Last week we ran our (tri) annual “Ask J. Money Anything Day,” and 50+ questions later my fingers fell off and we called it a day. I answered everything from blogging, to budgeting, to mortgages, retirement, money mistakes, career, and even what the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow is ;)
It was a ton of fun, and if you find yourself bored anytime pop over there and check it out: Ask J$ Anything Day. You might even find the answer to what my 2013 taxes show I made last year!
One of the questions I get asked all the time, of course, is how I make money online from my blogs and projects. It seems hard to believe that you can get paid to drink coffee and goof off all day on the internet (exact words from someone once!), but there’s quite the opportunity online if you’re willing to put in the time and hustle. And also, if you’re *passionate* (I haven’t met anyone successful yet that’s “just in it for the money.” Those people usually burn out before ever making it because there’s 1,001 other ways to make $$ much faster than with a blog! Though it is fun…)
So today I thought I’d answer that question more specifically since I’ve only shared bits and pieces around before. Every year it seems to fluctuate, but you’ll get a good idea of all the different angles you can earn money from being on the web. I literally had no idea of any of this 7 years ago!
Here’s an exact question I was recently asked:
How do you make money? Like literally? Who pays you?
And here’s the short answer: I make money from advertising, coaching, freelancing, side projects, flipping sites, and a number of other ways. The people who literally pay me are companies and networks who advertise with me, along with bloggers and people who I partner with or coach.
Here’s the longer, more specific, answer:
- Advertising on BudgetsAreSexy.com — This comes in all forms such as those visual ads you see up there at the top and along the sidebar, as well as partnerships, giveaways, affiliate stuff (ie when I promote kick-ass companies I love and use and others sign up too, like with USAA or finance books I recommend), and other type avenues. The thing you won’t see here are crappy “sponsored posts” from random foreign companies… If something is crappy here, it’s because me ;)
- Advertising on RockstarFinance.com — Same general setup as above, just with less money since the traffic is comparatively smaller
- Freelance writing – $100-$1,000 per article on money
- Blog Coaching — $50-$100 for a one hour, one-on-one session of blog help
- Money Coaching — $50 for a one hour, one-on-one session of money help
- Advertising Consulting — I help place ads for some people and take a % of those placed
- Site Buying/Selling/Flipping — I help bloggers buy and sell sites for a small “broker” commission (last week I helped sell 10 of them – yay!)
- Random one-off projects — This could be anywhere from building my own side projects to helping companies collaborate with finance bloggers. And the income can be as low as $0.00 (or worse, in the negatives! Like when my projects bomb!) or if I’m lucky in the $20,000+ range. Like when I got paid to help a large financial company place dozens of ads across the blogosphere. That project netted me $22,000 for about 28 hours of work – all over a weekend! But of course that rarely happens or else I’d be a millionaire by now…
So my income pretty much comes from a hodgepodge of side hustles :) Remember that I treat my projects as 50% business and 50% pleasure though. If it was all business all the time I’d be making 500% more! Haha… But since that’s boring and I like to have equal parts fun, I’m always dabbling around in order to make a “full” salary. Gone are the days of having my side hustles as *extra* money since I took the plunge into self-employment 3 years back. At the same time, gone is blogging out of pure hobby too now that I support a family of 4 myself.
Something else to keep in mind is that the interests and skills of us blogging/building stuff behind the scenes change as time goes on as well. For the better, or the worse. For example, if I answered this same question about my revenue streams a few years ago it would look entirely different.
How I made money a few years ago:
- Advertising on BudgetsAreSexy.com
- Advertising on Finance Site #2
- Advertising on Finance Site #3
- Advertising on Finance Site #4
- Advertising on Finance Site #5
- Advertising on Finance Site #6
- Advertising on Finance Site #7
- Advertising on Finance Site #8
- Advertising on Finance Site #9
- Advertising on Finance Site #10
- Advertising on Finance Site #11
- Advertising on Giveaway Website
- Commission from our Advertising Network
- Random one-off projects
[Names of websites withheld due to privacy and signed contracts, sorry!]
You don’t see any coaching, freelancing, site flipping, etc. I was all about my financial empire and soaking in that advertising money (while learning a $hit ton about business at the same time). At the peak of this I think I was making $150k a year, but then I started not having fun. I became a “business, man” as Jay-Z likes to say, and strayed far away from the “hobby” part like I’m back to now.
So what did I do with all those sites? I sold them. Yet another perk (and income stream!) of owning websites – you can flip them if they’re decent and producing revenue! And there’s a good shot that some of the blogs you read today have been bought and sold over their lifetime :) Bet you never knew that, huh? (I should note, however, that not all sites succeed financially online. In fact, *most* of them do not. And I’ve had my fair share of losers too – some of which you’ll see below…)
Here’s a breakdown of those projects I’ve since sold:
The last one I sold was the $8k one (breaking even), and fortunately I’ve had way more winners in there than losers :) But as you can see, there’s a healthy market for online real estate just as there is for physical real estate. And although I haven’t completed my dream of trading an online property with a real one one day, haha, overall I’m pretty happy with the way its turned out.
Keep in mind these numbers are only profit from *flipping* the sites/projects too – it doesn’t account for all the revenue you (hopefully) made while the sites were in your possession. I’ve made $5,000 a month on some of those bad boys in their heyday, while other times -$500.
Here are some previous posts I’ve written while in the process of selling some of these… They’ll give you an interesting look on the different partnerships that can come out of it too – like how I sold these, and then got hired back to continue running them. So even if a site you read has been sold, it doesn’t mean the original blogger isn’t still there sharing all their sexy thoughts :) (Think of J.D. from Get Rich Slowly. He sold years ago for over a million dollars, but continued to write for it for years – without anyone the wiser)
And here’s an interview I just did with Kathleen from ForProfitBlogging.com too if it helps: Pour Your Heart Into the Content And Focus on What You Like. As well as two other great sites to follow for making money online: MicroBlogger.com and SmartPassiveIncome.com. Jeff Rose from GoodFinancialCents also has an epic guide on ways to make money, including a ton of beginner tips to you on your way to making your first online dollar.
Speaking of Smart Passive Income…
You think people like me are killing it online? Not even close. That guy (Pat Flynn) literally makes over $80,000 every single month. EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH. And how do I know this? Because he’s such a brilliant teacher that he shares his monthly income reports with everyone so they can all learn too. Similar to our net worth updates, only on crack :) Last month he made $83,903.53 which is more than I have made all year! Haha…
You can see all of these income reports here.
And if you’ve ever wondered what’s in his wallet, here you go:
He was kind enough to snap this for me back when we were doing our Wallet Crashing Series (remember that?) but I ended up putting it on pause until apparently today ;) So enjoy the sneak peek into Pat Flynn’s wallet! Seen for the first time ever here! Haha…
Anyways, that’s how I make money online.
Pretty much through advertising and a bunch of random hustling. The beauty of the online world is that the possibilities to turn something into a business is HUGE if you put in the effort and energy. It’s not always fun or easy (most of us work 10, 12, 16 hour days – even over the weekend!) but if you’re dedicated and *passionate* the odds are greatly in your favor.
And btw, we didn’t even cover any of the OTHER ways to make money online either. I don’t do 75% of the stuff that REALLY pays you well! Like making your own products, eBooks, real books, courses, public speaking, and tons of other smart business plays. I know some who have made $1 million+ on a single course (*ahem* Ramit), while others have gone on to become New York Times best sellers or structure their site with so many income streams it sells for over $3+ Million! (*Ahem* Jim Wang) Again, nothing without hard work or dedication, but the opportunity is def. out there.
I’ll leave you with a list of the 50 most expensive domains in the world to really be impressed. If you scroll to the end you’ll see some sexy finance blogs I’ve included in there for fun too…
Back to hustling we go!
PS: You can get a lot of other stuff besides money too through blogging and online ventures. Non physical stuff like friendships, networks, business partners, and all that jazz, but also interesting things such as: free laptops, beds, gift cards, toys, hotel rooms, flights, lingerie (no joke!), safes, skateboards, and a ton of other stuff I can’t recall at the moment. It really is amazing the stuff that can come out of blogging… Both in personal growth, and in personal wealth :)