September 2016 Blogging Income Report
As a whole September was hectic (much more hectic than I prefer!), but fulfilling. Jennifer started full-time and handles a ton of the stuff that I don’t need to be doing but is still important. She’s AMAZING at customer service, learning quickly and managing all of the random tasks pulling her in different directions.
We also had Fincon this month (more on that in a minute), which means I took a week off and spent it in sunny San Diego, California geeking out with fellow financial bloggers (and reading Lauren Greutman’s new book The Recovering Spender poolside).
So that led me to 60 hours (20-hour workweeks) for the whole month to get Jennifer up to speed and finish up our 3rd quarter goals as we go into the fourth quarter. (Yay! Fourth quarter! BLOGGERS EVERYWHERE REJOICE!)
If you’re wondering why I post a blog income report, it’s because this journey was only made possible by other bloggers posting their blog income reports and inspiring me to give it a shot on my own. This is kind of my way of “paying it forward”. Plus, I love the fact that I work in the only industry where it’s totally normal to post your income every month.
If you are a blogger or end up being a blogger, I would love to see you post your blog income report too! You can actually link to them in the comments below.
This month was hectic but hugely fulfilling. We had a lot of big moves this month. The SEO intensive, Fincon, growing a team, but the biggest impact was EBA VIP.
I joined EBA VIP, which is a mastermind for advanced bloggers that have taken Elite Blog Academy. It came with a $2,000 price tag and in the first 2 weeks of the group, has already proven to me that it’s worth the investment by far.
The bloggers in this group are hugely motivating, knowledgeable and passionate. Ruth Soukup (from Living Well Spending Less and the creator of Elite Blog Academy) is personally involved in the group and has already helped me redefine my goals and action steps.
This set a fire in me like you wouldn't believe. I consider myself to be pretty awesome at goal setting (I took Productivity for Bloggers in the beginning of the year and it made a massive difference in the way I run the business and got me into batch blogging), but Ruth took my scattered goals and made them focused and smart.
(Fair warning though, the downside to Elite Blog Academy is that it’s only available for 5 days a year, without getting on the waiting list here– it’s unlikely you’ll even have a chance to get into the class.)
If you aren't already on the waiting list for Elite Blog Academy (which *is not* $2,000 thankfully!), then join now. This minute. Then thank me later, You can join the waiting list here (I’m hoping for it open in early 2018, but it’s not mine, so I have no control over it).
But first… About me…
I’m a full-time blogger. Less than 2 years ago, I had no idea that was an actual thing. To say the last two years have been a wild ride is the understatement of the year.
If there’s one thing that I want to pass on to you, is that I am NOT special. I’m not crazy smart. I don’t have a writing degree and I’m certainly not a grammar expert (although a free app called Grammarly certainly helps).
I just love to write and I love to help people and I’m really good at reducing our spending. So, I walk people through the baby steps that we took to completely transform our finances. I’m able to support my family making far more than I ever could in my previous career.
Want to start your own blog?
If that sounds like something you want to do, I can help you make that a reality with step-by-step instructions (for free!). You can find instructions for how to start your own blog here (even if you aren’t great with computers).
The best part? Blogging is a super cheap (almost free!) hobby that makes you money! Starting your own blog isn’t very expensive! Starting a blog that makes you money while working from home starts at about $3.45/month!
September 2016 Blog Income Report:
All in all, it was a solid month for income, considering the drop in Pageviews. I’m still trying to figure out where the drop came from.
If it was a Pinterest algorithm change or something else. When I compare last year to this year in Google Analytics for the same period (which you can do by adjusting the date and clicking “compare to” right underneath the date), I see an almost identical pattern, which is weird, because I don't remember that last year.
See what I mean in the photo below? Have you seen a similar dip in traffic in the last two weeks?
Pageviews and Income:
Pageviews: 317,084 (down from 381,745)
Income: $20,997 (down from $24,347.68)
Income Broken Down:
$500 Sponsored Posts
$3513.54 Ad Networks
(further breakdown of my strategy for each category below)
Step-by-Step Pinterest Strategy Guide
Because I’ve stopped coaching, I released my Pinterest Strategy Guide in PDF form to you. Which means that you can spend a fraction of the price that coaching costs and get my step-by-step Pinterest Strategy Guide direct to your inbox right now.
The Core Affiliate Strategy
Like the Pinterest Strategy Guide, the goal of this product is to give you easy-to-follow (and quick) action steps to completely implement the strategy that I use for affiliates. It’s only a few pages and walks you step by step through my entire strategy.
I routinely make more than 10k a month in affiliates and this is a common question that I get. You can see the strategy here.
My goals for September were:
Get back to batch blogging.
My goal was to be at least a month ahead by the end of September. Rocked it! I’m scheduled to November and working on December now!
Complete the SEO Intensive
I wanted to stay on-task and complete the SEO intensive as we outlined, which should be easy since I have the others in the group to hold me accountable. Done! We just completed the first month!
What worked this month:
**These are the things I’m currently trying. If you need the full resources of the tools that I’ve used to get me to this point, you can sign up here to get free instant access to the full list of the tools and resources that have worked for me this far. **
SEO Training: I’ve been working through a three-part SEO training, That starts with a month of foundational training of Google Analytics in skyrocket, goes into Webmaster Tools training, and then finally implements a solid SEO strategy. I’ve been thrilled with it and love their step by step action steps way of teaching.
My pages per session are up almost 5% from before we started, my average session duration is up 11.37%, and my bounce rate is down 2.2%.
I reviewed a TON of SEO courses before choosing this one, and I’m glad I did. It teaches me in a way I can understand without overloading me with info that I don’t need right now.
You can start your own SEO Intensive by grabbing a copy of Skyrocket here.
Fincon, This conference for personal finance media is AMAZING. If you write about money, you should be there. It’s an incredibly friendly, open conference where people openly talk about income, net worth and what's working and not working, There’s no celebrities (okay, there are- but they don't act like it), and everyone is warm and welcoming.
Plus, they’re the single best resource I’ve found for questions. The collective knowledge in this group of thousands in unbelievable. From underwater homes, serious investment strategies, retirement planning, right down to debt management, there's someone in Fincon that knows everything about money. And they’re happy to help.
Plus, it’s fun. And I’ll be there! You should totally come. I’m way more awkward in real life, but we’d have a blast together anyway.
What didn’t work this month:
Infusionsoft: I’m still holding out hope for this one, but they’ve been building my system for two months and I have yet to be able to even get into it. I’m starting to second guess myself. Communication on setup has been incredibly slow (like 10 days of my emails ignored) and reaching out to their HQ to problem solve left me unsatisfied. I’m still crossing my fingers that their actual service is different than the onboarding process.
Facebook: With just under 6,000 sessions a month coming from facebook, I think I’m throwing in the towel on that for a while. While I understand that facebook is too big to ignore, I can also tell you VERY clearly that if you calculate the ROI of the time I spend there, it’s not even remotely worth it.
I wish I had focused more on SEO instead of facebook in the last year, but lessons learned right?
Goals for next month:
- Complete the fourth quarter editorial calendar (extending it to January, since January is nuts for budget blogs!)
- I’m choosing topics and headlines for both Pinterest and SEO at this point, even understanding that I won’t see a payoff for my work in SEO for 9 months or longer.
- Take and implement the Dominate Webmaster Tools Course (as part of my SEO Intensive).
- This should be easy to do since I have an accountability group in the SEO intensive that keeps us on task. We separate the challenges into weeks and complete the tasks every week before our meeting.
My Income Strategy:
I earn income in three major categories with my blog. I’ll run over my strategy for each of them.
Update: The below is still true, but I’ve stopped focusing on sponsors right now, with the exception of a few brands that I want to build long term partnerships with.
I focus most of my sponsored post efforts on reaching out to brands that I use and love and offering a sponsored post package at a rate that’s a little lower than “industry standard” (which is highly debatable).
That lets me increase the “yes!” emails I get in response and ensures that I can count on making a certain amount every month on sponsored posts while still being really picky about which brands that I’ll work with. I also go through each of my brand networks (places like Tapinfluence and Clever Girls) to see if there are any assignments that would be a good fit for my blog.
In general, more pageviews equal more ad earnings. I use Adthrive (you can apply with them once you have 100,000 pageviews) and love them. My RPM (The ad revenue that I get per 1,000 pageviews) bounces between $6.40 and $11.00 depending on the season. (update: actually it’s been consistently over $10 since February of this year, which is unheard of! Go Adthrive!)
I increase my pageviews by marketing my blog content through Pinterest. I a/b tested everything on Pinterest for about 6 months until I figured out a system that works for me.
My favorite thing about Pinterest (at least with BoardBooster) is that I spent only 4 hours a month running my Pinterest Strategy. That leaves me tons of time to grow in other areas. You can get a copy of my Pinterest Strategy Guide here which teaches you my system step by step.
I focus on a core group of affiliates that I think almost everyone in my target audience should be using. Since I run a budgeting website, I factor cost into the equation. If something is a great product but is too expensive for my readers, I likely won’t add them to the core affiliates list.
Having the core list lets me easily track special sale dates that my readers shouldn’t miss and lets me focus without getting overwhelmed with the barrage of affiliate “offers” hitting my inbox daily.
To me, the key to affiliate marketing is to never ever promote anything that you haven’t used yourself and you don’t love. My philosophy is that if you only promote companies and products that you would tell your best friend about enthusiastically, then you’re doing it right. You can get the step-by-step action steps needed to implement my Core Affiliate Strategy here.
If you want to see my full list of blogging resources that I use, you can find them here.
Need a step by step guide on how to start a blog? You can find one by clicking here (you don’t even need to be great with computers!).