Welcome to my very first blog income report!
What’s a blog income report?
Well, it’s an outline of how I earn money from this blog and how much I earn. Apparently this is a “thing” in the blogging world. Some bloggers share numbers and tactics, and some don’t.
I don’t have strong feelings about whether one should or shouldn’t publish a blog income report. Some readers think it’s tacky. Others appreciate the transparency. Yet others, like me, find them inspiring and motivating.
Why am I publishing a blog income report?
Mostly because I think it will be a fun thing to share. But I’m also hoping it might inspire some of you to start a blog or a small online business.
There is a tremendous wealth of knowledge and expertise in the Montessori world and I, for one, would love for it to be more easily accessible online. Many of you share generously on social media in Facebook groups, on Instagram, and more.
But the problem with social media is that those posts are fleeting. They aren’t organized. If someone doesn’t catch it when you post it, it’s mostly lost. A website or blog, on the other hand, anchors that information. It gives it a home and allows it to be found with a simple search on Google or Pinterest. When I’m looking for something specific, that’s where I turn.
I confess, I have one more reason for wanting you, a teacher, to start a blog or online business. It has to do with one of my pet peeves about society. You may have heard me rant about this in one (or more) Facebook groups before. It burns me up that teachers, preschool teachers in particular, are paid so little. It’s just… sigh… I won’t repeat my rant here. I will just say that I think you deserve better, and I know that schools struggle to give you what you are worth.
So, maybe you can take matters into your own hands and bring in a little extra on the side, while still continuing to work on the thing you are passionate about.
What will be in this report?
This report is going to have two parts and I am hoping to share an update every month.
The first part will be facts and figures about how much I earned from the blog and how I earned it.
As most of you know, in addition to writing this blog, I sell products online- my printables and online courses. The sale of these products is my main online business. I am not quite ready to open the curtain on that aspect of the biz yet, so I won’t be talking about that. But I will tell you about income that comes from everything other than my product sales. Yes! You can earn an income from your blog without selling any products!
However, the sale of products is where the actual money is.
So, that will be part 2 of the report. Because I love a good experiment and a challenge and I want you to have the tools to make actual money, I have decided to start a brand new online business from scratch and share the process with you. And because I’m (not) a genius with names, I’m calling this the Online Teacher Biz Project. Lame? But the project sounds fun, right?!
I now have four years of online experience under my belt. I will use the strategies I have learned over the years and put them to the test. Can I do it again, or was it all a fluke?
Hopefully watching a small business grow from the ground up will make the idea of starting your own business more accessible.
But there’s a catch. A big part of building an online business is about building an audience. Using my Trillium audience to boost the audience for my new business would be cheating. In order for this experiment to truly reflect what it takes to start online, I need to build that audience from scratch. This means I won’t be sharing the actual website and social media for the new biz with you for a while. But I will share the stats and strategies as it grows (or bombs).
I have to add a disclaimer here. Right now I am motivated and excited about doing this. However, it’s possible that my enthusiasm may fizzle out and I may decide to take naps instead of working on the new project. My friends can attest that this has a higher than average likelihood of occurring. I apologize in advance if naps become a higher priority!
How I earn money from my blog
I started the Trillium Montessori blog all the way back in January 2013. This was my very first post. My goal was to get some content on my school’s website that other sites would want to link to. The reason? Getting quality sites to link to yours helps with what’s called SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which helps you get found more easily on Google and other search engines. I wanted my school’s website to rank better in searches so we could attract more students.
The blog did help with SEO. I was lucky that Living Montessori Now very kindly started linking to me right away.
But I am a bit of a lazy blogger. I do not like writing. In fact, I find it excruciatingly painful. You may have noticed that most of my posts (not including this one, ironically) are mostly photos and include very little text.
Over the course of four years, I only published about 2oo posts. That may sound like a lot but it’s actually not. In the blogging world, my blog is quite small.
The “size” of a blog is often measured in terms of its traffic. I have relatively low traffic compared to many blogs. And I have extremely low traffic for a blog that’s been around and fairly active for four years.
Finally, in January 2017, I decided to try monetizing the blog itself, sans products.
My goal with this monetization project is to generate enough revenue to cover my monthly online maintenance expenses.
It’s my understanding that the main ways to earn money from a blog are:
- Ads via an ad network
- Affiliate sales (you link to products created by others and receive a small commission if someone buys)
- Individual ads (other companies contact you to post a specific ad in certain places on your site)
- Sponsored posts (companies pay you to write a post about them or their product)
- A launching pad to promote your own freelance, consulting or product based business.
#5 is, of course, the main thing I do, but that is not the subject of this income report.
I do not work with individual advertisers or write sponsored posts. Sometimes companies will reach out asking me to write a post about them, or post an ad for them, but I refuse. This is not an area of monetization I am personally interested in. Mostly because it is effort intensive and short term.
I have decided to focus on items 1 and 2 to monetize my blog so far. And by focus, I mean think about it a tiny little bit.
You may have noticed that in January, ads started appearing on TrilliumMontessori.org. I work with what’s called an “ad network” to deliver these ads. They set me up with a few lines of code to add to the back end of the site, and now the ads automatically show up on different parts of the site. It’s very much a set it and forget it kind of deal. The company that handles these ads is called Mediavine. They actually don’t call themselves an ad network; they use the term “publisher network”. It is free to sign up and work with Mediavine but they have some minimum traffic and content requirements.
Revenue from these ads is calculated based on how many times ads are shown to viewers. The more viewers I have, the more revenue I generate. This is all calculated automatically by Mediavine and I can keep track of it all on the Mediavine dashboard. I get paid once a month.
A good professional blogger cares about page views. Because page views are where the income comes from. A lazy blogger like myself ignores page views, because… naps. This is something I need to work on.
The second way I am experimenting with monetizing the blog is adding affiliate links to products.
When you sign up for an affiliate program with a company, they give you a special code to use when you link to their products. It’s free to sign up. This code tracks that a buyer came from your link. When the buyer purchases something, you earn a small commission of the sale.
There are actually a ton of affiliate programs available. Some affiliates require more marketing and are only active for short periods of time. These usually have a much higher commission but also require more work on your part.
I picked the following as the main affiliate programs to “focus” on because they are easy to set and forget.
These companies are perfect for me because they carry most of the products I naturally blog about anyway, and it’s helpful for the readers to have a link to the product handy.
Here is the magic secret to the above affiliate programs though, and why they are so popular. If someone follows my affiliate link to yellow pom poms on Amazon, for example, but doesn’t buy them, and instead ends up buying towels or almost anything else, I still get credit for their sale. What?! Yes. They could buy a TV or a diamond watch, and I would get credit for that. No one has ever bought a high ticket item after clicking on my link before… but they could! (By the way, yes, the yellow pom poms link above is an affiliate link… see what I did there?)
Tip: If you have a large social media following, you can use affiliate links there too! You don’t have to limit them to blog posts. Instagrammers, FB fanatics, power pinners… you can share affiliate links on all these platforms! Just be careful about properly disclosing that it is an affiliate link.
Note: I am also an affiliate for some products and offers created by other bloggers. I am not including those in this report because promoting those is a lot more time consuming and only happens a few times a year.
Okay, phew, that’s enough background info! Let’s get on with the stats!
Even though I started adding ads and affiliate links in January, this series will begin with the month that just finished: April 2017.
Blog Income for April 2017
Remember how I said I have a small blog? Some blogs (including Montessori blogs) have hundreds of thousands of page views a month.
My blog? April page views were 46,351.
Traffic and Followers
- Blog page views: 46,351
- Facebook: 20,320
- Pinterest: 16,350
- Newsletter subscribers: 20,662 (I deleted over 7500 inactive subscribers this month so this number is down a lot from last month)
I haven’t listed my Instagram followers or members of my various Facebook groups. I might add those to the list in future months.
- Mediavine ads: $232.90
- Amazon: $81.04
- Etsy: $25.95
- Montessori Services: $27.70
Total income for April 2017: $367.59
My goal with the blog monetization project is to cover my monthly blogging and online expenses.
- Website hosting and domains: $10 (monthly portion of an annual payment)
- Mailchimp (manage my newsletter list): $215
- MeetEdgar (manage Facebook scheduling): $39 (monthly portion of an annual payment)
- Canva (create graphics for the blog): $13
- TpT: $5 (monthly portion of an annual payment)
- Sendowl (manages my own affiliate program): $15
- Dropbox: $8 (monthly portion of an annual payment)
- Zapier (manages various integrations): $20
- Shopify (platform for my online store): $30
- Teachable (platform for my courses): $85 (monthly portion of an annual payment)
I’m taking a break from Pinterest scheduling but that will probably get back on the expense sheet in a couple of months. I might also bring back a few other apps I’ve used in the past like Leadpages. I’ll keep you posted.
Total Expenses for April 2017: $440
Hey, that’s not too bad! I’m less than a hundred dollars short of my monthly goal!
If you are just starting out with a blog, you won’t have most of these expenses. In fact, the only one you’ll have is domain registration and hosting which can be as low as $5/month. Totally doable!
What do you think?
Some of you might already have a blog that’s got enough traffic for an ad network. And it’s definitely ready for some affiliate links. A couple of hundred extra dollars a month could go towards more materials for your class! Or, if you’re responsible, towards you retirement fund (Fess up, if you teach at the preschool level, you probably haven’t thought about a retirement account yet unless you have a spouse bringing in the majority of the family income. Start that retirement account, friend.)
Okay, ready for part 2?
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