Now, I don’t usually share income reports because I’m private like that. But I know there are many new visitors and new subscribers who haven’t been with me on my blogging journey from the start. You probably found me via Pinterest or Google search. You were likely searching about blogging precisely because you’re curious about it.
And, if you’re a long-time reader, then you’re probably wondering what the blogging landscape looks like these days. So, maybe you’re asking yourselves, is it really worth it?
Well, I already gave you the short answer 🙂
But I thought I’d share a bit more data (more than I usually do) today so you know where the money is coming from. Because “worth,” you see, is not the same for everyone. I’m a frugal, single woman who enjoys simplicity and minimalism. I live in a house with two other roommates. And I’m pretty happy with my arrangements. My next luxury purchase will likely be a cheap e-bike… (the one I’m eyeing right now is less than a grand. That’s pretty cheap for an e-bike.)
But maybe your situation is different. Maybe you have a family, kids, more needs, and wants not just for yourself, but for others in your life.
So, I figured December is a good time to share with you some insights, a rough income report, and some advice for those of you wanting to start a blog or wanting to take your existing blog to the next level. My hope is that the data and advice I’m about to share with you will help you decide whether blogging is worth it for you!
Here’s What a Typical Month of Blogging Looked Like for Me in 2021
My goal is to write one blog post per week, but lately, since I started grad school + trying to diversify the kinds of things I write, I’ve been writing more like 2 posts per month—something I plan to change in 2022 and get back to 1-post-per-week schedule.
To help you understand what a typical month looks like, I picked September 2021. My blogging and online business earnings for September resemble what I’d call an average month for me. Some months I made a little less, and others I made way more (months, when I ran special discounts or sales, brought in more income, but those are not representative of an average month.)
That said, here’s what September looked like:
- I wrote one long-form and two short-form blog posts.
- I revamped an older blog post and added more value + current info.
- I didn’t get to add any new Canva templates to my template shop.
Average time spent doing these: Less than 5-6 hours per week.
Note that I didn’t make any big Canva templates in September. If I had, I’d say the weekly average time spent would have been 10-12 hours.
My revenue from the blog + Canva template business added up to around $6.9K, before business expenses or taxes.
(Note: This sum does NOT include Etsy payments because I have yet to do last quarter’s accounts. So, my net revenue is actually a few hundred bucks more, pushing total revenue to be more than $7K for September.)
The figures below are not granular on purpose. Exactly how much I’m making from which sources isn’t necessary for the bigger picture, which is what this blog post is about. Instead, let me give you a broader sense of where the money ideally comes from. The figures and screenshots are from September, but they have been similar throughout 2021.
- Affiliate income: I sprinkle affiliate links to companies and products I recommend throughout my blog posts and pages. My affiliate income typically makes a few hundred to over a grand on any given month.
- Canva template sales: I sell Canva templates on my blog, on Etsy, on Creative Market, and I’m also a Canva Creator—meaning, I make templates for Canva’s native template library. All that typically brings in a couple of thousand bucks every month. (Note: As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not including Etsy payments in the payment screenshots below because they get deposited directly to my bank account, and I haven’t collected those data quite yet.)
- Online course: I teach others how I sell my Canva-made designs as templates. That brings in another couple of grand on an average month.
The two screenshots below show my income. My blogging and Canva related incomes go through either PayPal or Stripe, so I’m using screenshots from those two platforms.
I try to keep my expenses low. I don’t use services if I do not absolutely need them. And I also like to use free plans for services if and whenever I can. That said, here’s a look at what a typical month’s expenses look like:
- WordPress Cloud hosting with SiteGround: $110
- ConvertKit email marketing platform: $99
- Online course hosting with Thinkific: $99
- Pinterest ads for promoting my Canva course: ~ $300
There are some other services and plugins that I have paid for annually, such as Zoom, Acuity scheduling, Loom, WP Rocket, Elementor, etc. Add in some more transaction fees and miscellaneous expenses, and the total expense would likely be an additional ~$350, give or take a little.
So, rounding up, if my business expenses are around $1K or so, then my profits for September, pre-tax, from blogging and the Canva template business comes down to a around $6K . Not too shabby for a side blogger with a 3-year old blog, and working less than 10 hours per week, eh?
My blog traffic was OK during September—a little over 16K. In fact, my blog traffic was never super high. But what I do have is quality traffic. It’s traffic that had enough conversion to push my profits over 6K in September.
How to Understand the Hours I Put Into Blogging and the Canva Template Business
So, in September, I put in no more than 5-6 hours per week into my business.
I want you to understand what this means.
Blogging or selling Canva templates and online courses isn’t like having a 9-5 job with strict hours. September was an easy month. I didn’t write as many blog posts as I wanted to, nor did I make new Canva templates.
But my business remained afloat.
Well, that’s because content business isn’t linear. If you put in the work in the beginning, you can take things easy down the road.
For the first year of my blogging career, if you can call it that, I published a new blog post almost every week. They were mostly long-form posts too—2/3K-word detailed tutorials or lists. The same goes for the Canva template business. I put in the work, I made good templates, and I built up a reputation.
What I want you to understand, especially if you’re a new blogger or thinking of starting a blog, is that it’s not going to be a get-rich-quick-and-easy thing. You’ll have to be patient, and you’ll need to put in the work, especially in the beginning stages.
If you think you can do that, then yes, you have a good chance at being a successful blogger.
Also, note that I didn’t make any big products in 2021. My last biggie—the online course where I teach how to sell Canva templates—was in May 2020. That took a lot of work! My average weekly working hours during that time were definitely way more than 5-6 hours.
In 2021, I added content to my Canva templates course. I updated some videos, added a few new ones. I started doing group coaching calls this year too, and also quarterly Canva template critiques for my students. But still, that doesn’t take anywhere near the kind of time and effort it took to put together a new course from scratch.
So, how much you work isn’t necessarily a consistent thing when it comes to blogging. If you plan on selling online courses or workshops or services, then the kind of time you put into your blog will vary. Also, I acknowledge that not every blogger can expect to work only 5-6 hours per week and make 6K in profits per month. It has a lot to do with your niche and your monetization model.
What I’d Do if I Started a Blog in 2022
Now, this is the important bit.
I said that yes, I believe blogging is totally worth it. But if I were to start a blog in 2022, would I still be doing what I did in 2018?
Well, it’s complicated. Let me tell you why.
When I started The Side Blogger in 2018, I was a total newbie! I had never blogged as a business before. I was learning something new every day back then!
But that doesn’t mean that I went into it blindly either.
I already knew I enjoyed writing. I had written a few posts on Medium, and even had a hobby blog before that never made a cent! But I did know that I wanted to create a money-making blog, and I wanted to make at least a grand from this blog in passive income. So I researched the different types of income avenues and decided that I’d do affiliate marketing.
So, that’s what I did. I started affiliate marketing on my blog practically from day-1. My research also showed that I needed an email list. Now, I had no idea how the list would be useful to me, but I trusted the pro bloggers who always said to prioritize an email list, so I did. My very first subscriber, Natalie, who is still part of my little community of 8K+ subscribers, joined my list just a few days after I launched the blog. Heck, I even had a different blog name back then!
That’s right, this blog was called “Blog to Biz” for a couple of months before I changed it to “The Side Blogger.”
Anyhow, my point is, I did a lot of things right when I started this blog. And I wouldn’t change any of it. In fact, I wouldn’t change anything at all about this blog and how things have evolved over the past few years.
That said, if I were to start a blog from scratch right now, here’s how I’ll do it. If you started reading this blog hoping to learn how to start your own, take notes!
1. Compile a list of niches that excite you.
You’ll be writing about this topic a lot, so you better be prepared to love doing it! Otherwise, you’ll be one miserable human being. And, if your goal is to start a blog to replace your 9-5 that you hate, then would you really want to hate your new job too? Because trust me, you have to treat blogging like a job, at least for the first year of your blogging.
I can get away with not publishing for a few weeks now and still drive traffic and make sales because I did my due diligence towards the beginning of this journey. I put in the work. I built up a reputation for showing up. People pay me because they know I’ll keep my word and show up. Heck, I even pre-sold my online course—Side Income with Canva Templates—in 2020, and so many people signed up in advance when I hadn’t even built the course yet!
That’s because they trusted me to deliver.
So, make sure you love writing about the niche you’re choosing for your blog. Because you’ll be writing about it a lot and for a long time to come.
My advice is that you compile a list of niches at first that you could potentially write about (unless you already know exactly what you want to write about and are dead-set on it.)
2. Start researching other, more popular blogs in those niches.
Research, research, research! Figure out who the big-name bloggers are in a certain niche. What kind of monthly traffic do they get? What keywords do they rank for? What are their most popular blog posts? (SpyFu or Ubersuggest can show you this information.)
Also, this one’s really, really, important. Find out exactly how they make money from their blog. Do they have income reports? Do they have blog posts where they share how they make money? If not, then see what they’re selling! Do they have affiliate links? Do they sell products or courses?
Typically, a blog makes money with one or more of these methods:
- affiliate marketing
- sponsored content
- info products (ebooks, guides, online courses)
- digital products
- physical products
Find out how your potential competitors are making money.
3. See which of these niches will be the most profitable. Or, figure out how to make that niche profitable.
By now, you know what you want to write about. And you know how to make money with your list of niches (from your research into your competitors.)
Now, see which of these monetization methods seem the most appealing to you.
For example, if your goal is to make 10-grands per month and you want to be a fashion blogger, I’d say aim to land expensive sponsorships. That’d be a great way for a fashion blogger to partner with high-ticket clients. One big-name brand could easily agree to pay $1K for one blog post, provided you have the right kind of traffic and following.
This won’t happen on day-1, of course, but as I keep saying, blogging is a long game. You don’t start a blog today and submit a resignation letter for your 9-5 tomorrow! You have to build it up; slow and steady does it.
Now, if you hate the idea of reaching out to brands, cold pitching or cold-calling them, crafting compelling pitch emails, then maybe fashion is not the niche for you.
But hey, don’t give up that fast! Do you have the qualifications of consulting with others and helping people be more fashionable? OK, I’m just coming up with ideas from my ass right now, but well, you get the picture.
What I’m trying to say is that whatever niche you choose, it must check the following criteria:
- You must enjoy the niche yourself and like writing about it.
- You must be able to make the kind of money you want to with this niche.
- You must like the process(es) by which you will make money.
Once you have a niche that checks all three boxes, you’re ready to start!
4. Create a plan to grow your following.
I’m using the term “following” to mean a few types here:
- email list
- social media
Now, you don’t have to do all of these, but focus on what makes the most sense to you.
An email list, I’d say, is a must for any blogger regardless of the niche. Especially for those of you wanting to sell services or info products down the road.
Using a fashion blogger as an example, if that’s your niche, then you may want to grow your Instagram/TikTok followings as well.
Basically, figure out which of these platforms would serve your purposes best, and then double down on them. If you don’t know which ones you should focus on, then go back to step 2—see what your competitors are doing and which platforms they’re focused on.
5. Write 10 blog posts before launching.
When I first launched this blog, I had one blog post.
This is one thing I’d do differently; I’d write a few blog posts before I even launch; say, 10 posts or so.
6. Now, set up your blog and go.
Don’t get bogged down by blog design. It really doesn’t matter as much. In fact, I’d say that if you’re a new blogger, go with something simple. I love Astra. On its own, it’s a great theme—simple to use and set up. The free version has all the basics you need for a blog. When you’re ready to take it up a notch, you can either upgrade and go with Astra Pro, or, you can use Elementor page builder to customize your blog’s look and feel.
There are plenty of other options too, and you’re free to look around and see what fits your needs and aesthetics best. But the most important thing is to set up a website that’s well-performing and fast loading, even if it’s not super fancy-looking from day-1.
Once the blog is set up, publish the first ten or so blog posts and then launch! After launch, make sure to publish one or two blog posts every week for at least 6 months to a year.
Now, it may seem a bit weird to have 10 blog posts with the same date. So, when you publish the posts, I recommend manually changing the dates (you can do that in WordPress post editor.) Push back the publish dates to make it seem as if you published two blog posts per week.
Now, this is not a granular step-by-step guide, but still, it should give you a bigger picture of how to start a blog in 2022. I mean, that’s what I’d do if I were to start a new blog now.
What’s In the Future for The Side Blogger in 2022?
As I said, I didn’t create anything big in 2021. But I do have some plans for 2022. I’m still trying to validate my ideas, but here’s what I’m looking at.
I want to do in-person classes.
That’s right folks, I want to teach live! I want to interact with my students personally, and help them be successful with their blogs.
I have a couple of ideas but I’m not sure which one would be more popular or useful. So, if you have thoughts, I’d appreciate it if you share them with me in the comments.
- A 4-5 week in-person course on writing search engine optimized blog posts. Instead of just saying here’s how you write a great blog post, I’ll hold a small class (8-12 people? I plan to sell a seat at a premium price, so I don’t plan on having too many people in a class), where we’ll workshop two actual blog posts optimized for search engines to drive traffic and get email list subscribers. I’ll give feedback in each of the two pieces (like you get feedback in actual writing classes that you may take in school or college). At the end of the course, the students should have no doubt about how to write long-form blog posts that attract their ideal audience.
- A 6-8 week in-person course on starting a blog from scratch. Basically, everything I laid out in the previous sections, but I’ll personally guide you through them.
I’ve been meaning to work with folks in person, so I think that’s what I want to do in 2022—help people not with just online courses that you take in your own time without supervision, but to actually help you personally too! I’ll teach you, give you feedback, tell you when you’re making a mistake, and show you how to course-correct.
Anyway, if you think whether or not this is a good idea or a crappy idea, let me know in the comments!
So, this was 2021 and yes, I still think blogging is totally worth it! I hope you feel that way too 🙂
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