Welcome to the January 2018 online business income report. This month was our best ever and was a tremendous way to start out 2018. We’re taking the steps to make 2018 a huge year for our blog and our business, and it seems like we are on the right track. Keep reading to learn how we did this month…
When I started writing these reports in March 2017, they only included blogging income. These reports have since grown to include our online course business.
Since online courses are a very effective way to monetize a blog, this was a logical addition to the reports.
A lot of people may 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 the perfect way to motivate ourselves and keep us accountable for our own business goals.
I started working on the blog 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, 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 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 business 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 2018 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!
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. We have some BIG trips planned for 2018 future that we will be able to share about soon. Hawaii anyone??
While 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.
We’re stepping up our video efforts even more in 2018 and are excited for the content we are going to produce!
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
- Start A Travel Blog – Free Email Crash Course – Similar to our Start A Money Making Blog email crash course, this course is designed specifically for those interested in starting a travel blog. Travel blogging is a large part of what we do and it allows us to have some amazing experiences.
So far, the results have been amazing. Over 103,000 people have signed up for these courses since mid-March 2017, and we plan on expanding our marketing considerably in the coming weeks and months to reach even more people interested in blogging.
Going over 100,000 subscribers on our email list was a huge milestone that we reached on the last day of January. Having an email list of this size really helps to get our message out there when we need to. We also get countless great emails from our subscribers telling us how they love reading what we send out.
Here is a screenshot of our email subscribers on January 31st:
It’s fun looking at this graph for me. As you can see, the subscribers per day vary considerably. Our best day in January was close to 1200 new subscribers. We averaged over 800 new subscribers per day.
We’re able to hit these types of numbers because we’ve been using ads on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Some subscribers do come organically from visiting our website, but there is no way we would be achieving these subscription numbers without spending money on ads.
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 7 launches of the Blogging Fast Track have been very successful. So far, over 1200 students have enrolled in this course and we look forward to teaching everything to many more students going forward.
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 and earn a 33% commission!
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.
Enrollments are now closed for the February Blogging Fast Track course.
There is a new class that starts on the 1st of every month. We only open up enrollments for about one week out of every month. Spots in the class are limited.
We made another HUGE leap at the end of November when we introduced our new 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…
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.
In January, we further increased our spending on Facebook and Instagram ads and decreased our spending on Pinterest ads. We’re always working to optimize our ads and look for opportunities to decrease our lead costs.
The plan for February is to ramp up our ad spend even more! We’re even going to start exploring YouTube ads.
Here is a screenshot from our ads manager for Pinterest ads for January:
Here is a screenshot of our Facebook and Instagram ad spend in January 2018:
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 36,000 Members and is growing rapidly. 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. Join the Facebook group and you will be notified when the free 10k Challenge starts. Did I mention there are some great prizes?
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. We are big fans of Teachable!
In January we continued our progress into the world of affiliate marketing.
We have resisted this area in the past. 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!
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. 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 January 2018:
Sponsored Content and Affiliate Income: $137,012.56
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: $92,124.50 (after Paypal, credit card processing fees, and affiliate commissions)
The Course Sales for January came from two separate courses:
30 Day Blogging Fast Track – February 2018 class: $86,404.67
There were a total of 263 Course Sales for the 30 Day Blogging Fast Track. 117 paid upfront and 146 chose the payment plan.
Check out the information page (it will open in a new tab so you won’t lose your place here) and make sure to scroll all the way down to see the full curriculum. I think you’ll be blown away!
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 30 Day Blogging Fast Track course from students that have taken it? See these threads in the Facebook group (you need to be a member to access. Request approval and we will get to you right away): HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE
Travel Blogging Fast Track – Our NEW course that we just launched on November 27th! $5,719.83
There were a total of 20 Course Sales for the Travel Blogging Fast Track. 18 paid upfront and 2 chose the payment plan.
We are putting the final touches on a webinar that focuses on the Travel Blogging Fast Track course. We did not do any large promotions for this course during January while we are working on finishing up the webinar.
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 January 2018: $229,137.06
***Please note that much of the income listed above has not been received yet. These figures are based on projects committed or contracted during January. 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
Expenses & Blogging Tools that we pay for:
- ConvertKit – Email list Service
- Constant Contact – Email list service
- Facebook Ads – Used to drive sign-ups for our free email courses and build our email list. We spent $6,546.55 in January 2018.
- Pinterest Ads – Used to advertise for sign-ups to the 5 Day Email Crash Course. We spent $8,278.14 in January 2018.
- Instagram Ads – Used to advertise for sign-ups for our free email courses. We spent $43,346.64 in January 2018.
- 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
- Teachable – Online course platform
- 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
- Professional Services
- Facebook & Instagram Ad Management
- 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 relates 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 are thrilled with our January 2018 income of $229,137.06 but we are not where we want to be yet. 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 first month of the year, our year to date income of $229,137.06 is an average of $229,137.06 per month. We plan to increase all these numbers substantially. We passed the $200,000 per month barrier in the first month of 2018, so it would be nice to surpass the $300,000 figure in the very near future.
So, what is our current big project? Since we just finished the Travel Blogging Fast Track you would think that we would have a lot of free time. This is far from the case! We are working on creating some webinars for our courses that are taking a lot of time. But, it will all be worth it when they are done. We’re focusing on really providing valuable information in these webinars and our goal is to make an impact on everyone that takes their valuable time to watch them.
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 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 January, here are the trips we took:
Miami, Florida – Our daughter had a fitness competition that she competed in for the 2nd year in a row. This was such a fun time and an amazing experience.
Orlando, Florida – We spent a few days in the Orlando area and had an amazing time! Details coming soon!
Here are our top blog goals and priorities for February 2018:
- 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 posts.
- Grow our email list by 30,000 subscribers in February. We currently have 103,000+ subscribers on our email list.
- Increase our affiliate income substantially. Since we just started working on affiliate income in March 2017, we are still making improvements every day.
- Successfully Launch the March 30 Day Blogging Fast Track Course.
- Book additional sponsored family travel destinations for 2018. We already have major trips to Hawaii and some other fun locations on the books for 2018
- Substantially grow our Facebook groups: Start A Travel Blog and Start A Money Making Blog
- Spread the word about the Travel Blogging Fast Track course. The information in this course is a goldmine for bloggers that are interested in adding travel to their blogs.
Goals for 2018:
$2,000,000 in income for 2018 – Yes, this is a huge number, but we know it is attainable. We also know that we’ll have to refine our systems, create even more value, and continually improve everything we do. This is an average of $166,667 per month.
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.
Take some amazing travel blogging trips that feature exceptional experiences. This remains to be seen what this will include exactly, but the wheels are turning and we have some great ideas that we are working on putting into motion.
Add 400,000 email subscribers in 2018 – This would be an average of 33,333 new subscribers per month. Yes, this is a big number, but we know we can make this happen if we focus on it and spend enough money on ads.
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 is designed for new bloggers to help them start a money making blog the right way
Start A Travel Blog – Email Crash Course – free course that will show you how to start a travel blog
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 Facebook Group – for those interested in starting a blog
Start A Travel Blog Facebook Group – for those interested in travel blogging
So that’s it for the January 2018 Online business 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 be persistent in your efforts. Blogging and online courses aren’t get rich quick schemes and success doesn’t happen overnight, but it is within reach for those willing to work for it.