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Income Reports

Blogging and YouTube Income Report: Q2 2021

We’re halfway through 2021. If 2020 dragged on forever, 2021 is flying by (at least for me).

I’m happy to report that Q2 of this year was solid, at least in terms of revenue.

It wasn’t sunshine and rainbows, though. I’ll talk about some risks and setbacks later on.

First, let’s look at the high level numbers:

Revenue paints a picture of the past, especially in the online publishing business where lots of income (like affiliate revenue) is paid out 1-3 months after it’s earned.

We’ll go into detail about everything, but first, you might be wondering…

Why publish income reports?

I put together these income reports for a few reasons:

  • People like ’em…I mean, you’re here, right?
  • I like being transparent, especially about the taboo topic of money.
  • They force me to sit down and actually do some manual number crunching (painful but helpful)

If you like these reports and want to learn more about starting your own content business, be sure to subscribe for free tips.

The second quarter of this year – Q2 2021 – was the best quarter to date for my little digital media business.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the numbers…

Blogging Income for Q2 2021

The words “blog” and “blogging” have all but lost any meaning, especially in the age of online influencers.

When I say blogging I really mean digital media business, which includes content websites, YouTube, social media, email lists, etc.

Other than fulltimeblog.com, which doesn’t make any money right now, I have two other brands: The Modest Man (TMM) and a recent acquisition, The Slender Wrist (TSW).

Theslenderwrist.com is a watch blog that I purchased in February. It’s already established and has a lot of potential. I’m currently onboarding writers and gearing up for a rebrand/redesign of the site.

TMM started as a blog, and it’s evolved into an authority site around men’s fashion and lifestyle. TSW is also a content site, but it’s dedicated to wrist watches. I bought this site in February 2021.

I also have a YouTube channel that’s currently housed under the TMM brand, 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 2021:

Advertising

You know those footer and content ads all over websites – the ones you probably ignore or thwart with an ad blocker extension?

Yeah, this sort of programmatic advertising keeps the lights on around these parts.

I also see some revenue from YouTube ads, but it’s not much compared to traditional website display ads:

YouTube$5,604
AdThrive$29,932
Total$35,536
Per Month$11,845

This is basically unchanged from the previous quarter. AdThrive (website ads) continue to generate over 5x more than AdSense (YouTube ads).

This goes to show, website views are WAY more valuable than YouTube views (at least in this case).

From what I understand, the value of a Tik Tok view is even lower. So, don’t sleep on websites. They still make more money per view than social media.

Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs let publishers earn a commission from traffic and sales they generate for e-commerce brands.

For example, say you read my guide about the best WordPress themes for fashion blogs. If you click a link in that article and make a purchase, Full Time Blog might earn a commission from that sale.

I’ve been focusing on increasing affiliate revenue because it’s truly passive income – the best kind – and this strategy has been paying off.

Here’s a high level look at affiliate revenue for Q2 2021:

Amazon Associates$27,751
rewardStyle$8,890
Skimlinks$5,987
ShareASale$11,915
CJ$2,709
Other$7,593
Total$64,845
Per Month$21,615

This is a 13% increase from Q1 2021; I attribute it to publishing more individual product reviews.

Alone, none of these bring in more than $1k per month. Most don’t even come close.

But if an individual product review can generate $100-400 per month, why not publish as many as possible?

The thing is, between me and my team of writers, we’re constantly testing out products. Brands are always looking for coverage and are mostly willing to send samples for review.

So it’s just a matter of getting the products in contributors’ hands and getting more reviews published.

While Amazon Associates is the largest individual affiliate program, in terms of revenue, it represents less than half of all my business’ affiliate income.

If 100% of my affiliate revenue was coming from one source – especially one like Amazon that’s been known to make sudden, sweeping changes to their program – I’d be nervous.

Sponsorships

Sponsored content may not be passive or scalable, but it’s still very lucrative. If a brand has a $3-5k budget for a sponsored video, for example, and I spend 1-2 full days working on it, that’s a pretty good hourly rate.

I’m not above this kind of work…at least not yet.

I say ‘no thanks’ to 9 out of 10 potential sponsorship opportunities, but there were a couple of good ones in Q2.

Sponsorships (YouTube/Instagram)$9,495
Sponsorships (website)$6,000
Total$15,495
Per Month$5,165

This is a slight increase from the previous quarter, and I’m okay with this.

Sponsored content is great, and the extra revenue is much appreciate. But this type of income doesn’t support my long-term goal of building valuable, sellable assets (i.e., websites that generate passive income from ads and affiliate programs).

I do appreciate that the opportunity to do more sponsored content, especially on YouTube, is always there.

Digital Products

Sales for my only digital product, The Modest Man Style Guide, picked up a little bit in Q2, probably because I fixed a glitch in ConvertKit that was preventing a welcome email sequence from sending 🙄

TMM Style Guide (ebook)$650
Per Month$217

One day, I’m going to revamp this guide and maybe turn it into an online course. I think it has potential, and digital products can generate truly passive income.

But for now, it’s just hard to focus on that above everything else on the to do list.

Expenses

An income report without expenses doesn’t really show anything, especially if you’re self-employed (because your profit = your salary).

Here’s a breakdown of expenses:

Writers$2,349
Assistants$7,377
Video/photo editors$2,190
Attorney Fees$760
Ahrefs$324
Bank fees$140
Hosting (Cloudways)$132
Xero$90
Geniuslink$0 (had credit)
Epidemic Sounds$45
Canva (how to use Canva)$39
Adobe CC$32
Link Whisper (Link Whisper review)$52
Calendly$30
Lasso$57
Total$13,617
Per Month$4,539

This was a little less than Q1, mostly because in Q1 I paid for a few extra dev hours to work on site speed, Core Web Vitals, ADA compliance, etc. (worth every penny).

Specifically, he did a bunch of work to make the site more accessible (and therefore ADA compliant). He also did a lot of site speed stuff to prep for Google’s increased focus on Core Web Vitals.

Otherwise, expenses just include the usual stuff – software, hosting, etc.

Total Profit 🤑

Adding everything up, here’s what Q2 2021 looked like:

Revenue$116,526
Expenses$13,617
Profit$102,909
Per Month Profit$34,303

This is about an 10% increase over Q1. I’l take it!

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 then transfer 50% of the profit into my personal checking account, and the rest stays in the business checking account for current and future expenses.

Also, as a self-employed person, I have other expenses like health insurance, travel, education, utilities, rent, etc. Since these aren’t associated directly with the business I’m reporting on, I don’t list them here.

Google Updates 🤕

There were two big Google updates in Q2: one in June and one in July.

The June update caused a noticeable drop in the # of organic keywords my main site was ranking for (as tracked in Ahrefs). This coincided with a slight traffic drop – nothing devastating, but it definitely made me nervous.

Organic keywords Ahrefs site 1
Sharp drop at the beginning of June, but the bleeding stopped in mid-July 🙏🏻

The site seemed to recover, for the most part, in July. Traffic is currently back to pre-June levels, but it’s slightly more volatile than before, especially with my new, smaller site.

Organic keywords Ahrefs site 2
This business isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be a rollercoaster, especially for less established sites!

I’ve seen many great site take a hit over the past few months, and I’ve seen many garbage sites take off.

I’ve also seen the exact opposite, so who knows. I don’t even think Google knows how its algorithm works at this point.

One thing I know for sure:

It’d be a smart move to start working on other traffic streams like Facebook, Pinterest and email.

I’ve tried and failed with Pinterest, so I’m currently putting some time into Facebook and email. Will keep you posted if I make any progress on those fronts!

What I’m thinking about…

At this point, I have a solid lifestyle business that’s extremely flexible (I can take a week off whenever, and nothing bad happens) and generates enough income to live comfortably, pretty much anywhere.

That’s great. I’m happy with this and, for the most part, enjoy my day-to-day working life.

But I don’t want to do this forever, and there are a few options for where to go from here (some of these would be more fun with a business partner):

  • Cash Out / De-risk – take some chips off the table by selling my main website; a 3-4x multiple on annual profit could mean a 7 figure sale in the not-too-distant future
  • Add Commerce – add a shop to one or both of my sites; either drop ship third party products, create private label products, or do a mix of both; this is a proven model that works, but it does require money and effort (i.e., a business partner)
  • Expand the Portfolio – buy more websites, probably in the men’s lifestyle content niche (fashion, fitness, parenting, food, cars, watches, cigars, etc.); apply my content formula to these sites, maybe hire a full-time operator and/or editor to do the heavy lifting

I’m mostly drawn to options 1 and 2, or maybe a combination of these. For example, I could sell the big site and use some of the revenue to build a shop on the smaller site.

Or, I could sell a part of the business to someone with operational e-commerce experience, or maybe even a strategic partner (someone who already has a related online retail business).

I tend to move very slowly on big decisions like this, but these are all exciting options to me. It might be time to turn the page pretty soon… 🤔

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