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5 Tax Tips for Bloggers

While I am not an accountant, these tax tips for bloggers will help you be more organized and know what to expect on tax day. Just keep in mind that your best bet for staying legal (and sane) is hiring a tax professional.
I had no idea some of this was counted as income! If you are a blogger, you need to read these tax tips.

People have strong emotions about tax season. Either you get excited about a refund or dread having to pay. For me, I just hate the entire ordeal of crunching numbers. Or maybe it is just post traumatic stress lingering from an audit we experienced.

Talking about stress… wow!

But having survived an audit has definitely changed my approach to taxes and armed me with information other bloggers might not understand.

Whether you are a new blogger or have recently shifted your mindset from hobby to pro, these blogger tax tips will make you hate me… but I do it because I care about your success.

Hire an accountant.

Might seem like a dumb suggestion but hiring someone who knows what all the legal tax jargon means can be a huge relief. Plus, if you ever face an audit, you already have an ally.

As you choose an accountant, be sure they he or she understands internet business or is at least willing to do the research and be fully prepared to represent you as a blogger.

But I know… accountants cost a small fortune. If you are determined to do your taxes yourself, even though accounting fees may be a tax deduction, just use the same software consistently. Changing from one brand of software means the formatting is different and even the phrasing can vary. If you accidentally place something is a different category than you have in previous years, this can trigger a red flag with the IRS.

I personally use H&R Block software, not because I love it but because it is what I started with and I do not want to make any sudden changes. I know… makes me sound like I am walking through a minefield and avoiding any misstep that might can an explosion. Actually, that is pretty close to the way I feel.

Use an income/expense spreadsheet.

If you are a free member of the Inspired Bloggers University, you have access to the income/expense spreadsheet I use. This XLSX file is easily opened in Excel but if you do not have access to the Excel program, just upload it to your Google Drive. The file should open easily.

The Blogger’s Simple Guide to Taxes: A Guide to Saving Time and Money

Of course, having the spreadsheet still requires that you complete the income and expense categories each month. Procrastinating will just make it harder. Dedicate time at the beginning of the month to completing the entries. If necessary, grab a few bloggers and create a mastermind group where you can share you report each month.

Count all of your income.

Do not skip over this and think, “Well, that’s a no-brainer.” What you consider income and what the IRS considers income might be completely different.

Sara F Hawkins has a very comprehensive list of taxable income items for bloggers that might surprise you. For instance, the books and t-shirts you are given while browsing the exhibits during a blog conference?

That is income.

Prizes you were awarded for being the most profitable affiliate?

That will cost you.

The ebook you graciously accepted from a friend to offer a complimentary review on your blog?

Ouch. Yes, that digital document has taxable value.

Even the giveaway prizes a company sent to your address and asked you to forward to the winner… Surprise. It is all income and the IRS wants to know if you are including it when you file your taxes.

“But, but, but…” I hear you stammering to plead your case.

  • I did not receive a 1099 form.
  • The value is under $600.
  • Blogging is just a hobby.

Doesn’t matter. So what. Your point is?

If you received it, the IRS considers it income and you are responsible for reporting your income accurately.

Keep it organized.

If you must file taxes then do yourself a favor and keep everything organized.

When you attend a conference, keep a copy of the agenda and your name badge. Even a photograph or digital scan will suffice. Then, collect your receipts for meals, accommodations, and cab fare and keep it together.

Your Blogging Business: Tax Talk & Tips from a Bookkeeper Turned Blogger

Expensify is a fabulous app – available for desktop, iOS, and Android – that will help organize your travel receipts and can even track your mileage if you choose to drive.

Another organizing idea, create a folder in your inbox just for receipts and conversations with brands regarding giveaways and reviews. If you prefer Evernote, you can create a notebook and email them to your Evernote file with a Premium account.

>>Get a free month of Evernote Premium.<<

Remember your deductions.

Even the best accountants need a little help. You must be educated about what you can safely use as a qualified deduction. Wise Bread has a long (although uncategorized) list of blogger tax deductions you should browse. Another list of tax deductions for bloggers is available by Free from Broke.

Some deductions you might have missed include:

  • Ingredients for a test recipe
  • Premium plugins
  • Licensing for images, fonts, and music
  • Your blog planner
  • Postage for mailing giveaway prizes
  • Ink and paper for printables
  • Stock photography subscriptions
  • E-courses and ebooks that further your education

Tax time can feel daunting but you can master this with an organized method for tracking your income and expenses.

Don’t forget to download the blogging income/expense report on your Inspired Bloggers University profile page.

Hey blogger! Track your income and expenses easily. Get the free XLSX spreadsheet.

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February Blog Income Expense Report 2016

This month’s blogging income report is not what I had planned. The results certainly did not compare to January’s blog income report either. But I am always mindful of a time when I did not have blogging income to help balance our family’s finances.

Detailed blog income report with expenses. What she made, how she made it, and lessons you can learn from her mistakes.

February might have been a short month but it was packed with family and friends. Wonderful things. Difficult things. Distracting things. But, the joy of being a work from home blogger is having the flexibility to do what we need to do without the added stress of dealing with an employer.

Even so, it is super important to think of yourself as the boss of your business. If the boss takes too many days off, the business struggles.

In February, both of my boys had surgery. I focused a tremendous amount of time on moving the Inspired Bloggers University to the new platform at Rainmaker. I spent a weekend with other brilliant women brainstorming our businesses.

And I completely forgot my income plan… which brings me to something for you to remember:

1) Plan your income. Work your plan.

In December, I decided that I wanted to be a Six Figure Blogger. Using the Blog Success Planner Blogging Goals section, I planned how much money I needed to make each month in order to reach $100,000 in income by December 31, 2016.

From there, I created specific goals with action steps to make these amount happen. In January, I blew right past my goal. Then, February rolled around… and I got distracted.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe my first priority is my family and the time I spent with them was worth the time away from blogging. However, as THE BOSS in my business, I need to plan ahead for those days and delegate tasks to others if needed.

2) Establish multiple streams of income.

To grow a successful blogging business, you cannot rely on any ONE type of income. You need multiple streams of revenue fueling your blog. Sidebar advertising, your own products, coaching, sponsored content, direct sales, 3rd party stores (like Amazon, Teachers Pay Teachers, etc)… Get creative! The possibilities are limitless.

Tweet: Multiple income streams are threads in a #bloggers security blanket. If one snaps, others hold together. @TabithaPhilen income streams are threads in a #bloggers security blanket. If one snaps, others hold together. @TabithaPhilen

Why do you need more than one type of income? Think of it as the threads in your security blanket. If one thread snaps, the others hold the blanket together. Since blogging as a business can be filled with unpredictable changes (algorithms, SEO updates…), you need to diversify your revenue streams.

3) Delegate to others.

There is no way I could do everything I need to do in a day without help. While I have always known this and been a huge fan of hiring a team, I had no idea how much I should hire out until I had a very real meeting with my to-do list.

As I sat on the plane flying home from my weekend mastermind retreat, I attempted to create blocks of time in my work hours for specific tasks. As I filled in the open spots with tasks, the obvious hit me.

There was no way to do it all. I would always be behind and overwhelmed unless I delegated some jobs and projects to my team.

Hey blogger! Track your income and expenses easily. Get the free XLSX spreadsheet.
Join the Inspired Bloggers University for FREE. Access the Blogger Income/Expense Spreadsheet and much more!

Blog Income Report – February 2016

InspiredBU Affiliate Earnings $192.00
InspiredBU Product Sales $1,103.47
Meet Penny Affiliate Earnings $2,574.38
Meet Penny Advertising $739.99
Meet Penny Product Sales $75.47

Total Income = $4685.31
February Goal = $6000
Difference = -$1314.67

Advertising $1.42
Contractors $175
Paypal Fees $47.88
Email Service $119 (ConvertKit)
Travel $132.16
Office $554.03

Total Expenses = $1029.49

Net Profit = +$3655.82

My business mistakes

  • I failed to market my products and this resulted in missing my goal for the BOOST class registration. I stopped using my to-do list and did not realize we were launching the course until three days before launch. HUGE mistake.
  • When I moved to Rainmaker, I forgot to place “buy now” links on the Blog Success Planner landing page. So, people were browsing the page but had NO WAY of making a purchase and were too nice to say, “Ummm… you are missing something.”
  • My store plugin on Meet Penny is not delivering the products when purchased. This cost me a chunk of change in refunds.

My business successes

  • I made a profit of $3,655!
  • My email sales funnels started bringing in my first successful sales off the free member funnel. So exciting to experiment with sales funnels and then see it work while bringing high quality content to those who need it.
  • I realized that I had too much to do within my work hours and starting looking for new people to add to my team. Learning to let go and let others help is always a big win for this over-achieving perfectionist.

Hey blogger! Track your income and expenses easily. Get the free XLSX spreadsheet.

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January Blogger Income Report 2016

A brand new year brings fresh new vision and opportunities. My ambition reflected in the blog income expense report. My goal was just $5,000 but I blew it away. (All glory to God.)

Wow. What a month! Detailed blog income expense report for January 2016. I can see the importance of having my own products now.

January meant getting back to work after a long holiday break and I struggled. While I still have a fire in my heart fueled by new goals in my Blog Success Planner, the backlog of work made me feel like I was so far behind. I absolutely hate working backwards. I need to remember this when the holidays roll around this year and give extra hours to team members so they can cover for me.

Even so, the annual Inspired Bloggers University membership sale was a huge success and Blog Success Planners sold like crazy. Affiliates were hustling and commissions were the highest they have been.

Tweet: Your #blog page views cannot limit your profitability, but your creativity can. #blog page views cannot limit your profitability, but your creativity can.

As I compared the income between my blogs, one thing became VERY clear. Page views do not restrain profitability. Inspired Bloggers University is much younger and smaller than Meet Penny but made tremendously more.


I was selling my own products. These are not measly commissions or sponsored posts represented by my income. Even the passive sidebar advertising cannot compare to the profit I achieved by selling printables and classes. So I am not limited by my page views. My only limit is my creativity.

But the best part comes in knowing I am not just hustling snake oil but providing solutions for people, boosting them towards success.

Hey blogger! Track your income and expenses easily. Get the free XLSX spreadsheet.
Join the Inspired Bloggers University for FREE. Access the Blogger Income / Expense Spreadsheet.

Blog Income Report – January 2016

InspiredBU Affiliate Earnings $261.65
InspiredBU Product Sales $7,514.83
Meet Penny Affiliate Earnings $781.40
Meet Penny Advertising $634.09
Meet Penny Product Sales $98.90

Total Income = $9290.87
February Goal = $5000
Difference = +$4290.87

Advertising $290.41 (Facebook Ads)
Contractors & Commissions $651.32
Paypal Fees $370.60
Email Service $119 (ConvertKit)
Blog Hosting $1495 (Rainmaker)
Office $222.94

Total Expenses = $3149.27

Net Profit = +$6141.60

My business mistakes

  • WHY have I not completed the move to Rainmaker before my free trial ended? Quietly kicking myself for moving so slowly.
  • Ignoring my inbox over the holidays. Oh my gosh! When I looked, I had several sponsorship opportunities that I missed because I was being lazy. Do I regret taking two weeks off to be with my family? No. But I wish I had at least hired someone to babysit my inbox while I was off.

My business successes

  • I made a profit of $6,141.60 and blew my goal out of the water!
  • Slowly but surely got over the holiday blues and returned to my normal work routine. It was so hard though!

Hey blogger! Track your income and expenses easily. Get the free XLSX spreadsheet.

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How to Make Money with a Blog

Wondering how to make money with a blog? Is it possible to blog for profit and make it a full-time career? Absolutely!

Video Notes:

Step-By Step Printable

Domain Registrants

Hosting Options for New Blogs

Premium Themes

Pinterest Group Board Locator

Blog Conferences

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Digital CoLab and #FinCon2015 Review

Each year, when choosing my travel schedule, I know that I will be attending Digital CoLab. Without a doubt, I know that Digital CoLab is the one conference where I can go and learn something that will change the direction of my business in a very good way.

GIVEAWAY! Awesome blogging conference combo for bloggers in personal finance and more! Save the date for September 2016 in San Diego.

This year, since Digital CoLab preceded FinCon, I decided to stick around and attend both conferences.

Session Rewind

Digital CoLab was two days of intensives and round table discussions. I was excited to train others on Periscope and still have time to learn.

Digital CoLab Sessions

Steve Chou, Getting into E-commerce

Steve, founder of My Wife Quit Her Job, brought a tremendous amount of content in his session. He walked a group of about 30 (maybe 40) people step-by-step through the process of finding a marketable product, negotiating with the vendor, and listing the product for sale… and more. Despite being so comprehensive, Steve helped me realize that breaking into e-commerce was actually easier than I thought.

Jim Wang, Membership Sites

Founder of Wallet Hacks, Jim has worked side-by-side with Erin Chase of $5 Dinners to create and amazingly successful membership site. As the owner of two membership sites, my largest take-aways was the importance of surveys… lots of surveys. Upgrade surveys, purchase surveys, exit surveys, product creation surveys… Keep asking questions. Then, use snippets from the responses to write the copy for your products. (Why didn’t I think of that?!)

Bob Loitch, Adsense Hacks

Bob is the founder of Seed Time, formerly known as Christian Personal Finance, and he shared how he has increased his Google Adsense revenue by consistently setting experiments. Through simple A/B testing, Bob has been able to secure an additional $1,000 a month but only spend about 5 minutes on his Adsense account each week, and he had us walk through the simple process with him so we could take this knowledge home with experience.

Just a little light conversation at the #DigiCoLab round table with #blogger #Blogging #taxes

A photo posted by Tabitha Philen (@tabithaphilen) on


Each roundtable was restricted to ten or less and was extremely hands-on. I learned how to implement A/B testing, the best tax entity classification for my blogging business, and much more!

FinCon Sessions

Oh my! The number of sessions available at FinCon is quite overwhelming, even for this seasoned blog conference attendee. But, that is a GREAT thing because you can be sure to find topics that apply to you even if your niche is not personal finance.

Jared Easley, Getting Interviewed by Podcasters

I had a fabulous time meeting Jared, co-founder of Podcast Movement, and not just because he originates from my home state of Alabama. (Although we did have a blast sipping sweet tea and talking in our deep south accents.)

Remember #podcasting is intimate because you are right inside someone’s earbuds @jaredeasley #FinCon15 — Tabitha Philen (@TabithaPhilen) September 18, 2015

Being resistant to joining the amazingly talented podcasters I listen to each week, I realized that I could still offer my expertise to podcasters and help them develop content without needing to start a podcast of my own.

Noah Kagan, Email Subscribers

Founder of OK Dork and Sumome, Noah is a powerhouse of information. While his session was about blowing up your email subscriber list, I learned much more than that. My biggest takeaway was actually through his tips on creating Facebook ads, one of my biggest deficits.

FinCon was also packed with sessions featuring success stories (from people who quit their jobs to work from home, started using Pinterest, and more) as well as expert panels (where you could have your website reviewed and business model adjusted.)


There was always something to learn during the day and if you thought you might have some time to put your feet up, you would remember the extensive vendor hall packed with sponsors or the amazing keynotes… and I can’t forget the parties every night and the PLUTUS Awards.

Truly, the opportunities to network with powerhouse podcasters, millionaire bloggers, and really cool nerds were numerous, but the best part… it was like a huge family reunion. No pretenses. No stuffy suits. Just blue jeans, flip flops, and a bunch of friends talking about business over dinner.

Next Year’s Digital CoLab and FinCon

I already have my tickets and hotel reservation for Digital CoLab and FinCon 2016, hosted in San Diego from September 20 through September 24, and I would LOVE for your to join me!

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Optimize Blog Posts for Better Performance

Recently, I decided to look over my most popular blog posts from this time last year and I was stunned to see how many mistakes were in each post. It was time to optimize blog posts to harness more traffic and make it work for me.

6 things to check when optimizing old blog posts. Then, push them back out into social media seasonally. Printable checklist included.

When I am reviewing old blog posts, I focus on the content relevant for the current season. I used to think it was best to just go back to the beginning and start there but realized I was wasting a tremendous amount of time. A more useful strategy is to consider which evergreen post where the most popular on your blog during this same time last year. You can find this information creating a report in Google Analytics.

Next, view these popular posts and look for these specific items:

  1. Obvious errors – Check your grammar and spelling. It should already be perfect but accidents happen.
  2. Relevance – Review the content of the post to see if it is still current or needs updating. Also check to make sure any links within the post are still functioning.
  3. Pinnable picture – Is your featured image good enough for Pinterest? The image should be vertical and have your chosen pin description loaded into the alt title.
  4. SEO keywords – Are your keywords in the title, first paragraph, subheadings, and picture alt title? If you did not previously check, use the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast to check your search engine optimization quality.
  5. Monetized links – Does your post have at least one affiliate link? Did you place a banner ad in the middle of the post?
  6. Related content – Do you have links to additional related content on your blog and on other blogs within the post? If you do not have other related content on your blog and this post performed really well for you, write a new post on the same topic. Remember to link those posts together.

Once your post is refreshed, it is time to push out the optimized blog post into social media again. Pin it to Pinterest. Post it to Facebook. Ask friends to do the same.

If you are struggling to find new ways to get traffic to our best posts take the Inspired Bloggers University e-course BOOST: Taking Your Blog’s Traffic to the Next Level. You will learn 25 different ways to increase your traffic and build your blog’s page views.

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How to Make YouTube Videos

Wondering how to make YouTube videos? Creating videos is easier than you think!

I've been wondering how to make YouTube videos. All you need is a smartphone, a microphone, and movie editing software. This tutorial makes me think I really can do this!

My husband and I sat together for a Periscope broadcast in an attempt to demystify how to make videos for YouTube and your blog. All you need is your smartphone, a microphone, and movie editing software (that is probably already on your computer).

When you know how to make YouTube videos, you open up tremendous possibilities, like offering video reviews to sponsors, producing screencasts and tutorials, and creating products (like e-courses) to sell.

Video Notes:

  • The equipment we use for video 1:51
  • Tip for positioning your microphone 6:51
  • How to use iMovie 8:46
  • Why use video in blog posts 16:20

Mentioned Resources:

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Step-By-Step Guide to Get Email Subscribers with Freebies

So you want to grow an email subscriber list. You have heard that offering a freebie is a great way to increase your email subscribers, but don’t understand what or how to give something to readers who sign up. You have come to the right place!

Number ONE priority: Get email subscribers! Step by step tutorial on what to offer as a freebie, where to store it, and how to automate it.Through this step-by-step video, you will learn:

  1. why you should build your email subscriber list
  2. what to offer for free to encourage readers to opt in
  3. where to store your freebie
  4. how to automate your freebie delivery

Video Notes:

  • Different types of products you can create as freebie for subscribers 2:25
  • Why you should not store your printables in your blog media files 6:52
  • Tour of Amazon S3 to store your digital products 8:29
  • Using a plugin for squeeze forms and selling printables 9:28
  • Why the links to your digital products should be encrypted 14:42
  • Setting up an email opt in automation 18:00

Recommended Resources:
*May include affiliate links*

Additional help getting more email subscribers:

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How to Overcome Blogger Burnout

Are you feeling disgusted with your blog? Wondering if you should keep blogging? Ready to walk away but wondering if there is something you can do to overcome blogger burnout?

Are you feeling disgusted with your blog? Wondering if you should keep blogging? Ready to walk away but wondering if there is something you can do to overcome blogger burnout?

Blogger burnout is very real and everyone feels it at some time of another… even the BIG bloggers. But should you quit? Is your blogging career over?

No one can really answer those questions but YOU, but there are seven steps I recommend that will help you take an inventory of these emotions and make a decision.

Steps mentioned in this video:

1) Consider your passion.
2) Evaluate your vision.
3) Reset your goals.
4) Network with like-minded bloggers.
5) Keep a file of encouragement.
6) Accept the season.
7) Take a break.

If you are feeling blogger burnout or have additional tips and/or testimonies about overcoming blogger burnout, please share in the comments.

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June 2015 Blogger Income Report (with Expenses)

Time for my monthly blogger income report. Are you ready?

A breakdown of what she made and the expenses in this blogger income report. Includes details about what she learned that can be great tips for any blogger who wants to make money blogging.

Hi there and happy July! Now that the smoke has cleared from our massive fireworks display that we put on with our neighbors and I have packed away the DIY waterpark I installed in my front yard, I decided it was time to share my June Blogger Income/Expense Report.

A video is embedded. Please visit our YouTube channel.

Blogger Income/Expense Report breakdown for June


  • Product Sales through Inspired Bloggers University and Meet Penny $1,348.71
  • Product Sales through a third party (Teachers Pay Teachers) $24.98
  • Affiliate Sales (other bloggers and bundle sales) $750.83
  • Amazon Affiliates $176.53
  • Amazon Kindle Publishing $95.91
  • Advertising Networks (The Blogger Network, Adsense) $508.48
  • Affiliate Networks (Commission Junction, Linkshare, etc.) $104.07



  • Virtual Assistants and Contributors $465.00
  • Affiliate Commissions $9.20
  • Hosting and Domains $236.55
  • Social Media Advertising $120.89
  • Stock Photography $20.00
  • Email Server $150.00



What I learned this month from my blogging income/expense report

Knowing what you make and spend is important in any business because… hello? TAXES! But, you also need to pay attention to trends and learn from your reports.

PRODUCT SALES – Wow. I launched a new class for Periscope on June and saw decent sales from that but the majority of the income came from membership subscribers and other e-course sales. The fabulous thing about having your own products? You create them once and then they make passive income forever.

PRODUCT SALES through a 3rd party – I only have two or three printable packs uploaded to Teachers Pay Teachers. Can you imagine what I could do if I uploaded all 100 that I have getting dusty in the cloud?

AFFILIATE SALES – A huge chunk of that income was from bundle sales… but I am really tired of promoting bundle sales. So, I either need to come up with a new way to promote them without spamming people to death or get really picky about the ones I promote because the income is NICE.

AMAZON AFFILIATES – I was lazy about sharing my affiliate link in social media and it showed tremendously. I need to be posting at least one affiliate link to social media each day.

AMAZON KINDLE – Ebook sales are down, either because of the update to the Kindle Direct Publishing or because I have not uploaded a new ebook in a while. I have several I could add. Might be time to do that because when you have more than one ebook available, they all sell better.

AFFILIATE COMMISSIONS – I am not utilizing my affiliates. I need to come up with a way to empower them to make more money with my products.

What did you learn?

Did you notice something from the income/expense report that I didn’t see? Please leave a comment so we can all learn together.