February 26, 2013

Can You Actually Make Money Blogging? - My Experience

Can you actually make money blogging?  This is a post I have thought of writing several times.  I thought about being generic and giving a few tips or ideas on how to make a few dollars blogging... But I've struggled with this one question.  Do I share the actual numbers with people, how much money I've made each month from my part time blog?

Is it appropriate to discuss actual dollars and cents with people?  When I first started blogging I wanted to know the truth.  I wanted someone to tell me their actual figures, what their success or lack of success had been.  I saw posts that said things like "I make enough each month for a fancy cup of coffee"... or another that said "I make a pretty good living from my blog".  But nothing that spoke of actual numbers.

Let me start of by saying this:  Nobody is going to get rich quick blogging!  And if blogging to get rich is your goal, you might want to rethink blogging all together.  If you're going to blog it should be something you are passionate about.  Your topic should be something that interests you and that you want to share with others.  When you blog, even if you hope to make a little extra income, you need to understand that normally it takes anywhere from one to two years to even begin to make any money.  Yes, that means you basically are blogging for FREE... so if you don't love it, you probably shouldn't do it.

I've decided to share my story and the actual $$$ amount I've made from my blog.  It may encourage you or it may discourage you, but hopefully it will reach those who are thinking of blogging while trying to make a few dollars at the same time.  I hope that nobody is offended by my discussing actual dollar amounts.  I am not bragging (as you will see, it's not enough money to brag about) Lol...  I just want to share the truth about my experience.

First I will tell you a little about me, I love decorating!  I was a single mom for many years so decorating on a next to nothing budget was the only way I was able to decorate.  I learned how to take inexpensive items (other peoples junk) and turn them into one of a kind treasures.  I've always been crafty and so it's something I found that I love to do.  

Early 2001, as a single mom, I went from being a full time working super mom (who pretty much handled everything and then some, without getting much sleep), to being sickly and constantly in pain.  Long story short, late that year I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and have not worked full time or held a regular job since.  You can read more about my life and living with chronic pain if you are interested on my "About Me" page.    

In 2003, I married my now husband Jim.  He likes my "thrifty ways" so he encourages me and helps me with my many projects.  We had a successful eBay store for three years (2006 - 2008), where we sold furniture appliques and made custom chandeliers and lamps.  It was a good fit for me since I got to do it from home and on my own schedule (when I felt well enough).   I shared several of my chandelier creations on a prior blog post (Chandeliers I've Made).  At the end of the three years on eBay I decided I didn't want to do it anymore.  What was once so creative and fun, became more about manufacturing items and I admit that I completely burnt out on it.

I haven't worked a job of any kind since eBay.  Well, other than being a wife, mom, homemaker, maid, cook, chauffeur, home decorator, etc...  I haven't worked a paying job.  Although I wanted to start a blog for fun, I figured if I could make a few dollars at it, why not try!

I started this blog on September 6th of 2011.  I created it through the Blogger platform, which I still use today.  The one thing Blogger does that helped my blog in the early days was that they automatically list blog postings and pictures in Google search results.  So most of my early hits were from the Google search engine.  As for how I get additional traffic to my blog, I will leave that information for a future post.  This post will focus on how I make money from my blog.

When I created my blog, I immediately put Google Adsense on the layout.  It was something the Blogger platform made simple to add, so I signed up for it and I added it.  This was probably not the smartest thing to do in the very beginning because I may have lost some potential followers because the advertising could have scared them away.  But, it is the route that I chose to take.

As for my earnings...  I have listed all of them below.  In the beginning Adsense was my only revenue source.  After a time, I added additional sources.  After awhile I added additional income sources.  Each you will see as you continue reading below.

Google Adsense earnings from September 2011 - (don't laugh)  .47
(yes, 47 cents).  Google doesn't actually pay you until you reach the $10 threshold, but that was okay.  I wanted to blog as a way to share my love for decorating on a budget and make a few friends along the way.  Any money I actually made from it was just icing.  Okay, 47 cents wouldn't even buy icing, but you get the picture :)

October 2011       Google earnings   $ 3.55
November 2011   Google earnings   $40.00
December 2011    Google earnings  $67.88

Wow... I was shocked at this point.  I realized that the Christmas posts were drawing many many views.  People started looking for Christmas Decorating ideas in early November and into mid  December.  I was thrilled to see I was making a few dollars so early in my blogging endeavor   However, come January, it would likely be slow (and it was).

January 2012  Google earnings   $ 27.64
February 2012 Google earnings  $ 17.84
March 2012 Google earnings      $ 25.65
April 2012  Google earnings       $ 29.00
May 2012   Google earnings       $ 27.23
June 2012   Google earnings       $ 40.26
July 2012    Google earnings       $ 63.76
August 2012 Google earnings     $123.02
September 2012 Google earnings $ 98.87
October 2012 Google earnings    $101.95
November 2012 Google earnings $201.03
December 2012 Google earnings $175.70

The holidays again were very busy on my blog.  Because of them I actually received a 1099 from Google for 2012.  I figured this was pretty good considering it was my first full year of blogging!  It's easy to see that the pattern of slow months early in the year and then getting busy around the holidays would be a normal thing for my blog.

As January came I knew revenue would decrease again, but I didn't know how much.

January 2013 - Google earnings - $40.33

Now that it is the later part of February, and I can see that February will be higher than January this year.  As my blog grows, so does the amount I make from each of my revenue streams.  Above I only  showed you only the Google Adsense revenue for each month.  However, I also have two other sources of revenue on my blog.  I use Amazon Associates.  This is where I link to Amazon items and if people purchase those items, I get a percentage of each sale.  I did not use this much in the beginning.  I will give you a per quarter breakdown for last years earnings.

Q1 2012 - Amazon earnings  $   3.23
Q2 2012 - Amazon earnings  $ 22.35
Q3 2012 - Amazon earnings  $ 51.90
Q4 2012 - Amazon earnings  $112.79

You can see that again Christmas (the holidays) are when people are spending the most, so this is when the earnings go up.  I shop myself quite a bit on Amazon, so now I buy crafting items on Amazon and then share them with my readers.  

I have a third revenue stream and that is BlogHer Publishing Network.  I signed with the BlogHer Publishing Network at the end of August 2012.  I will share with you the revenue from September through December, and then January.  BlogHer works differently than Adsense in that with Adsense you get paid per click.  With BlogHer you get paid for visits to each page.  When I signed with BlogHer, I had no idea what to expect earnings wise.  I figured $10 to $30 a month.  I was pleasantly surprised after my first month!  Since the blog is very busy around the holidays, it was a perfect time to start with this kind advertising.

September 2012 - BlogHer earnings   $133.73
October 2012     - BlogHer earnings   $101.85
November 2012  - BlogHer earnings  $231.52
December 2012  - BlogHer earnings   $196.22

This January (after the holidays) visits to my blog fell off drastically again.  I've seen this happen now two years in a row.  For January 2013 BlogHer earnings are only $27.  February will be a bit higher (estimate about $50). 

Keep in mind, I am only a part time blogger.  I usually blog a couple of posts each week.  Depending on my health and the speed which I finish my projects, determines how often I blog.  I realize if I blogged more, I would likely make more.  I'm not getting rich off of blogging, but the extra income does help.  It mostly helps me support my many ongoing projects around our house.  Thank you to my readers for helping me support my decorating habit :)  

There are of course many ways to make money blogging.  I have mentioned just the few that I have chosen to use.  I try to keep my blog posts relevant to what I do.  And I keep the advertising off to the side or top out of the way.  I try not to let any of it interfere with my blog content.  Blogging does take time and effort.  It is nice to be able to make a few dollars while doing something you love.

Each persons experience with Blogging is different.  I hope my sharing this information has helped or encouraged you in some way.  I chose to be completely honest with the numbers and my experience, as it's the only way to truly share this type of information.  

Blessings...

Until next time,
Diana

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February 19, 2013

Yard Sale Super Finds - Don't Be Afraid to Make a Low Offer


Last summer while visiting a neighborhood garage sale I saw an old buffet that I was very interested in.  Solid wood, dovetail drawers and a quality built piece.  They were selling it with a dining table and chairs and said they did not want to break up the set.  I told them that I lived just down the street and that I was interested in just the buffet.  He was asking a high price for the set and I figured he would never go for my "cheap" offer on just the buffet, but what the heck.  It never hurts to ask!  I got out a piece of scrap paper and wrote my name and cell phone number on it,  then I wrote buffet offer $50.  I told him if you aren't able to sell it, please consider my offer.  He basically laughed at me and said if he didn't sell it at the garage sale that he would post it online.  I figured I would never hear from him again.  

Six months later, I get a phone call.  "Hi, this is the guy from the garage sale down the street.  You offered $50 for the buffet we were selling."  I was shocked!  I couldn't believe this guy even kept the piece of scrap paper with my phone number on it.  He said "If you still want it, it's yours".  I told him "I can pick it up tonight at 7:00 if that works for you".  Up to this point I still hadn't found a buffet, so I was doing the happy dance!

I waited for my husband to get home from work, and we drove our little SUV down the street and brought our $50 beauty home.   I never ever expected to hear from the guy... especially after several months.  Apparently he tried to sell it via eBay and lost fees trying to sell it.  I didn't mention to him that eBay was not the best way to sell large furniture items.  If he had listed it on Craigslist (which would have been FREE), he likely wouldn't have had a problem selling it!

I was thrilled with my $50 find!  I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to paint it white.  I was so excited that I had my husband start sanding the rough spots out right away.  I forgot to take a before picture of the project (ooops)!  But here it is after the hardware had been removed and some light sanding had taken place on it.


Here it is after white paint and some light distressing to the edges.



I used the original hardware.  It was a bit retro and I didn't like the look of high gloss dirty brass so I painted it a dark brown.  The one thing I am still thinking of doing to it is using a dark wax on the distressed areas so they show up more. What do you think?  Should I add the dark wax to this piece? 


I can't wait to hear from you!

Blessings,
Diana


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Domestically Speaking

February 12, 2013

Simple DIY Valentine Sweet Treats


I just finished making these yummy Chocolate Covered Strawberry sweet treats for my sweetheart for Valentine's Day.  It took less than 1/2 hour to make more than a dozen.  These are so simple and taste amazing!  I admit I ate one, because someone had to test them  :)

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make them:

Ingredients:  Strawberries, Chocolate Chips, Vegetable Shortening and Sprinkles (sprinkles are optional)


A double boiler method is the best way to melt chocolate.  It keeps the chocolate from burning.  Just use two sauce pans (a smaller pan inside a larger one).  Put an inch of water in the bottom pan and put the burner on low.  The hot water underneath is what melts the chocolate... (Pictured below).  Note: Please forgive the dirty stove (hehe).


Put one bag (2 cups) of chocolate chips into the pan, then add two tablespoons of vegetable shortening.  The shortening is what makes the chocolate thin enough for dipping.  (NOTE: Never use water to thin chocolate!  It does not work and would ruin the chocolate!!!) 



Once the chocolate begins to melt, stir occasionally until mixture is fully melted.  Keep stove burner on low.  Once fully melted you may turn the burner off.  The hot water underneath is enough to keep the chocolate workable.


I use the green stem of the strawberry to hold as I dip the strawberry.  You can also use a spoon to spoon the chocolate on from the top.  Cover one side and then turn the berry around to cover the other side.

Place the chocolate covered berries on a plate covered in wax paper (once dry they will remove from the wax paper easily).  Apply the sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet (so they will stick).


Rather than cramming too many on one plate, I use multiple plates.  I guess a cookie sheet covered in wax paper would work well too (that is, if your refrigerator has room, since the next step is to put them in the fridge).


Once you are done applying the sprinkles.  Put the plate into the refrigerator, this is how the chocolate will harden.

Let them cool in the fridge for about an hour.  Then remove them from the wax paper and they are ready to serve.  Strawberries are best if eaten within two days of making.  They should be kept in the refrigerator (cool) until you are ready to serve them.


You can use just about any berry or fruit and dip it in chocolate.  I have tried bananas, raspberries, maraschino cherries, and marshmallows (okay, so marshmallows aren't a berry, but they taste amazing when covered in chocolate.  So so yummy!  

February 7, 2013

DIY Valentine's Art and a Fun Craft

Check this out, I created my own one of a kind framed wall art.  This is how I did it...

I made a Valentine's mobile that hangs above my kitchen table.  I used left over foam hearts from the centerpiece I made a couple days ago.  

Then I snapped pictures of my craft.  I used PicMonkey to modify the look of the photos and created this art (pictured below).  It's so cool that we can make our own one of a kind photo art with just a few simple adjustments to the photo! 



Here is the mobile I made for above the kitchen dining table.  I had a branch hanging centered over my kitchen table that I had put up for Christmas to hang ornaments from.  I decided to keep the branch up to use for all of the different holidays throughout the year.   I used fishing line to hang a couple of small mason jars (to put battery operated votive candles in) and I stapled the foam hearts together to create the center hanging.  I used two sided tape to attach the hearts to the mason jars.  It was super simple.  The entire project took less than 10 minutes.




This last photo is the photo I modified to create my framed wall art.  I love how it turned out!


Valentine's decorations don't need to be expensive.  Just a little creativity and you can come up with all sorts of cute ideas.

Until next time,
Happy decorating!

Diana

February 5, 2013

Easy Peasy Valentine's Centerpiece - Under $2


Yesterday I put together this simple Valentine's centerpiece using things I already owned and spending less than $2.  I used a vintage mirror that I found years ago at a flea market as the base.  I used two mason jars that I already had as my candle holders.  Epsom salts are in the jars holding the candles up.  I found a package of foam glitter hearts at Joann's Craft Superstore for only $1.49 (half price sale... woohoo, I love a sale!).  The little glass dots I've had for years.  I used two sided tape on the back of the hearts to attach them to the jars.  Tied a little twine around the larger jar just to add texture.  Then I just put the items around the mirror until they looked cute.  The whole project took less than 10 minutes.  


I love that this craft was so simple and it turned out super cute!


Until next time,
Happy decorating!

Diana