Thursday, May 7, 2020

Blog Thoughts, Year Five

via Unsplash

Now here's a post that's several months late! Invincible Summer is now over five years old. As in past years, I continue to be deeply grateful to all of you for reading here, and for everyone who chimes in to discussions with me in the comments section. Writing here continues to be a delight, though in recent months, I have not had much time or energy for it, with all that was going on at the office. And with COVID-19 and the resulting worldwide shutdowns, it's become particularly difficult to know what to say here, especially because this blog is really mostly about shopping, something entirely unimportant in light of everything that's happening. 

Today's post will be considerably more succinct than my typical "blogiversary" post. (See my posts for previous years here.) It's really just a report on last year's blog-related income, and an update on how my blog-related income is likely to look in the months going forward. Spoiler alert, the numbers I'm talking about will not be especially large, and will probably continue to shrink in the foreseeable future, now that I'm updating the blog much less often than before.

Before jumping in to the numbers, a quick note about taxes. As far as I can tell when inputting the relevant numbers into Turbotax each year, I pay my marginal tax rate of more than ~40% on my blog-related income, which I continue to report on a Schedule C-EZ. To date, I still have not made enough from this blog in one year from any single source to receive any 1099s for blog-related income. (This is not to be taken as legal advice about the tax implications of blog-related income.)

Please follow the link below for a detailed 2019 blog income reportThank you again for your support of Invincible Summer all this time!

Shopstyle Collective: I've now been using Shopstyle affiliate links for a little more than four years. At present, I remain on the Pay Per Click ("PPC") model, which pays a flat rate of a few cents per click, even though they were supposed to have completely phased out PPC by sometime last year, in favor of a Cost per Acquisition ("CPA") model, where people get commissions only for actual sales resulting from the use of their links. At some point in 2019, my commission rate was dropped to approximately $0.06/click, and that's where it's stayed since then. Shopstyle continues to send out payments each month after my balance reaches the minimum payout threshold of $25. At present, I typically only make maybe $7.00/month on average, so it can take a long time to reach that minimum. ($106.03 cashed out in 2016; $214.38 cashed out in 2017; $468.41 cashed out in 2018; $300.06 cashed out in 2019; ~$22 pending at end of 2019.)  

Amazon Associates: I'll be honest, much like in past years I still don't fully understand how Amazon's affiliate program works. There's no rhyme or reason to my earnings rate, and they don't give much data. I believe they give a percentage commission on all purchases made through one's affiliate links. Their minimum payment threshold is $10, and they also send payments automatically at a fixed time after the threshold is reached, usually within the following two months. ($24.49 cashed out in 2017; $27.51 cashed out in 2018; $14.35 cashed out in 2019; ~$7 pending at end of 2019.) 

Google Adsense: Much like in past years, I continue to find Adsense's dynamic algorithms and calculation methods impossible to decipher, and I've also continued to see income levels vary dramatically from day to day and week to week. Starting towards the end of 2019, I started getting constant error messages about problems with my "ads.txt" file resulting in "severe impact" to my revenue. But after following their instructions to fix the issue, I continued to get the same error message. Oh well. Strictly speaking, I should probably just remove Google ads from this blog because I'm probably not getting my "money's worth" out of placing their ads here anymore. Except that I currently have ~$47.00 in earnings pending, which will effectively be forfeit if I don't reach the minimum payment threshold of $100. Presently, I make so little each month that it could take years to reach that $100 payout threshold again. Yikes! ($105.23 cashed out in 2018; $103.47 cashed out in 2019; ~$35 pending at end of 2019.)  

Share-A-Sale: Up until some point last year, when MM. LaFleur cancelled their affiliate program with Share-a-Sale, I used Share-a-Sale for MM. LaFleur affiliate links. Share-A-Sale paid commissions on sales resulting from their links, with rates that appeared to vary based on the deal each retailer made with them. MM. LaFleur briefly gave a generous $40 bonus for referral of new customers back in 2018. Share-a-Sale had a minimum payment threshold of $50, which I was surprised to reach in 2019 before the MM. LaFleur affiliate program closed. ($73.90 cashed out in 2019, reflecting 2018 and 2019 earnings; $0 pending.) 

Referral Credit, Free Product, etc: Long ago, I was a participant in Grana's referral link program, which gave first-time customers 10% off their first order and $20 store credit to the referrer. Grana also sent me three free items back in 2016. I'm still very fond of many of my Grana items, in particular, their silk ankle pants and the older version of their silk slip dress. But they moved away from their original "basic, easy-to-style items in a lot of colors" approach long ago. Also, I think the company ran into financial trouble, and was known to break contracts with some of the bloggers and Instagrammers they hired for sponsored posts. They may be defunct now, their website currently does not seem to have any women's items in stock. ($140 credit used in 2016, $140 credit used in 2017, $0 credit used in 2018, $100 credit pending.) 

And that's that! In conclusion, I wanted to thank you again for your support of Invincible Summer all this time. I'm so grateful to everyone who reads here. Blogging continues to be a fun hobby for me whenever I'm able to write, and so I'll be keeping at it. 

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