Why I Spent $23,000 On My Blog (Shocking Blogging Year In Review)


Blogging Year In Review: A new year means new opportunities to grow our blogs. 2018 was a rock steady year where I tested a lot of different systems, strategies and tools. It was also a year of growth that had me making sometimes scary business and money decisions.

Doing so, I got to push myself out of my comfort zone to invest money into important areas of my blog. Like, really out of my comfort zone. This blogging year in review will explain why I spent $23,000 on my blog, how it resulted in over $135k income, and what investments I would recommend for a new blogger on a budget.

We use affiliate links. Disclosure.


Why I Spent $23k On My Blog Last Year

~ Shocking Blogging Year In Review ~


Ok. Real talk. This blogging year in review is pretty wild for me, not gonna lie.

I’ll be the first one to say that spending $23k on a blog is a hefty investment.

I don’t want anyone to read this and think that in order to have a successful blog you need to spend a ton of money on it. Because you don’t!

The cost of blogging will be different for everyone, of course.

There are definitely some important blogging things that you should budget for (which I will discuss in a moment) but in no way will you ever have to spend thousands of dollars on your blog is you don’t want to.

You can absolutely have success with smaller investments. Likewise, I was still making good money with my blog when I was only investing a few hundred dollars a year.

It’s just that in 2018 I was ready to scale.

Hence, spending more money on my blog resulted in earning more than $135,000 this year! Holy smokes!

Ultimately, bloggers talk a lot about income reports and how much they make (and I talk about that too, you can read my blog income reports) but I think it’s really important that you know how much I spend to keep all the plates spinning, too.

So don’t let my expense report here discourage you from starting your blog today.



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Personal Life

Before I give you the nitty-gritty on what happened in 2018 blog-wise, let’s get personal.

This past year my non-biz life was purely mama/wifey centered.

  • My toddler learned to walk, run, talk and eat solid food.
  • My husband quit his day job to go full-in on his furniture building business.
  • We started renovating our house, we celebrated our 3 year anniversary and also adopted a rescue dog.


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2018 Key Points In Blogger Land

It was an interesting year for bloggers and content creators.

We experienced a few changes in algorithms and other road bumps that shifted the way we utilized marketing.

Here’s a quick rundown on what happened in 2018 in relation to blogger life:

#1: BoardBooster died (RIP!) and a few months later, Tailwind launched their SmartLoop feature, which allows for pin recycling on autopilot, much like BoardBooster did (yay!)

#2 Pinterest launched their Pinterest Communities feature, a social networking portal on the app that allows us to reach more customers and readers.

#3 GDPR legislation came into effect in May of last year. To avoid fines, bloggers need to do this to make our blogs GDPR compliant.

#4 WordPress had a major update with WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg. Not everyone loved the new block editor, but you can easily get the Classic editor back, here’s how!

#5 Facebook made things difficult for bloggers, shadowbanning everyone by deleting links in comments left and right. So we found clever new ways to make sales on social media. Read what those were, along with 11 other top marketing trends and strategies of 2018 here.


My Blogs

This year I started a few blogs and sold a few blogs too.

In May I sold my one-year-old beauty blog for $50,000. Then I built and sold a starter fashion blog for $6,000 a few months later.

In September I launched StartBloggingPros.com, I completely free resource for new bloggers to learn WordPress.

That same month I began building a new cruelty-free beauty and style blog, as well as a tech blog.


tailwind what is a blog pinterest scheduling


Concerning HerPaperRoute.com (this marketing and entrepreneurship blog that you are reading right now),  my focus in 2018 was to create epic content that ranks well in Google searches.

This meant I spent a lot of time writing longer, more in-depth articles and fine tuning my SEO.

As a result, my traffic had a steady rise, with organic traffic up from 2017.

There is still a lot of work to do, though.


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My Courses

In 2018 I added four new courses to the HerPaperRoute Blogging School.

As well as made major updates to:

Speaking of updates, I added a new lesson to Be Your Own Blog Boss this week.

It’s a complete guide to the legal side of blogging, with a video tutorial by Amira from ASelfGuru.

She is a lawyer who shares everything you need to know about protecting your blog, along with templates you can use to disclose your affiliate links, GDPR policy, privacy policy and more.

Neglecting to cover your blog’s legal bases now and then having to hire a lawyer later, after there is a problem is very expensive.

So take advantage of this important resource and protect your blog now.

If you are a student of Be Your Own Blog Boss you can log in to access your new lesson now (it’s in module #2).

If you aren’t yet enrolled in Be Your Own Blog Boss, you can find out more about the course and enroll here.


Blog Services

Being ready to scale meant that I was ready to expand the services I offer.

Notably, I actively promoted my Blog Auditing service and website design (and blog makeover) services. Each of which now keep me busy each month with clients.

I’m really happy about that because designing websites for people is what I love doing most.

I also began offering free website install service to help aspiring bloggers take the leap into starting a blog, without having to learn the techy start-up steps themselves.


Blog Mentorship / Blog Coaching

In 2018 I opened up only a handful of spots on my blog mentorship program.

I took on a select few hard-working ladies who were ready to get serious about their blogs and we went deep into the business of blogging via 1:1 sessions.

In addition, I also opened a mini-mentorship over the Summer, covering only how to monetize and sell blogs for profit.

What fun that was!

I am considering re-opening the blog flipping mentorship next Spring. Let me know if you would be interested in joining us for that!


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Blogging Year In Review: Why I Spent $23k On My Blog

It feels so crazy to announce that I earned over $135,000 as a blogger this year.

That’s a heck of a lot of money to me and I don’t take it for granted for one minute.

A few short years ago I was a distracted 20 something wandering around between California and Vancouver skipping from crappy job to crappy job with little savings and no plan.

Back then the thought of earning a living completely online was a twinkle in my eye. And now I can honestly say I’m living my dream life because of blogging.

Truthfully, I had no idea that once I started trying things, results would happen like this.

I wish that I had seen some blogger income reports when I was in my early 20s, so I could have seen just what was possible.

Certainly, I would have started my blog a lot sooner. Rather than wasting so much time working as a bartender!

But hindsight is 20/20.

So this past year I shared my own blog income reports, as a way to help someone else see what is possible.

Hopefully, my blog income reports, along with this blogging year in review will inspire someone to start their online business.

My advice would be don’t wait to live your dream. Just get to work!


Why I Spent $23,000 On My Blog (Shocking Blogging Year In Review) 5

Free Course: How To Start + Monetize A Blog

Multiple Income Streams

The biggest takeaway I hope you get from this blogging year in review is that having multiple streams of income on your blog is important.

After all, a blog is a just a vehicle that connects sales from many different sources.

Don’t count on just one type of revenue stream – have many money-generating engines running.

I also want to stress that my income isnt ‘blogging about blogging’ money.

In fact, the majority of it this is from affiliate marketing via my beauty/ fashion blog and the blog design services I offer.

For example, I offer:

  • Services: I offer several services from mentorship to web design
  • Affiliate Marketing: I have affiliate content on every blog post
  • Courses & Ebooks: I teach courses, as well as sell ebooks
  • Advertising: I have PPC ads on my blog as well as sponsored posts
  • Other: I build and sell blogs for profit

So get creative and add as many money-making resources to your blog as you can this year!



2018 Blogging Investments – What I Spent $23,000 On

For this blogging year in review, of the $135,560 I made blogging in 2018, I incurred $23,067 in expenses.

Below you will discover what that money was spent on.

But of course, a percentage of my year-end take-home pay will go to taxes.

As well, as a self-employed person, I pay my own medical insurance and other expenses that an employer typically covers.

So aside from those expenses that will be deducted later, here are the main blogging expenses I invested in this year.

1. Domains & Hosting for 18 domains = $6,317 

Some of these 18 domains are developed into websites, some are just different extensions of main domains.

By that I mean, herpaperroute.org, .ca, .net all pointing to the herpaperroute.com.

If you are concerned with protecting your brand, I highly recommend that you buy all the other extensions of your blog name so no one else can register it and make a website using your blog’s name with another TLD extension.

A domain is $10 per year, and web hosting is less than $4 per month. So for most people, you would never have to spend anywhere near the amount I did this year.

In my case I host multiple websites, so my expenses here are higher than most. Notably, I made some premium domain purchases this year that cost $4,600 alone.

Buying premium domains is not an essential expense for most bloggers.

For web hosting, I host some of my blogs with SiteGround and others with Bluehost. Both are less than $4 per month.

If you are enrolled in my free blog startup course you get a step-by-step guide to using each of them.


2. Teachable = $1,966

Teachable is where I host my blogging school. I am on a professional plan and purchased an extension upgrade, which is why it is this pricy. (There are cheaper plans!)


3. ConvertKit & Mailerlite = $1,827

I use ConvertKit for all of my HerPaperRoute email marketing.

It really is the best email provider there is, and recommend it to every blogger.

I have a second smaller list that is not blogging/marketing related that I use with Mailerlite as well.


4. Marketing Tools & Advertising = $4,244

This covers Google ads, promoted pins, and Facebook ads as well as automation tools like SmarterQueue and Tailwind.


5. Education & Mentorship = $600

In 2018 I invested in my business education and had a mentorship with millionaire business maven Ash Ambirge.

She helps freelancers go big in their business, training on what to write and say to clients so you can confidently charge the big bucks for your services.

She’s pretty much the sales copywriting queen of the Universe, and her products are no joke!

If you are trying to make more money this year and you’ve ever been unsure of what to say/write to convince people to buy from you then you should absolutely grab a copy of Ash’s Unf*ckwithable Words bundle of 300+ Business Scripts.


From talking with prospects, to managing clients, to having hard conversations with people you hire, people you do business with, and even the people who support you (families can be a rough crowd!), this is a guide to being who you want to be in business, and not letting the world run you over.

Every scenario comes with two suggested versions for handling it: A traditional business version, and a casual, playful one, so you can mix and match the right words to sound just like something you’d say.

– Ash Ambirge, Unf*ckwithable Words 


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Check out Ash’s 300+ Business Scripts guide – it’s amazing!


6. Stock Photos, WordPress Themes & Other Graphic Elements = $980

I invested in a few important graphic elements this year for my blog.

7. Photography Equipment, Camera & Laptop = $5600

8. Accounting, VAs & Freelancers = $545

9. Miscellaneous Business Expenses = $988



Essential Blogging Expenses New Bloggers Can Budget For

This year in review article details what I spent on my blog and business. And the cost of blogging that I share here may seem high.

But as I said before, you do not have to spend much to be able to run a professional blog. But you should spend some money.

When you are just starting out as a new blogger, it’s normal to be cautious about where you spend money.

Especially if you aren’t sure if blogging is going to be your ‘thing’ or if you will even stick it out long enough to see the return on investment.

Furthermore, there will be a lot of people telling you what you ‘should’ spend money on and truthfully, not all of it is necessary.

As a new blogger, you probably don’t need to hire VAs or throw a bunch of money at Google ads. There are better things to spend on that don’t cost as much, for sure.

The cost of blogging doesn’t have to get out of control.


Here are some things I would recommend as important to budget for:

==> Your domain name = $10 per year

==> Your self-hosted website = $36 per year (see: what is Self-hosting?)

==> A quality WordPress theme = $80 approx, one-time fee (see: Best Feminine WordPress Themes)

==> Blogging Education/Courses = Variable prices

==> The Legal Page Templates = $180 one-time fee. Very important to have your website legal pages to protect you in case of a problem

==> Social Media Marketing Automation Tools = $100 – 300 per year approx (I use Tailwind for Pinterest and SmarterQueue for everything else)

==> Email Service Provider = $200 per year approx (Mailerlite is free up to 1000 subscribers! If you want something with more features, ConvertKit is #1.)

==> Most importantly, your TIME! The more time you invest in working on your blog, the more you will get out of it.

Overall, you could have a completely professional blog and business with all automation tools and email funnels running for a $600 investment, approximately.


To start your blog today, enroll in ‘Start A Blog + Monetize It’ for free!


2019 Looking Forward

As this year in review comes to a close, I’m feeling very grateful for everything that happened in 2018, and am inspired to take on 2019.

My focus for the new year is to grow my business significantly while working on it less.

  • I intend to spend less time in front of my computer screen
  • Spend more time with my family
  • All while gaining more traffic, subscribers and income.
  • Basically, I want to simplify my workload, yet achieve more.

That may sound like a contrasting goal, but I believe it’s possible.

Simplifying my process will mean even stronger automation funnels.

Automation Funnels On Fleek

I already have ConvertKit, Tailwind and SmarterQueue automating most of my email, Pinterest and social media marketing 24/7.

But this year I’m going to go even deeper into automation and have as many things as possible super-automated.

Of course, I will keep you updated as I go. Continually sharing everything I do to make this system happen as the year progresses.

To note, I have already begun this year in review goal! I’ve started removing the specific days of the week requirement from my Facebook group’s daily promo threads.

Previously, I used to have to spend a few hours each week scheduling the upcoming week’s promo threads, so that ‘Affiliate Links Fridays’ posted on Fridays, ‘Pinterest Saturdays’ posted on Saturdays, and so on.

Now I just have a promo thread scheduled each day that doesn’t have to be on any specific day of the week, and all the different promos happen at random.

So one day could be Instagram link promotions, the next may be to share what you are selling, regardless what day of the week it is.

This means I never have to schedule anything again, it just cycles and recycles along on autopilot from my SmarterQueue dash.


Blogging Year In Review: In Conclusion

With my time freed up more, I aim to provide even more helpful resources for you this year.

Expect more tutorials, in-depth guides and practical business training from HerPaperRoute.com in 2019.

I hope you enjoyed my blogging year in review.

Your business grows to the extent that you do.

Here’s to an amazing + powerful 2019 to you and your business. Let’s go get it, girl.

Chelsea Clarke

Creator + Blog Strategist, HerPaperRoute



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A few short years ago I was a distracted 20 something wandering around between California and Vancouver skipping from crappy job to crappy job with little savings and no plan. Back then the thought of earning a living completely online was a twinkle in my eye. And now I can honestly say I'm living my dream life because of blogging. Truthfully, I had no idea that once I started trying things, results would happen like this. HerPaperRoute.com



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