Woah…Q2 is over.
I feel like I just posted the Q1 2020 income report, and here we are approaching mid-July.
What a strange year it’s been so far…but the show must go on!
I put together these income reports for a few reasons:
- People seem to appreciate them.
- I like being transparent, especially about the taboo topic of money.
- They force me to take a good hard look at the numbers and figure out what’s actually going on in my business.
If you like these reports and want to learn more about starting your own content business, be sure to subscribe for free tips.
If you read my Q1 report, you’d know that 2020 was off to a very strong start (from a business perspective, that is…).
Let’s see how things progressed in April, May and June…
Blogging Income for Q2 2020
By blogging I really mean digital media business, which includes content websites, YouTube, social media, email lists, etc.
Other than Full Time Blog, which doesn’t make any money right now, I have one other brand: The Modest Man.
TMM started as a blog, and it’s evolved into an authority site around men’s fashion and lifestyle.
I also have a YouTube channel and that’s housed under the same brand, at least for now, as well as all of the social media accounts you’d expect (FB, IG, Twitter, Pinterest).
From the outside, the YouTube channel and Instagram account look more like an “influencer” type of operation, but I view myself as a the owner/operator of a digital media business.
Here’s how much the business made in Q2 2020:
You know those side bar and sticky footer display ads all over websites – the ones you probably ignore or thwart with an ad blocker extension?
Yeah, those basically pay my rent, along with a few other types of ads.
In total, this is a 28% decrease from Q1, but I know exactly why it happened.
First, I had some ad space on themodestman.com sold directly to a company for $1,000/month. They stopped paying their invoices on time, and then altogether, so I had to remove the ads.
Second, RPMs were way down due to everything that’s going on in the country (and world). Basically, companies spent a lot less on ads in April, May and June.
Now, ad revenue seems to be returning to normal, and AdThrive income should make up for the lost direct ad revenue as TMM’s organic traffic continues to grow.
Affiliate programs let publishers earn commission from traffic and sales they generate for e-commerce brands.
For example, say you read my guide about the best cameras for fashion bloggers. If you click a link in that article and make a purchase, Full Time Blog will earn a commission from that sale.
Affiliate programs are an increasingly important source of revenue for my business.
This is truly passive income.
In total, this is a 41% increase over Q1, but it’s slightly inflated.
I randomly logged into Rakuten, an affiliate platform I hadn’t used in a long time, and realized I had a balance of over $1k.
It had never been paid because I never submitted payment info. So I submitted my info and got that payment, but it wasn’t revenue that I actually earned in Q2 2020.
But even without that payment, affiliate revenue was still up 33% when compared to Q1.
This is largely due to individual affiliate relationships with specific brands, versus large affiliate programs like Skimlinks (although Amazon earnings increased by 22% in Q2).
I’m starting to understand how powerful these individual programs are. One article about one specific product category (e.g., men’s chelsea boots) can move the needle. One product review can add hundreds of dollars per month to the bottom line.
So, always ask the brands you’re covering if they have an affiliate program.
Sponsored content may not be passive or scalable, but it’s still very lucrative.
I take a quality over quantity approach to sponsored content by only working with brands that are a great fit and have the right budget.
Here’s a breakdown of revenue from sponsored content in Q2 2020:
This is a 55% decrease from Q1, and here’s why:
In Q1, there were two pretty substantial blog-only sponsorships (i.e., an article, no videos or social media). There were none in Q2.
These days, most brands prefer to sponsor video and social media content, rather than blog posts.
Many want some combination of platforms (e.g., one video, one article and two Instagram posts), but they rarely want to sponsor a lone blog post, at least in my experience.
I’m okay with this, as I’m trying to build passive income on the website, and sponsored content isn’t passive.
Well, this is embarrassing. I should probably stop including this category in these reports…
Digital products like ebooks and courses just aren’t big part of my business, but TMM does still offer an ebook, and the lone sale still trickles in every now and then.
|TMM Style Guide (ebook)||$104|
At one point, this ebook was generating almost $1,000/month consistently. I really need to update it and revisit the sales funnel, a task that’s struggled to make its way to the top of the to do list.
I’m sure there’s some opportunity with digital products – maybe a course or membership program – but I haven’t put in the effort to figure it out.
Maybe some day…
An income report without expenses doesn’t really show anything, especially if you’re self-employed (because your profit = your salary).
Q1 was an expensive quarter due to increased investment in new content (i.e., freelance writers), and I’ve continued to invest even more in Q2.
Here’s a breakdown of expenses:
|Canva (how to use Canva)||$39|
In Q2, I spent about $500 less each month, but it was still an expensive quarter, mostly due to continued investment into new content.
Basically, I’ve been spending about $2k per month on freelance writers, in order to publish three articles per week on themodestman.com.
This seems to be paying off, as organic traffic is at an all time high.
More importantly, the site is ranking for more keywords than it ever has (over 160k according to Ahrefs).
So, I’ll keep spending around $2k/month on writers for the forseable future.
Adding everything up, here’s what Q2 2020 looked like:
|Per Month Profit||$10,284|
Keep in mind, the monthly profit is pre-tax. At the end of each month, I transfer 30% of that profit to a high yield tax savings account. That money is set aside for Uncle Sam.
I also transfer 30-50% of the profit into my personal checking account, and the rest stays in the business checking account.
Every now and then I’ll buy new gear, which can be pricey, but I didn’t make any of those big purchases this year.
Also, as a self-employed person, I have other expenses like travel (heh, remember travel?), utilities, entertainment, etc. Since these aren’t associated directly with the business I’m reporting on, I don’t list them here.
They’re also not too significant compared to the expenses listed above.
Is this bad news?
If you just look at quarter-over-quarter profit, this is not a great income report.
Per month profit in Q1 was $14k, and it’s only $10k in Q2. Here’s why I don’t sweat these numbers:
First of all, in June I completed two sponsored content projects that won’t go live until July. These are worth roughly $10k.
So that money hasn’t hit my business checking account yet, but the work is done, and I know the money is coming.
Second, there’s another number I’m keeping close track of right now:
Blog Passive Income = revenue from the website (no YouTube or social media), not including sponsored content
I’ve spoken to digital business brokers – people who buy and sell websites – and potential buyers.
They’re not interested in YouTube channels or buying an “influencer” business. They don’t understand the sponsored content model.
They want websites that are generating passive income from ads and affiliate programs.
So if you want to build a sellable site, and if you want to maximize the value of your blog, it’s important to track this number.
In Q2, despite total revenue being down 24%, Blog Passive Income (BPI) was up 7%.
My #1 business goal right now is to increase that number every month until I have a website that’s worth seven figures.
Man, these reports are tedious!
Okay, it wasn’t that bad, and I kinda enjoyed it. I hope you did too!
The cool thing about this sort of digital media business is the fact that there are so many different ways to earn revenue.
Building an audience is hard, but monetizing traffic is relatively easy. So if you haven’t built the audience yet, start there.
And if you need help with that, sign up for my email list, and I’ll send you some tips 😉