I’ve had a great month this month with some awesome progress in traffic but more importantly my A/B testing on opt-in boxes for my mailing list is really paying off!
But first, for those of you who are new to the site:
Why I’m publishing monthly income reports
Want to know why I’m publishing my income reports? Start at my income reports page.
I’m hopeful these reports will motivate, inspire and encourage readers like you to start being sensible with your cash. The aim of the blog is to help you find ways to get out of debt or earn extra income.
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.
If you are looking to generate your own income online and want to start your own blog I strongly suggest you check out this post which will show you how easy it is to get set up a blog of your own.
Here are this month’s details:
August 2016 Online Income & Traffic Report
I set the following goals last month. I have struck out the goals that I’ve achieved:
Look at branding(ongoing) Publish a minimum of 1 post a week 3200 Sessions 2400 Users 6400 Page Views 1700 Pinterest followers
- 3500 Twitter followers (so close)
- 150 Facebook fans
Work on monetization plan
I’ve still been short on time this month. Thank goodness I kept my publishing schedule down to one a week because that has helped incredibly! It has taken the pressure off posting in the last couple of months and I found this month, with a little more time on my hands, I’ve been able to put some effort into promoting posts more.
In addition, I’ve also been keeping my eyes open on what has been working on my blog and making some tweaks here and there.
This very much follows on from the A/B testing I was doing last month on my opt-in boxes for my mailing list. That too has continued this month and is paying off big time.
I’ve been frighteningly busy with work this month. I’ve got so much going on in that space it’s not funny. Consequently, I didn’t have as much time on my hands as I’d hoped. I was also ill last week, which was a bit of kicker.
I’d hoped to get ahead of my publishing schedule by writing a few articles for the pipeline last week but that was going to be impossible.
I did have small pockets of time a couple of weeks prior. During those weeks I applied the same “stand back and observe” strategy to Pinterest because, hey, why not!
Making improvements to conversion funnels and click through rates is proving to be a far better use of short periods of time than trying to write more posts. I’ll explain about that in my Pinterest section, which is a cracker this month!
I’ve been spending some time looking at ways to monetise my site and I have some firm thoughts on how I’m going to achieve that. I’ve set out a plan which runs until Christmas. It does, however, need some further thinking through because it’s going to require a fair bit of work to pull off and I’m mindful of the lack of time I’ve been experiencing. I don’t want to set myself up for failure.
I also looked at my branding. Since I completed my About Me page last month I feel I have the nucleus of the site in place. I now want to clean up the design because I want it to look a little more polished and professional. I have been in discussion with a designer from India who’s portfolio I saw on the Behance network some time ago. He’s hopefully going to help me with some elements of the design and put together some brand guidelines for me. I am extremely limited by funds, which is why I looked to use an offshore designer.
I need to get my branding cleaned up if I’m going to monetize my site and take it in the direction I have planned.
In terms of monetization, I’ve been thinking of a number of options for this site. But, I’ve also been pondering setting up a separate site for me as well as considering starting a separate niche site, potentially an Amazon niche site.
I’ve done online marketing and web development since 1999. I have a lot of knowledge and The Extra Income Project is teaching me so much about areas I didn’t know, like Twitter and Pinterest. I did consider I’d want to share tips and tricks on this blog but for some reason, it doesn’t seem to fit. If I set a separate blog to represent me I can write specifically about these topics and at least link to these in my income reports.
The traffic that visits this site is very focused on finance, debt, money management and earning extra money. To have posted about Pinterest tips, SEO and how to do A/B testing just doesn’t seem a natural fit. It would be easy to set up a separate site for this. What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments.
As for the Amazon niche site. That’s really borne from some niche research I’ve been doing over the last couple of months and I’m really keen to have a play around with affiliate marketing. I’m not sure I have the time for this though so it’ll take some thinking about.
Ok, enough of the chin wagging. You’re probably chomping at the bit for the successes and failures this month.
This month I published the following articles:
- July 2016 Online Income & Traffic Report
- How to Budget Your Money With The 50/20/30 Rule
- 7 Steps to Budgeting Like a Rockstar
- How to Get a Pay Rise at Work The Right Way – Part 1
Growth Hacking Social Media
I’ve had some great wins on Pinterest this month. First off my follower growth is snowballing.
I had hoped to hit 1700 followers instead my follower count climbed to an impressive 1927.
I largely attribute this to Board Booster and the tips I gained from Melyssa Griffin’s course that I started on a few months back. I had to upgrade to the next tier of pricing in Board Booster this month as I was using over my limit and this month they imposed daily limits on me to keep me in line with the price tier I was on until I upgraded.
The second success I had was a pin going a little viral.
When I say viral this pin had a minor explosion, or should I say it out-performed all of my other pins by a long way. I took a good look at Pinterest Analytics to decide on the topic for the article initially. I had planned on writing about the 50/20/30 budgeting rule at some point but some research helped me determine that it was a good option. Pinterest Analytics is a treasure trove of information on what your audience is interested in. I started there and decided this budgeting topic would fair well and would be in keeping with my content schedule.
Once I had the article written I moved onto the most important element for Pinterest; design. Pinterest user behaviour is largely driven by design because it’s a visual search engine. I wanted to see if changing my approach to designing pins would make a difference. I have generally used photos as my backgrounds and wanted to try something a little bit different as a test.
I took a good look at pins that were doing really well on Pinterest. These weren’t necessarily pins that were related to the exact topic I’d written about but the broader topic of budgeting and paying off debt.
I selected one particular pin that was constantly turning up in my feed which stood out to me. It was clean, clear to read and it had a complimentary palette that grabbed attention. When I considered the design of this pin I realised that it was really easy to read. I had also noticed some of my pins that were doing better than others were, perhaps, more easy to read. My plan was to take guidance from this design rather than copy it and so I came up with a simple design that was really easy to read. See it here.
To put some context on how well it did, prior to this being pinned, my best pin over 6 months has had around 150 repins.
I thought that was good.
The new pin design for my 50/20/30 article got repinned over 600 times in just 2 weeks! And it’s still going strong.
After just a week it was going nuts, I think it had repinned 450 times in a week, I decided to test the theory.
You’ll probably also remember that I’ve been A/B testing quite a bit on my site well, I decided to do it on Pinterest to test my theory. I took my previous most popular pin and redesigned it:
I followed the clean and clear design. I used a colour that stood out and was appealing to the Pinterest audience (based on other popular pins) and I added a footnote that this article gave away a content upgrade in the form of my free budget spreadsheet. This is a tip I have taken from Melyssa Griffin’s course.
It took me about 15 minutes to put together this redesign. The results:
In just a week this pin has been repinned 199 times!
The original is at 257 repins and it’s been up about 6 months.
That’s got to be the best 15 minutes I’ve spent on this blog to date!
Better still, it’s bringing traffic to my site AND I’m getting improved opt-in rates on my mailing list. Whilst it’s only been active a week you can see the improvement in traffic to this article:
I designed the pin and uploaded it to my Pinterest boards on Sunday 28th August.
Here’s the improvement in impressions of pins from my website on Pinterest, according to Pinterest Analytics:
And here’s the number of clicks back to my site from my pins:
The lesson of the month my friends, spending time on tweaking your pin designs can produce epic results!
Twitter has continued on an upward trend. I increased my followers by 1,128 from 2,297 to 3,425.
According to Google Analytics Twitter has been a little lame with traffic this month both in numbers and engagement.
I’m understanding how to increase followers on the platform but it’s quite hard work. I’m not sure how much effort I’ll put into this platform long term.
If you’re curious or nosey and want to keep an eye on some testing I’ll be doing with pins this month I suggest you follow my pin board here. Feel free to comment on pins if you see multiple versions and prefer one over the other. I’ll love you forever if you repin your favourites too!
This is probably the worst area of progress this month. Last month I had 104 followers, this month I have 113. I’m just not putting any effort into Facebook at all. I’m keen to give it some effort but I need a plan and more time and I don’t have much of the latter as you know. With a return on effort being proven elsewhere, Facebook is going to take a backseat for a bit longer.
Let’s move along swiftly…
Ok, a big win here.
My traffic goals were to get the following:
- 3200 Sessions
- 2400 Users
- 6400 Page Views
Yes I know, if you’ve learnt anything from me last month you’re going to point out that these are just vanity metrics. I’m not averse to having my vanity stroked a little in regard to traffic numbers, especially when my ability to get into certain ad network program depends on hitting a certain level. This month I achieved the following:
- 5596 Sessions
- 4724 Users
- 7597 Page Views
Check out my Google Analytics dashboard:
The bigger wins are that I increased my return users slightly and I’ve vastly increased my average session duration times. I did this by going back through old posts and linking to more recent posts.
You’ll also note that I reduced my bounce rate quite a lot. This will improve again next month.
I did this by defining events in Google Analytics so that it more accurately records what I consider to be a non-bounce. A user can hit your site and read an article fully then navigate away, Google will define this as a bounce. I don’t necessarily feel that is correct. If someone stays on my site long enough to read an article I think that’s a success. So, I defined events to fire when a user has been on my site for a set period of time. This is reducing down my bounce rates. I only changed it mid month so it’s going to skew results a little over the next couple of months.
I’ve also been working on some SEO optimisations on older posts based on information from Search Console, which now resides in GA also. I’ve not had a lot of time on this and I don’t have access to some of the tools that could really help me track improvements as yet.
Mailing List Growth
Now onto what I consider to be the most successful part of my month. As if it wasn’t good enough already!
My mailing list has been reaping the improvements of A/B testing. Last month I told you I’d purchased SumoMe. This was a good move!
I was also using Rapidology (a free version of LeadPages, by LeadPages) to create opt-in boxes on my site. I’ve been A/B testing the crap out of SumoMe and Rapidology and have improved conversions from around 1% to between 4 and 6% consistently.
At the start of the month, I removed the double opt-in requirement on my mailing list because I thought the two-step process to getting to my content giveaway was a bad user experience. There are pros and cons to doing this. I’ve increased my opt-in rate but my click through rates on my emails have dropped. Still, I consider it has been worth it.
I’ve seen opt-in rates go from 1-2 subscribers a day to around 5-6. In fact, MailChimp is telling me I’m getting more like 11 a day in the last few days. My best day received 19 subscribers.
I’ve increased my mailing list by 137 subscribers this month from 162. That’s almost double!
I’m beyond happy with that! Here’s the chart showing progress over several months:
This has been achieved with a combination of optimizing opt-in boxes and optimising pins to drive more traffic. It’s all part and parcel of a well-optimised funnel and it’s an exercise any website owner should constantly monitor and revisit.
What I do need to be doing is more effectively measuring conversions in Google Analytics. I can be doing this better since removing double opt-in and I’ve been a little lazy in not doing so.
So the successes I’ve experienced haven’t really equated to income, surprisingly even with AdSense. I did, however, remove one of three ads in my sidebar because it looked cluttered. I probably need to learn a little more about optimising ads on my site and may very well step through the Google training to understand that a little more.
I’ll reiterate, monetization has not been my top goal since I started. Yes, I do want to be earning an income, but growing an audience has been the number one goal. Building a mailing list has been my top priority.
This month contains some affiliate income as well as the usual dribble of AdSense revenue.
- BlueHost affiliate income – $75.00
- Google Adsense – $10.40
Total income: $85.40
Expenses are similar to last month:
Total expenses: $123.28
Overall it pains me to say that I’m still on a marginal deficit of $34.88. It’s time to start sorting this out. The monetization plans I’ve been working on don’t focus on increasing this figure with haste next month but I’m quite keen to purchase some additional tools to help make my life a little easier and I can’t do that without the cash flow. I can’t afford to be ploughing any of my own money into this at the moment.
Next Month’s Goals
Here are the metrics and tasks I want to focus on next month:
- Continue with branding efforts
- Publish a minimum of 1.5 posts a week – I’m aiming for 6 posts next month
- 8,950 Sessions
- 7,560 Users
- 12,150 Page Views
- 2,500 Pinterest followers
- 4,000 Twitter followers
- 150 Facebook fans
- Mailing list increased to 500 subscribers
- Optimise more pins to try to increase traffic and do some testing for brand design
- Fix up goal conversion metrics on GA to give more accurate reporting on actual conversion rates to mailing list
- Working toward monetization
That’s quite a lot to do really. I have noticed having goals has really driven me forward. In particular last month, I broke down my monthly traffic goals into daily chunks.
If I had a bad day I would put a bit more effort in trying to make up the shortfall by doing a little more promotion on Twitter or in Facebook groups.
I think that helped a lot.
This month will be a test on those traffic goals, though. I’ve been aiming for 60% improvement month on month. Clearly, I knocked that out of the park this month but climbing over 10,000 page views will seem like a milestone.
How do you think I’m doing? Do you guys have any tips or stories to share of your own successes?