Online Business Income Report December 2018
Welcome to the December 2018 edition of our online business income report.
As you’ll see by reading the report, the income comes from our blog but also our courses because selling digital products (such as a course like we do) is a great way to monetize a blog.
This post contains affiliate links. Please see Disclosure Policy for details.
Yes, our “Family Business” may be quite different than the image of a family business that you have in your mind. We are not a shop, a restaurant, a local service business, etc..
In fact, our Family Business is online and is location independent. We can run our business from anywhere in the world (and we do). We’re not tied to a physical location and we still operate a very profitable and successful business.
Not only are we location independent, but we also involve our whole family in our business. This gives us the opportunity to show our children how to earn money online, teach them many important business and life skills, and most importantly, show them that the world is much different in 2018. We’re teaching them the skills to thrive in the future, not the past.
Gone are the days when children had to go to a four-year college to land a corporate job that they will work at for 40 years until they retire.
The internet has changed the way we work, earn an income, and live our lives.
Our online family business is about finding a way to enrich the world, provide value, and earn a very comfortable income in the process.
We’ll be continuing our focus on “Family Business” in 2018 and 2019 because we are asked about it all the time. We’re passionate about showing others how to start their own blog and online family businesses. What we’ve done is very possible for others to emulate with the right knowledge and plan.
One more thing… although the numbers listed in this report are pretty substantial, we have some very big goals and we’re planning to continue to build our family business to even higher levels.
December 2018 Online Business Income Report
December 2018 was one of our slowest months of the year. Our income for the month was substantial, but also far below many of the previous months of 2018. As with all businesses, there are ups and downs, but I certainly always appreciate the ups a little more!
We’ve been doing income reports since March of 2017, and if you read them all, you’ll see that our income has increased substantially over the past year and a half. I want you to know that it doesn’t take forever to scale things up if you provide a good service and use some solid principles to increase your business.
I know it’s a little crazy to post our income figures every month, but we do it because we know that it can help others on their own journey to increase their online income.
Here’s why we are publishing our income reports for the world to see:
We want these reports to motivate other bloggers and online business owners, both new and established, and help them attain their own income goals.
This is the perfect way to motivate ourselves and keep us accountable for our own business goals.
I started working on our blogging business full time at the 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 has really inspired us. We hope you 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 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 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 am a licensed real estate broker and have been 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 blogging business full-time because the income potential was 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.
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. We were hosted on these trips, and in most locations, we received VIP treatment!
In 2017 we went to Orlando, Cabo San Lucas, Lake Tahoe, Rapid City South Dakota, The Cayman Islands, a European River Cruise with Adventures By Disney, Puerto Vallarta, and Miami (just Ashley and I). We have also done some local overnight trips including trips to Disneyland, a business trip to Austin, a Disney Cruise, and an overnight trip to San Diego for a conference.
In 2018 we’ve been to Hawaii on (2 separate trips), St. Croix (US Virgin Islands), Miami, Orlando, an Alaskan Cruise, Victoria (BC, Canada), San Francisco, Arizona, Disneyland (2 separate trips), Pasadena, Seattle, Montana, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, London, Ireland, a transatlantic cruise, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New York City, Los Angeles, and Austin, TX!
While travel blogging does not contribute to the majority of our income, it is increasing. 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 past couple of years. 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.
We’re continually stepping up our video efforts and are excited about the content we are producing!
Here is an example of our new video style. This is from our trip to England:
Starting in March 2017, we added a major aspect to our business. We began to help other bloggers on a formal basis. We do this by showing others how to start their own blogs, how to treat their blogs like a business, and how to 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 2017:
- 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 300,000 people have signed up for this course since mid-March 2017, and we’re constantly expanding our marketing efforts to reach as many interested people as possible.
Having over 200,000 people on our email list really helps to get our message out there. We also get countless great emails from our subscribers telling us how they love reading what we send out.
We’re able to hit these types of numbers because we’ve been using ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Some subscribers come organically from visiting our website, but there is no way we would be achieving these subscription numbers without spending a substantial amount on ads.
Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest 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.
We spent a sizable amount in ads in December…partially because ads were more expensive due to the holiday shopping season and the fact that we were heading into the busiest time of year for our blogging business. We’re working very hard to optimize our ad spend. It is a delicate balance with Facebook and Instagram ads. The more you spend (scale), the less effective these ads are. It is about finding the optimal balance and constantly exploring new ways to increase their effectiveness.
A big step forward for us came in June 2017 when we launched our premium course, the Blogging Blastoff (formerly known as 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.
We have successfully launched over 18 months of the Blogging Blastoff course. So far, over 3300 students have enrolled in the course and we look forward to many more successful launches.
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 Blastoff Facebook group, and those that take the course will also be able to resell the course as affiliates and earn a 33% commission!
To read all about the Blogging Blastoff 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.
The Blogging Blastoff is open for enrollments once a month for about a week. Provide your email address HERE to be notified when the course will re-open for enrollments.
There is a new class that starts on the 1st of every month. Spots in the class are limited.
We made another HUGE leap at the end of 2017 when we introduced our newest course, the Travel Blogging Fast Track. This course is 100% focused on travel blogging. It’s 21 days of learning and interaction designed to show you exactly what you need to do in order to become a thriving travel blogger yourself. More on the Travel Blogging Fast Track below…
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 us to interact with the group and help other bloggers in many different ways!
The Start A Money Making Blog Facebook group now has over 114,000 Members and is growing rapidly. It is the largest new blogger group on Facebook!
We run a free monthly 10k Traffic Challenge that provides information for 10 straight days to the group on techniques to increase blog traffic. The 10k Challenge starts towards the beginning of each month and we would love to have YOU join in too on the next one. Join the Facebook group and you will be notified when the free 10k Challenge starts.
We are very active in our Facebook Groups answering questions, doing live videos, and running our challenges. We have some great NEW challenges that we are planning to run in the future too!
Recently we moved the instructional/learning component of our Challenges onto the Teachable platform while we continue to handle all discussion and interaction for the Challenges in the Facebook group. This has really helped to organize the challenges and ultimately has allowed it to be a better FREE resource for our group members. I’m a big fan of Teachable!
Affiliate Marketing was a big reason for our success in December 2018
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!
Before we get into the numbers, I want to make it clear that everything we have done can be duplicated by you. Blogging and online earning is not rocket science! You just need some knowledge, a clear plan, and persistence. 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 December 2018:
Sponsored Content and Affiliate Income: $74,573
This includes Sponsored blog posts, affiliate sales, sponsored social content for It’s A Lovely Life® and sponsored content written for other websites.
Affiliate income was generated by our participation in the following programs:
- Revive Social
- Warfare Plugins
- Pretty Link
- Constant Contact
- Numerous Travel Related Affiliate Programs & Resorts
Course Sales: $73,260 (after Paypal fees, credit card processing fees, and affiliate commissions). These are sales that we made during December. If someone opted for the payment plan, we did not receive the full amount this month. However, we did receive payments from previous month’s payment plans not reflected in this figure.
The Course Sales for December came from two separate courses:
Blogging Blastoff (Formerly known as Blogging Fast Track) – January 2019 class: $60,310
There were a total of 163 Course Sales for the Blogging Blastoff. 88 paid upfront and 75 chose the payment plan.
We are very pleased with how many students have taken and are participating in this course. Our goal from the beginning 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’ve accomplished that task by providing such an extensive curriculum and also providing some great bonuses.
Want to see some actual comments and feedback about the Blogging Blastoff course from students that have taken it?
We’ve collected a list of over 70 reviews and testimonials from previous students which can be found on this page.
Travel Blogging Fast Track – Our travel focused course $12,950
There were a total of 37 Course Sales for the Travel Blogging Fast Track. 34 paid upfront and 3 chose the payment plan.
BIG NEWS!! We have a new webinar that has been filmed teaching all about how to line up comped travel. As soon as it is live, we will link it here!
In this free one-hour class, we show you exactly how we pitch for sponsored travel opportunities and how we travel over 150 days a year with our entire family!
Are you interested in some great FREE education to add travel content to YOUR blog Sign Up Here
The Travel Blogging Fast Track teaches you everything you need to know to become a successful and professional travel blogger including:
- How to pitch for comped rooms, restaurants, attractions, etc..
- How to create travel content for your blog
- How to make money with a travel blog
- Much, much more…
If you are a blogger and would like to learn how to travel the world (like we do), we HIGHLY SUGGEST you take a look at everything the Travel Blogging Fast Track has to offer. Make sure to scroll down to the bottom to read the full curriculum.
This is more than a course….it is 21 days of interactive assignments and knowledge not being shared by other travel bloggers. Plus we have some AMAZING BONUSES too. This course is open for enrollments NOW and we’d love to have you join in the course too.
Total Income December 2018: $147,833
***Please note that much of the income listed above has not been received yet. These figures are based on projects committed or contracted during December. Some of the projects have been completed already, and some have not. For the purposes of these income reports, we 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 published income report history:
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
August 2017 Income: $66,665.09
September 2017 Income: $87,519.56
October 2017 Income: $92,976.40
November 2017 Income: $138,240.33
December 2017 Income: $139,462.40
2017 Total Income: $871,509.17
January 2018 Income: $229,137.06
February 2018 Income: $170,705.02
March 2018 Income: $208,558.17
April 2018 Income: $207,476.93
May 2018 Income: $167,435.01
June 2018 Income: $208,524.27
July 2018 Income: $238,027.82
August 2018 Income: $193,131.57
September 2018 Income: $192,886.02
October 2018 Income: $178,625.40
November 2018 Income: $132,533.97
December 2018 Income (you are reading this report now): $147,833
2018 Year Total: $2,274,874.24 ***A Record Year!!
Expenses & Blogging Tools that we pay for:
- ConvertKit – Email list Service
- Constant Contact – Email list service
- Facebook and Instagram Ads – Used to drive sign-ups for our free email courses and build our email list. We spent $104,676.82 in November 2018.
- Pinterest Ads – We spent about the same on Pinterest Ads in November $4,704.82
- 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!
- Teachable – Online course platform
- 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
- 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
- Professional Services
- Facebook & Instagram Ad Management
- Adobe Creative Cloud – We edit some photos here
***We do not detail our exact expenses aside from detailing our ad spending and 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 relates to our overall business operations. Since we have our own company, we are responsible for substantial other expenses and taxes (health insurance, retirement plans, tax preparation, legal fees, etc) that would be too extensive to document in this report. We also pay for numerous assistants and service providers that help us run our business.
From the list above, you can see that our expenses for our business 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.
One note about our ad spend amounts noted above… Yes, this is a lot of money that we spent in December. Most of this money was spent to promote our free 5 Day Email Crash Course for starting a blog. We also spent a considerable amount on promoting our travel blogging webinar. We do get some immediate return on this amount that we spent, but mostly, it is an investment in the income for future months.
Spending this money builds our email list, grows our Facebook group, and expands the number of interested people that we are able to reach in the future. Making these investments now should help us push past the $300,000/month income threshold in the coming months.
Our December 2018 income of $147,833 is one of the lowest amounts of 2018. This wasn’t the best month due to the holiday season. The good news is that January has the potential to be a really great month for the business, so we are excited about that.
We know that our business has plenty of room to grow and we can’t wait to see where we can take it. Since this is the last month of the year, we have a total 2018 income of $2,274,874.24 which is an average of $189,572.85 per month.
Our 2017 income was $871,509.17
That means that our 2018 income was 2.61 times our 2017 income.
I would really love to see that same (or higher) growth in 2019!!
Just for fun, that would equate to 5,937,421.77 (I think we can do it!)
Our next big monthly milestone will be $300,000 per month.
So, what is our current big project?
Big things are in the works!
There is always a lot of interest in our online course business. We’re working on a magnitude of new content now that will show you more specifically how we create, market, sell, and support our students. Creating an online course is an excellent way to monetize a blog and one of our big goals is always to help as many people as we can live the lives of their dreams.
We have just pre-launched a new Facebook group to help our students to start their own online courses. Want to join us in the new Facebook group?
We are working on a new webinar focused on how we travel the world for free. It’s taken a lot of time and preparation, but we will be ready to launch it very soon!
Heather and I have been doing Facebook live videos on our Facebook Page. We will be doing many more broadcasts and will cover all things blogging, family business, and online course creation. Please JOIN US by following our page!
Here are a couple of live videos we’ve filmed already:
We’ve started using a system called ManyChat. They are an approved vendor with Facebook that works with Facebook Messenger. It automates some messages and people are really using it unique ways to enhance interaction with their followers. For instance, on these videos above, we use ManyChat to automatically deliver a pdf document of the material we discuss in our videos.
We’re also working very hard to streamline our operations in our business and the support that we offer to our students. Our goal is to overdeliver on the services we provide and we’re constantly striving to do that.
One thing I would like to note is that we turned down numerous sponsored opportunities that were not a great fit for our blog 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 very 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 Travel Blogging in December, we made the conscious decision to stay “home for the holidays”! Of course, that didn’t stop us from working on lining up some great trips for 2019!
Also, we kind of feel like we are traveling every day now that we live at the beach. This has been such a fun change for us and it has really made us all a little happier!
By the way…are you following us on Instagram?
Our Goals for 2018:
$2,000,000 in income for 2018 – We’ve just surpassed that! Yes!!!
Improve our content – This includes improving and innovating with our video and photo content. Obviously, this is not something that is easily measured, but it is something where we can take steps to improve upon. I feel really good about our progress here. Yes, did it!
Take some amazing travel blogging trips that feature exceptional experiences. We’ve already taken some incredible trips in 2018! Yes, did it!
Add 400,000 email subscribers in 2018 – We are consistently adding over 20,000 subscribers to our list each month. We want to grow a community of like-minded people on our email list. Nope, didn’t happen. We ended the year at around 225,000 email subscribers. We removed a lot of cold subscribers over the year and also began falling behind a little each month due to increasing ad costs.
Online Course Business Progress
Each month I’ll be breaking down some key metrics for our online course business. This data is taken directly from our Teachable school in the form of screenshots.
Course Sales – December 2018
Course Sales – 2018 Total
Course Sales – Since our first course launch on June 19, 2107
As you’ll see in the screenshots above, there are two different figures…Total Sales & My Earnings.
Total Sales = All sales
My Earnings = All sales minus credit card/Paypal fees, affiliate payments, and refunds.
Total sales and earnings were slow based on previous months. It fluctuates due to course sales during the month and also the percentage of sales that are payment plans in this month and previous months.
We’re always looking to increase our numbers, but we also keep in mind that progress is never a straight line for any business. There will be months of great accomplishments and others we’d like to forget.
Regardless, keeping our eyes on our big goals will get us to where we want to be eventually.
Hitting $1,000,000 in earnings for our online course business is a big accomplishment for us, but it is only a stepping stone to bigger and better things!