My First Four Months of Blogging and I Haven’t Made a Dime Yet!

My First Four Months Blogging! I haven’t made a DIME yet!

 

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Read My Next Income Report To See How Much I Made!

As I sit down to write this post I’m realizing how much work I’ve been putting into my blog since I launched it on my birthday April 23rd, 2018. A LOT!

I’m sharing my story, expenses and all in case it helps someone else out there in blogland find their own way. I remember reading and pouring over blogger’s income reports to see their progression and I hope you will follow mine as well.

Moreover, I hope to inspire you to actually do this and start your blog today!

I actually discovered and started learning about blogging in early April of 2018. I was in the middle of a difficult divorce (and still am!) and I needed to find a job or preferably find something I could do from home to ramp up some income.

My kids had just lost having their Dad around full-time and I didn’t want to further traumatize them by being gone at work all the time.

I had been a very hands on Mom and I wanted to keep things that way. My ex and I used to both work in TV and I was motivated to work in a field where he had no influence over my ability to find work or earn an income.

It was a scary time financially and otherwise. After a job loss, a major health scare and a divorce I felt like my world had been turned upside down and I needed something where no one could stand in the way of my financial survival.

Enter blogging!

Blogging? Me?

I quickly decided that this blogging thing might make sense given my background as a TV producer. Part of a blogger’s job is content creation and in my work I had created a ton of TV content and writing had been a very big part of my work so it made sense that I already had some of the skills I needed to make a go of this.

*This post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase by clicking a link on this page we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. The opinions expressed here are our own and we only recommend products and services we know, use and love. Thank you for supporting our blog!

By the way there are tons of bloggers with no specific background and skills who are way successful so I honestly believe it just takes a strong work ethic, motivation and some time to succeed at blogging. The beautiful thing about this is that practically anyone can blog!

The income potential seemed great and I liked the idea of being home for my teenagers after school and having a flexible schedule to attend their games and sports tournaments. I also liked the fact that the startup costs were minimal and I could blog and look for a job at the same time with the hopes that the blog would take off before a job offer became a reality. If you’re still hesitant on how to start your blog, please read my post here on How To Start A Blog Easily In Ten Minutes! 

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Start A Blog Today!

But I’m No Tech Wizard!

Even though I felt I had half the skills there was this persistent voice in my head. Sure you can write, but you are by no means a tech wizard! That was gnawing at me. On a lark I messaged one VERY successful blogger (the kind who is making more than $1M a year blogging!) on Facebook and asked her if she was a normal person or some kind of technical wizard or if  that was what it took that to succeed in blogging?

She laughed and reassured me that if being a technical wizard would have been a requirement she wouldn’t have made it herself. What a relief!!! She was honest though that blogging was a lot of work and she said it was a constant process of staying on top of algorithm changes by educating yourself on new blogging strategies. I was hooked!

*This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click a link on this page and make a purchase we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. We only recommend products we use and love. Thank you for supporting our blog!  Our polices page can be found here.  

Starting My Blog

My birthday was around the corner on April 23rd and I decided that I would try and launch my blog (ready or not!) on my birthday. I soon figured out THAT was a crazy idea because I had zero wordpress experience and had never been a blogger before. But I did it!

I literally got started by throwing myself into the blogging ocean without any idea of how much work it actually takes to get it up and running! Had I known how much work it would be to ramp this up I might have done more advance planning but I’m glad I started when I did. It was the right decision and I’m moving closer towards my blog monetization goals each and every day!

First thing I did was look for a hosting site and chose Bluehost because it has the most features for the best price and wordpress.org can be loaded with a 1 click install!!! (PLEASE DO NOT USE wordpress.com if you plan to monetize!) I purchased the basic hosting plan on Bluehost because you can always go back and add all the bells and whistles later.

I took a free wordpress.org class online through my local library to help me learn some basic wordpress lingo and tips. Udemy also has amazing low cost classes on everythng!

Theme

I decided to purchase the Enamored theme by Beautiful Dawn Designs. It is a feminine style theme and responsive (meaning it works on both desktops and mobile.) Getting my blog to look the way I had envisioned was a ton of work but I’m finally happy with it – for now.

Essential Reading

I also read Ruth Soukup’s book How to Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul and it was an invaluable primer. I marked up most of her book with to do reminders and then created an action item list of things to implement on my own blog. My ‘to do’ list was long!

The Millions Of Essential Details No One Tells You About

Next, I set up the Social Media accounts for my blog on FB, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

For web analytics, I signed up for Google Tag Manager and loaded my FB Pixel, Google Analytics & Pinterest tags in the program which makes it easier from tracking and making changes in the future. I’ll admit here that my kind and very tech savvy boyfriend helped me with these!

I read a ton of blog posts and decided to make use of wordpress plugins. I even wrote a post about which WordPress plugins you should start off with which you can read more about here.

I taught myself how to use the YoastSEO plugin for WordPress and used it to optimize my blog posts for SEO purposes. Also I learned how to use Buzzsumo to research blog post topics that will draw traffic based on shares. And I learned how to use KWFinder to help with SEO.

I applied to Media.net and was declined for being too new. I have decided not to re-apply. Instead I’m going to wait until I have 25,000 sessions per month and apply to Mediavine.

I signed up for Gravatar (which requires that you sign up for a WordPress.com account) for commenting on other people’s blogs with a nice photo. This helps with your Google ranking as you get back links to your blog which helps establish you with Google.

I also created a Favicon (favorite icon) to show up on the browser tabs with my $. It’s small touches like this that make me fall more in love with my blog every day! They also make me look less like a newbie and more like a pro blogger.

I also hired someone online to help me come up with a great blog post format, a Pinterest pin template which I love, and some other small things I wanted to achieve on my blog but can’t figure out how to do them on my own.

Affiliate Marketing

Every blogger needs to take Michelle’s Affiliate Marketing Course!

I decided to invest in myself and save myself months of blogging frustration so I took Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Shroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents blog. I went through the course once just to absorb the concepts then went back through with a pad and took 8 pages of action items to implement and have been ticking them off one by one every day. I also applied to and was accepted by several affiliate marketing companies including Share A Sale and Awin!

One of the best benefits of taking her class was getting into her closed Facebook group. It’s definitely a stop on my daily blogging to do list. That and she also just started a Tailwind tribe just for her students! Those two bits of access right there are worth twice the price of her course. Because of her course I will be able to fully monetize my blog and I wrote a post highlighting some of what her course includes which you can read here!

Monetizing my blog using affiliate links and marketing would not have become possible without the access and information from taking Michelle’s Course. I can recommend it without hesitation.

You may also want to take How To Make Your First Affiliate Sale In 24 Hours by House Of Brazen. This is a great and super quick way to learn how to make affiliate sales even without a blog. I’ve taken both affiliate marketing courses. Michelle’s is a no brainer and you will absolutely need to take it to master affiliate marketing. House Of Brazen’s ebook is a guide for getting the quick wins as you ramp up your blog and round out your affiliate marketing efforts.

Pinterest

Once I figured out how important Pinterest would be for driving traffic to my blog, I took Pinterest Traffic Avalanche by Create And Go. Alex and Lauren put together an evergreen course that has delivered results for them and many of their students. They typically earn over $100,000 per month blogging and are digital nomads!

I also took Pinteresting Strategies by Carly Campbell who gets 200,000 page views per month and is a stay at home mom! Her strategy comes in an easy to read e book and is based on manual pinning without using Tailwind or any kind of scheduler. Has my traffic grown because of the courses I took and the subsequent changes I made to my blog? YUP! A TON!! And I’m getting to those details below!!!

I also learned and used Canva to create multiple pins per post and played with ways to make my pins prettier! You can also use Pic Monkey!

I know what you’re thinking – this is A LOT of WORK. YUP. Have you made any freaking money yet Tanya? Keep reading, I promise I’m getting there.

*This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click a link on this page and make a purchase we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. We only recommend products we use and love. Thank you for supporting our blog!  Our polices page can be found here. 

 

Tailwind

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Nearly 6,000 Pageviews!

I live on Pinterest and Tailwind and could not live without Tailwind or my tribes and I learned a ton from both courses mentioned above and I use parts from each of them! If you’re not already on Tailwind, sign up for their free trial today, then upgrade to a paid account and go from there. You will honestly come back and thank me later. It’s a pretty standard tool for most bloggers.

I also converted my personal Pinterest to a business account and set up and optimized all my boards. I did hire a Pinterest VA for a consult and she’s AMAZING! Please email me if you’d like her contact information.

Thanks to the courses mentioned above and one consult session with a Pinterest VA I basically became a Pinterest Rock Star overnight. I grew my Pinterest followers from 20 to over 2,000 using the strategies I have learned. And my traffic has gone from zero to almost 6,000 pages per month and is growing every day. My goal for next month is 10,000 page views!

I ower major gratitude to Pinterest Traffic Avalanche and Pinteresting Strategies for teaching me how to maximize Tailwind and Pinterest

 

The Planning And The Writing

During this time, I also wrote and edited eleven blog posts! Please feel free to click around and check them out!

I started an Excel spreadsheet with multiple pages including one for content, affiliate marketing, blogging resources, ad networks, etc. Every time I read a blog post with great info I add that it to my excel spreadsheet so I have it handy.

I figured out a way to plan a year’s worth of blog content! And once I saw how well my system worked so I wrote a post about How To Plan A Year’s Worth Of Blog Content In Two Hours!

Mail Chimp and Compliance

I also started my email list. To save working capital I’m used the free and awesome Mail Chimp! I researched and wrote an amazing email welcome sequence and have planned some exclusive content which will only be available to my subscribers and you can sign up for my list and get a glimpse of my welcome email sequence by finding that grey bar at the top of this screen, entering your email and clicking that pink button. I also added a policies page to my website as well as a GDPR compliant cookies popup. We all have to follow the rules, right?

Update 10/23/18: I will be moving away from Mail Chimp and I’m currently looking for a new provider! Their customer service on starter plans has been less than what I was hoping for.

I can just hear what you’re thinking. But Tanya, this is a lot of work. What have you made so far? We’re getting there!! I promise!!!

WHAT I’VE SPENT SO FAR:

This has not been a do it on a dime blog but I can already see that this is a common pattern with new blogs. You have to front load the work and some money for education and start up before you see many returns.

$36 Blog hosting by Bluehost which includes domain registration for a whole year!

$27 Beautiful Dawn Designs Enamored Theme one time charge

$110 DBA Filing so I can run my blog as a division of my business

$197 Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. *A no brainer must do.

$197 Pinterest Traffic Avalanche class. *A no brainer must do.

$75 – Beta Tester for a course which will be launching soon!

$32 Pinteresting Strategies ebook. *Definitely worth it. Learned so much.

$7 Email Sequence from the House Of Brazen

$25 How To Make Your First Affiliate Sale In 24 Hours from the House Of Brazen– I’ve already made my money back on this e-book and can recommend it. You’ll also want to become an affiliate for her e-book which you can start the same day.

$51 Pretty Links – I have not used this as much as I had hoped I would. I hope to find more use for it in the future as it’s already paid for!

$195 Outside Tech help on blog design – amazing! Email me if you’d like a referral!

$175 Pinterest VA who gave me some incredible help as well! Email me if you’d like a referral!

$480 for a year of unlimited Tailwind. You should NOT start with the unlimited plan (as I have upgraded to) until you have enough pins. Start with their basic plan (for $9.99 per month) and work your way up from there. You will get use of their great scheduler, and some tribe access.

You may need to get into their power ups as you have enough pins to put into the system. I now have the unlimited plan and I plan to keep it. It’s working and now that Pinterest group boards aren’t getting as much traction it’s my main traffic growth strategy. *A must do – start with the basic plan and go from there.

$5 Aweber Affiliate membership – which I will get back once I make my first sale with them

Please notice that I have not recommended you do all that I have done. I have been happy with some of my choices and less excited about some of the others. I am including them all here so you know what I’ve tried. I want to be transparent about the ones which actually made a difference for me so you can monetize your blog and start working and earning from home as quickly as possible.

TOTAL SPENT SO FAR = $1,612.00

I look at this as an investment in my future. I will be carrying my expenses forward as a negative in my next income report until I’ve earned them all back and I’m actually earning money free and clear. I’m not worried about it because I can already see the potential ahead. Besides, what business that has this kind of potential can you realistically start for $1600?! None that I’ve found so far. Blogging is still one of the least expensive startup or side hustle where you can work from home that I know of.

*This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click a link on this page and make a purchase we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. We only recommend products we use and love. Thank you for supporting our blog!  Our polices page can be found here. 

 

 

What I’ve Earned So Far

NOTHING. DIDDLY!

Well, I actually I did get TWO AFFILIATE SALES. One in July and one in August! Can we all just say a collective YAY!!!

I sold a year of hosting with Bluehost for which I will be paid $65 once I hit their $100 minimum required for payout within 90 days. I’m not worried, it’s going to happen.

I swear I ugly cried when I got their email. I had been working SO hard.

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I Definitely Love Getting These Kinds Of Emails!

And then about two weeks later an email popped up on my screen first thing in the morning. Another affiliate sale?! YEP!!! I also earned $105 for one sale of Michelle’s Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing Course. Half of this will be paid on September 1st, 2018 and the other half will be paid October 1st, 2018.

 

I did MANY happy dances that day! It finally felt real.

So, I proved that it can be done. I CAN make money on my blog. It doesn’t always pay out the next day but it will come in. And with time and work I know I can actually make A LOT of money on my blog. So can you. Anyone can blog!

I’ve decided that I’m only going to claim income once it actually hits my bank account so those monies will be reflected in future income reports. So, while I don’t have money in hand I know it’s pending or on it’s way. I’m only mentioning them here so you understand when this happens with your blog that it’s a normal thing and not to be too concerned about it.

The main thing is that you’re getting the sales and that various companies have different payout schedules and you will get paid. I’ve created folders in my email to track those affiliate partners so I can track all my sales.

Technically I earned my first $65 in my third month blogging and my next $105 in my fourth month blogging I will most likely getting paid out on those in September and October (my 5th and 6th months blogging) so they’ll go into those income reports.

My goal is to be as transparent as possible about my expenses and my earnings so I can give you the most realistic picture of how blogging is going for me. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it sooner or as quickly. It’s an individual journey for everyone. Based on how much you put into it, your niche and lots of other things. This was my journey and you will have yours.

It’s all good and every penny earned blogging deserves celebrating! I just saw a woman in one of my Facebook groups who earned her first $1.76 blogging. We all cheered her on like it was a million dollars. The first payout lets you know it’s for real and possible. And it motivates you to keep going because the sky is the limit.

What’s Working

My traffic is growing every single day!  My affiliate sales are also growing! The courses I took and the changes I implemented to my blog based on them are working their magic and my posts are getting read, commented on and re-shared!

Click to read one of my most popular posts which has been re-pinned over 800 times!!! And this one has been shared over 300 times!

 All my blogging investments are paying off and I’m monetizing my blog and I’m so happy! 

What I Learned

Everything takes longer than you think it will.This is especially true in blogging. There are learning curves you will need to work through. Every new plugin, widget or thing you want to add to your blog has instructions, a video (or three) to watch, a wiki to read, or something to configure.

Don’t expect anything to take five minutes to complete. Expect every aspect to have a learning curve. If you approach things that way you’re much less likely to become frustrated.

Google and Pinterest take time to master. You will grow faster on Pinterest if you use Tailwind. But it still won’t happen in an hour.

I also discovered what I’m good at and what I’m not which led me to write a post on How To Compress Time And Monetize Your Blog Faster where I go over how to work smarter and not harder on your blog.

I also learned that blogging is a process and that you do have to invest in constantly educating yourself. See my resources page for all the courses I recommend.

And finally, I learned that building a blog takes time and success isn’t overnight but that it will hopefully all be worth it in the end! And for the sake of clarity, I’m counting April 2018 as blog planning and I will be wrapping that last week of April into May and will count my ‘blogging months’ as of May 1st, 2018. So when I write my First Income Report in October, 2018 about what I made in September, 2018 it will officially be about my 5th month blogging!!!

 

My First Income Report

I’m already working on my first income report. UPDATE 11/1/18: you can read My First Ever Blogger Income Report Here! Please look up to that grey bar and pink box and enter your email so you don’t miss it!! I will be carrying over the balance of my expenses (listed above) from this post until they’re paid for with my blogging earnings and I’m out of the red and into the black with my blogging. This is a business after all!

Plus I want to stress that my goal is to show you an honest and transparent picture of how things are going for me – for reals. I’m not worried because I’m part of a great community of bloggers and we all help one another succeed and it’s going to happen for me as well! It’s great for you to follow my journey and it will be fun for me to look back on and track my progress! I look forward to looking back on this a year from now to see how far I’ve come!!! Like a mini blogging time capsule!!

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Pin Me For Later!

What’s Next

Finally, I started planning my first e-book/course which is going to be launched sometime in 2019. I’m really excited about it and you can get on the waiting list for that by signing up on that grey bar above! I’m also brainstorming more freebies and other things for my amazing readers!

Some Of My Favorite Resources…

*This page contains affiliate links which means that if you click on a link I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend things I personally use and like. Thank you for supporting my blog!

If you need to make some quick cash I recommend Survey Junkie. It’s free and is something easy and quick that you can do from your laptop or smart phone or even possibly on the go in your spare time to make some extra cash quickly. Just give them your honest opinion and earn money for it! Try Survey Junkie and earn $10 just for registering today!

Inbox Dollars pays up to $35 per poll and will give you a $5 bonus just for joining today! They pay you cash (not points) for taking surveys, playing online games, searching the web and more! Check out Inbox Dollars and start earning side hustle money today!

Vindale Research is another great survey site where you can answer market research questions about new products which are going to be released soon. You will not only make side hustle money but you’ll also be getting to learn about brand new products before everyone else does. Sign up with Vindale Research today!

Honey is my favorite new way to save and earn! I love it because it automatically applies the best coupon code to whatever I’m buying online! How great is that? I’ll never have to search for another coupon code while I’m checking out again. It’s a simple browser extension and I already used it to save money on an Amazon purchase I just made. And, it’s free! And for the side hustle aspect, for everyone you refer to Honey on your blog or social media with your link you will earn $5! Now that’s awesome! Try Honey today!

Another great way to get cash back for your everyday shopping is Ibotta. Just do your normal shopping, scan your receipt in their easy to use app and Cha Ching! Cash back! It’s basically free money. And just for signing up with my link you’ll receive a $10 bonus! Sign up here today!

Blogging is one of the best side hustles I’ve found. It’s low-cost, can be done remotely and when you put the work in, it can provide passive income that comes in even on days when you can’t make it to your laptop! The first day I made an affiliate sale on my blog I was sitting on the beach with some friends in town! That was THE BEST feeling EVER! Start Your Blog Today!

To help you start your blog today, here are some of my favorite blogging resources…

Bluehost: I’ve been with them from the beginning and have had nothing but a great experience. You can self-host your blog for as little as $3.95/month plus with my link you’ll also get a free domain ($10 value!)

Tailwind: My go to Pinterest scheduler – oh where would I be without you! Tailwind has automated my pinning and I simply couldn’t live without it! I started with the basic plan and have since upgraded to their unlimited tribes power up so I can make the most of my tribes and their reach to grow my traffic!

Skimlinks: This is one of the easiest ways to get started making money in affilaite marketing before you even take a course and it’s *free*. Skimlinks uses the content you already have on your blog! You get paid for links you already have and they take a small cut. Saves you time and tons of work and is perfect when you’re just starting out. Best part is they leave your already generated affiliate links alone. Plus they have an affiliate program so you can also make money when others try it for their own blogs. Try Skimlinks today!

Fiverr: Freelancers can be invaluable to bloggers. Finding someone in a pinch to help you with an aspect of your blog can save you time and make you money!

You can also find a full list of my favorite resources and online tools here! 

*This post may contain affiliate inks which means if you click a link on this page and make a purchase we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. We only recommend products we use and love. Thank you for supporting our blog!  Our polices page can be found here. 

Hi again! If you – yes you! If you found the information here helpful please look at the top of this page. Do you see that little grey bar and that pink button? That’s where you can subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of the fun! My subscribers will have access to exclusive information on flash sales from my favorite affiliates plus access to exclusive content I won’t be publishing anywhere else.  I promise not to spam you and you can unsubscribe at any time.

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “My First Four Months of Blogging and I Haven’t Made a Dime Yet!”

  1. Loved this post. It’s refreshing to read about someone’s struggle that I can relate to vs. reading about everyone else making tens of thousands a month! I’ve been blogging mostly as a hobby just to have an outlet to write and share stories. Never spent too much time with everything else about blogging until recently. And it is HARD! And yes, the technical stuff is what sets me back the most, too. With my blog, I never really had a specific niche. I blog about food, but I was so all over the place and random. I’ve been working on trying to be more niche specific. But there’s so much I want to share sometimes lol.

  2. This literally made me breathe a sigh of relief! I’m a month in and have made zilch– not that I was expecting to, but it’s hard going through the chaos of starting a blog (especially with kids and a family) and not seeing any tangible results. It’s nowhere near where it needs to be but, like you, I just wanted to get it up and going to get something started and not sit on my laurels worrying about whether or not I could or should. I’m going to bookmark this post and re-read it about a gazillion times to check out the resources you referenced since I’m at a bit of a standstill. Onwards and upwards, right?!

  3. Well, it seems I’m a bit behind you. Started my financial blog in late May 2018 – but I’m only at 904 monthly viewers (per Pinterest). No affiliate sales yet – but I only started that just one week ago. (Got approved by Alex and Lauren of Createandgo.) Jetpack site stats on my Bluehost portal is only about 400 views/month. Interestingly, I started a Facebook ad campaign on 8/31/18 – and THAT seems to be “clicking” – 7,112 “Impressions,” 299 “Link Clicks.” So far, I’ve spent $81.16 on that Facebook campaign. From my perspective, the Facebook ad campaign seems to be working better than Pinterest – but I’ll keep at it with both social media outlets. Wish me luck!

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