Blog Income Report: How We Made $347K in 2 Months

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At the time of this writing, Ben and I are on Day 1,475 of blogging.

We filed our LLC on February 15, 2015. We didn’t even know at the time that “blogging” was eventually what our online business would turn into.

A lot can happen in 1,475 days.

In this blog income report — which may end up being our last one — I want to take a look back at the past 4 years. I think it’s easy for us to lose perspective of how far we have come, plus I want you guys to know more of the behind-the-scenes stuff before you compare your progress to ours.

Our Last Blog Income Report

I heard someone say last year in a presentation at FinCon, “You never know who is watching you“. That line has really stuck with me, especially as we have grown so much in the past few months as a business.

Ben and I have always made it a point to share as much insight as we can in our blog income reports. That said, I think we have a really good thing going right now with our business, and I want to make sure to protect that.

Sharing some of our more advanced strategic plans for the future doesn’t necessarily help newer bloggers (who are our primary audience for blogging content), but it definitely gives some of our more advanced competitors a handy blueprint to copy us. And I’m seeing that happen a lot.

So yeah, this is not necessarily a “new bloggers can’t relate to where we are at” reason, which is what many people cite as their reason for stopping blog income reports. It’s more of a “you never know who’s watching you” type of thing. Call me paranoid, but I feel like we have too much to lose at this point.

I want DollarSprout to eventually become one of the top players in the personal finance niche. Ben and I have a lot of ideas on how we can take it there, but I want our content on BTOP to stay catered to people earlier on in their “journey.”

Of course, this isn’t set in stone. Sometimes I can’t help myself and I just have to share something. But I wouldn’t count on that happening.

Blog Income Update

It’s been a few months since our last income report (December 2018, $104,000 earned revenue).

Here’s what we’ve done since then:

January 2019:

  • Revenue: $180,285
  • Expenses: $50,170
  • Profit: $130,122

February 2019:

  • Revenue: $167,390
  • Expenses: $67,746
  • Profit: $99,644

Note: This is accrued revenue, but real-time expenses. 

Here is our traffic info for DollarSprout from Jan 1 to Feb 28:

dollarsprout 2019 traffic

  • January page views: 1,192,423
  • February page views: 1,239,494

Related: 50 Ways to Grow Your Blog Traffic for Free

So, how did we get here?

Here is our most up-to-date revenue graph:
Total blog revenue
February was our first non-growth month in the last 12 months!

Even though a graph is pretty to look at, I prefer presenting our blog income reports in this way (I’ll explain why in a minute):

February 2015: $0
March 2015: $0
April 2015: $0
May 2015: $0
June 2015: $0
July 2015: $0
August 2015: $0
September 2015: $0
October 2015: $0
November 2015: $0
December 2015: $0
January 2016: $0
February 2016: $0
March 2016: $0
April 2016: $0
May 2016: $0.29
June 2016: $17
July 2016: $29
August 2016: $1,162
September 2016: $1,082
October 2016: $723
November 2016: $929
December 2016: $1,744
Jan 2017: $7,158
Feb 2017: $3,487
March 2017: $5,578
April 2017: $6,135
May 2017: $6,728
June 2017: $7,768
July 2017: $10,062
August 2017: $9,470
September 2017: $8,100
October 2017: $9,726
November 2017: $9,022
December 2017: $11,946
January 2018: $12,372
February 2018: $8,480
March 2018: $11,430
April 2018: $17,640
May 2018: $21,076
June 2018: $22,176
July 2018: $25,954
August 2018: $28,785
September 2018: $36,851
October 2018: $61,840
November 2018: $91,429
December 2018: $104,097
January 2019: $180,285
February 2019: $167,390

I like when it’s listed out like this. To me, it puts the grind in perspective. This really did not happen overnight. 

Since we filed the legal stuff for our blog 1,475 days ago, this business has been pretty much been the focus of our lives. If I had to guess, I would say that we’ve worked on the blog in some capacity for at least 1,450 of those days. Some days more than others, but there really isn’t a day that goes by where Ben and I aren’t:

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Don’t play the comparison game

This is probably the most hypocritical piece of advice I could ever give someone, since I used to constantly compare our business and blog income to others who are way ahead of us, but oh well.

Don’t compare your blog (and its growth) to ours. Or to anyone else’s.


Most of the time, you don’t have the full picture of what’s going on behind the scenes. Most comparisons are not apples-to-apples.

Take me and Ben for instance. We have a lot going for us that most bloggers who are reading this simply don’t have — and I have no problem admitting that.

» There are two of us. It still took over a year for us to figure out how to make money blogging.

» We’ve lived together since we started.

» Neither of us are married. We have no kids. Just two easy-going dogs. (Update: Now we’re both married and Ben has one kid. But when this was originally published, we were single bachelors focusing most of our time on growing our fledgling business.)

» We live in a low cost of living area. This mattered, especially when I first left my job to give entrepreneurship a try. And it also mattered when Ben was finally able to leave his full-time nursing job.

» Our living room is not like most living rooms:

living room
This is where we work every day.

» We now have over a dozen people helping us in some capacity. We can pump out a lot more work than a one-man show.

So yeah, don’t get caught up in the comparison game. We all have very different situations.

looking back

How it all started

I’ve mentioned this in a few other articles before, but I actually had no thoughts or inclinations of starting a blog when I was a kid, or even in college.

Starting a business was just never on my radar.

And then I got my first “real job” after college. And that’s what sprung this whole sequence of events in motion.

The thing is, my story isn’t all that unique. A lot of people hate their job.

Looking back, I think my greatest break of all was becoming so jaded by the working world at such an early point in my career. Most people have this existential crisis in their 30s or 40s; I had mine when I was 24.

At the time, I thought what many other people would think: Maybe more money will make this misery easier to bear. 

So, I asked for a raise.

At the time, I was making just over $30,000 a year, but I was doing the work of a $50,000-$80,000 position. Plugging that gap would surely go a long way towards making me happier, right? I thought so, at least.

So, I put my talking points down on paper before I met with my boss.

Here is exactly what I wrote (this is the actual document):

reasons for leaving
These are the notes I made on March 13, 2015, shortly before asking for a substantial pay raise. 

I also did my homework and compiled salary data on what other people doing the same work as me were making:

advisor salaries
Actual screenshots from my “Please Give Me a Raise” presentation.

Turns out, none of this mattered.

After it was all said and done, I got a raise… to $40,000 per year. It wasn’t the $60,000+ I was looking for. Looking back 4 years later, it’s so obvious to me now that money was never going to solve this problem. If I actually got the raise I wanted, it could have completely changed the course of my life. I could still be working there, stressed and miserable.

Regardless, at that point, my fate was sealed.

I knew I needed to find my own way and not depend on an employer for anything.

From then on, I was mentally checked out from the idea of working for someone else.

A few weeks later, I gave my 3-month notice

Yes, I know that’s an absurdly long notice. After a key employee quit, the owner of the company asked me to give him a couple months’ heads up if I planned to leave. Maybe it was professional courtesy, maybe it was some sort of corporate version of Stockholm Syndrome, but I held up my end of the deal.

My last day would be August 1, 2015. 3 months away.

The countdown begins

The countdown being “you only have a year to make this work, otherwise you will run out of money.”

Still, I was excited to do this. I finally had freedom. I even let the world know about it:

first week of self employment

Spoiler alert: I ran out of money within ten months.

I didn’t know it at the time (thank God), but I was about to enter one of the most stressful years of my life.

I can’t remember exactly, but I think I had about $22,000 to $25,000 in savings that I burned through.

Some things that I vividly remember about that year, none of which are things people like to talk about:

  • The first month was great, but then the reality crept in that this was going to be really, really hard. I was in denial.
  • Explaining to people what you “do” now, especially when you aren’t making any money yet, can definitely get in your head. I felt like a fraud. I still feel that way sometimes.
  • Stress affects every part of your life. I’ve never gotten sick as often as I did in that first year (just ask Ben). I also couldn’t afford health insurance, so I never went to a doctor.
  • I ate like crap. I could only afford cheap carbs and it showed.
  • Watching everyone else move up in their career while you are making a mess of your life is not a fun feeling.

Time to swallow my pride

Yeah, at this point everything was in shambles. Blogging sucked. Business sucked. Entrepreneurship sucked.

We were getting very little traffic to our website, had nearly zero blog income, and overall the future was just not looking good. There was no way around the fact that we were failing. But I still needed to feed myself, so I had to go back to work.

There was one small problem, though: Nobody seemed to want to hire me.

For instance, Wells Fargo was not a fan:

And they weren’t the only ones. I could not make the cut anywhere in the financial industry. I got 11 other “thanks, but no thanks” emails over a very depressing two-week span.

That’s when Ben said “well, maybe you can get a job at the hospital.”

I really didn’t have any desire to do that, but I also didn’t have a choice. I was dead broke.

I eventually got a job as a “Psychiatric Technician” at Carilion Clinic St. Albans Hospital. It was a job that a high schooler could do, but I was thankful for the opportunity to not starve.

psych ward job

So, for almost a year, both Ben and I worked at the same hospital.

He was a nurse, I was… definitely not a nurse.

Still, we kept trying to crack this blogging puzzle whenever we weren’t at the hospital. I didn’t want to work in a hospital forever, and neither did Ben.

Finally starting to make progress

Blogging is a slow, slow grind.

By the time we started earning a decent income from our blog, I still had some quitting-your-job PTSD. One benefit of my hospital job was that I had the option of dropping down to part-time.

So, in March 2017 (after a $3,000 blogging month), I put in my request to go part-time.

part time

This let me spend more time on the blog, but without the stress of 100% relying on that income (yet, at least).

After a few months of part-time work, I dropped back even more, until eventually I was completely done with the hospital — and back to being fully dependent on blog income to survive.

Fast forward to now

(Ok, a lot of fast-forwarding)

Ben and I have both learned a ton of lessons since becoming full-time bloggers. We are very fortunate to be able to do this stuff for a living, especially now that the immediate financial stress isn’t there anymore.

We also have Megan working full time with us, which is something I am really proud of. She has worked her butt off over the past year or so and has played a big role in helping us get to where we are. We are also actively working on hiring for a couple more positions, while continuing to grow our team of freelance writers.

As of right now — 1,475 days into this project — life is really good.

Where do we go from here?

Ben and I were just talking about this the other day. We feel great about what we have accomplished so far, but when is enough enough?

Why are we both still working 6-7 days a week on this thing when we don’t really need to? When does it stop?

$200,000 months?

$500,000 months?

As of now, I don’t really know the answer to that question.

The thing is, I like what we are doing. I like the idea of having a project to work on. Something to tinker with and improve. I also really like the idea of creating jobs and opportunities for other people. That’s probably the one thing that’s been giving me the most satisfaction lately.

Competition is another big thing that drives me. Whether that’s a good thing or not is up for debate, but Ben and I really do thrive on the need to be the “best” in our niche — even though we still have a very long way to go.

Where does our potential cap out?

It’s one thing to say you want to be the best in your niche. Having the skills and abilities to do it is a whole other story.

There’s no denying that Ben and I have zero business experience, we’ve never managed a team before, and are not necessarily “qualified” to run a large company.

The leaders in our space are large companies. They are not just two bloggers patching things together from their living room.

These are companies with hundreds of employees, millions in VC funding, and management teams with Fortune 500 experience.

No matter how much we grind, these are just facts. We can only take this thing so far on our own.

The tricky part is figuring out where exactly our abilities and potential max out. It’s hard to tell.

I’m thinking it probably looks something like this:


But really, I have no idea. So for now I am content with just carrying onward.

My Own Financial Goals

Right now my living expenses are about $1,500-$2,000 a month. I don’t need a lot of money to make myself happy.

What I do absolutely want, though, is to live on the beach. Ever since I was a kid growing up in the gloomy mountains of the Pacific Northwest, I’ve always wanted to move to the beach one day.

When I’m at the ocean, I’m at my happiest and most relaxed. 

Case in point:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jeff (@jeffproctorvt) on

I was feeling pretty good here.

Outside of living on the beach, I don’t have any crazy aspirations for myself financially. I don’t need to make money just for the sake of making money.

I just want to live on the coast and keep building businesses because it’s fun to do — whether it’s DollarSprout or something else in the future. That’s my thing.

For now, I am perfectly content to keep grinding on our current business, because I know that we haven’t yet hit our fullest potential. I’m sure when Ben and I move on to the next “personal” stages of our lives, (i.e., marriage, kids, etc.) our priorities will likely change. I might no longer have the need to reach my/our fullest potential — and that’s okay.

But for now, we carry onward.

Side note: Early retirement doesn’t really appeal to me at all, even if I had the opportunity to do it. I know that I would inevitably drive myself crazy if I had nothing productive to do.


This is another recent topic that Ben and I have talked about.

Besides making DollarSprout the best version of itself that it can be (for the benefit of readers), we want to start finding other ways to use our blog income to give back. We’ve bounced around a few ideas, including:

  • Allocating a certain percentage of profits to a local cause (either quarterly, yearly, on holidays, etc.)
  • Starting a scholarship for the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad (where we first became friends 10 years ago)
  • Making a concerted effort to hire underserved populations (homeless, IDD, etc.). This is something that Ben and I talked about for years, before we even started a business. Now we might actually have the opportunity to do it if/when we get an office, which would be awesome. If that happens, that honestly might be my proudest life accomplishment to date.

All of this is still to be determined, so technically it doesn’t mean anything until we actually do it. But it’s something we’d like to shoot for.

In fact, “Make an Impact” is something that we included in our recently created Mission Statement for DollarSprout. Big shout out to Megan for firmly nudging us to get these in place. They were long overdue.

mission statement

I’m really happy with how these turned out, and I’m excited to start using them to guide us more intentionally as we (hopefully) continue to grow.

Success is never guaranteed

Even with how far we’ve come, I know that this can all be taken away very quickly. Our business is dependent on Pinterest marketing and SEO, and both of those are fickle beasts. They might like us today, but they can kill us tomorrow and not even care.

There will never be a day where we have zero risk of peril, and I think that’s important to remember.

To blog, or not to blog?

red pill blue pill

Anyway, that’s our story, wrapped up in a little 3,000-word package. Feel free to poke around this site a bit more if you want to learn more about how we got to this point — I obviously didn’t include every little thing in this post.

Also, if this ends up being our last blog income report (a very real possibility), I just want to say thank you to everyone who’s been reading these since we started writing them a couple years ago. Your support means the world.

And finally, if you are interested in blogging and you’ve got 1,000+ days to burn on something that might not ever pan out (but also might change your life forever), here is our setup tutorial. Proceed with caution.

And come hang out with us in our Facebook group for bloggers while you’re at it.

Jeff Proctor

Hi! I'm Jeff. A personal finance nerd and entrepreneur at heart, I'm here to bring you all the latest cool ways to make and save extra money. I am a quoted contributor in several online publications, including Entrepreneur, NBC News, GoBankingRates,, Credit Karma, US News & World Report, Lifehacker, MSN Money,, Yahoo! Finance, and more.


Jeff and Ben your income reports always fascinates me and what exactly I like that you are so real. May you grow more. You are so inspirational for a new blogger like us. I don’t have a really huge goal in mind all I want similar income to what I make and have the liberty to work from home…

Thank you Bushra!! I am so thankful to have you around as a reader. I wish you all the success in the world!


You are so welcome! I am so blessed to have met you two via blogging.


Awesome share, Jeff. You guys are amazing and share the ups and downs in an honest way, unlike others who’d just share the success story. I get it, blogging is a long-term game and you should treat it like a real business.

Thanks for the write-up and the numbers.

Thanks Brandon! Yep, I definitely like to share as much of the reality of blogging as I can. It’s no different than starting any other kind of business — there will be good days and bad days, but you have to carry onward 🙂

Kimberly Clay
Kimberly Clay

Thanks Jeff for sharing this, and all of the reports that have come before. The knowledge and information that you and Ben and Megan have been willing to share is truly helpful and encouraging. Now we just have to catch up! 🙂

Ahh thank you Kimberly!! You’ve been following us for a while now and I always appreciate your support 🙂

Phil Joseph
Phil Joseph

Who knew I’d find the exact advice I needed on a random blog earnings report. Thank you, Jeff, for the amazing story! ❤️

Forrest Webber
Forrest Webber

Existential crisis, eh? If you are into Jung… I recommend James Hollis’ books. He has three books that helped me in my 20’s with the same thread. #stuffthathelps

– The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning at Midlife
– The Swamplands of the Soul
– The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other

I wrote a bit about them here:

Hope this helps– Forrest

Checking these out — thanks Forrest!


This whole post was awesome, Jeff.

I almost didn’t read it because I thought it was strictly an income report.

I do care about earning money, but a good backstory offers so much more than just sharing numbers. Plus I appreciate that you guys share your struggles. Very relatable & far more encouraging than mere numbers.

Thanks for being a fan, Teresa! Sometimes it’s nice to just write and not worry about trying to sell something so we can pay the bills 🙂

Charlene Boutin
Charlene Boutin

This is so inspiring. It reminds me that ‘hacks’ and deceitful tricks don’t work, but hard work and dedication does.
Thank you for your constant transparency on these! They are truly helpful.

Ahh thank you Charlene! I appreciate your support 🙂

Todd at Invested Wallet
Todd at Invested Wallet

Awesome post Jeff, been following the websites journey for a few months now. Very impressive and the grind you two have is paying off. Looking forward to watching your site continue to grow!

Thanks Todd!! You’re doing pretty well yourself 🙂


Your posts are my favorite to read!! Thank you! And I loved the shout out to Drew about your accounting.. lol

Haha I knew he was going to call me out on it so I wanted to get ahead of the negative press 🙂


I love both your blogs and FB group. Lots of support and inspiration.
Hope I’ll have the patience to grow my blog slowly (with a FT job and 3 kids).
Thank you for this honest post, I love reading real stories of real people.

Thank you Mary 🙂


Very Inspirational and super useful, as always. Thanks guys! Pinned for later as well 🙂

Thank you Ana!

Nick Mackintosh
Nick Mackintosh

Hey Ben & Jeff,

Your website and the Income Reports always inspire me! I’m hoping to 1 day break $1k a month let alone consistently achieving $100k+. It’s sobering to see how much work you put in and received $0 for your time. I hope to 1 day get there and even if I achieve 10% of what you’ve done I’ll be extremely happy!

All the best,

Thanks so much, Nick! If Ben and I can find a way to make it work, you can too. Just takes a crazy amount of stubbornness 🙂


Jeff, I belong to a small group of bloggers who work super hard on our blogs. We’ve all been at it for around the 2 year mark and are achieving varying levels of success. One of our members was having a bad day – those days where you feel like all your efforts are going nowhere and like you’ll never make enough money to buy a meal much less a lifestyle- and another one shared this post. Thanks for being inspiring while keeping it real.

Thanks so much for sharing this, Katie! We all have good days and bad, and sometimes the bad days are front loaded for the first few years of a new blog. Hang in there!


Congrats on the growth! I always enjoy your income reports, but I think it’s a wise decision to stop.

Thanks Marc! Yeah, part of me would love to keep sharing everything, but I really don’t think it’s smart for us to do that anymore :/

Siva Mahesh
Siva Mahesh

Congrats Jeff & Ben. This is very impressive & inspirational.


Congrats again Jeff and Ben, on your success! Thanks for sharing and inspiring us with all this info on the fruits of your hard work and what you believe in 🙂

Thank you Jo 🙂


Oh wow!!! That was so inspiring! New reader here – I honestly don’t even know how I ended up on this blog. I feel so much better knowing you guys didn’t make any money for over a year and can still be so successful. I know all about the comparison game. I keep telling myself not to, but it’s soooooo hard not to.

I have mentally checked out, but I am so scared to quit my job. Maybe in 6 months lol

Hey Kelly! Glad you found our little slice of the web. If I can inspire just one person with this article, then my job is complete! Hang in there — I know it sucks but you can make it through this!

Jordan Garrett
Jordan Garrett


I enjoyed reading this post and it’s inspiring to see your story unfold. You guys have potential to take your business to extraordinary levels and make a positive impact to those your serve.

My career is currently in Innovation & Strategy and your comments about growing, evolving and competition reminded me of a book that I think will help you and Ben truly take your business to the next level. That book is “Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works”. It’s a game changer if you study it and implement the learnings.

Cheers and good luck!


Thank you Jordan!! Your support means a lot. I will be sure to check that book out!


Thanks Jeff. 🙂 Just figured out your secret to massive success, the doggies! 🙂 What are their names? Do you have more than 2?


Excellent article as always, sad to read you are stopping these but do understand why, great to see that effort and persistence pays off, just also read a great article about blog heroes and you were featured in it! Congrats


Hi Jeff,

Great article! What would you say was the turning point for you in making money online?



Wow!! Just stumbled upon your article! You call it “income report”, for me it’s more of a triumph and a source of inspiration. I like the first year, you guys made $0 money and only to reap the rewards years later. Hard work and perseverance pay off big time!!

Jam Hassan
Jam Hassan

What is your thoughts on starting a new blog with a full-time job or just doing freelance, odd jobs & giving more time to blogging?

I guess it depends on how stable your “odd jobs” are to some degree. Where it could take 12-24 months of dedicated effort to blogging before you see anything that resembles a decent income, it’s important to make sure you’re not sabotaging your finances in the mean time. I’d probably go the full-time job route and work on your blog on the side as it starts to gain traction, but if you have a quasi-stable source of secondary income (like through Uber or something similar), then you could potentially devote more time to blogging.

Thrifty Hustler
Thrifty Hustler

Hi Jeff,

Thank you for writing this. This is really inspirational. I’m glad that your hard work over those months/years paid off. Congrats!

I’ll be binge-reading all of your posts in the coming days.



That was a good read. I appreciate it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to stick with my blog as long as you have. 😀 I’m trying haha.

Good luck!


Hi Jeff,

This is really inspiring blogging story.
I want your serious advice about my blog.
I start a blog about (exercises/workout at home) when i was beginner since 1 year back until today im working on it (middle dedication) when i first start i didn’t release that it’s very competitive (since being new on this stuff) my income from blog almost zero until day. my question?

Do i need to stop work on it, and start another smaller niche (less competitive)?
or still their is away to fix this existing blog? and how!!
(also take into consideration i work alone, with limited time to spent on blog)

Appreciate your answer.
Thanks on Advance,

Hey Basil,

That is a question that only you can answer. If you enjoy your current niche enough, there is really no reason to stop working on it and trying to break through. But if it feels like work and you aren’t enjoying the time you spend on it, your chances of making it are slim.

David Blenkinship
David Blenkinship

A refreshing and rare change to see two honest marketers. Guys who have the guts to show just how long it took to begin producing revenue, and little revenue at that, for many months. Congratulations on your current success and hopefully may it continue and grow.

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