I started blogging consistently during the 2020 COVID lockdown. My Airbnb business collapsed and had nothing to do. With nothing to lose but my time, I decided to make money from my blog & document my journey.
Blogging as a business is not as easy as I thought and requires a proven plan and rock-solid discipline.
After 1 year of blogging, in July 2021, I am happy to announce that this blog is earning $120 a month on average in 2021.
I’ve picked up so many new skills from blogging: SEO writing, editing images, and shooting & editing videos. Heck, I’ve even landed a Digital Marketing job thanks to this blog.
Despite all the hardship (it’s a ton of work), I thoroughly enjoy being a content creator & can’t wait until I’m doing this full-time.
In this article, I will share with you all that I’ve learned to get this blog to where it is today:
Overall Blog Stats
|Stats as of 31 July 2021
|Total Posts Published
|Total Blog Comments
Below is my blog’s pageview. There’s a sharp increase during the beginning of 2020 as other influential bloggers discovered & shared my content (referral traffic):
After the hype died very soon after, my traffic tanked. I wasn’t too happy with my blog’s traffic progress, but it’s’ at least going in the right direction.
Currently, with around 14,000 monthly pageviews with mostly Malaysian traffic, let’s see how much this blog is earning:
My 1-Year Blogging Income – Trend & Sources
|Total Income to Date
|Average 2021 Monthly Income
I started monetizing this blog in June 2020. I remembered it like it was yesterday. Over the next months, my income fluctuates, but the general trend is increasing:
In March 2021, there was a spike in income, mostly from affiliate sales. One of my articles & videos gained organic traffic, and I got a lot of sales through my affiliate links.
Unfortunately, that was a one-off event, and I have to find a way to repeat this success in the future. But even after the hype has passed, my blogging income is generally on an upward trend, which is what I want to see.
Currently, I have 3 ways of making money from this blog:
- Placing ads
- Affiliate sales
- Freelance writing services
Here’s the breakdown:
I placed ads on my blog & YouTube channel, and it only contributes 25% to my total income.
I didn’t make much money from freelance writing as I want to focus on creating content for this blog.
In the next graph, you can see the progression for each income source:
- I started making money on this blog on June 2020 (orange line)
- I started making money on YouTube ads on Mar 2021 (yellow line)
Starting to Monetize Your Blog: It’s quite tough to sell anything on your blog if it’s new as people don’t know and trust you yet.
So the easiest way for a beginner blogger to start earning money is to place ads on your blog through an ad network:
Income From Placing Ads (Through an Ad Network)
An Ad Network is a company that will automatically place relevant ads throughout your blog posts & pages.
When a reader on your blog sees the ad (impression) or clicks on it, you’ll get a cut of the ad revenue. Here’s what the ads look like on my blog:
How it works with display ads is, the more traffic you have to your blog, the more you can earn from ads. From my experience, it’s a pretty linear relationship:
For display ads, I started with Google Adsense. But I had technical issues; the ads didn’t show correctly and at the time, and I was too busy creating content to troubleshoot the issue. Because of this, I didn’t earn much from Google Adsense.
I continued to publish more quality content, and when my blog traffic has more than 5,000 pageviews a month (this was my requirement at the time), I switched to Ezoic and started to make my first $0.54 on the 30th of June 2020.
The internet gave me money!
With more traffic to the blog, I can see my daily earnings on Ezoic’s dashboard:
Beginner Tip: Place ads on your blog as soon as you can. Your ad earnings will be tiny (cents), but seeing that you’re earning something from your hard work will encourage you to create more content.
You can start with Google Adsense. When you have more blog traffic (e.g., more than 5,000 visitors each month), you can apply to premium ad networks that could pay you more such as:
Pretty neat! To get more ad revenue, all you have to do next is to get more traffic to your blog.
With more traffic, not only will you earn more money from ads, but it’ll open new opportunities such as affiliate marketing:
Income From Affiliate Marketing
Once I did proper accounting for this article, I was honestly surprised that most of this blog’s income comes from affiliate sales.
Affiliate marketing is the process where you promote someone else’s products online. If your promotion leads to a sale, you’ll earn an affiliate commission.
The commission can be a percentage of the sale amount (e.g., 2%) or a fixed amount (e.g., USD 10). You can see the affiliate commission details before you apply to promote their products.
Here’s an example:
To read more details on what exactly did I promote to earn affiliate income, check out my comprehensive guide on ‘How to earn affiliate income.‘
Next, we’ll move on to my least favorite source of income:
Income From Freelance Writing
I did manage to get small writing gigs, but I find it stressful to constantly convince new clients, writing for them until they’re happy, and chasing for payments.
Also, if you’re a new writer, you most likely won’t get a high-paying client and would have to start working for peanuts to get people to hire you.
In my opinion, writing competition is fierce, and to make a decent amount of money as a freelance writer will be tough if you don’t have strong personal branding.
Because of this, I prefer to concentrate more on writing for my blog rather than for somebody else.
But everyone is different, and if you’re interested in freelance writing, here are the websites that I’ve gotten paid gigs from:
It’s a tough market out there. So good luck!
Now, let’s move on to what I had to do to earn my current monthly income:
My Wins – What I Did Right
In the next sections, I’ll share how I picked my niche and the strategies that worked to bring this blog to where it is today.
Win: My Content Strategy & SEO
Why did I pick personal finance? Well, it’s a topic that I’m interested in and can talk about non-stop. Plus, I was tired of unrealistic online content.
For example, property investors will only talk about how much money they made when selling their properties. But nobody mentions the expenses & headaches throughout owning a property.
Likewise, I have a stock investor friend who only talks about how much money he made last night. But no mention whatsoever of the times he lost money.
So I wrote unbiased articles from my own experience like:
- Why investing in property is not a good idea
- The true cost of car ownership
- How I got laid off, twice
People like the refreshing angle of my writing and the articles get shared around. But when the interest eventually dies off, my blog’s traffic plummeted.
So I knew I had to get more organic traffic. I quickly picked up some SEO basics and changed my strategy to answer people’s questions on Google. Now my content focuses on the reader’s questions:
Thanks to this new strategy, 82% of my blog’s traffic now comes from Google search results (organic):
In my opinion, organic traffic is the best traffic that is free & consistent, unlike unreliable traffic from social media:
Win: Promoting My Content on Social Media
When I first started blogging, I’d promote my newly published blog article on all of my social media platforms.
Here are the stats of my social media accounts as of July 2021 & what I think about each audience:
|Social Media Platform
|Dominant Audience’s Character
|30+ YO generally conservative
|Millennials & Gen Z, seeking entertainment
|Similar to Instagram, but more Gen Z’s & younger
|Perfect for witty statements on current events
|Perfect for simple educational writing & videos
|Perfect for in-depth how-to videos (~10 mins)
|Perfect for US audience, mostly women
I’ve noticed 2 important things so far:
- If you post anything with a link, the algorithm will punish you and it won’t reach as many people as you’d like
- You have to customize each post for each platform as the audiences are different. See table above
Despite all my efforts, less than 3% of my total traffic comes from social media.
But I continue to promote my content on these platforms. Not to get traffic to my blog, but to brand myself as a resource in the field of personal finance in my community.
So if you rely on social media to drive traffic to your blog, you’ll be very disappointed.
Win: YouTube Channel Helps Reach New Audiences
Nowadays, more people prefer video over text. So if you haven’t started a YouTube channel, you’re missing out, big time.
But the reality is, not everyone has the guts to be in front of a camera. So if you’re willing to beat camera-shyness, YouTube is a great way to outshine your competitors, fast.
As of this writing, Balkoni Hijau’s YouTube channel has published 30 videos, have 1,754 subscribers, and over 142,881 views:
Also, video is a great way for people to feel a personal connection with you. Your audience will feel like you’re talking to them directly, and that’s what people want.
My blog & YouTube channel are promoting one another all the time. In my blog posts, I’d embed relevant YouTube videos:
My YouTube description will also link back to my blog in the description:
However, managing a YouTube channel is a lot of work. You’ll need to:
- Be able to speak confidently in front of the camera
- Know how to edit videos
Despite the odds, starting a YouTube channel alongside this blog is one of the most fulfilling ventures I’ve ever done. They’re both complementing one another to give the best content experience online.
Not everyone can handle YouTube, but if you can, absolutely go for it (YouTube guide coming soon).
The good news is; to start a YouTube channel, all you need is a smartphone & a computer. I’ve shared the minimalist gear that I use to run this blog & YouTube channel.
Summary: The Reality of Blogging
Traffic to your website = potential income. It’s as simple as that.
The best way for a blog to get traffic is to publish a library of helpful content that answers people’s questions on Google.
Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it sounds.
Imagine your favorite magazine or website; they’ll usually have a team of writers, editors, content researchers, SEO specialists, graphic designers & marketers to grow their readership.
But as a blogger, you’re doing all of that by yourself. It’s intense.
From my observations, here are the 3 critical requirements to start a successful blog:
REQUIREMENT 1: You must be interested in writing, and if you’re not good (I wasn’t when I started; look at my first articles), you must allow yourself to suck in the beginning and slowly improve through repetition, practice & not giving up.
REQUIREMENT2: I highly recommend joining a blogging course with somebody you like. Go to YouTube & search for ‘How to start a blog.’
If you look at their video descriptions, most of these people are promoting their blogging course. Pick somebody that resonates with you:
You’re paying to get your strategy right and proven step-by-step formula on how to succeed, rather than wasting your time figuring it out all on your own.
REQUIREMENT 3: Believe in the process: After signing up for that blogging course, register a website domain, put in the work & be consistent.
On average, it’ll take around 2 years of consistent publishing for a new blog to make any decent money.
Look at this blog’s Search Console report; slow and steady is the name of the game:
So don’t give up in the early stages!
Want to Start Your Own Blog?
Don’t let the reality of blogging scare you. Starting this blog has changed my life for the better & I can only see more good things to come in the future.
If you’re want to start a blogging business, here’s a list of resources to help get you started:
- Mindset: How to start any business
- Pick your platform: Do you need a blog?
- Pick your specialty: How to pick your niche
- Register for a blogging course
- Register for a WordPress domain
- Start publishing content consistently
Let me know in the comments if you’ve find this blog useful & I’ll see you in the next income report 🙂