I’ve had a pretty good month in terms of the progress that I wanted to make. Traffic has not been such a good story this month but, relatively, income is.
In February and March I reported a decline in traffic. I was woefully aware of the downward trend. Back in January I was hitting 40,000 page views. In February I wasn’t too concerned that it was down to 20,000. I thought it was returning to similar values to the previous couple of months and that January was an anomaly based on an article of mine that when somewhat viral on Pinterest. I just couldn’t ignore things when traffic dropped to 16,500 in March.
In the last couple of months I haven’t paid as much attention to traffic generating activities as I should have. Things like posting articles regularly and promoting on social media. Instead I have been focusing on some of the essential technical and income related activities.
The difficulty I’ve been faced with over the last year is lack of time. I’ve really had to choose carefully what I work on when I find the time to work on the blog. This month I’ve had a little more time available and the benefit of this is visible to me in the progress I’ve been making toward my bigger goals. I’m hoping this will pay off down the line.
Based on the website traffic trends in the last couple of months, I have no doubt that traffic would have declined further if I hadn’t put in the work in certain areas this month. It was critical that I put work into ensuring I delivered new posts and started to engage with my mailing list again.
The outcome is that traffic has levelled off. You’ll see as you read on where the trajectory was heading and what happened when I started working on it.
My concern is that next month I have a bunch of important things to deal with and so I’m going to be extremely limited in time. Still, I want to protect my progress at all costs, so I have my thinking cap on already to figure out how I’ll manage this.
So, onto the details of how this month panned out, but first, the usual blurb for all the lovely folks who have never read one of my traffic and income reports before:
Why I’m Publishing Monthly Income Reports
If you want to know why I’m publishing my income reports then your best starting point is my income reports page. The aim of this blog is to teach people to be better with their finances and help them find ways to earn more.
I write these monthly reports in the hope they will motivate, inspire and encourage readers like you to start earning extra income online. By following what works and what doesn’t work with my blog I also hope to be able to shortcut you to your own success.
If you’re wondering how you can start your own blog then take a look at his post. I’ll show you that it takes as little as 10 minutes to get setup and less than a price of a coffee each month to keep it running. I host my blog with Bluehost. If you click this link you can set up a blog for just $3.95 per month and you’ll get a free domain name for a year.
My online income reports detail my activities for the month. I share what I’m doing, what’s working, what’s not working and how much I’m earning. It’s a journey, I hope you will follow along. Please sign up to my mailing list to keep up to date on my progress.
April 2017 Online Income & Traffic Report
Here were my goals for last month, the items that are struck out are the goals that I achieved:
- 20,000 page views
Content survey sent out to mailing list RPM to $9 4 blog posts
Yes! I finally managed to stick to a posting schedule!
Here are the articles I published this month:
- How to Use the Envelope System for Budgeting
- March 2017 Online Income & Traffic Report
- Why a Monthly Budget Sucks and How to Fix It
- How I Saved $1,000 Negotiating My Utility Bills
Arguably I didn’t get a new post out on the same day each week but I did manage to get 4 posts out this month.
I’m expecting that will be a challenge next month but I’m aiming for the same goal. I’m desperately trying to form a good habit.
I’m over the moon with achieving my income goals. I pushed beyond $9 RPM. I’ll leave the explanation of that to my income section below.
I’m also delighted that I got my survey email out to my mailing list. I had a superb response and the results were really insightful and helpful. Now I need to take this feedback and take this blog forward. If you are on my mailing list and completed the survey, thank you!
So, let’s dig into the usual details…
So my social media strategy is still limited to Pinterest and I have to say I’m a little concerned this month. I find myself in analytical mode trying to figure out what has changed. Just this morning I’m a little more appeased after posting in a Facebook group of bloggers and reading around. It seems a few bloggers are noticing a reduction in traffic from Pinterest.
In the past couple of months, Pinterest has updated its mobile app.
I don’t like the update.
They’ve changed things in the app that were really important.
I hate it when UX designers feel a need to mess with something that isn’t broken. I see it too often in my day job!
Pinterest has hidden all text on a pin from a user’s feed so now you only see the image. I think this has a number of negative effects for general user experience and search. Seeing the title text of a pin and details of the user who shared the pin is just as much an information driver for me to determine whether I’d click a pin and read the article as is the image.
They have also removed the label that showed the number of repins from each pin. This was critical information for me.
But if I am to solely put my growth hacker hat on, this change makes it harder for me to see how popular pins are without having to open the pin and scroll down to see the details.
This was a part of my strategy for my boards. To only share content that was above a certain threshold of repins. I saw these metrics as an indicator of popular pins and therefore would contribute to the potency of my boards. Now I don’t have that I’m left to determine the clickability of the pin based on the quality of the artwork on a pin.
I’ve also noticed the app no longer makes recommendations of people and boards to follow as you interact with pins. I think this was a key driver of growing your follower base and is a massively foolish feature for Pinterest to have removed.
Fortunately, I’ve found a workaround which leads me to some other news this month.
I finally purchased Tailwind!
I tried Tailwind several months ago using their free trial and I loved it. But, I didn’t really have the budget to pay $120 for the full year.
If you click my Tailwind link right here you’ll get a month’s free trial. Go check it out!
I could have paid $15 a month, but paying yearly means you get 4 months free and you get to schedule unlimited pins as opposed to 400 a month.
So, I continued to solely use Board Booster for automating the majority of my Pinterest promotional activities.
Now, theoretically, I purchased Tailwind at the start of May, so I shouldn’t really be telling you about this in my April income report, but it’s made life much easier already.
I’ve been able to find awesome pins to share on my boards (and other group boards). I’ve also scheduled all these in for the next month. The best bit is it took me about 15 minutes to do that, even as a new user!
Outside of the super easy scheduling capability, the ultimate benefit to me with Tailwind, in the face of the Pinterest app changes, is that I can see the share counts of pins in their search console. This means I can continue with my strategy of only sharing content that appears to already have some social validation of value.
Tailwind also has a new Tribes feature, which is effectively groups of people helping each other share their content. I’ve had some success both in finding pins worth sharing and sharing my pins.
Still, I’m really in the first few days of using it so next month I’ll be able to determine if it demonstrates any lift in traffic.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve kept on using Board Booster. I find this tool invaluable.
It works hand in hand with Tailwind. Tailwind is much easier for finding pins and creating a schedule. Board Booster’s ultimate power is in it’s looping feature. I also use Board Booster for sharing out my pins to a number of boards on a schedule when I first publish posts. Think of it like pushing a snowball down a mountain, that’s what Board Booster helps with!
Given that I’ve now got Tailwind I will reduce my Board Booster subscription down to $10 a month. I think $20 a month is beyond my needs right now.
If I reduce this cost the savings will pay for Tailwind over the course of the year. Time will tell if this is worth it.
I increased to the $20 a month plan last month, from $15 a month.
I have to say, I have been wondering if the increase in activity in using Board Booster is a driver behind the reduction in referring traffic from Pinterest. It’s not the first time I’ve seen an automation tool impact my results. Back in September I stumbled using another automation platform but was fortunate in responding to that more quickly and bouncing back quickly as a result. I think a reduction in activity with Board Booster will be interesting to watch.
Naturally, I’ll let you know how it unravels.
So, what of my stats on Pinterest:
The graph above shows the number of impressions that pins pointing to my site receive. You can see that mid month I started to bolster my Pinterest activities again. It’s so nice to be able to look back and see that the effort you put in pays off.
I realized that I haven’t been sharing out my pins to group boards with the same commitment that I used too. So I began using Board Booster. I also used to do a fair amount of browsing and sharing of other pins to boards when I was either in bed, on the bus or generally stuck somewhere with nothing else to do. In the last six weeks, I’ve been using this time to spend short blocks of time to write new posts, but I’ve certainly put a little more effort into reigniting these easy to perform activities and, as you can see, it’s been worth it.
I’m a long way off returning to the same levels as I was experiencing in January. If you check out that post I was benefiting from over 800 clicks a day to my site, on average, from Pinterest. This month is marginally lower than last month, coming in with an average of 315 clicks a day
From this graph, you can see, again, where the work was put in and the results that have come out the other end as a result. The horrifically downward trend in the first half of the month could have been devastating if it continued. Thank goodness the work I put in saved my average, and arguably my overall traffic levels.
If I can keep this upward trend I hope to see some lift in traffic from Pinterest next month.
A couple of months ago I tinkered with some of the campaigns, looping, and scheduling that I did in Board Booster. This may also be a factor in why I’m seeing a downward change. I’ll try to modify these back to where they were to see if I can return to better results.
This trial and error is really part and parcel of running any business. You have to figure out what works and what doesn’t and continual test to see if you can make changes. Unfortunately, I’ve not responded to this downward change fast enough this time.
In terms of follower growth. I’m still on a positive trend. Board Booster tells me the rate of growth has slowed. I forgot to report the number of followers last month but I believe it was hovering just under 7000 followers, by April month end I was hitting around 7500. I’ve normally increased followers by about 700-1000 per month, so this has slowed.
I had 15,722 page views this month which isn’t bad, but it’s still a little less than I achieved in April. As I pointed out with the decline in Pinterest traffic, this could have been worse, but then it could also have been better.
You can expect from looking at the Pinterest charts that site traffic has been turbulent but it’s not been so bad.
As you can see from the chart above there was a moderate slump in the middle of the month and activity picked up toward the second half.
The slump from Pinterest was picked up by other channels. For example, I’ve been emailing out to my mailing list more consistently this month which has driven traffic back to my site. I’m also getting more traffic these days from organic search and backlinks from other sites (SEO).
If I take the 30 day period in April and compare it to the previous 30 days social traffic (largely Pinterest) decreased by 20%.
Direct traffic increased by 55% and email traffic increased 228%.
I’m particularly pleased with the direct traffic increase. That’s people who are revisiting my website who have been here before which implies, amongst other things, that people are finding value in what I write about enough to keep returning.
Email, whilst it’s taken a worthwhile boost, is no surprise. I’m mentioned last month I was not leveraging my list enough.
Mailing List Growth
My mailing list growth has continued consistently. In fact, when I created my cash envelope template last month I had a notable boost in subscriptions after mailing out to my list which seems really odd.
I can’t explain why my subscribers increased so much when it ultimately went out to people who were already on my list.
Maybe they passed it onto friends and family?
Other than that my list has increased by 1054 subscribers this month!
That’s the best month of growth I’ve ever had.
Now that’s net growth! I had 1241 people subscribe to my list, but as I’ve sent out mailings this month I’ve had people unsubscribe.
I actually had 1241 people subscribe to my list, but as I’ve sent out mailings this month I’ve had people unsubscribe.
1054 is not bad considering traffic was so low!
Why has that happened to cause this?
Well, I’d say the increase has been down to two things:
Firstly, the new content upgrade of giving away a cash envelope template. It’s not been as helpful as I’d thought, but it has done ok.
Secondly, and most importantly, I’ve spent some more time (note not a massive amount) tweaking my opt-in boxes. These boxes encourage people to sign up to my mailing list.
It’s been going very well.
I’ve had one day where my welcome mat converted at 11.52% which is an INSANE conversion rate. Unfortunately, that’s not consistently. That particular form is converting around 3.7% over the month. I think I can do better there.
I have a pop up currently converting at 6.2% this month, which is also pretty epic. But last week that same pop -up converted at 7.2% which is hopefully a sign my tweaks are creating improvements.
To give you an idea, a good opt-in rate is normally around 3-5%.
It’s the power of A/B testing folks! If you’re running a blog and you’re not making these tweaks, you’re daft!
What’s important to note is that my traffic has dropped in the last couple of months. Two months ago I was at 40,000 page views. This month I’ve hit only 15,000. Yet, I’ve just had the biggest growth of my mailing ever. And, as they say, the money is in the list.
The problem I now have is I need to start monetizing my list.
I have taken steps to do that. I’ve been emailing my list more this month and the big win for me is that I got my survey email out.
This email asked my subscribers to fill in a short survey. The results will help me evaluate what topics I should write about more but will also help the direction of the product I’m working on.
The results were awesome! If you filled in the survey I’m very grateful, thank you.
Income has been good this month. Switching over from Google Adsense to Mediavine continues to prove to be a good move. My revenue per mille (RPM) or revenue per 1000 pageviews continues to increase. This month I made $170.68. Here’s the breakdown:
- Google AdSense – $11.54
- MediaVine – $148.64
- $5 Meal Plan – $10.50
Whilst this isn’t huge it’s becoming very consistent. If can increase traffic then I expect ad revenue to increase proportionately. Theoretically, I’m getting about 1 cent for every page view so if I can return to 40,000 page views I could be looking at $400 a month!
From there I could invest in other tools that I know of that could further increase my reach, or I can sit and take in the profit for a while.
My RPM this month is a very attractive $10.86.
That’s another personal best!
RPM is my revenue achieved per 1,000 page views.
On expenses, I mentioned earlier that I purchased Tailwind. That will be an expense in May, which is why it’s not listed here.
I’m expecting ConvertKit to stay at $99 for some time. I still haven’t culled my list so I could potentially get that cost down $20 or so for a couple of months.
I’ll certainly be reducing my expenses with Board Booster by next month, that’s not to say that I don’t recommend the tool any longer.
No, this tool is a Godsend!
If you’re just starting out with a blog and you can invest $5 a month you should invest it in Board Booster for sure. But, I want to see if I’m getting flagged as an over zealous self-promoter on Pinterest by using automation tools too avidly. This just means stepping off the gas a little.
By using Tailwind at the same time I can approach the problem from two different directions.
All up I cut a profit of $61.68 this month.
It’s ok. It’s nice to be cutting a profit at least.
It has been a pretty good month in terms of income and mailing list growth. I have a few things to figure out in respect of Pinterest. I’m hopeful that Tailwind will provide some benefit also.
I’m pretty proud of the fact that I stuck to my publishing goals this month. That wasn’t easy. I’m still very starved for time and writing, for me, takes quite some time. I’ve been taking advantage of the bus journey home to make progress.
Next month, however, I’m back into some personal challenges that will sap my time and energy.
The most satisfying achievements this month are my mailing list growth, that’s largely due to the tweaks I’ve been making. What is gratifying about this is that I spent a minimal amount of time for some decent gains. I’ll continue to do this next month, simply because it’s enjoyable.
Next Month’s Goals
So, here are next month’s goals for the blog:
- 20,000 page views
- RPM to $11
- 3 new posts
- Back to working on a product
I’m also working on something else that will provide some extra income. It’s really exciting but it’s early days and will require a fair bit of work. Because I’m expecting to be constrained on time this month I’m not so sure how achievable it will be to gain an income in May. I’ll see where I end up and I might find myself in a position to at least tell you about it next month.
In the meantime let me know how you think I’m doing in the comments. I do really love to hear your feedback, advice or thoughts.