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Over the past couple of years, a trend has emerged where bloggers have begun sharing blogging income reports. I’m going to be frank about this: I give this practice major side-eye and generally don’t recommend reading them at all.
I DO believe it is beneficial for bloggers to track their income from month-to-month to see how and where their income is growing and what they can do better. It can be fun to look back at how your blog has grown fiscally and to reminisce about the days when you were first starting out.
But sharing a full rundown each month of what you’re making and how? Nope, nope, nope. And you’ll get quadruple the number of nopes from me if you’re sharing your report on a blog that otherwise has nothing to do with blogging. Unless other bloggers are your primary audience, what is the point of sharing your income with your readers? It’s weird, unnecessary, and likely doesn’t fit in your niche.
I’m all for transparency in blogging. I wish that bloggers would help one another more and share their blogging techniques, sponsored post rates, their PR contacts, the themes they’re using (or the themes that were a disaster) and even basics like their statistics. But as for the actual dollars and cents, I just don’t get it. Maybe that makes me old school, but people generally don’t sit around talking about how much money they’re making each day. So when did that become “a thing” in blogging?
Here’s why I think blogging income reports are stupid: What works for one blogger isn’t going to work for another blogger. An opportunity that presented itself last month may not present itself this month. Any two bloggers are not the same, so an opportunity that is available for one isn’t going to be available for another. What works in one niche won’t work in another niche. I can go on and on.
I get it. You might be yelling at your computer screen right now that you find blog income reports inspiring. I hear you. It IS inspiring to see that someone made $9,058.71 on their blog last month. It’s incredible to find bloggers making $25,000, $100,000, or even $150,000+ per month. Heck, if they can make that kind of money, maybe you can, too.
But here’s why I don’t trust blogging income reports and recommend that readers take them with a grain of salt: A large number of them are written by bloggers who are trying to sell something to other bloggers and those sales (either via products, services, or affiliate incomes from recommending services) are what make up the bulk of their incomes.
For instance, there are many people who will sell classes about blogging, and then produce a blogging income report saying they made $10,000 that month. Look, $10,000 is nothing to sniff at. HOWEVER, I’m going to argue that creating a class that you sell isn’t actually “blogging.” They saw an opportunity, they created a product, they sold it, and they made a lot of money… but is this the typical route that most bloggers can and do take? Is it what you should do when you’re just starting out? No, probably not.
Sometimes I see very specific blogging income reports and sometimes I see ones that are as vague as can be. Recently, I saw a brand-new blogger (less than four months into it) claiming that she had taught herself how to make $1,800 per month already and while she couldn’t yet provide specifics in her blog income report, she would soon teach others how to make that kind of money from their own blogs.
Serious red flag alert!
As awesome as that sounds, without any sort of specifics, there’s no reason to believe that blogger is actually making that kind of money. (And yes, in this instance I do, in fact, mean a bank transaction report kind of specificity.) I’m willing to bet the chances are pretty good that blogger is padding her blog income report with made up numbers to increase interest in her forthcoming class that she’s already hinting at creating.
The Vast Majority of Full-Time Bloggers Do Not Create Blogging Income Reports
I see people frequently questioning why it seems like only the bloggers who blog about blogging are the ones making money, when that’s far from being true. The reason why bloggers who blog about blogging are so prominent is because they’re trying to get you to follow them and/or buy something from them. (Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. This is, after all, a blog about blogging, too!)
But the reason you don’t see full-time bloggers like Collin from Hip2Save posting her monthly income reports is because she’s not trying to get you to follow her methods. She’s blogging away each and every day and creating a money-saving empire. The number of bloggers who simply blog – without needing to prove to anyone how much they’re making – is vast and includes the likes of some very popular bloggers including Chungah Rhee from Damn Delicious, Emily Schuman from Cupcakes and Cashmere, Luvvie Ajayi from Awesomely Luvvie, and, frankly, the sheer majority of professional bloggers.
Now you might look at those three bloggers I just listed and realize that while incredibly different, they all have something in common. They all have multiple streams of income that they were able to create as a result of their blogs. For instance, you can buy the Damn Delicious Cookbook. You can buy the Cupcakes and Cashmere clothing line at Nordstrom and Emily also has books available for purchase. Luvvie has become a coveted powerhouse public speaker (she’s even a keynote speaker at Blogher 2017) and her new book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, hit the New York Times Best Sellers List.
One Thing You Should Take Away from Blogging Income Reports
The only reason you could possibly use to convince me that blogging income reports are more beneficial than they are stupid is that they typically show new bloggers the connecting thread between many successful bloggers that I just highlighted above. The most successful bloggers typically have multiple income streams.
In blogging, as with most freelance positions, just having one stream of income typically doesn’t pay the bills. For instance, as much as I love influencer networks, I would never recommend that bloggers solely rely on these networks to make money because they can shut down at any time and, like what happened with Mode Media, you may never get paid for your work.
Even if you’re just starting your blog, you should consider multiple ways that you might make money blogging, including influencer networks, affiliate marketing, selling services, getting paid to post on social media, etc. Check out these tips for how to diversify your blogging income.
Read Blog Income Reports with a Skeptical Eye
I don’t expect everyone to agree with my opinion that blogging income reports should become a thing of the past. In fact, I’m pretty sure this post has pissed off more than a handful of you. You might be sick of me, and fully intend to continue reading blogging income reports each month, but there’s one thing I’m going to ask you to do and that’s to read them with a skeptical eye.
I don’t have proof of it, but I believe Pat Flynn, from Smart Passive Income, is probably the person that started the blogging income report trend (he has been posting reports since 2008). He’s incredibly successful and gives great advice. His blog is also geared toward other wannabe bloggers and entrepreneurs, which means that he’s selling a lot of B2B services (business to business, although blogger to blogger also works), which typically have high commission rates.
For instance, let’s take a look at his November 2017 blogging income report. Approximately $88,000 of his $132,000 earnings were from affiliate income, which is awesome. Y’all know I love affiliate marketing! Pat is very transparent and breaks his affiliate earnings down even further to showcase exactly how he earned that money:
Almost all of Pat’s affiliate earnings are from B2B affiliate offerings, the majority of which were likely sales he made to new bloggers hoping to replicate his success. In fact, all of the items that are listed in red are actually affiliate links themselves, which probably means Pat makes a nice chunk of change each time he posts his income report.
Is there anything wrong with this? Absolutely not! Pat Flynn is killing it and deserves all of the success he receives.
However, Pat’s success ties back to my point above that bloggers who blog about blogging make blogging income reports like this to try and get others to replicate their success by purchasing recommended services and providers. (“See, I’m making $130,000 a month from my blog… here’s what you need to do it, too! First, sign up with Bluehost for hosting! You’re going to want LeadPages to help you build your list and ConvertKit so that you can send regular messages to your list. The money is in the list, after all!” And so it goes.)
I admire the hustle, but few bloggers are going to be able to replicate the success of Pat Flynn or Melyssa Griffin or (insert the name of another successful blog about blogging). Most B2B services offer a very high affiliate payout that you just won’t get if you’re a fashion blogger or a food blogger or just about any other type of blogger.
So, wait, am I telling you that the only way to be successful is to follow in Pat Flynn or Melyssa Griffin’s footsteps and start a blog about blogging?
NO! Absolutely not!
What I am saying is that in whatever your chosen blogging niche may be, you need to develop multiple streams of income. You need to be authentic, relate to your audience and get them to trust you so they continue to read and so they want to buy the items you choose to promote. Most of all, you need to hustle. ANY blogger can make money. I’m not saying it will be quick. I’m not saying it will be easy. But you can make money and no single blog income report is going to provide you with a blueprint for doing so because the most important thing that is going to guarantee your personal success is finding a way to connect with and grow your audience.
Oh, and learning the ins-and-outs of good SEO won’t hurt, either. 😉
What to do Instead of Reading Blogging Income Reports
Let’s say you want to launch a personal style blog – or you’ve already launched one – and you want to follow in the successful footsteps of sites like Cupcakes and Cashmere or Pink Peonies. I can tell you – without a doubt – that you’re not going to be able to replicate their success by reading blogging income reports.
What you can do, however, is take note of the things you love about some of the blogs you read and figure out how you can do it better or with your own personal spin.
Regardless of the niche, most of the best blogs have a few things in common, including:
They are Tailored to a Specific Audience
So you have a niche, but who is your audience? For instance, you might be a personal style blogger in your 20s who goes out frequently and your target reader is probably going to be similar. I’m a work from home mom in my 30s. It would probably be silly for you to write for a 20-something who goes clubbing AND a mom who lives in yoga pants. It’s OK to write for just one audience. (And, it’s OK if that audience changes over time!)
They Stick to a Consistent Posting Schedule
Set a blogging schedule and stick to it. Your readers will want to know when they can find you again. Whenever you do post, make it something worthwhile. Make sure your posts are written well. (I highly recommend downloading the free version of Grammarly to help with this.)
They Write with Search Engine Optimization in Mind
SEO, SEO, SEO… it’s one of those things you’re going to hear non-stop as a blogger, and for good reason. The blog posts that typically do the best for anyone are those that are optimized for search engines. It’s cool to write a blog post now and have people read it immediately… but what’s even better is having it rank in Google results so that people find your post year after year (if the post is monetized, the earnings you receive from said post over the years become what is known as passive income).
Not sure how to tackle SEO? First, if you have a self-hosted WordPress blog you NEED the Yoast SEO Plugin (the free version is fine). Then, read the Yoast SEO Guide, which will help you get the plugin set-up properly and also provide you with tons of SEO tips. Finally, read The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz. It is long, in-depth, and one of the very best in the business. Oh, and it’s free, too!
They Use Quality Photos
While your writing is incredibly important, quality photos and graphics will help your site look more professional. You don’t need to pay big bucks for a DSLR, but you should read up on photo composition and lighting. I take 100 percent of my photos on my iPhone and ColorStory is the single best smartphone photo editor I’ve encountered. It’s free! If photography’s not your thing, check out these 23 sites where you can download free stock images for your blog.
They are Social Media Savvy
These days, you can’t have a blog and skip out on social media. Set up your Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook Page account and whatever else you need and start building and interacting with your audience.
They have Diverse Monetization Streams
There are many different ways that you can make money blogging. I recommend sitting down and coming up with an actual game plan of ways that you would like to monetize your site. For instance, would you like to join influencer networks for easier access to sponsored posts? Join our mailing list for a list of 100+ companies that will pay you for blog posts. Would you like to get started with affiliate marketing? Here’s a list of the best affiliate networks for bloggers and our free e-course, Affiliate Marketing 101, will walk you through how to get started. Do you want to work directly with companies? Start making a list of the ones you want to work with now. Are there products you can develop? Services you can sell?
They are Promotion Machines
Blogging these days is 20 percent writing and 80 percent promotion. If you want to get people to see your posts, you need to get your posts in front of people. Share your posts via social media. Join Facebook groups that let you share blog posts. Make sure your blog is listed on sites like Bloglovin. Ask your friends to share your posts. Get creative! Check out these 30 ways to promote your blog posts for free for more inspiration.
Nobody Else Can Make You Successful
When it comes down to it, reading and obsessing over others’ blogging income reports aren’t going to make you successful or show you what you need to do to be successful. If you’re posting them on your own non-blogging-related blog, they’re probably not going to endear you to your non-blogging readers, either. (I repeat again: Why does anyone who’s not a blogger care what you’re making?!) There’s a good chance that reading blogging income reports will, however, make you feel inadequate or like you’re not doing or promoting the right things to be successful.
There are many successful bloggers. There are many bloggers who make full-time livings with their online presences. YOU can be one of those bloggers, but nobody can provide you with a viable shortcut to success.
Blogging isn’t easy.
You’re probably not going to make money immediately.
You’re not going to build a dedicated fanbase immediately.
But, if you keep your eyes on your goals, work hard, roll with the punches, and HUSTLE, blogging success is entirely within your reach.
Now, please. Stop scouting out income reports to obsess over and focus on making your own success a reality.
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