This post feels really strange to write, for two reasons. Firstly, I never thought I'd get to the point where I'd be writing a post with a title such as the one above, but also because talking about money makes me a little uncomfortable so writing about my personal finances online for anyone to see is way out of my comfort zone.
I debated whether to write this post at all because I didn't want to come across as if I was bragging or showing off. In the end, though, I decided just to go for it. I enjoy reading posts like this on other blogs so I'm sure it might interest some other bloggers, especially ones who are looking to monetise their own site. And yes: I did want to share my achievement with others. Things like this make me glad I started my blog and give me the motivation to carry on when I feel like giving up on it all.
Personally I love it when bloggers write income report posts which break down exactly how much money they've made. Posts called things like How I Made £10,000 Blogging Last Month definitely catch my attention and I read them, but I don't write them myself - partly because what I make is no-one else's business, but mainly because I don't make enough through my blog to write impressive titles like that. How I Made £6 through Affiliate Links in March probably wouldn't get as many clicks, would it? (That's exactly what I did make, btw).
Anyway, a couple of years ago I saw another blogger tweet something along the lines of "I just paid for a holiday for me and my boyfriend entirely with money I made from my blog!" I can't remember who that was now but I do remember thinking how amazing it was that she had made enough money through blogging to pay for a trip abroad. I also found it pretty inspiring - in fact, I decided that one day I'd pay for a holiday using money I'd made through my own blog. And today I did just that. Read on to find out how...
I suppose I should first tell you which methods I use to make money from my blog, as there are a few different ways bloggers can do this. I make mine through sponsored posts and affiliate links. The sponsored posts are few and far between because I don't go looking for them; I just wait for them to land in my inbox. I'm also pretty picky about who I work with. I've turned plenty of companies down for various reasons - either their product wasn't a good fit for my site, they asked for something unethical like do-follow links or not declaring a sponsorship, they were offering something ridiculous like £10 for a 1000-word article or I just got a weird vibe from the PR and preferred not to work with them. I'm in the fortunate position that I can treat my blog as more of a hobby or side hustle, so I have no problem turning down work I don't feel comfortable with.
Affiliate links can be a bit hit and miss. One month you could make £200 (or more - there's no limit on how much aff links can make you) and the next month you could make like £1.94. You do need a fair amount of traffic coming to your site in order for them to make you much money, and you should also know how to use them properly and where to place them for maximum effect (but without being spammy). There are plenty of posts out there about how to do this so I'm not going to get into that right now - just go to Google or Pinterest and you'll see loads.
In case you were wondering, the affiliate programmes I'm part of are Amazon Associates, CJ Affiliate and ShareASale. I also have an affiliate link for Pinterest with Ell, the Pinterest e-course which REALLY helped me grow my blog traffic - not only is it the best blogging course I've taken so far (and I'm not just saying that because it's an aff link) but once you buy the course you can become an affiliate yourself. Ell offers a 30% commission rate, which is much higher than most other affiliate programmes.
As you've probably figured out if you've read this far, I do monetise my blog but don't put a massive amount of effort into doing so. So you might be wondering how I managed to afford to pay for a holiday for two people. Well, my secret is never to spend the money I make blogging. I keep it separate from the rest of my money and don't touch it. Now I'm starting to feel awkward as we're getting into my personal finances, but I make enough to live on and I do have some savings for emergencies or unexpected expenses, so I don't have to touch my blogging money - it can just sit there until I decide to use it.
At this point I'd just like to add that no, I'm not rich - I don't make loads of money (like I said, we have enough to get by without worrying where the next meal is coming from) but I am good at saving it. I'm not very materialistic and I don't buy anything I don't need. I'm not interested in wearing designer brands, buying the latest iPhone (I have a two year old Samsung) or driving a Ferrari (actually that's a lie; I'd love a Ferrari). We never buy takeaways; we cook dinner from scratch every night (this is more for health reasons than financial, but it definitely saves us a lot). And the biggest factor in why we have a bit of money is that we don't have kids - I'm sure that if we did, we'd be broke.
So that's how I made and saved my blog money. My husband and I have a few trips planned this year, which is obviously going to get expensive when you add up the cost of hotels, flights/train tickets, food and spending money for when we're there. As we were sitting down to book a couple of these trips today, I had a lightbulb moment when the price of one came to a certain amount: it cost just under what I had saved in my blogging money and I suddenly remembered that tweet from years ago, by the blogger whose name I've forgotten (sorry) excitedly telling everyone how she'd bought a holiday with money made from her blog, and how I'd wanted to do the same thing ever since. Well, here was my opportunity.
It's not like I booked a three-week holiday to the Bahamas; it was a few hundred pounds and to somewhere within the UK (where I live), but I'm so proud that I've actually achieved a goal I set myself a few years ago. It makes all the hard work worthwhile and gives me the motivation to carry on - I haven't been that inspired lately so a milestone like this has really helped me to remember why I love blogging.
My top tips for someone who might have a goal like mine are:
1. Learn how to monetise your blog
There are several ways to make money through your blog, including sponsored posts, affiliate links, ads (such as Google Adsense) and selling your own product or service. Experiment with a few different ways and see which combination works best for you.
2. Save your blog income
If at all possible, pretend your blogging income doesn't exist. Keep it separate from any other money you may earn or have saved and don't touch it until you've accumulated enough to pay for whatever it is you dream of buying. As soon as you get paid by a brand or receive your affiliate payout, move it into another account where you won't touch it. Don't go out and spend it on coffees - think of your end goal. Taking a trip your blog has paid for or putting a down payment on a house (can you even IMAGINE) will feel far more rewarding than drinking a latte every morning.
3. Have patience!
These things take time. You're not going to make loads of money right away. Get your blog established before you start trying to monetise it. Post consistently and work on increasing your traffic and building a rapport with your audience - that way they'll be more likely to trust you when you recommend an affiliate product or start promoting your ebook. Keep working hard and believing in yourself, even during the months you're not making much money, a brand turns you down for a collaboration or a newer blogger seems to be doing better than you. Just keep going - it's okay to take a break if you feel like you need one, but don't give up. Your time will come.
My intention with this post was to inspire others who may also have a blogging-related goal in mind and to let you know that your dreams are valid - it may take months or even years of work, but you can do it.
If you enjoyed reading this, please leave a comment and share it on social media.
Do you monetise your blog? What's the most exciting thing you've ever bought with money earned entirely by blogging?
If you enjoyed this post, you'll love my blogging ebook The Blogger's Survival Guide: My Tips and Advice from Over 12 Years of Blogging full of industry knowledge and strategies for both new and seasoned bloggers.