Money and Blogging, Our Most Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve written about money here on the blog a few times before, but in honor of blog week we figured we should dive back into this topic because it’s one that people are really curious about. In fact, we get questions about out blog finances all the time.
Well-intentioned friends and family members don’t really understand how a blog makes money, so they’re often asking questions about the income side of things. And fellow bloggers just starting out are often interested in ways that they too can monetize their sites. (if you’re not a blogger, some of this information may be kinda boring for you today!). There seems to be so much mystery surrounding this aspect of the blog, so we figured we’d break it down for you guys in honor of Blog Week.
Today we’re diving into some of the FAQs we receive when it comes to the money side of blogging.
Blog Finances FAQ
How exactly does a blog make money?
Because we don’t physically sell a product like many traditional companies, it can be really hard for people to wrap their heads around the concept of a blog making money. But our blog is a business, just like any other! Just consider it like any other media company.
While our sources of income fluctuate from year to year, we primarily make money from 4 categories. We really dove deep into these 4 categories in this post, so we’ll just briefly go over it here.
- Affiliate Links (22% of our income in ’17): Whenever we link to a product in our home or something we’re wearing, we will often use an affiliate link. On Instagram, you’ll see this as a “liketoknowit” link. If you purchase the product (or anything else on that site), we get a small percentage of the cost. These are products we use and wear already, so it’s a great way to get a little extra money for our recommendations! Plus it doesn’t cost anything extra to you.
- Ads on our Website (27% of our income in ’17 ): These are the ads you’ll see on the side of our site or at the bottom of a post. We’re lucky that we have a company control these ads for us (Thanks AdThrive!), so we don’t have to do much of anything to maintain them. Instead, it’s a passive income. As long as we keep doing what we’re doing, and people visit the site, we can make money. We never want these ads to interfere with our reader’s experience, so while we could add a heck of a lot more ads on our site…we have tried to keep it pretty minimal.
- Sponsored Posts On Our Site (13% of our income in ’17): Sometimes companies will reach out and pay us to chat about a new product or campaign. We only say “yes” when it’s something we already use and love, or a product that we genuinely think you guys should know about! We turn down about 97% of the sponsored post inquiries we receive, so we’re very selective when it comes to this aspect of the blog (more about working with brands coming to the blog on Friday). This category has allowed us to partner with some amazing brands like Lowe’s Home Improvement, Michaels, HomeGoods and more!
- Writing for Others (38% of our income in ’17): For the past 4 years, we’ve had a weekly DIY column on a moving website called, HireAHelper. It’s fun to share our expertise with an entirely different audience of readers. We also work with companies like Zillow and Darby Smart to create consistent content for them.
How much money does your blog make?
So this is the BIG question we get, and it’s (of course) a very personal one! While we won’t go into extreme detail, we will say that The DIY Playbook makes over a full-time salary. Yep, we’re talking more than either of us make at our day jobs! We never set out to make money with this blog, so it’s icing on the cake that our side hustle brings in extra dough for both of our families. Every year we set a number goal and we check in each quarter to see how we’re progressing towards that number. This keeps us in check and working hard to grow and monetize our business.
What do you spend money on?
Running a blog isn’t free, and we have a lot of expenses to keep this site up and running. We have hosting fees, accountant fees, monthly expenses for our daily and monthly newsletters, our annual LLC renewal, legal fees (we got “The DIY Playbook” trademarked!), and much more. Not to mention new equipment…cameras, lenses, computers, hard drives. Oh, and how could we forget project supplies?!
As we’ve made more money from the blog, we’ve also invested a lot of money back into the business. Our blog re-design this summer was a large expense for us, and we will continue to make improvements over the coming months. But investing back into The DIY Playbook like this is always beneficial come tax time!
How do you track your expenses & income?
Thank goodness for Casey’s husband, Finn. He is a financial analyst by day, and our CFO by night (& weekend!). Finn uses QuickBooks to track all of our income, expenses, and invoices daily. There is a fee for the software, but it has been a gamechanger in our financial reporting and has made his job a heck of a lot easier. You can also invoice companies directly through QuickBooks, so it was a worthwhile investment for us.
Finn keeps us updated on our finances regularly, but every quarter the 4 of us (both couples), sit down and review everything together. This is key to make sure we’re all on the same page with what’s coming in and what’s going out. It’s also a good time to discuss big purchases that we may make in the next quarter and to set goals for the months ahead.
Are you ever going to blog full-time?
The million dollar question! And also one that is very tricky to answer. First, we must say that we both absolutely love our day jobs and have put a lot of time and hard work into our careers. But we would be lying if we said we don’t daydream of working side-by-side on The DIY Playbook every single day. Plus with motherhood on the horizon, we can’t help but love the idea of making our own hours and having our own office space! I mean how amazing would that be?! That dream definitely keep us working hard each and everyday.
BUT, we are not there quite yet. We are both very conservative with money, and we want to make sure we are 100% ready before we make the leap. Because it’s a BIG leap to leave careers we’ve been in for a decade, along with benefits. We have a monetary goal we want to hit before we really start to consider that move, so hopefully soon…but not today.
Any advice for new bloggers?
Yes….lots actually! We’ve learned a heck of a lot over the past 4.5 years, mostly from making our own mistakes.
- Hire an accountant
- Register as an LLC
- Open a business bank account
- Use a business credit card
- Keep every receipt
- Find a financial record keeping system that works for you
- Keep track of open invoices
- Review your finances…constantly!
- Set goals (& make them big ones!)
- Treat yourself every once in a while
Wow, lots of information in today’s post. If you want to read more about this topic, you can check out these past posts below.
More Posts About The Financial Side of Blogging…
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.