Income Report: How I Made Over One Million Dollars Blogging In 2016

My wife just closed the books on for 2016 and I’m happy to say that I hit 2 major milestones this year.

First off, I reached the magical 7 figure revenue mark for my blog. And second of all, I finally quit my day job as a hardware engineering director last June.

Dr Chou Evil

Of the two milestones, quitting my job was especially difficult for me and I ended up announcing my resignation a bit prematurely when I wrote about it on the blog:)

Here’s what ended up happening.

Because I’d been with my company for 17 years, I had a lot of technical knowledge that needed to be transferred to my employees and the company asked me to remain on a little longer to ease the transition.

While I initially had no intention of staying, they made me a pretty sweet offer to work another 3 months (after June) for only 2 days per week with a special deal that was too good to refuse.

This arrangement ended up working perfectly and I was happy to hang with my coworkers for a little while longer.

Ultimately, the decision to quit my job was not about losing the income. In fact, I didn’t care about the money at all.

It was more about losing my identity. I had spent over 20 years studying microprocessor design and I was about to give it all up FOREVER. I could no longer call myself a hardware engineer. I was forced to turn in my hard core techie membership card.

There was no turning back!

Just the other day, Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner asked me how I would describe what I do for a living to strangers and I honestly couldn’t come up with a good answer.

I used to proudly say that I was a microprocessor designer. But now it’s much more complicated. Am I writer? Am I a podcaster? Am I a teacher? Am I a conference thrower? It’s all very ambiguous.

Anyway long story short, I officially left cold turkey on October 1, 2016 and it’s been….just OK:)

Most people tend to glamorize “quitting your job” but for me, it’s been about figuring out what I want to do with my time because I have a TON of it now.

For the latter part of last year, my schedule consisted of working until about noon, having lunch with my wife, exercising in the afternoon and then taking a short nap before picking up the kids.

In fact, deciding what to do with my time is what prompted me to write this popular post last year on How To Find What Makes You Happy And My Reflections On Life After Quitting My Job

The good news is that I have a bunch of active businesses to keep me busy until I figure out my next steps. Meanwhile, here’s how did this past year.

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Here Are The Numbers

1 million dollars

First off, I’m happy to say that made over a million dollars in 2016.

When I first started this blog back in 2009, my goal was to have it just cover the mortgage. But it’s really blown up over the years and I want to sincerely thank you all for your support.

Here are the numbers for 2016

  • Revenues increased by 46% from the same period last year
  • February was the highest month ever where I generated 125K of revenue in a single month!
  • Traffic increased by 15.3% from the year before
  • My ecommerce course continues to sell very well despite the price increase

Once again, what I love about blogging is that it’s highly scalable. Right now outside of a single assistant, I’m pretty much a one man show and it takes me roughly 15 hours per week to maintain.

Recently, I’ve been getting some flack from other entrepreneurs about how my blog is “not a real business” because I don’t have employees and the business can’t run without me being present.

But it works for me. And if not having a “real business” means that I can trade 15 hours per week and a low stress lifestyle for a million bucks, then so be it. Honestly, I prefer to not have to deal with employees at all unless absolutely necessary.

Anyway, you’ve probably noticed that my blog traffic only increased by 15.3% but my revenues increased by 46%. The reason for the discrepancy is because I have been doing a better job of monetizing my existing visitors.

This year I didn’t really work on much as I’ve been focusing my efforts on growing my ecommerce business. But the overall revenue gains for can be attributed to the following.

I Ran More Webinars

webinar setup

Webinars have been a huge game changer for me as they’ve allowed me to reach a large audience live without having to travel. Using my poor mans setup of Google Hangouts and ChatWing which are both free, my webinars generated almost 500K in revenue in 2016.

In fact, webinars were so huge that I wrote a comprehensive post about How My First Live Webinar and 1.5 Hours Of Work Resulted In A $60015 Payout.

What was particularly rewarding about that post was that one of the students in my course, Arree Chung, took what I wrote and generated $4315 in cash with his first webinar to just 80 people!

In addition, I gave an in-depth presentation at 2 conferences, Fincon and Digital Colab on “How To Create A High Converting Webinar” that were both very well received. Unfortunately, these presentations were not recorded but I might do a webinar on webinars if there’s enough demand:)

I Ran More Facebook Ads

If you’re on Facebook, chances are you’ve seen one of my ads in your newsfeed.

Facebook ad clueless

Towards the middle of 2016, I started running content awareness ads to lookalike audiences for people who had purchased my class. And the results have been awesome.

Let’s face it.

Most people are not going to purchase a thousand dollar course on impulse. You have to consistently put out great content to gain trust. You have to get people to like you as a person before they are willing to open up their wallets.

The Facebook ads I’m running are extremely cheap on a cost per click basis and they introduce new visitors to my content which I then retarget to an email sign up form.

Facebook retargeting

Once they sign up for my email list, I then use a 30 email autoresponder sequence that converts really well. In case you’ve missed it, I’ve talked about my email sequence in pretty great depth at various conferences.

Here are a few presentations I’ve given in case you are curious.

I Ran My First Conference, The Sellers Summit

Sellers Summit Logo

On May 19th, 2016, I held my very first conference, the Sellers Summit, which ended up being a huge success.

By keeping the conference small and intimate with a focus on actionable ecommerce strategies, my partner Toni and I managed to create a highly specialized event catering to individuals wanting to grow a physical products based business.

We could have easily sold hundreds more tickets but we purposely kept things small and it paid off. All of the speakers and I got a chance to hangout and get to know all the attendees and we had a blast!

In fact, it was so well received that I ended up pre-selling a bunch of tickets for 2017 without a venue or a date. By the way, tickets for the 2017 summit are now on sale on the Sellers Summit webpage.

Click Here To Grab Your Ticket Now Before The Price Goes Up

I can pretty much guarantee you that tickets will sell out this year as we sold out many months in advance in 2016.

Anyway, if you are interested in learning more about my experiences throwing the conference, please check out the following posts.

I Consistently Updated My Course And Sent Out A Survey

Profitable Online Store

During the latter half of the year after I quit cold turkey, I focused most of my efforts on my ecommerce store and I documented all of my experiences in my ecommerce course.

In addition, I updated some of the older content for the class due to recent changes in the ecommerce landscape.

For example, in the latter half of the year, I…

  • Published 5 completely new automated email sequences for my ecommerce store – These sequences are set it and forget it and generate sales on autopilot.
  • Documented my latest Facebook ads strategy – Making PPC advertising profitable is an iterative process and it’s important to follow a testing based methodology to narrow down what’s working and what’s not.
  • Discussed my conversion rate optimizations – There’s no point in getting a new visitor if you can’t complete the sale. This past year, I redesigned my site, boosted my conversion rate by 46% and documented everything for my students.
  • Invited more guest speakers to the class– Because I’m not an expert in every topic, I routinely invite specialists to provide their expertise in specific areas of ecommerce.

Bottom line. Because I’m able to focus more on growing my ecommerce store, I’m creating a lot more new material to teach my class. In fact, the main advantage of my course over the others is that I actively sell on Amazon and run my own ecommerce store.

Remember when I told you that I often get flack for doing everything myself? One of the reasons I insist on getting my own hands dirty instead of hiring outside help is so I can learn how EVERYTHING works firsthand.

I run my own Adwords campaigns. I run my own Facebook ads. I do all of my own email marketing. The best way to learn and teach is to do it yourself first and then use real data from your own shop.

In the second half of the year, I sent out a survey to the students in my class and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

Student Survey

My Plans For 2017

Overall, I’m still getting used to all of this free time and I’m putting it to good use. Going forward in 2017, my plan is make all of my existing projects better instead of starting a bunch of new ones.

However, I am working on a small software project which I’ll hopefully introduce sometime later this year. But for now, my goal is to be a good Dad and provide consistent value to my audience.

Here’s to a prosperous 2017!

Note: This income report does not include my linens business. Stay tuned for the numbers next week!

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About Steve Chou

Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at

His blog,, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times,  Entrepreneur and MSNBC.  

He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.

In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts

To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store,, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.  

Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses. 

25 thoughts on “Income Report: How I Made Over One Million Dollars Blogging In 2016”

  1. Rohit Malhotra says:

    Great post Steve. Thanks for inspiring us! I have started doing webinars and enjoy speaking out to live audience. I have not sold any courses through webinars but plan to webinars to grow my email list and make income. I love the fact that you are focussed on your current projects and are improving on them. Lots to learn!

    Rohit I Lifeselfmastery

    1. Steve C says:

      Thanks Rohit! Webinars are a game changer

  2. Alexa says:

    Steve, congratulations! It’s been amazing to see your persistence and constancy pay off. I’m very proud of you!

    With warm regards from the snowy north,
    Your friend from Toronto

    1. Steve C says:

      Wow! After all these years, you’re still here:) Thank you for that.

  3. RyanH says:

    Thanks for sharing, Steve!

    1. Steve C says:

      Thanks Ryan

  4. norma says:

    Wow, Steve, you are beyond awesome! But, you probably already knew that.

    Happy new year,

    1. Steve C says:

      Thanks Norma!

  5. Carole Rains says:

    Congrats Steve.
    I have a topic request for the blog: I’d like to know how to track the data on how my tactics are performing. I have a tendency to try new things but am never sure about the specific impact they are having, like percentage increase in visitors/revenue. Would love it if you would show us your processes for tracking changes.

    1. Steve C says:

      Great question Carole, I’ll see if I can whip up something on the podcast.

  6. Melody says:

    Well done! There’s nothing like having your dream come true while helping others to make their dreams come true. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    1. Steve C says:

      Thanks Melody. I don’t know if it’s a dream come true but it does prevent money from affecting decisions on how I spend my time for the most part.

  7. Manuel says:

    Congrats Steve! Very motivating 🙂 keep it up and looking foreard to see you in May!

    1. Steve C says:

      Looking forward to it Manuel!

  8. Steve says:


    Do you think that you will come up with something for those wanting to use blogging – not so much interested in the e-commerce? Or are there courses you recommend from that domain?


    1. Steve C says:

      Hey Steve,

      I’ll be upfront here. Blogging is a slog. It’s great if you can stick with it for 3 years or more but it’s slow. In terms of courses, it’s tough because blogging is all about being creative and consistent.

      1. Steve says:

        Thanks Steve. I want to run something in a profitable market niche that also happens to be an ongoing passion / hobby of mine. So I’m prepared to do it on the side whilst continuing to work a ‘normal job’ over the next few years. Aim is to sell self-created (digital) products.

        I’d probably go with what looked more like a ‘business’ website with a blog, rather than a ‘personality / blog-centric’ approach. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone…

  9. Emmanuela says:

    Thank you! I am still afraid. I have bought products but too scared and confused to create a website and afraid I won’t make the money back.

  10. Sally - Caterpillar Cross Stitch says:

    I loved reading this Steve – WELL DONE! Incredible news. And although I’m sure it was a tough decision leaving your engineering job, it’ll all work out and enjoy the free time while you have it!

    I remember finding your blog for the first time back in 2011 I think, bored at work at the law firm and googling ‘how to leave my job’ and ‘I want to quit my job’ etc etc. I read it weekly for years until mid 2014 when I signed up for the course. Thanks for all the encouragement and amazing content…

    PS. I think you should be Steve De Evil Chou all the time!

  11. Nate says:

    Thanks Steve, for all your transparency. You truly amaze me with your efficiency and ability to execute and succeed on multiple tasks at once (without a team). Great inspiration as always.

  12. mb says:

    Steve – Congrats! You’ll never hand in your techie card…you’ll always be a techie to us. (oh, and pay your IEEE dues and they’ll send you the card!). — Mohammed

  13. Michelle Schroeder says:

    Great job on the income! Webinars are something that I want to start getting more into – mainly because of you. I need to finally start that in 2017.

  14. Wes Schaeffer says:

    It has been great getting to know you and I’m not surprised at your success. You are open and honest and keep things real and provide great value. Keep up the great work and Happy New Year.

  15. Dom says:

    Steve, thanks for the insight. How much of this is revenue vs. profit? Also, what are your expenses for some of these items. It would be great to see a breakdown similar to SPI.

  16. Stephen says:

    Incredible. I’m just coming across your site now thanks to modest money. That’s a very impressive year you’ve had. I think i might have to dig into this some more!

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