What would you be willing to do for few thousand dollars of alternative income? What would you be willing to give up in exchange for side hustling?
* Book will be given away at my 5th annual giveaway
For the year of 2017 and 2018, I did not accept a single sponsored blog post. Instead, I focused my attention on the basics and making sure things that worked well can perform even better. The outcome is a little bit on the wild side as there was no indication that it would be such a big year for a side project.
Folks like to track expenses and net worth and revel in the progress we make. The same applies to blog income as well. How did the year of 2018 stack up to my previous years of blog revenue?
Hitting My Stride (2012-2014)
Just to avoid painting an unrealistic picture, things weren’t always just sunshine and rainbows.
When I started out exploring this, I was like every other noobie, and making just a couple of cents per days with no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t earning much, but I was learning about the system. So many new bloggers started writing with all guns blazing (I’m sure you remember some of them) and simply gave up when they weren’t getting the “returns” they were after.
Lucky for me, I simply liked to write. Subsequently, I migrated my blog to turtleinvestor.net in 2013.
The above chart is the monthly report I pulled from Google Adsense, and it shows that ad revenue on average (pre-2015) was less than $1 a day! The values fluctuate a lot, due to Adsense being a click-centric system. I didn’t like that.
A Slow Jog? (2015)
Things started to come together. I was making more than a dollar a day, and I figured out that there were other ways to bring in the moolah. Things went pretty well by exploiting opportunities in earning credits via referrals for products and services e.g. Redmart that have yet to reach market saturation.
Sponsored posts became a thing and it was an easy way to make a quick (hundred) buck or two. However, I quickly realized that these are not the ways I intend to monetize the blog traffic in the long run.
There was no doubt in my mind that evergreen sources would be my new focus.
From Sprinting .. (2016-2017)
In 2016, I made the decision to focus on optimizing ad revenue and increase RPM. I wanted to be able to write about anything without being restricted by sponsors. Work smarter and harder at the same time. The more I learnt about the system, the more I realized that a small percentage of bloggers brings home a large percentage of the overall ad revenue.
Most importantly, I took a leap of faith and switched from Google Adsense (click-focused) to Monumetric (pageview-focused). It was a bumpy ride at the start, but things started changing for the better. Adsense dropped to near-zero in 2016, as you can see in the chart above.
In 2017, majority of blog revenue was derived from page views. As expected, there was a significant dip due to the loss of referrals etc but hey, I survived pretty well! Making more than enough to pay for web hosting and miscellaneous expenses, I had stashed enough money to extend web hosting one year prior to expiry, for another three (!) years. It’s kinda funny because I have pre-paid for my web hosting all the way until 2021.
.. To Marathons (2018)
Goodbye, Adsense. With the fundamentals taken care of, it was just in time as work was getting busier, and I was spending less and less time on the blog.
In 2018, I maintained my focus and the performance of ad revenue continued to grow (almost doubled) despite no significant changes in the total number of page views I’m getting. Remarkably consistent at 15,000 per month for my little blog huh?
In fact, revenue has climbed back to 2015/2016 income levels without having to make sponsored posts etc.
Instead, I was able to start experimenting with affiliate marketing etc – writing about products and services that I’m using personally, and sharing blog reviews on those. Guess it turned out to be an awesome move 🙂
Exactly How Much ?
In terms of blog income, the grand total for the entire year of 2018 is S$1,580 after accounting for the prevailing exchange rate, as much of my revenue is based in US dollars.
$1,580 is literally like a month of someone’s salary and nothing to scoff at. Google Adsense (purple) steadily declined to zero dollars whereas Monumetric (green) climbed in the opposite direction.
For now, the focus remains on stabilizing ad revenue. If you’re still confused by what that means, basically each time you see (no need to click on anything) those little ad banners when you visit my blog, it pays for my blog expenses.
No sponsored posts also meant there is no need to burden my hobby with taxation requirements and the annoying $100 threshold. For my humble blog, let’s wait till I earn $6,000 nett huh?
Frequently Asked Questions (From IRAS)
Q) I am writing out of passion/as a hobby and do not receive much income from it. Am I considered to be carrying on a trade or business?
A) In general, blogging as a hobby is not considered a business. However if blogging activities are performed repeatedly or habitually in exchange for monetary and non-monetary benefits such that the annual net business income earned is more than $6,000, this income should be declared as self-employed income.
A Little Reward For You, Myself And The Needy
First of all, you have helped to make Turtle Investor available for free to everyone! I’ve ensured that my web hosting (top-tier quality cost a bomb) has been pre-paid all the way to November 2021. I’ll never restrict content regardless of whether you’re a ‘premium’ or ‘basic’ user. Yippee!
If you wish to support my humble blog and track the progress of the underdog who started blogging with negative net worth, all you need to do is to disable your ad blocker for my blog and that is more than sufficient. I won’t go down the route of detecting ad blockers and showing you an irritating popup message – if you wish to continue ad-blocking, I won’t mind 🙂
Shopping spree! Pretty lame but most of the stuff I bought, I needed them for home, work or travel.
And not forgetting, ’tis the season to be giving! Thank you for helping to sponsor my kids in Vietnam (via World Vision) to give them a safer living environment, improved opportunities in education and a better chance in life.
Plus I have increased my monthly contribution to Community Chest.
Support Bloggers For Charity!
Lastly, free books up for grab too – see below!
Too Difficult, Really ?
You might say asking whether it is really possible to do something like this. Possible? Of course! Easy? It is not easy, but definitely possible.
Contrary to popular beliefs, one does not require a high-traffic site to make decent earnings. I did it with a blog with relatively low traffic, remember? Don’t trust everything I say, look up SimilarWeb for my site stats – I didn’t even manage 9,000 visitors monthly for my last three attempts. A successful blog like Investment Moats by Kyith has fifteen times my traffic – just imagine what I could do with that?
With my sporadic posting of about one post a week, I am actually pretty happy to post whatever (might as well be called MoneyDumb instead of MoneySmart if you’re dishing out irresponsible articles) and whenever I want to and not feel like I’m being constrained by the commitment to write.
If you want to chat, join my Telegram group or simply use the web-chat widget on the right side bar for direct engagement. I wouldn’t be responding 24/7, but I’ll check it out from time to time. I’m never going the “public-figure” or “pseudo-influencer” route because I don’t .. like such things. What this means is that there will be no formal seminars or Ask-Me-Anything (AMAs) sessions.
What I do have, is plenty of click-bait (I warned you) blog posts coming up! One of the posts I’m writing is “From $7/hour to $100,000/year – My True Story” plus the obligatory net-worth (it is a good year) and CPF updates (wonder why everyone love these) for the year of 2018.
In early 2019, I’ll announce the winner of the giveaway contest (runs until 31st December 2018) and send out the two books by the 2019 1st-quarter.
Happy holidays! 😉