Welcome to our blog income reports where we share ways we’ve been making money through the blog, the challenges and lessons we learned each month, and finally to celebrate successes (however big or small). Though we have a few side hustles, we’re happy to say that the travel blog has become our main hustle.
We wanted to share some highlights and lowlights of 2018
- Mika still has leukemia and Sebastian has a thyroid disease. They’re basically our two kids, so we hate seeing them sick. Plus, taking Mika to the oncologist has costed us an arm and a leg. Didn’t think we would become one of those pet owners, but here we are.
- Had a family tragedy, which we’re still not ready to talk about yet.
- We both became workoholics this year (and not in a proud, I’m-a-busy-and-important-person way).
- Our fingers are injured from climbing, and every time we would get better, we injured ourselves again.
- The president.
- The cats are on medication every day, but are healthy relatively speaking. It’s the best case scenario for a cat that has cancer. We’re glad that the test results have been trending positive.
- The family tragedy has brought our family closer together than ever.
- Our goal was to make our blog sustainable, but this year we surpassed all our blogging and financial goals.
- We really enjoyed our year living in NYC, so much more than I could imagine. It was so nice living close to the climbing gym. We also made a lot more friends than we intended. I thought the people here were supposed to be mean and always too busy for you, but that wasn’t the case. Maybe I just tend to gravitate towards people who are more rough around the edges.
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Originally Published: Jan 6, 2019
How We Made OVER $29K in December - Travel Blog Income Report
Why We Share Our Income Reports
If you’re new here, you might be wondering why on earth we would share something so personal. We’ve been hesitant to share our income reports for the last 5 years, and we’re super nervous about this post, but since we’re all about trial and error, let’s see how it goes! We’re putting out these income reports for these following reasons.
To Show You How We Make Income Blogging
We always want to be 100% transparent about how we make money through this blog. The amazing thing about the blogging world is that every blogger we’ve talked to does things a bit differently. There are also countless ways to grow and improve your business. When we started, we made most of our money through affiliate sales. Since then, we’ve shifted heavily to sponsored content. A big part of this is because my background is in sales and it’s what I’m good at. You can learn more about my sale method below. As time goes on, this will continue to change, but we want to share how we focus on our strengths to effectively meet our goals.
To Show You the Potential of Blogging
Whether you have a blog or are starting a blog, we want to show you that you can make a career out of blogging.
Even if you don’t want to blog, there are a ton of ways to be financially and location independent and we hope to inspire others to go after it too. If you want to keep your day job, blogging can be a great way for you to make some extra side money.
Esther started the blog 6 years ago and I joined her full time 3 years ago. Even until last year, our parents were worried about us financially, wondering when we would stop “playing” and start taking our lives and work more seriously. Neither of us ended up being “good Asians” (namely a doctor, lawyer, or engineer). It’s an unconventional job and where most people don’t understand all the work that goes on behind the scenes.
We love that our jobs give us flexibility in what we do, but being your own boss isn’t all that it’s cut out to be either. You have to be disciplined and work hard at your business to grow it.
Note: There are a lot of great blogs and resources out there about blogging, but the tough part is that it’s not always replicable unless you also want to start blogging about blogging. We wanted to show you that it’s possible to start a blog on other topics and still make a living. Though we have an e-course in the works, we want to continue to show you that the bulk of our income still comes from our travel blog.
To Track How We're Doing
I’ve always loved sharing goals online and tracking them. Putting them out in the world (via the blog) has helped me so much with accountability. Since we’re constantly tweaking trying to improve the blog, looking at these numbers will help us learn whether we’ve been making the right changes. It’s amazing to see how the sources of income have changed over time and to see where we still have room for improvement.
Ultimately, our life goal is to make enough to live on half our income (right now we’re at 30%), where the rest will go back into the community or support organizations we love.
Breakdown of Income for December 2018
In December 2018 we earned a total of $29,907.85.
Income Comparison to Other Months
- Total in 2018 Year Income: $248,551.76
- Last Month Income: $26,433.62
- Difference: 113% increase from last month
Previous Income Reports
If you’re not getting the results you want, again, keep in mind that we’ve been blogging for 6 years now and the first month I tried monetizing my blog, I made less than $20. Give it more time and failing in the process is okay. I didn’t have the correct tools and a lot of it was trial and error. Consider it all an A/B test to figure out what will best work for you.
- Web Hosting: $19.95 (Want to start a blog? Here’s how you can start a blog in 5 easy steps)
- Keysearch: $18.60
- Virtual Assistant + Social Media Manager: $1557.94
- Adobe Cloud Services: $59.98
- Convertkit: $99.17
- Teachable: $99 (check out their free weekly webinar)
- Office Supplies/Services: $1,161.11
- Test Products/Shoot Supplies: $812.97
- *Taxes: $1,192
- Insurance: $383.13
- Travel + Meal Expenses: $537.69
TOTAL EXPENSES: $5,980.09
TOTAL NET PROFIT: $23,927.76
*Roughly 30% of your income will go to taxes at the end of the year. The number above shows the money set aside for taxes to offset how much we have to pay at the end. It makes it less painful at the end of the year, but it is still significantly more.
August 2018 Blog Traffic Breakdown + Stats
- Monthly Pageviews: 451,277
- Daily Average: 14,557
- Monthly Sessions: 353,197
- Monthly Unique Visitors: 297,559
- Social Media Followers: 327,840
- Email Subscribers: 8,114
Annual Breakdown of Income for 2018
In 2018 we earned a total of $248,551.76.
- Virtual Assistant + Subcontractors: $20,731.08
- Office Supplies/Services: $13,096.53
- Test Products/Shoot Supplies: $15,366.96
- *Taxes: $34,679.00
- Insurance: $9,134.74
- Marketing: $5,436.08
- Travel + Meal Expenses: $17,031.75
- Giving / Paying it Fwd: $35,500.00
TOTAL EXPENSES: $150,976.14
TOTAL NET PROFIT: $97,676.62
*Roughly 30% of your income will go to taxes at the end of the year. The number above shows the money set aside for taxes to offset how much we have to pay at the end. It makes it less painful at the end of the year.
Blog News + January Goals
- Check off 10 items on our NYC bucket list and NYC food bucket list.
- Get 2 weeks ahead on work since we have to move at the end of the month.
- Lock in at least 2 more sponsors for the year.
- Read 1 book to start our 19 in 2019 goals.
- Take a bouldering class.
- Do a purge of anything we don’t need/use anymore.
- Go on two date nights
- Pack up and move!!
What's Working on the Blog
This month, we didn’t test out a new marketing strategy. Instead, we hired someone to help us manage our instagram accounts and facebook. Our goal is to focus more on the blog and less on social. We also spent a lot of time out in the city trying to gather content and went back to Atlanta to hang with family.
We did switch our email provider over to Convertkit, which I love so far. It offers so many more features than Mailchimp and we haven’t even begun using them all. We’ll let you know all the pros and cons when we dive into it more.
What Didn't Work + Lessons Learned
We are going back to the drawing board on how to promote the e-course. It doesn’t exactly help that neither of us enjoy promoting it and that bloggers are being scammed.
Even though we know the e-course is helpful, promoting it has always felt gross! We did get some sign ups and have already heard that it’s working for those people, which is very encouraging to hear. We just need to get back into the right mindset and reach the right people.
The e-course is out! With a lot of trial and error over the years, Jacob has figured out the best ways to pitch and work with sponsors. One of our most recent sponsorships was a $35k deal. Plus, one of our students using the e-course has already booked $11k in sponsorships while another student has made her money back and more on her first pitch. If you’re interested to learn more, see the intro video here.