Personal Finance Blog Income Report Roundup: 2018 Lessons and 2019 Plans
For the past four months now, I’ve been gathering a few of the income reports that various personal finance bloggers release for what I’ve so cleverly called my Personal Finance Blog Income Report Roundup. However, with 2018 coming to a close, I thought I do something a little bit different this month. Instead of looking specifically at trends to be found in November income reports, I figured I’d take a closer look at my revenue in particular, what tools I’ve been investing in to help drive that revenue, what I’ve learned from the past few months of doing these roundups, and what goals I have for 2019.
Without further ado, let’s start off with that I made from this blog/brand last month.
Behind my income report
I’m very excited to have reached triple-digit revenue in November! That said, I am cheating slightly as the vast majority of this money came not from the [email protected] site itself but my YouTube channel — but we’ll talk more about that a bit later.
As I teased last month, I’ve been blown away by my YouTube revenue so far. Even after months of working my way up to the point where I could join the YouTube Partner Program, I was honestly expecting only a few dollars per month to be rolling in. Yet, from November 18th when my monetization began through November 30th, my channel earned $82.13 in ad revenue. While this is just below the $100 threshold I’d need for Google to actually send me a check this month, it’s definitely an encouraging start.
Elsewhere, my display ad revenue was pretty much in line with last month — although it fell slightly. That was obviously more than offset by the addition of YouTube money but my affiliate revenue was also up from October. In all, it was a month to be thankful for.
Behind my blog investments and spending
When I do my income report roundups, one thing I note is that I’m only compiling how much each site made and not how much they spent. While that’s just a single line in each installment, it’s actually a pretty important disclaimer. That’s why, as we’re looking at my revenue from last month, I thought I’d highlight some of the expenses I have as well.
One of the larger monthly expenses I have is my subscription to Viraltag. Awhile back, I made the switch to this social media tool from just using Tweetdeck as I found it made it easier for me to queue up content I wanted to share. What’s more, Viraltag works across multiple social platforms — including Pinterest, which has been a big focus for me as of late. At $29 a month, it’s certainly an investment, but it’s served me well so far.
Considering how my YouTube channel is just now paying dividends, it also behooves me to look back at what I spent in order to start making videos. On top of the $400 Sony RX-100 II that I purchased used on Amazon, I also spent $80 on lights and $20 on a lavalier microphone. Plus, joining Viraltag on my list of monthly expenses, I maintain a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud in order to edit my videos in Premiere. In other words, while I’m thrilled with the $100-something dollars I “made” this month, taking a look at the books for my blog would still show a lot a red ink.
Lessons Learned in 2018
This year has been both exciting and educational. When I started this blog, I made it very clear that I was still learning about the world of personal finance myself. Well, in 2018, I dove in even further and have loved every minute of it. Keeping things in the realm of blogging, here are three of the bigger takeaways I’ve found in recent months.
The importance of having a plan
Recently, I wrote a post based around my observation that several blogs I’ve started following had suddenly disappeared. In that article, I wondered if part of the reason for this phenomenon was that the bloggers in question went into their new projects without a real, solid plan. Moreover, part of me questions whether the income reports I feature each month might also be a factor in having newbie bloggers believe they can earn big bucks off the bat, only to realize it’s never that simple. This isn’t to say that the writers I reference ever suggest that it’s all so easy, but that people have a tendency to hear what they want to hear.
In any case, taking a closer look at each site owner’s income report has really helped me cook up a plan of my own. To that point, what’s great about rounding up these various reports is that, while you do see trends, you also see divergences. For example, some bloggers may rake in the majority of their revenue from affiliate marketing, while others have leveraged their blog and following to sell courses. As a result, there are plenty of options on the table.
Ultimately, regardless of what plan of action you arrive upon, what I’ve learned is that having a plan is job one.
Growing your community
I’ll let you in on a little secret: one of the reasons I decided to start my Personal Finance Blog Income Report was to not only learn about other bloggers in the personal finance community but maybe even connect with them. This desire grew even more after I attended FinCon in September and got an in-person introduction to the personal finance blogging space at large. As big as this community is, it does seem to be very welcoming — the trick is just to put yourself out there in a not-always-self-promotional way.
Since resolving to be more active in the community, I’ve tested a few other strategies to do just that. Perhaps the easiest change I made was simply tagging the bloggers whose articles I was sharing on Twitter. At first I thought that doing so would be annoying, but I’ve found that people seem to really appreciate it. Similarly, I’ve also tried to engage more on Twitter by commenting on interesting posts or tweets and just joining the discussion.
These may be small gestures and efforts but I already feel more connected to the community than I did just a few months ago. As a result, I’m actually learning more and more about personal finance, blogging, and everything else on a daily basis.
Finding the right balance for you
Lastly, another big thing I’ve learned from these past few months is that there will always be trade-offs to make. Furthermore, what makes sense for one person may not make sense for another.
Just today I was listening to a podcast called What’s Up Next, which featured many finance bloggers discussing financial independence. What was interesting was that each panelist had different thoughts on things like increased income vs. frugality, the value of relocation, and more. This really drove home the fact that, even though we’re in the business of offering advice and providing how-to tips, ultimately it’s up each individual to take away what they will and apply it as they see fit.
Related to my pursuit, while I do enjoy seeing how other bloggers are making money and what strategies they use, I can honestly say that not all of them are for me. What’s great is, that’s okay! As I’m learning, there are many different routes to success and you’re free to draw up your own directions.
Looking to 2019
Now that we’ve covered the past year, it’s time to look forward to 2019. While it may be cliche to set New Year’s resolutions, I can’t help but use the changing of the calendar as inspiration to lay out some of my goals and hopes for the months ahead. Let’s take a look at what I have on tap.
That [email protected] podcast is still coming!
Something I didn’t mention when detailing a few of my spending items was that I recently invested a few hundred dollars in purchasing microphones, boom arms, and an audio interface in order to help me launch a [email protected] podcast. Since then, my wife and I have done a couple of test recordings (and I’ve upgraded the audio in my videos thanks to the new mics), but we have yet to officially put out a show. Well, in 2019, that’s going to change.
Previously I mentioned that, unlike with YouTube, there was no obvious path to monetization for my podcast plans. But then I realized that YouTube actually is the first-step path to monetization. That’s right, it just struck me that, in addition to iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or whereever else I end up releasing the podcast, I could also upload shows to YouTube and insert ads that way. Granted, I have yet to research how many people consume podcasts this way nor do I expect many of my subscribers to make the jump from three-minute reviews to potentially 45-minute podcasts, but this seems like a no-brainer for getting started.
Creating a video section
Up to this point, I’ve justified including my YouTube revenue with my site revenue since they’re both under the [email protected] brand. That’s all well and good, but I realized that the majority of the videos I create don’t even end up on this site. Instead, many are included in reviews and other posts I write for Dyer News.
That’s why, in the near future, I plan to bring my video content back home by creating a dedicated section for it here on [email protected] The current plan is to create a new post for each video along with a short write-up of the topic and likely a link to my full article on Dyer. Honestly, this just makes so much sense to me that it’s a wonder that it didn’t occur to me before. Regardless, I look forward to making this change in 2019.
Increasing to three posts a week
Going hand in hand with my idea to introduce a video section is my goal to have at least three posts a week on [email protected] Currently, I always have a least one Quick Tip per week plus one longer article every week or two. When you add in what I was doing for Dyer News, that seemed to be enough. However, what I’m realizing is that I’m short-changing this site by not doing more.
Before I go any further, I do want to say that I will still be writing my weekly “Money at 30” column for Dyer News and occasionally penning other pieces for that site as well. But it’s time for me to focus more on creating new content for this site. Even though it’s actually a fairly sizeable change from where I am now in terms of output, three posts a week actually seems very doable to me and I look forward to getting started.
As I said, the addition to the video section will make it a bit easier to reach this goal, although I also have a few other ideas in the works I’m still fleshing out. In any case, get ready for more [email protected]!
From sharing my stories to attending my first FinCon, I’ve had an amazing experience running [email protected] this year. Thanks to the many bloggers I follow and those I feature in my monthly income report roundups, I’ve also learned a whole hell of a lot in 2018. With the end of the year just a few days away, I’m now ready to take my newly-gained knowledge and apply toward reaching a number of goals for 2019 — including taking my little site to the next level. With that, I want to thank everyone for joining me on my journey this year and wish you all very prosperous 2019.