In October 2018 I achieved one of my personal dreams.
I quit my safe but boring 9-5 job, and became a full time blogger!
I’d been blogging for almost exactly two years at that point. Slowly but surely, I built up my blogging income until I was earning more blogging part time than in my full time office job.
Since then, lots of readers have got in touch with questions on how to make a full time income blogging. So I’m writing this post for you 🙂
If you are wondering how to become a full time blogger, I hope this post will provide you with some kind of road map, some helpful tips, and lots of inspiration.
Apologies in advance – this is a very long and detailed post! If you’re not interested in making money blogging, you’ll want to skip this one.
But if you dream of making a full time income from your blog too, I hope this post will benefit you.
Remember, I was just like you. I started blogging in the evenings and weekends alongside my day job.
I started with zero knowledge of the business of blogging. I taught myself, and later on I took some fantastic courses which helped me along the way.
Haven’t started your blog yet? Click here for my full tutorial on how to set up a blog and make money.
Otherwise, read on to find out how I became a full time blogger in under two years!
By the way, this post uses affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links, I may earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site!
- 1 My journey to becoming a full time blogger
- 2 How I make money online
- 3 Why so many income streams?
- 4 How I make money from my blog
- 5 What happened to my income reports?
- 6 My blog income in numbers
- 7 Blog expenses
- 8 A note on registering as self employed
- 9 Building a blog while working full time
- 10 Turning points in my blogging journey
- 11 Blogging education: the courses that made a difference
- 12 What’s your blogging journey?
My journey to becoming a full time blogger
I started my money-making journey in October 2016.
I was fed up with my job and my stagnant salary. I knew that I wanted a change, but I didn’t necessarily want to move to a different company and end up with the same set of problems somewhere else.
After some soul-searching, I decided the solution was to make money from home!
My short term goal was to make an extra couple of hundred pounds a month to relieve some financial pressure. My long term goal was to make enough to quit my job.
To start with, I tried out every money-making site, app and idea I came across. And I started this blog (also in October 2016) to track my progress.
I had heard of making money blogging, but I wasn’t very informed about it when I started!
I had the vague idea that I would make money through all these various side hustles while I blogged about them. And over time, my blog would start to make money too.
Well, it did sort of work out like that – but as you’ll see below, making money blogging takes a lot more focus and strategy than I initially thought. It doesn’t just happen. My blogging income only really started to take off when I started to treat it like a business!
I’d been blogging for just over a year when my blog income started to grow month on month.
A few months after that, I started to realise I could make a full time income from blogging. And by October 2018 – just two years after I started my blog – I was making more money blogging than in my office job.
So I quit to become a professional blogger!
How I make money online
Since October 2018, I’ve been self-employed full time.
The majority of my income is from blogging. I have two blogs that are generating income now. This one (Boost My Budget) brings in the most money, and I have another profitable site in a different niche. I don’t spend so much time on that blog, but it brings in a small but consistent income.
I also have another couple of sites in the pipeline. I work on them a little bit here and there, but they aren’t really making money yet.
In addition to my blogs, I make regular money from Merch by Amazon (selling T shirts online), and smaller amounts from other avenues, such as:
Why so many income streams?
One thing I’ve always struggled with is ‘shiny object syndrome’ – hopping from new project to new project!
I’ve started and abandoned lots of side hustles and business ideas in the past, and ultimately I felt I was stretching myself too thin and not achieving much. That’s why I give 90% of my focus to my two main blogs now.
However, I’m also a big believer in multiple income streams. I never want to put all my eggs in one basket, because what happens if something goes wrong?
You are almost always at the mercy of someone else when it comes to making money.
With a regular job, you could be let go at any time. With blogging, your main affiliate program could shut down, or you could fall victim to a Google algorithm update that slashes your web traffic, or you could have a technical issue that takes your site offline.
I believe blogging is actually much more secure than a regular job, because I have so many different income streams and traffic sources. But I’m always looking to add more, and I like to reassess the balance regularly!
Also, one reason I still dabble in survey sites and website testing is that they are a great way to make money fast!
Blogging is a business, not a quick cash generator. Everything I do on my blog has a long term effect. I can spend a day writing a new post, or updating the SEO on an old post, but it might be one or two months (or even longer) before I start making money from that post.
If you need a quick top-up of cash, look for other ways you can hustle that money. Be patient with your blog!
How I make money from my blog
I have three main income streams on my blogs. They are, in this order:
- Affiliate marketing (this is when you earn a commission for recommending products and services to your readers)
- Sponsored posts
I love affiliate marketing and advertising the most because they are passive!
Meaning, every time a visitor comes to my blog, I have the opportunity to make money from one (or both) of these methods.
I can make money from affiliate marketing and advertising even when the visitor is reading a post I wrote two years ago, and even if they visit while I’m sleeping or on holiday.
Sponsored posts can be very profitable, but they aren’t passive. Not only does it take time to write a post, but there’s also negotiating with the client, going backwards and forwards with edits, invoicing, chasing payments…
My aim with my blogs has always been to make as much passive income as possible. With this goal in mind, I’d like to reduce the number of sponsored posts I take, and add some additional streams of income such as selling my own ebooks or other products.
What happened to my income reports?
As long-time readers know, I used to publish monthly income reports on this site.
In the early days, I didn’t make any income from blogging. Instead, I wrote about how I made money from surveys, matched betting, mystery shopping, website testing, and all kinds of other side hustles.
I wanted to show all the ways that a normal person like me was managing to make some extra cash in my spare time.
Once I started to make more money from blogging, I spent less time on all these other side hustles, so I felt like my reports were becoming less useful to the average (non-blogger!) person.
Also, as my income grew, I began to think seriously about doing this full time. That’s when I started to get uncomfortable with having my earnings out there on the internet.
Thirdly, the income reports took a lot of time to compile each month! I felt pressure both to write the reports, and to increase and diversify my income each month. I started to feel like they were distracting me from other work I needed to do on my blog.
So I quit doing my monthly reports.
However, I know a lot of people miss my reports. Also, I believe it’s important to stay accountable to my readers and show how I’m making money nowadays!
In place of monthly income reports, I’ll do occasional posts like this, about what I’ve learned and my business growth in general.
I am also going to show some general info on my earnings in this post, to demonstrate how blogging income grows over time 🙂
My blog income in numbers
So here’s the bit you’ve been waiting for: the part where I open up about my blogging earnings.
I’m not going to break it down as much as I used to in my income reports. My main aim is to show you how blog income builds up over time – and how you need to stick with it to see results.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
This chart only shows my income from blogging – not from Merch or my other side hustles. This income is from both of my profitable blogs combined, although the majority is from this blog. I wish I had kept better records but it’s hard to separate my income, especially from the earlier days, because I sometimes used the same affiliate accounts for both! (I am getting better at this now!)
Also, note that I follow a cash accounting system and only record my income when it was actually received. For example, I was making a few dollars a month in paid ads since early on, but didn’t count this until I reached the $100 payment threshold – which took a LONG time back then!
I’m just showing the first two years of my blog income, because that’s how long it took me to become a full time blogger.
For comparison, here are my page views to my main blog (this one) over the same period:
You can see something isn’t quite right with the page views… it’s showing 0 for the first few months. I don’t remember exactly, but I think this is because I didn’t even have Google Analytics installed until then! However, I promise you nothing exciting was happening pageview-wise in my first four months 🙂
Here is income and page views together:
Let’s take a closer look at my income.
I received my first official blog payment in June 2018 (month 8). It was just under £100 that month. From then on, I started to receive payments every month.
I did actually start making small amounts of money before this, but I didn’t meet the payment thresholds so my money was all locked away in my various affiliate accounts!
As you can see, my earnings really started to grow around 14 months in (December 2017).
So what happened?
A few things: my traffic increased around this time (mainly thanks to my SEO work paying off – more on this later – and also just the age of my site).
This led to more consistent earnings with my major affiliate programs, which meant I started getting regular payments from several affiliate programs each month, rather than having to wait several months until I hit the payout thresholds!
Also, I signed up with some new clients for sponsored posts and started making more regular income that way. Check this post for some places to find sponsored posts as a new blogger.
The spike in January 2018 was because I won $1,000 in a blogging affiliate contest. I chose to include it because it was directly blogging related, but obviously it doesn’t represent my typical income!
The next big jump in income came in August 2018. That was when I received my first payment from my new ad agency, Mediavine.
I signed up with Mediavine in May 2018 after increasing my traffic massively with this Pinterest course. Since August, I have received regular monthly payments from them which are usually over $1,000 and growing. Ad income is now one of my biggest sources of income.
I am really happy to be working with Mediavine. They have a minimum traffic requirement of 25k sessions per month, so this is a great goal to set as a new blogger!
Since then, my income continued to increase but there were no more big changes – just general increased traffic (mostly as a result of working on my SEO in conjunction with Pinterest), which led to an increase in affiliate and ad income.
Of course, like any business, blogging has expenses, and it wouldn’t be right not to mention them!
The good news is that blogging can be a very cheap business to run.
(It can also be very expensive – if you let it!)
My regular monthly expenses are about £50.
- My web hosting (I have recently switched to a small local provider for a higher level of support, but I recommend SiteGround for beginners)
- MailerLite for my mailing list
- Canva for Work for my graphics
- Keysearch keyword research tool
- QuickBooks for my accounts
Only the hosting and mailing list are real essentials – the other tools are just things I like to have.
I try to budget around £150-£200 a month to pay back into my business. After paying my regular expenses, I save up the rest so I can buy one-off things such as training courses.
There are also a few expenses that I pay yearly, such as my Tailwind subscription for Pinterest, and domain name renewals. Occasionally I will buy extras like stock photo bundles from Depositphotos or Creative Market.
So these are my expenses running a full time business. I don’t think £200 is much at all, compared to the expenses of running a brick and mortar business with a physical location and stock!
When you first start out, all you really need is hosting. You can get this from as little as £2.95 a month at SiteGround (the hosting platform I recommend for beginners).
One of the great things about blogging is the low financial barrier to entry!
A note on registering as self employed
One thing I didn’t list in my expenses above is taxes.
In most employed jobs, you never really have to think about taxes because they are taken out of your paycheque before you even see the money.
When you are self employed, you are responsible for paying taxes yourself. This is true whether you work for yourself full time or just earning a bit on the side alongside another job.
If you make more than £1000 a year from your blog – or any other side hustles – you’ll need to register as self employed and submit a Self Assessment tax return each year. If you’re in the UK like me, you can do this all online at the gov.uk website here.
If you’re elsewhere in the world, obviously please check what you need to do in your country.
Your Self Assessment tax bill will be due in a lump sum once a year, so remember to keep some money aside for this!
At the beginning of every month, I add up all the income I received in the previous month, and transfer a percentage to a separate savings account until it’s time to pay my tax bill.
I strongly recommend you do the same thing if you are making money from your blog.
Yes, it’s sad to see so much money leaving my account just after I’ve earned it! But it’s exactly the same as a ‘normal’ job – the only difference is you don’t have to think about it in normal employment. So try not to see the money as ‘yours’ until after you’ve accounted for taxes.
Don’t let the thought of this put you off! It’s not too difficult to complete your own tax return, so long as you’ve kept a good record of your income and outgoings throughout the year.
Please remember I’m not an accountant or tax adviser. If you have questions about any of this section, I recommend phoning HMRC or speaking to a professional!
Building a blog while working full time
As I mentioned, I built up my blog to a full time income, alongside a full time job!
Running a side business alongside a job is not easy.
It takes a lot of dedication to make things work.
If you have the goal of building up a substantial side income like I did, there is no way around it – you have to make time for your blog, and you have to be consistent.
For a long time, I got up 90 minutes early to work on my blog before work. Every single day.
I found this was what worked best for me, after a lot of trial and error. In the beginning I would stay up late to work, but I found I was so tired after my day job, and I didn’t have the energy to be creative.
Getting up early was tough, but I LOVED starting the day knowing that I was doing something for me. And whatever else happened that day, I’d know that I’d already taken positive action to build my business and improve my life.
It makes it a lot easier to cope with a bad day at work when you’re working on your escape plan 😉
My best advice is to treat it like a second job, as if you had a job outside the home. Your blog time should be non-negotiable. Schedule it in your diary, and make sure your significant other or anyone else you live with understand that you need to work during this time.
If you treat it like a hobby, and try to fit it in as-and-when, you’ll never get round to it.
Also take a look at my post on productivity hacks for more ideas.
Turning points in my blogging journey
There are a few lessons I learned a year or so into my blogging journey that really made all the difference for me. These are the things that helped my blog grow to the point where it was making a full time income.
Here are the top lessons I’d like to share with new bloggers or anyone struggling to grow their blog:
Stick it out
When people contact me for advice on starting their own blog, the main thing I always tell them is to commit to at least one year before deciding blogging isn’t for you.
Forget about making money straight away. In your first few months, just concentrate on putting out lots of good quality blog posts, while learning as much as you can about blogging.
As you saw from my income chart above, I didn’t earn anything until month 8. Even then, I was ‘only’ earning £100 or £200 a month for a while.
But just after one year in, all my hard work started to pay off, and my income started to snowball.
There are many reasons for this. It takes time to grow an audience. It takes time for you to find your voice, and learn how to be a blogger. But also it takes several months for Google to start sending traffic to a new site, and there’s no shortcut around that.
Yes, you will have a few miserable months at the beginning where nobody is reading your blog and you’ll want to throw in the towel.
But be patient, keep blogging, and it will all pay off.
Write popular content
When I first started blogging, I used to think that every blog post had to be unique.
I’d come up with an idea for a new post, but then I’d find out that somebody else had already written about it, so I’d cancel the post. I didn’t want to be accused of copying.
The thing is, if you want to make money blogging, you need to write popular content. And the best way to write popular content is to look at what’s already popular, and put your own spin on it.
Putting out posts on popular, tried-and-tested topics is the best way to get traffic quickly from Pinterest and social media.
Note, I am not telling you to copy other people’s posts! But it’s perfectly fine to be inspired by other posts, as long as you write your own post in your own words, and add your own ideas.
Realistically, there’s very little completely original content out there. Almost everything has been done before.
But you can put your own spin on an old idea, and maybe you will be the first person to introduce the idea to your readers, who want to hear it in your voice.
When I first started out, I opened social media profiles everywhere I could think of and tried to post to them all several times a week. I also spent hours every week just following masses of people blindly, in the hope that they would follow me back! This is a BAD tactic.
Focusing on too many things at one time just means you won’t master any of them, and you’ll burn out quicker.
I strongly recommend that you just focus on one social media platform at a time. And, for most bloggers, I strongly recommend that their #1 focus is Pinterest!
This is because Pinterest is the quickest way to get traffic as a new blogger. It can also be the quickest way to get viral posts, and short-term boosts to popular posts.
I’ve lumped it with social media here, but it’s really more of a search engine, which is what makes it so powerful. It’s possible to get amazing traffic from Pinterest even without many followers, if you are using good keywords so your pins can be found in search.
(This is the course that taught me how to master Pinterest – it quadrupled my traffic in a month!)
SEO is the real game changer
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the art of ranking well in search engine results.
SEO can be a bit of a mystery, so many bloggers ignore it. But it’s the real game changer if you want to make a passive income from your blog (which has always been my goal!)
With Pinterest or social media, you have to keep on promoting your site if you want to see results. But once you rank on page one of Google for something, you’ll have a constant flow of visitors.
(You do have to do some work to maintain your rankings, but overall it’s a whole lot more passive!)
SEO does take a few months to kick in with a new blog. So don’t worry if you don’t see any results for a while. But if you make sure all your new posts are optimised for SEO, you will find that your traffic just starts to build up out of nowhere after a while.
My Google traffic started shooting up after I bought this ebook and applying the 10 Steps to old posts. It takes about 1 or 2 hours to revamp an old post and I almost always see an increase in traffic!
Invest in blogging education
In my first year of blogging, I tried to figure everything out for myself.
This was partly because I didn’t want to spend money on courses before I was making money, and partly because I didn’t see the need – there’s so much information out there that you can find almost anything you need to know for free, surely?
Well, yes, there is a lot of information out there for free – but there is so much value in having a course or book that sets out everything you need to know in one place.
It gives you a plan of action and cuts down on distractions. Plus when you’ve paid for something it gives you more incentive to act on it!
Also, the most valuable courses I’ve taken share unique information that I haven’t found anywhere else for free 😉
I can tell you that my transition from making a couple of hundreds pounds a month to making quit-my-job money is DIRECTLY tied to a few particular courses that I’ve taken.
And blogging education doesn’t have to be expensive.
Some of the best courses I’ve taken – the ones that led to a direct increase in my traffic and income – cost less than $50.
Compared to the cost of a university education or college course, that’s insane value for money!
On that note:
Blogging education: the courses that made a difference
I have taken a LOT of different blogging courses by this point.
These are the top courses that truly made a difference to my income:
This course sets out a really unique pinning strategy that I have never seen anywhere else. Plus, course author Carly shares SO MANY tips and insights that again, I’ve never heard anywhere else. But they work!
I felt like I understood so much more about how Pinterest works after taking this course.
But it’s not just theory and insights – you get exact, step by step instructions of what to do to increase your Pinterest traffic like crazy.
It’s thanks to this course that I could get my page views high enough to apply to ad agency Mediavine, within just one month of taking action. And Mediavine gave me that income boost I needed to take my blog full time.
So in a way, I owe Carly my career 🙂
Billionaire Blog Club / Dare to Conquer
Billionaire Blog Club (BBC) is in the process of rebranding/transitioning to Dare to Conquer (DTC), so at the time of writing you get access to both.
BBC/DTC are not so much a ‘course’ as… a membership package? Blogging community? Entire online business school?
However you describe it, it’s a package that gives you access to several courses covering many different aspects of building an online business, from content creation to SEO to email marketing.
Most of these courses are just as good, if not better, than the full individual courses on these subjects sold by other bloggers. And there are new courses added all the time!
In addition to the courses, you get access to the community where you can collaborate with other bloggers and bounce questions off the founder, Scrivs.
There are also special challenges and journeys, such as how to make $1,000 a month with ads.
Scrivs has a very unique insight into blogging as a business and he changed my whole mindset.
I’ve found that so many other people who teach blogging get very repetitive, and you often feel like you aren’t getting the whole picture.
Scrivs holds nothing back. He pulls back the curtain on the ‘secrets’ of blogging. Most of the time, these are not really secrets, but things that were right in front of you all along but you never stopped to think about.
He just explains things in a way that resonates with me, and I’ve had so many breakthrough moments since following his courses.
The only downside is that the price has gone up considerably since I joined.
I was lucky enough to be one of the first members and got in at a very low price. It’s hard for me to recommend DTC at the price it is now, especially since I didn’t pay it!
Even though I still believe that DTC is insanely valuable, it’s still a lot of money and I couldn’t recommend you spend that much unless you’re in a comfortable financial position to do so.
However, I think Scrivs will be offering some of the courses individually for a lower price in future so it is worth keeping an eye out for those.
Also, he gives away so much valuable information for free in his free courses and newsletters! I recommend at least signing up for his free 12 day blogging bootcamp course (and staying on his mailing list after) and just see what you can pick up.
Most things by PotPieGirl!
PotPieGirl (a.k.a. Jennifer Ledbetter) is another one of my blogging gurus. I’ve bought almost every single course and guide she’s put out, and I’m never disappointed.
Luckily, all her guides are very affordable, very concise and practical!
She doesn’t do fluff. She does actionable, practical tips to improve your blog. And always with a focus on making more money.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with anything that Pot Pie Girl makes. But here are my top recommendations:
10 Step SEO Improvement Plan for Pinterest Bloggers – this is an EXCELLENT guide to SEO for beginners. It’s about improving your existing blog posts to get more search engine traffic. You will get the most out of it if you already have a blog that gets some traffic from Pinterest or social media, but you’re mystified by SEO. I apply the steps in the guide to older posts on a regular basis, and I usually see an almost instant increase in traffic!
Google Pleaser – another short but very effective SEO guide. This is a video and accompanying PDF that walk you through finding keywords to target in Google, that you actually have a good chance of ranking for fast. And it’s all using free tools. If you’re baffled by keyword research and you don’t want to pay for any fancy software, this is what you need.
Niche Post Conversion Strategies – this guide is a must if you want to improve your affiliate marketing income. It’s a very detailed guide to getting more clicks and conversions on your affiliate links.
What’s your blogging journey?
I can honestly say I’ve never been happier than since becoming a full time blogger. I love the freedom and flexibility of my new lifestyle.
I also love that there is no limit on my earnings now! My income increases month on month, and I am bursting with new ideas of how to improve my blog and earn even more.
One thing about blogging is that you can never stop learning! The search engines and social media platforms that we rely on for traffic never stop making changes. Luckily, I really enjoy teaching myself and testing out new things, so this is another aspect of blogging that works really well for me.
How about you? Do you have a blog, or are you hoping to start one?
If you are a blogger, how long did it take you to start making money? Was your journey similar to mine?
Blogging can sometimes be a bit of a solitary industry, so I’d love to hear about your experiences too 🙂
And if you’re just starting out, good luck! You can do it too!