How I Made $29,000 Blogging Without Selling Digital Products

2019 Blog Year in Review and 2020 Forecast

This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure.

I say this every year, but I can’t believe how quickly 2019 flew by! I want to share my blog year in review and goals for 2020, but before I do, let’s recap my first year blogging anniversary (2018).

I launched Perfection Hangover in January 2018 after about ten years of hem hawing around. The truth is I was afraid of failing. 

I had tried multi-level marketing a couple of different times and after I quit Beachbody coaching, I determined that MLM is not for me.

We all have friends whose social media feeds are filled with their “amazing transformation” urging you to “join me on my journey”. Puke. Sorry….it’s just sleezy, and I don’t like it. 

So, naturally, when I started my blog, I was apprehensive to share it with my friends and family. I didn’t want to be “that girl” that tries everything and is viewed as a frequent job jumper. Code word: unstable.

My background was in banking and real estate, and I have plenty of experience helping others with their budgets and paying off debt, so I knew I would never get bored talking about personal finance!

Starting a Blog

Let me start by saying that while it’s possible to make a million dollars per year blogging,  it’s not easy and it’s not quick for most people. It takes a lot of grit and hustle to make that happen, and you should never be discouraged if you aren’t growing as fast as you hoped.

My first year blogging anniversary income report showed that I earned $1,500 blogging from home. While this is a far cry from a million bucks, I kept thinking “$100 per month could turn into $1,000 per month…and oh, how we could use an extra $1,000 per month!”

The crazy thing is…that $100 per month income turned into $3,000 per month (without creating and selling a single product)!

I’ll share the exact breakdown of how I made money blogging below, but it’s important to note that my traffic has not been astronomical. Many bloggers earn far more pageviews than I have, but I believe writing quality content for a specific audience is working well for me.

Blog Traffic 2018 vs 2019

As a new blogger, I was learning the ins and outs of writing, creating beautiful images for Pinterest, keyword research, and so much more. 

As a result, my first year blogging wasn’t terrible. 

2018 Blog Traffic Stats

In fact, I was pretty proud of my 120,000 pageviews for the year! You can see how I grew in the following articles:

2019 was the year of growth for me! In fact, “growth” was my word of the year! You know when you cheesily choose one word to focus on for the year? Growth was my word, and I wanted to grow personally, professionally, and spiritually. 

I accomplished all of the above in 2019, and I’ll share more about that in another post, but here were my traffic stats from 2019 my second year blogging.

2019 Blog Traffic Stats

As you can see, my pageviews increased by more than 3x! Time on page was consistent with last year, and my bounce rate decreased by about 1%. Adsense revenue is showing as less because I graduated from Adsense!

How Much I Earned Blogging in 2019

You’re probably wondering, “How much did you make?”

My Total Income in 2020 as a personal finance blogger was …..

DRUM ROLL PLEASE……………………………….


Y’all, I am blown away by this number. Earning nearly $30,000 from a blog that has only received 44,000 pageviews per month (at most) is an accomplishment I’m quite proud of!

Pin this post to your Start a Blog board on Pinterest!

How I earned $30,000 blogging my second year without selling products or courses

Keep in mind: I didn’t create and sell any e-courses or e-books.

My blog income breakdown is as follows:

  • 26% – Affiliate Marketing
  • 27% – Sponsored Posts
  • 47% – Ad Revenue

I also earned $8767.50 selling real estate in 2019. I still have an active real estate license, but my passion is personal finance, specifically helping women save money and pay off debt.

So even though I’m earning less than I was when I was selling real estate, I am happy doing what I love! And the best part is I set my own schedule and work on my terms. No corporate B.S.!

If you’re interested in learning how to start your own blog, check out the following resources first:

Start Here >>> Starting a Blog as a Side Hustle – Tools & Resources

Breaking Down my Blog Income

Let’s break down how I increased my income in each area so that you can see what worked and what didn’t. 

Affiliate Marketing Income

Affiliate marketing made up more than 1/4 of my blog income. I’m actually surprised by this number because Amazon affiliates doesn’t pay the bills, and affiliate marketing is one area I really should focus more on. 

The single difference-maker this year in my affiliate income was taking Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

I only recommend a few courses. The reason is there is so much information available on the internet if you have the time to research, but Michelle’s course takes you through a step-by-step plan for increasing affiliate conversions (whether you’re new at blogging or not).

This is one course I don’t regret investing in. Last year my affiliate income totaled $669.54. This accounted for 45% of my measly $1500 income in 2018. 

This year my affiliate marketing income totaled $4965.09, so I’d say the investment was well worth it!

Check out Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing here.

Sometimes she runs sales, but even at full-price, the return on investment is huge! 

Sponsored Post Income

Sponsored posts made up a good portion of my income as well. There are companies that will offer you a small amount of money in exchange for a “guest post” on your site. 

Beware of these companies. They’re simply link-building for companies. In my first year, I was super proud that I had earned over $500 from sponsored posts through an online publisher.

Basically, my site was pimped out to this company who wrote mediocre content in exchange for $15 per post. I’d urge you not to do that

Ad Revenue Income

I am blown away by the ad revenue growth on Perfection Hangover since last year. Of course, my traffic increased by 3x, so I expected to earn more money, but here are two changes I made that paid off BIG!

  1. I switched to Monumetric from Adsense in early 2019, and my income grew significantly! You can read all about my review of Monumetric here.
  2. Once I reached 25,000 sessions, I left Monumetric for Mediavine. Actually….that’s not true. I had just signed up for Monumetric when I reached 25k sessions (the first time), and I felt that I owed it to Monumetric to give them a chance before signing up with Mediavine. BIG MISTAKE!!Monumetric is good…to a point. Their service is sorely lacking, and they certainly don’t pay as much or provide the value that Mediavine does. So my traffic dipped below 25k sessions and I was stuck with Monumetric until I could get it back up. My first month with Mediavine I earned $769 in ad revenue, and the next month it nearly doubled!

Mediavine Update

Mediavine announced last week that they are no longer accepting applications from publishers with less than 50,000 sessions! A major bummer, but read this post about why it really doesn’t matter.

The Big Takeaway? Join Monumetric as soon as you reach 10,000 pageviews. You can sign up with my link here. 

Once you’ve reached 25,000 sessions, though, it’s time to upgrade to Mediavine! 

Here’s a screenshot of my earnings with RPM’s in November 2019.

On Black Friday my RPM went up to $65.53! RPM is the rate per thousand sessions. So if I had 1,000 sessions with a $65 RPM, I’d earn $65 in ad revenue that day! 

Mediavine RPM


Mistakes and Lessons Learned My Second Year Blogging

Ooh! I made some mistakes and learned some major lessons this year!

For starters, I joined a paid syndication group, and I wasn’t really happy with it from the get-go. 

I think it’s important to invest in yourself, but if you can’t justify paying for a subscription to SEMRush, Moz, or something that will directly grow your traffic, you don’t need to pay for a mastermind or a syndication group.

Another mistake I made was that I overcommitted to some projects when I just didn’t have the time. You have to learn how to respectfully decline invitations to review products, make appearances, participate in interviews if you’re bogged down and overwhelmed. 

Pinterest Traffic Resources

I relied heavily on Pinterest for traffic in 2018 and then they changed the algorithms and it threw my traffic all out of whack! 

I knew I needed to do something drastic because just having Tailwind alone just wasn’t enough.

A course that has helped me increase traffic is Carly Campbell’s Pinteresting Strategies. This course teaches manual pinning strategies if you decide you’d rather skip Tailwind.

I, personally, use a combination of manual pinning using Carly’s Pinterest strategies along with Tailwind tribes to maximize my pageviews from Pinterest. 

You can grab Carly’s course for $47 here.

Or if you prefer, you can sign up for a FREE trial of Tailwind to simplify your pinning.

What’s Next? Goals and Forecast for 2020

As I was typing this year in review, I received an email notification from Paypal stating “You’ve got money!”

One of my affiliates paid me $780 for the month of December on a product that pays out just $10 per sign up! That means 78 people signed up using my link!!

I am beyond excited and hopeful for the future, but I had to share that anyone can do this. You just have to decide what you’re passionate about and start the dang blog already

And I’m serious when I say that you need to make learning a priority in 2020. Here are my recommendations (in no particular order):

I have found all four of the above courses to be super valuable, but if you’re just starting a blog or have been stuck and are frustrated at a lack of growth, I highly recommend taking the Course Roadmap quiz to see exactly which course will amplify your traffic and income the most!

In case you missed it, I launched Perfection Hangover: The Podcast last month, and once a week I’ll be sharing money, blogging, and business strategies! Be sure to subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss out!

I plan on growing the blog even more in 2020, sharing more videos on the YouTube channel, and interviewing people who’ve paid off thousands in debt, started their side hustle, and are killing it in life and business! 

How I Made $28,047.53 my Second Year Blogging Without Creating and Selling Digital Products

7 thoughts on “2019 Blog Year in Review and 2020 Forecast”

  1. Pingback: 5 Things You Need to Know Before Launching a Blog in 2020

  2. Wow very impressive revenue for such a short time. Thanks for showing the detailed traffic details too, not as many people show it as I would like.

  3. Your 2019 journey has been awesome. You are an inspiration for us. So glad that I have found you.

    Cheers for an even better 2020

  4. Mrs. Fat Frugal Finance

    Wow, this is super impressive! Thank you for sharing details on your income from blogging. I really like it when there is such transparency in everything. Hope you have an awesome year!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.