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How I Made Over $1,500,000 In 2018 – Is This The End Of Income Reports?

Welcome to December 2018’s business report where I show you how I made money online last month. It’s time to look at this month’s update and see how I did.

If you’re new to Making Sense of Cents, you may be wondering why I would want to publish my business report each month.

This all started out as my extra income report because, in the beginning, it was all about the money I was earning from my side jobs. In my side income reports from the beginning, I included all of the income I made except for what I made at my day job.

However, I left my day job as a financial analyst in October of 2013 and now my monthly business reports consist of the many ways I earn a living with my business.

Many have asked why I would ever want to publicly talk about what I’m working on each month. Some think I’m crazy, whereas some are glad I’m open about what I’m doing. Whatever you think, I enjoy publishing my monthly business reports and I share them publicly for three main reasons:

  1. Before I started blogging, I knew nothing about side hustling and making money online. I didn’t think side jobs were worth the effort and I thought the only way to significantly increase your income was through raises at your full-time job. If it weren’t for others publishing their monthly income reports, I don’t know if I would have ever tried side hustling. I want to help show others the positives in side hustling and how it can change a person’s life. There are many different ways to make money online, and I like to share my story each month to help motivate others to improve their financial situation by making more money.
  2. Secondly, I like to publish my business blogging reports because it’s a way for me to look back, learn from my mistakes and actually see what areas need improvement. I use my monthly blogging reports as a way to track how I’ve done and it helps to keep me accountable.
  3. Lastly, I like to show others that making side money is possible and that there are many legitimate ways to make money from your home.

I know I say this every month, but it’s the truth. Life is great now that I’m my own boss and a full-time blogger. I look forward to each and every day and it’s a wonderful feeling. I truly love waking up every single morning.

Above are just a few of the reasons for why I enjoy publishing my monthly income reports. I like to show others that you don’t have to hate your job and hate your life. You can make changes to your life and make money in a way that allows you to truly enjoy the life you are living. I’m not saying that you have to LOVE your job, I’m just saying that your job should, at least, allow you to do what you like to do outside of work (whether that be spending time with loved ones, painting, hiking, etc.).


Is this the end of income reports?

I have an announcement to make in today’s report.

Back in 2012, I started publishing income reports. You can read one of the first income reports here. Back then, these were all about the extra income I was making, such as from selling textbooks, taking surveys, mystery shopping, and selling items on eBay. This was back from when I was a new blogger, and still working full-time at my day job,

It’s crazy to think that I’ve been publishing income reports for so many years, for the whole world to see.

Back then, I didn’t have any idea that I would become a full-time blogger. Making money from my blog was something I was barely even thinking about at that time.

I was working as an analyst, and I think Wes was still working as a package handler at UPS.

We were super young and just trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck.

I was still anonymous on my blog at that time, and I don’t think anyone knew about it except for Wes (he was called “W” back then, haha!) and my sister.

My income reports back then were very basic. They were mainly just for me to keep track of what I was doing. They were more of a life update on my goals and what was going on financially in my life.

Over the years, my blog has grown and my income reports have evolved over the years.

As you all know, for quite some time I have been thinking about getting rid of my monthly income reports. However, whenever I would mention this in an income report, 99.9999999% of you asked me to continue on. Due to that, I want to find a happier way to continue with them.

Now, these will be “Business Reports” where I talk about how the business is doing, my goals, etc. Basically, everything will be the same, except there will be no more numbers.

So, why am I getting rid of numbers?

There are several reasons for why I am no longer going to publish my “traditional” income reports:

  1. I want to be helpful – I understand that my income reports seem unattainable now that the income level is so high. So, I want to take the numbers out of the equation so that you can see exactly what I’m working on and how I’m improving my blog.
  2. Feel less pressure – I feel pressure to keep my income up every month and that’s just not the way I want to run my business. I want my reports to focus more on what I’m doing and the actions I’m taking, instead of people just looking at the numbers. Yes, I realize that this is a personal finance blog. But, instead of just looking at the numbers every month, I want the focus to be on what is actually being accomplished and what is being worked on.
  3. Safety – While I have never worried too much about my safety with publishing my monthly income reports, now that we are on a boat and it’s extremely easy to find us due to today’s location technology, I have decided that it’s probably not best for me to be broadcasting my earnings.
  4. Privacy – A big reason for why I want to stop publishing my income reports is because I simply just want more privacy.

Now if you’re looking for actual numbers, I did publish income reports for several years that talked about how much I earned from specific sources. You can find every single income report here.

I really don’t think too much will change. Instead, I want these monthly reports to be more helpful, instead of focused on just the numbers. I will still be answering reader questions, talking about what I’m working on, and so on, so I still think these will be extremely beneficial.

If there’s anything new that you would like me to add to these monthly reports, please let me know in the comments below!


2018 Business Year In Review

Before we begin with my monthly business update, I want to start off with my 2018 wrap up. 2018 was a great year for many reasons and you will read why below.

Two posts that I definitely recommend reading before we begin are:

2018 was a huge year for me and my business. Business income grew:

  • In 2013, my business income totaled $116,519. This was the year that I quit my job to blog full-time.
  • In 2014, it totaled $163,929. This was my first full year of being self-employed with no day job.
  • In 2015, I made $320,888. I think this was the year where I fired all of my freelance clients and started just working on my blog. This helped me to grow my income significantly because I was FOCUSED!
  • In 2016, I made $979,321. This is the year where I created my first product (Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing).
  • In 2017, I earned $1,536,732.
  • In 2018, I earned over $1,500,000 (as of November 2018, I had earned $1,510,040).

In 2018, my income grew about 10% over 2017. And, I worked significantly less – probably around 50% less than usual.

I focused most of my time in 2018 on enjoying running Making Sense of Cents, and doing what I love the most – writing articles and talking about personal finance, travel, side hustling, and so on.

And, I plan on doing something very similar in 2019. In fact, I don’t plan on creating any new courses or products in 2019, except for some smaller things, like printables and maybe something related to creating a budget.

2018 was a great year, and I’m so happy that the business did so well, and especially with so much less pressure than the previous years.

I attribute a lot of my business success in 2018 to several specific actions I took, which were similar to what I focused on the previous year as well:

  1. I made sure to improve and grow my email newsletter. Social media is a great way to grow a website, but an email list is even better because it is yours and you own it! I highly recommend spending time on your email list as that is YOUR list and it’s not impacted by any algorithms or anything like that. And, growing an email list does not have to be hard. I’m sure it seems like it is, especially to a new blogger, and that is exactly why I put it off for so many years. I didn’t start taking my email list seriously until around April of 2016 when I switched to Convertkit. Convertkit makes sending an effective and efficient newsletter so much easier and better. I never really understood email marketing before, but ConvertKit makes it so easy and now I feel like I’m an expert! I now have over 100,000 email subscribers. One of my biggest blogging mistakes was waiting years to start my email list. If you don’t have one yet, you should start ASAP! I spent time in 2018 creating new freebie optins, analyzing/testing the wording on my email signup forms, and more, which all helped me to grow my email list.
  2. I continued to diversify my income. In 2016, I finally created my first for-sale product, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. This helped me to diversify my business and try a new form of income. In 2018, I finally created my second course, Making Sense of Sponsored Posts. Now, my business income primarily consists of affiliate marketing, two products, sponsorships, and advertising, which is a mix that I’m very happy with. If you’re looking for some easy ways to boost your blogging income, I recommend reading this free ebook – 7 Surefire Ways To Boost Your Blog Income Overnight.
  3. I emailed my list about affiliate products more. So, I have always emailed my list, however, it wasn’t until 2017 when I did my first major launch for an affiliate product. Instead, I’ve always just passively emailed my list and occasionally mentioned products. That first major launch was like a lightbulb going off for me, though. I earned five figures from one affiliate launch to my email list and it was just by easily promoting a product that I used and thought was great! While I didn’t take part in a lot of affiliate product launches in 2018, I do plan on doing this around once a quarter in 2019.
  4. I increased my sponsored post rate. In order to work less and manage a better work-life balance, I increased my sponsored post rate. I did this so that I could focus on higher quality/more meaningful sponsorships, and to also have less of them. I earned a great amount from sponsored partnerships still (I haven’t tallied it, but I think it was more than the previous year), and that was with doing significantly fewer partnerships. So, if you are afraid of raising your rates, I highly recommend that you do it! I found that almost everyone still said yes, even though my rates increased.

I’m hoping to continue all of the above in 2019, and I have a feeling that it will be an amazing year!

Thank you to all of my readers for being here with me on this journey! I’m so glad that I can share everything with you.


Here are my 2019 goals:

  • Get at least three months ahead on Making Sense of Cents posts. Being ahead in blog posts makes life much more enjoyable because I can focus on other things knowing that the majority of my writing work is already done. This is one of my major 2019 goals!
  • Work less than 40 hours per week. For the most part, I am working less than 40 hours per week. However, there are some weeks when I spend all day and night on my laptop, not even sure where the day went. Due to that, I would like to continue to work on a better work/life balance.
  • Be more present. My main goal in 2019 is to be more present, and I have a looooong blog post being published on this goal in about 2 weeks. I’m excited for the year of travel and sailing we have ahead of us, and I want to enjoy it as much as we can. I’ve been so focused on the business the last several years, that I want this year to be focused on life outside of business. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE running Making Sense of Cents, and that’s what makes it so hard to break away and be more present outside of work.
  • Read 6 books. I have only read one book in the last several years that wasn’t work or sailing related. I would like to get back to reading books that have nothing to do with trying to learn something, haha.
  • Have fun. Okay, so this isn’t really a goal that is quantifiable or something that I’ll track, haha, but I am really looking forward to 2019!

Now, here’s my December income report!



My new course – Making Sense of Sponsored Posts

In case you haven’t heard yet, my new course is here!

Learn how I made my first blogging income, and how I’m now making $10,000-$20,000 a month with sponsored partnerships!

Are you a blogger but unsure of how to make money online? Or, maybe you’ve been blogging for awhile but haven’t had much luck with sponsored partnerships.

For some reason, sponsored blog posts and sponsored social media ads seem to scare bloggers, whether they are brand new or have been blogging for years.

What do I charge? How do I find companies who will want to work with me? What are the rules?

There are SO MANY QUESTIONS when it comes to sponsored posts.

It makes sense – sponsored partnerships are something that probably 99.9% of bloggers want to pursue, but the problem is that they have no idea where to start.

Making Sense of Sponsored Posts is a step-by-step guide to creating and making money from your own successful sponsored partnership strategy. This course explains all the ins and outs of sponsored posts and working with brands.

I started Making Sense of Cents in August of 2011, at the age of 22, without any hopes of ever earning an income from it. It started as a hobby – just a way to journal my life and talk about my personal finance situation.

Then, around six months after I started my blog, a blogger friend of mine connected me with an advertiser and I earned $100 from that advertisement.

It wasn’t a lot of money, especially considering the amount of time and work I had already put towards my blog. However, it was very motivating to see that something I absolutely loved to do could actually make money. I honestly had no idea that blogs could even make money when I started mine!

After that first $100, my blogging income quickly grew.

I now charge, on average, around $5,000 per sponsored post.

I’ve worked with tons of high-quality brands that I love, have received all-inclusive vacations for free, and have brands lined up out the door wanting to work with me.

Whether you are a brand new blogger or if you’ve been blogging for years, this course will help you with your sponsored partnership strategy.

I’ve talked to many bloggers about sponsored posts and the majority said they earn little to nothing from sponsored posts. I have also found that many bloggers were earning way too little for the value they provide to brands.

Throughout the modules in this course, we will go through everything you need to know about sponsored posts, from developing relationships with brands, legalities of sponsored posts, different strategies, and more. This is a course that will teach you anything and everything there is to know about sponsored posts.

You can check out everything about the course here.


Blog/life news

December was a great month for the whole blogging business. There weren’t any big changes in December – instead, I mainly used the month to try to get ahead in work. We’re hoping to spend several months in the Bahamas on our boat, and in order to spend the most time enjoying that, I want to be as ahead as possible!

December was also a big month for us. We left the St. Pete area right after hurricane season was over (and our boat insurance would let us leave!) and we did a solo sail down to Key West – just me and Wes. It took around 33 hours and we sailed through the night. It was a beautiful sail and I’m so glad that I have a business that allows me to move my home to wherever I want, haha.

It was a great month, and I got a lot of work done!

I’m currently around two months ahead in blog posts, and I’m hoping to finish a few more to be done with the first quarter of 2019.

Overall, traffic for the month was around 400,000 page views.

Below are several other business and blog-related updates:

  • I am working on a series where I will help readers with specific financial questions, and tutorials to go along with them. Topics such as: How to open a bank account, How to write a check, Finding an online bank, Building and creating an investment account, etc. What other topics would you like to see me cover?
  • My community group for Making Sense of Cents is continuing to grow. This is a Facebook group in which you can seek advice from other readers on all sorts of topics such as finance, blogging, travel, running a business, and so on. There are already over 13,000 members!
  • I released my How To Start A Blog FREE Course. If you’ve been wanting to start a blog, then check this out. I created this email course for those who are interested in starting a blog, but haven’t done so yet. The course is free, and over 50,000 people have already signed up. Thank you, everyone, for the kind emails about how great the course is. Glad everyone is enjoying it!
  • Due to how well my first free course went, I also created the free Master Your Money email course. It’s full of great money management lessons and financial worksheets (such as a free budget template), and I’m loving the positive response from this email course as well.
  • Other freebies I have include 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income and 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog.

If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial that will help you start a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $2.75 per month (this low price is only through my link) for blog hosting. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free website domain (a $15 value) through my Bluehost link if you purchase, at least, 12 months of blog hosting. FYI, if you are asking yourself “can you make money blogging?” – my top tip is to be self-hosted. This is essential if you want to monetize your blog as you will appear more professional and this will help you monetize your blog tremendously. My blogging income did not take off until after I switched to self-hosted WordPress.


Check out How I Successfully Built A $1,000,000+ Blog for all of the different ways you can make money through a blog.

Below are some of my monthly online income reports. I publish an online income update every month but only included some of them below as it would be a very long list. If you head on over to my income page you can find all of my monthly income reports from the past few years.


Popular new posts on Making Sense of Cents last month:


Featured Question: Is it too late to start a blog in 2019?

I feature one question from a reader in each monthly income report. Please leave a comment below if you have a question that you would like me to answer. 

I answer this question all the time, but I want to bring it up again because lately I have been getting it A LOT.

No, it’s not too late. And, you haven’t missed out.

2019 is a great time to start a blog.

Trust me, people were saying the same thing when I first started Making Sense of Cents – that people who started in 2011 were starting too late and that no one would ever be successful with it.

However, that’s definitely not the case.

The online world is still so new, and there are new ways to monetize and to grow that come up all the time.

There is a lot of room for new bloggers, and there is plenty of room for growth well into the future. I believe that companies and advertisers are only recently starting to realize the value of online influencers, such as bloggers, which means that the blogging world will continue to grow well into the future and that opportunities for making money from a blog will continue to increase.

More and more companies are starting to advertise with online influencers on their blogs, social media accounts, and more, and I expect this to just continue to grow well into the future. Whereas in the past, it was mainly celebrities that companies advertised with, but now, it is actually shifting to bloggers and other online influencers (such as Youtubers and Instagrammers!).

The world is a huge place and the online world is just going to keep growing. Every blogger earns a living online in a slightly different way, and everyone has a different message and story. Plus, there are so many different ways to make money through a blog, and I expect this to keep growing.

Of course, blogging is constantly evolving, and there are always new things to learn, which will probably always be the case for managing any business.

So, if you are thinking about starting a blog, today is the day. Don’t let your fears hold you back any further! You can find my free How To Start a Blog Course here.

Past featured questions:


My plans for my blog and my business.

Plans and goals can help you run a successful business. I believe that working towards a goal can help keep a person motivated too.

Below are some of the areas I am currently working on:

  • Get at least three months ahead on Making Sense of Cents posts. Being ahead in blog posts makes life much more enjoyable because I can focus on other things knowing that the majority of my writing work is already done. This is one of my major 2019 goals!
  • Work less than 40 hours per week. For the most part, I am working less than 40 hours per week. However, there are some weeks when I spend all day and night on my laptop, not even sure where the day went. Due to that, I would like to continue to work on a better work/life balance.
  • Be more present. My main goal in 2019 is to be more present, and I have a looooong blog post being published on this goal in about 2 weeks. I’m excited for the year of travel and sailing we have ahead of us, and I want to enjoy it as much as we can. I’ve been so focused on the business the last several years, that I want this year to be focused on life outside of business. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE running Making Sense of Cents, and that’s what makes it so hard to break away and be more present outside of work.
  • Have fun. Okay, so this isn’t really a goal that is quantifiable or something that I’ll track, haha, but I am really looking forward to 2019!


Affiliate marketing results.

Affiliate income was at a similar level as the previous month. But, that will all change soon!

It will increase significantly from January to May, like it usually does. Those are the popular months for my blog, as people seem to be more focused and refreshed on reaching their financial goals.

Some of the things I am working on include:

  • Working on creating a high-quality funnel. Funnels are something that I have never really spent any time on, but I would like to change that. I want to create a high-quality funnel where I continue to give valuable information to my readers, and keep them happy for the times when I may not have the greatest wifi.
  • Planning out 2019 for affiliate offers. I’m not really much of a huge planner, but I am changing that in 2019. I already have affiliate promotions planned out for the first 6 months of 2019. This will help to keep me organized and better prepared.
  • Continuing to grow the reach of Making Sense of Cents. Traffic has been a little stuck lately, and I want to change that! I want to see what I can do to grow the traffic, as that will help me to reach new readers.
  • Analyzing popular affiliate blog posts to see how they can be improved for the future.
  • Seeking out new affiliate products to promote, and seeing what my audience is interested in.

And more!

Earning affiliate income is something that I’m extremely grateful for, especially lately. We have been so busy the last several months and I haven’t spent as much time towards the business as I would normally like.

Even though I am spending less time on the business, I am still earning a great income each month and this allows me to focus on a better work-life balance.

I’m a very big fan of affiliate income, of course. It’s something that I enjoy due to how passive it can be. It makes full-time traveling much more enjoyable when I know I can bring in an income while having fun seeing new areas.

As I always say, blogging income is not dependent on page views. Even brand new bloggers can make money through affiliate marketing. If you know the correct way to promote a product, you can succeed at affiliate marketing. This is one of the main things I teach in my Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course.

My affiliate marketing course went live in July of 2016. I’ve already had over 5,000 people enroll in the course, and I’d love to have you as a student as well!

In the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, there are 6 modules, over 30 lessons, several worksheets, bonuses, an extremely helpful and exclusive Facebook group, and more. I go through everything that you need to know about affiliate marketing, such as:

  • A quick introduction to affiliate marketing and how it works
  • The exact steps I’ve taken to earn over $500,000 from a single blog post
  • How to correctly pick affiliate products to promote
  • The steps to increase your conversion rate
  • 80+ affiliate program ideas for different niches
  • How to build trust with your readers (this is a MUST!)
  • The required disclosures you need to know about
  • The many different strategies to promote your affiliate links

My course is anything and everything about affiliate marketing. This course is perfect for you whether you are a new blogger or if you’ve been blogging for years, no matter what topic your blog is about, what country you live in, and so on.

I wrote this course so that it would benefit everyone, and there is so much to learn from it.

How was 2018 for you? Are you interested in earning blogging income?

The post How I Made Over $1,500,000 In 2018 – Is This The End Of Income Reports? appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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