I published my first month income report in September 2016. That was the very first time I monetised my blog.
I was having around 30,000 monthly traffic but never displayed any advertisements.
I started CashOverflow as my hobby because I was, and am, curiously passionate about credit cards, money saving hacks, investment optimisation, value investing in stock markets and of course, saving income tax.
In my free time, I used to read something related to money management, that was back in 2014. Now I have developed one more passion – Content Marketing.
I realised that both of my passions can be nurtured through a blog on personal finance. I decided to work full time on CashOverflow after leaving my startup job in September 2016.
My goal was to generate sufficient income (100,000 INR) from my online business, to support my household expenses + long term travels under budget. I turned my blog into a bootstrapped startup when I started to conceptualise some products in personal finance (Products are still in my mind but not yet in the execution).
But I needed an immediate source of income since my savings were not enough. I invested Rs. 2,00,000 into CashOverflow and started monetising existing traffic through Ads and affiliate marketing.
I have written a lot about insurance policies, stocks, credit cards and loans. I reached out to banks, financial companies and affiliate networks to get partnerships. There was good scope for making affiliate income, for example, when someone buys a banking product with my recommendation.
I was also writing about my travel experiences and generating a passive source of income. There was another stream of product affiliates for travel booking, website hosting, content marketing tools. I also signed up for Amazon Affiliate because I was sharing money saving hacks on online shopping.
I did a lot of optimisation on my website in September and October to generate income from various product affiliates. Some of the banking & marketing affiliates worked so well that I was surprised to see INR 60,000 income from a blog which was generating only 30,000 monthly traffic.
The Annual Income Report – (Sep,2016 to Mar,2017)
Here is a graphical representation of my annual income, starting from September. (February and March payments are not confirmed yet)
Total Income = 14,30,000 Rs.
I have had various income streams in the last financial year
- Affiliate Marketing
- Partnerships with brands
- Content Writing
- Paid Newsletters
- Display Ads
- Stock Markets (Long-term value investing)
- Salary (till August 2016)
But I would like to go into the details of the income sources that worked for me as a professional and a business owner.
I have not included the income from stock market and salary because the purpose of income report is to share the profitable journey of CashOverflow.
Roughly, I earned more than 5,00,000 rupees from stock market last year – I shared some details in this article when I left my job last year.
A catch : Affiliate income is subject to approval and comes into the account after 60 to 90 days. Some of my affiliate income from banking products was rejected because people filled up incomplete information, or didn’t pick the phone when bank representative called or didn’t get the approval of the products (loans & credit cards). But income from affiliate of website hosting & marketing products kept increasing every month with a good approval ratio.
Traffic on my blog was 10,000 per month last year, that has been increased to more than 100,000 per month (most of the traffic is coming from google search)
Last month closed with 148,000 pageviews from more than 100,000 unique visitors.
The major expenses of my business goes into my skill-enhancement, paid tools and travel.
There was a small expense of team last year, I hired two people but things didn’t work out. Now I work with freelancers to get the work done.
I have not put all expense receipts in one place, but I can give an overview of the major expenses.
#1. Skill Enhancement
- $1500 – A course on creative a marketing agency (from Glen of Viperchill). I could not use the knowledge since I dropped the idea of becoming an agency (Shared this in my annual review 2016)
- $1200 – SEO course (from Brian Dean of BackLinko) – I bought this after getting a certain level of mastery in SEO. The second reason was that whatever success I got in SEO, was mostly because of Brian Dean’s free articles. The return of favor was due, which I paid by buying his paid course.
- Rs. 7500 – Kindle Books – I love my Kindle Paperwhite and bought about 30 books with an average price of Rs 250. I will write reviews of 10 best books that read in the last year.
#2. Tools to run my business
- $179 – Website Hosting – I bought the GoGeek plan of Siteground hosting in Aug 2016 because I was aiming for 100,000 monthly traffic
- $577 – Leadpages and Drip – Bought the combo of landing pages tool and email marketing tool.
- $500 – Domain purchase – I spent a lot of money last year in purchasing some fresh and expired domains. I know the value of good domain names.
- $150 – Hosting – I am running 3 more websites and hence purchased hosting for those (One from BlueHost and two from SiteGround).
- Rs. 66,000 – Macbook Air – My previous Mac broke down so I had to purchase a new Macbook
- Rs. 9000 – HP Laser Printer – I delayed the buying decision for almost a year, finally I had to purchase a printer because I was sending invoices to clients regularly.
- Not counted yet – I travel and build my business. I have not yet counted which expenses should I put as business expenses.
#4. Regular Expenses
- Rs. 60,000 – Office – When I was working from home, I was using one room as my office. Now I work from a co-working space.
- Rs. 12,000 – Internet – Not a major expense but it’s the backbone of our business.
- Rs. 2400 – Mobile bill – One portion of my business runs on phone, so I put partial mobile expense on business.
- Rs. 20,000 – Food – When I travel for business, I spend on food for myself as well as for clients.
- Rs. 10,000 – Freelancers – I get some of my work done by freelancers.
- Rs. 25,000 – Employees’ Salary – I hired a team for a short time and paid them salary.
Total Expenses = $4100 + Rs. 2,12,000 (Approx 5,00,000 Rs.)
That’s it. Expenses are estimated, but it gives you an idea where my money goes in my business.
When you have a money making business, then the expenses won’t hurt you. Before making income, my major expenses were books/courses, web hosting and internet. I used to buy courses/e-books costing up to $100 before I started making online income, but now I can easily spend up to $2000 for a course that can help me improve.
Some Interesting Experiments
#1. VIP Newsletters
One of my annual goals is to help 1000 people, so that they can start their online business by keeping their annual investment under 5000 rupees. I started paid VIP newsletters on 8th March 2017, and the response was phenomenal. I am now helping more than 200 people with their online business journey.
I had to close fresh enrolments, because I was afraid of not finding sufficient time to support the new people. You can join the waitlist.
#2. Closed Community of Founders and Content Marketers
I am part of The Morpheus Gang, a startup community created by Sameer Guglani when he was running an accelerator program for Indian startups. During my interactions with fellow entrepreneurs, I felt the need for creating a sub group to talk about the organic growth of startups with the help of content marketing.
We initiated an invite-only private community, with a minimum membership contribution of Rs. 5000 with the goal of helping each other in content marketing.
The funds collected from contribution towards membership fees would not be used for my personal consumption. I am already earning more than my current requirements and the community would decide the best use of the funds.
We will find a better way to utilise the funds with the guidance of our mentors. I will share more details with you after making some progress with this experiment.
Before We Finish the Post
Let me know if you are interested in knowing how I take my monetary decisions, where and why I spend money for my personal use.
Or any other suggestion? Share your thoughts in the comments below.