To be successful at anything, you need to hold yourself accountable. I started Mommy Over Work with the intent to build an income stream that earns as much (or more) than my current day job.
The goal is to do this before I have kid #2 in order to quit and be a work from home mom. I am putting together this detailed blog income report of a new blog to document my journey in a way that helps you with the following:
- See what I did right and wrong that is helping me towards my goals
- Figure out the blog metrics that really matter
- Tell you what real blogging is like (spoiler: it’s not as easy as some people make it seem)
Disclosure: Opinions expressed are our own. If you buy something through any of our affiliate links on this page, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our site.
Recommended resourcesHow I turned my blog profitable in a few months:
- Resources from this stay-at-home mom are very thorough and constantly updated, but you can try this 31-day blog plan* for free
- The Pinterest strategy* that skyrocketed my traffic from 1000 to 200,000 in one month's time
- Although I didn't discover these beginner SEO tactics* until later, this would've helped me reach my goals sooner
- January 2017: son to be born in following month, no intention of staying at home after maternity leave up
- February – May 2017: my new mom experience SUCKED. As in birth complications, issues with breastfeeding, etc.
- May 2017: forced to go back to work after leave over because that’s how traditional employment works here in the US. Realized I’d rather be at home with kid than miserable at work
- July 2017: discovered that making money blogging is a thing, and started doing research into how to start a blog
- September 2017: decided making money blogging would be my thing
- October 1, 2017: launched Mommy Over Work
- October – December 2017: crashed, almost burned from blogger overwhelm
- January 2018: , buckled down discovered this resource* and sat my butt down and got to WORK
- February 2018: first 4-figure month
- March 2018: second 4-figure month, confident that I could keep this going and growing
For the purpose of this blog income report, I consider October 1, 2017 to be the start of my blog. I want this to be a good blog report, so I will cover the span of this blog’s first six months, which is October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.
My blogging strategy/personality:
- research before implement
- try not to spend an arm and a leg on blogging courses
- not the most confident blogger but willing to invest effort into trying it
Goal and timeline: Grow (a mostly passive and consistent) income of $5,000 month by time kid #2 is projected to be born (looking like December 2019). This gives me approximately 2 years.
April 2021 update: As I'm going through a site redesign, I'm reading through all of my posts and thought it would be beneficial to include a follow-up.
I have not quit my full-time job, especially with the way the global pandemic has played out. My current annual income (it fluctuates a lot month to month) is currently a little over $30,000 in all the years that I have been blogging.
I'll try to include some further updates in each category so you can see where I am at in different areas of blogging.
Not your typical blog report
You know how there are other blog reports start off with a huge wall of text talking about how these reports are to help track metrics and set goals?
And then the rest is just to show some screenshots and money and traffic stats without any substantive content on how they got there to help you on your blogging journey?
This won’t be that kind of report.
Let’s get some real and helpful blogging tips out there. I’ll share with you what happened and my reasoning and analysis of my progression in these areas:
- Blog content
- Traffic and social media
- Email list
I started off in the money niche with an emphasis on blogging. I got about 10-15 posts by December (3 months in) before I switched to a general lifestyle blog.
From January to March, I wrote an additional 40-50 posts based on trending topics in Pinterest.
WHAT I LEARNED: The more blog posts you have, the better your traffic numbers will be. If you are not sure of your niche, start a little broader and then choose to go narrower if you feel like it.
Writing blog posts are hard in the beginning as you’re trying to find your writing voice and not used to writing so much. It does get easier with practice.
April 2021 update: I've kept this as a general lifestyle blog, but have started a few others that are niched down, meaning more focused in topics.
I tried personal finance since I'm pretty motivated to save and make money, but turns out I don't like writing about it. I also have a few DIY-based ones that I enjoy much more.
Moral of this story here is that you may think something is a good idea in your head, but you find that it doesn't bring you as much enjoyment in reality. You live and you learn.
Let me just say, the blogging niche is REALLY hard to break into.
Not stating impossible, but I’ll just point out my traffic was almost 1,000 in December (3 months into blogging) before I went through this Pinterest goldmine of knowledge*, and then jumped to almost 200,000 2 months later after I broadened.
Here’s a screenshot to show the analytics from my first 6 months.
I am the type of person who does not feel that I am an expert in a specific subject. At first, I chose blogging as my niche because I was learning so much about it and thought to document my journey to help those who were at an earlier stage than I was.
I was getting frustrated by not really getting anywhere. When I decided to branch out, I find blogging so much easier and happier.
To put things in perspective though, blogging is meant to be a long-term gain, so what felt like “too long” to not have much accomplished was in fact only a few months. It felt like ages though with the amount of information overload and spending every second thinking about blogging.
WHAT I LEARNED: Pageviews do matter.
It matters for ad revenue, but even if you don’t want to rely on that, you need readers getting to your blog to build an audience.
However, they are not the end all be all. I used to obsess over these numbers checking them constantly.
I’m at point now where I will choose to focus on other more important things (like optimizing old content, spend time with my husband and son, etc).
I knew Pinterest was definitely a platform I needed to be on. This resource* was a definite game-changer for me.
I redid every single of my old pins with these following key points in mind:
- Use a legible font. I took away my script font and use a bold block one.
- Use a catchy headline. I expanded my vocabulary with adjectives that evoke enough curiosity to get the click.
- Use longer pins. I started off with the standard 2:3 ratio, but experimented with something longer, like 1:2.
- Pin content to relevant boards (eg. recipe post to a food board).
Pinning is quite the tedious task, especially if you are doing it manually versus through an automated schedule (see section below). But if you really want your traffic to explode, then you’ll just have to grind through it.Manual vs scheduled pinning
I tried out Tailwind for a year. For some reason, I can’t figure out a way of scheduling a diverse array of pins that is quick and efficient.
I tried board lists and semi-looping pins, but I don’t want to schedule the same pin 7 times every week for multiple pins, so I am not satisfied with pinning via Tailwind.
I did find some benefit from Tailwind Tribes, as it accounts for about 30,000 pageviews a month, but even figuring out what pins to upload there takes way longer than I’d like.
Again, this Pinterest book* was full of gold nuggets.
Manual pinning was tedious in the beginning for me, especially as I tried to keep track of what board a pin was pinned to and when, but now I just pin without the spreadsheet and it saves me so much more time.
I do my manual pinning in 1-2 stints, taking less than 30 minutes to pin about 30-50 pins a day.
RECAP of my pinning strategy: I only pin my pins manually, which takes about 30 minutes a day done in 1-2 pinning sessions. The most helpful feature of Tailwind is Tribes.
WHAT I LEARNED: Manual pinning forced me to spend time on the platform, which allowed me to hone in on the things that made my Pinterest strategy more successful. I was able to analyze pin designs, see what topics were popular ones to write about, and see which of my pins were getting repinned.
However, trying to be anal about tracking my pins ate up so much time and made me dread pinning. When I got more lax about it, I cut down my time spent pinning to under 30 minutes a day, which is much more manageable than the hour or more I used to spend doing it.
Schedulers do have their pros as well, so I won’t discount them, but if you had me choose, I would stick to manual because you have more flexibility in what you end up pinning and promoting.
I do think that in the beginning, the learning curve is pretty steep, so you will probably spend quite a bit of time before you figure out a system that works for you. Keep working at it and you will eventually reach a state where pinning is not as overwhelming or cumbersome.
And if you work on good Pinterest and Google SEO together, the less you'll feel like you MUST do Pinterest every day.
April 2021 udpate: The Pinterest algorithm has changed significantly since I first started out. Newer blogs will have a tougher time getting their pins out there.
I've started a few blogs since then, my most recent right at the start of the covid pandemic. Yes it's been harder to get traffic from Pinterest, but it's still the platform of choice that I work on in conjunction with SEO (as opposed to the otherwise fleeting nature of other social media platforms for new, nobody accounts).
I do pin occasionally, but now choose to focus my efforts on Google SEO. It does take time to rank on Google, but when you do, it's not as maddening as trying to chase after traffic on other social media channels (Pinterest included).
In looking back at blogging resources I've previously promoted, I now only stick to a very small handful. I still stand by this recommendation for Pinterest* as well as general pointers for how you should be approaching your blogging anyway.
I used to do Facebook groups but found them too time-consuming for little return. To be honest, it feels like blogging niches get the most engagement from these groups. I do check in a few just to keep abreast of blogging things, but I don't participate in share threads.
After I decided to stop using them and focus on Pinterest, my traffic did so much better because I wasn’t spreading myself so thin.
I have a Facebook page but don’t post to it. I ask people to like it in case I choose to do something with that page in the future, but for now, I’ve left it dormant.
Other social media platforms
I don't understand other platforms that well, from Twitter to Instagram to Tiktok and so forth.
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA: It is better to do one well than a lot poorly. After giving up Facebook and Twitter and just focusing on Pinterest, I felt less burden and better results. Put your energies where you will get results.
April 2021 update: I'm more focused on trying to rank on Google because I find that it's the most passive of channels to chase traffic.
That being said, it's still a very active venture, trying to go into old blog posts to revamp them, etc. Heck, this site redesign I'm in the middle of right now is to help my site load faster on Google.
That meant copying and pasting content from my old site to new one. I could've hired this out, but I find merit in understanding what I'm doing to improving my site (as opposed to having to rely on others whenever a major crisis occurs).
And also I'm anal. Like I'm updating alt text in images for proper accessibility to the sight impaired. This includes using more descriptive text rather than keyword stuffing, as well as adding a previously missing period I had at the end of each description.
Not fun (and definitely not passive as you try to keep up with best practices), but also something I want to make sure meets my standards.
Would I be better off hiring someone instead of spending months working on this? Maybe, but hey, I want to do it this way, so I'm going to do it this way.
They say that building an email list is so important for a long-term blogging strategy.
Because my blog is so broad, it hasn’t been easy to figure out a niche to build my list in. Plus, I am inconsistent with emailing my list, so I decided to ditch the list for this blog.
Will it hurt me in the long run? Possibly, but after weighing what I enjoy and feel is a more productive use of my time, it made sense for me to say goodbye to my email list.
WHAT I LEARNED: Everyone tells you to build a list, but I haven’t figured out how that fits into my strategy effectively. In the end, I am fine with not having a list, even if that means lost income.
I would rather focus on the things that I get more enjoyment out of, such as creating more blog content. If I do figure out what I want a list for later, then I can start building at that time.
Will I regret it? Maybe or maybe not. But that is how blogging goes. At this point of my blogging career, I’m not ready for it so I won’t force it.
April 2021 update: So...still haven't really started an email list.
That's on me though because of mental roadblocks. Still unsure and uncomfortable regularly emailing folks. I don't converse much with others in real life, so it's not easy to strike up conversation with people I've never met before.
I am trying to start a list for one of my newer, niched sites. We'll see how this goes.
Maybe 3-4 years down the road with another major site overhaul, I'll write an update then. Ha!
Here’s my income breakdown by month and source:
- $100 affiliate
- $0 ads
- Total income: $100
- I wrote about how I made my $100 in my first month blogging if you want more details on that.
- $167.70 affiliate
- $0 ads
- Total income: $167.70
- Not bad for a second month, but when you're in that moment where you've poured countless hours and energy into this and are unsure of what the future holds, it can feel discouraging.
- $0 affiliate
- $0 ads
- Total income: $0
- Here is where I took a break from blogger overwhelm, then after Christmas, decided to focus on revamping my ENTIRE blog. Therefore nothing promoted, nothing earned. Nothing surprising.
- $202.78 affiliate
- $207.64 ads (Google Adsense)
- Total income: $410.42
- I was starting to see results from my do it or die approach to get my blog on the internet world radar.
- $230.64 affiliate
- $151.12 ads (Google Adsense)
- $1102.77 ads (MediaVine)
- Total income: $1484.53
- I was accepted into the Mediavine ad network and started running ads mid-month. I had lots of pins go viral at the same time, accounting for my best month ever in traffic. I was stoked to reach my first 4-figure month.
- $241.31 affiliate
- $1792.31 ads
- Total income: $2033.62
- Wondering if February was just a fluke, I waited out March to see what the numbers would look like. This made me realize that my dream of finding blogging success is turning more real.
WHAT I LEARNED: I wasn’t afraid to monetize from the beginning, so I implemented affiliate marketing strategies right away and am happily seeing a return on that.
I also put up Adsense early on and got a few $100 from that so that was nice. Switching to a better ad network (the two I recommend are Mediavine and AdThrive) increased my revenue by more than threefold, so apply if you aren’t opposed to having ads on your site.
April 2021 update: As mentioned before, my income has remained somewhat consistent at about $30,000.
In full disclosure, my income was solely this blog in 2018, but I began diversifying in 2019 and 2020. This was in both of number of websites as well as monetization strategies because I didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket.
I experienced the consequences of not diversifying when my account was locked on Pinterest for few days, which meant going from $100 to $1 income days.
So even with the coronavirus pandemic, I was surprised that my income survived. It certainly looked bleak until the holiday season, but there was a definite surge (my highest month ever was over $9,000 in December 2020!).
Real blogging advice
I thought I would be one of those exceptional bloggers who would have it together by my launch. I only had an occasional Facebook presence and no blogging experience whatsoever, but somehow thought I would have an opt-in, welcome email series, 5 blog posts, a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, and figure out Pinterest in one months’ time.
Needless to say, that did not happen. Instead, I had 3 crappy posts, a welcome email series that I wrote and rewrote countless times, had a decent number of group boards on Pinterest, and gave up on Facebook and Twitter.
You see, when you get into blogging with zero background, it’s not that easy. You wear many hats, such as:
- Content creator – which requires finding your writing voice
- Web/tech support – figuring out the backend of your blog
- Marketer/Cheerleader – getting your content out there, promote, promote, promote
- Public relations – reaching out to others and responding to comments and inquiries made to your blog
- Graphic designer – creating eye-catching visuals
- And a bunch of other random things because you’ll have to figure out so many new things along the way.
I got caught up in shiny object syndrome and bought way more courses than I needed to thinking that there was something I was missing in my blogging strategy. But really, to succeed in blogging, you need to know these five things:
- Create content that people want and getting it in front of them.
- Focus on the few things that matter instead of allthethings lest you burn you out and get super frustrated (sometimes to the point that many bloggers quit).
- Actually do stuff (no money gets earned by ideas in your dreams, yo).
- Work hard, have patience, and keep at it.
- Test and tweak to find a system that works for YOU.
Then rinse and repeat. And learn more and try other things if you want to.
April 2021 update: I am still learning so many things about running an online business to this day. You will never stop learning.
The best way to figure out what works and doesn't is to try. It is a lot of work, but necessary to take the risk to reap the reward.
I still feel like an imposter sometimes. I'm still afraid of trying things because it seems very intimidating. But in a position like this where you want to be your own boss, at the end of the day, only you can make what you want happen.
So go out there and do it or not and be okay with the consequences. No one's going to be able to do everything, so choose the things that you are willing to challenge yourself to do better.
The thing about buying courses
Is it just me or does it feel like people might need to sell a kidney to afford blogging courses nowadays?
At the rate that courses are inflating, blogging will be reserved for the rich kids if you want to get a leg up with a thousand dollar course that forces you to choose between rent or a better future.
I’m quite embarrassed to admit that I spent almost $1000 on courses left and right trying to find the “magic secret” to blogging, before I realized that blogging is not hard, per se, it’s just working hard and consistently at it. Hefty price to learn that lesson.
Whatever course you buy, you should really invest the time and effort to implement the strategies. If something “doesn’t work” try reaching out to the course creator or going through the content again to see what you might have missed and give it a real effort before chasing the new hottest product on the market.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the marketing tactics, but please understand that blogging is not an overnight success type of deal so really give the ones you own a decent go.
Your sanity and your wallet will thank you for it.
April 2021 update: I realize it may be misinterpreted since I didn't mention this, but there is a time and place to make investments in yourself and your business, and some high-ticket items may be worth it.
Just don't use the "everyone else is getting it so I should too" mentality or "I will find the easy button in here for sure" mindset for chasing after success.
A lot of it is the actual work you will put into it.
Conclusion and strategy moving forward
You won’t see me posting future blog reports each month to “show” you exactly how I made money when it’s just a screenshot of my traffic with how much I made in income with a general pointer or two on what I think contributed to my success followed by a bunch of affiliate links to blogging products.
In fact, I don’t care to write about blogging topics as much as other lifestyle stuff. I only share blogging knowledge that I think will help the new blogger out to hopefully put more real, honest, and genuinely helpful content out there.
As for my strategy, I will continue focusing on the points I mentioned above to work my way up to $3k, $4k, my goal of $5k and beyond. I sincerely hope this blog income report of a new blog sheds some light on what beginner bloggers can expect if you want to start a blog to make money blogging.
April 2021 update: Well, I hope that a 3-year update does shed some light on what can happen down the road.
I'm still working on goals I set out for myself back in 2017. There are areas where I'm disappointed, and other areas that I'm glad have remained stable. I'm nowhere near successful, but I am glad that this venture has provided some financial flexibility.
Still working to get to a consistent $5k months. Would love to get over my mindset so I can try utilizing an email list.
So to those starting out, I hope you put your head down, get to work, and eventually prosper.
Continue Reading: Save & Make Money posts →