How I Generate a Full-Time Income Online

posted by Andrea | 06/7/2013

A few weeks ago, I shared all about what I do as a writer, blogger, virtual assistant, speaker, organizer, etc. etc. As you can read in that post, there are many different part-time components that make up my full-time job… and I like it that way. There is never a dull moment and I never get bored!

Each day, I spend my working hours in many different ways — so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that I generate my income from many different sources as well.

In fact, it’s not abnormal for me to get anywhere from 20-30 different “paychecks” in a given month (I’ll talk more about this below). Some of those paychecks might only be $2.57, some of the paychecks are significantly more (thank goodness!)

The online world is a crazy place to work — and I’ve definitely learned a lot in my 3 years of blogging. I am by no means a master at monetizing a blog, and I’m certainly still have a LOT to learn, but since all my posts are about my own real life experiences, I thought I’d take a few moments to share a bit more about how I earn a full-time income — entirely from my online business and blog.

Of course, my story and my experiences might be much different than your own experiences (or other bloggers you might know), but that’s the beauty of working online! Never a dull moment :)

how I generate a full-time income online

Believe it or not, I actually started writing this post months ago. I had it written and ready to go… but then I chickened out.

Money is such a hard topic to write about, you know. If I share too much information, it seems tacky and prideful; but if I don’t share ALL the facts, I get judged and people make false assumptions. So I’m trying to walk that delicate line between “too much” and “not enough”. I’m keeping some of the facts private while providing enough information for those of you (and there are a lot of you) who have asked so many questions about how I make money doing what I do.

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This is a very long post — not because the topic is so complicated, but rather, because it took me a REALLY long time to figure out how to build my online business. I want to share that time-frame and highlight how long it took because, based on all the questions in my email inbox, there are way too many people who think they can just “start up a blog, make a bunch of money, and quit their jobs”.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work exactly like that (unless you’re a Kardashian). Blogging is most definitely NOT a “get-rich-quick” way to earn a living. 

In my personal experience, monetizing my online business required lots of learning, lots of late nights, lots of frustration, and many months of full-time work with little to no income. Not exactly glamorous to admit… but I really loved what I was doing and I felt confident that if I gave it enough time and kept working hard, I could eventually make a living.

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It started with my organizing business. {April 2007}

I launched my organizing business over 6 years ago — I didn’t even know what a blog was!

I had a super simple website and made 100% of my income from organizing other people’s clutter — and as I mentioned in this post, that was NOT a lot of money those first couple of years. But I was working another full-time job so organizing was more of a fun hobby I guess.

However, the organizing part of my business is what eventually inspired me to start a blog. I had many clients, friends, and family members who encouraged me to start up a blog to share daily organizing tips and attract new clients.

So almost 3 years ago, I started this blog.

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The beginning of the blog. {August 2010}

In those first few months of blogging, I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing. I also had absolutely NO idea I could potentially make money from a blog. I simply wanted a blog so I could share my passion for simple living and organization with anyone who cared to read it. (And yes, I hoped some of the people reading my blog would hire me to help them get more organized.)

During those first few months, I stumbled my way through blogging. I made stupid mistakes, wrote really bad posts, and spent a lot of time reading other blogs to see what people were doing to get more traffic. After all, more blog traffic meant more potential clients for my organizing business.

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A new concept: making money from the internet! {October 2010}

It wasn’t long until I found Blogging With Amy — a blog that specifically focuses on how to start AND monetize a blog.

Wait… what?

There was money to be made from blogging? This was all news to me — but you can bet I wanted to learn more!

I started reading more on Amy’s blog, on other blogs, and around the web… apparently, there was a lot of money to be made from blogging and from the internet. I just had to figure out how to make it!

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My first attempts at monetizing my blog. {Nov./Dec. 2010}

I started to monetize my blog by placing a few Google Ads in my sidebar and signing up for a couple different affiliate programs. I was lucky if I made $10-$20 per month — but considering I wasn’t making anything before, this was progress!

After about 4 months of using Google AdSense and being involved with a few different affiliate programs, I was earning about $80-$100 per month plus getting other rewards (like Amazon gift cards) from Swagbucks.

Obviously, that’s not enough to make a living on (and it probably equated to about $0.40 per hour) — but my organizing business was growing and I still never considered the idea of quitting my organizing business to work full-time from my computer.

I was thrilled to make a little grocery and gas money — and I kept reading and learning more about making money from my blog.

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My introduction to the Virtual Assistant business. {January 2011}

About 5 months after I started my blog, Mandi from Life.YourWay.net emailed me and asked if I wanted to work as her Virtual Assistant.

A what?

I didn’t really know what a Virtual Assistant was, but the tasks she wanted me to perform were all things I knew how to do — so sure, why not! I was thrilled for this new opportunity to earn an income doing something I really enjoyed, working with new people, and learning all sorts of new things. Mandi taught me a lot and I am forever grateful that she introduced me to the crazy Virtual Assistant world.

I started working for Life…YourWay  in January of 2011, and over the past 2.5 years, I’ve been introduced to many other bloggers and companies who have hired me for short and long-term VA projects (read more on that here).

I still do a significant amount of VA work — and as you’ll read below, it makes up a good chunk of my income.

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Re-evaluating my business plan. {April 2011}

After working as a VA for only a few months, I quickly realized this was something I had a passion for, something I had the skills for, and something I loved doing.

For the first time ever, I thought and dreamed about what my business might look like if (and that was a big IF) I scaled back on the home organizing part of my business and devoted more time to the VA part of my business. After all, the income from my personal blog was growing, my VA business complimented my personal blog, and all of it could be done on my own time, in my own home, from my computer.

It had been 4 years since I officially launched my in-home organizing business, and although my profits had increased significantly, I didn’t have near the passion I did in the beginning. I was tired of working in dirty homes all day, I was tired of cancellations, I was tired of all the paperwork.

In fact, I was feeling really REALLY tired all the time (which was totally abnormal for me). I wondered if I had mono or if something was chronically wrong with me. Much to my surprise, I realized I was pregnant.

This was kind of a game-changer for me because I KNEW I couldn’t keep doing as much in-home organizing once I had a baby. My schedule was already crazy… adding a baby would make it next to impossible (and that’s when I had the faulty assumption that all babies slept!)

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Changing gears: full-time in the online world. {November 2011}

I decided that once Nora was born (November of 2011) I would almost completely stop doing any in-home organizing. Instead, I would focus primarily on generating an income from my blog, from affiliate sales, from advertising, and from my Virtual Assistant business.

I decided that I WOULD continue to offer my coaching and speaking services on a limited basis (which is still the case today).

This was really scary for me, because I was making a decent income from the organizing part of my business. However, as I look back, this was the best decision I could have made — especially since I was offered a new VA job with MoneySavingMom.com just a few weeks after Nora was born. Perfect timing!

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Finally, a full-time income! {April 2012}

After Nora was born, I focused 100% of my business energy (that’s the energy I have left over once Nora finally goes to bed) into building and growing the income I earn from all my online endeavors.

It took about 5 years after starting my organizing business and 2 years after starting my blog until I was finally making a good full-time income — like enough to totally support our family and enough for Dave to quit his job and stay home. However, Dave loves his job, and he’s such a good teacher/coach, so I’m sure he’ll keep working for a long time.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, blogging is most definitely NOT a “get-rich-quick” line of work. I could have made significantly more money working a 9-5 job for those first 5 years… but THIS is what I wanted to do, THIS is what I’m passionate about, THIS is what I love!

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So where exactly does my income come from?

40% = Advertising, sponsorships, giveaways on my own blog

35-40% = Virtual Assistant work

10-15% = Affiliate sales

5% = Paid posts that I write for other blogs, magazines, and publications

5%  = Coaching and speaking engagements

Bonus = all the non-cash “payments” I received like free products, gift cards, discounted services, trips, etc.

These percentages vary from month to month (and seasonally) — but that’s the best estimate I can give at this point.

 

I’m guessing many of you are surprised to see that the income generated from my own personal blog is only around 40%… but I think that’s the beauty of the online world. Although I don’t make nearly a full-time income from my blog, my blog has been the springboard that opened so many other income-generating opportunities for me.

Without my blog, I couldn’t make any money from affiliate sales because I wouldn’t have a platform to promote them.

Without my blog, I wouldn’t have the exposure to get nearly as many VA opportunities.

Without my blog, I wouldn’t get paid post opportunities.

Without my blog, I wouldn’t get free products and services to review.

So while the income I make directly from the advertising on my blog is wonderful, at this point in my career, I really wouldn’t be making a full-time income without all those other income streams as well.

The bottom line

The first thing to remember is that most bloggers don’t make all their income directly from their blog, nor do they make their income from only one source. Instead, they use their blog as a way to gain exposure, build trust, be helpful and then they use it as a springboard to find other ways to generate income.

Be willing to start small, work hard and be memorable. 

~ quote taken from this post on BloggingWithAmy.com

Thanks Amy, I couldn’t have said it any better myself! 

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For those of you interested in starting a blog, working from home, earning a little extra money, or building a full-time career in the online world, I hope this post is informative and helpful. I hope it is eye-opening to hear my story and learn a little more about how exactly I make money doing what I do.

The online world is definitely not for everyone, and it’s definitely not the best or fastest way to earn an income — but it works for me (and for a lot of others as well.)

So that’s it — told you this was a LONG post! 

For those of you who also make an income (full or part-time) online, I’d love to know how you did it or any tips you have for growing your income.

Also, feel free to leave any questions in the comment section — I’ll do my best to answer them and link you up with helpful resources :)

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57 comments

  1. Making Money Online Easy | Youtal

    06/17/2013

    [...] How I Generate a Full-Time Income Online – Andrea Dekker http://andreadekker.com/In my personal experience, monetizing my online business required lots of learning, lots of late nights, lots of frustration, and many months of full-time work with little to no income. Not exactly glamorous to admit… but I really … [...]

  2. Karyn

    06/18/2013

    WOW! Thank you for the breakdown. I have seen organizers with blogs and affiliate marketing sites and I have wondered, is it full time? Is that possible? I appreciate all the tips, and LOVE your site.

    [Reply]

  3. Sharon

    06/19/2013

    So at first advertising didn’t generate much at all then it became 40% – is this because your page views got much bigger? Just curious. :]

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes Sharon, adverting is often directly correlated with pageviews, ad impressions, and click-through rate — so since my blog traffic has grown tremendously over the past 3 years, my ad dollars have also grown. However, I also learned a lot more about advertising and how to best utilize and implement the different ad codes — so that is part of the increase as well.

    [Reply]

  4. Norma W

    06/20/2013

    Wow! Thank you for sharing your experience. It is truly inspiring!

    [Reply]

  5. Rhonda Wylie

    08/01/2013

    Thank you so much for sharing. My daughter and I are working together on our small blog (for now). I hope it grows to make decent money one day, but for now we are enjoying what we do. We are both passionate about it. Great article!

    [Reply]

  6. Diana K

    08/07/2013

    I have had to dabble online for sources and resources for alternative ways of making money. I like your blog site and all the great info you dedicate to sharing for the sake of growing. I have a world of knowledge from all the online researching, I just lack the implementation. I’m going back to my old wordpress blog site and hope to plug something into action. My first test project will be selling my RV resort lot on a golf course in the very southern tip of Texas. This should be interesting as there are tons of lots for sale there, and it too is a buyer’s market. I believe that if you make a place attractive enough, others will be interested – or so I hope. Following your lead of selling your house, I remain confident that with the right formula I too can sell my lot! Thanks for your blog and posts and all your good info. I will bookmark your blog for the future and who knows, maybe I will be needing some of your services in the near future! Best regards -

    [Reply]

  7. Aysh

    09/04/2013

    Very informative post! Now… just one question: How do I increase my readership? Is there already a post on that or will you please write on that? :)

    Thanks Andrea!

    [Reply]

  8. Kaycee

    10/28/2013

    Thank you so much! Working on building my blog right now, and while my background is in PR/Advertising (so I understand all the theories and how things “should” work), it is still absolutely wonderful hear it from someone who’s actually done it themselves!

    [Reply]

  9. Weekend Reading: June 15, 2013

    08/04/2014

    […] How I Generate a Full-Time Income Online | Andrea Dekker […]

  10. Maribel

    09/09/2014

    Andrea,
    how did you begin your organizing business? Did you have previous training? Any websites you recommend to browse for someone who is interested in generating income by organizing for others? Thanks :)

    [Reply]

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