Well, I’m back into the swing of things. I had experienced a couple of months of being overwhelmed by a new job I landed in October. The job has provided an intense learning curve with lots to understand about the business. I was coming home absolutely frazzled and so I wasn’t able to give my blog (and extra income efforts) the attention I needed. Since I raised my income by 15% by taking the job it was a sensible choice to let slip on the blog and put my energies and focus on getting up to speed at work.
After this struggle in October and November, I was committed to bringing things back up to speed in December. My traffic had “suffered” ever so slightly in that things leveled off in October and dipped a little in November. Income levels remained optimistic. However, I was aiming to achieve a consistent level of monthly traffic growth and I was quietly disheartened. It was time to get back to work and make that happen and this month I have! Keep reading for the details, but first, if you’re new to my blog:
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.
December 2016 Online Income & Traffic Report
Her last month’s goals, crossed out items are ones that I’ve achieved:
4 new posts published 1 guest post published 20,000 page views 4,300 Pinterest Followers Mailing list increased to 3,000 subscribers Solidify monetization / blog plan Start working on a product
I have to say I’m so pumped I’ve crossed everything off that list!
I fleshed out my blog plan and I’ve refactored my content calendar. I’ve decided on the direction I want to take the blog, how I want to monetize and how I want to build some extra income. I come from a software development and marketing background. In the last 5 years, I’ve worked in product management within innovation teams. The most important consideration in such a role is to ensure you’re guided by what the market or the customer wants rather than what you think they want. As such my plan is not set in stone.
I’ve opted to work in 90-day sprints, which allow me four quarters a year in which I’ll thoroughly reassess my progress and my goals. I’ve got an overarching goal for the year broken down into the high-level goals for each quarter so that I have a longer term direction. But this direction is open to changing course, a change that will only be dictated by a thorough analysis of a number of factors.
My first 90 days is mapped out in more detail. I break these goals out into monthly and weekly targets. This makes eating the elephant easier, so to speak.
As for my product. I know what I want to create, but right now I have an assumption it will work. I don’t have the time to get it wrong so I’ve got a number of ways that I will test this out. I’ll save how I’m going to do this for another month.
In respect of the guest post. I did a guest post swap with another personal finance blogger. I will be publishing her post next month, my post is yet to be published on her site also. I’ve considered that ticked off my task list.
My other goals were related to getting into a consistent posting rhythm as well bringing traffic levels back up to where they were in September.
Let’s get onto the usual sections:
Growth Hacking Social Media
This month I wanted to reach 4,300 followers. hit 4733 followers, a whopping increase of 695!
I made some tweaks and changes with the help of Boardbooster. This started with using their reports to identify when the best time was to post to individual boards. I then went into the looping feature in Boardbooster and adjusted my looping times guided by the reports. I also adjusted looping rates on a number of boards.
In addition, I also created multiple images for more recent posts. I mentioned last month that I needed to get back to optimizing pin images. I figured it made sense to create multiple pins from the outset to try to appeal to different audiences.
I finally created a couple of pin templates which means I can batch create pins based on these templates. This makes the process of creating new pins faster but should also make my pins more recognizable in Pinterest. The results of all the above have been impressive if I do say so myself:
An improvement of over 135% in impressions of pins from my site appearing in people’s feeds. Click through rates followed the same trend:
I continue to use BoardBooster to automate a lot of the work. It saves me heaps of time and using a combination of analytics and reports I’ve been able to fine tune some of the performance which has led not only to the massive increase in exposure and click through rates of my pins but also my follower growth. I can’t recommend it enough.
I still haven’t got around to using Tailwind yet but this is likely a purchase for this month since I’ve finished paying for a course I signed up too on a payment plan last year. I’m really looking forward to using Tailwind, I hear so many positive things about it and having tried the free trial earlier in the year I can see the benefit to it working alongside Boardbooster.
I’ve done nothing with Twitter again this month. Followers have decreased by 13 to 3652.
I said last month I was going to ease my focus on Twitter for a short time. This is likely to continue for a few months.
Site traffic has been awesome. I think posting new content with regularity has helped and this gives me the motivation to ensure I continue that trend. You may recall in September I fell just shy of hitting 20,000 page views. Well, this month I managed to tip over that milestone. It felt so awesome to see figures surpass 20,000 by midday on New Year’s Eve!
I have even more cause for feeling proud of that milestone which I’ll tell you about in a moment. First, here are the usual stats:
You’ll see two very large dips in the blue line on the graph.
Twice this month I experienced my site going down for at least a 24 hour period at a time.
I wasn’t happy.
It turns out I had memory problems on the server I’m hosting on. These problems were isolated to my site suggesting a plugin was creating a problem with memory usage.
I currently host with Everleap, they are a cloud-based solution that’s pretty expensive. I host with them because I’ve used this company for over a decade for all my websites. They are normally flawless and the customer service is second to none, but you certainly pay a premium. If you are getting started with blogging I recommend to use Bluehost in my tutorial on how to start a blog.
I have to say, I considered switching to Bluehost the second time my site went down. It was only because Everleap tech support are so amazing and investigated the issue to try to identify the cause, despite me fixing it, that I chose to stay. If it happens again, I will.
I was able to fix the issue on my own. I won’t get technical on how I fixed it, but I have yet to fully understand what caused the issue in order to prevent it happening again. It does appear to have been a plugin. I’ve disabled plugins that I’m not using, and so far so good.
I also need to put triggers in place to notify me if the site ever goes down again.
I estimate I lost between 2000 and 4000 pageviews as a result. Put that alongside the 20,376 page views I racked up this month and I would have had an incredible month of growth!
Mailing List Growth
And with all the traffic comes mailing list growth because I’m still reaping the benefit of work I did in prior months to optimize my opt in boxes!
I’ve grown by 555 subscribers to 3248 by the end of the month.
That’s a little less growth than last month, but then I have to account for at least 48 hours of downtime. My ConvertKit dashboard tells me I’m growing my list by 500 subscribers every 30 days. That’s a really good result.
However, I’m not leveraging that list as much as I should be. This will be a goal to rectify this month. I was getting a good degree of return traffic from my list before I switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit. Since the switch, I’ve gotten lazy. This is because ConvertKit’s RSS to email is not as flexible as MailChimp’s offering. RSS to email is basically the ability for me to set up an email template that sends whenever I create a new post. I can do this on ConvertKit but
RSS to email allows me to create an email template that gets sent out to subscribers whenever I create a new post. The template populates with the blog url and headline. On MailChimp I could set and forget. I can do this on ConvertKit but I have the choice to either send once a week, including links to each post or sending ever time I post but it imports the post (and makes a mess of it).
I can do this on ConvertKit but it’s a little more limited. I have the choice to either send a single email once a week which would include a list of the posts I’ve created in that week or send an email out ever time I publish a post (as I used to do) but I have to import all the content from the post (and ConvertKit makes a bloody mess of doing so).
My third option is to write and send an email myself every time I create a post. Like I said, I’ve been lazy and I’m all for automating tasks like this.
So I’m still on this branding task. I was going to let it drop but I progressed some elements myself. As I mentioned earlier I managed to lock in a template for Pinterest pins. This template factors in the colour palette I had chosen as well as fonts. This task will evolve. I’m still aware of the feedback I received from some free user testing whereby my header (which I wasn’t happy with because I wanted it to be more clean and professional) comes across as authentic and instills trust. It’s ironic because when I originally chose the font for my header I wanted it to be rough and unclean to symbolize this site being “a project”.
I think I need to trust my gut more!
Income has been positive. I earned my first affiliate income outside of Bluehost. I did this through Tailwind. I also spent some time optimizing ads in Google Adsense which had phenomenal results. I managed to double the income for Google Adsense based on previous months with the same traffic. Here is my income this month:
I finished paying for the course I took which was on a payment plan. This was costing me $97 a month (and worth it). It’s a relief to have finished paying for that, especially since I moved up a pricing tier on ConvertKit a couple of months back.
There are some additional tools that I do intend to purchase sometime soon. Tailwind is absolutely the first one. I also want to start using a keyword rank tracker for SEO. I’ve been optimizing content for SEO for some time using a number of tools to help find long tail keywords or keywords with low competition, I have no way tracking my progress in order to make strategic modifications. I’ve already got my key focus for the next 90 days and that’s primarily on Pinterest traffic and product, so I’ll continue as I am in this respect, for now.
Here are my expenses for this month:
So, this month I’m back in the black with a $20.29 profit!
Yeah, it’s not huge. But it’s moving in the right direction I can tell you.
The core thing for me is I have a plan, direction, and focus. What I’m aiming to achieve, I’m achieving. I promised you these income reports would give you the reality of starting and making an extra income from a blog, particularly if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands and I’m doing that.
The benefit to you is that you can learn some of the lessons from me (or ask me for help) so that you can shortcut your way to success.
Next Month’s Goals
For next month I’m stretching a little. I need to be cautious. I’m back at work and I have another wave of personal challenges coming up in January and February. I’m planning to tell you about one of those soon, I’ve already started a post. I’m stretching for 30,000 page views next month. The reason for this is I want to get access to a premium ad network and they require at least 30,000 page views in the last 30 days.
- 4 new posts published
- 30,000 page views
- 5,500 Pinterest Followers
- Optimize and enhance some old pins on Pinterest
- Mailing list increased to 4,000 subscribers
- Continue working on a product
How do you think I’m going so far?