There are no guarantees when it comes to online business building; but that doesn't mean there aren't some decent guidelines and rules of thumb.
And when it comes to forecasting potential earnings for your blog (whether that's monetized through ad revenue or affiliate commissions), it can be helpful to get a rough idea of where things are headed--and how long it might take to realistically get there.
A couple of things to note upfront:
- We (humans) are typically not very good at thinking exponentially. When we think and plot future growth, we tend to think best in linear progressions--which can make it difficult to do back-of-the-napkin forecasting for something like SEO, which typically compounds over time.
- Just because the bigger picture of SEO tends to be compounding (when successful), this doesn't mean that day to day, month to month, you'll notice a clean hockey stick trajectory. In fact, it's perfectly normal to plateau for a few months, then hit a sharp bump (inexplicably, at times), then meander along for a few more months. So while this calculator will spit out some smooth lines--don't be fooled, reality is bound to be far messier.
Caveats out of the way, let's take a look at this calculator, then.
Also: if you are building a profitable niche website, and use Notion, you'll probably love our Niche Site OS template... seriously, it has everything you could need to plan and implement a successful Niche website, making the most of Notion's most powerful features--take a look.
Website and Blog Earning Calculator
The calculator linked is built with a tool called Causal--if you're into building your own models like this, then I'd highly recommend checking them out.
Here's how this model works:
Blog Earnings Inputs
Current traffic: Simply input current traffic for your blog. This calculator will work best if your site is already receiving some traffic and has already seen the beginnings of its growth curve. If you are still very early days, you might want to amp up the growth rate to account for the sharp spike in traffic you're likely to see after leaving the Google sandbox for new sites.
Traffic growth rate: Again, if your site is already alive and kicking, best to include a real growth rate for accurate forecasting. The simplest way to do this will be to:
- Collect your past monthly traffic stats (in a spreadsheet, if easiest);
- Calculate the growth rate from month to month with this formula:
[(Target month traffic) - (Previous month traffic)] / (Previous month traffic) = Growth Rate
For example: [(May: 5,000) - (April: 4,000)] / (April: 4,000) = 1K/4K = 25%
- Do this for each month you have data on (i.e. April: 25%, May: 22%, etc.)
- Average out all growth across months.
For the traffic growth rate input, you can either use the averaged growth rate, or you may choose to use your most recent growth rate (from the previous month) if you feel that's more likely to be accurate than the average.
Affiliate Commission (%): This should be your average affiliate commission rate, across programs and products.
Affiliate CTR: This is your average Affiliate Click-Through-Rate, from website visitor to a click on one of your affiliate links. If you are using Amazon Affiliates, you'll see this as a distinct metric on your dashboard--other programs may or may not provide this data.
If you leave this input blank, don't worry--it won't affect your earnings calculator.
Avg. Affiliate Order Value: Again, using any existing data you have for this input will give the best results. For this input, we want to know the average order size for those website visitors who convert, in dollars (or whichever currency you're using locally).
Some affiliate dashboards will provide this information, otherwise you may need to again simply average out all orders from a recent window and input this value into the calculator.
Affiliate Conversion Rate: Finally, for the affiliate side of things, we want to understand what percentage of website visitors ultimately convert to purchase an affiliate offering. Note: this isn't the percentage of conversions after clicks. This is total conversions / total website visitors.
Revenue Per Mille (Ads): This input is important if you're monetizing through an ad network. If you're already using a network, you can reference real data for this input based on previous results.
But if you're still early on in your journey and are considering ads as a monetization path, you can also input a benchmark value into the RPM input and see how this might affect your earnings going forward.
How to use the blog earnings calculator
After inputting the values described above, the charts will dynamically change and provide several forecasts for:
- Projected monthly traffic;
- Ad revenue vs. Affiliate revenue;
- Projected total monthly revenue;
- Projected annual revenue; and
- Projected total clicks and conversions.
Play around with different input values and notice how they adjust the projected monthly revenue, then use the website earnings calculator to help answer questions like:
- What will be my first year blogging income?
- When will my website start making money? (And when will it be enough to cover expenses!)
- How much money is 1000 views on a blog? or
- Should I run ads on my blog (and is it worth it)?
Amazon affiliate commission calculator
Amazon affiliate commission rates are changing often. Whenever there's an update to their list of rates, you can return to this calculator and re-input your values with an updated value in the Affiliate Commission (%) input.
Getting started with the website earnings calculator
Follow the instructions in the 'Duplicate it' box on this page, then add this calculator to your Notion workspace as a quick way to check in with and forecast your future earnings, all from inside your Notion pages.