Year In Review – 458,828 people, $117,973.40 later + Lessons Learned

By Leslie Samuel | Blogging

Jan 01

I don't like New Years Resolutions. Now don't get me wrong. I understand why people like it. It makes us feel good to look ahead and make awesome plans. It's a great concept . . . when it works.

In 2006, I started working at a Christian Boarding Academy as a Science and Math teacher. At the end of the school year, we did something called a Year-in-review, where we all got together and watched a video of highlights of the year. It was awesome fun. We got to see how we've grown in such a short period of time.

So, I've decided to do a Year In Review for my 2012 blogging efforts. But before I do that, I want to say something really quick about why I do what I do.

Why I do What I do

2013This is one of those relatively easy questions to answer. I do what I do for a number of reasons.

I LOVE IT. Seriously, I have so much fun doing this blogging stuff. I get to meet people from all over the world. People like you. I get to learn and share what I learn. I get to teach. I get PUMPED. Yep, it's true.

Ok, now lets talk about some of the details . . .

Let's Talk Traffic

There are two blogs that I have the honor of running. My Biology Blog and this blog here at Become A Blogger. My biology blog has been visited 487,218 times by 354,729 people for a total of 1,365,217 Pageviews.

Become A Blogger has been visited 199,214 times by 104,099 people for a total of 534,531 Pageviews.

Think about this – I'm here in a little office in my apartment creating content that has reached a total of 458,828 people all over the world. That's almost a half a million people.

The truth is, I consider myself blessed. However, this blessing comes with tremendous responsibility and this is not something I take lightly.

What About The List?

If you've read my stuff for a while, you know that I believe that one of the most important aspects of building an online business is building a list.

This is how you get to nurture relationships with your subscribers by providing them with value. It's how you are able to establish trust. It's how you get people back to your blog (yep, that's traffic), and it can help you make a significant income, if you do it right (and that's always good – right?).

My Biology list has grown from 5,109 to 12,572 subscribers. That's a 146% increase over the last 12 months. For Become A Blogger, I started with a list of 0 and now it's up to 13,249. That's a total of 25,821 email subscribers

What's the significance of this? Well, it's quite simple. These people have opted in to my newsletters and have requested for me to be in contact with them.

I've been able to drive a bunch traffic to my blog as a result of sending one email.

I've been able to win awards by having my list vote for me

I've been able to nurture relationships with Awesome people because of my list.

Can You make Money Doing What You Love?


As you probably know, I'm a University professor. In fact, part of the reason why I'm a university professor is a direct result of my blogging.

But just because I'm a professor, doesn't mean that I want to rely solely on that income. In fact, since my wife is no longer working (to stay at home with little Noah), I can no longer rely on that to take care of college loans, all of our current bills bills, our food and clothing, a ton of diapers (man, he poops a lot), and to deal with miscellaneous stuff like clothing, travels, and other fun stuff. Fortunately, our son is breastfed, so we don't have to buy that, lol.

However, there is also another aspect to this Business stuff. I don't like my income to be fully dependent on the work I do today. I like leveraged work, or as Pat Flynn puts it, Smart Passive Income, where you work hard today and reap the benefits later.

So, how did this year go financially? I'm glad you asked.

Interactive Biology

A lot of people ask how I'm able to monetize a blog about biology. Rather than going into that, I'll just say to check out my Case Study post entitled “Can You Make Money Blogging About Your Passion?“. However, the short answer is that I make money with Adsense and by selling a PDF study guide I created.

Adsense has brought in $12,725.27 over the year and the study guide has brought in $4,508.55 That's a total of $17,233.82.

Now some of you are thinking “Wow, that's a decent amount for a Biology Blog” and others are probably thinking “That's it? Very disappointing Leslie”.

Personally, I'm thinking WOOHOOOOO. Why? This is a blog that I started in January of 2011, and I did A LOT of work on it back then. This year. I probably worked on it for 1 month out of the year, if I were to add everything up (if that much).

Because of my new job, and my new kid, time has been EXTREMELY limited. Not to mention, since I've been doing so much here at Become A Blogger, that limits how much time I can spend over there. Even though my attention has NOT been there, it has generated that amount of money. I'd say that's pretty good.

Become A Blogger

I haven't been talking about income for Become A Blogger in my Monthly Transparency Reports. The reason for that is because I don't want THAT to be as much of a focus of what I do here. I never want to be that guy who talks about making money teaching making money. I want what I do to inspire people to start blogs about their passions, like I did with Biology. And if your passion is making money, that's fine too 🙂

Ok, enough small talk. How do I make money here at Become A Blogger? A few ways:

However, Become A Blogger was relaunched in March of this year and then closed in May. It was then reopened again in August and has been opened ever since. So in essence, it has been open for 7 months out of the year.
That's pretty much it. How much did that make in total? It's somewhat difficult to say, because I haven't gone through and done the full review as yet. So, I just grabbed reports from paypal and Commission Junction and this is what they say.
According to Paypal, we've received $82,638.29 in payments. This includes Become A Blogger sales and a few affiliate payments.
According to Commission Junction, we've received $3,900 in payments.
That's a total of $86,538.29 earned.
Now, keep in mind that this is gross, and while I can't give you all the details (because I haven't gone through and done all the calculations as yet), I can tell you what they involved.

Affiliate payments. This hasn't been a huge amount because we only opened it up to affiliates in August and affiliates have been a small part of the promotions – Significantly less than $10K.

Partnership payments. When BAB was relaunched, it was done as a partnership between Yaro Starak, Gideon Shalwick and myself. They brought me on to basically run BAB. We weren't 100% sure how to structure it, but after discussion (and this is the first time I'm revealing any of those details) we decided to start off for the initial relaunch at a 50-50 agreement, where I would receive 50% of the income and they would split the other 50%.

The concept was pretty simple – they had built BAB into a well known and well respected brand, and their audiences were HUGE. I came on because they saw what I was able to accomplish online, I would run all the day to day operations and pretty much eventually take it over. They helped SIGNIFICANTLY with the relaunch and were heavily involved in the marketing, and also in the coaching we offered initially.

Now, we have a silent partnership arrangement where I run pretty much everything, and the distribution has been changed to 70% – 30%. As I mentioned earlier, this is something that we're figuring out as we move. Fortunately, we get along very well and we haven't wanted to kill each other as yet. So I'd say everything's working out pretty darn well.

Miscellaneous expenses. Of course with any business there are going to expenses. For me, the bulk of that would be Hosting costs, paying my virtual assistants. Yes, I could do a detailed breakdown, but then this post wouldn't be coming out right now.

Miscellaneous Income

The interesting thing about this online business thing is that there are so many different ways of getting paid. I've been doing it for a while and have promoted a number of different products in different places that still earn me a commission on a regular basis.

In the Paypal account where I receive the payments for my Biology Study guide, I also receive payments for a number of other products/services I've promoted over the year. When I did a report there, it showed a total income of $16,286.66.

Also, when I look in my personal Commission Junction account for affiliate payments, I've received a total of $2,423.18 in payments.

Total Income

Ok, let's add this all together.

  • Paypal 1 (BAB income): $82,638.29
  • Commission Junction 1 (BAB Affiliate income): $3,900
  • Adsense (Interactive Biology): $12,725.27
  • Paypal 2 (Interactive Biology and Miscellaneous Payments): $16,286.66
  • Commission Junction 2 (my affiliate payments): $2,423.18
  • TOTAL INCOME FOR 2012: $117,973.40

Leslie, Why Are You Posting All Of This

Have you ever been in a place where someone is always talking about how much money they have? Isn't it REALLY annoying? I get REALLY annoyed by it. Yet, I'm posting all of this. Here's why.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I'm all about Changing The World One Blog At A Time. Needless to say, I'm REALLY into blogging. Why? I believe that bloggers are able to Create Content that Inspires Others and Changes the world.

I also believe that by doing so, you can create an income for yourself that can help you accomplish even more of your goals, and create awesome experiences for yourself, your family, and the people you encounter. I believe that more positive people, businesses, churches, schools, and other organizations should be blogging.

I've decided to live my life in a pretty open way, with the hopes that others are inspired to do something that can have a lasting impact. It's because of people like Pat Flynn who shares what he does so openly, interviews by Andrew Warner at Mixergy, bloggers like Yaro Starak and Gideon Shalwick, and so many others who have been so generous with sharing info, that I've been inspired to do what I do.

To see that it is not only possible, but that regular people like myself were doing it made it much more attainable in my mind, and once your mind is there, everything else seems to follow along.

What I Learned


The Law of Momentum. There's a law in physics that's called Newton's first law. In essence, it says that an object that at rest will remain at rest unless it gets a significant enough push. If an object is in motion, it will remain in motion unless it gets blocked by a significant enough force.

In other words, if you do nothing, it's easier for nothing to happen. If you start moving, it's actually easier to stay moving. Moving objects have momentum and that helps to keep them going. It's why I keep saying TAKE ACTION.

Where I am today is the direct result of taking decided action in the direction I was trying to go. It was relatively slow in the beginning, but as I continued moving, it became much easier to keep going and to get better. So, TAKE ACTION.

The Role Of Luck. Lets be real – to be able to succeed with ANY business, it takes a certain amount of luck. I believe that, but I think that luck has a different definition than the way most people use it. Here's my definition:

Luck is when PREPAREDNESS meets OPPORTUNITY. (click here to tweet)

Was I lucky that Yaro and Gideon contacted me to take over BAB? Yes. There were tons of other people they could've contacted. However, I had done the work to make sure that I was prepared for the opportunity.

I prepared by studying A TON

I prepared by Taking Action, blogging, and creating my own mini course

I prepared by going through training courses and implementing what I was learning

I prepared by busting my butt while having a full time job so that I could build something bigger than myself

I prepared, they noticed, and provided me with the Opportunity.

The Call to Action. There's something that I've been realizing about myself. I don't like being the guy who's selling stuff. Yes, it's great to make money, but do I really have to sell? This is something that I've struggled with. So much that I've created a ton of resources for free and in most cases with no mention of the fact that I have stuff for sale.

Then I realized something. I did a survey recently where I asked my email subscribers what they want to learn from me. What happened next surprised me. I received a BUNCH of replies and there were a number of people who said that they wished that they had a course they could purchase that showed them how to really build there blog into a business.

I thought to myself – You've got to be kidding me. These people are subscribed to my list and don't even know that I have a course that does just that.

The second part to that is that in December, I didn't do any work at BAB because of the birth of my son. Because of that, I didn't do any pushes for sales. Guess what happened as a result – I made no sales. Why? Because there was nothing  significant in my follow up letting new subscribers know that the course was available.

Needless to say, I need to work on that.

So, what about Resolutions?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I'm not one for New Year Resolutions. However, I do have goals that I want to share with you.

Interactive Biology

Goal 1: Build back to where I'm adding 2-3 videos/week. That's going back to the basics of how I built the blog, and I need to get back there.

Goal 2: Build the biology blog to where it's making $10,000/month. This is a goal that I've set in the past, but now it's time to take more action towards doing that.

Goal 3: Build the blog to where there is more user-generated content. We'll be adding a biology dictionary this month that people can contribute to, and I'm guessing that this will help drive more search engine traffic.

Goal 4: Build to 100,000 monthly unique visitors. That's my main goal for traffic. Yes, that's almost doubling what I currently have.

Become A Blogger

Goal 1: Implement more Call To Actions. If you have good stuff, people need to know about it. I don't want to be shy about that any more, but I want to make sure to do it in a way that maintains my integrity.

Goal 2: Keep better track of EVERYTHING. I've created a spreadsheet so that I'm able to track all of my traffic, conversions and sales. So far, I've been flying by the seat of my pants with no good idea of how things are REALLY going. This year is the year of tracking. I'll be posting more about this soon.

Goal 3: Optimize, Optimize, Optimize. In the coming weeks and months, you'll see things disappearing from my blog and the structure changing a bit. I've already started making some changes. The goal is to optimize my conversions so that people who visit the blog sign up for my list, and that a healthy percentage of those people purchase the course. I haven't decided on the numbers as yet, but I will soon.

Goal 4: Build BAB to a consistent $10,000/month business. I figure if both my Biology blog and BAB can do that, that would be awesome.

Goal 5: Build a THRIVING Community of 10,000 Bloggers with HUGE goals. I'm loving the number 10,000, so I figure I'd stick with that as a theme for this year. The fact is, when I send out an email, I get maybe 1,500 to 2,000 people to take some kind of action. I want this to be bigger. Why? Because if I can build one blog to help over 50,000 people in one month, can you imagine what would happen if I help 10,000 bloggers do something like that? Yep, that's changing the world.

Let's Wrap This Up

Ok, this was kinda long and detailed. So I'm gonna end it now. How am I going to end it? By THANKING YOU. Seriously, I could NOT be where I am today without YOU. I consider myself VERY privileged. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

Now, I hope you'll continue to join me on this journey. Lets make 2013 an awesome year. Lets Create Content that will Inspire others and Change The World.

Are you in?