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Online Income Review 2020 [How I Made $144,900 Online Last Year]

How my online income grew last year and how you can start making more money in 2020

I haven’t been doing the monthly income reviews like I have in the past. I love sharing the progress on my online income but have been so busy with YouTube and other projects that these updates slipped into the forever to-do file.

But I did want to do a 2019 online income review because it was an amazing year and I learned so much that I want to share.

I’m going to reveal how much I made online last year along with each income source and tips to get started. As you’re reading though, I want you to get one thing out of the review…THIS IS A THING AND IT CAN BE DONE!

Gone are the days that blogging or running a YouTube channel are just a hobby. I and tens of thousands of others are living proof that anyone can do this and you can make A LOT of money!

If you’ve ever thought about starting an online business, a side hustle or whatever you want to call it…make 2020 the year YOU get started! You got this!

Online Income Review

Total income from the three blogs and YouTube channel surged last year to average $12,191 or a 72% increase from the year before. I made a total of $146,295 over the twelve months and best still is that monthly income has been setting progressively higher records to over $17,000 in December.

online income review year
Review of Online Income 2020

We’ll get into each income stream next but there were a couple of standouts including self-publishing and YouTube ads that helped me reach those higher-highs in income. It’s been just over five years since starting the blogs and an amazing journey. What other job can you set your own schedule, control how much you make and get a 70% raise in a year???

That’s not to say there aren’t risks to the Work from Home, entrepreneur lifestyle. Setting your own schedule means you better have the discipline to focus and get your work done or you won’t make a dime. You also need to treat your online income like a business; understanding the different roles you need to play like marketer, writer, project manager and accountant.

In full transparency, expenses have inched up over the past year as I start using more freelance work to grow the business. I’ve included a screenshot of my spreadsheet for expenses which total just over $2,000 a month give-or-take a couple hundred. I try to work as lean as possible, only spending on what’s necessary or will help the business grow.

Monthly Blogging and Online Expenses
Monthly Blogging and Online Expenses

The three biggest expenses I’ve added this year have been video editing, a social media freelancer to create pins and Instagram posts, and some YouTube advertising to extend the reach on the videos. I’ve tried advertising on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest before but never got the return on my money I needed to justify the expense.

I don’t recommend YouTube ads just to gain followers but they do seem to be a good way to promote products. I can average a new sub on every $1.40 in ad spend which really isn’t worth it if you’re trying to grow a large community. For product sales though, ad spending can be profitable but you need to do the math according to your own numbers.

All told, that means I made a net of just over $10,000 a month last year and over $340,000 total in the five years. My goal is to hit $15,000 a month this year and reach that $500,000 mark from the business by the end of the year.

Online Income Sources

I’ll detail my online income sources below as well as some tips to get started but the important idea here is that you create several online income streams. Any of these can grow to a six-figure income but for the vast majority of people, myself included, most of these will never contribute more than a few grand a month.

Will you be one of the runaway success stories that publishes a New York Times best-seller or sees their channel explode on YouTube? Maybe…but far more likely is that you’re another one of the grinders working hard every day and making a few grand on each income source but not seeing any explode. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and I take pride in my grinder-lifestyle. You don’t need to be the YouTuber being featured on CNBC for their channel, you just need to put the time in and use let multiple income streams make you rich.

Put these income streams together and they WILL build a sizeable and stable monthly income online!

Self-Publishing Income on Amazon

Self-publishing was my first real income stream and I love it! I’ve published 12 books on Amazon and made over $3,826 in December. While most books average about $200 a month, one of my recent books Crushing YouTube, has really come through and is averaging almost two grand a month by itself.

Publishing on Amazon is a natural fit for bloggers because you’re already creating the content. It takes almost no extra effort to reformat your content, add a little more and publish as a book for sale. These books become passive income streams that will generate hundreds a month and pay the bills while you grow your other online income sources.

For the year, I made just over $21,500 through self-publishing and have made over $80,000 total in the last five years. I’ve also sold the rights to one of my books, collecting $5,000 from Amazon and then $15,000 on the sale.

  • Work self-publishing into your content strategy, writing one chapter a week to post on the blog then repurpose when the book is done
  • Don’t neglect your book launch! Getting those first ten reviews and purchases is critical to ranking your book on Amazon and getting the social proof to make your book passive income.
  • Use your books as lead generators to supplemental courses and affiliates to make even more money

My most recent book, Self-Publishing for Passive Income, details the entire process. Check it out on Amazon and have your first book published within three months.

Income through Online Courses

Income from the two online courses has actually been a little disappointing. I still feel like this can be the ‘next level’ for bloggers but it’s a lot harder than it looks. In the 13 months since creating my first course, I’ve made just over $7,000 and am averaging about $500 a month.

The upside to online courses is that it’s not that much more work than self-publishing. The content is already there, you’re just putting it on video. Whereas the books will net you all of about $3 each on Amazon, you can charge hundreds for an online video course on Teachable.

The downside to online courses…is that it IS much more work than self-publishing! Since you don’t have the world’s largest ecommerce website promoting you courses, like Amazon does for your books, it’s all on you to get students. Some sites like Udemy have a little more traffic but severely limit how much you can charge for the course.

Still, I haven’t given up on courses and you shouldn’t either. Make sure you put together a good marketing funnel that sells the course and try creating a few courses to see if one hits big.

  • Your course videos don’t have to be perfect! The best courses are conversational and just help students by walking through the information in a book. Bullet point what you want to talk about, shoot an entire lesson in one take and don’t worry too much about editing.
  • Don’t be afraid to charge what your course is worth. If you can prove the course will create a transformation in students, that’s easily worth a few hundred dollars or more.
  • Spend just as much time setting up your marketing funnel as you do creating the course, because it’s just as important.

Monthly Online Income from YouTube has Soared

YouTube has been an amazing income source and has contributed to reaching record levels of income. I’ve made over $65,000 on YouTube ads alone in the 18 months since the channel got monetized and broke $7,800 in December.

That’s a little scary when one income source is about half of your total income so I’m planning on working some of the other streams in 2020. I’ll keep producing quality videos on YouTube and growing the channel but I really want to get these other income sources back to where I’m not relying on YouTube for growth.

  • Consistency and getting started are the two best tips I can give you for YouTube. It doesn’t seem like much of a secret but if you can just get started and publish two videos a week consistently, you will be successful.
  • Treat YouTube like a business. Learn how the system works and how to grow a channel. There are so many ‘hobby’ vloggers that never treat their channel like a business…and then wonder why they never grow.
  • Find a very specific topic and audience at first and don’t try doing videos on just anything that crosses your mind. You really need to dominate one specific niche and maybe even narrow that further to a specific audience demographic to get started.

Joseph has one of the fastest-growing YouTube channels I’ve seen out there and he shares it all in this book. If you want to grow a YouTube channel to help fuel your business, this book is for you. Period.

Nick True, Mapped Out Money

Check out Crushing YouTube on Amazon and Get Started!

Online Affiliate Income

I averaged $3,705 a month from affiliate commissions in 2019, an increase of 8.5% from the monthly income in the prior year. Over the five years, I’ve collected just over $140,000 from affiliates but it seems to be stuck right around that $3,500 point.

That’s the problem with affiliate income. Affiliate partners come and go so it’s difficult to keep your total income growing. Of the top 15 affiliates from which I’ve collected commission over the five years, six no longer have a program. That’s a third of my best affiliate partners that have discontinued their payouts and left me hanging.

When that happens, you’re left scrambling to find a similar affiliate that fits in the blog posts you worked so hard on to rank on Google. You need to find a similar affiliate for those posts or just a new affiliate that can pick up the slack.

Affiliate income is still a vital piece of your online income though and you can’t neglect it. Fortunately there are a few things you can do to help manage it.

  • Use a link-redirect tool like PrettyLinks to make switching out affiliates easy. Otherwise, every time an affiliate drops their program, you have to go back and change each post individually.
  • Focus on a few affiliates that really fit your topic and solve a problem. You’ll get better conversions and won’t waste your time on programs that won’t make you money.
  • Make a blog post or video for different stages in the customer decision-making cycle from awareness to interest and comparison. This will capture the widest audience from Google and give you more chances to convert readers into the affiliate offer.

Blog and Video Sponsored Income

I collected $17,515 for sponsored videos and blog posts last year or about $1,500 a month. Sponsored videos were about two-thirds of that though lately I’ve been collecting more on sponsored posts through the blogs. Over the five years, I’ve collected just under $54,000 for sponsored content.

This is a tough one for bloggers and YouTubers. Most companies want to push you into an affiliate partnership where you only earn a commission on sales. The YouTube channel has really helped locking down a base fee sponsorship as well as that commission deal.

  • Follow similar YouTube channels in your niche and make a list of affiliates or products they link to in video descriptions. These are your target market for sponsorships.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a base fee sponsorship along with the affiliate relationship. Video means extra costs for equipment and editing and sponsors need to help pay for that beyond just an affiliate payout.
  • Offer discounts to sponsors that opt for multiple videos or posts and use your social media or email campaigns to sweeten the deal.

Getting Started Creating Your Own Online Income

A lot of the tips and income strategies might seem confusing if you’re just getting started but the great thing about this type of online business is you can get started and learn as you go. You don’t need to know every trick or idea to get started.

In fact, getting started and getting on that path to success can be boiled down into five steps. From there, you’ll learn a little each month and will grow your business.

  • Get your blog started and online. Your website is the main distribution point from where you advertise all your products and affiliates. With basic web hosting from Blue Host, you can be online in 5 minutes and manage your blog in less than five hours a week.
  • Getting started on YouTube takes more planning and work but it’s a must in today’s video streaming world. All the advertising dollars and internet users are going to video…and you need to meet them there.
  • Find affiliates for your niche. You do this in two ways. First, you can check out similar channels or blogs to see what they are promoting. You can also sign up on an affiliate network like CJ Affiliates and see which are available to promote.
  • Work self-publishing into your content strategy. Don’t put it off and don’t avoid it. Self-publishing is one of the best income sources you’ll find online.
  • Focus on just one or two social platforms and grow your community. Don’t feel like you need to be everyone online. I don’t have time to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and every other social platform that comes along. There are millions…billions of people on each of these individual, concentrate on reaching them and you’ll do just fine with a lot less stress.

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Making an online income is something anyone can do and it’s easier than you might imagine. It’s not overnight and you will have to put in the time to grow your business but anyone can do this. Get started RIGHT NOW and start growing those multiple streams of income.

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