How I Earned $13,000 My First Year Blogging

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earn money bloggingMy first year blogging has been CRAZY, people. Seriously. I don’t even want to get into everything that happened. That would take a plethora of blog posts (would you say I have a plethora of blog posts?). But today being my first blogiversary, something I do want to share with you beautiful people is how one little thought last July when I was unemployed and desperate has turned into a huge blessing (and thousands of dollars, all of which are delicious).

So the actual number I’ve earned on the side since I started blogging is $13,011.48. And I’ll be honest. Practically none of that came directly from the blog. But the blog was just the springboard. In fact, that’s what I meant for it anyway. As much as I love writing about this stuff on the side, I have two goals in life that are very important to me: first, to become a full-time freelance writer, and second, to eat lobster in Maine. Very important, remember that. 

Things started off pretty slowly, and most of that income has come in the last 5-6 months, but here’s sort of a breakdown. **Note, I’m not sharing this with you to prove how awesome I am (that’s self-evident, right? :)), I’m sharing it with you because it was these types of posts that inspired and motivated the crap out of me and got me to invest the time and money to follow my dream.

August 2013 – $0

I started my blog on August 15th, with my first post talking all about all the reasons why I was starting it and blah blah blah. I really had no idea what I was doing (still don’t), so I was just putting my stuff out there and freaking out every time someone who was not related to me read my stuff.

September 2013 – $40

My first freelance gig was with a publication that I had written a couple articles for when I was in a financial planning class in college. It was one of the options, and I felt like my articles were pretty good. In May 2013, they sent me an email asking if I’d want to join as a paid contributor. It would be $10 an article and I would have to write a minumum of five articles a month. I decided to pass on it because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to commit the time. People, I had no job. I wasn’t going to get a job anytime soon. I was a moron. Fortunately, they accepted me when I emailed them four months later like a doofus asking if I could still write for them. I still write for them today, even though I don’t get paid much, because when I tried to stop, I just couldn’t. I decided that in the battle between worth and joy, joy won. And it also helps that I get a ton of traffic from that site 🙂

October 2013 – $70

I know. Even though I now had a full-time job and a blog I was writing for daily, I still found time to write seven articles. I was still at a point where the writing process took me forever, so even if something else had presented itself, I probably would’ve freaked out. At the same time, though, this is when I started looking more into freelancing and the possibilities, so I was trying to expand my network.

November 2013 – $273.76

November was when a company actually reached out to me to write for them. They had seen a post I wrote about the Twitter IPO and wanted me to write about stocks for them. I still remember reading the email when I first woke up and freaking out about it. But I wasn’t sure after looking at their business model and website. I wrote a lengthy email asked a more experienced blogger/full-time freelancer (she probably laughed when she read it) what she thought and she told me to do it. So I hopped on board and started writing an article a week.

December 2013 – $426.28

After my first couple of articles, the company told me they liked me so much that they wanted me to start writing two articles a week for them. I called for more time, but I was all for it. It was fun, but it also gave me some semblance of accomplishment while I was trying to deal with hating every moment of my crappy job as a bank teller.

January 2014 – $638.43

During this month, my wife and I made the decision to move from Arkansas to Texas. I had gotten a job offer down there (it paid only a little more than my job in Arkansas, but the Dallas job market is a little bigger than the one in Walmart-Land, so I took it. While I was between jobs at the end of the month, I had the genius thought to ask if I could write more articles for this company. I had all the time in the world and we needed the money to make up for me not being paid for a couple of weeks. And you know what? They said yes. I’ve learned since that the gigs are there waiting for me. I just need to ask for them. They also started letting me do my research myself and paying me extra, so that was a bonus.

February 2014 – $1,624.67

As I was already enjoying the fruits of asking if they had more work, I was looking at the company’s site one day and clicked on my Alexa toolbar. It told me that the site was in the top 1,000 sites in Germany. And then I had this genius thought, “Hey, I speak German. I wonder if they have a German blog.” Sure enough, they did. So I asked if I could also write for their German blog. Another question I’ve been enjoying the dividends from ever since.

March 2014 – $514.72

March was a depressing month when they slowed me back down to writing two articles a week, one for the English blog and one for the German. But halfway through the month, I got an email from the company. They hadn’t really spent a lot of time on the German blog and wanted to know if I wanted to manage it for them. They also wanted to start an instablog on Seeking Alpha and wanted to know if I could do that for them too. I was working through some personal things at the time and wasn’t sure if I could commit, but I just couldn’t pass it up. I’d wake up at 3:00 a.m. if I had to.

April 2014 – $1,930.02

My first month as a content manager was stressful, but I loved every minute of it (still do, by the way). I learned a ton and am still working on getting some of the major things down. But I was doing it! This is also when I started cutting back on my first client because when you’re averaging around $80 an hour elsewhere, you start to wonder what you feel your time is worth.

May 2014 – $988.54

April was really exciting, but my first payment from them was only supposed to be for half of the month of March, so they ended up having to compensate for it in May by only paying me half. I also did a couple of other small things, but neither of them were long-term.

June 2014 – $2,057.02

In June, I decided to start writing again for my first client. It was a nice escape from focusing on finance only but I also started noticing how much traffic was coming to my blog from my articles there. Right after I started again, I got an email saying they were looking for a writer to do a new project they were working on. I applied for it and (according to them) blew everyone else out of the water. Yay for more money!

July 2014 – $2,528.02

Another opportunity popped up at the end of June through a fellow blogger who got a job as a content manager. She was the first blogger I did a guest post for, so she knew me and my writing. After I emailed her, she replied immediately and said, “You’ll be perfect!” I thought back on how other bloggers told me in the beginning to guest post guest post guest post, and it worked!

August 2014 – $1920.02 (so far)

This month, I added another client to my portfolio. I’m actually really excited about it because it’s in an area besides finance that I’m really passionate about. I’ve also continued to work for my other clients and I’m constantly on the lookout for new ones. (If you are looking or know someone who is, contact me!)

What I’ve Learned

The first, and most important, thing I’ve learned was the practice of a quote I heard when I was young by one of my heroes, Gordon B. Hinckley, “Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work.” If we didn’t have all this side income, we’d be in deep trouble financially. We’ve prayed a lot over the last year and we’ve been blessed immensely. But I know that God expected me to do my part too, and I did.

The second is to network as much as possible. I don’t do as many guest posts now and I’m trying to get back into that, but guest posting, commenting on other people’s articles, and other things really helped me to get to know my fellow bloggers, some who helped me get a gig. I’m definitely looking forward to doing more of that next month at FinCon!

Third, ask. If you already work for someone, ask for more work. If you’re new and don’t have anything, get out there and ask. The worst someone could do is say no. Or never get back to you–still have a few of those out there.

Fourth, this quote by Steve Jobs, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” Whether it’s freelancing or blogging or something else, find what you love and take a chance on investing yourself in it. A year ago, I never would have imagined that I would be doing what I am today. But here I am, and I’m glad I did what was necessary to get out of my comfort zone to arrive where I am today. My first year blogging was hard in many ways, but it’s also shaped my future in many more.


34 thoughts on “How I Earned $13,000 My First Year Blogging

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey, I’ve had a lot of similar experiences and lessons learned. I’d like to hit 2k per month consistently by the end of the year, and continue to grow from there as you have. I too found that asking was the most important thing I could do- for work, for more work, for a raise, for a new opportunity, etc.

  2. Thank you for sharing! How soon after you started did you develop a business plan? You mentioned you had no idea what you were doing when you started and that you know you wanted to be a freelance writer…when did you draw the line between point A & B?

    1. Honestly, I never put together an official business plan. For the most part in the beginning, I had little plans here and there and set goals, but was so overwhelmed by everything that comes with building a blog that I sort of just flew by the seat of my pants. I think in the end, I benefited from doing the fundamentals of writing good content, networking and asking for opportunities.

      I’m glad you commented, though, because I should probably put together a business plan now 🙂

  3. This is freaking awesome! I love that quote up there about praying and working. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes that I repeat to myself all the time: “Pray as if everything depended on God; work as if everything depended on you”. Congrats on your first blogiversary, Ben! I may have to pick your brain one of these days.

  4. Congrats on all the progress you’ve made that’s certainly a great journey in a year. Just FYI I love how you say in your first month you were freaking out about people who weren’t related reading your stuff. HA! I’m right there with you in my first month.

  5. Hi Ben,
    Great and inspiring post. Loved the honesty. Congrats on your achievements and keep going!
    I am starting my freelancing career also as a side hustle, though I want to make it a full time job (as soon as possible).
    Now I am redesigning my blog and hopefully it will go live before mid November.
    I´ve just subscribed to your blog and can´t wait to read about your journey.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and cheers from the sunny Spain!


    1. Thanks Corina! 🙂 It’s really amazing what you can do with freelancing. I never would’ve thought a year ago that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, and it all started with this little blog. Good luck on the new redesign!

  6. Just stumbled upon this post and you’re awesome!!! You’ve consistently grown your income which is very inspiring 🙂 Are you freelancing full time now or still side hustle in addition to working full time?!

    Hope you are having a nice weekend!!

    1. Thanks Sarah! 🙂 It’s definitely been a wild ride. I’m still doing it as a side hustle right now. I’m not sure when I’ll shift over to doing it full-time. That will depend on how income and savings growth go.

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