of. We provide a lot of information in this course, and I really recommend scrolling down the page and reading through the whole curriculum so you can see what is included.
We would love to have you be a part of the September 1st class!
Most of the sign ups for our free courses come from spending money on Facebook ads and from our site visitors. In the past, we have resisted spending money on Facebook ads because we love free traffic (who doesn't). But, in order to reliably increase sign ups, we knew that we needed to spend a considerable amount on ads to make this happen.
Facebook ads are a difficult thing to master, but after some trial and error, a LOT of research, and a considerable amount of money spent, we have been able to gradually decrease the cost per new subscriber. We know we need to dramatically increase our email subscriber list in order to hit our future income goals.
Another big addition to our business has been the popularity of our Start A Money Making Blog Facebook group. This group is an amazing support network for bloggers, both new and established. It has really been fun for Heather and me to interact with the group and help other bloggers in many different ways!
The Start A Money Making Blog Facebook group now has over 10,600 Members and is growing rapidly. We run a monthly 10k Traffic Challenge that provides daily information for 10 days to the group on techniques to increase blog traffic.
For August, we moved the instructional/learning component onto the Teachable platform. We handle all discussion and interaction for the Challenge in the Facebook group. This has really helped to organize the challenge and ultimately has allowed it to be a better FREE resource for our group members.
This month we had 1040 bloggers that signed up to participate in the 10k Traffic Challenge, and we would love to double that for September!
By the way, no matter what stage you are in with YOUR blog, I'm confident that you could benefit by joining along in the challenge.
This challenge is run out of the Start A Money Making Blog Facebook group. So, if you are not a member of that yet, you will need to be in order to participate.
In July we continued our progress into the world of affiliate marketing.
We have resisted this area in the past, and for the past few years, we have solely focused on income from sponsored content.
While we still plan that sponsored content will be a major portion of our blogging income, we realized that we were leaving a considerable amount of income on the table without affiliate marketing added into the mix.
We will continue to increase our affiliate marketing efforts for those products and services we use and find beneficial. This will increase our income as well as help our readers get matched up with things that we know they will love too!
Before we get into the numbers, I want to make it clear that everything we have done can be duplicated by you. Blogging is not rocket science! You just need some knowledge, a clear plan and persistence and YOU too can duplicate or surpass our results.
So, without further delay, let's get to the fun stuff.
Here are our income figures for Jul7 2017:
Sponsored Content Income: $28,850.00
This includes: Sponsored blog posts, sponsored social content for It's A Lovely Life, paid travel (not comped), and sponsored content written for other websites
Affiliate Income: $36,236.00
Affiliate income was generated by our participation in the following programs:
- Revive Social
- Warfare Plugins
- Pretty Link
- Misc Travel Related Affiliate Programs
Course Sales: $25,031.90 (after Paypal and credit card processing fees)
The course sales for July were entirely from the 30 Day Blogging Fast Track – August 2017 class.
This was our first premium course, so we are very pleased with our second month offering it. Our goal before we created the course was to provide something of such value that it would be a “no brainer” for those interested in progressing their blogging careers. I'm confident we accomplished that task by providing such an extensive curriculum and also providing some great bonuses.
Total Income June 2017: $90,117.90
***Please note that much of the income listed above has not been received yet. These figures are based on projects committed or contracted during July. Some of the projects have been completed already, and some have not. For the purposes of these income reports, we will recognize the income in the month in which the work is committed or contracted. It also includes affiliate income generated. In both cases, there is sometimes a lengthy delay between these steps and when the funds are actually received. For course sales, some of the courses were purchased using a payment plan. We have not received all those payments yet, but the amount above reflects the amount we project to fully receive. We have left out individual names of sponsors for their privacy.
Here is our Year To Date Information:
January 2017 Blog Income: $28,346.00
February 2017 Income: $29,220.00
March 2017 Income: $37,809.75
April 2017 Income: $26,938.69
May 2017 Income: $36,010.20
June 2017 Income: $98,202.78
July 2017 Income: $90,117.90
Year to Date Income (Jan, Feb, Mar, April, May, June, July): $346,645.39
Expenses & Blogging Tools that we pay for:
- ConvertKit – Awesome email list service designed for bloggers
- Facebook Ads – Used to drive sign ups for our free email courses and build our email list. We spent $15,017.28 in July 2017.
- Tailwind – Pinterest Scheduling
- Revive Social – Awesome plugin that automatically tweets out our old posts from our site on a regular schedule (this has really increased our Twitter traffic)
- Bluehost – Web Hosting
- Grammarly Premium – helps us with our Grammar!
- Social Warfare Plugin – Premium plugin that makes posts easily shareable
- PicMonkey – Premium version. We use it for video thumbnail editing, Pinterest images, and various graphic design projects for the blog
- Canva and stock images – Paid version
- Video Editing – We have most of our video content edited for us
- Themeforest – we recently changed the theme of It's A Lovely Life
- Pretty Link Pro – used for affiliate links
- Fiverr – mostly miscellaneous graphic design work
- Google Apps for Business – Gmail, Google drive, calendar, etc..
- Namecheap & Godaddy – domain registrations
- Virtual Assistants
- Adobe Creative Cloud – We edit some photos here
***For now, we will not detail our exact expenses aside from providing a list of tools that we use to run the blogging business. Please note that we have many additional expenses not reflected in this report that relate to our overall business operations, and are not specific to the blog. Since we have our own company, we are responsible for many other expenses and taxes (health insurance, retirement plans, tax preparation, legal fees, etc) that would be too extensive to document in this report.
From the list above, you can see that our expenses for the blog are extensive. However, many of these tools and expenses are things that helped us get to where we are today. Over the years we have tried out many additional services and tools that did not work out, but the above list of items is crucial to our success.
We also get asked all the time how we have our business set up. We use an S Corp for all business operations. If you are interested in setting up your own S Corp, C Corp, LLC, or LP we recommend IncFile because they have the best prices around and they are quick and efficient.
We are VERY happy with our July 2017 income of $90,117.90. Our year to date income of $346,645.39 is an average of $49,520.77 per month. We plan to increase all these numbers substantially. For the second month in a row, we were pretty close to $100,000 but didn't quite make it. We hope to hit that HUGE milestone very soon.
One thing I would like to note is that we turned down numerous sponsored opportunities that were not a great fit for the site this month that would have increased our income even more. At this point in our development, it is very important for us to only work with brands that align closely with our vision. We have learned that even though this may hurt our short-term income, it really helps to increase our revenue in the long run.
As for sponsored travel blogging in July, we took 2 amazing trips as a family. First we went to Disneyland for a night to check out the new Summer of Heroes attraction at Disney California Adventure.
At the end of July, we continued the Disney theme and took an absolutely incredible European River Cruise with Adventures By Disney. It was the trip of a lifetime and we loved everything about it. If you are looking for a dream vacation this is it!
Here is some of our coverage from these trips:
Here are our top blog goals and priorities for August 2017:
- Continue increasing our sponsored post income. We love working with brands to tell their stories to our readers and are really looking forward to some really great late summer posts.
- Grow our email list by 10,000 subscribers this month
- Increase our affiliate income substantially. Since we just started working on affiliate income in March, we are still making improvements every day.
- Launch the September 30 Day Blogging Fast Track Course.
- Book additional sponsored family travel destinations for 2017
- Substantially grow our Facebook group: Start A Money Making Blog
Our blog is our business….a business that produces a substantial income for us and allows us to travel the world to some incredible destinations. It also provides us access to amazing events that are simply not available to the general public.
As you might have guessed, this makes us big fans of blogging. The best part about it all is that it is a business that requires very little investment to start (only $59/yr or less with our recommended host), no inventory to buy, and can be done either full or part-time on your own schedule.
The sky is the limit for blogging and we would love to help you on your own journey! There is great information in these free email courses and we urge you to click the links to signup:
Start A Money Making Blog – 5-day Email Crash Course – this free course was designed for new bloggers to help them start a money making blog the right way
Also, we would love for you to join our Facebook groups. These are private groups, so click the links to request access:
Start A Money Making Blog – for those interested in starting a blog
So that's it for the July 2017 Blog income report. Follow along each month as we detail our money making efforts on the blog.
Remember, this is something that YOU can duplicate too. You just need to have a plan in place and the persistence to pull it off.