Hi everyone! Welcome to my first income report of 2020.
I started these income reports because I wanted to carefully detail the journey of what it takes to earn a full-time income from a food blog.
If you’re new here, let’s start with a quick rundown!
I started blogging in 2009 (in college, FOR A CLASS). In 2016, I started Hangry Woman after my type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Since then, the blog and Instagram communities you all share with me have been a major part of my life.
Bright spots this month
I had such a wonderful January! I was featured at one of Everyday Health’s top type 2 diabetes blogs. I was really honored to be included in this list – especially since this blog small. Getting that recognition means so much.
I also traveled to North Carolina to talk to employees at Abbott Diabetes Care about how the Freestyle Libre 14-Day system has changed my life (I currently have an ongoing partnership with them, and love showing off how this device lets me live my life).
It was really cool to share the story of how my blog came about. It was also SO exciting to meet Hannah, Austin and Paloma, who all have Type 1 diabetes, and are amazing advocates and influencers. It was a joy to be a part of.
Getting better at food photography was also another goal. I was OK before. But I went back to the basics and started learning over again. One of the photographers in my office has given be great gear advice and tiny lighting lessons as we’ve had fun conversations about photography.
I posted this shot on Instagram the other day. You guys loved it! I honestly couldn’t believe I shot something like this.
Always keep learning. Even if you think you’re good, you can be better.
Also, In thinking about goals and this income report, I wanted to share something.
At the end of last year, I decided I wanted to be open and honest about how I made my income. But I also wanted to be honest about something else in starting the new year.
Bryan and I have debt.
We have some big motivations to become debt free
I think everyone has debt, but we really have it. Our cars, my student loans, and a couple of credit cards, medical debt from his accident (plus that mortgage that seems like it’s going to last for our entire lives, you know?).
We decided together that it was time to be able to live a debt-free life. So we’re making a hard decision: *almost* all of the money coming from my blog biz is going to debt until we pay it off.
The slowest that will happen is a year and a half. It could probably happen faster if every single dollar goes to it instead of just my regular blog income.
It’s a huge sacrifice, but it came down to this.
I was looking at one of my student loans one day. I looked at the account history and realized that I’d been paying the thing for FIVE YEARS. I was like “I’m almost there right?
The balance? Almost the same as it was 5 years ago.
To be fair, I should have known this, but It was kind of like an “out of sight, out of mind” thing for me. I was making the minimum payments, keeping my credit score high and I thought I was chipping away.
That’s a horrible way to look at money – especially loans.
So, instead of spending money frivolously, we’re buckling down and paying off debt so that we can have that “I’M DEBT FREE” scream, and a whole lot of financial freedom to do whatever we want with the rest of our lives.
We’re eating at home more. We’re only going on trips that are paid for (except one we’ve already booked). I’m taking every extra job I can get (so hire me, head shots, food photography, whatever you need!) We’re taking every dollar, and avalanching this debt. Extra payments where possible, and all.
I’ll certainly detail the process as it goes through income reports. For now, I’m not sure how much I want to share.
But, at the end of this, I’ll definitely reveal everything – including how much we’re paying off. It’s scary to think about!
Recently, I made a HUGE payment on one of our bills with blog income. It was so hard to feel like that money was just getting thrown out the window, but I know it that that last dollar we ever pay is going to be SWEET.
Why we want financial freedom
It’s pretty simple really:
- Flexibility in our lives to do whatever we want
- More savings/security
- Actually saving more for both of our retirements
- Feeling responsible, ready and financially steady for kids
- Less stress/worry around money
- True freedom
Now, on to the report.
Traffic for January
My goal traffic per month is 80,000 page views per month. I fell short of that at 62,543. That’s not bad, especially since Q1 is notoriously bad for food bloggers.
This wasn’t any worse for me than normal. Google core updates went into effect this month and I didn’t seem to be impacted – in fact, I got a little spike shortly after.
I was thrilled to see that people were spending more time on my site this month. That means I’m writing blogs you guys like – that makes me really happy!
How I earned $2,605.65 this month
My Mediavine ad payout this month was $1,217.41. This was actually in relation to traffic I earned over 60 days ago. For January I earned ~$900 (totals are still pending). I’m hoping that increasing my traffic, or actual ad clicks will help grow that income over time.
If you want to know about what it takes to get accepted to Mediavine, they have a great blog explaining their thresholds and application process.
Working hard to grow my traffic was one of the best things I did. It came down to focusing on great content that people love to read. Each one of my blogs takes hours of research, testing and tinkering.
Some things happen by accident, but most things are the result of a lot of analysis.
1474.43 in partnerships, amazon affiliates and consulting. Nothing about this is notable – it’s pretty standard for me.
How I spent $800
- I spent money on Ubers and food on my recent trip to North Carolina (that will get reimbursed)
- I purchased hosting for Hangry Woman from Bluehost
- My G-suite Emails
- Mailchimp to maintain my mailing list
- Subscribers for website push notifications
- Slickstream as the search engine behind my website
- Adobe Lightroom CC for photo editing
- I bought a camera flash, diffuser and flash box this month so that I could start working with flash photography (and shoot photos at any time despite available daylight)
- Business insurance was due for the year
- And I just added a service called “Sendible” to my arsenal of social media tools which is significantly more expensive than the service I was using.
In most months, going forward, I won’t spend this much. I have just about every tool I need in my photography kit, except for some small styling tools, and a few more versatile backdrops.
I’m really excited about how this month went, and I can’t wait to see what February brings for the blog. Thank you guys for your constant support and encouragement. I hope you enjoyed reading this report, and I answered some of your questions.
Debt is a HUGE motivation.
About 15 years ago my husband and I had a lot of debt. We had all the standard dumb debt – car loans, boat loan, credit cards, and a mortgage. I bought a Dave Ramsey book with the best of intentions and it sat on my coffee table unread.
About five years ago I got serious about paying off debt. We paid off our house in June 2021. Most credit card debt is gone but I do have one car payment (it’s the last one I will ever have).
I love listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcast, it’s a big motivator because no matter how bad you think your debt is, someone else has it worse and if they can pay their debt off so can you.
You’ve got this!
Great numbers, Mila! Can’t wait to Join Mediavine.
I noticed you didn’t mention Pinterest as a strategy for your traffic. Is it something you use or plan to use?
Pinterest isn’t part of my strategy any longer. I felt that I was spending a lot of time making content there, but my efforts weren’t really rewarded. I decided to move to platforms that would distribute my content a little better, and I could see better returns from.
Thanks for sharing these insights Mila. It’s amazing you’ve hit this income… I know it takes a lot of work to get where you are.
Debt is such a killer and completely overwhelms. I’m glad for you that you have something in place to help you pay it down so you can live your life debt free… perhaps your blog will outperform your expectations and get you to your objective earlier than you plan!
I’m going to include you in a roundup I’m writing for new bloggers to show what’s possible with hard work and commitment. I’ll drop you a message when it’s live.
Thanks again for sharing your report for January and I wish you the best of luck going forward!