Welcome to the first Swift Salary quarterly blog income report of 2020! What a wild quarter it has been.
I'm about to sound like a broken record, but once again, I had a ton of freelance work this quarter, and unfortunately, that took away a bit of blog time.
(I actually have some big things in the works with my freelance business, so look out for info on that in the future.)
Still, even with less time going into the blog, I had a good quarter. I made the transition to real accounting software, worked on my branding, brainstormed a lot, and I have some big things in the works.
Read on to learn more!
If you haven't seen them already, go check out my past income reports.
New Things That Happened in Q1
As a said above, there was more brainstorming, planning, and behind the scenes stuff going down this quarter. Still, four big(ish) things happened:
Released the Free Blogging for Beginners Course
Many of you already know of this course because I mentioned it in my last two income reports. It was officially released around the end of January.
What's cool is that this is the first email course I've released along with a solo landing page. It took time, but I really like how it turned out so I'll most likely be doing this for future courses going forward.
If you want to learn more about the course and see the fancy-dancy landing page, check out the Free Blogging For Beginners page.
I tried to put a lot of value in the course so if you want to get a good rundown of what starting and running a blog is actually like, I think you'll find it helpful.
Got Accounting Software
Yes! I finally took the leap from my homebrew Google spreadsheet to real accounting software.
The reason it took me two years to upgrade? There are a couple actually:
- I didn't feel I had enough transactions to justify the cost
- I didn't know which software to choose from (there are a lot of them out there)
Both of these caused me to procrastinate quite a bit, but after getting tired of doing everything manually (and very inefficiently), I figured it was worth upgrading to save time.
I started out with Quickbooks Online but quickly learned after setting it up that it wasn't going to work for me. I liked the interface, but on the lowest pricing plan ($25/month), there was no multi-currency support.
As a blogger in Canada, I often get paid in USD, so this was a problem. To get multi-currency support, I would have had to pay an extra $15/month, which seemed a bit pricey for one extra feature.
Zoho Books gives me multi-currency support and everything else I currently need and I pay $10/month on the yearly plan.
It's pretty sweet.
As a complete newbie at bookkeeping, it's been pretty easy to set up too. Any time I've had a question or been confused, the customer service team has helped me out within a day.
The only part that's made it a bit difficult to set up is the actual transition from wacky Google Sheet bookkeeping to Zoho. I honestly wish I had just gone with Zoho from the start as it would've been a lot easier.
If you have a business and you've been thinking about getting an accounting software but you're not sure if it's worth it, just do it.
It's a huge time saver, headache preventer, and, yeah, it's just better.
Worked on Branding
I recently got a mini-site audit done by Paul Scrivens and man, you never know how helpful it will be having another pair of eyes (especially an experienced one) looking at your site until it happens.
He sent over a video reviewing my Pinterest account and site and had a ton of great tips for me that I'm starting to put into motion.
The audit also inspired me to re-think my branding and what message I'm trying to send here at Swift Salary.
To start, I changed the image on my home page. It may seem like a small detail but it's one of the first things many new visitors see, and I believe the new image matches my brand a lot better.
Here's the before and after:
You'll also notice I changed the copy a bit on the home page. Before, it just said:
“Money is a powerful tool. Let's learn how to make, manage, and multiply it.”
Now I'm now talking about something called Financial Bliss. This part is still a work in progress, but here's the idea:
With Swift Salary, I want to help others find complete happiness with their financial situation (aka financial bliss).
To reach that, I don't think you need to retire or achieve financial freedom (which could take 10+ years).
Instead, I believe the key to financial bliss is finding a way to make money that you actually enjoy. It doesn't have to be a passion, but it should interest you, challenge you, and fulfill you.
Your ideal work should also give you the freedom you desire – whether that's being able to work from home, choose who you work with, or something else.
Once you find work that satisfies those needs for you, and you learn how to manage your money in a way that works for you, financial bliss will follow.
Anyway, you'll see more from this coming up. I'm revamping my Money Mastery course around this idea as well, so get excited for that!
Set up a TransferWise Account
Ok, if you work from home or make money online and get paid in foreign currencies, you'll want to read this section.
I'm from Canada, and I've been getting paid in USD for a while now. In the past, the money would go straight to my PayPal, and then to my bank account. I didn't think anything of it.
Now recently, the USD -> CAD exchange rate has been fluctuating and I took it as an opportunity to exchange some of my USD. That's when I noticed how badly PayPal was gouging me. The fees are insane!!
I won't rant about it, but seriously, it's horrible. Don't exchange your money through PayPal.
To get around this, I set up a TransferWise account, and the rates are so much better.
I now send my USD to TransferWise, exchange it to CAD, and then send it to my bank. It's one more step but I get a MUCH better exchange rate and fewer fees, so it's worth it.
Tip: If you sign up for TransferWise here (affiliate link) you'll get a fee-free international transfer up to $800.
Blog Income for 2020 Q1: $4,440.34 Net Income
All income and expenses are recorded in Canadian dollars.
Income Breakdown: $5,280.71 Gross Profit
- Affiliate Income ($2,822.55):
- 5 Dollar Meal Plan – $28.68
- Mediavine – $2,458.16
My income this quarter was almost a perfect split between affiliate and advertising income, with affiliate income pulling ahead by just shy of $400. That's good to see. Ideally, I'd like my affiliate income to be 2-3x more than my ad income.
To get this done, in the future I'm planning on focusing more on promoting programs like Proofread Anywhere (future update: I now have a guide on how to become a proofreader), Transcribe Anywhere, and similar courses. I've seen a bit of success from them already and I know the courses provide a ton of value, so I'm excited to get more content out around them.
Another cool, small note: I got paid for my first SiteGround affiliate sale this quarter! SiteGround is my favorite web host so I'm happy to send new bloggers and website owners their way.
Funny thing is, the signup didn't actually come from my Blogging for Beginners course like I thought it would. It actually just came from my how to start a blog post.
Expense Breakdown: $840.37
- Content Views Pro – $27.32
- FB Ads for Bloggers course – $428.91
- MailerLite – $109.50
- WP Review plugin – $53.99
- Zoho Books – $120
- Quickbooks Online – $6.72
- Bank Fees – $93.93
Pretty high expenses this quarter, but for good reason!
Let's start with the biggest on the list: Facebook ads for bloggers. This is something I've been waiting to purchase for a while, and it went on sale so I pulled the trigger.
Once my free email courses are where I want them to be, I'm planning to start running FB traffic to my site to increase opt-ins. More info on that in future income reports.
Next, I finally had to update my MailerLite subscription this quarter as my email list surpassed 1,000 subscribers in early January.
Last but not least I also purchased a new WP Review plugin for future review posts. I haven't had time to set it up yet, but I needed something with more functionality than the free plugin I was using, and I got it on sale, so yeah.
Traffic Breakdown: 120,976 Pageviews
With everyone being stuck at home, I saw a bit of an increase in traffic starting mid-February.
Compared to Q1 of 2019, I had 49,220 more pageviews this quarter, which isn't bad for a yearly increase. If I had more blog posts going out each month it definitely could be better.
Here are a few of the trending posts of Q1:
- Apps That Pay You to Walk – With gyms being closed, a lot of people are getting outside and walking! My apps that pay you to workout post did well too.
- Beginner Transcription Jobs from Home – This is a go-to work from home job for many as turning audio into written text seems pretty easy, but don't be fooled. Transcription is still a tough skill to learn and get good at.
- Get Paid to Test Websites and Apps – Another easy way to make money. This side hustle actually pays really well.
As you can see, the side hustle posts were popular this quarter, which is pretty predictable. A lot of people have lost parts or all of their income so they're looking to make it up.
I'm actually working on a really in-depth “how to start working from home” series right now that would have been really helpful for this time, and I'm kind of bummed I don't have it ready yet! Look out for that soon.
Email List: 1,443 Subscribers
For those wondering, I currently use MailerLite for all my list building and email sending needs.
I started out 2020 with 846 active subscribers, and ended March with 1,443.
That's a gain of 597 active subscribers this quarter, and about 199 new subscribers each month. Not bad!
Because of the increase in page views, more people are seeing and signing up for my opt-in – primarily the Make Money Online course opt-in.
I still need to get my Money Mastery course opt-in updated and more visible on the site. I think that would increase my sign-ups drastically.
Nothing entirely new yet with my email strategy, but as I mentioned quickly above, I've got some big things in the works:
- Money Mastery V2 – This free course is going to get so much better. I'm going to cover more, with the end goal of helping others find their financial bliss.
- Make Money Online V2 – Yup, I'm revamping this free course as well. Going to cover even more opportunities like selling physical goods, and I'll go more in-depth on service-based businesses, plus a bit on work from home jobs. Good stuff coming.
I'm REALLY excited to get these both out, but it will take time. They're going to be awesome resources when they're done, all completely free.
I'm also planning to do separate landing pages for both as well, similar to the BFB course.
It's funny, I thought blogging would get easier the farther along I got, you know? Like, back in the day I had trouble coming up with new post ideas…now I have too many!
There are so many more things to do and pay attention to now that it’s hard to focus on one thing and get it out.
It sounds like a silly struggle, but it's seriously overwhelming sometimes. My brain feels like it's constantly being pulled in so many different directions.
Right now I’m focused on my email list and the free courses that I offer, as well as my branding, so it may not look like much is going on with the blog, but it’s all happening behind the scenes.
I want my free Money Mastery course and Make Money Online course to be some of the best resources out there, so I'm putting a lot of work into them.
Unfortuantely, this has caused two of my main year-end goals to go unmet so far:
- I haven't been getting enough blog posts out (I wanted 4/month avg.)
- I haven't had any Youtube videos out yet (I still want 12 new by the end of 2020)
I'm still going to try and meet these goals, but it's going to be difficult. I may have to outsource some of my tasks to free up time, I'm just not sure how I want to do that yet.
Just for some insight, here are some things I've contemplated outsourcing:
- Bookkeeping – This shouldn't cost me a ton. Problem is, I like to be a part of the bookkeeping process as it gives me insights into the business. It also helps me write these blog income reports.
- Social media – I really don't enjoy Pinterest and other social media management tasks, so this is one I'd probably go for first.
My idea is, I'd like to outsource the tasks I don't particularly enjoy.
I've also thought about outsourcing certain areas of content creation, but I'm still not sure how to go about it. I enjoy writing content so it's a tough one.
My thought right now is to offer paid guest posts. For example, I'd pay a blogger $50-$100 to write a unique post that I couldn't write myself. Still have to think about this some more, but that's the general idea.
And with that being said:
If you're a personal finance blogger and have an interesting side hustle story, app review, or something else unique and finance related to share, contact me!
Want to Start a Blog?
I've said it before so I won't preach too hard right now, but starting a blog is easily one of the best decisions I've ever made.
It's opened up a ton of opportunities for me, taught me new skills, allowed me to help others, and made me money.
That's not to say the journey hasn't been difficult or stressful sometimes, it has. But, it's been so rewarding at the same time.
If you'd like to own a platform that allows you to reach others with similar interests, make money, and more, why not learn how to start a blog yourself?
It's literally one of the least expensive businesses you can start so the risk is low, and the potential is limitless.
For a full guide with strategies and walkthroughs, sign up for my free 10-day Blogging for Beginners course:
Even if you already have a blog, I still think you'll find value in the course.
I'll show you how to come up with post ideas, how to optimize your blog for SEO, how to monetize your blog, and more.
As I'm writing this, April is already almost over. It's insane. Next thing you know it will be Q3 and I'll be working on the next income report!
Anyway, keep an eye out for some in-depth work from home guides coming out soon, and take care. If you're stuck at home right now, consider signing up for the course above and starting a blog of your own. It's a fun journey.
Continue the journey by checking out my 2020 Q2 income report.