Important: My preamble before profits
Despite being a personal finance website and blog, I’ve hesitated to regularly provide specific earnings. Each time I’ve shared writing revenue — at 6 and 12 months — it’s taken me some time to deliberate whether I should. My revenue isn’t everything, and frankly, it’s been steadily declining since last summer. But while I made less revenue, I saw more traffic — the important metric to me.
Many personal finance blogs share their earnings on a regular, monthly basis with their readers. My fear in regularly doing so may come from an irrational place, but I worry that sharing this information is like eating junk food; the syrupy sweet taste goes down easily, but it has a vapid nutritional value. Do public displays of revenue help those that follow this site? Would love your input!
While keeping these questions in mind, I’ve decided to write about last month’s earnings, analyze the data, and provide forward-looking goals. Hopefully, you can take this information and let it inspire you to reduce your debt and meet some of your own financial dreams. Maybe you’ll start a blog of your own!
July 2014 Income Report
This month I truly learned what it meant to have an article go viral. Shortly after publishing “Destroy The 40-Hour Workweek,” the site quickly received the most incredible response ever. Google Analytics data showed that there were over 221,000 pageviews because of this tremendous social networking surge. Obviously, the increased traffic affected my income for this month, too. Most of this is reflected in an incredible spike in Google AdSense earnings.
$416.00 (Down $200 compared to last month)
Affiliate sales led the way. My most popular articles that lead to commissioned sales are the Barclaycard Arrival and US Airways credit cards. Unfortunately, sales have steadily declined in recent months; likely, due to a combination of search engine optimization (SEO) problems that were caused by server problems. Also, referral rates have been in decline, which means that each sale equaled fewer commissions.
$247.95 (Up $204.49 compared to last month)
As I mentioned earlier, Google AdSense had a huge spike in revenue that was largely attributable to my viral post. Click-through-rates did not change by much, but the surge led to more clicks and impressions. I recently added a couple videos to YouTube and used one of them in an article about moving from my old apartment. While miniscule, the ads on YouTube are contributing to my earnings.
$1.13 (Negligible change)
There’s not much to say here. Amazon Associates is one of the most flexible and user-friendly affiliate networks. Moreover, it pays a fair amount for each item sold. When I linked to TurboTax during the tax season, I actually made about $200. But since then, it’s been pretty stagnant.
Total July 2014 Earnings: $665.08
My main goal in starting this site was always focused on building a network and traffic stream. Money wasn’t the main motivator. But revenue from this website has changed my life forever. It’s given me an incredible lift in mood and gives me an outlet to share my thoughts. I’m truly honored to have visitors and followers. Your contributions fueled me to write more than I ever thought would be possible.
Going forward, I want to build on my fundamental desire for traffic. I’d like to increase subscribers via email (please sign up!), more frequently engage with Twitter followers, and find ways to integrate Facebook with the site. Whatever money follows would be a wonderful thing, but hardly the sole, motivating factor to this site.
The other piece that I want to begin including on Frugaling are book reviews. Anything that has to do with money, finance, and stock markets, I want to review and share with you. Hopefully, it can be a quick way for you to stay informed about complicated financial matters and offer me an opportunity to do something I love: read.
Thanks for viewing my report. If you have any recommendations, questions, or comments, please leave them below. I love nothing more than helping another person make their goals come true! Best of luck!
Megan Nichols (@megjnichols) says
I really enjoy reading other people’s income reports. I think it’s inspiring and honest – but mainly very interesting. Plus the majority of bloggers don’t share their income so I tend to remember the ones that do. It might be more fluffy than a flushed out article, but for me, I find value in it.
Anyway, congrats on huge rush of traffic last month and on the income generated! Keep at it!
—Also, though Frugaling is in my rss reader, I’m not an email subscriber. But when you asked – I thought, heck why not! So I’m signing up.
Sam Lustgarten says
Thank you so much for your kind words. I sincerely appreciate that there’s something gained from me sharing about the income from the site — that’s what I hope for! 🙂
Awesome! Thanks for signing up to receive email updates.
debt debs says
Wow the # of hits for that viral post I can’t even comprehend. Good job! You’ve got me interested.
Why is it important to subscribe by email, just so that you have an email address for all your readers? The reason I ask is because I initially signed up for a lot of blogs on email and my email became unmanageable. Now I’ve signed up on bloglovin but now that is becoming almost unmanageable too with too many blogs to read. I unfortunately have to wipe it clean to catch up. Any suggestions on how you handle it for blogs you read?
Sam Lustgarten says
Thanks for your comment, DD!
I think you have a valid point about the subscriber question. For me, seeing subscribers via email says something about their interest in the site. Generally, they are more committed to viewing my content and want to stop by more often. Having emails is also a more value-laden statistic. Emails are more personal than RSS readers.
Nonetheless, choosing something like Bloglovin is great, too! You make a valid point, as having subscribers by any means is amazing! Thanks for being one of them.
Very good job on affiliate front. I need to ;earn affiliate promotion from you
Michael | The Student Loan Sherpa says
221,000… that is amazing! I remember seeing that post on the front page of Reddit. Amazing! Congrats on a job very well done.
Great job Sam. I actually enjoy these earnings posts of yours they really are motivating. Keep up the great work!
Kat ~ frugalvoices.com says
Honest and inspirational ~ thanks for sharing! 🙂
Ricky | The Skint Dad Blog says
Congratulations on the viral post, they are some BIG numbers.
I follow a lot of income reports as they provide not only inspiration but also ideas for different revenue streams. I’m currently trying lots of different affiliates and although it’s a slow process, I can see increases month-to-month.
I’m even tempted to start my own income reports although I don’t know how my UK audience would react?
Thanks for sharing!
Will @firstqfinance says
I love these income reports! Never stop!
And I wish I got triple digits in Adsense revenue! My ads do so poorly. They are pretty far down the page but still. Do you use responsive ads? Ever since I made the switch, my revenue has plummeted…
Sam Lustgarten says
Okay! I’ll take that advice and run with it. 🙂
Triple digits was totally attributable to the viral article; without it, I would’ve been in the double digits. I use a responsive ad unit for the banner at the top of the page. Haven’t noticed any problems with my revenue; in fact, it makes this WordPress theme work a little smoother. So, I love them! I wonder what’s happening on yours…
Great job! My affiliate income is down a bit as well. That’s why we shouldn’t be so dependent on one sector – credit cards. Keep adding more affiliate products and see what work for your readers. Good luck!
Sam Lustgarten says
Thanks for the advice. Been trying to add them very sparingly along the way. If there’s a product I wouldn’t personally use, it doesn’t ever end up on my site. That can be a bit restricting for affiliate revenue, but wouldn’t change that aspect of my business. Hopefully some exciting new companies will be added soon!
Hi Sam, I like that this is your style. I am very much thinking along the same lines, hence not many affiliate links (and therefore not much revenue! 🙂 ) from my blog. Hey ho… it’s not all about the money like you say.
I also like that you have only shared income reports every so often. I find the monthly income reports are a bit over the top, and very often a bit like “Hey look at me”. I also think the sites that do that are a kind of ponzi scheme. Often a big source of income is from hosting package affiliate deals, so basically they are saying, look at how much money I’ve made, you can do it too if you start a blog (here is my affiliate link)… and then they earn even more money on it.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, people need to earn money and there are normally lot’s of other revenue streams as well, but it is something that has always grated me about sites that constantly post income reports, and I tend to stay away from them.
As I say, hearing every so often like you do is helpful to people to get an idea of what they might realistically earn if they started up a blog, so keep up the method you are employing I say.
I don’t have a feeling on sharing one way or the other. I like the learning value from it I suppose and it’s great to know what bloggers earned. I’d always been curios. But to each his own.
Mrs. Frugalwoods says
Thanks for sharing this! 221,000 pageviews–WOW. Congrats to you! Looking forward to reading your next viral post too 🙂
Sam Lustgarten says
Thanks for the encouragement! That was definitely a crazy fluke of traffic. I hope I can do it again soon — for both our sake! 🙂
Phroogal Jason says
I posted a ton of videos when I went backpacking back in 2012. I still earn on average $80 from them per month. I have to dig up my other videos and just post them. That’s the great thing about doing videos is this passive income. I haven’t even started on doing video posts on personal finance.
Those are some really big numbers! Great job!
Messy Money says
Those are impressive numbers. I find it interesting to see what bloggers are doing to monitise and see how it is working for them.
Almost all of my revenue comes from freelancing which is extra work. I really need to make my site make money itself.
I’ve wondered if Amazon’s recent ‘smile’ program has decreased a lot of affiliate revenue? I mean I’m not opposed to the program at all, but we’ve made 10% or less of what we made before the program started and I have a sneaking suspicion it may be a factor.
Sam Lustgarten says
Whoa! Thanks for pointing this out. I had no idea about the program, and would love to support it, too. Unfortunately, you may be right — it could be affecting it. One thing that stands in the favor of the affiliate id, though, is that you have to specifically type in the “Smile” program address. Without that, you could still get the commission.
Ree Klein says
This is my first time to your site and so far, I like what I’m seeing! (Btw, I found you because you “followed” me on Twitter and I came to check you out before reciprocating.)
As a fellow blogger, I do like to read posts by other bloggers detailing how they generate income in an unconventional way. I have just started to do that through my Income Lab series but the data will be specific to particular type of income stream.
I started selling as an Amazon FBA seller in May of this year and posted my first income report a couple weeks ago (dismal I must say). I’m playing with some other income types so perhaps I should post a summary as well.
After 1 1/2 years of blogging, I caved and added AdSense to my site but took it down within a few days. I hate that I can’t control what people see at the ad level. It feels very counter to what I’m trying to accomplish, which is to help people live debt-free lives and spend in alignment with who they are and what they want out of life. I feel much better now that I took them down!
As for affiliate advertising, I have no problem putting those ads on my site because I can limit the advertisers to those whose products I personally use and love. That’s a win/win in my mind.
Sam Lustgarten says
Thanks so much for commenting on the site. I’m glad to see that the income reports help. That’s generally been the response; as such, I will definitely keep them coming!
AdSense can be a tricky advertising platform. If you ever find a business questionable or not in the interest of your own site, you can block individual advertisers. I find that the more relevant the ads are to my readers, the more likely they’ll click through. So, I tend to like what Google is doing, but can understand your desire to have more say over what’s shown.
Thanks for your comment!