Skip to Content

1099s for Bloggers (How Much Did My Blog Earn?)

As the due date approaches for filing your tax return, the first part of the entire tax process as a blogger is to answer the question: How much money did my blog make?

Your blogging may have several types of income. A good start for your blogging business, especially if this is the first time you’re starting to make money, is to make sure you have a handle on all those streams of income.

Some of the income payments you received may be reported on one of several 1099 tax forms. Others may not be.

A desktop calendar with the word "Payday!" written on the square for the 15th of the month and circled in blue by a marker.

We’ll talk about different ways that your blogging income gets reported. Reporting happens both by yourself and by those who have paid you (or your business). We’ll look at the several types of 1099 forms that are out there. Then we’ll talk about unreported income and some common questions about income for bloggers.

You can jump to the different topics below

Some important things about this article

First and foremost, do not take any of the following information as legal advice or tax advice. None of this is intended to advise you on your individual situation and taxes. The purpose of this article is purely educational. It’s to provide information about the various ways income is reported for your business activities as a self-employed individual.

The best thing you can do for your personal situation is to seek out your own personal tax professional (and legal expertise when needed) who can advise you of the best course of action for you and for your business.

This article is written in regards to income tracking, reporting, and how they relate to Federal taxes in the United States of America. Other countries may have similar concepts but the details can vary widely. You should seek information related to your own country. There also isn’t enough space on here to try to delve into all the state and local governments and how they do things.

Finally, most of this is written from the perspective of how business taxes work for bloggers who are sole proprietors or single member LLC’s. We may touch on topics related to corporate taxes or how things work for hobby bloggers but our main focus is on how taxes work for sole proprietorships.

Infographic about Pay Reporting for Bloggers that discusses forms 1099-NEC for independent contractor earnings, 1099-Misc for royalty earnings, 1099-K for payment processor earnings, and 1099-INT for interest income.
Share this Image On Your Site
Click on the text box below to copy the code. Please include attribution to YourContentBusiness.com

The importance of tracking your own earnings

Filing taxes as a blogger is different than doing so as an employee. As a small business owner, you are now responsible to track and report all of your income. It doesn’t come all tied up like it does for an employee with IRS form W-2.

Some or all income for small business owners may be reported on some version of form 1099. However, small businesses often have different types of income throughout the calendar year.

In the end, it’s up to us as small business owners to know what we’ve made, both for last year and this year. It’s a good idea to keep track of both your gross income (what comes in) and business expenses (what goes out).

Find whatever accounting system works for you. It might be just writing things down in a notebook, or keeping track on a spreadsheet. There are a lot of great record keeping software systems, including some that have no monthly cost associated.

There are a few reasons this is important. Maybe the most important reason is that it’s not uncommon to have 1099 forms show the wrong information for the amount of the payment that was sent to you. Not catching those errors can often lead to a higher tax bill than if they had it correct. When you know what you made before getting the yearly reports, you can react quickly to get things corrected within the tax season.

1099-NEC may be the most common form for bloggers

When a company pays more than $600 in nonemployee compensation in a calendar year, the Internal Revenue Service requires them to report that income. They do so by filling out IRS form 1099-NEC (the NEC stands for non-employee compensation). Copy A of that form is submitted to the IRS and copy B is sent to the independent contractor (you).

Screenshot of IRS form 1099-NEC.

Prior to the 2020 tax year, that report was sent on form 1099-Misc. However, different types of reporting had different filing deadlines with the IRS, so the IRS decided to simplify things by introducing the new form 1099-NEC.

As a general rule, money you receive as an independent contractor is reported on 1099-NEC. This is usually going to be money you report as business income on Schedule C, and is subject to self-employment tax.

Many of the types of income that a blogger can earn will be reported on form 1099-NEC. Advertising payments, affiliate commissions, sponsorship payments, guest post payments, most of these are going to be reported on a 1099-NEC form.

There is one major exception. If you were paid via credit card, Paypal, Stripe, Square or through some other payment processing company, you should not receive a 1099. That’s because third party payment processors have to report income a different way (we’ll talk about 1099-K shortly).

Form 1099-NEC Explained

For most people, there’s usually just one number on form 1099-NEC. Money paid to you shows up on line 1: Nonemployee compensation.

There are lines for tax withholding. If the payer withheld money for taxes as part of the payment arrangement, that withholding will show up on line 4 for federal, and lines 5 and 6 for state.

Most of the rest of the form is for identification of the parties involved. The paying party’s name and taxpayer identification number is listed. Recipient’s TIN shows the tax identification number for whom payment was reported. This should be based on what you listed on form W-9 that you would have submitted to the payer.

If you reported just your social security number as a sole proprietor, that’s what will show up here. However, if you created an Employer ID Number (EIN) for your business and submitted that on your W-9, the EIN is what will show up here.

Whichever number is used here (Social Security or EIN) is the number that is associated with that income as far as the IRS is concerned. If it’s your social security number, the IRS is going to be looking for whether that income was reported either on your personal income taxes or on your Schedule C. Likewise, if it’s your EIN, the IRS will be looking for whether you report at least that much money as gross receipts on a form Schedule C for your business that uses that EIN.

1099-MISC is still around

Starting with the 2020 tax year, the 1099-MISC form has been used less frequently for blog or business related income. Most types of income reported on form 1099-MISC are personal income rather than business income, and will often be reported as “Other income” on your personal tax return.

Screenshot of IRS form 1099-MISC

The IRS website lists a number of income types for IRS form 1099-misc including:

  • Royalties
  • Rent
  • Prises and awards
  • Medical and health care payments
  • Crop insurance proceeds
  • Attorney payments
  • Fishing boat proceeds

For content creators, the most common income reported on form 1099-MISC is probably going to be royalty income. Bankrate.com defines royalty income as income received from allowing someone to use your property.

If a publisher sells your book and gives you money from proceeds, that qualifies as royalty income. The publisher is the one performing the business activity. If you self-publish an e-book and sell it on your website, that is regular business income and not royalty income.

It makes a difference because you treat the income differently. For specific information from your tax situation you should have your own tax professional.

Companies that send you a 1099-NEC are required to submit them or have them in the mail by January 31st. If the 31st falls on a weekend, that deadline is pushed back to Monday.

Understanding form 1099-MISC.

Form 1099-MISC has a lot of similarities to form 1099-NEC. The main difference is there are a lot of additional types of income.

Much of the form is made up of identifying information. The payer lists their name, address, and tax identification number. They then go on to list information for you or your business depending on what information you provided on the W-9 that you submitted to them.

The main difference on the form itself is that there are several income categories. There’s also a box (box 3) called “Other income.” According to The Balance, box 3 is most often used for certain incentive payments, prizes and awards, jury duty payments, or taxable damages received in a lawsuit.

As mentioned earlier, box 2 for Royalties is the one most likely to be sent to content creators.

Big changes to form 1099-K

We mentioned earlier that you should not receive a 1099-NEC if the merchant or payor paid you by credit card, Paypal or through other payment processors.

This is because payment processors report payments to you using a 1099-K.

Screenshot of IRS form 1099-K.

Say an affiliate pays you using Paypal. They send you a 1099-NEC. Paypal sends a 1099-K. Now Uncle Sam has two reports of the same income.

If you receive payment by cash, check, merchandise or direct deposit to your financial institution, you’ll probably receive a 1099-NEC directly from whoever pays you. If you’re paid by a credit processor, your 1099-K should come from that processor.

You may also receive a 1099-K if you sell digital or physical products. This is actually the purpose of the 1099-K, to make sure merchants don’t slip under the table with product sales that are unreported elsewhere.

Previously, payment processors were not required to submit a 1099-K until you’ve received more than $20,000 and had more than 200 transactions. That changes with the 2022 tax year. Congress changed the 1099-K reporting requirements, reducing the reporting threshold to $600.

This is going to catch a lot of people off guard. Many content creators who received money through Patreon, Paypal, Gumroad, Stripe, Square and other payment handlers were used to not receiving 1099 forms and may have slipped under the table with their content earnings.

Other 1099 forms

There are a number of other 1099 forms you could receive. Most of them relate to personal income and not be income that would be part of your Schedule C.

NOLO has a good list of the different types of 1099 forms that are out there (though I’m guessing the list was posted awhile back as it does not include 1099-NEC).

Some of the most common 1099 forms you might receive include:

  • 1099-DIV: dividends and distributions from investments
  • 1099-G: government payouts such as unemployment benefits
  • 1099-INT: Interest income
  • 1099-R: Retirement distributions (pensions, Social Security benefits, IRA’s etc.)

Income from these other 1099 forms is rarely related to your business. The good news is, you won’t have to pay FICA or Self Employment taxes on that income.

One possible exception is 1099-INT. If the bank account (or other account) that earned interest is in the name of your business, that is considered business income.

Bloggers who’ve incorporated

A hand holding up a sign against a partly cloudy sky with the words "You, Inc." hand written with a black marker.

If you have either incorporated your blogging business, or you formed an LLC and elected to be taxed as either a C Corporation or an S Corporation, your business may actually be creating income reports for you as an individual.

Rather than filling out a Schedule C to report your business profit or loss, your corporation will file its own tax return. All of the income we talked about above, and your expenses (including salary for yourself) go into that return.

For an S Corporation, you’ll have to file a Schedule K-1 that reports what profits from your company are a taxable dividend. If you own a C Corporation, you’ll file a 1099-DIV to report what dividends above company profits you’ve taken.

In both cases, your company creates the report, and you receive the report as an individual. Neither of these reports are business income, but instead would be reported as other income on your 1040 tax return.

I would assume that if you’re at this level where you’re incorporated or being taxed as a corporation, you have professional help with your taxes. I would definitely encourage you to get guidance from your accountant or tax pro as this kind of thing is well beyond the scope of the typical Schedule C filer that this article focuses on.

Unreported blog income

For many of us as bloggers, we may have several sources of income, with many of them being rather small. Some affiliate programs may just trickle income in. I’m sure I’m not the only Amazon affiliate to not cross the $600 income threshold. Product sales may be slow getting off the ground.

This is one major difference between being a business owner and being an employee. It’s very possible to have income that just isn’t reported on a 1099 or any other form.

Look at it this way: You’re not responsible for sending in a report of how much money you spent at your favorite restaurant. It’s their job to stay on top of their own income and accounting.

The same thing is true for you as a blogger and small business owner. The merchants and vendors who pay you are your customers. Ultimately it’s your job to stay up on your income.

This sounds like we’re back where we started with this article, doesn’t it??

Even if income isn’t reported, it’s your responsibility to track and report it as a business owner.

I can say from my own experience, it’s actually easier that way. Rather than trying to find all the tax forms and add it all up, I already have the gross income for my business at my disposal to enter on Schedule C.

I do believe that the more you think of yourself as a business, and the less you think of your blog income being personal income, the easier it is to keep on top of your business income. Once you have that down, you can move on to other parts of your tax return.

Additional questions

  • Do I need to fill out a 1099 form as a blogger?
  • Is a 1099 our version of a W2?
  • Where do I report my blog’s 1099 and other income?
  • Do I send a copy of my 1099 form in with my tax return?
  • What if my 1099 is incorrect?
  • What do I do if I receive two different 1099’s for the same income?
  • Can I get a 1099 if I didn’t actually get any money?

Do I need to fill out a 1099 form as a blogger?

You do not need to fill out a 1099 form for money you received. The person or company that paid you fills the form out and sends you a copy.

However, if you paid an independent contractor more than $600, you may be required to issue 1099s-yourself. You would send a copy to the IRS and to your contractor. Different rules apply, depending on things like the payment method. You should get guidance from your accountant based on your particulars.

Is a 1099 our version of a W2?

As a business owner, a 1099 is actually very different than form W-2. A W2 has an income number that is added to other income on your 1040 tax return. 1099 income is just your business’s gross income. It’s added to form Schedule C, and then expenses are deducted from that income to come up with our business profit. In my opinion, that makes your Schedule C a much better version of an employee’s W2.

Where do I report my blog’s 1099 and other income?

If you are a sole proprietor or have a single member LLC, your blog income is added up on the income section of form Schedule C. If you have determined that your blog is just a hobby, blog income is simply added to your tax form as other income. Finally if you’ve incorporated or are being taxed as a corporation, blog income is added to the income side of your corporate tax form.

What if my 1099 is incorrect?

If a payor has reported more income than what you really received, that can lead to the IRS expecting you to report more income than your business really received. That’s why it’s important to immediately verify whether the 1099 is correct. For that reason it’s very important that you contact the issuer immediately and request a corrected 1099 form. This gives them time to investigate and issue a correction during tax time.

What do I do if I receive two different 1099’s for the same income?

It is possible that the person paying you and the payment processor they paid you through could both report that income. That leads to a double reporting of your earnings to the IRS, which could raise red flags if they think you should be reporting more income.

This happens usually because the person paying you may not realize they are not supposed to issue a 1099 if they paid you by a payment processor like Paypal, Stripe or others. This often happens unnoticed simply because in past years, payment processor payments were below the $20,000 reporting threshold. However, with the new $600 line for 1099-K reporting, this could happen more frequently.

If this happens, you need to contact the payor, explain that your income was reported by the payment processor, and request that they issue a corrected 1099 with a $0 amount.

Can I get a 1099 if I didn’t actually get any money?

Products given to you by merchants or sponsors can be considered income. If a company sends you products in exchange for a review, you may receive a 1099-NEC for the value of the product. This is legitimate, as you are receiving something of value for your work.