2023 Blog Income Report ($323k) by a Full-Time Content Creator

I’m publishing my blog income report quite late this year due to personal reasons.

While my business did take a hit last year, it’s not the reason why I haven’t shared my income yet, even though I typically do in January.

I just published one of my most insightful blog posts ever around the recent Google algorithm updates, so please read it when you have a chance if you haven’t already.

Nevertheless, 2023 was a great year for my media company’s income. I cleared over $300,000 for the year in revenue, with expenses coming in low as always.

My Blog Revenue

My 2023 blogging income totaled $323,154.75.

2023 Blog Revenue

Here’s a closer look at my blog revenue month-by-month.


The amounts fluctuate so much as I’m paid out months after the money was made. (2 months in the case of Mediavine, and 4-8 months in the case of LTK.

My Income Sources

As you can see, 45% of my blogging income came from LTK (formerly RewardStyle) and the other 50% came from Mediavine.

2023 Blog Income Sources

Types of Income

Here’s a breakdown of the 3 main types of income my blog earns: advertising, affiliate marketing, and brand sponsorships.

2023 Types of Blog Income


As usual, my expenses were low this year.

  • Namecheap and Cloudflare Domain Renewals: $300
  • DigitalOcean Hosting: $400
  • RunCloud Server Management: $160
  • Tailwind Pinterest Scheduler: $120
  • Gusto Payroll: $540 (I do not recommend)

How Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content Update Affected My Blogs

The biggest event of 2023 was undoubtedly Google’s HCU algorithm update which began around September 17, 2023.

My main home decor blog – the one that had never suffered an algorithm hit ever – saw a 50% drop (that later became 80%) in organic traffic.

Thankfully, this blog does quite well on Pinterest so my income didn’t drop as much as it would have if I only relied on Google traffic.

I tweeted how my blogs were affected two weeks after the September HCU update. I came to the conclusion that being a niche site blogger and displaying ads meant you were out of favor with the big G.

Sites that saw GAINS in Search Impressions (3/10)

  • None have display ads (yet cause they’re still too small)
  • 2 aged domains/1 new domain
  • All have some human-edited AI content
  • Niches: food, fashion, luxury

Sites that remained STABLE in Search Impressions (4/10)

  • 1 has all-human written content
  • 1 has original images
  • 3 have human-edited AI content
  • 3 have adsense/1 has mediavine ads
  • Niches: fashion, fashion, skincare, blogging

Sites that saw DROPS in Search Impressions (3/10)

  • Average loss of 33% impressions
  • 2 with Mediavine ads/1 AdSense ads
  • 1 authority site/1 medium site/1 small site
  • All have human-edited AI content
  • 1 has original images
  • 2 aged domains, 1 new domain
  • Niches: travel, home decor, beauty

How the HCU Affected My Traffic

My sites were all affected in different ways by the HCU and subsequent November ’23 Core Update, which I’ll share more in-depth on this page with an overview of my blogs.

Home Decor Blog Traffic

For now, you can see how the HCU pummeled my main home decor blog of its typically high-flying Q4 traffic:

Home Decor Blog Traffic 2023

The dark blue line shows 2023 traffic and the light blue line shows 2022 traffic.

Search impressions dropped slowly in late September and then fell even further in mid-October.

Home Decor Blog Search Impressions 2023

Travel Blog Traffic

My travel blog was hit less severely by the HCU in September at least. It does have 100% original photos, so maybe that’s why.

Travel Blog Traffic 2023

It’s also possible that the travel blog simply saw a seasonal decline as it usually does in the fall when summer travel slows down.

Travel Blog Search Impressions 2023

My Plans for the Future

My plans for my blogging business have certainly changed since the HCU, November Core Update and now the most recent March ’24 update.

My plan was previously to build up a portfolio of around 10 niche sites. I wanted them to be well-branded with loyal audiences. My goal for each of them was to earn around $10,000 per month, bringing me $100k in monthly revenue.

I worked towards this goal by acquiring several premium domain names to give them that professional, branded feeling. I wanted them to be online destinations for their topics.

I won’t be doing that in the future.

It’s clear that Google sees every site as disposable, no matter how original the content is, so there is no point in investing in high-ticket domain names since Google can just penalize you down the road.

Instead, my new plan is to operate 20 smaller sites on $10 domains, with a revenue goal of $5,000 per month. That way, if a few of them get caught up in the various algorithm updates and lose revenue, it’s no big deal.

I may even experiment with migrating the content of one onto a fresh domain if that happens, as I’ve read that this can bring back rankings.

It’s sad that this is the state of SEO.

I have no desire to play these silly tricks with my blogs. I bought every domain I own with a 10+ year, long-term plan in mind. But Google has forced me to operate this way.

It’s crazy because you would think that Google would want to reward someone who spent $10,000+ on a premium domain to build a long-term brand instead of a spammer who pays $10 for a fresh domain and then blasts out thousands of AI-generated articles.

But alas, here we are.

The few people who bought aged domains in order to spam the internet have brought down the majority who use premium domains for the right reasons.

Thinking Long Term

I’m trying my best to think long-term about the recent updates to Search traffic.

Remember when the pandemic hit and everyone said travel blogs were “over”? I kept my travel blog, kept publishing content, and lo and behold, a few years later, the travel industry came back! So did my traffic.

Furthermore, there are numerous examples of websites getting hit by an algorithm, and recovering years later. While a few years is a long time to wait for a Google recovery, I’m in it for the long haul.

In the meantime, I’m adapting. I’m creating smaller, more ephemeral sites that can be migrated (if needed) to a new domain.

People are still looking for my content – and yours. That isn’t changing because Google decided to update its algorithm.

Google doesn’t own the internet.

There are other websites where people hang out. There are other traffic sources to master.

Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if Google reversed its course in another year or two’s time.

I truly believe that all of this is the result of mass-scaled AI content abuse by SEOs. Site owners are pumping out mediocre content at rates we’ve never seen before. Google had to put their foot down and this was the easiest way they saw fit to do it.

To me, it’s very obvious when I land on an AI-generated website. It has a very basic theme, usually Kadence or GeneratePress, that hasn’t been customized at all. It’s very bland.

A quick glance at the titles shows the same handful of words like “Revealing” or “Understanding” often. The body of the text usually says “let’s dive in” to the topic at hand.

But Google can’t decipher if a website is AI junk the way a human can.

So the hammer fell on all of us small bloggers, and it fell hard.

Once Google has a better grip on interpreting made-for-Google websites from real blogs, we might be able to pick up some traffic again.

Be Weary of Social Media Traffic

I’ll issue a word of warning to those who are diving into social media traffic as a way to replace Google traffic.

Nothing is stopping social media networks from switching up their own algorithm and killing the traffic and audience you’ve built there, too.

Facebook, and Pinterest, in particular, is ripe for this type of change. Pinterest has already adjusted their algorithm years ago to favor showing Product pins over creative imagery.

I just watched a Niche Pursuits podcast episode touting Flipboard as a shiny new source of traffic.

But here’s the cold, hard truth. The fact is that most of these sites don’t want their users to leave the platform.

They may pretend they are about “content discovery” for a while but what they’re really about is user retention.

At some point in the future, they’ll prioritize their interests over yours.

The best move right now if you ask me, is to build your email list.

Good luck to everyone in these trying times.

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  1. Hey, thank you so much for this post! Were you hit by Google’s March 2024 core update? And how to recover from that, and HCU?


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