How I Made $58,000 While On Maternity Leave: A Q4 Income Report
Welcome back to Root + Revel’s traffic + income reports! You might remember back in January 2018 we published our very first income report–it was actually for the entire year of 2017 (hint: I earned over $75,000 blogging in my second year!).
It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since I first hit publish on that post, and even more amazing that my income went from $6,500 in my first year of blogging to over $75,000 in my second year and most recently to $150,000 in my third year!
That’s right–in 2018, I earned $150,000 from my blog. Even crazier? I took 4 months off (September through December) after I had my first baby as maternity leave. And because of the systems I set up prior, I was able to earn $58,000 while on maternity leave.
Seriously! I worked less than 10 hours a month (mostly just staying on top of emails), but the money just kept coming in. It’s a miracle, a dream come true, a testament to the fact that hard work and planning and strategic hustle pay off!
I know this might seem a little crazy to you–or perhaps you’re just here for the food (might I recommend these chocolate peanut butter bombs to hold you over), but let me explain.
P.S. If this isn’t your first rodeo and you’ve been following allowing with these income reports for a while, you can skip to the next section titled Total Income.
And they’ve inspired me so much, not only to know what’s possible in the world of blogging as a business, but also with their incredible ideas and generosity in sharing their mistakes and successes along the way.
And now, I want to return the favor. I feel like I’m at a point with Root + Revel where I have something valuable to share about making money online, something that I hope will help you learn how to make money doing something you love, something that lights you up every day and makes you excited to get to work, something you’re passionate about, something that impacts others for the better, something you can do from your couch in your jammies or on a beach in the Caribbean or at a desk in a co-working space at whatever dang time you please because YOU’RE YOUR OWN BOSS.
Please know, the goal of these income reports is not to brag or show off or pat myself on the back (though it’s always a good idea to celebrate your own successes, too!). Rather, my goal with these income reports is three-fold:
- to help anyone interested in starting a blog learn the ropes and find inspiration and motivation to be successful and change your life, whether that’s simply finding an outlet for your passion, improving your financial situation by making some extra money, or finally quitting your job and making six figures working for yourself. I hope that by sharing my own journey, my transparency and story might help you to achieve your dreams.
- to show fellow skeptics (hi, I used to be one of you when I was a full-time journalist who wrote for real publications and turned my nose up at bloggers who were running their blogs without integrity, transparency and a business mindset) that it IS possible to make money online and to do so while keeping your soul intact.
- to help myself. Yes, I’ll admit it. I do have some selfish motivation for publishing these income reports. Because quite honestly, it’s a great opportunity for me to reflect on my business, to look back and see what worked and what didn’t, to learn from my mistakes and to track my achievements.
I’ve been self-employed for nearly a decade at this point, but since I began blogging full-time in January of 2017, my life has exponentially improved.
I’m finally writing the stories that I want to tell, I’m finally helping others to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives, and I’m doing it ALL on my own terms.
I’m so proud and happy to report that life is so much better now that I’m truly my own boss and a full-time blogger. I look forward to each and every day–I wake up excited to work, I’m always learning something new and I love the challenge of running your own business, constantly coming up with new ways to monetize and help people, simultaneously.
Alright, enough talk. Let’s take a look at the numbers for Q4 2018… (remember, my last income report was in August as my baby boy was born in September–I took September through December off, so Q4 plus one month)
TOTAL INCOME: $57,964.58
- AdThrive Ad Network, $13,787.63
- Affiliate Commissions, $27,076.55
- Sponsored Content, $15,921.00
- 13 Pitches That Worked eBook, $179.40
- Other, $1,000
TOTAL EXPENSES: $24,036.65
- Virtual Assistant $10,470.78
- Website/Tech/Tools $4,389.28 (this includes partial payment for our website redesign and tools like VaultPress, my hosting service Cloudways, and my tech manager, The Blog Tutor; plus tools like Milotree and Nutrifox)
- Ads $2,080.26
- Accounting/Bookkeeping/Payroll $916.00 (this includes Tax Prep and my online accounting service, Bookly)
- Photography $489.96
- Courses + Education $1,079.20 (this includes Food Blogger Pro, The Blog Village, B-School and more)
- Office Supplies + Networking $1,970.39 (this includes resources like Texture and Audible, networking meals, conferences, etc.)
- ConvertKit $1,451.86 (this is how I email my list)
- New laptop, $1,069.00
- Social Media Management $119.92 (this includes tools like Tailwind)
NET PROFIT: $33,927.93
Whew! I know that’s a lot to take in. One of the things I hope people will takeaway from these reports is just how much work, energy, thought and heart goes into running a blog. It’s not just as simple as slapping up a few words and an iphone photo and pressing publish.
Before we get into the details, I also wanted to share my traffic totals for Maternity Leave (September through December, Q4-ish).
Traffic Overview: 651,056 pageviews
Top Ten Traffic Sources
Top 5 Posts on Root + Revel in Q4-ish:
- Keto Beef Stew in the Instant Pot
- DIY Mold Remover: How to Get Rid of Black Mold Naturally (Without Bleach!)
- How I Reversed my PCOS, Leaky Gut + Insulin Resistance Naturally!
- How I Got Pregnant with PCOS on my First Try
- Top Sources for Organic Meat Delivery
Note: This screenshot comes from my dashboard in ConvertKit.
Note: RPM stands for Revenue Per Mille, or the revenue earned per 1,000 pageviews. When you look at RPM, you put the focus on optimizing your revenue as efficiently as possible, rather than just getting the most people to your site. For example, a site with 100,000 pageviews and a $1 RPM makes $100, while a site with 20,000 pageviews and a $10 RPM makes $200. This is good news because it means you don’t have to have TONS of traffic to make a great income. In fact, when you niche down and focus on providing as much value as possible to your current audience, you earn more money.
Hourly Rate: This one is a bit hard to calculate since I was technically not working as I was on maternity leave. But I did keep up with emails, more or less, and check in with my assistant Sarah, so I’d estimate I worked about 10 hours per month. That would mean, I worked on the blog for a total of 40 hours in Q4-ish (September through December). With a gross income of $57,964.58, that means I earned roughly $1,450 per hour. WHAT?! How crazy is that???
If you look at my net income instead, my hourly rate drops to about $850/hour, which is still WAYYYY above my goal of $100 per hour. This is super exciting–it took a lot of planning and working ahead and hustling before maternity leave to make this happen, but it feels BEYOND AMAZING to know that I was able to step away from my business for 4 months and still make great money. Honestly, I’m in shock!
What I Focused on in Q4/Maternity Leave
Running a blog is a TON of work and each month I feel like I could fill an entire notebook with “what I focused on” details. But for everyone’s sanity’s sake, I’m going to keep this list simple and straightforward, which is fairly easy to do considering I technically was on maternity leave during this time.
So what I focused on mostly consisted of snuggling with my new baby and trying to soak up and enjoy every single precious moment I had with him. Some days, it was easy. I mean, he is THE CUTEST baby in the whole entire world #imnotbiased
Other days, I’d see important emails come into my inbox, or my assistant would have a pressing question and couldn’t do her job until I answered it, or (if I’m being totally honest), I’d just get bored. Newborns sleep…A LOT.
And I’d feel like working, so I’d think to myself, “what’s the harm? I should just do it!” And sometimes I did give in to that urge. But mostly I tried to remind myself that this was one of the most fleeting, important times of my life–never again would I have just one baby to care for, my first child to spend uninterrupted, quality time with, without other kids or distractions, my very first maternity leave and the only one where it would be just the two of us.
I knew I would never look back on it and wish I had spent less time with my baby and more time working.
So I really tried to prioritize and only do those tasks that were absolutely necessary and/or soul satisfying.
How was I able to take this much time off and still make great money? Well if you’ve been following along then you’ll remember that I spent most of the year writing content in advance, preparing to take this time off and Sarah and I had to super hustle, especially in Q3 in order to make this happen.
We scheduled tons of blog posts, email copy and social media posts in advance. We updated and republished seasonal recipes to keep the blog looking fresh. And Sarah was still working part-time while I was off, so anything that came up during this time, she basically handled. My angel!
Goals for 2019
I officially came back to work the first week of January and I have to say, though there have been some overwhelming moments as I’m getting caught up, I’m coming back newly energized, motivated and so excited for everything 2019 has in store.
I spent the first week back reflecting on 2018, what worked, what didn’t, where I want to improve and have come up with a simple list of goals for 2019:
- Helping My Readers: Of course I couldn’t talk about goals without mentioning my entire reason for being–serving you, my dear readers! Helping you get healthy food into your bodies, nourishing your family and your nest, learning more about how to live a more vibrant, balanced, meaningful life is my #1 priority at Root + Revel, and that will NEVER change. Yes, it’s a business and yes, I need to make money from it to support my family. But providing service to my readers, helping them achieve their best health, is always the main goal. Nothing fills my soul with more joy, purpose and satisfaction than knowing I’ve helped someone. Really and truly.
- Passive Income: If this maternity leave taught me anything, it’s that passive income is quite possibly the best thing about blogging. I’ve never had a career before that would allow you to step away from work and keep earning money. But thanks to our library of content that’s filled with affiliate links, product sales and ads, I was able to do just that and continue earning. So I plan to continue harnessing those avenues, like affiliate marketing, that build up our passive income streams.
- Beautycounter: Speaking of affiliate marketing, there is one brand in particular that has really resonated with me over the years and one that I want to focus on most in 2019. That brand is Beautycounter and essentially it’s an MLM. But it is possibly the only company that I would even consider joining as an independent sales rep because I a) believe in their mission 100% b) absolutely love and use their products every single day and c) know will help others reach their best health. Bonus points: they have an amazing commission structure that allows you to not only earn up to 35% on all sales, but also to earn additional commission from your team’s sales AND get 25% off all products for yourself. In 2018, I only made $1,415 from Beautycounter, but with my new strategy in place, my goal is to make at least $2,000 per month from the program. I’ll continue to keep you posted in future income reports, but in the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about Beautycounter and/or becoming a consultant, I’d love to talk with you about joining my team. Let’s chat! Comment on this post or email me (kate[at]rootandrevel.com)!
- Course Launch: And speaking of passive income, my goal is to FINALLY launch my Blogging Business course in Q1 of 2019. I hoped to launch it last year, but with having a baby, certain things got pushed to the back burner and I didn’t get around to completing this. But it’s over 3/4 of the way done and I anticipate launching it very soon. Stay tuned!
- Sticky Website: In November 2018, we launched a brand new redesign of Root + Revel, the first time it’s been updated since we launched back in October 2015. It was a looooong, expensive, time consuming process, but I couldn’t be happier with the makeover and I’m already starting to see some great results. I’m going to continue monitoring some key metrics (like pages per session and time on site) to ensure the design is functional, as my goal is to get people to stick around more, read more posts, click on more pages, and really read the content, rather than just skimming. Take a look around and let me know what you think in the comments below.
- Grow Traffic + Followers: Of course reaching more people continues to be one of my goals for 2019. In 2018, we had nearly 1 million unique visitors come to rootandrevel.com. That BLOWS ME AWAY!! I’ve heard it’s helpful to picture those actual people in a room that you’re speaking to, and when I imagine 1 million people listening to what I have to say, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I hope in 2019, we’ll continue to grow and reach even more people, helping newbies heal their bodies and live their best life!
Featured Question: Each month, I feature one question from a reader. Here’s the question from last month:
Thank you for another fascinating income report! I’m curious to know what you are doing for Pinterest promotion now that Boardbooster has gone under. Did you switch to Tailwind? Do you have an admin help? I love my Pinterest traffic and am always looking for ways to grow it – but it takes quite a bit of time and effort!
Great question! The loss of Board Booster was such a bummer, especially as we had just spent many hours crafting our strategy there. And I loved the looping feature where you could “set it and forget it”, rather than having to spend time every month pinning new pins.
BUT then Tailwind announced their Smart Loop feature, and I think this could be a great replacement. To be honest, we haven’t spent enough time honing our Pinterest strategy, but I plan to make that a focus in 2019 (will help us achieve the goal of growing traffic from above) and am looking for some courses and/or management companies who could help us.
If anyone knows of any, please share in the comments below!
Likewise, for next month, please leave a comment below if you have a question that you would like me to answer.
IT’S ALL THANKS TO YOU
Please know, I am keenly aware that I have the flexibility, freedom and finances to work on this blog as my full-time job because of YOU–dear reader, sharer, Pinner, commenter, Liker, customer or silent follower of Root + Revel. Your support and participation in the R+R community reaches beyond just this website. This month, I donated $500 to Real School Gardens (now Out Teach) in your name.
This amazing organization helps kids get healthier by developing in-school nutrition curriculums and building school gardens. By combining academics with experiential outdoor learning, Real School Gardens has shown to increase standardized test scores by 12-15%, and increase teacher effectiveness and job satisfaction by a whopping 50%!
I am so incredibly grateful for you! Thanks for showing up! 🙂
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I've linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.