This is my post Reflecting on A Year of Self Employment + 2018 Income Report. I’m outlining how I made money, increased my traffic and ran my business!
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As of today it has been ONE YEAR since I officially quit my corporate job + set out to run this blog full time. It has been the quickest, craziest, and quite possibly the MOST AWESOME year ever.
I wanted to share a recap partially because I know many of you are looking to start a blog/ make money for a blog.. but also as a way to reflect on the year for myself.
If you’re unfamiliar with how I got to the point of being able to quit my job, I’d recommend pausing and reading this post on How I Quit My Job + Became a Full Time Food Blogger.
It goes into the nitty gritty of exactly what I did to get to a point where I was ready to say goodbye to my cubicle and take this blog on full time
My thoughts on one year of being ‘self employed’
It is freaking awesome. Let me brag for a second. If I want to work in my pajamas all day on the couch with Ziti… I can. (and believe me I do sometimes). If I want to take a day off unexpectedly… I can. If I want to shut off my computer and end my day at 1PM… I can. The freedom has been seriously amazing, and I truly wake up every day so excited to do what I do (I know that’s super cheesy, but I’m just so grateful)
Ziti doing what she does best in our typical office set up.
It is also freaking hard. All of the things I can brag about, can also be a negative. There were days where I would work 14 hours straight and not even take a break to eat lunch.
There were days where I was working until midnight because there is no team that can step in to help you. In order to go on vacation.. you need to work double the amount leading up to or coming back from it.
I’m pretty sure I will never get sick of this. I often read about bloggers getting bored or disliking their work. I seriously think it is SO COOL that I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and that cooking amazing healthy food is my job. I love it.
You work harder than you ever will. There is no doubt I put in more work hours this year than I ever have. I don’t regret a single bit of it, but there is a lot to do when it comes to running your own business that many people don’t realize.
In order to make a blog post there is recipe development, going to the store and buying ingredients, testing it a few times, taking the pictures, editing the pictures, writing the post, promoting the post, running the accounting, running your social media, planning out for the months ahead… (I’m sure I’m forgetting other things!)
You get judged a lot more than I expected. When I tell people this is my job I can often see the look in their eyes. I know many people think this is some fluffy profession where I sit around and just type some stuff out on my laptop and take a picture… It’s not.
There is A LOT of work that goes into running a blog. I’ve gotten downright rude comments from people telling me what a waste of my college degree this is, or asking how I could ever make money doing this. (And yes, there is a difference when people ask me that because they truly don’t know or when they think I must be a dumbass for choosing to do this. I can tell what you’re thinking when you ask me, BTW.)
You need to have people that get you. Having friends in the blogging space are invaluable. Your ‘regular’ friends and family will likely never understand what you’re doing.
Having people to vent to, support you, answer your questions, and bounce ideas off of in this space are absolutely necessary. (Shout out to Isabel, Molly and Jamie who I met at EFC and have been friends with ever since 🙂 )
How I Increased Blog Traffic
My blog traffic increased a ton this year (179% year over year if we’re being specific.) (PS this is a little nitty gritty, and unless you’re a blogger -you probably won’t know what 1/2 of this stuff is!)
- A majority of my traffic increase came from google search. (YOY it was a 500%+ increase). I did a lot to help my search traffic:
- Took Hashtag Jeff’s SEO Course and implemented it quickly. I did the entire course in one week and then canceled my membership (it was great, but I felt like I learned what I needed from it and didn’t need to pay every month.)
- Upgraded from EasyRecipe Plugin to WPRM Premium + made sure all required fields were filled out in my recipes.
- Created better content. My blog posts are much more thorough and have great tips/tricks now!
- Filled out the Yoast SEO plugin correctly (I hadn’t been doing that before)
- The rest of my traffic increase came partially from Pinterest (I love Tailwind and use it every day! You can use this link for a free month.)
- Instagram stories drove a lot of traffic too! If you’re not following us click here to follow us on IG!
- Annnnd our mailing list too 🙂 If you’re not on it, click here to subscribe + get a free 7 day whole30/paleo meal plan!
Ok.. now, let’s get into my most asked question.. ‘how do you make money?’
Making money with a food blog
When I was debating writing this post, I wasn’t originally going to share monetary figures.. but then I realized that I’m really freaking proud of the money I’ve made.. and that we need to start talking about money (and specifically women making money).
The money I made this year granted me freedom to live a better life, donate to charities, travel to Europe, buy a house, and so much more. And while I don’t believe money can bring you happiness – it can bring you a lot, and I’m not embarrassed to say that I have big goals for my finances in 2019.
So let’s get into the numbers.
My salary at my previous job was $46,800 (before taxes), which after taxes came out to around $2,900 in take home pay every month. So my goal this year was really just to match that every month. But after a few months I realized that not only was I going to meet that, I was definitely going to surpass it!
Here’s what the breakdown looked like:
The Clean Eating Couple 2018 Income
Total Income – $77,747 (this doesn’t include taxes or expenses, I’ll get there)
- Sponsored Posts – $30,122
- Ad Revenue – $10, 221
- Mediavine is THE BEST. And btw, I’m currently on track to half of what I made in 2018 in only JANUARY on ads. CRAZY!! I’m SO pumped.
- Affiliate Income – $10,188
- Ebook Sales – $1,714
- Have you gotten your copy of the 28 Days of Clean Eating Guide?!
- Freelance Work – $25,500
- I help other brands with recipes and photos for their websites/social channels. You can see some of the work I did in my Photography Portfolio. Most of this is never shared on my site, but I wouldn’t have gotten these opportunities without my blog, so I’m including it in my income report 🙂
Here’s a fancy graph for you visual peeps. (‘Cause yes I love a good spreadsheet and chart)
But let’s not forget that you have to spend money to make money.. so here is a breakdown of my expenses:
Total Expenses: $8,027
- LLC – $120.00
- I’m officially The Clean Eating Couple LLC as of a few months ago!
- Contract Work – $2,568.84
- Mostly spent on design work for my site/digital products and an SEO site audit. If you need an awesome designer, hire Madison from Grace & Vine Studios.
- Education – $495
- I purchased two photography courses + the Hashtag Jeff Course. I highly recommend his course. I didn’t like the first photography course so I’m not recommending it, and I haven’t finished the second one yet 🙂
- Groceries – $1,289
- I can only expense groceries that are explicitly being used for blog recipes. So this is not my entire grocery bill, fyi 🙂
- Hosting – $749
- I have to pay to host my website on a server each month.
- Props – $285
- These included linens, special bowls, etc.
- Tools – $868
- This includes Tailwind, Lightroom (photo editing), plugins, business cards, etc
- Travel – $1,686
- I traveled to a food blogging conference and to three food expos, so this included my flights and hotels!
I run a pretty lean business, and intend to keep it that way!
So overall.. I not only met my goal of matching my corporate salary, I surpassed it by almost $30,000. Which I’m super excited about. I told myself that I had one year to figure this out, and that if I lost money – that in 2019 I had to go back and get a corporate job. (but I knew in my heart and mind I would do ANYTHING to avoid that!)
In addition to the whole quit your job thing.. we also bought house which was really exciting.. and stressful.
View this post on Instagram
So what’s next?
2019 Goals for the Blog
- Grow my email list to over 10,000. (You can click here to join if you’re not on it!)
- Hit 500K pageviews in a month (this is lofty but I’m aiming high and JUST might do it this January!) For perspective, I average around 175K a month right now. If you want to help me reach that goal – share your favorite recipe on the site with my friend.
- Double my income. That means I want to make $154,000, at least.
- Work less. I love what I do but I also love my family and friends, and I want to spend more time with them.
Do you have a blog or want to start a blog?
I want to help you! I’m offering 1 on 1 blog coaching sessions where we can go in depth on strategies for making you money in 2019, growing your blog, and having your pageviews jump through the roof. Send me a note if you’re interested! firstname.lastname@example.org
None of this would be possible without all of you, and for that I’m infinitely grateful. This website was started purely for fun to share my food with friends and family. The fact that I get to share my food with all of you and do what I love is something that I feel privileged and blessed to do. I’m so excited for the year to come!!
P.S. If you have a food blogger in your life and want to give them an awesome gift – check out this Food Blogger Gift Guide!