Passive income report for my home decor blog
Hi, it’s Debbie. This blog report is from my home decor blog. It is not one of those blogging about blogging income reports. The vast majority of my income comes from the home decor niche (as you’ll see).
Yes, I see plenty of blogging about blogging income reports, and quite frankly some of them are annoying. It seems they have a “hidden” objective trying to get people to start a blog and buy hosting (from Bluehost or Siteground or whatever). Yes, I do have affiliate links I can add, but notice how I didn’t?
I have several pet peeves about some of these income reports as it seems that they lead to a conflict of interest in reporting the numbers. Let’s assume for a minute that the numbers shared are accurate.
So first, many don’t include their costs (I will) and second, they don’t actually report “income” in the title. Rather, they share “Revenue”…which is sometimes very different.
When I say $22,000 in income, I mean that. It is my NET PROFIT. You see, I treat my blog as a business. So, my net income is important. It is helping me pay my mortgage and my remaining debt.
When I think about costs, I treat them as a business expense and/or investment. Certain things I need to pay for monthly no matter what (e.g. hosting, schedulers, etc) and other items are optional investments (e.g. virtual assistants, courses, etc.) and these enable to me to scale and a grow. So, while these items cost money, I try to invest them into things that allow me to grow and therefore bring in a net profit.
*This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, we earn a commission at NO extra cost to you. Full details here.
My background and how I got to where I am
So while $22,000 in one month is a large number (and I’m still astounded by this), I don’t want you to think that I got here over night (I didn’t). Nor do I want you to think I’m rich (I’m not).
It has been a long, hard and stressful journey. It is paying off now, but when I started this journey, I was on the brink of bankruptcy. And, it was REALLY hard to get out of the hole.
So in January 2017, I basically found myself $68,000 in debt and without a means of income (due to a non-compete agreement). And, I live in VERY high cost of living area, and I’m single. I needed to earn $10,000/month just to survive and breakeven to pay my bills. Not fun.
I was so poor that I stressed about meeting someone at Starbucks for networking as I couldn’t really afford to pay for coffee or gas to get there. (I did somehow manage to make these things work with credit cards).
So what did I do? I took on two part-time jobs and learned how to monetize my blog.
It took a while, and I worked hard and budgeted very carefully. I basically just paid for food, electricity, wifi, my mortgage, my debt and almost nothing else. No meals out, no clothes, no TV/no cable, no AC, nothing. If things broke (and they did) I was out of luck. I even had to work with an old and breaking computer for over a year…and it would freeze and I would lose my work.
But, I gradually pulled myself out of this mess.
Now, I’ve been blogging since 2010..not for money, but for my business. I knew how to do SEO and that was a HUGE asset.
I don’t mean to imply that others can do things as quickly as I was able to ramp up because despite my financial problems, I had a head start with an existing blog and I knew how to do SEO. It has saved me. In fact, I teach SEO to others and I have 2 ebooks on the subject:
Fast forward, and at the beginning of April (2 years and 3 months later), I was able to pay off that immediate $68,000 in debt.
Now, I’m not done. Yes, I did manage to get into one heck of a financial mess. I’m now working on an even bigger long term loan of $160,000. I am making progress on this and it’s now down to around $151,000. But I believe I can do this.
I’ve invested in some courses, ebooks and tools, but I’ve been very cautious on these. I generally have found topic specific courses/ebooks the most useful and highest value, so these are the items I recommend to others. And, yes, I know what it’s like to be limited on budget. Believe me!
Progress and road blocks vs last month
May was rather scary for me. I still need to be rather careful with my money. While I now have 6 months worth of savings, surprises can throw me for a major loop. I’m thrilled with my end result, but it was not looking like this at the beginning of the month.
So for the first 10 days of the month, I was trending toward $17,000 for the month. While this is still a great number, it was a disappointment vs. April when I netted over $22,000.
But what really surprised me was an unexpected expense of $4,000 from my building, because my apartment has a fireplace that was installed in 1989 with outdated technology (that can be a fire hazard) and the company that did this is out of business and due to one of the documents I signed during the closing (in 2006) makes me (and the other apartment owners) legally responsible for this. Lovely.
I was panicking and then I did some crowd sourcing in a Facebook group for ideas. One of those ideas was to do a flash sale, and this generated an extra $1,500 in net income. Having 31 days in the month helped too (so that was prob an extra $700) and then luck was on my side (one of my home decor affiliates just did better than usual, my pageviews continued to grow for more affiliate income and ad revenue).
I was floored that that I was able to net $22,000 for the month which not only gave me the whole $4,000, but also an extra $1,000 (which goes to pay off my big loan).
I think it just goes to show me 2 things:
- I do have some power and control to accelerate my earnings when I need to.
- Doing the right activities consistently over time pays out in the long run (great content, SEO, pinterest). Phew.
I do not expect June to be as strong due to some of the one time events in May and June is only 30 days, but it should be good enough, and I’m okay with that.
Yes, it’s taken me 2.5 years to finally do an email list. So far so good. Oh, and by the way, going forward, I will not be publishing my current income reports on this blog; they will only be available if you are on my email list. (I will go back and do some previous income reports on here so you can see my journey). Again, you can sign up here.
The 2nd big accomplishment was buying a 2nd website…this one that you are on now. I’m very excited about it, but also a bit overwhelmed. The transition involved was much more time consuming than I thought. But, we’ve gone through most of it and should have most of the basics ironed out by end of June.
Keys to success this month
SEO (Search engine optimization)
My traffic continues to grow and I’ve been getting over 500,000 pageviews/month for the last 4 months. In April, it was 540,000 pageviews. (This comes out to 522,000 on a 30 day basis).
More importantly, my SEO traffic is the most important growth driver. I get around 325,000 pv from SEO traffic. This traffic is more valuable as it is driving strong affiliate sales (as you’ll see).
And, if you buy them together at the same time, there is an extra discount.
Affiliate Income, especially Amazon
Yes, Affiliate income was my #1 source of income, and I’m thrilled by that. And, almost all of it is from Home Decor (not blogging about blogging products).
You will notice that my #1 affiliate is Amazon. Yes, Amazon. I earned over $7,000 for the month just from Amazon.
- SEO traffic has been the key. It is driving traffic to posts that convert well.
- I found 2 super helpful and reasonably priced ebooks that helped me. The first is by Ashli Dawn and it’s called Cracking the code on Amazon and this one one by Jennifer Ledbetter. It is seriously the best ebook I’ve ever read.
My SEO ebooks have been tremendous. They have substantially added to my income and made me realize that they can be very profitable (when they are high quality and meet real needs)…AND, they have connected me with many other bloggers.
Now, most of my book sales have come from affiliate partners, and that has been awesome. My home decor site isn’t about blogging or SEO, and I had no email list, so this was method of marketing, and it worked very well. But, when you look at the revenue of around $5,200, I only get to keep around $3,700 after affiliate commissions and paypal fees.
I’m thrilled with that. But, it’s a warning when you look at just the revenue side of income reports.
I’ve now been starting to create my own home decor products, but just barely. I will start to try to work on this again in July/August (as I have some other pressing needs to work on first).
Before that, I’m exploring other ways to expand my marketing (e.g. creating an email list) and later by testing Facebook ads.
Pinterest has been the 2nd key traffic driver for me. I currently get around 200,000 pageviews/month from Pinterest. While Pinterest traffic isn’t as good as SEO traffic, it really seems to accelerate my SEO, cutting the time to get to Page 1 on Google by2 to4 months.
If you want to learn Pinterest the right way, and quickly, I highly recommend Carly’s Pinteresting Strategies course. This is jam packed with useful info and costs way less than most of the other Pinterest courses out there and delivers more info at the same time.
Income Report – May 2019
- Amazon $7,312 (no, it’s not a typo)- see above
- RewardStyle $3,312 (a new record)
- Hometalk $529
- Stupid Simple SEO $356 (yes, I love this name and it’s the only other SEO course I recommend)
- Pinteresting Strategies and Affiliate Marketing for bloggers $128
- List Love/Pinterest Launch Plan $119
- BigScoots $63 (for high grade hosting/speed for larger bloggers …if you have 100,000 + pageviews/month, you should be using this!)
- Learn Grow Earn courses including Coaching w/ Tracie and Sponsored Success (these are new and super reasonably priced)
- ShopStyle $26
- Wealthy Affiliates $23
- Cracking the Code on Amazon $16
- Niche Post Conversion $15 (for Amazon – best kept secret)
- ShortPixel $12 (for site speed)
- Misc $4
Total Affiliates $11,967 (a record…I just missed the $12,000 mark due to a lovely $300 return on the last day)
Ads $7,388 (Monumetric). A new record.
- SEO ebooks $5,347 (see above, net profit lower)
- Home Décor printables $99
Total Products $5,446
Buy me a Coffee $14 (usually this is in the $200 range)…and yes, I have over 1,100 coffees that people bought for me
TOTAL REVENUE $24,715
- SEO ebooks commissions and paypal fees $1,508
- Virtual Assistants $630 (totally worth it!)
- Hosting (BigScoots) $93…worth every penny
- Wealthy Affiliates $30 (for keyword finder and additional affiliate marketing and SEO training)
- Additional Paypal fees $72 (for printables and some affiliate programs -annoying)
- Tailwind $25 (base + smart loop)
- Sendowl $24 (upgraded to higher plan so I could bundle SEO books)
- Easy Product Displays $5 (for Amazon)
- Misc $75
TOTAL COSTS $2,427
NET PROFIT: $22,288
- I’m thrillled that I’ve been diversifying my income as that’s a safer place to be. When I strip out the affiliate/paypal fees and look at net profit, 50% comes from affiliate, 30% ads and 19% products. I’m hoping to grow products more. (When I looked at my earnings in 2017, the majority of income came from ads (prob 70-80%), so I’m pleased with this shift.
- Please note that the majority of my income is from Home Decor (not from blogging about blogging). Within affiliate income, 93% is from home decor. Within ads 100%. This does not include income for this blog (as most is being reinvested to help us grow the site).
- Please note that this income is all from my blog. It does not include freelancing, design consultations, sponsored posts or any sort of active income or offline income.
Some notes on costs:
When I first started, I only had around $100/month in expenses. In fact, I think that was the case for my first 14-15 months. I just didn’t have any money to invest. I literally did not exist. I had to make do with what I had.
Then, I gradually invested a bit more (as my income increased), so maybe in the $200 range. Then, around month 18, when I hit $10,000 for the month, I started to invest more (around $500-$600). It was pretty scary as I didn’t know if it would pay for itself and I was still tight on money.
It did work out, but there were a few minor hiccups as my traffic and earnings dipped for 2 months due to an algo change. But, then it bounced up higher.
My expenses really soared in Dec 2018 (at month 24) when I launched my 1st ebook. This was mainly due to affiliate commissions, so it was good money to spend, because as they made more money, so did I.
Looking ahead on my blog:
- Diversify traffic: I want to further diversify and expand my traffic sources, especially after the latest Pinterest debacle. Thankfully, I was spared, but it’s a sign for all of us to diversify. Email is one way I’ve been diversifying and also buying this blog. I’m not expecting to see much from this until maybe 6 months from now. Crossing my fingers.
- Diversify income streams. While I love that I’m making a large chunk from Amazon, if also makes me feel uneasy. And, I want to grow other affiliate income. And, I want to generate more from my own products. This will be a combo of Home Decor products and blogger products. I want my offerings to be unique and niche.
- Going forward, I will share my income reports with my email list. I will post some previous reports on here, so you can see my progression and learning along the way
Blogging resources to jump start your blog traffic and income
- Amazon – I love affiliate marketing on Amazon. For the last 2 months, I’ve been earning over $7,000/month just from Amazon. Here are 2 super helpful Amazon ebooks that allowed me to leap frog my previous results.
- Cracking the Code on Amazon – This is for beginners and really covers the types of articles you should be writing to drive Amazon commissions It’s for beginners.
- Niche Post Conversion Strategies – Seriously, I think this is the best ebook/course I’ve ever taken. I can not recommend this enough. You will not find these tips anywhere else. It skyrocketed my sales on Amazon.
- PINTERESTING STRATEGIES: – Pinterest is one of the easiest and most effective ways to drive massive traffic to your blog, especially if you are just starting out. I generally get 140,000 to 180,000 pageviews a month from Pinterest. If you want a jump start on how to use this amazing platform, check out Carly’s course. It is simply awesome. She is so down to earth and straightforward, and you’ll see that in her writing. I LOVE this course (it was formerly an ebook, but now it’s new and improved.
- SEO – As you know, I’m hugely into SEO and it has been the key to my success. I generally get 300,000+ SEO pageviews per month, and this traffic converts much better than Pinterest and other social media channels (especially when it comes to affiliate marketing, products and email sign ups. I estimate that every pageview from organic traffic is worth at least 3x as every pageview from Pinterest! Yes, 3 times as much! And, it’s much steadier, more sustainable and more passive. Check out my 2 SEO books.
- Affiliate marketing – I love affiliate marketing and have been earning over $7,000/month just from affiliate marketing. I highly recommend Carly’s affiliate marketing course. It’s amazing and half the price of some of the bigger bloggers’ programs…and I think it’s much better, too.
- Email marketing – Learn from the master, Jennifer Maker. She has over 100,000 subscribers in around 2 years. She’s an incredible teacher. Her ListLove course is amazing. Or get started with her FREE email course here.
- Sponsored Posts – Sponsored posts can be a great way to supplement your income, especially during the first few years. Many just don’t even know where to get started or how much to charge or how to create a media kit or where to find the best sources. Well learn from a master, Tracie Fobes. She’s been doing this for 10 years! And, she charges well over $2,500 + per post. Her course comes complete with a media calculator and templates to set you up for success. Check out Sponsored Success here. If you just need the sponsored post calculator, you can purchase it a la carte here.
- Getting started/setting up your blog – If you’re a very beginner and need help in just setting up your site and getting everything set up, check out Tracie Richmond Fobes’ FREE intro course. She goes over all that critical stuff at the beginning that no one seems to cover, but everyone needs to know such as site structure, how to set up google analytics correctly and google search console, which plugins to use (and which to avoid). She is a wealth of information. (and she has may other courses that are soooo good).
Related blogging articles:
How I earned over $22,000 from my blog – Income Report May 2019 (Passive income report)