What I Learned After One Year Of Blogging – My Mega Blog Recap

I published my phone farming guide on January 15th, 2018, so it has been almost one year since my blogging journey on This Online World began!

This year has been filled with a tonne of change. I finished college and began working full-time, I started a blog, and I’ve tried out a variety of side hustle ideas that have taught me a lot of lessons about what it takes to make money online.

I’ve also met some incredibly kind and interesting people both on this blog and on an assortment of forums, and I am truly grateful for everyone’s help, friendship, and readership.

I’ve been publishing blogging income and traffic reports since This Online World started generating revenue as way to remain transparent and teach others what they should expect if they get into blogging, but it is now time for a year-end review.

Thank you all for a magnificent year; let’s take a look back at what 2018 had in store.

This post will contain:

  • My blogging traffic results after 12 months.
  • The revenue This Online World made.
  • Some important lessons I learned about blogging.
  • My favorite reads and some killer websites I enjoyed throughout 2018.

Let’s get to it!

Blogging Traffic Breakdown:

I’m writing this post as of December 26th, 2018, so it hasn’t been exactly one year of blogging. However, we’re close enough and I’m too excited to not write this post!

This year, my blog has seen almost 150,000 page views, and I am sure it will hit that mark by January 15th.

blogging traffic stats

Google Analytics data shows that my blog has actually seen more like 108,000 sessions from 77,300 unique users, and this is probably closer to the truth than WordPress estimations.

google analytics blog traffic

Either way, I am absolutely humbled and blown away by how this journey has unfolded so far.

The year has definitely had a mix of ups and downs, but this is all part of the journey. I saw rapid blogging growth between May and August this year as the Google Medic Update favored me, and I have also been in a slump the past 2 months as the update has rolled back slightly.

Despite the volatility I think this experiment has proved one thing: blogging isn’t dead, and this game is what you make of it.

The majority of my blogging traffic comes from nothing but organic search, and my ‘social’ traffic really comes from Reddit, marketing on Quora, and content syndication on Medium.

Additionally, I’ve been working harder as of late to gain more backlinks to my blog, and I’ve scored some decent ones on some very high quality websites like FitSmallBusiness and others, so this is moving in the right direction!

The point is, you don’t need a massive social media following, paid tools, or bullshit blogging courses to actually drive traffic to a webpage.

All you need is some good content, a basic understanding of SEO, and honest, hard work!

If anyone out there is considering blogging as a hobby, I would approach the whole endeavor with a great deal of optimism. Niches might be saturated, but as long as you produce quality and make every effort to help others, you can succeed.

Blogging Income Breakdown:

After 1 year of blogging, I have earned approximately $1,761 from This Online World and content syndication via Medium.

I say ‘approximately’ for a few reasons.

Firstly, I’m estimating the remaining few days of December revenue from Google AdSense, and secondly, I am paid out in a mixture of Canadian and U.S. dollars.

I have probably earned more than $1,800 when I consider the exchange rate since our dollar is about as strong as our Prime Minister, but let’s call it $1,761.

Here is how the income developed:

blogging income growth

income from blogging

As for the various income streams that have contributed to This Online World’s revenue, they are roughly as follows:

  • $646.54 from Google AdSense – 36.71%
  • $504.76 from the Medium Partner Program – 28.66%
  • $609.70 from various affiliate programs – 34.62%
    • 60% Shopify referral fees from my dropshipping guide.
    • 33% SiteGround web hosting referrals from my blogging guides.
    • 7% from Amazon Affiliate, FlexOffers, etc.

google-adsense-blog-earnings

medium-payment

Revenue definitely had a fair share of ups and downs that somewhat corresponded to monthly traffic, but I couldn’t be happier as the overall picture that is moving upwards.

Moving forwards I am hoping to decrease the percentage of income I earn from Medium syndication by simply increasing my own blog traffic and AdSense/affiliate revenue, but I am also very happy at the revenue mix for the year.

My blogging revenue is varied, 100% transparent, and I have only recommended products or services I use or have heard good things about. Plus, I haven’t resorted to crappy courses or MLM bullshit, so that’s a win in my book!

Blogging Expenses:

As a quick side note: I spent roughly $185 in my first year of blogging. All of my expenses came from web hosting fees, domain registration, and the purchase of a theme.

Recently, I have upgraded to SiteGround’s Grow Big plan, which is $5.95/month for your first year and then $19.95/month for following renewals.

SiteGround is my go-to web hosting service, and the Grow Big plan is sufficient for around 25,000 monthly readers. As This Online World grows I will definitely scale my web hosting package!

Since this is my second year of blogging, my web hosting costs are $255 for 2019. Just wanted to mention this number so it gives a more accurate picture of profits!

To learn more about SiteGround, check out my SiteGround web hosting review.

Lessons I Have Learned:

Blogging Requires Real Work:

I always knew blogging for income generation was viable, but I’ll admit, it is harder than I first anticipated. I’m not bummed out about this because I enjoy the puzzle, but I think people should be aware at how much work it takes to make money with a blog.

To give you an idea, here are my current WordPress stats:

  • 56 Posts.
  • 151,565 words in total.
  • 2,707 average words per post.

That’s a whole lot of words! But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Market Will Tell you What to do Next:

I sometimes struggle to come up with post ideas when I work on my content roadmap plan for This Online World.

In the past few weeks, I’ve actually had a pretty important realization about the whole process that came about when I read an article my mom sent me about following your passion (thanks mom!)

The article is an interview with Billionaire Mark Cuban, and it tackles the reason why following your passion is a terrible idea.

mark cuban
Thanks, Mark.

In short, here is what the article asserts: following your passion is stupid; follow your strengths and what the market tells you instead.

You should put effort into the things you excel at, not just the areas you are deeply passionate about. Passion can certainly be an asset and increase the likelihood you will be successful, but it isn’t everything. Besides, if you play to your strengths and become the best at something, you will probably develop a passion for it anyways (who doesn’t like winning, after all?)

Cuban gives the example that while he was always passionate about a variety of sports, he realized he could never compete professionally in them. Instead of giving up on his dreams of success, he merely followed his effort and skills and took on other projects where he could become the best.

As he puts it in the interview:

“…In order to be one of the best, you have to put in effort. So don’t follow your passions, follow your effort.”

This advice actually makes a whole lot of sense if you think about it, and it makes things easier…just do what you’re great at!

My most popular posts and the ones I have enjoyed writing the most are all genuine projects that I have experimented with and then educated other people on…posts like my phone farming guide, dropshipping experiment, or honest articles that break down ways to save and earn money.

I’ve dabbled in personal finance topics and other verticals, but moving forwards, I am certainly going to reemphasize my effort on the types of posts that interest you guys the most and the posts that bring me joy to write.

The market will tell you where your strengths lie…all you have to do is listen!

Google Giveth, and Google Taketh Away!

I had some preconceived notion that I was a SEO guru and that my blog would continue to grow exponentially once I started writing. This notion was reinforced in August when I benefited from a Google update, but I have learned to be more humble since then as I’ve had some dips.

This entire process is a ‘2 steps forward, 1 step backwards’ endeavor, but that’s the nature of blogging or running a business.

If you are in it for the long haul this shouldn’t bother you, but it is a good thing to keep in mind when the backwards steps are coming in and you feel slightly discouraged!

Integrity Matters…Even Online:

I’ve been approached by a lot of companies, SEO agencies, or blackhat link buyers over the past 12 months and been asked to sell backlinks or sponsored reviews.

I never accepted any offers because I don’t want a Google ban and I didn’t like any of products/services that these companies offered (most were related to gambling or crypto).

I came close to working with one company, but they wouldn’t allow me to mark the post as sponsored and that didn’t sit right with me.

I think it is vital that all bloggers or webmasters make an effort to maintain the integrity of their content and brand. I’m not just talking about sponsored posts (which can be fine)…I’m talking about the misleading courses, eBooks, or MLM schemes that trick people into buying something they could have learned on their own through some hard work.

The making money online niche has gotten a negative reputation over the past few years because it sometimes seems like everyone is shilling an affiliate offer, but we don’t have to follow the herd.

My Favorite Reads & Blogs of 2018:

Reading ebook

I didn’t do as much reading as I would have liked in 2018 (college life in a nutshell), but I definitely read my fair share of interesting history books or biographies.

I also made some fantastic connections in my first year of blogging with some truly wonderful people in the online realm. I wanted to use this final section as a way to mention them and their great content, as well as some of my other favorite blogs of 2018.

Peter Koch – Seller At Heart:

I first met Peter on a Reddit thread where I was talking about phone farming as a passive income source. We got to chatting and I eventually wrote a guest post on his blog about phone farming. Since then he has truly taught me a tonne of information about blogging, SEO, and marketing. I am very grateful for all of the guidance.

Seller At Heart is also a very genuine, honest blog, which is always refreshing to find. It covers actual ways people can make and save money, assisting individuals on their path to financial independence. Plus, Peter occasionally has some guest writers who also contribute some awesome content.

If you have some time and are interested in some unique ways to make and save money (as well as some exceptional eCommerce articles), I highly recommend checking out his blog!

Favorite post by Seller At Heart: $1 Million in Revenue, 0 Employees with an Amazon FBA Business.

Nathan Clarke – Millionaire Dojo:

I also found Nathan’s blog on a Reddit thread, and I subscribed after reading just one article and taking a quick look around.

Millionaire Dojo is also a personal finance blog that examines ways people can make and save money, as well as Nathan’s own experiences with finance.

He. Has. Cool. Stuff.

And it’s honest content too. From his monthly ‘what sells on Ebay series’ to a variety of thoughtful pieces that examine our relationship with money and the world, Millionaire Dojo makes for some great reading.

Favorite post by Millionaire Dojo – The Millionaire Interview Series (so far 2 posts have been released in the series).

Zach – 4 Pillar Freedom:

While this is a more recent discovery for me, 4 Pillar Freedom is another fantastic blog where Zach examines the 4 pillars that contribute to a rich and meaningful life: philosophy, psychology, work ethic, and finance.

Zach is also an Excel guru, and his spreadsheets, graphs, and tables make conceptualizing important personal finance concepts that much easier.

Favorite post by 4 Pillar Freedom – The Early Retirement Grid (one of his most popular posts for a reason!)

Definitely check out 4 Pillar Freedom when you get the chance!

Liz Deacle – It’s A Drama:

I met Liz on Quora after we exchanged a few ideas about Quora marketing, and she is by far my favorite writer on Quora.

However, Liz also has a stellar family travel blog, and when you combine her colorful and intricate Quora answers with the great travel stories on her blog, it’s a really fun combination.

If you are looking for a travel blog to get into, I highly recommend following Liz on Quora and her blog.

Favorite post by It’s A Drama – Deciding to Leave Everything Behind for a Year.

A Quick Shoutout:

I’ve added This Online World to a variety of cool personal finance blogs and syndication feeds this year, and if you are ever on the hunt for more great content you can definitely find some by browsing these blogs and feeds:

Some Final Thoughts:

First off, I probably won’t be publishing again until 2019, so Happy New Year to all of you wonderful people.

Secondly, I would like to thank everyone again for making 2018 an absolutely fantastic year. I am immensely happy with how far my blog has come, and I truly appreciate everyone who continues to read.

I am very excited for what 2019 has to offer, and I wish you all a great year full of heath and good fortune!

Note: I may be switching my blogging income reports to a quarterly basis in 2019 (or unless something dramatic happens) since I have been stagnant for the past few months. Let me know in the comments if this is a nay or a yay!

Catch you guys in the next post.

Tom

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Hi Tom,

It’s Kevin (again, lol)

Appreciate this post since there are not many bloggers in “making money online” niche who’s honest and realistic like you!

Yes, most of them always says bullshit and unrealistic things. Sad.

Regarding your blogging income report, I agree with you to do it quarterly (save time), unless something dramatic happened — it can be used as a “buzz” 😉

At last, Happy New Year dude!

Thanks a lot for the kind words and referral! You are killing it with your blog and I really enjoy your content. I’m nine months into blogging and have about 20% as much traffic as you. I’ve got a bit of competition in the personal finance space though lol. As long as my numbers continue to go up, I’ll stay motivated. Almost to the front page of Google for the term “what sells on eBay” so that could be a nice traffic source if I can move up. Hope you have another great year in 2019 and it will be… Read more »

Mike

Fantastic first year, Tom! It’s been a pleasure to read your posts, and see what a cool blog you have built up from nothing but cool ideas. Learned a lot, too and experimented successfully with some of your recommendations, making a but of passive income in the process. Thank you for making all this so clear and exciting. Looking forward to reading your blog in its second year.

Your stats for your first year are impressive! Also, I definitely agree that blogging is hard work. I had no idea until I started my blog a couple weeks ago. You’ve inspired me to keep going. Thank you!