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Last Updated on November 9, 2022
In this annual blogging Income Report, we’re looking back on 2018 at what worked, what didn’t, what lessons we can learn and how we can best move forward to achieve our dreams. I’ll also share my business strategy and tips that made me nearly $150,000 blogging in year three in hopes you can apply them to authentically make money blogging, too!
Welcome to Root + Revel’s second annual income report! You may remember back in 2017, I published my very first income report detailing how I earned $75,000 from my blog in its second year.
I know this might seem a little crazy to you, but let me explain.
For years, I’ve been reading the income reports of many successful bloggers, like Pinch of Yum, Making Sense of Cents, Smart Passive Income and Show Me the Yummy.
And they’ve inspired me so much, not only to know what’s possible in the world of blogging as a business, but also with their incredible ideas and generosity in sharing their mistakes and successes along the way.
I finally feel like I’m at a point with Root + Revel where I have something valuable to share about making money online, something that I hope will help you learn how to make money doing something you love, something that lights you up every day and makes you excited to get to work, something you’re passionate about, something that impacts others for the better, something you can do from your couch in your jammies or on a beach in the Caribbean or at a desk in a co-working space at whatever dang time you please because YOU’RE YOUR OWN BOSS.
Please know, the goal of these income reports is not to brag or show off or pat myself on the back (though it’s always a good idea to celebrate your own successes, too!). Rather, my goal with these income reports is three-fold:
I’ve been self-employed for nearly a decade at this point, but since I began blogging full-time in January of 2016, my life has exponentially improved.
I’m finally writing the stories that I want to tell, I’m finally helping others to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives, and I’m doing it ALL on my own terms.
Truth be told, when I was a freelancer for magazines and newspapers, I hated having to report to an editor, to be beholden to their advertisers and their needs, to convince through begging and pleading that a story needed to be told and, more often than not, to be rejected. Couple that with diminishing budgets, increasing demands, cranky and thankless editors, an overall exhaustion from traveling so much and a body that couldn’t handle eating rich restaurant food five times a week, and I knew I needed a change.
Now, I’m happy to report that life is so much better now that I’m truly my own boss and a full-time blogger. I look forward to each and every day–I wake up excited to work, I’m always learning something new and I love the challenge of running your own business, constantly coming up with new ways to monetize and help people, simultaneously.
Alright, enough talk. Let’s take a look at the numbers for 2018…
Whew! I know that’s a lot to take in. One of the things I hope people will takeaway from these reports is just how much work, energy, thought and heart goes into running a blog. It’s not just as simple as slapping up a few words and an iphone photo and pressing publish.
Also, I want to take a moment here to talk about how high my expenses still are, especially for a new business. This is something I struggled to grasp for a long time: do you have to spend money to make money, or should you wait to spend money until you’re making enough?
I go into detail about my philosophy when it comes to outsourcing and delegating here, but I’ll say this: investing in your business (whether it’s a blog, a moving company, a brick-and-mortar store or a restaurant, etc.) is key to your success, and the speed at which you achieve it.
This was super exciting to see that my SEO efforts have really paid off as my Google referral traffic is up 578.45% from 2017. This is also likely because the longer and more consistently you put out quality content, the better you will do in Google. Plus we really focused on keyword research and content planning around search trends.
I talked about Outbrain in my monthly income reports (here in particular) and although it brought in a decent number of pageviews, the leads weren’t quality as they didn’t stay on the site long, didn’t opt-in to my list, didn’t purchase anything, etc. So I ultimately stopped running those ads. Traffic for traffic’s sake is meaningless, just like having a million followers on Instagram means nothing if those people aren’t actually engaging with your content. Engagement trumps numbers all day long!
Getting featured on other blogs and websites is a great way to grow your audience. Forget Sugar Friday found us organically, as did Chasing a Better Life, however we pitched a guest post to Dr. Axe and some roundup ideas to The Every Girl and it’s nice to see those paying off.
Though there aren’t a ton of surprises here as many of these articles were also our most popular in 2017, I’m really glad to see our new PCOS content doing so well since it’s such a passion of mine and it helps so many women to talk about natural ways to reverse PCOS.
I was surprised to see Keto recipes doing so well since we are not a Keto blog, however it’s such a trendy diet right now, so this tells me that we should do more Keto-related posts and recipes to take advantage of all those searches.
**Note: This screenshot comes from my dashboard in ConvertKit.
Note: RPM stands for Revenue Per Mille, or the revenue earned per 1,000 pageviews. When you look at RPM, you put the focus on optimizing your revenue as efficiently as possible, rather than just getting the most people to your site. For example, a site with 100,000 pageviews and a $1 RPM makes $100, while a site with 20,000 pageviews and a $10 RPM makes $200. This is good news because it means you don’t have to have TONS of traffic to make a great income. In fact, when you niche down and focus on providing as much value as possible to your current audience, you earn more money.
Hourly Rate: I worked on the blog for a total of 649 hours in 2018. With a gross income of $149,880.01, that means I earned roughly $231 per hour. Not too shabby! My goal was to earn $100/hour so I’m stoked I was able to surpass that.
If you look at my net income of $81,759.55 instead, my hourly rate drops to about $126/hour, which is still above my goal, so I’m very pleased with that rate.
I use Toggl and RescueTime to track my time.
What I Focused on in 2018
Oh man, where to start. It’s tough doing this income report for the entire year (vs monthly), as there’s so much ground to cover and I’d prefer not to bore you all with a book the size of Hamilton.
So I’m going to pick two big things I focused on in 2018:
Goals for 2019
Since this income report is for the entire year of 2018, I’m going to make this Goals section for the entire year of 2019.
Featured Question: Each month, I feature one question from a reader in each monthly income report, so please leave a comment below if you have a question that you would like me to answer in the next report.
Please know, I am keenly aware that I have the flexibility, freedom and finances to work on this blog as my full-time job because of YOU–dear reader, sharer, Pinner, commenter, Liker, customer or silent follower of Root + Revel. Your support and participation in the R+R community reaches beyond just this website. Last year, I donated nearly $2,000 to the following charities in your name: Real School Gardens (now Out Teach), Nicholas House, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,the Environmental Working Group, Made Safe, and the Humane Society.
I am so incredibly grateful for you! Thanks for showing up! ????
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COPYRIGHT © 2022 • KATE KORDSMEIER
We are an LGBTQIA-affirming, interfaith-oriented, diverse organization. We are committed to social and environmental justice, including civil rights, dismantling systems of oppression like the Patriarchy, White Supremacy and Diet Culture. We believe Black Lives Matter.
Couldn’t be happier to be part of this incredible team!! Celebrating 2018 and ready to kick things up a notch this year!
I don’t see it here and I’m not sure if you’re willing to share it or not, but can you tell us what percentage of your affiliate sales come from the blog vs email list? Also, you noted that ultimately you want to drive traffic to selling your own products. Do you think you’ve worked as hard this past year driving traffic to your own ebooks as you have to affiliate products? Just curious if that is truly passive income or if you continue to work on the sales? Thank you SO MUCH for all you share to your readers. It truly is inspirational and helps as a bit of a pick-me-up when I’m frustrated….. 🙂 You’ve built an amazing blog and your posts are very enjoyable to read.
Thank you Staci – so happy to hear you enjoy the content and get some inspiration! 🙂 Re: the ebooks – no, I don’t drive traffic there other than through automated sequences, like our welcome series, so it’s all organic purchases. I *wish* I could answer your question about the blog vs. email list percentages! My team and I have been talking about that but unfortunately it’s nearly impossible for us to track. I’m hoping I might be able to get some more data now that we’ve switched to Active Campaign – stay tuned! (And if you have any ideas how to do this, please let us know!!)
Hey Kate! Congrats on an amazing year! I love seeing how all your planning and hard work has paid off. One of the biggest takeaways for me is investing in your business to help it grow. So far I’ve invested in technology (ActiveCampaign, Leadpages etc….) but I have not taken the plunge on hiring help yet. If you had to pick the place where hiring helped you the most, what would it be? The PR person, social media, video production, a VA to add links to posts…. to be honest, I’m not sure where to start! Thanks!
What a great question Micaela! I know it’s hard to figure out how to get help, but once you do you will be SO happy! I will answer this in an upcoming post. Thank you for your question and for following along!
Thank you for sharing all this information. I’m curious – do you hire someone to take all your photography or do you do it yourself? Do you use a specific filter?
I’m excited to learn more about your upcoming class.
My friend Heidi is my photographer, she’s amazing! (No filters, just great professional skills + editing) Be sure to join our email list as we have some great free business trainings coming up!
It truly is mostly unthinkable to see well-aware men or women on this subject, although you come across as like you fully grasp which you’re posting on! Appreciation
Thanks so much, Hannah!