Paying for All of My Living Expenses With Blogging, Tutoring, and Dividends

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4 min read

In my April Income & Expenses Update, I shared that I earned $1,535 through blogging, tutoring, and dividends last month, which surpassed my total monthly expenses of $1,479.

I didn’t even need the income from my day job to pay my bills. That’s an incredible feeling.

It has taken about 16 months for me to go from $0 to $1,000+ in monthly income outside of my 9-5 job. Here’s a summary of how I did it along with a couple thoughts on how I think anyone could replicate my results.

Overview

Here’s a look at my monthly income outside of my 9-5 job over the past 16 months, broken down by type of income:

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I’ll be the first to admit that these aren’t huge numbers, but they represent significant income for someone like me who routinely lives on less than $1,500 per month. Even better, all of these income streams are enjoyable, so they don’t even feel like extra work for me.

Dividends

My most passive income stream is stock and REIT dividends. I invest mostly in index funds like VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF), but I do hold a few individual dividend-paying stocks and REITs (real estate investment trusts). I earn dividends from these various investments each month.

From the chart you can see that this isn’t a huge income source, but it has been steadily growing over time. In a typical month I’ll receive around $100 – $150 in dividends, which land in my brokerage account and are automatically reinvested. Last month I received $265 in dividends, the most I have ever received in an individual month.

This income stream requires virtually no work on my part. I simply invest in dividend-paying assets and sit back as the money comes pouring in each month. As I pick up more shares of stocks and REITs, this income will continue to grow slowly but steadily over time.

Tutoring

Stats tutoring is a side hustle I have been pursuing ever since I received my Bachelor’s degree in Applied Statistics. I landed my first ever client via Craigslist after posting an ad online. I believe I charged $20 per hour for my first client, which I quickly found out was below market price. I now charge $40 per hour, which many people are happy to pay. 

The main difference between tutoring now and when I started is that most of my clients are online. I find them through Facebook by simply searching for all posts that contain the words “stats tutor”, which leads me directly to people actively looking for help.

I then message these people, offering to tutor them or answer questions they may have on their homework. Only about 1 in 10 people actually respond to my message, but for the people who do respond I end up helping them several times per month, which makes for some nice recurring revenue.

As you can see, I pursued this income stream heavily back in January – July of last year, bringing in over $1,000 in June 2017 alone. I took an extended break from tutoring because I was feeling burnt out, but recently I have picked it back up again.

TIP: If you are knowledgeable in a certain topic, try offering tutoring to people via Craigslist, Twitter, or Facebook. This is a great way to earn some real money ($40+ per hour) with virtually no startup costs on your end. When reaching out to potential clients, don’t take rejection personally at all. Just move right along. The more people you reach out to, the higher your chances of landing a client.

Blogging

Blogging income has taken by far the longest to build up, but it has been the most rewarding income for me to earn. As someone who has only been blogging since late 2016, I never imagined that I could earn this type of income in less than 18 months.

From the graph above you can see that I first monetized the blog last April, when I brought in a measly $19 through ads. 

Fast forward a few months. I began to bring in about $300 – $500 pretty consistently each month. Fast forward to April 2018. I brought in $1,120 through a combination of ads and affiliate links. This number is still mind-boggling to me. 

TIP: If you’re looking to start your own blog, check out my page here on how to get one up and running. In general, earning money from blogging is a very slow process. It doesn’t happen overnight. It has taken 18 months of posting 3+ articles per week to achieve my current blogging income levels.

Ironically, the way to earn money from blogging is to avoid monetizing your blog for at least the first six months, since focusing on income will only serve as a distraction. During the first 6 months – 1 year you should focus on honing in on your writing style and creating content consistently, whether or not you have a large audience.

Obsession over monthly page views and social media followers is the most common blog-killer. It’s easy to get discouraged when you spend so much time blogging and feel like your work is going unnoticed. That’s why you have to recognize that blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. Plus, the real rewards of blogging are non-monetary.

Closing Thoughts

Earning income outside of my day job is such a joy because I don’t need permission from anyone to do so. I don’t have to ask a boss for approval to do certain work, negotiate a pay raise, or haggle for a promotion. I can just make the decision to seek out tutoring clients, invest in dividend-paying assets, and grow my own blog without asking for permission from anyone.


My favorite free financial tool I use is Personal Capital. I use it to track my net worth, manage my spending, and keep an eye on my monthly cash flow. It only takes a few minutes to set up and it makes tracking your finances simple and easy. I recommend trying it out.

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Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Terms & Conditions page for a full disclaimer.

19 Replies to “Paying for All of My Living Expenses With Blogging, Tutoring, and Dividends”

  1. What an awesome line to cross with your side hustles and investments. While not full FI, you’ve reached a real level of freedom from your main job.

    I used to tutor a long time ago, but I didn’t realize there were online only options these days. Very tempting.

  2. Zach,

    Congrats of everything! I have one question though. How are you marketing your site? Are you sharing on social media or relying on word of mouth?

    Keep up the awesome work!
    Nick

  3. Great post, Zach. One question. How do you go about getting paid for your tutoring, especially since you’re doing it online? Do you request payment in advance? Via Paypal? Do you send invoices? My 8th grade son is thinking of doing some tutoring this summer, so your guidance about the best ways to bill and get paid would be helpful. Thanks.

    1. I usually accept payment through PayPal after I have helped them. I have only had one person not end up paying me over the course of the past 16-18 months I have been tutoring. I find that people are mostly trustworthy.

      Tutoring is a great way to earn some extra money and it’s way better than working a typical minimum wage retail job. The fact that your son is already considering tutoring is a great sign.

  4. That blog income growth is insane! You’ve done a tremendous job of posting helpful content, consistently, for these 18 months and now it’s clearly paying off. You’ve also been able to differentiate yourself with the graphics and visualizations. It really seems like the sky is the limit for your blog income, plus when you combine that to your low expenses you’re now building tons of flexibility into your lifestyle with each passing month. That’s an awesome place to be. Excited for you man!

  5. Great progress, Zach!

    Do you find that the blog is making more from ads or affiliate offers? What is your monthly traffic (page views) like? Since you are already tutoring, have you ever considered creating a course you can sell on your blog? Or creating a course for one of the platforms like Udemy?

    Cheers,

    Dom

    1. It’s honestly a mix. Some months ads generate more revenue and some months it’s affiliate links. My monthly traffic bounces around between 40k – 60k each month. I haven’t considered making a course on Udemy because the market seems so saturated, but I may consider making a course for the blog in the future. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  6. Definitely an inspiration to someone also at the beginning stages of blogging! I personally tutor English online and it completely surpasses my monthly salary, going straight into investments.

    Awesome work keep it up.

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