I’ve been doing these blogging “year in review” posts since I started taking my blog more seriously in 2019. They’ve been a way for me to reflect on my progress and set goals for the new year, all while giving a more personal look at what it’s like to be a creator.
As usual, this is an extremely long post that I spent days writing, so you’re welcome to skip around using the table of contents. This year, I’m also including a personal year in review section since it’s been a weird one, and explains my prolonged absence from social media.
2022 Personal Year in Review
2022 was a pretty terrible year. I’m not sure if many people from social read my blog, but if you do follow me on Instagram or TikTok, you may have noticed that I barely posted after the spring.
I started having some really strange health issues that made me feel awful for the better part of the year. At one point, it felt like I lost almost everything that defined my identity, as my health was too poor to run, work on my blog/socials, or travel. (And I’d planned to do so much in 2022, from going to Seattle and France to running the Berlin Marathon).
Since I’ve been improving with supplementation, I strongly suspect a severe B12 deficiency, which is known to mess people up both mentally and physically, and take months to recover from. I never got a diagnosis though because I started supplementing before my blood tests (while my levels were lower, they weren’t low enough to pinpoint them as the cause; that said, I have been mostly plant-based for 8 years and never supplemented, outside of a multivitamin in college).
I was actually so desperate at one point that I tried seeing a holistic doctor who’d previously been trained in internal medicine and had an MD. That was a huge mistake, as she recommended bogus, expensive tests and then tried to diagnose me with fake problems. I was pretty upset with myself, as I felt really stupid for believing she might be able to help me, and for wasting a lot of money. I was luckily able to get a partial refund, but I still lost a few thousand dollars.
Before all this happened, I also tried to temporarily move to NYC in February, which failed. The Airbnb room I rented was too noisy, and maybe due to the stress, I ended up with an abscess on my butt cheek (which I affectionately called “my second butthole”).
So yeah. The lows were pretty low in 2022. That said, I was lucky to be able to live with my family during this tough time and spend more time with them. My close friends also gave me a lot of support. And I’ve been going to therapy, which has been helpful in working through the health trauma and moving forward.
Because the year was so challenging, I feel like there weren’t really many major accomplishments since since I was so busy dealing with my problems (I am proud of myself for improving to the point I have though, and that’s honestly an accomplishment in itself).
Here are some of the other personal wins from 2022:
- Running my fastest 20-mile training run yet in 9:01/mile pace in nasty, rainy, cold weather.
- Hitting 40 miles in one week not once, but twice.
- Picking up tennis while I was too unwell to run for a few months. I went from really bad to just bad, and even played in a couple outdoor and indoor groups with mostly elderly people (who were better than me haha).
- Hitting my blog income goal for 2022 despite being off of social media for two-thirds of the year.
- Redesigning my site! It took a full week of tweaking the layout and trying to figure out how to transfer over the settings from my staging site.
- Learning to use a sewing machine and making my first item from scratch, plus mending a couple old favorites.
- Being able to help my brother move into college and visit him with my parents.
- Starting the process of cleaning out my high school clothing (yes, I’m 26 and I never cleaned out my high school closet).
Looking back on this now, I actually did make some nice memories and check some larger things off my list. But, I’ll still be happy to move on from the messes of 2022.
2022 Blog Income Report
I’ll break this down month-by-month and by category within each month. These are the categories that you’ll see:
- Ads: The ads you see throughout my blog that are managed by the Mediavine ad network.
- Affiliates: Links to products/services within posts. I get a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to the buyer.
- Sponsorships: Creating content for companies to promote their products/services.
- Content Creation: Revenue from creating content, whether that’s being paid to write an article, TikTok creator fund, or Instagram Reels bonuses. YouTube Adsense is a separate category.
- Consulting: Sharing my experience and knowledge with brands or researchers.
- Talks: Presenting on a specific topic (like sustainable fashion or social media) to an organization or school.
- AdSense: Revenue from YouTube AdSense.
- Ko-fi: One-time donation platform.
Keep in mind that this is money deposited in my account during that month; I usually have to wait 1-3 months to get paid from ads and sponsorships. So, some of my 2022 “earnings” will actually end up on my 2023 income report.
Content creation: $1,557
Content creation: $1,048.09
Affiliates: $7,746.88 (this includes all of the 2021 affiliate income for one of my partners)
Ads: $1,043.24 (my first Mediavine check!)
Content creation: $63.41
Content creation: $146.30
Total before expenses: $50,739.28
Running a blog can be pretty costly. Here are the major expenses I had in 2022:
- $1,340.51 for an open box 512GB Macbook Air M2 (my old laptop was from 2018 and was getting too slow and running out of storage). I can’t deduct the whole thing since I also use my laptop for personal reasons, but I can deduct a good percentage since most of my use is for my blog.
- $629.64 for blog hosting for the next three years with Siteground. I do miss those low intro signup fees haha.
- $375 for a sewing machine (Janome Sewist 725S) to make upcycling/mending content.
- $311.70 for a used Forerunner 255S Music to test more in-depth for my GPS watch reviews. I’m lucky to get loaners for most of my posts, but I really liked this watch and figured I should own at least one working watch from Garmin as a reviewer.
- $143.78 to rent a car to see the Ice Castles in New Hampshire for my Boston travel and living blog.
- $138.68 for a 22mm f2 lens for my Canon M50. I was so tempted by getting a full-frame camera and low-aperture zoom lens to take higher-quality photos and video, but I couldn’t justify the cost just yet, and wanted to see how much I used my mirrorless camera first while traveling.
- $119.40 for Canva Pro to make blog and social graphics.
The rest were subscriptions, PayPal fees, a portion of my phone and internet bill, and other gear or services.
Total after expenses: $46,926.42
Total after expenses and taxes (15.3%): $39,746.68
Self-employment tax is 15.3% in the US, so I’ll need to pay $7,179.74. Once you expect to owe the government more than $1,000 in self-employment taxes, you actually need to pay quarterly estimated taxes. So, I’ve already forked over $7,200 to the IRS and am glad I did a pretty close job of estimating what I’d owe.
Donations to Sustainable Non-profits/Mutual Aid Funds: $2,650 (additional $1,350 set aside)
In April 2021, I promised to donate 10% of my take-home blog income to a sustainable non-profit or mutual aid fund. Since I create content on sustainable fashion, I think it’s only right to give back to the people more directly impacted by these issues, or those finding solutions on the ground.
I donated $1,350 to the Garment Worker Center COVID-19 Emergency Relief fund, which provides direct aid to garment workers in LA. Another $1,000 went to the Labour Education Fund in Pakistan via Remake’s Direct Relief Fund, which will provide direct relief to garment workers impacted by the deadly flooding there. $300 went to Star House, a youth emergency center in my hometown (I donated some used clothing and also wanted to donate funds).
If you do the math, you can see that this doesn’t quite add up to the $3,975 that would be 10% of my take-home income. I wanted to donate the remaining money to Awaj Foundation, a grassroots labor rights NGO in Bangladesh, but they are only able to easily receive money through Remake’s Direct Relief Fund, which rotates throughout the year (and I missed their time period). I’m going to set aside that remaining ~$1,350 for them when it opens up next year. So, I’ll still be hitting that 10%, but just a little belatedly.
Going forward, I also am going to re-evaluate my donation percentage from my blog. 10% isn’t a sustainable amount for me, especially as my blog income becomes a bigger portion of my overall earnings (I also have a full-time job). This might sound greedy, as my blog income growing should mean more to give, but it’s gotten to the point where I’m actually donating more than I’m spending on my business, and choosing not to make certain investments in my business because I’m budgeting around this donation pledge.
I also like to be able to donate smaller sums of “non-blog” money throughout the year to good causes, I found that I wasn’t doing that as often this past year because I was expecting to make such a large donation from my blog. (In 2021, I personally donated around $1,000, but this past year, I gave just under $250).
I still want to pledge a portion of my blog profits, as it’s important for me to give back, but I want to be upfront and say I don’t know how much that will be at this point.
2022 Blogging Goals, Wins, Challenges
These were my 2022 blogging goals:
- ✅ Make $50k before expenses and taxes.
- ✅ Continue to reject partnerships that don’t align with my values.
- ✅ Be unapologetic about my boundaries.
- ✅ Give myself the space to not post on social media.
- ❌ Get more regularly involved in my community.
- ✅ Write a blog post once per week.
- ❌ Create a YouTube video once per month.
- ✅ Continue to stay in touch with my creator friends.
Here’s my reflection on these goals and how they went:
Make $50k before expenses and taxes.
This was a big jump from my 2021 income, which was $16,651 before taxes and expenses. That said, I thought $50k was doable since I was anticipating payment in 2022 from work I’d done in 2021, which would give me a head start.
I wouldn’t have made this goal if not for an affiliate program payout timing change. I’d made around $7,000 from the program in 2021, but it was paid out in 2022. Then they started paying out after each quarter in 2022 instead of the whole year, so an additional $6,000 or so of this past year’s income was from this program.
If I’d continued taking social partnerships after April, I think I could’ve well surpassed $60k, given the amount I earned in the first third of the year. I also ended up withdrawing from an $11k opportunity that was incentivizing social content creation that started at the end of 2021 and went into the beginning of 2022. It was an amazing opportunity that would’ve paid me to make videos I was already making; but I’d have to make them on a different platform, and there were also reuse restrictions. I gave it a shot, but it was so time-consuming in the end, and I was unhappy doing it.
So while I’ve lost significant income from being off of social, it’s honestly been good for my health to take a step back and not be so busy. I know it’s a privilege to say that since some people are forced to work all the time to make a living. There was a TikTok that joked about going from your 9-5 laptop to your 5-9 one, and that was honestly me. I was almost constantly working because I’d go from my full-time job to creating content. I felt like I had to post every day on TikTok and multiple times per week on Instagram. I would be on vacations or trips and still thinking about how I could get my TikTok filming in. It was exhausting.
All in all, I’m really happy with hitting this goal, especially given the circumstances. Since I spend about 20 hours/week blogging, I’m actually finally making a living wage from blogging at $45/hour after expenses. (Last year, it was about $13/hour).
Continue to reject partnerships that don’t align with my values.
I often get offers from greenwashing companies, and 2022 was no different. The most notable was a $3,500 deal for a TikTok with ad usage rights with a MAJOR sportswear/shoe company. Their supply chain has human rights issues, so it was a no, even if the content was centered around thrifting an outfit to go with the shoes and not promoting the shoes directly.
I also have to touch upon the large number of ridiculous brand partnership offers that were asking for unpaid labor. If you’re a content creator, please know your worth. I see companies wanting to send a $10-50 product in exchange for content and usage rights that should cost thousands. If you’re a creator and we’re friends, I’m always happy to share my rates with you. Feel free to send me an email since I’m not active on Instagram right now.
Be unapologetic about my boundaries.
Social media is the Wild West, with people feeling entitled to your time and others commenting rude things for no good reason.
I have a policy to do no school/academic interviews, as I used to do them, and the interviewers never followed up to share their projects with me even though I asked. They also often asked questions I already answer on my blog, and many didn’t even follow me. I did a good job sticking to this boundary this past year.
I also did a slightly better job ignoring or blocking rude people, or using their comments as inspiration for skits on sustainable fashion misconceptions. I’m a sensitive person though, so it’s something I’m still working on, though I’ve basically removed myself from the situation right now haha. I want to be more “block-happy” and take even less shit from people if/when I do end back up on social. (It’s kind of ridiculous how even some people who follow you will interpret your content in uncharitable ways…like why do you even follow me if you think I’m that terrible?).
Finally, one thing I’d love to do more of is to “troll” the rude commenters by oversharing (I got this idea from Maggie McGaugh, a furniture upcycler). An example Maggie shared is that someone commented “you have no friends” and she replied something like “My mom used to tell me I’d never make any friends, and it haunted me as I grew up. I still don’t have any friends. Will you be my friend?”. I gave this a try when someone commented “that’s gross” on a video about sewing up the holes I always get in the crotch of my cotton leggings from chafing. I responded “If you think that’s gross, you don’t wanna hear about the abscess I had on my butt cheek 🤣”. (I don’t know if they responded because I have comment notifications on only for friends on Instagram, but I had a good laugh).
Give myself the space to not post on social media.
Yup. We did this one. For a good 8 months.
This was largely for health reasons, as I mentioned, but I’ve been doing much better for the last few months and still just haven’t had a compelling desire to start making social content yet.
I like being creative and generally like social media, but I think what’s stopping me is how restrictive it can be. My main niche on social is sustainable fashion, but I have other major interests. I could always just post what I want and people can leave if they don’t like it, but it would still be a major change for me.
I also want to get to a point where I feel confident I’d be able to have a healthy relationship with social, rather than having it weigh on me like an obligation.
Get regularly involved in my community.
Talking about sustainability on social media has never felt as meaningful to me as being part of relevant community events. In 2021, my roommates and I had a free stuff open house when we had to move out, and it was really cool to reduce waste and help those moving into the neighborhood.
I’d hoped to be part of more free stuff events and clothing swaps, and do some volunteering, but this fell to the wayside.
Still, I did end up doing more group activities through tennis, which was good for me, even if it wasn’t sustainability-related.
Write a blog post once per week.
I published 44 new blog posts and optimized one old one. Given that I didn’t publish at all in May and June, and that I published 15 new posts on my Boston blog, I’d say I’m satisfied with how I did and consider this goal completed.
Create a YouTube video once per month.
I only made two videos in 2022. I do enjoy longer-form video (it’s so much easier to include nuance) and would love to get back to YouTube at some point as well.
Continue to stay in touch with my creator friends.
I didn’t do as great of a job of this since social media is mainly how people keep in touch, and I was barely on it this past year. But, I did message a TikTok friend regularly throughout the year on Facebook Messenger. It was very sweet of her to check in on me and ask how I was doing. So, I think I did all right on this goal in the end.
2023 Blogging Goals
I feel pretty happy with the progress I’ve made on my blog since I started taking it more seriously in 2019, and I actually want to take a bit of a step back this next year from setting income and as many content frequency goals.
At one point, I wanted to become a full-time content creator, and I’ve reached the point where I could actually make the plunge. It would still be a challenge though because insurance is extremely expensive in the US if you don’t get it through an employer; I’d probably break even with living costs or be in the negative for a bit.
But, I actually no longer am that interested in being a full-time creator. I really value being able to help others in the work I do, and I get to do that through my full-time job, as I work for an education startup making college admissions easier and more accessible. I also love my team since they’re really supportive and fun.
So, I feel good with where I’m at and where I’ve been with my blogging and social media. My main goals for 2023 are:
- Get Roaming Boston, my niche Boston blog, on Mediavine.
- Write four blog posts per month on this blog.
- Continue to stay in touch with my creator friends.
- Develop a healthy relationship with social media—whether that’s no longer using it or using it in a way that I enjoy and is not an obligation.
I spent some more time working on my Boston blog in 2022, and I’d love to build it out to qualify for Mediavine (they have an unspoken slightly lower threshold of 25k sessions for second blogs, and I’m about halfway there). After living there for almost 3 years, I have quite a bit to share, and it makes me feel a bit nostalgic to write about Boston since I’ve been home with my family in Ohio most of this past year.
In terms of personal goals, I want to continue healing and reaching for the things I’ve always wanted to do. Whether that’s spending more time with the people I love, going certain places, or running more races.
Recently, I was reading this memoir called Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and this particular quote stuck out to me: “I guess women have to almost die before we give ourselves permission to live how we want.”
I had a really rough year, and it forced me to change my life. As I move forward, I want to be honest with myself and chase after the things I really want to do.
Favorite Posts from 2022
In case you missed them, here are the posts I’m proudest of from this past year.
25 Romantic Things to Do in Boston: Date Ideas from a Local (over on my Boston Blog)
If You Want to Start a Blog…
I made this comprehensive guide to to starting a blog a few years ago, and I like to recommend it every year in case you’re interested in blogging yourself. The guide is based on my 10+ years of experience as a blogger, and features tips for those who want to blog for fun or start a business.
Thank you all for being here! It means a lot when people read my more personal posts. Sending you the very best for 2023!