We’re more than one third of the way through 2021…it’s cliche, but this year is really flying by.
Q3 was another great quarter, which is kind of surprising because traffic dropped after multiple big Google updates this summer.
Then again, there’s 1-3 month lagging effect on most online revenue.
Ad rev usually pays out one month after it’s earned. Affiliate rev can take up to 90 days to pay out.
So when traffic drops, revenue may not actually drop until 2-3 months.
But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s look at the high level numbers:
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)
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Like the second quarter of this year, the third quarter – Q3 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 Q3 2021
When I say blogging I really mean digital media business, which includes content websites, YouTube, social media, email lists, etc.
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 Q3 2021:
Even though most younger people probably have never clicked on a banner ad in their life, display ads are still a huge revenue for most content websites.
I also see some revenue from YouTube ads, but it’s nothing compared to website ads:
This is a 16% increase over the the previous quarter. It’s due to increased AdThrive earnings from both sites.
What’s interesting is the fact that the YouTube channel gets more views than both websites combined, but the ad revenue is way lower.
This goes to show, website views are still WAY more valuable than YouTube views (at least in this case).
Video and social media may be sparkly, but it doesn’t pay well compared to good old fashioned blogging (in my experience).
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 all year, and it’s paying off.
Here’s a high level look at affiliate revenue for Q3 2021:
This is a 10% increase from Q2 2021; again, I attribute it to publishing more individual product reviews and updating older buying guides (i.,e., “best xyz” articles).
Individual product reviews are extremely time intensive. I actually still do a lot of these myself. Reason being, I’m constantly trying out new products, and I’m qualified to write in-depth, honest reviews (no paid reviews, ever).
An individual product review usually won’t generate more than $300 per month, if that. Sometimes a brand review will generate up to $1,500 per month if it’s a popular brand and if my review ranks #1 for “brand xyz review”.
But if I can publish 52 new reviews in a year – one per week – that could add over $15k annual revenue to the bottom line, conservatively.
This increases the sale value of the whole site by at least $45k. Plus, that revenue keeps coming in for years, assuming the content is updated periodically.
At this point, my affiliate revenue is well diversified. I’m not 100% reliant on one big program like Amazon Associates.
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 say ‘no thanks’ to 9 out of 10 potential sponsorship opportunities, but there were a couple of good ones in Q3, specifically for Instagram-only campaigns.
This is a 24% increase from the previous quarter, which is nice to see. For sponsorships, Q3 is usually quiet compared to the frantic holiday craziness that comes with Q4.
Keep in mind, 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.
It’s sort of like a revenue stream you can tap into anytime, and it doesn’t go anywhere even when take long breaks.
Sales continue to be abysmal for my only digital product, The Modest Man Style Guide.
|TMM Style Guide (ebook)||$397|
I recently saw a women’s fashion YouTuber launch a personal style course to over 2,000 paying customers (a $250k+ launch), so I know there’s some potential with digital products in the lifestyle niche.
But for now, it’s just hard to focus on that above everything else on the to do list.
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:
|Geniuslink||$0 (had credit)|
|Canva (how to use Canva)||$39|
|Link Whisper (Link Whisper review)||$52|
|Loom (screen recording)||$22|
|Lasso (affiliate link management)||$57|
|Pics.io (media management)||$36|
This was a little more than Q2 because I started experimenting with video syndication: basically paying video editors to repackage YouTube content for Facebook and TikTok.
I don’t know if this is going to work out, but I figured it’s worth a shot. Video content is extremely time intensive to produce and hard to outsource, so if I can get more mileage out of existing scripts/footage, that would make video more lucrative, in general.
Otherwise, expenses just include the usual stuff – writers, contractors, software, hosting, etc.
Total Profit 🤑
Adding everything up, here’s what Q3 2021 looked like:
|Per Month Profit||$38,793|
This is about an 13% increase over Q2. I’l take it!
Of course, this monthly profit is pre-tax. At the end of each month, I transfer 30% of that profit to a high yield tax savings account, then transfer 50% of the profit into my personal checking account. 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.
How much is enough?
A study showed that $105,000 was the ideal annual income for “life satisfaction” in North America.
You’ve probably heard the stat about $70k/year being enough to ensure emotional well-being. Apparently, you get diminishing happiness returns as your income grows beyond that point.
Obviously, it depends where you live and what kind of life you want to live.
I’ll never live somewhere crazy expensive like NYC again, and I just don’t plan on buying any exotic cars (although I did just pick up a sweet new hybrid CR-V).
But I do want peace of mind, i.e. knowing that my family is completely set financially, forever.
So I don’t just need $105k per year. I need enough cash to generate $105k per year indefinitely (about 2.6m dollars).
Not that I plan on retiring. I’ll always work, and I love the game of finding high leverage or passive ways to generate income.
But having this number, $2.6m, in mind creates a very clear goal:
Including what’s already stashed away, accumulate $2.6m as soon as possible.
The question then becomes…
How do I do that?
- One big exit?
- Multiple smaller exits?
- Keep working on the business and stash away as much profit as possible?
Of course, it’s not all about money. I enjoy the niches I work in. I love creating actually good content that helps people and makes the internet a better place.
But I don’t want to do this forever, and I’m definitely not going back to the 9-to-5 life.
So financial independence is the only way forward.
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