I’m always a little stunned when the end of the year rolls around and it’s time to write another blogging income report.
This Online World is somehow celebrating its fourth birthday!
This year has definitely been insane, both for worldwide events but also for this blog and some personal changes.
In 2021, I took the complete plunge into freelance writing and blogging after quitting a startup I was working at (no more paid advertising work, woohoo!)
I also lived abroad for about half the year, jumped out of an airplane, and met even more awesome bloggers and writers along the way.
2021 also marks the first year in which This Online World has really felt like a full online business and main income source, not just a little side hustle.
So, to anyone who reads my content or checks in on what’s happening at TOW, thank you.
This past year has been absolutely incredible, and I have all of you to thank for that.
I never thought life would end up like this when I started blogging back in college, and I just hope that these income reports serve as a useful resource or source of inspiration for anyone else who’s trying to make money online.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into my 2021 blogging income report!
Want to start from the very beginning? Checkout:
- Blogging Income Report 2018 – Making $1,700 From Blogging!
- Blogging Income Report 2019 – Making $7,000 From Blogging!
- Blogging Income Report 2020 – Making $22,000 From Blogging!
Why I Write Blogging Income Reports
One quick note before getting on with my blog income report.
The reason I write one of these reports every year isn’t to brag or to try and promote anything.
Rather, I think it’s important to write these reports in the name of transparency.
I remember reading about blogging and other side hustles when I was in college and really wanted to make more money. It was nearly impossible to find accurate information, let alone blog income reports that even shared screenshots to prove the earning figures.
In my opinion, this lack of honesty and transparency is one of the main problems of the side hustle niche.
So, I hope that by providing my blogging income data and actual screenshots of everything important, you get an idea of what’s realistic and possible after four years of consistent blogging and work.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into the numbers!
Blogging Income For 2021 – Making $92,614 From Blogging
I’m going to cut to the chase here and start with the total amount This Online World earned in 2021.
This Online World made $92,614.42 in 2021.
I’m honestly still blown away by this figure since this is about a 400% increase from last year’s $22,000 year.
There were quite a few factors at play that explain why revenue jumped so much, as well as some sheer dumb luck.
But before getting into all that, let’s break down each income source for a bit more granularity!
Mediavine Income Report – Making $61,807.94
I’ve been using Mediavine ads to monetize my blog since 2020.
And, in 2021, Mediavine earned $61,807.94 for This Online World.
This income is a result of:
- 1.44 million sessions
- A $42.68 average RPM
Mediavine is a premium ads network, and it’s honestly an amazing company to work with.
It’s a way higher-paying advertising network than something like AdSense, and it’s also earning much more than when I was with Monumetric, another ads company.
Mediavine is excellent to work with because it’s always improving its ad tech, so bloggers can effectively monetize with display ads without ruining user experience.
It also offers amazing publisher support, and I don’t think I know of many ad networks that could deliver such a high RPM!
I mean, earning $45 to $50 RPM during quarter four is just insane, and I even had a five-figure month with Mediavine in December which was crazy to see.
Affiliate Marketing Income – Making $30,806.48
The second source of blogging income for This Online World is affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing has always been something I’ve struggled with because I don’t want to sound too salesy in my content.
However, 2021 was a massive improvement from 2020’s results, during which time I earned about $6,000 in affiliate income.
In 2021, This Online World Earned $30,806.48 from affiliate marketing income.
Here are the main affiliate networks I use to find and promote offers, as well as how much each network or offer paid me:
- Impact Radius (my favorite affiliate marketing network): $26,848 Canadian, or $21,057 USD.
- Aragon Premium (great for finance bloggers): $5,143
- Max Bounty: $1,346
- Rakuten (my favorite shopping extension): $831
- Printify (my favorite print-on-demand company): $1,458
- AdBloom: $514
- SiteGround Hosting: $100
- Shopify Hosting: $87
- Amazon Affiliates: $76
- Flex Offers (I use this affiliate marketing network much less now): $194.48
- Total Income: $30,806.48
Now that the income is broken out by affiliate network, here are some screenshots just to verify the earnings are legit!
Note: I’m including screenshots from the main earners just so there isn’t a wall of images for ones that barely made $100 in income.
Here’s a snapshot from Impact Radius, my main affiliate marketing network:
And here’s the revenue from MaxBounty, which I joined halfway through the year (this network has lots of awesome offers!)
These are the affiliate payouts from Printify:
Here are some PayPal payments from Aragon Premium (I can’t capture all of them in the screenshot since Aragon pays with PayPal cash):
And finally, here’s the Adbloom income:
As for what offers I’m promoting, some of my highest-paying affiliates for 2021 include:
- DoorDash: I write about this gig app a lot in posts like my DoorDash driver review or post on DoorDash tips and tricks.
- Fundrise: A nifty real estate investment platform that I mention in posts on passive income ideas.
- Instacart: Another driving gig I talk about in content like my Instacart Shopper pay article.
- Mistplay: A popular app that pays you to play games I mention a lot.
- Drop: One of my favorite reward apps.
- Steady: Another gig economy app that helps people find new side hustles.
I think the thing I’m most happy about with affiliate income in 2021 is that it’s way more diversified than any previous year.
I’ve also written a lot of listicles this year that are sort of cash-cow articles.
I’ve also spent more time working on content that meets user intent.
For example, a post like DoorDash driver tips and tricks, while useful, is only catering to readers who have probably already signed up for DoorDash.
But, my content like how to DoorDash for the first time or DoorDash vs Instacart are probably capturing people who are still deciding if they should sign up to Dash, so there’s more affiliate income potential.
So, if I can give one tip to other bloggers, it’s to consider the user intent for articles when doing keyword research.
Reviews and listicles are great, but targeting specific question keywords is also a very lucrative strategy if you get people right before the buying stage.
YouTube 2021 Income – Making $7,158.67
I don’t include YouTube money in my blog income, but I think it makes sense to add it in at the end here since YouTube and This Online World funnel traffic to one another.
Here are some quick stats about my YouTube channel in 2021:
- Views: 498,800
- New Subscribers: 4,800
- Total Subscribers: 12,737
- Revenue: $7,158.67
This was honestly another great result in my opinion, and the channel is trending upwards so I’m very excited for what 2022 has to bring.
I’m also excited since YouTube and blogging made about $100,000 in revenue for me in 2021.
This is also in USD which is even better when living in Canada or abroad where the strength of the U.S. dollar can get you pretty far.
Now, the channel did have some expenses for video editing, thumbnails, and YouTube SEO software.
Here’s how the costs break down:
- Video Editing: $1,270
- Thumbnails: $400
- Tubebuddy SEO Software: $108
- Total: $1,778
This brings the channel’s total profit to: $5,380.67
I set a goal of hitting 50,000 subscribers in 2021. I don’t think this was unrealistic, but I don’t think I made nearly enough trending content to deserve getting close to this goal.
I’m very excited to have crossed the 10k mark, but until I make more trending content or better content in general, I think getting to 50k might be a bit slow.
That said, I still think I made some cool videos in 2021.
My favorite is probably my Dubai vlog since that’s where I lived for a few months this year (more on that later!)
I also had some videos pop off a bit, and overall, I’m happy with the 1,000 to 2,000 sessions YouTube sends my blog every month as well.
I’ve started paying for video editing help as well, so this has really sped up how fast I can create videos and my whole enjoyment of YouTube as well.
For bloggers, I think video content is only going to become more important every year.
So, if you want to stay ahead of the game, I recommend starting your own channel. You can also check out some content I have on YouTube like:
Blogging Expenses For 2021
Alright, now that the fun part is out of the way, it’s time to dive into the bookkeeping part of all of this.
I’ve started treating This Online World like more of a business this year, but I also had a goal of improving the profit margin from last year.
Anyway, this year was much better in terms of my blogging profit margin, and here’s how my blog expenses look like:
- Content Writing: $12,702
- BigScoots Hosting: $634
- Pinterest Virtual Assistant Help: $1,875
- Tailwind: $119.88
- Sucuri Website Security: $299.99
- Website Redesign: $450
- Total Cost: $16,098.87
- Total Blogging Profit: $76,515.13
Content writing was my largest blogging expense by far, but working with Daniel and Selena on This Online World has been a great experience since they are both very talented writers and are awesome to work with.
As for hosting, BigScoots has been performing way better for me than SiteGround. If your blog is growing and you want to invest in speed, I definitely recommend making the switch.
My website redesign this year has finally gotten This Online World to look and feel like I wanted it to.
The homepage has way more high-value static content, and being on Gutenberg and Genesis also helps with speed and performance.
My redesign actually coincided with my blog benefitting from a Google core algorithm update (more on that in a tad), and I don’t think that’s entirely a coincidence.
Anyway, other costs were pretty much the same as last year in terms of website security and Pinterest marketing.
I’m going to ditch Tailwind next year since Pinterest traffic has fallen off a cliff since the company went public, but hey, that’s $115 less in annual costs so perhaps it’s for the best.
For next year, I definitely want to double-down on content production and to reinvest more earnings into some other blog projects (more on this down below!)
Strategies That Helped Increase Blogging Revenue
2021 was a massive leap for turning This Online World into a business.
So, I wanted to cover a few of the factors that contributed to my blog income growth in case any other bloggers are struggling with monetization currently.
Way More Content Production
Something finally clicked in 2021 that honestly took me way, way too long to realize.
Here’s what I learned: most blogs have a traffic problem, not a monetization problem.
I used to be so fixated on finding new affiliate programs, optimizing my placements, and figuring out how to squeeze as much money per pageview as possible.
But here’s the thing: the simplest way to earn more blogging income is just to get more traffic. So, naturally, this means pumping out more SEO-rich content.
So in 2021, I basically updated or published a new blog post every day or so. This Online World is now at 410 posts!
Every post targets a low or medium competition keyword I think I can rank for in 2 to 6 months.
The result has been a steady increase in monthly traffic, and right now, This Online World gets around 200,000 monthly sessions and 250,000 to 270,000 pageviews.
This is basically a 4-5x increase from last year, so for now, this content production strategy is working!
Playing The Google Game
Google had a series of minor and core algorithm updates in 2021.
In Summer, there were also two updates: one in June and one in July.
Like other core algorithm updates, these updates basically help content that better matches search intent perform better on Google.
These updates have also considered metrics like site speed and author authority as well.
Anyway, June is where This Online World began taking off, so I was clearly on the winning side of the Google game this year.
Here’s a snapshot of how my traffic looks, and you can see it’s been ramping with the subsequent Google updates since this past summer.
The moral of this story is that long-form content with valuable content and proper keyword research still works.
I think adding in more primary research and testimonials/reviews from real users is also helping my content rank better, but that’s just a hunch.
YouTube might also be playing a role, and I’ve started writing for a lot more personal finance sites, so perhaps my authority has gone up in the eyes of Google.
Whatever the case, I urge other bloggers to keep an eye on Google updates and to play the Google game if you can.
Email Marketing Improvements
One improvement I’ve made to the blog near the end of 2021 is to actually start email marketing.
I’m still awful at consistently sending email blasts. However, I finally built some simple email automation flows so new email subscribers at least get a few weeks of emails and content delivered to their inboxes.
I also created a blogging SEO checklist downloadable report that I’m using as a new pop-up to capture emails for readers who want to learn about making money with a blog.
This email capture and automation flow is growing and slowly delivering more traffic, so I’m excited to keep testing new email ideas and to grow my email list in 2022 and beyond.
If you’re running your own blog, I definitely recommend using some email marketing provider to at least set up a basic automation flow.
You can use ConvertKit or MailerLite to get started. I use MailerLite for This Online World and have used ConvertKit on client websites back in the day, and both are very beginner friendly and quick to set up!
Better Keyword Research
Another factor that helped This Online World make more money in 2021 was using a new keyword research approach.
I used to use Keywords Everywhere and a lot of manual searching to find new keywords.
This method is decent, but after using my friend’s SEMRush account for the past year, I have to say I’m blown away by this SEO tool.
SEMRush gets you so much useful keyword data, and you can also spy on your competitors to poach their keywords and attack areas of weakness they might have.
I actually recorded a SEMRush review video for a new YouTube channel I’m starting with my friend Ben called Bunny Media:
I’ve been using SEMRush to collect hundreds of blog post ideas, and it’s also helped me find many of my now most popular blog posts.
SEMRush is pretty expensive at around $120 per month, but you can always use the free trial or pay for a month to do all your research and then cancel after.
Anyways, this tool was a massive time-saver for 2021, so I definitely recommend trying it out!
If you want to support This Online World, you can always sign up for SEMRush with my link as well. 🙂
A Personal Update – A Year Of Nomadism & Adventure
I didn’t really have set plans for 2021, but I have to say, I’m really happy and grateful for how the year turned out.
The start of the year wasn’t easy due to a poor work-life balance and some personal problems. And I think the last two years have also put a lot of people in a general funk anyway.
After quitting the startup I was at in late January, I booked a one-way flight to Dubai since I had heard it was fairly open and not locked down.
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when heading to Dubai.
For one, it’s a city that receives a lot of criticism for being built off the back of cheap labor.
On the other hand, Dubai is pretty much a vacuum where insane skylines, nightlife, and opulence is around every corner.
Whatever the case, it was nice to explore somewhere new…to try new foods, to work remotely in a different part of the world, and to just go somewhere completely alien for a change.
Anyway, I lived in Dubai for nearly three months, blogging in random cafes while drinking way too much Arabic coffee (with cardamom, of course!)
I also got to see some frankly breathtaking landmarks like the Burj Khalifa and the Palm Islands.
Seeing the desert was surprisingly beautiful. It was also nice to try new foods and see what another part of the world is like.
Plus, meeting people from all over was pretty cool since Dubai is such an international hub.
My Dubai trip was also when I really felt like this blogging thing is a reality.
It was sort of like the culmination of going all-in on blogging and freelancing and confirming that it’s really possible to just make money with your laptop!
To me, this is the coolest part about blogging and trying out the digital nomad lifestyle; you can truly make money from anywhere and live your life the way you want to.
Anyway, after Dubai I headed back home for several months before heading down to the land of the free…AKA Florida!
Florida is honestly my happy place, and it was nice to wrap up the year with another trip somewhere warm.
Overall, this year felt like the first true leap into being a digital nomad and working for myself.
I also feel much more secure than I did during my Colombia adventures when I was just dipping my toes into this whole digital-nomad-blogger thing.
I still plan on diversifying income more in 2022, but if there’s one thing the last four years have taught me, it’s to trust the process and to do more of what’s working.
I’m hoping to spend a bit less time working in 2022 since 2021 was an absolute grind, but then again, I find this stuff exciting so it’s nice to put in the hours.
It would be nice to spend more time with friends and family as well since I’ll admit, traveling alone for a while can get a bit lonely.
But hey, I think your early-mid twenties is a great time to grind and explore and occasionally do stupid things, so I’m sure 2022 will have plenty more of that.
Career & Blogging Plans For 2022
Alright, so what’s around the corner for This Online World, other blogging plans, and freelancing for 2022?
Well, for This Online World, the plan is going to follow a sort of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.
This means more steady content production, focusing on SEO, and affiliate income diversification.
I’m also going to finally launch my blogging course (this was a goal for last year, but I procrastinated and got caught up in other projects…keep an eye out for this course coming in Q1, 2022!)
Aside from that, I also plan on growing my YouTube channel to expand This Online World’s reach.
My 2021 goal was 50,000 subscribers, and again, I hope to hit this next year but I know I’ll have to change my content style to accomplish this goal.
I’ve also started a few new fun side projects and some new professional projects as well!
The one I’m most excited to announce is that I finally started a new blog!
Yup that’s right: there’s another blog in the mix now, and I’m actually running this blog with my friend Daniel from Modern Teen.
The blog is called Manly And Modern, and it’s a dude blog that covers topics like fitness, dating, and lifestyle topics.
Honestly, it’s been refreshing to write content in a niche that’s not personal finance.
Manly And Modern has been on the backburner for about one year, and it’s sitting at around 30 posts right now and is actually in Monumetric!
If anything, I think this project proves it’s possible to start and monetize a blog in a short amount of time, even if you don’t have much spare time.
Anyways, that does it for most of my personal projects that are going on.
This past year has also been exciting on the freelancing front, and I’m working a lot closer with clients like The Motley Fool and some awesome crypto websites like Cult of Money.
Overall, I feel very lucky and happy with how 2021 has gone. If you’re thinking about branching into freelancing to diversify your income, my advice is to start now!
It can be intimidating to start a blog or freelance side hustle, but with time and effort, I firmly believe you can grow both types of income streams into meaningful ones.
I honestly feel like last year was a complete blur.
But, I’m also extremely grateful for all of the growth this blog has experienced. So, once again, thank you to anyone who takes the time to read my content or watch my videos!
My goal with these blog income reports has always been to remain transparent and to prove that it’s possible to make a full-time living online.
It might take months or, in my case, years to become a reality, but I think there’s more opportunity to make money online than ever before.
So, if you want to start a blog, YouTube channel, or some online business, my advice is to take the plunge!
What starts out as a small side hustle might become a full-time job one day, so you never really know where you’ll end up after trying something new.
Anyways, I also think it’s important to set professional goals when a new year roles around, so here’s what I’m hoping to achieve with This Online World and other properties in 2022:
- Blogging Income: $175,000 (I want to aim for $150,000 in blog revenue and generate the rest from courses and digital products)
- Course Launch: Quarter 1, 2022 is when I plan on launching my blogging course, and I really mean it this year! 😛
- YouTube Subscribers & Revenue: I still want to aim for 50,000 subscribers which I hope will bring in $20,000 in revenue.
- Freelancing: I want to maintain my freelance writing relationships this year and also branch more into freelance video production for clients.
- Travel Plans: Mexico is coming up soon, and I think this year will have more travel than any year before, which is very exciting.
- Personal: I want to spend more time with family and friends and work fewer weekends.
Anyways, that’s all for my 2021 blogging income report!
I hope you’ve found some of the income information or blogging tips helpful if you’re looking to grow your own blog this year.
I really think blogging is a marathon and not a sprint, but hey, the results are worth it if you put in the effort and have some patience.
Thank you again for your readership. I hope everyone has a 2022 that’s full of health, happiness, and wealth.
Tom from This Online World.
Looking for more blogging-related content? Checkout:
- Mediavine Requirements For Bloggers (+ Tips For Getting Accepted).
- Blog vs Podcast – Which Options Is Best?
Tom is a full-time blogger and freelance writer with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and the gig economy. His work has appeared on dozens of personal finance websites like Money Crashers, The College Investor, Investor Junkie, and more. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
If you’re interested in freelance writing services or want to partner with This Online World, please use our contact page to get in touch!