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

By Leslie Samuel

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?



  • Leslie
    This is awesome. I’ve been watching your journey from the beginning and I thank you so much for that conversation your office that day. I owe much of my blogging life to you and becomeablogger. This is encouraging as I look to continue to develop what I’m doing into a stronger platform. I also appreciate your transparency. I can’t wait for the book to come out!
    Blessings on 2013!

  • Great post man! Thanks for sharing this info. I was a member of BAB back when it first launched as well. I bet $$ we were there at the same time. It is so great that you got an opportunity like this. You are a very positive individual and I have learned a lot from you. Even about trees. 🙂 Keep it up man! My new years resolution was going to be to love Leslie…however you convinced me now as well not to like resolutions. Oh well.
    Happy New Year @Leslie Samuel !!!

    • @hubze Hahaa, it’s happening slowly David. I’m wearing ya down, lol.
      Yep, I’m pretty sure we were there together. 2009 is when I think I did BAB first. It’s great to see how we’ve progressed over time. Looking forward to a HUGE 2013 🙂

  • Hi Leslie, very inspirational. I’m in. I like New Year’s resolutions, or rather need one. Goals propel is forward. I like the concept of changing the world one post at a time. It’s easy to stand behind the “lion in the street approach” that one lil individual cannot make a difference but that is a farce. Congrats on your success; which is strongly encouraging me toward my success to which end I believe will be a blessing to many. Happy New Year!

    • @livefoodrd Glad to have you in Gwen. Awesome stuff. Glad to be able to encourage you toward your success. It’s gonna happen if you keep at it. Oh, and SEE YA IN VEGAS 🙂

  • Thank Leslie, very inspirational. I’m in. Thanks to your belief that you can change the world one blog at a time. It’s easy to hide behind the lion in the street approach of one person not being able to make a difference. But you’ve proven differently. Thanks to you I am becoming a blogger and made better by your posts. Thanks again and Happy new Year!

  • You’re so inspiring leslie! Congrats on such a successful year with both bab and your biology blog. You’re really showing us how its done. I,like you, am not a resolution-maker but you’ve made some great goals.

  • Your effort and hard work brought you so far.. Your teaching have been very enlightening  and helpful, full values which attract people to you.. Thank you for sharing and I wish you very Prosperous 2013 and beyond.

  • GREAT post Leslie! Thanks for being so open about everything – I started following this blog a few months ago and love the energy that always radiates from your posts and comments.  Congrats on a fantastic year for you and good luck for 2013 – looking forward to reading more – being inspired and taking action to grow my blogs too!

    • @Jillinamillion Hi Jill,
      You are very much welcome. It’s great to know that my transparency helps others. Wishing you all the best with your blogs. Keep me updated on your progress.

  • Yes I’m in!
    All of the “juicy details” in this post are so yummy! I am humbled by your integrity, honored by your generosity, inspired by your openness, and I feel privileged to be a part of this community you are growing. Thank you!

    • @Laura Kay Haha, hey – I love juicy stuff 😉
      Glad to be able to share with you guys. The community here is awesome and it’s just great to be in this with you guys. Here’s to a prosperous new year.

  • Have a prosperous year Leslie.
    Not sure where you find all the time to do all that you do.
    You are a great role model.
    You are blessed because you are generous.
    That’s just how life works.

    • @JoyceF Thanks Joyce. The truth is – I accomplish so much because I have great people on my team. I could NOT do it if it were just me. So I’m where I am because of other great people.
      Wishing you a prosperous new year!

  • Thanks as always for sharing Leslie. This is absolutely inspiring. It makes me psyched for the plans I have for 2013. It’s time to take action!

  • I have learned so much from you…thank you. I’m so glad Yaro and Gideon picked you to take over BAB! You are such a positive, inspiring person. Besides, you never fail to make me smile…your joy is contagious and for that I’m very thankful…we all need more joy in our live.

    • @Sheila Bergquist Well thank you Sheila. I really appreciate that. I will try to make you smile even more in 2013. That’s one of the goals I’ve added to the list 😉

  • Cool Info. And who wouldn’t want a prove that blogging is way to make(more) money working less? Thanks for sharing your earning stats- I am truly amazed by how much you have earned-tho’ at some point it sounds too personal..pessimists might say you are bragging..-)

    • @Cheptiony Mutai You’re welcome Cheptiony. While it has become easier over time, it has taken A TON of work to get to this place. Just wanted to make sure you’re aware of that. Yes, some people might say I’m bragging and that’s ok. If it helps more people than the pessimists out there, then I’m all for it 🙂

  • Hi Leslie, Happy New Year to you and Congratulations on the birth of your son – Noah. I stopped by today seeking answers on how to structure a community based – magazine style blog. I am looking for good quality contributors but I am not too sure how to find and retain them. In particular, once I find someone suitable, should they become part owners or I should I just offer to write for them too, if they have a blog of their own.

  • It is awesome to see evidence of your success Leslie. Very inspiring. What I admire the most is that you are choosing not to settle for the past successes. You are celebrating and looking forward to reaching and helping more people. All the best to you!

  • Awesome results Leslie, keep up the good work! Do you plan to do monthly income reports as well? I find them hugely inspiring for new bloggers.

    • @Fitforblogging I actually started doing that here –
      Doesn’t cover BAB, but everything else in great detail!

    • @Leslie Samuel Excellent, I had missed that. Will be including you in my list of bloggers who produce monthly income reports

  • Great post! @Leslie Samuel. It’s always good to see people make profit on their site. I remember I saw you mention Pat from Looks like you have some great plan for 2013. Good luck with that. Personally, I never report my income on blog, because I hate to be someone chasing for money. I want money to chase me. I stop reading blog post from some high profile bloggers, who are simply doing nothing than teaching people how to make money. There is no real value added to those desperate people’s life. My question to you is how do you leverage your blogs to generate really scalable passive income? Do you have a system in place that can generate income with YOU?

    • @TerenceChang Hi Terence. I definitely know what you mean and the reason I do what I o is not to chase Money. It really is to help people. This is the first time I’ve reported on Become A Blogger income for that reason. However, I like being transparent because I want people to have an accurate idea of how I’m doing what I’m doing, so that they can learn and do the same.
      The answer to your question involves MUCH more than I can say in one comment, but briefly. I leverage my blog by outsourcing (so that MUCH of it happens without me), using my autoresponder sequence (which I’m working on optimizing for conversions) and by having products available for people to purchase at any time. Once you create them, they are always there for people to purchase. That’s the beauty of the internet. 
      There’s so much more involved in that and I’ll be unpacking much of it in future content, so stay tuned!

  • @Leslie Samuel , this is fantastic; thank you for sharing it. I read this on a plane and I couldn’t stop reading it. 1) I’m writing my own year in review and 2)., you make me look like I’m not trying. Which is good as its incentive to step up my game :-).
    I look at your stats and they mirror one of my sites, however the income level does not, so I have some catching up to do.
    I did have a technical question though as I’m setting up a membership site now; do you have two installs of WordPress in different directories? One runs the blog and the other runs the membership site? I ask as I like how BAB is setup and want to mirror its setup.
    And yes, if you have proper content, users will consume it.  I just have to get them to click my Adsense ads ::-).
    Congratulations Leslie. Looking forward to saying hello later this week.

    • @Kerwin Thanks bro. Looking forward to seeing you at NMX. Gonna be a blast.
      Also, keep in mind that although my stats look pretty nice now, they didn’t always look this way. A TON of work has gone into getting to this point. So keep chugging along.
      To answer your question – Yes, I use two installs of WP in different directories, just as you described.

  • I remember this little Gem that goes like this…..”The heights that great men reached and kept, weren’t attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward through the night!” In a nutshell, you work hard for all that you have so far achieved. May God continue to bless you for your kindness. Keep up the good work Leslie!

  • Recently you wrote a post about simplifying. That really struck me because over the last year I’ve acumulated a lot of e-mail offers, and am always tring to learn more. After reading your article, I immediately trashed a bunch of posts to my inbox, and have decided to trust only two or three to be worth listening to. You are one.
    While most of the messegages I get are intended to sell me something, I know that you truly have some tidbit sincerely written to  help me succeed. Thank you, and thank you for being so candid about your finances. i want to retire early, and hope my blog/books will take me on that course. With your help, I can plan realistically. 
    My little baby is in hight school now, and needs me less. So I finally have time to get things done.
    Enjoy your little Noah. I know your are doing just that! (Don’t you just love to watch him sleep?)

    • @Lucy Jennings Yep, I’m enjoying Noah VERY much. Such a bundle of joy.
      Glad to hear that you are indeed simplifying. I too have unsubscribe from almost ALL lists except for 3 or so. Helps me to focus and get more done.
      Wishing you all the best for 2013!

    • @Warren Gibbons I actually just embed the youtube videos here. The reason my videos look a little nicer is because I had my designer design a special Youtube Box. The plugin I recommend is called Smart Youtube. It allows you to easily embed youtube videos just using the youtube video ID. You should check it out.

  • Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve accomplished so much in the past 18 months but always more to do. Blogs like this help me sort out what’s most productive & worth focusing on. Looks like nmx was a blast & congrats on Noah. All the best this year!

    • @mrktgsavvy You are so very much welcome. Yes, there’s always more that we can do to continue to grow our blogs. NMX was an ABSOLUTE blast indeed. Thanks for the congrats. Make sure to keep in touch.

  • Man, doubling the traffic and 7-fold the income on interactive biology, wow.
    How do you plan to increase the eCPM, optimizing Adsense or adding a new income stream?

    • @WolfgangBengfort I actually plan on switching away from Adsense and going with an ad agency that gets much higher CPMs, but I have a personal goal of 100,000 Unique visitors before making the switch. I also plan on making more study guides.

  • I enjoyed reading this. Great supplementation to what I learned from Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘CrushIt’ when starting my gorgeous blog in 2011. I look forward to learning more from you. – Nicole Marie Story

  • A very inspirational article, I’ve found that you do have to set goals for yourself otherwise you have no real direction. At the moment my income from my main site is very small compared to yours, but I do see the potential there… I have enjoyed reading the articles on your blog as we all need some inspiration at time… not to mention some ideas…

  • I’ve been learning A LOT from Become a Blogger! I’m just getting my feet wet in this internet marketing game and I appreciate the authenticity behind you as a person as well as your mission to inspire others to change the world! I’d love to ask you a few questions some time. If you’re ever open for a discussion via email/chat, let me know! Thanks again for being a leader in this industry!

    • Hi Charlie,

      Thanks for the feedback. Glad to provide value and support. In terms of discussions, I basically try to keep them via blog comments, just because it can get a bit overwhelming to try to help everyone individually. This way, even more people can benefit from the discussion.

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