Every time I sit down to put together one of these blogging income reports, I always start typing something like:
“Wow, can you believe it’s been three months already?! Time flies!!”
Then I realize that’s exactly what I opened the last income report with, and I start questioning my creativity and individuality…
Am I a basic bro?
One time in the home goods section of a Target store, a woman I didn’t know called me a “white nerd” (to be fair, I was wearing glasses).
I’m beginning to think she was onto something…
Identity crises aside, Q3 was a really good quarter for business. Website traffic is up so much that I’ve started sacrificing two baby goats to Google instead of the customary one baby goat per month.
Anyway, here’s the big picture:
I’m excited to dive in and explain everything in more detail, but first…
Why publish income reports?
I put together these income reports for a few reasons:
- People seem to appreciate them.
- I like being transparent, especially about the taboo topic of money.
- They force me to take a good hard look at the numbers and figure out what’s actually going on in my business.
If you like these reports and want to learn more about starting your own content business, be sure to subscribe for free tips.
If you read my Q2 report, you’d know that top line revenue was down from Q1, but truly passive income was on the rise.
Let’s see how things progressed in July, August and September…
Blogging Income for Q3 2020
By blogging I really mean digital media business, which includes content websites, YouTube, social media, email lists, etc.
Other than Full Time Blog, which doesn’t make any money right now, I have one other brand: The Modest Man.
TMM started as a blog, and it’s evolved into an authority site around men’s fashion and lifestyle.
I also have a YouTube channel that’s housed under the same brand, at least for now, as well as all of the social media accounts you’d expect (FB, IG, Twitter, Pinterest).
From the outside, the YouTube channel and Instagram account look more like an “influencer” type of operation, but I view myself as a the owner/operator of a digital media business.
Here’s how much the business made in Q3 2020:
You know those side bar and sticky footer display ads all over websites – the ones you probably ignore or thwart with an ad blocker extension?
Yeah, this sort of programmatic advertising represents an increasingly large portion of my business’s revenue.
I also see some revenue from YouTube ads:
In total, this is a 30% increase from Q2. Both YouTube and AdThrive revenue increased by 30%, but AdThrive brings in 3x more than YouTube.
This goes to show, website views are WAY more valuable than YouTube views (at least in this case).
AdThrive revenue is up because traffic is up. I love this monetization strategy because it’s so simple:
More pageviews = more ad revenue
You could build a huge business just on organic traffic and display advertising alone.
When it comes to monetizing your blog with ads, my best advice is to start working with a network like AdThrive, Mediavine or Ezoic as soon as you can.
Affiliate programs let publishers earn a commission from traffic and sales they generate for e-commerce brands.
For example, say you read my guide about the best cameras for fashion bloggers. If you click a link in that article and make a purchase, Full Time Blog will earn a commission from that sale.
Affiliate programs are an increasingly important source of revenue for my business.
This is truly passive income.
In total, this is a 64% increase over Q2, and it’s largely due to Amazon Associates (Amazon’s affiliate program).
Just like with display ad revenue, more traffic usually means more affiliate revenue, especially for “buying guide” type content (roundups, product reviews, etc.).
For example, if an article about the best grey hairstyles gets a lot of traffic, it might generate a lot of ad revenue, but it won’t generate much affiliate revenue because it probably doesn’t contain many affiliate links.
People who read that article are looking for information and ideas. They’re not trying to make a purchase.
On the other hand, an article about the best watches under $100 has lots of potential to generate affiliate revenue. It naturally contains links to multiple wrist watches, and anyone who lands on that article is likely getting ready to buy one.
Many sites only publish “affiliate content” which is a very bad strategy. Informational content is great for readers, SEO and ad revenue.
On my sites, I like to publish a mix of informational and affiliate-friendly content. I recommend you do the same!
Sponsored content may not be passive or scalable, but it’s still very lucrative.
I take a quality over quantity approach to sponsored content by only working with brands that are a great fit and have the right budget.
In Q3, a couple of more substantial sponsorships paid out:
This is a 76% increase from Q2 and another quarter that only saw YouTube/IG sponsorships (no sponsored website content).
I’m totally fine with this because I want to make the website as passive as possible. Right now, sponsorships seem to be the best way to monetize YouTube and social media.
I’m a dummy. I didn’t realize that the onboarding sequence for The Modest Man’s email newsletter wasn’t actually sending.
This is the sequence that introduces new subscribers to a paid product called The Modest Man Style Guide.
I’d made some technical changes to how this sequence works in ConvertKit, and it basically broke the automation I’d had set up.
To be honest, I’m not actually a noob when it comes to email marketing, so I don’t think this mistake was totally user error. I think the Convert Kit UX was a bit confusing, and it took a lot of back and forth with customer support to figure out what was going on.
But hey, the buck stops with me, and it was my mistake.
The good news is, now that the sequence is sending, a handful of ebook sales have been rolling in.
|TMM Style Guide (ebook)||$622|
This comes to a measly $207/month, which is way better than $43 month in Q2, but still…
At one point, this ebook was generating almost $1,000/month consistently. I really need to update it and revisit the sales funnel, a task that’s struggled to make its way to the top of the to do list.
I’m sure there’s some opportunity with digital products – maybe a course or membership program – but I haven’t put in the effort to figure it out.
Maybe some day…
An income report without expenses doesn’t really show anything, especially if you’re self-employed (because your profit = your salary).
Q1 and Q2 were expensive quarters due to increased investment in new content (i.e., freelance writers), and I’ve continued to invest in Q3.
Here’s a breakdown of expenses:
|Geniuslink||$0 (had credit)|
|Canva (how to use Canva)||$39|
In Q3, I spent about $500 more each month than in Q2. This is partially due to giving my assistant a raise. He’s actually much more than an assistant – he runs a lot of the operations behind my sites – so it’s money well spent.
I also paid a video editor to handle most of my YouTube video editing in Q3, as well as a photo editor to create images from 4k footage (trying out a new process).
Otherwise, expenses just include the usual stuff – software, hosting, etc.
Adding everything up, here’s what Q2 2020 looked like:
|Per Month Profit||$17,819|
Keep in mind, the monthly profit is pre-tax. At the end of each month, I transfer 30% of that profit to a high yield tax savings account. That money is set aside for Uncle Sam.
I also transfer 30-50% of the profit into my personal checking account, and the rest stays in the business checking account.
Also, as a self-employed person, I have other expenses like travel (heh, remember travel?), utilities, entertainment, etc. Since these aren’t associated directly with the business I’m reporting on, I don’t list them here.
They’re also not too significant compared to the expenses listed above.
Blog Passive Income
Top line revenue and total profit is great, but I’m focused on building a mostly passive business that could one day sell.
So I’m keeping my eye on one specific number each month:
Blog Passive Income (BPI) = revenue from the website (no YouTube or social media), not including sponsored content
From what I understand, it’s much easier to sell a website that generates passive income from ads and affiliate programs than it is to sell a YouTube channel or influencer business (i.e., one that relies on paid partnerships).
So I track BPI to get a better understanding of what my actual websites are worth, minus all of the hard-to-sell revenue streams.
In Q3, BPI was $12,520 per month, which is a 50% increase over Q2.
Assuming a website is worth 25-40x monthly profit, my main site is worth roughly $313-500k right now.
My #1 business goal right now is to increase that number every month until I have a website that’s worth seven figures.
Then it’s rinse and repeat, but with better processes, higher production value, and from the deck of a wifi-enabled yacht ????
Phew, that’s a lot of math!
Not gonna lie…creating these reports is kinda tedious. But I love making them. It helps me get a better handle on my business’s finances and the overall value of the assets I’m building.
The cool thing about this sort of digital media business is the fact that there are so many different ways to earn revenue.
Building an audience is hard, but monetizing traffic is relatively easy. So if you haven’t built the audience yet, start there.
And if you need help with that, sign up for my email list, and I’ll send you some tips 😉
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