Quarterly Income Report: How I Earned $20,335.42 With My Blog (Q4)

blogging income q4

I have mixed feelings about this final income report of 2015. While I earned over $20,335 in the past three months I’m still a bit disappointed that I didn’t hit my goal of bringing in $10,000 in one month.

However, I’m a bit hard on myself and am always trying to take last month’s goals and do better, reach higher and accomplish more. (Can you relate?!)

At the beginning of 2015 I made it my goal to turn my blog into a business. Up until that time I mainly focused on freelance writing and marketing work for clients. But as my community grew so did the amount of freelancers who needed help, accountability and support.

So I decided to do a yearly experiment of working less with clients and working more with freelancers. (I’ll share more about my experiment in my yearly income report soon.)

I believe freelancers can be the boss and stop working for pennies, but they have to set boundaries — for themselves and their clients.

The entire 2015 year was an experiment in that philosophy. Enter these quarterly income reports.

Quarterly income updates

One way I keep myself accountable to my year-long #blogtobiz experiment is to publicly track my earnings via quarterly income reports.

In the first quarter of 2015 I earned $17,655 from blogging and freelance work, which averages out to $5,600 a month. During the second quarter I earned $16,555 which is slightly less than the previous quarter and averages out to be $5,500.

Then during the third quarter I made much more than the previous two quarters by earning $23,500 and averaging $7,800 a month. This quarter I made over $20,300 which is on par with the previous quarter’s numbers and averages out to $6,700 a month.

These quarterly reports are also a way for me to detail exactly how I make money through my blog. The one downside with reading other blogger’s income reports is that they don’t specifically explain how they make money with their blogs.

They instead just list out the various income streams, leaving you to figure out the real picture (which is another reason why so many freelancers fail, they have an unrealistic view of what earning money as a blogger actually entails). #jumpsoffsoapbox

My 2015 #blogtobizplan for Q4

My original #blogtobizplan was to have at least 40% of my income come from revenue as a direct result of Careful Cents products, coaching and other services. Since I surpassed that earlier this year, I had to set a new goal.

So I shifted my goal from the 50/50 income pie (client work versus CC work) to nearly cutting out all my client work completely — save for a few awesome financial writing gigs.

Up until November I was still completely dependent on income from several blog management and editorial clients to pay the bills.

Let’s jump right into the numbers for the fourth and final quarter of 2015.

I include the income percentage breakdown for each type of income I earned, and explain exactly what revenue stream makes up my income each month.

Blogging income for October – $9,913.35

Oct 15 Careful Cents income

October was my final full month with my some of my blog management clients. It was tough letting them go (especially since I earned $2200+ a month) but I literally didn’t have the time to dedicate to the project anymore.

In addition to this change, I was contacted by Amex OPEN to cover a conference event in Dallas. I had SO much fun being a sort-of reporter and taking notes in the sessions. I also earned more that day than I usually do in an entire week, which adds to the larger-than-normal earnings this month.

One mistake I made though was not bringing business cards. Doh! Sooooo many people asked for my card so they could hire me to write for their small business or website. #fail

Blogging income for November – $5,936.74

Nov 15 Careful Cents income

Over 50% of my income came directly from Careful Cents. Yeah!

During the last week of October Ryan and I packed up all our stuff, loaded it on our U-Haul truck and trailer then headed across the country to Denver. We finally made the move from Texas to Colorado and I’m thrilled to say it was the best move ever!

(Not literally because the moved sucked — it’s always more glamorous when someone else moves — but being in this new city has been amazing!)

Anyways, I took nearly 2 weeks off, only working sporadically when I could in-between moving boxes and unpacking. Because of this my income suffered but I know the payoff of being in a place that caters to my love of outdoors, and hanging out with new friends, is a great trade off.

In November my friend Cait and I started recording episodes for our co-hosted podcast, Budgets and Cents. More details coming soon!

Blogging income for December – $4,485.33

Dec 15 Careful Cents income

During December I made a pact that I wasn’t going to accept any requests for interviews whether written or audio. I receive requests to be interviewed on a daily basis and I just can’t keep up my work at the same time.

So I took the month off and simply focused on my own projects: the aforementioned podcast and overhauling the Client Connection membership to better benefit freelancers.

Obviously neither of these projects made me money in December so my numbers reflect my time off and time I spent away fro the holidays. It’s about half what I made in October which shows that I have room for improvement in my systems and income streams.

Total blogging income for Q3 2015 = $20,335.42

Below is a screenshot from my GoDaddy Bookkeeping software that tracks all my income and expenses for each month.

This makes it extremely easy to calculate quarterly taxes, and create income reports and graphs. It displays the total income for the fourth quarter of this year.

blogging income report Q4 2015

Here are the total numbers broken down for the entire fourth quarter:

  • Freelance writing income – $7,747.14. Earlier this year I found my love of writing again and I’m still enjoying working with a few clients, like H&R Block, Intuit and several financial startups. My goal for 2016 is to take on a few more finance and business writing clients.
  • Blog management and editing services – $4,326.50. This is the final quarter where I’ll show this as an income stream. I’ve been doing blog management and editorial work for 4+ years and now I’m ready to move on and focus on writing and building this community.
  • Affiliate product sales – $1,409.78. Working with affiliate income is always hit or miss but this month I hit it spot on. I enjoy working with brands and being able to test out specific products! I want to continue increasing this income stream in 2016.
  • Brand sponsorship deals – $1,925.00. I avoid sidebar ads and Google Adsense on my blog, but one way I make money with this blog is by working with brands directly. My friend Simon helped me with a new strategy to get in front of more sponsorship opportunities and I earned an extra $150 with $1,200+ more in the works.
  • Biz coaching sessions – $1,765.00. Chatting with my business coaching clients is my favorite part of the week. They are doing such amazing things, and several of them quit their day jobs in 2015! If you want to get on my calendar this year, click here to book a session.
  • Digital product sales – $3,162.00. I’m overhauling my online store so I can better serve freelancers who are members of the Client Connection Service. I recorded several workshops in December and even hosted the first annual Holiday Freelancer Party on Blab!

Total = $20,335.42 (yes, I’m a bit obsessive that the numbers on ALL my reports match).

Total business expenses

You probably already know this, but as a self-employed freelancer, I didn’t deposit the entire $23k gross income into my bank account (don’t I wish?!).

Here are the expenses I paid over the past 3 months:

  • Taxes, taxes, taxes – $2,500 (quarterly estimated taxes)
  • Team members and outsourcing – $2,067. I pay several team members to help manage this blog, create slide presentations, and handle the tech stuff.
  • Web hosting and domain – $1,239.
  • Bookkeeping software – $36. I use FreshBooks and GoDaddy Bookkeeping since they both offer different services that I need.
  • MailChimp for newsletters – $115.
  • Images for blog posts and ebooks – $30. This is a premium subscription I pay for from Death to the Stock Photo — and totally worth it.
  • Business coach – $650.
  • Office supplies (printer, scanner, and misc paper/ink) – $67.
  • Premium internet and wifi (purchased while traveling) – $59.
  • Advertising and marketing – $240. This includes things like promoted Facebook ads and Tweets.
  • Business cell phone – $273.
  • PayPal fees – $251.

Total = $7,523

My expenses are a bit higher than I would like (averaging about $2,500 a month including taxes). But it’s still a decent figure for running a business. Being based online allows for a much lower cost of doing business than most other ventures.

In addition, once the business expenses are paid I pay myself a $900 weekly salary that goes into a household bank account to pay our bills. I’m the breadwinner for my husband and I so what I make pays the rent and puts food on the table.

I don’t judge my success with the numbers in my bank account (and neither should you), but these are milestones worth celebrating. Overall, I feel pretty good about my #blogtobizplan experiment for 2015 and will be publishing an annual review soon.

Want to see all of my income reports for 2015?

TOTAL income for 2015: $78,057 (before taxes)

How are you doing with freelancing full-time? What are your income goals in 2016? Leave a comment.

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22 comments

  1. Nia says:

    Thank you for this breakdown! I’m a freelance newbie so of course these numbers sound so far out to me right now. I love your blog and all of the information I’m finding on your website. I appreciate the transparency.

    • Carrie says:

      It does take time to grow your numbers, Nia. I’ve been doing this for four years! But it’s fun to watch them change and increase over time, along with your knowledge and experience. You can do it!

  2. Shannyn says:

    You inspire me!!! I still have no idea what my 2016 goals all, I feel stuck. I made full time income last year, more than the original goal I set last January, but not as much as the adjusted goal… so I came flying out the gate, then things slowed down in July/August for me. I have no idea what to set as a goal this year, but I am so inspired by you!

    • Carrie says:

      Thank you, Shannyn! I felt like I was all over the place with my blog + business in 2015 but I just kept moving. Sometimes you just have to keep going no matter how slow it goes. I have faith that we’ll figure things out this year!

  3. Lisa says:

    I enjoyed reading your breakdown Carrie! I’ve been freelancing for just a few months, and my goal for 2016 is to bring in $30,000 for the year, working part-time.

    I loved reading how you transitioned from working mainly for other people to growing your own business!

    • Carrie says:

      Wow, what an awesome goal Lisa! I coached a freelancer last year who had a similar goal and she ended the year earning $38,000+ so I know it’s definitely possible. Don’t give up! 🙂

  4. Danielle says:

    That was very detailed!! It’s an eye opener always to know real people make real money independent of the “normal” way of doing things. Thank you for the insight!

  5. That’s amazing, Carrie! Wow – I didn’t make my income goals, but I matched last year’s, which I was happy with considering I “quit” freelancing for a couple of months. You’ve really created an awesome system. Quite inspiring.

  6. I have to admit that you inspire me to be more goal orientated. This year marks my tenth year of freelancing and while I enjoy writing, I also would like to create other income streams. I sometimes think about what it might be like to coach or create a website to help freelancers since I have a lot of experience and right now when people come to me, I give away my services for free (or sometimes a cup of coffee if they want to meet in person locally) I’m just unsure how to do that. Other times, I wonder about helping others by managing blogs or social media since I have quite a lot experience in those areas as well. I just don’t know how to do that. I just thought it might provide a break from my own article writing. I love writing editorial articles, but it’s not always the easiest (I have four 2,500 stories due in 3 days…no stress there!)
    How did you find a business coach to help you transition or at least determine business goals?
    Thank you as always for sharing what you do.

  7. Tai says:

    Great quarter, Carrie! Looking forward to the new developments you will be offering this year. My goal is a quarter of my revenue will come from writing.

    • Carrie says:

      Yes, this is great! A quarter of your income from writing is doable — I know how much of a go-getter you are. 🙂 You may even get to a point where you have to increase your goal because you’ll hit it sooner than expected. Happy 2016!

  8. Shirria says:

    My overall goal would be to start freelance writing altogether. I’ve pitched some and I had a short term freelance gig, but I’d like to gain some clients to increase my income and transition out of the full time.

    • Carrie says:

      This is an awesome goal, Shirria! I personally love hearing about other freelancer’s goals to take their client-based business full-time. I get so excited! Keep me posted on how things go in 2016 and what your plan is. I’m happy to help however I can. 🙂

  9. Dane Hinson says:

    That is a seriously impressive quarter. It’s great that you’re satisfied with the quarter’s results, but still want to hit that goal of a $10K month. Keep pushing forward, I have no doubt you’ll get there.

  10. Hannah says:

    I’ve been tracking with the blog to biz plan for the majority of the year, and I just wanted to let you know that I’m very impressed with your results. I’m thankful for the many bloggers and writers who update incomes and strategies regularly. It’s like a real time harvard business review for small biz.

    Thanks!

    • Carrie says:

      Thanks for the support, Hannah! I feel honored that you’ve been following my #blogtobizplan for the entire year. I never thought about it as the Harvard analogy but that’s so true. Thanks so much!

  11. Gee Nonterah says:

    Hi Carrie, this is my first time commenting on your blog. I came over from the Blog + Biz BFFs and actually had heard you on Nick Loper’s podcast sometime last year and was so inspired by you.

    Great going ! This post is so inspiring.

    I actually just signed on new clients for my Social Media Management + Content Creation freelancing gig in November and the going has been great. So far I am making around $1200/month – it has not replaced my full-time income but my goal is for it to reach $5,000/month by the end of the first quarter of 2016. Big goal but I think I can do it !

    When I read your breakdown I was like “oh man, Uncle Sam gets his cut too doesn’t he ?” LOL. Just kidding. My hubby is a book-keeper and yesterday we were talking about finances and him handling that side of the business. I know that in order for me to grow I need at least one VA at this point to work with me for maybe 5 hours a week so I can focus on some of the “bigger” priorities.

    Thanks for your transparency and I look forward to learning more from you.

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