How to Make $103,457.98 Your First Year of Blogging – Our Story
Hey, blog family! Today we’re going over how to make $103,457 your first year blogging and our story of how we did it with our health and wellness blog, Avocadu.com.
The first few months of blogging kind of feels like talking to your first crush in grade school.
You’re eager and excited, which is adorable, but you’re also incredibly awkward, nervous, and don’t really have a clue what you’re doing.
I (Alex) still don’t some days. If I had to sum up this post and our success into a little statement for you, it would be something like:
“Work incredibly hard, remain humble, and keep that childlike enthusiasm you had in the beginning.”
I’m not going to lie to you. The beginning was tough. We worked a lot of nights, weekends, and days to get what we got.
But what we did well was waking up every day eager and excited for the potential of running our very own online business. NEVER lose that feeling.
You will always be fighting those feels of “Am I good enough?” and “Am I ever going to make it?” Even at our level, doubts creep in.
It’s that enthusiasm and drive that will get you through the hard times!
And hopefully, this post gives you more insight as to what you can actually expect in order to make the kind of money we have so far.
For those of you that are new around here, we teach from the standpoint of the successes and failures we have had with our health and fitness blog, Avocadu.com.
We didn’t start out making money online by teaching other people how to make money online – an all-too-common thing these days. We don’t JUST blog about blogging.
Lauren and I started earning over $40k/month with our health and fitness blog before we started Create and Go, and we hope that teaching principles from a separate niche other than the “make money online” niche will make our content more relatable and applicable to your blog.
We started earning our first bit of income in January of 2016, and September 2016 marked our official end of our first year of blogging.
Note that we also made some income from various affiliates (mostly Amazon) as well. That is what caps off the income below to reach $103,457. Never to brag, only to inspire, my blog friends!
To simplify this post, I have broken it down into the 10 most important aspects that led us to our current and how you can make over 100k in your first year blogging!
Become a failure.
I remember the look on Lauren’s Dad’s face when she told him she was quitting her full-time job as a CPA to become a blogger with me. I’m lucky to be alive.
Failing to live up to the expectations of family is one thing, but actually failing and losing money is another on top of that. Our failures:
- Healthandhappyhour.com – Our first blog failure that started as a recipe blog for young adults – bombed hard.
- Built a fitness program for guys and girls on that blog that sold about 4 copies for $17.
- Tried to make money with ads
- Tried to run 5 separate launches with 5 separate email lists
- Thought we could build a 10k per month blog as an Amazon Affiliate program
- Tried to do webinars
- Wrote over 100 different blog posts (some do very well, and some completely tanked)
- Rewrote our auto-responder sequence at least a dozen times
- Purchased multiple $1000+ products from gurus, which were returned because they didn’t work (I know because I actually implemented their stuff)
- Purchased Infusionsoft (the single most overhyped software in existence – please don’t buy it)
- Tried to create a cellulite product that didn’t even get off the ground
- Tried to sell an ab product that failed
- Many more that I have probably blocked from my memory
We did all of this in less than a year… So how are we this good??? Here’s the point.
We worked HARD, failed A LOT, and failed FAST because we knew that SPEED wins!
The analogy for finding success in anything is like ripping off a bandage.
It’s going to take a certain number of hours working on your blog for it to become successful.
For some, that’s 10,000 hours. For others, it may 1000, but it’s going to take a certain amount of time and effort for it to happen.
Would you like to go fast or slow?? I personally like the idea of ripping the bandage off quickly.
Meaning I would rather spend 3 years of my life busting my ass to get to achieve our goals than 15 years moving at a mediocre pace.
It’s going to take a certain number of hours to get to success, bloggers.
How quickly do YOU want it?
Be a little crazy, or like, really crazy.
We quit our jobs BEFORE making any money. Maybe it wasn’t the most intelligent move, but we felt strongly about making this whole “blogging” thing work. We also…
- Sold our cars
- Moved into my dad’s house (don’t judge – it was empty at the time)
- Sold our furniture
- Got rid of 90% of our possessions (clothes, shoes, everything)
- Quit our well-paying jobs
- Left our friends and moved to a different state to avoid distractions and focus on building the business
Ok, maybe WE are really crazy. But it didn’t feel like that to us!
Lauren and I had goals and dreams and visions of the awesomeness we wanted for our lives. I do understand that we are not all in the same situation. Some of you have responsibilities and family duties that will prevent you from moving the chips “all in” like we did. That’s A-Okay.
You just have to decide what you’re willing to sacrifice to rip that bandage off a little quicker (if anything). It’s going to be different for everyone.
Just know that the more that you are willing to risk and be a little crazy about, the greater the potential return.
Find a routine.
Everyone’s schedule varies, but there’s a core concept behind a productive work day you can see from my two scenarios.
My routine when I worked my personal training job:
- Woke up at 5 am to a terribly annoying iPhone alarm clock.
- Brushed my teeth, threw on clothes, grabbed my backpack, and walked to Starbucks.
- Worked as much as I possibly could on the most important thing I needed to get done that day (usually writing). 5 am – 8 am
- Went to work with clients at around 8 am – 11:30 am.
- A very quick lunch 11:30 am – noon.
- Worked more on the blog till my afternoon clients. This time was often spent finishing up the blog post and working on the second most important thing on my list. Noon – 4 pm.
- Went to see afternoon clients – 4 pm – 8 pm.
- Dinner with Lauren and worked on easier tasks in the evening (blog post edits, Pinterest account, emails, etc). 8 pm – 10 pm
My current routine:
- We wake up early, start with a warm glass of lemon water, grab some coffee, and get to work. 8 am – 11 am (usually writing and content creation).
- 11 am Workout and Breakfast
- Noon – 3 pm – Back to work wrapping up posts or starting new projects.
- 3 pm – 4 pm. Late lunch
- 4 pm – 6:30 pm – Finish up with basic tasks that require less mental effort (emails, comments, etc).
- 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm – Dinner
Takeaway: The thing I wanted you to see from our schedule is the progression of WHAT I am working on day-to-day. This is key.
Every day starts with the important task that takes the most creativity and mental effort BEFORE progressing into busy work.
Ask yourself, “What is the most important thing your blog currently needs??”
Usually, it’s unique articles and better writing (you have a blog, right!? ) Sometimes it’s products. RARELY is that customer service, emails, training, and busywork.
For us, it’s much harder to work on the tasks that require a lot of creativity and mental dexterity in the evening. It’s much easier to answer customer questions and comments during this time. Food for thought.
Trust your intuition MORE than some other blogger (yes, this includes me).
My biggest regret in the first year of Avocadu’s success was our membership program. We pissed off a lot of people trying to create a monthly revenue stream, and here’s what happened.
I got the idea from some other “smart” marketers running a simple system to get people into your membership program and decided to give it a try.
This is what it looked like:
Here’s the thing: It worked to get people in.
Unfortunately, it worked so well that people had no idea what they had just signed up for (despite it being very clearly written on the sales page)!
It wasn’t until 2 months later did we start getting emails with lots of confusion about $12 charges on their credit cards. Some people seemed to understand what the charges were for, but enough of them were very confused.
I’m not mad that we were willing to try new things. I’m mad I didn’t trust my gut.
When making the “system,” I thought it may be confusing in the back of my mind. I had that small nagging voice tugging at my heartstrings telling me it’s not right for us despite what the almighty gurus were saying…
So naturally, being the well-adjusted person I am, I pushed that small voice back to where it came from and pressed forward to make some money!!! #regrettown
I really wish I had listened to that little voice, folks.
Those people who got pissed off and confused will probably not be buying again from us anytime soon and it was a mistake. If something makes you feel icky or weird, do something else.
There are a million different ways to make money and help people at the same time.
If evergreen webinars don’t feel right to you, there’s a reason, homegirl.
Trust your gut!!! This applies to business just as much as personal life.
Be willing to adapt!
You saw the many ways we failed, right? Well, there is something that Lauren and I do better as a blog team than most. We adapt.
Our ability to move on and grow has been crucial to our success.
Here’s how our blog has molded since it’s inception: Avocadu started as a blog about organic living and recipes. We found quickly that recipe traffic is painfully hard to monetize, and we needed to change things up. We also were hiding behind the blog and had no pictures of ourselves on it.
Avocadu then transitioned into a blog about weight loss for women. We were still hiding behind our posts. We finally started to get a little traction, especially from our post about the 8 yoga poses for fast fat loss.
Avocadu then moved to being blog about “finding your thing,” with Lauren and I finally on it. Lots of funny pictures and memes that made us smile with me writing the content. We were happier with our blog at this stage, but it still needed alterations.
It just felt “off.” Finally, at the time of the posting, Avocadu is now about “being healthy from the inside out” and we LOVE it!
Lauren is now the “figurehead,” and I have completely stepped into the background of the blog. The reason for this is that 85% of our traffic is women who are self-conscious about their bodies, and our community likes Lauren much more than me. They can relate to her better, which obviously makes sense.
The key here is to be flexible based on the needs and wants of your audience.
Taking my name off the articles was a tough pill for me to swallow (hurts the pride a bit), but I will do what is needed for our blog to continue to thrive and grow.
Don’t neglect your hot bod.
This was a surprisingly difficult thing we faced when running our online blog. I mean Lauren and I are fitness FREAKS, running a health blog, and still struggled like crazy at the beginning.
The main problem: Stress eating. It was bad… Like running to the grocery store at night to buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch bad…
After a day of getting our teeth kicked in and our motivation/dopamine being worn down from sitting in front of a computer all day, it felt like the only reprieve. If you’re a high achiever and prone to stress, this is probably going to be a problem you face. Here’s how we fixed it.
We got stricter with our diets.
I know that may be a little counterintuitive, but let me explain: If your diet plan is just to eat “generally healthy” and you are already at a place with your body that you’re comfortable with, cheating on being “generally healthy” is not going to seem like a big deal.
Because it doesn’t seem like a big deal – when you’re under a lot of stress “generally healthy” can turn into “generally eating desserts” and even progress into “generally swimming in bathtubs full of Oreos.” Ok slight exaggeration, but the truth is that “generally healthy” does not work for most people.
There are no clearly defined lines. So we picked up the Paleo diet.
What?? How do you just pick up a diet???
Well, it wasn’t at random. Don’t just close your eyes and blindly pick a new diet. But that was the diet that we wanted ours to most closely resemble, and we just needed some clearer rules. It was really quite easy actually. We just committed to following the rules of Paleo.
We would have picked our 21-Day Challenge, but since we don’t have any weight to lose, paleo it is! Funny thing – We’re not even hardcore believers in Paleo. You’re not going to see me on a mountaintop shouting the 10 commandments of Paleo anytime soon.
However, it has been EXTRAORDINARILY helpful to our diets and keeping us from stress eating.
Keeping your health in good shape is vitally important to running any blog. It brings better mental clarity, focus, and more money at the end of the day.
So consider being a little dogmatic if you’re struggling.
Find the right music you can work to.
Mine is EDM, Lauren’s is tropical house chill.
Music is life and will help pick up your spirits during the lonely time in front of the computer banging out blog posts.
Remember the importance of the childlike enthusiasm from the beginning. Well, that’s the effect music has on me, anyway! Give me a fast-paced EDM song in my headphones, and I can knock out 2000 words in a morning EASY.
Find what works for you!
Production goals > Monetary goals.
I just read a post about a guy who claimed he was going to make $500,000 this year blogging and explained how he was going to do it. The post was very vague and just seemed weird to me because he had yet to start his blog… lol.
Here’s the problem I see for this fine chap: He’s getting a buzz off of the thought of making money, which is going to make him feel like crap when it’s actually time to sit down and do the work.
Trust me, we all know this to be true… Fantasizing about making a million dollars is much more fun than the pain of waking up at 5 am to knock out a blog post.
This is why you must set work goals, not fantasy and monetary goals FIRST.
Your blog, especially in the beginning, is a very fluid thing. It needs to change and alter itself based on the wants and needs of your customers.
So the only real “goal” you need should be based on what you’re in control of. Our current goals with Avocadu:
- 3 articles a week
- 3 emails a week
- Best customer service on the internetz by responding to every question and email THAT DAY.
That’s it. Yeah, we work on other things, obviously (product creation, sales pages, etc), but goals like that are simple and easy to stick with. Plus, we know if we continue to put out high-quality content and treat our customers well, we will continue to impact lives and make sales.
Set production goals first and only consider monetary goals later when you have the traffic on your blog that will help keep you pointed in the right direction.
CREATE YOUR OWN PRODUCTS, PLZ AND THANK YOU.
Affiliate marketing is becoming less and less attractive to me in the 21st century. We like Amazon Associates to sell certain things right now, but everything I’m selling on Amazon right now, I can create.
Whatever you sell via an affiliate, you can generally make some version of your own.
We started by selling other people’s ebooks and found that selling our own 5x’ed our revenue. PLUS we learned people want to buy products from YOU and trust you infinitely more than someone you recommend.
When you own the product, you own the game.
90% of our income this year is from the creation of our own ebooks and selling them on our blog.
It’s so powerful in fact that I am considering making a product on how to make your own. Like start to finish. create your own ebook product.
If you are interested in something like that in the future, let me know in the comments below.
Takeaway: If you have no experience in selling online, do start in affiliate marketing FIRST.
It will show you the process of how people buy, what they buy, and all the ins and outs of online sales. Once you have proof of concept (people are buying), immediately make your own.
This is exactly what we teach in our monetization course for new bloggers, Make Money Blogging for Beginners, that is all about how to make your first $1,000/month blogging.
Don’t give up on your dreams.
A photo from our first trip to Nicaragua as bloggers:
Finding success in blogging can feel like pushing a heavy boulder up a cliff.
Sometimes it feels like you’re going nowhere fast and struggling just to get traction.
We felt this too. Going to bed full of anxiety, wondering if we were ever going to make it.. Trust me when I say this. You can make this work. If some idiot personal trainer and a CPA from Dallas with literally no blog experience can make a successful blog, you can too.
Additional Topics and Resources:
- Start a Successful Blog Today!
- Why No One is Reading Your Blog
- 8 Biggest Blogging Mistakes and How to Fix Them Fast
- 7 Real Reasons Your Blog is Not Making Money
- FREE 7-Day Blogging eCourse
And if you have already started your blog…
If you are looking for additional tips and instruction on blog monetization, make sure to sign up for our FREE 4-Day eCourse on How to Monetize a New Blog.
We discuss affiliate marketing, driving traffic, and so much more!
Create something awesome today!
Create and Go
P.S. What are the biggest struggles you’re having with your current blog right not? Share with me in the comments below and I will do my best to help!
Alex & Lauren
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