It seems like everybody has a side hustle these days. Whether it’s a Youtube channel, flipping goods on Ebay, selling hand-made thingamajigs on Etsy — there’s plenty of ways to make a little extra money on the side. Blogs (like this one) are just one example.
Most people don’t make a ton of money from these side hustles however. You don’t see Etsy many sellers driving Ferrari’s or sipping champagne on their yachts. Certainly there is some money to be made, but not really enough to quit your day job. Most side-hustles don’t turn into a major income sources…
But there are always exceptions. A handful of people really do make it big.
Most of the time financial success like this is celebrated. “It’s great you’ve done so well selling your product on Etsy!” “I can’t believe you do that full-time now!” “Wow, good job fixing lawnmowers and selling them on Craigslist! What a cool business!”
But in the personal finance and financial independence blog space, success often gets scrutinized. Why?
There’s a couple potential reasons:
- There’s this idea that bloggers who earn “salary levels” of income can’t call themselves financially independent or early retired. They’re “faking it” and have simply changed one job for another. Instead of living off investment income, they’re living off advertising, book income, or whatever product they promote from their blog.
- A significant number of people still doubt you can just save money and then retire in your 30’s by living off your investments. If readers see a blogger earning “multiple incomes” it sheds some doubt about whether the 4% rule really works over the long term.
There’s definitely been a call in the person finance blog space to provide more financial transparency. People want to see how much bloggers are making from blogs, side hustles, books, and other income sources.
I totally support this idea. Transparency is a good thing!
When I first started my blog income transparency process back in 2018, I wrote the first version of this post called How Much Does This Blog Make (2018)? That was then, and this is now… one year later.
As you know, there’s no point in being transparent just once. Income levels from side-hustles are always changing. There’s no honor in being transparent only when a blog is starting out (with few readers and very little income), and then ignoring financial transparency once it grows to become more successful. That kind of behavior just smacks of dishonesty.
In my opinion, if you’re going to be financially transparent, you should be providing regularly updated numbers. That’s what I believe anyway! Call me crazy, but I think readers appreciate continued honesty and transparency over more of pictures of exotic locations and fancy meals purchased at restaurants.
Besides, there’s no point in hiding anything! You’ve already seen how much money I spend and how much I make from dividends. I post about it every month.
Does Mr. Tako Escapes Make Money?
So, does Mr. Tako Escapes make money? Yes. The blog makes a little money. Certainly not “salary” levels of income, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Like most blogs, Mr. Tako Escapes has more than one income source — Google Adsense ads and Amazon affiliate links are the two income sources for this blog that actually earn money.
Let’s look at each of these different income sources and see how much money I made last year…
Google Adsense provides the income earning ads for this blog, and they really pay peanuts. But that’s OK, I don’t mind. The blog continues to grow and attract new readers.
In 2018, the blog earned $708 from Google Adsense. This averages out to be $59 a month in 2018. It’s a decline in income from 2017.
Here’s a screenshot of the blog’s Adsense earnings report for 2018:
Unfortunately, blog income has continued to declined since the start of 2019. For some reason, Google Adsense is now paying even less in 2019 than it did in 2018 or 2017 — Advertising income has averaged $31/month in 2019.
Go figure! Nothing changed on my end, and yet the blog’s audience continues to grow every month! I guess Google needed to make a little more. 😉
While there are many businesses that offer affiliate relationships to bloggers, many of them are extremely picky about who they accept into their affiliate programs. Amazon is the one I primarily work with because they’re not discriminating jerks like those other guys.
This means from time to time I’ll throw up a link to something readers can buy off Amazon. Maybe it’s a book or some item I recently purchased. If readers decide to purchase that item off Amazon using the link, I see a few pennies from the sale — typically 3 to 5 cents per dollar.
(For those folks that have done so — Thank You! Your support is appreciated!)
As you can guess, this income source isn’t going to generate a lot of money. For all of 2018, this blog made $442 from Amazon. This works out to be $36/month, which is slightly higher than what I earned in 2017.
Here’s the requisite screenshot from Amazon’s reporting page:
Clearly I didn’t get to millionaire status from Amazon Affiliate income… maybe I have some other secret source of income?
Nope, no secret income sources! Many blogs do have a variety income sources — Promoting a book the author has written is one popular income source right now. Sponsored content is another income source I see often. There’s also folks who sell online courses, and there’s loads of other affiliate income possibilities available to blogs. Credit card promotion continues to be a very popular income source in the personal finance space.
My blog doesn’t earn income from any of those sources. I won’t disparage anyone who earns income in this way either. If they can earn money doing it, all the more power to them!
That’s not to say that I won’t ever write a book or shill for a credit card company, but as of right now this blog doesn’t derive income from any ‘other’ sources.
Let’s not forget that despite all these BIG dollar signs I’m flashing around like some kind of mad gangster, blogs do actually have expenses.
In my case, I pay $3.73 monthly to Squidix for my web hosting, and last year I paid $13.16 annually for the domain name MrTakoEscapes.com. This means the blog had $57.92 in regular recurring expenses for 2018.
The blog also had software expenses of $32.68 in 2018. This is to pay for some WordPress plugins that help me manage the site.
It’s also necessary to pay self employment taxes after expenses. Don’t forget the taxes! In 2018, self employment taxes were 15.3%, which have to be paid in quarterly installments.
For all of 2018, MrTakoEscapes.com made about $897 after expenses and taxes.
Why Do I Do It?
Now that I’ve revealed the numbers I bet your wondering, “Wow, that’s so little! Why does he do it?”
Writing a blog like this requires a ton of work. I wrote 98 posts in 2018. Most of these posts took around 8 hours to write (yes, I’m a slow writer). That’s 784 hours of writing. There’s also tons of research and blog management that I don’t even try to account for.
Yet, the blog only earned $897 in 2018. This means I made around $1.14 per hour writing. Clearly I’m making less than minimum wage here. Why would I even bother when the income level is so low?
It’s really not about the money. There’s a variety of reasons why people write blogs — for some it’s an income source and they do it to make money. Other people do it to promote their book or other business. And for others, it’s just a hobby.
On the spectrum of different blogs that exist, Mr. Tako Escapes tends to fall more on the “hobby” end of the blogging spectrum. I’m doing this mainly because I enjoy the writing process — not because I earn a big income from it.
I also write MrTakoEscapes for a few reasons you might not expect:
1. Writing helps me think. I write a lot about the process of investing on this blog, and I also create write-ups of my investing ideas. Many people find these posts interesting, but one of the big reasons I do it is because writing helps me think. The process of organizing my thoughts into the written word and coming-up with compelling investing ideas helps me become a better investor and a better human being.
To quote Blaise Pascal (the mathematician), “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
Well, maybe the world should start blogging! I spend A LOT of time sitting quietly, writing and thinking. Most of that time I use to contemplate the topics of money and investing.
2. To provide a different voice. I also write this blog because I feel there’s room for different voices in the personal finance space. There are many different ways to achieve financial independence, and I think more blogs should reflect that.
Right now, I think there’s too many bog-standard blogs that all read like generic copies of one another. If you’ve read many personal finance blogs, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about here!
I believe the world needs a greater variety of voices to reflect the great variety of ways in which we can all reach financial independence!
3. Investing advice for my kids. One of the biggest reasons why I write this blog is because I want to leave some lasting investing advice for my kids. As I mentioned in the About page for this blog, there’s just too much useless investing noise out there. Too many half-truths. Too many guru’s that just want to steal your money. Too many new investing fads.
Most investing advice is actually about taking your money, and not about earning you money. This is an area where I believe I can actually help my kids. I’ve already made most of the big mistakes. I’m writing this blog with the intent that one day my kids will read it. My personal hope is that they’ll learn to become better investors.
4. To help people. While there are a huge number of bloggers in this world, I hope that in some small way what I write is helpful to people. Part of why I write this blog is to just say “Hey, this stuff is real! You really can reach financial independence! It’s not fake!”
I’d like to think that I’ve maybe helped a few readers reach financial independence for themselves! Over the years many people have written and thanked me for the inspiration.
It’s fantastic to hear that I might have done some good in this world!
I bet you though this blog earned a bunch of money, didn’t you? It surprises a lot of people how little it makes. Honestly, the lack of financial reward doesn’t bother me. The number of readers and followers of this blog has continued to grow year after year. Blog income doesn’t reflect that.
The growth in readership is affirmation enough that people are interested in financial independence, and the Tako family’s story. I think most people are smart enough to know what’s real and honest in this world. The blog’s growth is a reflection of that. Thank you to all the dedicated readers!
Even though I’ve never revealed my real identity to the world, I’m quite happy to share our little financial success story with as much transparency as I can. Even though I don’t share my real name, everything you read here is as real as it gets.
Thanks for reading everybody!
[Image Credit: Flickr]