Blog Income Report Q3 2017

Q3 was a record breaking quarter where the site received over 10K in revenue. For my perspective, that’s an absolutely crazy result since my site was originally launched as an extra way to communicate with my then girlfriend.

I gotta tell ya, it really worked out because not only did our communication improve, but – we also got engaged!

As the site continues to grow, I need to work on communicating this “make money online,” stuff to readers like you who actually want to learn. Today’s post will highlight Distilled Dollar’s Blog Income Report Q3 2017, so if you only care about personal finance, check back into the site Tuesday for my Net Worth update and the sizzling recap of our successful Frugality Challenge.

Blog Income Report Q3 2017

When you’re racking up excellent (albeit smaller) amounts of $400 or $500 extra a month from blogging, no one seems to really care.

It just isn’t that exciting.

But once you release 5-figure products and start making $2,000+ a month, then you start to get, well, tons of crazy email requests.

In an effort to appease the people who ask, “How do I make billions overnight with a new blog?” and to maintain my transparency, I recap my blog revenue and expenses each quarter. (If you’re new to Distilled Dollar, I recommend checking out some of the older posts here so you can see how the site has grown over time.)

At the end of the day, the value of this blog is directly linked to the value you, as a reader on DD, receive for being here.

Thanks for reading, being a fan, sending emails, leaving comments, sending social media messages and even texts and calls now.

I still remember what it felt like to claw my way out of the money pit of life and then do it all over again with my fiancée, so I will never tire to hear about the good stories you send about positive change.

Blogging Revenue, Expenses, and Income Q3 2017

Revenue – $10,485.42
Expenses – $11,342.85
Income(Loss) – $(857.43)

As someone who is coming off another quarter of saving over 60%, I wanted to also keep the blog revenue to really boost our savings rate through the roof, but that just didn’t seem like the right thing to do.

Instead, I ended up reinvesting all the revenue and even some of my personal cash back into the blog.

Why would I do this?

I didn’t intend for blogging to take up as much time as it was earlier this year – especially with working a 9-5 job (more like an 8-6) as a tax CPA in Chicago.

On top of that, my boss’s boss was replaced so we have a new CFO in our organization…creating more work at my desk job…which means the nights are longer and the days start earlier.

So, to better support myself through this process (while I am still working), I’m utilizing expenses on smart purchases where the training or consulting or coaching seem to be a win-win.

I’ve also just signed up for another $2,399 course on, ironically, building courses.

These big ticket expense items are scary, but in the end, I’m spending big in the hopes that the investments will be well worth it.

I would love to be like one of my business partners, with a million dollar portfolio, so cash flows or credit card statements are not an issue. Alas, I’m not living in the days of enjoying 7 figure portfolios, so for the meantime, I’ll be pinching my pennies and reinvesting them into the site where it makes the most sense: for the blog and for you.

I’ll go into full details below on all the numbers along with an update on the blog goals I set back in December 2016.

Goals Update

Oddly enough, blog viewership went against the revenue trend by going down this quarter. It goes to reaffirm that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to the value you provide to your readers.

I would much rather have 1 committed fan, willing to experiment with money saving tactics or excited to start making more money online, instead of a 1,000 fans who are merely interested in personal finance.

Blog Income Report Q3 2017 Distilled Dollar 2Pageviews may fall short of our target for the year, but a 400% increase from last year, with one quarter left to go, feels surreal.

Plus, I didn’t post once in August, so it is nice to see referral and other sources of traffic continue to grow.

In terms of the number of people, 75,000 readers have now visited this year compared to last year’s 24,329. Crazy awesome!

What’s key to remember is each individual has their own, “hopes, dreams, fears, doubts and aspirations,” and as a part of that, we as bloggers in this community should never lose sight that each number represents an entire person, who is loved by others and who loves others.

Never lose sight of that if you’re just starting off.

Actually, never lose sight of that, period.

I still have no clue how SEO works, but it is nice to see the organic traffic for Distilled Dollar reaching all time highs. Q3 saw nearly a 100% increase in the SEO traffic! If you know why that happened, feel free to let me know.

Podcast Update – 750,000 downloads in 9 months!

Thanks for listening!

I can’t believe I was actually on the fence over starting the podcast in the first place, all because the mic would cost me $400.

I’m sure I’ll learn this lesson over and over again: It pays to invest in ourselves.

#SpendMoneyToMakeMoney

Course Launched!

More than anything this past quarter, I’m happy with the benefits people are seeing thanks to the course!

To be honest, I’m so happy that the product finally launched because it turned into a much bigger project than expected!

The original goal was set in January to launch in April, but then the work took till May, and then post-production work was… a learning experience (to say the least)…and the eventual ship date ended up being June 28th.

Not everyone needs a money course, especially if you have time to read all the information and books available on personal finance. I’m convinced we can do anything ourselves, hence why I don’t recommend trusting Robo Advisors and instead recommend investing in low cost index funds, such as those from Vanguard.

The paragraph above details why you should NOT buy the course. If you are looking for certainty and clarity in your money plan, or if you are looking to learn a lot about money quickly, then I don’t see any risk, as we offer a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee if you’re not 100% satisfied with the course. (here’s the link)

I won’t mention any more details here, as the link above contains all the information you need to gain access to the 40+ videos we produced.

Site Redesign

The big advantage with selling your own products is you don’t need to sell random products to people via random ads. As such, I’m looking into a few potential site redesigns that would eliminate the ads on my site.

Personally, if someone is on my site, I would rather they read a post I wrote or watch a video I created, instead of clicking through to find the, “best credit cards of 2017”.

The big goal was to have this done by the end of the year, so we shall see if I can still pull it off.

Book Reviews

Book reviews remain probably my favorite posts on the site.

Reading countless books on money, and even countless books on non-money topics has really helped me on my path to financial independence.

Instead of summarizing the books, I love to talk about how the book changed a specific investing behaviors, or how I was spending my time, or what impact it had on my shopping.

If you want to scan some of the previous 7 book reviews on distilled dollar, check them out by clicking here.

The First Five: 1-on-1 Coaching and Consulting Packages

A little over a month ago, I became absolutely inspired when I heard Elon Musk was devoting 5% of his already extremely busy schedule to his latest business venture on AI development.

Elon is a top notch entrepreneur, who’s running two separate, ELEVEN-figure businesses — Tesla and SpaceX — and he’s STILL finding the ability to carve out 5% of his time towards something he is truly passionate about.

If that’s not what life’s about, then I don’t know what is.

I wish I could be as quick and as awesome as Elon with launching a new business, but at my glacial pace, it took me over a month to build and refine what I am dubbing The First Five – AKA 1-on-1 coaching and consulting packages where I’m helping five individuals grow (or launch) their online products, blogs and brands.

To use an analogy, I saw many people online teaching people-who-love-to-dance, exactly that – how to dance better or how to dance with more confidence, but no one was helping dancers create a career and lifestyle around their passion.

I actually wrote up a lot of extra paragraphs here on what the packages included and what they offered, but after the announcement earlier this month, I already hit my quote of the number of people, so I am closing down the list and closing down the offer.

The response was so quick that needless to say, I was surprised as I was also a bit nervous to finally get the packages out there – but I’m honoring my commitment to work with 5 individuals as that is the max number of people I designed this for.

One person is even flying out to Chicago to meet up with me in person to talk about his start up!

Intense!

To avoid anyone from being upset about missing the list sign up, first off, I’m sorry, but I went ahead and left one final link HERE for anyone who wants to sign up. As spots become available, I’ll be going down The First Five list, in order.

No exceptions!

Okay, so now onto the part you may have simply scrolled straight to:

Breakdown of Blog Revenue and Expenses Q3 2017

Revenue of $10,488.12 is broken up as follows:

Distilled Dollar
$500 – Personal Capital (this is what I use to track my investments). I also love their affiliate program since, A) I use the tools myself, and B) it doesn’t cost a penny to use the tools.
$445.95 – My Finance (these are the little ads you see around the site. Since I’m starting to see people happier with course content (free or premium) and with consulting/coaching, I’m looking to avoid making ad revenue a priority by removing it all together as part of an upcoming site redesign.)
$200 – SoFi – This is the service we used to refinance our student loans to save us a few $100 each year. Those savings are then being reinvested back into the loans, so they are now compounding in our favor.
$1.54 – Amazon – still one of my favorite commissions as $1.54 translates into people are buying books – aka the greatest source of knowledge for like, thousands of years. (If you can’t access incredible people, books give us a way inside the thoughts, actions, and behaviors of those we love and admire).
$450Misc – This mostly represents Distilled Dollar content where people ask me to write on their services or apps or programs. As you can tell, I don’t engage in this activity of sponsored content often since I only utilize a very short list of tools and they’re almost all free.

Consulting/Coaching
$0* – First Five
$2,150 – Pre-First Five

Courses
$6,742 – Course Revenue (my half of it)

Total Q3 Blog Revenue:
 $10,488.12

*The First Five was launched on October 1st via my post on Elon Musk (detailed above), so I did not include any revenue in Q3 as the quarter ended Sept 30th. The COSTS for The First Five are included above since they were incurred ahead of the announcement.

For a quick glimpse ahead to the Q4 blog income report, the First Five launch has been another 5-figure launch, which is truly incredible. I’m starting to believe online consulting and online coaching are much more of a trend than I previously imagined. In fact, I finally signed up for my own coach – a triathlon coach – to help structure my workouts, tweak my nutrition plan, and help me compete at my first Ironman on June 10th, so I wouldn’t be surprised if online consulting or digital coaching start to really take off.

If you’re on the fence about launching your product or service online, just do it!

The results might be a pleasant surprise for you.

Expenses of $11,342.85 is broken up as:


Consulting Services – $6,082.00
(I can go on for hours here but the gist of it is – I’m buying back more of my time. By outsourcing or speaking with experts, I’m able to save so much time, and get back to fun hobbies like reading books and Ironman training.)

Online Courses – $2,399.00
(A LARGE part of ‘saving time’ – from the comment in the paragraph above – is actually so I can spend MORE time learning from the best. I learned a lot about launching products during these last two 5-figure launches, and I decided to pull the trigger on a course about launching and building online courses. The end goal is for you to have content you enjoy, that helps you, and I believe these types of online investments are well worth it.)

Credit Card Fees – $406.14* (UUUUUUGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Course Advertising Spend – $200.00
(I have yet to purchase my first paid ad, but I’m estimating about $400 in advertising spend to see what people liked and didn’t like regarding the course. I have yet to receive the final numbers, so I will no doubt be able to adjust these numbers up or down if needed. Tracking metrics like ad spend or clicks will definitely be an exciting part of Q4 as more of the back end systems are built out.)

Teachable – $148.50 (my half of the cost for hosting the course. The exciting part here is we can host a course in a better environment and that’s what’s going to happen soon.)

SurveyMonkey $69.00 (I was using survey monkey but no longer as I’m using the service listed below)

TypeForm – $19.00 (My surveys have been, “upgraded,” and the benefits have been immense. Outside of 1-on-1 calls, surveys have helped me refine and tweak material while tapping into what people are thinking and how I can help. I’ll continue to use surveys on the free savings workshop and the First Five, so don’t be surprised when a few links pop up on this site! P.S. If you’re considering this option of using TypeForm, let me know as I’m about to upgrade to the PRO edition for $99 and that offers me a referral link which might end up being a savings for you and for me.)

Hostgator – $35.89

Estimated Withholdings – $0.00 (I placed this line here since many aspiring bloggers forget to factor this in. As I’m reinvesting all my revenue I’m expecting the site to breakeven by the end of the year. If you view another income report at 10K revenue, and 0K expenses, then don’t forget to account for taxes!)

ConvertKit – ($31.00)
– this is almost a contra expense, but really it is a reversal of a Q2 expense. I was no longer using ConvertKit, so my last payment was refunded.

Total Expenses: $11,342.85

*Credit card fees are a bit of a nasty leakage, but at least we can do business more effectively online. I’ve since found some ways of avoiding the fees or at least minimizing them.

As I mentioned above, the profit from the blog is being invested back into growing the site. That approach has worked wonders in the past as the investments have paid off!

Bottom Line and Forecast for Q4

What a crazy quarter! My fiancee and I bought and moved into our first home, I received an $8,000 salary increase at my 9-5, I hired a triathlon coach to help me compete in my first Ironman race, and of course, we had a ridiculously lucrative quarter for the blog – hitting over 10K in revenue for the first time.

It has been an incredible last few months for me and I remind myself over and over again, of how blessed I am and what a privilege it is to publish content that you enjoy.

The strategy of reinvesting my “blog dividends,” has worked so far, and I’m finding that my best insights are coming from the 1-on-1 calls or from email exchanges with readers.

The focus now (and always) continues to be in creating the best possible content that helps and support you at your current stage in personal finance.

Thanks for making Q3 a record breaking quarter and here’s to all of us closing out 2017 strong!

How were your Q3 results for your blog, product, or business? Are you on pace to hit your big goals for 2017?

-Matt

P.S. With over 10k in revenue this quarter, I naturally wanted to plough all of that revenue back into the blog and that’s exactly what I ended up doing.

One great advantage to being a blogger while working a 9-5 is, you can use blog revenue to further fuel the growth of your site and business.

This approach has worked for me, so don’t hesitate to invest in yourself (more on this topic Tuesday as part of our 90 Day Frugality Challenge 2.0 recap).

2 comments… add one
  • The Grounded Engineer Oct 15, 2017, 9:08 am

    Great job, Matt! I’ve followed your blog for a long time and it is inspirational to see how far you’ve come. Congrats again and keep up the good work!

    • Distilled Dollar Oct 16, 2017, 11:55 am

      Thanks Taylor! I appreciate the comment. Taking that first step to start blogging was scary, but def glad to have made the leap.

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