The stock market turmoil has been generating plenty of noise that isn’t helping the average investor. Instead of getting sucked into the negative vortex of depressing news, I have chosen to focus on other positive aspects of my life instead.

For one, I’ve planned my upcoming trip to Japan + Taiwan in April. What? Portfolio tanked means life sucks and you have to sulk about it? Nah. Besides, there are tonnes of travel hacks I’ve learnt over the years to squeeze the value our of every penny spent. Maybe I’ll blog about it some day. Lemme know if you’re interested?

Blog Monetization Is Evil?

I have also taken some time to re-look at my blog and oh my, how it has grown over the period of one year in terms of being a tiny money plant – too insignificant to call it a tree yet.

Some people pay to do the things they love. Then, there are people who get paid to do the things they love! There are also people who do the things they don’t love and hope to get paid in the process.

I’m pretty lucky to be in the sweet spot – the second group that gets paid to do the things I love. There are plenty of gurus and veterans who are against using ads and stuff but heck, if it was about money in the first place you wouldn’t be reading this post now.

Before I go any further, I shall say this again – blogging is not passive income. If you’re interested, I can show you a traffic chart of what happens to a small site when nothing new is posted for one year – not pretty.

For the past year, I started tracking the progress of Turtle Investor and it has been pretty fun. I’ve quietly put up a page with quarterly income reports as well.

Earnings – Blogging

Let’s talk about income associated mainly with blogging and writing. The central theme which has guided my posts in 2015 is to “Share Everything”. Be it about investing, money hacks or alternative income – I believe that there is no point in keep anything to myself. Might as well share with the world!

1. Google Adsense

google-adense-logo

The main driver is obviously Google Adsense, which remains the de facto leader for advertising income for blogs of any traffic volume. Even for a small blog in a market like Singapore regardless of what niche you’re into, Google Adsense can pretty much give you a 100% fill rate. Lucky for me, finance is a rather lucrative niche that pays decent revenue per ad impression.

Just like when we evaluate a particular stock, it pays to be aware who the biggest source of revenue is because over-reliance on them can be risky. Seeking an alternative to Google Adsense is not easy due to the constraints of the small Singapore market, but I’m trying out something new.

2. Blog Collaborations

This special post is brought to you by Turtle Investor. All opinions are my own.

Blog collaboration opportunities don’t usually come often for “masak-masak” small blogs, and even when they do, only a selected few will eventually materialize.

There are also times where I have had to turn down such opportunities because they did not fulfil the criteria I’ve stated in my rate card :

.. the product, service or platform is genuine and legitimate in nature and is able to benefit readers by keeping it relevant to the theme of personal finance, savings and/or investment ..

The thing about accepting sponsored content is that it has to be somewhat in line with what my blog is trying to convey. Then, there is always the question of budget. The advertiser’s budget, that is.

When I write or do research, I’m using my valuable and limited time in exchange for a service I provide, and I place a fair value on my time. What? I even provided a formula to explain how I derive my numbers?!

With that said, earnings for writing based activities in 2015 reached SGD$507.19 plus USD$100.00 – woohoo!

Google AdSense – SGD$407.19
Sponsored Post(s) – SGD$100.00
Blog Collaboration – USD$100.00

Earnings – Referrals

While this section is still somewhat relevant to what I blog about, the income in cash and kind can be somewhat of a random number. Basically, I classify them as referral based with zero predictability of whether they are sustainable in the future.

No fish, prawn also good, lah.

1. Travel Smart Rewards

travel-smart-rewards-cash

I make a fair bit of referrals to Travel Smart Rewards via my blog posts, and the points earned goes towards their game that is automatically played every Saturday night. Rewards can be totally random and swings wildly between good and bad months.

The main problem with Travel Smart Rewards is that as an IT guy, I can tell you that it is ultimately an algorithm-based system and a simple tweak can see your cash rewards plummet. So, don’t pin too much hope on it. My primary goal of taking free weekday MRT trips is already achieved with annual savings of more than $400. Any rewards earned is a bonus!

2. ShopBack

cashback-click-history

ShopBack is a relatively new system I’ve started using for online purchases. While referrals earn me credits that can eventually be cashed out, I’ve found that even with no referrals, I’m saving a good amount of money shopping online simply by using it.

3. RedMart

redmart-40

RedMart is the overall winner here. Simple system, really. People get $10 cash credit when they sign up for RedMart via my web link. When they make a first purchase, I get credited with $10. A mutually beneficial system works wonders and have saved me over $200 worth of groceries spendings from credits earned.

4. Airbnb

airbnb

I haven’t really written anything about Airbnb but simply left it as a link under my list of freebies. Well, someone found it and used it, and now I have credits to spend on my Airbnb apartment in expensive Tokyo.

5. You Need A Budget

ynab_mobile_250

Remember I said zero predictability earlier? Seven referrals were made in 2015, but now You Need A Budget has launched their new web-based system that is subscription based, which means the YNAB (Version 4) referral program has been stopped until further updates.

My wife and I are still using YNAB4 (which will continue to be supported), but I’m contemplating supporting the new version of YNAB even though it is still pretty much a work-in-progress. It’s an IT thing – a recurring revenue model is the only way forward.

How much did I make for referral-based activities? SGD$491.72 plus USD$67.00 in total!

Travel Smart Rewards – SGD$219.00
ShopBack – SGD$42.72
RedMart [Credits] – SGD$230.00
Airbnb [Credits] – USD$25.00
You Need A Budget – USD$42.00

Expenses Incurred

The only expense is annual web hosting fees with SiteGround, a non-Singapore based company. My experience with them is excellent -they are fast (solid state drives!), secure, has great customer support and provides dedicated WordPress hosting.

Besides selecting the Singapore data centre, I chose a better plan that caters for potentially higher traffic plus an unlimited number domains that can be used with the same web host. This is because I run a couple of other websites from the same web host and therefore, I don’t have to pay for multiple hosting. For comparison, an extremely good Singapore web host (one domain name only) will probably only cost SGD$8 monthly.

From a sustainability point of view, it currently cost me USD$162 for a year, which means I need to make USD$13.50 a month to break even, or about USD$0.45 each day. This is easily achieved based only Google Adsense income, I suppose, assuming that all other income streams (including all my other blogs) ceased to exist.

SiteGround – S$226.73 (USD$162.00)

So How Much Did I Make?

With a strong showing towards the end of 2015, it has pushed income past the $1,000 mark for a grand total of $1233.83 in Singapore dollars. Expenses for the year came up to $226.73.

Based on the two figures, net gains for the year works out to $1007.10 in total. That’s one thousand and seven bucks – unbelievable! An awesome addition to stock dividends. Keep on blogging, I say!

Some Other Stuff

The winners of Turtle Investor 2015 Giveaway have been chosen (I used a random number generator) and notified, and the books have already been mailed out.

If you have not received any email from me, better luck this year! Remember, if you have already subscribed to my newsletter then you are eligible forever (well, until this blog is no more).

More Than Index Investing

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