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On June 22nd, 2011 I published the first of many blog posts here on Careful Cents. It’s been five years since then and this blog has grown, morphed, changed design (like 6 times!) and gone in multiple directions.
It started out as a personal finance blog where I shared goals like saving for my first laptop (which I STILL have btw) and paying off my car loan so I could become debt free. As my journey continued over the years I took on freelance work and additional jobs in order to save up money to take the leap into full-time self-employment.
This blog began to focus on side hustling, entrepreneurship and freelancing. Two years after starting my blog, on May 1, 2013 I quit my accounting day job and became my own boss.
It’s been a tough journey, one full of mistakes and constant lessons about myself and my ideals. But one thing has remained: I still love this blog. I still enjoy writing and sharing my knowledge and life lessons. And most of all I really enjoy you — the awesome community of readers.
Here’s a comparison of how far Careful Cents has come in five years!
Income growth over 5 years
Want to know how much money I earned from my blog in it’s first month? $19.35 — yeah I basically made enough money for a decent dinner out. HA!
It mostly came from Google ads, which I haven’t had on my site for over 3 years and back then I had no idea what I was doing.
2011 YTD income earned: $1,958.36
My first client was an online bank startup that I met at a financial conference in October 2011. I didn’t get paid but was able to use the samples in my portfolio as well as come out with a raving testimonial.
From then till now, I’ve always had some kind of client work and love every minute of it! In 2011, almost 100% of my income came from freelancing.
2015 YTD income earned: $78,057.87
Last year I shared blogging income reports to gauge my progress. I even had my first $10,000 month! In 2015 my average monthly income was $6,590.
Over the past five years I’ve experimented with different income streams and now earn income through my blog in five main ways. That’s a pretty good change from 100% freelancing in 2011.
2016 YTD income earned: $33,403.64
Currently I bring in an average of about $5,560 per month, so it’s down a bit from last year. But I’m okay with that as I still have plenty of time in the year to ramp things up.
It’s taken me much longer than I’d like to admit (hello, five years?!) but I’ve finally been able to achieve a 50/50 ratio of blogging income streams and client work.
Here’s what Careful Cents income looks like in the first six months of 2016.
Anyone else notice that my Interest Income doubled since 2015? HOLLA! lol
Blog traffic stats
My traffic was dismal in the first six months of starting my blog. I earn more pageviews PER MONTH now than I did the entire 2011. I didn’t know a thing about SEO, guest blogging or building my blog’s online presence.
2011 YTD traffic: 18,703 pageviews
I get a lot of organic traffic, but of course it’s always a work-in-progress. Still, Careful Cents has come a long way. Here’s how my blog’s traffic looks as of June 2016.
2016 YTD traffic: 186,736 pageviews
Social media & newsletter followers
I’m not going to do a comparison of how my social media stats looked back in 2011 because they were non-existent. HA! I had just started blogging so all my social media platforms had 0 followers.
Here’s what my social media and newsletter numbers look like now (as of June 2016).
- Newsletter subscribers – 6,946 (across 3 main lists)
- Twitter followers – 6,636
- Facebook fans – 3,127
- Pinterest followers – 1,453
- Instagram followers – 1,306
- Facebook Club members – 1,082
- Google+ followers – 2,232
Total social & email reach: 22,782
Can you tell which platforms I really like? Twitter has always been my favorite and I spend a lot of time on Facebook with my private Freelancer’s Club community.
I feel like my social media stats are still really low for it being five years. However, my approach to growing followers (and even subscribers) is totally different than most bloggers.
All of these numbers are completely organic. Yep, not one advertising campaign for new likes, follows or fans.
I prefer to have high engagement so I focus on a smaller community that converts really well.
Where I spend money in my small business
As my business has grown I’ve actually done a lot to streamline how it runs. Two years ago I employed a virtual assistant, an assistant editor, social media manager and multiple writers. But now it’s just me (and my tech guy!).
I actually believe I tried to grow my blogging business too quickly and it went through some unnecessary growing pains. However, it forced me to learn how to create systems for my business and ultimately replace a lot of the work I outsourced by using a (cheaper!) tool to do the job for me.
Here’s where I spend money in my business after five years of blogging:
- Hosting + domain on separate server – $17 /mo ($208 per year)
- Tailwind for Pinterest – $15 /mo
- Death to the Stock Photo – $10 /mo (beta user)
- Canva for Work – $12.95 /mo
- Boxshot King for product images – $8.25 /mo ($99 per year)
- Design + tech work – $190 /mo
- ConvertKit – $99 /mo
- Teachable subscription – $99 /mo
- LeadPages – $25 /mo ($300 per year)
- FreshBooks – $25 /mo
- GoDaddy Bookkeeping – $10 /mo ($120 per year)
- Karma Wifi hotspot – $14 /mo
- Focus@will – $2 /mo ($24 per year)
- Calendly – $4 /mo ($49 per year)
- Facebook advertising – $60 /mo
- Cell phone (business use portion) – $73 /mo
- Estimated taxes – $1,000ish /mo
- Monthly meetups (food, gas, coffee) – $50 /mo
- PayPal + credit card fees – $82 /mo ($488 YTD)
- Occasional courses + books – $90 /mo ($540 per year)
2016 business expenses – $1,731.20 /mo
How much did I spend my first year of blogging? It was a grand total of $438 in expenses for the entire year! OH MY. How things change. 🙂
Cheers to an awesome five years and to, hopefully, many more! Thanks for reading this blog and being part of the Careful Cents community.
It’s because of your emails, comments, tweets and shares that enables this little passion project to continue thriving. So thank you!
Happy birthday 5th Careful Cents!