It’s hard to believe it’s nearly the two year anniversary for This Online World.
2019 has been an absolutely incredible year. Between major growth for This Online World, starting to work remotely, and getting plenty of travelling done, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much change in such a short period of time.
I am immensely grateful to every reader and subscriber. Your readership, comments, criticisms, and questions all make blogging that much more rewarding and enjoyable.
I know this blog is just a small and humble piece of the internet, but it’s certainly one of my favorite pieces, and that is all because of you.
Since honesty and transparency has always been one of my main goals, I have decided to write another year-end recap post to break down 2019. I am beyond excited for 2020, and I can only hope that the next chapter for This Online World is as amazing as 2019 has been.
Time to break down my 2019 blogging income report, wins, losses, and plans for what comes next.
Let’s get to it!
Blogging Income Report – Making $7,000 From Blogging In 2019
Since I started blogging, one of my main goals has always been to provide a transparent, honest look at the realities of creating a money making blog. Alongside increasing my own income streams, I’ve tried to share my own blogging experience with others to provide inspiration and advice.
Now, I’m no pro-blogger, and I haven’t always been consistent with my blogging income reports or updates.
However, I think annual blog income reports have value. For new bloggers, I hope these reports can provide some inspiration and tips for how to effectively scale your blog. Similarly, for more experienced bloggers, perhaps there is a tip or trick regarding blog monetization you have not tried yet!
I earned $1,761 from my first year of blogging.
In 2019, I earned approximately $7,000 to $7,500 (there are some 12-month referral programs paying out, hence the range).
It was truly a crazy year of Google updates. Plus, with a site redesign, new ad networks, and a bunch of other changes, it definitely wasn’t a smooth ride.
Now, I already broke down some recent blogging income in my post on if blogging is worth it.
However, I’m going to share some year-end revenue screenshots to show the various ways I monetize This Online World.
Broadly speaking, I monetize This Online World in 4 ways:
- Display advertisements.
- Affiliate sales.
- Sponsorship deals.
- Medium syndication.
Let’s dive into each income stream with a bit more granularity.
Blogging Advertisement Revenue
Ads are by far the easiest and most straightforward way to make money blogging.
If done properly, I believe ads don’t significantly detract from user experience. Plus, advertisement revenue is a great way to build a foundation of income that you can use to reinvest into your website.
In 2019, I used 3 different advertisement networks to make money.
The first was Google Adsense, which earned slightly over $500.
I think Adsense is a great way for beginner bloggers to get their first taste of making money online.
However, premium, managed advertising solutions can generate way more revenue and provide a better user experience than manually placing your ads.
After I switched to Monumetric, my second advertising network, in April, I saw a near 400% increase in blogging revenue just like that.
In total, Monumetric earned approximately $2,627 in 2019 (plus another few hundred dollars that will trickle in over the next 12 months due to referral bonuses).
Monumetric requires 10K monthly pageviews and a decent amount of organic traffic to be accepted. However, I urge anyone who is near that threshold to apply. The boost in revenue absolutely transformed growth for This Online World, which I’ll get into in a bit 😉
Finally, I switched from Monumetric to Mediavine for my third and final advertising platform at the start of December.
Mediavine requires 25K monthly sessions in order to be accepted. I’ve been trying to get into Mediavine for nearly two years, and that goal is finally complete!
It took a very sweaty, cabin-fever inducing month of grinding in October to get the job done, but hey, we made it!
In less than 30 days, Mediavine has already earned more than $900 USD, which is absolutely insane! I know that Q4 RPMs are elevated due to Black Friday and Christmas, but damn, consider me impressed!
The Mediavine team has been absolutely incredible in terms of onboarding and support. I’m really looking forward to a strong 2020 of ad earnings as a Mediavine publisher, and I hope the increased monthly revenue will open up plenty of opportunities for growth.
Extra Reading – My Mediavine Review + Tips For Getting Accepted.
My one tip for other bloggers: use advertisement revenue to reinvest into your website!
Getting into Monumetric transformed This Online World. I was able to pay for a site redesign and a Pinterest virtual assistant. Thanks to Mediavine, I will soon be hiring a writer to help out with additional content.
It might be tempting to use 100% of your earnings to pay the bills or invest.
While I think hobby bloggers should enjoy some of the fruits of their labor, you must always remember to treat your blog like a business if you want to continually grow.
For even more information on the topic of making money with a blog, be sure to checkout my YouTube channel and this video on how I now make over $1,000 per month from blogging.
I’ve always sucked at affiliate marketing. I just find it difficult to recommend various products/services (even when I use them) without ramming them down people’s throats.
However, 2019 has shown a lot of improvement in the affiliate marketing department. I only made around $600 from affiliate sales in 2018, but more than tripled affiliate income for 2019.
In total, affiliate sales for This Online World totaled over $2,200.
Additionally, I’ve increased the diversity of programs and companies I promote, and started to figure out more effective ways to drive conversions. I won’t share absolutely every screenshot or program here since I covered some in that previous post like I mentioned.
However, I will share the main breadwinners.
As with 2018, referring users to Shopify proved to be a fairly consistent earner:
My dropshipping guide doesn’t even get that much traffic anymore. I think this shows that even a low-traffic post can still be valuable if the content is top-notch, honest, and worth people’s time.
FlexOffers showed way more growth this year than 2018, and I’m finally getting a hang at promoting some of their lower-paying but higher converting merchants. Some of the income is still pending, but I’ve found that most conversions pay out so I’m not too worried.
I used a variety of other affiliate networks (Amazon, She Is Media, Aragon) and earned a few additional hundred dollars.
My post on starting an Etsy dropshipping store allowed me to promote Printify, which generated an additional $400+ from a single store that really took off.
Finally, bits of income from referring users to start their own blog with SiteGround, and various other affiliate programs, brought in the rest.
Two main takeaways + tips for other bloggers.
Firstly, I think it’s important to strike a balance between diversity and focus when it comes to promoting affiliate offers.
Personally, I hate reading a blog that promotes Bluehost every other sentence. Similarly, articles that lists 101 offers or use massive affiliate blocks every other paragraph aren’t fun.
Secondly, the main lesson I learned throughout 2019 regarding affiliate marketing is to play around with your landing page styles.
After I made an affiliate pillar post for ways to earn free money and signup bonuses, I saw an immediate bump in revenue. I can funnel Pinterest traffic to it all day long to this listicle and expect around 1-2% of people to convert on something.
Keep testing things. Try new article styles, review posts, email marketing, or something different if you’re stuck. Just be sure to remain honest and show integrity when recommending offers!
There really isn’t much to say here for this section of the blogging income report.
I receive several weekly offers to promote products, sell links, or write review. 99% of them are for terrible companies or don’t fit this niche, Most requests also ignore the rules I have set in place on my ‘Work With Me’ page.
In 2019, I earned roughly $500 from sponsorship posts and deals. The bulk of this income came from my Emperor Investment Review.
I’m looking forward to working with more brands in 2020, but only if they make sense. If I could give one piece of advice to other bloggers, it would be to tread carefully when dealing with sponsorship arrangements.
Sponsorship income is so easy to come by. In contrast, it only takes one incorrect or greedy recommendation to destroy your reputation forever.
Writing On Medium
I’ve always been a proponent of syndicating blog content on Medium.
Republishing content on Medium is free. Plus, making money on Medium is pretty easy nowadays, especially since they changed their payment algorithm to be based on read-time rather than claps.
In 2019, my Medium writing earned $520, mostly from posts I had already written on This Online World.
December was a particularly strong month ($200+) due to the algorithm change and my article on how to build wealth in your 20’s being featured on The Startup, Medium’s largest publications.
My only advice for making Medium work for you is to just start.
I don’t put much time into Medium. However, it’s an incredibly strong platform, and a single viral story there can result in months of steady passive income and exposure for your own blog.
It wouldn’t be a true blogging income report or worthwhile recap if I didn’t mention the costs associated with running This Online World.
Here are my blogging costs for 2019:
- SiteGround hosting – $255.
- Pinterest virtual assistant – $829.
- Tailwind for Pinterest – ~$200 (this will be reduced in 2020 since I am dropping one of my Tribe PowerUps).
- Website redesign – $1,200.
- Random Fiverr + freelancer work (new logo, SEO help, Pinterest templates, a guest post) – $300.
Total blogging expenses = $2,784.
Learning how to reinvest into This Online World has been a challenge. However, I am increasingly learning the importance of delegating tasks and outsourcing work that is too time consuming or, in all honesty, trivial for you to handle as an owner.
I used to do all Pinterest work and graphic tweaks for the website. I sucked at both, and the results showed.
Pick your battles. Generate revenue from ads or affiliate offers, and don’t be afraid to funnel some back in for growth. The results are often worth it.
I mean, just take a look at how This Online World’s Pinterest presence continues to develop. I would never have the time or knowledge to do this on my own, so I decided to outsource it all.
Blogging Growth & Traffic
As any blogger will know, 2019 has been a roller coaster when it comes to organic traffic.
A slew of Google algorithm updates hammered and pumped up This Online World throughout the year. I was basically dead in the water in terms of organic traffic around June/July, but have since rebounded and continued to grow:
For anyone struggling with SEO or gaining organic traffic, here are my suggestions:
Stick with what you know – my blog posts on phone farming, Medium, and passive income apps are still my top performing posts because I lived and breathed this stuff for all of college. Write about what you know to have a competitive advantage.
Learn basic SEO – Read voraciously, subscribe to SEO news, and pay attention to the general chatter surrounding algorithm updates.
Write regularly, but focus on value – Google is becoming more competitive, and the only advantage small publishers have is in their quality. Go to a level of depth a salaried staff writer for a major publication cannot afford to go, and you’ll win.
Backlinks are king – Write guest posts as often as you can, and focus on link building to your top articles to help move them higher on Google and protect their ranking.
Additionally, if you do get hammered by an update, take a step back and focus on the basics.
I was hit with two updates this year, and both times, I suspected it had to do with user experience and a lack of trustworthiness/backlinks.
I redesigned my website, added more comprehensive privacy/disclosure/about me pages, and focused on link building. 6 months later, it all turned out alright!
Favorite Reads & Watches
I included some of my favorite personal finance bloggers and reads in my 2018 blog report, and I want to keep the tradition going!
I was fortunate to meet an incredible number of people this year, both online and offline, and that’s honestly one of the coolest things about blogging. I’ve also stumbled across some truly incredible personal finance websites this year, and have continued to read old favorites.
Wallet Wise Guy
The world really works in mysterious ways sometimes.
I decided to spend part of 2019 down in Florida. As it turns out, my decision to head down there would have me cross paths with Clint Proctor, one of the coolest and nicest guys I have ever met in my life.
Clint runs the blog Wallet Wise Guy. If you’re looking for genuine, solid personal finance advice geared for younger adults, you need to check out this website and subscribe. Wallet Wise guy covers everything from side hustling to managing debt, and the quality/honesty of the content is what impresses me the most.
Outside of being on Clint’s podcast, I was also lucky enough to learn an incredible amount about how to develop a freelance writing career and the mindset you need to take your writing to the next level. To say I am grateful for heading down to Florida would be an understatement.
I actually met Ben when I was back in college, and he’s one of the hardest working and genuine people I know.
I have also been lucky to feature Ben’s story about starting a successful Podcast here on This Online World. Ben isn’t a blogger, but he definitely has a killer YouTube channel and podcast.
Ben’s videos cover social media marketing, entrepreneurship, and podcasting, so I highly recommend subscribing to his channel and podcast if you want to take your side hustle to the next level in 2020.
I mentioned Dollar Sanity in my 2018 blogging recap post, but I couldn’t omit it from this list either.
When I first connected with Peter in 2018, it was to write a guest post on his website about phone farming. I didn’t know it at the time, but Peter would go on to teach me 90% of what I now know about growing a blog, networking, and monetization.
Dollar Sanity is simply a great blog with some very talented writers. Forget the bullshit or fluff – the content here is honest and a fun read. I highly recommend checking out some of Peter’s more personal stories as well or any content covering business and making money online.
I was also fortunate to get to know Ling, the blogger behind Finsavvy Panda, this year.
Talking with Ling online about blogging was actually incredibly refreshing. We have similar blogs, and we even compete on some keywords for several of our articles.
Despite this competition, however, Ling has never hesitated to share advice or to talk shop when it comes to blogging. Plus, her blogging income reports and informative articles on ways to make money online are pretty killer, so I highly recommend giving her website a read!
I’ve been lucky to connect with Marc, the owner of the blog Vital Dollar, in 2019, and his website is definitely one of my new favorites.
Outside of teaching me some valuable lessons regarding SEO and managing a blog, Marc just writes awesome content. If you want to find practical ways to make or save more money, I strongly recommend adding Vital Dollar to your reading list for 2020!
Bible Money Matters
Peter, the owner of Bible Money Matters, has been blogging for a very long time.
However, unlike many older blogs that fall by the wayside, sell out, or lose quality as the grow, Bible Money Matters is a refreshing and impressive oasis of valuable personal finance information.
You don’t need to be religious to gain value from this blog. Bible Money Matters encompasses the slogan ‘Give More, Save More, Live More,’ and that’s a worthwhile slogan to live by if you ask me.
If you’re on the lookout for comprehensive reviews and honest personal finance advice, I’d add this blog to your list.
Eat Sleep Breathe FI
When it comes to Financial Independence, I think there are plenty of blogs and reading options out there.
However, Eat Sleep Breathe FI, run by a fellow Canadian blogger Chrissy, is one of my favorites. On her blog, Chrissy publishes plenty of honest and practical content relating to financial independence.
Plus, Chrissy is a co-host for the podcast Explore FI Canada (which is pretty awesome). If you’re a Canadian, I definitely recommend checking this podcast out, as well as Chrissy’s blog!
The Future Of This Online World & 2020 Goals
2019 was undoubtedly the craziest year of my life.
The start of the year was not a high-point. Between sleeping on a soggy mattress in my friend’s basement after ending a relationship (classic lol) and having no idea what I really wanted to do in the future, I’m truly grateful for how everything turned out.
2019 was also a year with a lot of ‘firsts.’
I started working remotely for the first time. I got accepted into Mediavine, connected with dozens of other awesome bloggers, and also landed my first ever freelance writing clients.
Somehow, I was even able to attend QuickBooks Connect Toronto to help cover the event as a blogger! The experience of getting to meet business owners, accountants, and some very cool companies in the online payment processing space was awesome. Plus, I got to walk around with a camera as if I knew what I was doing! Pretty sweet!
Anyway, if there’s one thing 2019 has taught me, it’s this: we are in control of the life that we build.
I don’t write blogging income reports to brag. I’m so immensely grateful for everyone who reads this blog, and making a few thousand dollars from a blog isn’t anything groundbreaking when you consider how many massive websites there are.
However, if you’re still reading, I hope these sorts of annual blog updates at least provide a bit of inspiration or useful advice on how to improve your own side hustle or career.
It has never been more feasible to change careers, start a side hustle/business, or to improve your finances and overall quality of life.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the gig economy, blogging, or nothing at all (not everyone has to have a side hustle). As long as you actively look for ways to improve as an individual and work hard/honestly, things always work out.
So, what’s next for This Online World and 2020 in general?
Here are some exciting plans and goals!
- Blogging income – Scale to $20,000 (I figure Mediavine can do about 12K-15K and the rest will hopefully come from affiliate and sponsorship deals).
- Launch a course – I have a few ideas for what I want to create/how I want to position a course, so stay tuned!
- Start YouTube – I want to diversify traffic and YouTube also looks super fun. Goal: 10K subscribers by year end.
- Freelance income – Full-time income from writing. Stay tuned for some exciting updates/a new series on this front 😉
- Travel – There’s at least 5 countries on the list for 2020, but this is more up in the air. Plus, I’ll be attending FinCon 2020, so see you there!
Anyway, that’s my 2019 in a nutshell and some goals for the future.
If you’re still here, leave a comment for what you’re chasing in 2020.
Thank you to everyone who continues to support This Online World. I wish you nothing but happiness, health, and success for the decade ahead.
Catch you guys in the next one (see you next decade hahaha!).
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!
Maria @ Handful of Thoughts says
Thanks for the honest look at your year of blogging. As a newer blogger your realistic numbers are inspiring and seem achievable. I have yet to look into Medium but after reading your blog it’s now on my list of things to do.
Tom Blake says
Hi Maria,thanks so much for reading! 🙂 I’m really glad you found the Medium point to be of interest. I think blogging is a slow and steady game, and Medium definitely helped with expanding my reaching and earning a bit more income. Let’s connect on Medium as well when you make your profile! I hope you have a fantastic new year and 2020 that is full of success!
i have been a regular visitor to your blog since its inception. your blog has inspired me to start my own blog.
thanks tom. i am one of your first subscribers
Tom Blake says
Hi Sam, thank you so much for your wonderful comment and for reading all this time! That truly means a lot to me. I wish you the best of luck with starting your own blog and that your new year is a great one!
Garry Z. says
Congrats on the success! This is easily one of the best blogs on blogging and making money. Question on your pinterest campaigns – how much in website traffic do you think that $800 brought you? I shared this post on my social media accounts!
Tom Blake says
Hi Garry, thank you so much for the kind words and for reading again 🙂 I’m truly humbled and grateful that you view This Online World so highly and that we’ve been able to connect for so long!
As for Pinterest, it’s super irritating and weird to track. Google Analytics shows about 8,500 pageviews for the few months I’ve been outsourcing. However, ‘Direct’ traffic shows another 25,000. From what I know, a lot of Reddit, Quora, and Pinterest traffic gets filtered into this category making it hard to track. I believe it has something to do with IOS tracking/in-app tracking.
I can see that some pages with absolutely no organic traffic (or reddit/quora promotion) have spiked, and I’ve had some viral pins as well that have definitely resulted in Shopify signups. My conservative estimate would be Pinterest resulted in 12K, my optimistic one is more like 15K.
To be fair, I started outsourcing when my profile had 600 followers, a healthy number of boards, and a small trickle of daily traffic. Starting from 0 would be more challenging and would probably take more manual pinning and outreach at start to get off the ground.
Really appreciate you sharing my article on social media! 🙂 I hope you have an incredible 2020, let’s stay in touch and try to collaborate soon!
Chrissy @ Eat Sleep Breathe FI says
Sorry for my late comment! I read your post the day it came out, but the holidays hit and I got backlogged with my commenting!
First of all CONGRATS on an amazing year! Wow, you really hit it out of the park. Getting into Mediavine is an enormous accomplishment. I think it’ll take me 3x as long as you to get there, but I’ll keep working at it. Hooray to you.
And $7,000 in revenue for 2019? That’s huge! Clearly, your hard work is paying off. The success is well-deserved.
As always, thanks for the honesty and for making your posts so educational and actionable. You’re an inspiration to other bloggers, especially newer ones like me. (And thanks too for the shout-out. I’m so honored to be mentioned!)
Happy New Year! I wish you continued success and growth in 2020.
Tom Blake says
Happy new year Chrissy! Thanks so much for reading as always and for your wonderful comment 🙂
Your comment actually made my day. I am so, so happy that you find these reports to be transparent and useful. Thank you very much for the kind words. I think we both have big things in store for 2020, and I’m excited to see what happens with ESB FI and your podcast! That’s great you’re motivated to keep on working; I know bloggers who got into Mediavine within 6-8 months while it took me 2 years but hey, we can all grow at our own pace and still find success!
And of course I am happy to shout out your awesome blog! It has been one of my favorite finds in 2019 and I’m always excited when I see a new post update!
BC | FrugalWheels says
Checked this out from Reddit, there are definitely some things to dig into here! I started my FI blog in April and I’ve been surprised how quickly it became profitable. Nowhere near lucrative, but in less than six months it was paying for itself and then some. There are definitely some things I can put into play here to grow more traffic/income, and I plan to dig in farther. But I really enjoy writing it, found my own voice in this sphere, so it’s something I would probably stick too even if it was losing money.
Good point on Medium. I had done some writing on Medium but hadn’t thought about just copying and pasting my content from my blog to Medium. Do you transfer all your posts, or kind of just consider it a greatest hits? Nice way to bring in a little bonus money.
Anyway, nice post and I definitely will check out more!
Tom Blake says
It’s awesome you’ve found success so early and are already generating a profit from your blog! It really is crazy how things can snowball if effort is consistent. Congrats on your feature on Campfire Finance as well!
Glad you found the Medium tip to be useful. Just make sure you use the ‘import a story’ function and don’t simply copy-paste. The import function adds a ‘rel=canonical’ tag which lets Google know what source of content is the original.
As for the types of stories I import, I’ve changed my strategy a bit. I used to import everything. Now, I don’t import stories that are already ranking for me highly on Google since I want my blog to be the only source of content for it. Plus, I’m making Medium more of my ‘writing and entrepreneurship’ corner and not mentioning all the other sorts of hustles I cover on This Online World. Personally, I like to use Medium as a more niched-down version, but that’s just me!
Ryan @ Free Before Friday says
Thanks for the tips my guy! Such great content on here!
Tom Blake says
Thanks so much for the kind words, Ryan! Big fan of Free Before Friday 🙂
This is amazing progress and it makes me excited for you to see how much you’ve achieved! Again, congrats on the switch to Mediavine – I’m sure you love it just as much as many people do!
I know you’re going to do extremely well in 2020 and moving forward! Based on what I see in you, I have a VERY good feeling that you’ll see major growth this year and beyond! My gut is usually right. 😉 Congratulations!!!
As always, thank you for the shout. I always feel honored to be mentioned and I am very lucky to have met you in 2019! 🙂
Tom Blake says
Hi Ling, thanks so much again for the amazingly kind comments 🙂 I really appreciate you taking the time to read and for all of the awesome support! You rock!
Always happy to shout out your blog as well; it’s one of my favorite personal finance blogs around! Definitely happy and lucky to have met you in 2019 as well 🙂 here’s to a successful 2020 and beyond!
Congrats on the success man! It shows that stinking to a plan pays off over time! Look forward to seeing how much you grow in 2020