Side Project Revenue Breakdown for 2021

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 3 min read

2021 was easily my best year for side projects ever, and as I sit here at the start of the new year and look over my reports for 2021, I'm incredibly happy & proud of what I'm starting to achieve with these projects. I'm not sharing exact numbers today, but I did want to share where my side-project revenue comes from.

Please note this post is not meant to brag or anything (no numbers anyway), it's mostly to help contextualize what I work on in the future and what the "business" of Birchtree and related projects looks like (spoiler, this site is the passion project, not the money-maker).

1. Freelance Work

Some of this is stuff you see (like my work with The Sweet Setup or Flexibits), but most of it you don't because it's for clients who need training videos or presentations, and those just don't see the light of day. Don't worry though, per my personal disclosure policy, I will always tell you if I'm making a video/post about a company I've worked with before.

I'm always interested in working on videos for companies who need to communicate their products better (training videos are my jam!), so feel free to use the contact link in the menu to reach out if you would like to work together!

Up 133% over 2020.

2. Quick BIN Lookup

I don't talk about this one much, and it's very little ongoing work, but you may be surprised to hear my number 2 source of side-hustle revenue is Quick BIN Lookup. Basically, a ton of people need a site that does this, and I'm the first or second result in most search engines for "bin lookup," so I get consistent traffic.

This site has a single Carbon ad on it and that's how it earns every penny.

Up 10x over 2020 😱

3. YouTube

Then there's YouTube, which is where I put the most work this year. The vast majority of this amount is from ads run on my videos, and a small portion is from a couple of sponsorships I did this year.

In terms of growth potential, this is where I think I can make the most difference in 2022.

Up 9x over 2020.

4. Wallpapers

There's a pretty big drop and then I get to the wallpaper packs that I sell every now and again. This peaked early in the year with about 1/3 of total revenue coming from the first pack I made, Here Comes the Sun. These packs are all sold through Gumroad, which makes it easy to upload products and they take a small portion of every sale.

I think there's potential here, but I'm not sure if the effort is worth taking away from some of the other things I do.

$0 in 2020, so infinite growth.

5. Birchtree

As I've said before, Birchtree is a passion project for me at this point, and not something I do to make real money. It's my smallest income stream by far, and it's actually shrinking over time. I run the same single Carbon ad here that I do on Quick BIN Lookup, it's just that traffic is lower to tech blogs than they used to be and I think y'all use more ad blockers than the average person who visits my BIN site.

Down 23% compared to 2020.

Final Thoughts

I'm not sure how useful this is to anyone, but I like transparency and I like helping people get an idea of what you can do on the side if you're looking to expand from your day job.

A few parting thoughts:

  1. Tech blogs ain't what they used to be for revenue. Do them because you enjoy doing them or are way better at monetizing them than me.
  2. Related, I think this blog is my "public face" for many people online, so it may be surprising to see how little this moves the needle in terms of revenue. It's truly a passion project.
  3. I got super lucky with Quick BIN Lookup, but it's also a classic example of product-market fit. I needed to look up BINs, all the sites for this sucked, so I made my own. It's classic disruption and I'm glad my site is able to help people.
  4. In terms of growth, I think YouTube and freelance work are the biggest opportunities. Both of them went quite well in 2021 and I still have plenty of room to increase how much effort I can put into them. Quick BIN Lookup jumped a lot this year too, but I suspect it's plateaued (#1 Google result is as good as it gets).