What an interesting month February has been!
Why I’m publishing monthly income reports
If you’re new to my blog, and particularly my income and traffic reports, this is my second official month of blogging.
There are a number of people who make a living from blogging and many publish online monthly income reports. I find these incredibly inspiring.
Undoubtedly, these bloggers did the hard yards before generating an income worth writing about, but very few, if any, created reports from day one.
I wanted to start income and traffic reports from the outset of my blog to document my journey, present an accurate picture of what it takes to earn an income from a blog and most importantly help others learn how they can earn extra money from blogging or other online means.
Consequently I am sharing with you exactly what I am doing each month to build traffic and eventually earn an income online.
If you sign up to my mailing list using the subscription box on the right I’ll keep you posted when I publish every new post. My income reports will be monthly but there will be other tips along the way each month.
My blogging journey
I’m in a pickle with my finances at the moment, for a number of reasons. This blog is ultimately documenting my journey out of debt and so before we get to the “how to” and “doing” of earning extra money I’ll be also focusing on a number of other factors such as budgeting, frugal living and methods of paying off debt.
I see the two sets of goals, earning extra income and paying off debt, going hand in hand. But, I’m a believer that when you are in a sinking ship you should plug the holes first.
It’s not going to be easy. I know one thing for sure, this is going to be one hell of an interesting journey, I’d love it if you followed along and it’d be awesome if you made money or paid off debt because of what you learn on here.
So, without further ado…
February 2016 Online Income & Traffic Report
If you read my online income report for January you will know that I didn’t earn any extra money. It was hardly surprising given the first month was spent setting up the essentials of a blog.
I set myself a number of goals for this month which included:
- Work on a business plan
- Work on a content plan
- Publish more consistently, ideally a minimum of 2 posts a week
- Get up to 1000 followers on Pinterest
- Get up to 100 follower on Facebook
- Get 1000 sessions on my blog
So how did I do?
I started work on my business plan.
I want to make money from my blog and I’ve learnt from running businesses before that getting your ideas, plans, strategy and tactics down on paper is sensible. It helps focus on those days where you forget where you are heading or why you are doing what you are doing.
I had hoped to be further along than I was on this but this task was quickly shifted to the back-burner when a few things came up that completely sapped my time.
Unfortunately it may be on the back-burner for another month, but I will be including it in my goals this month in the hope I can push it forward just a little bit.
It’s always worthwhile to do your utmost to keep moving forward.
I nailed my content plan!
I was struggling last month with writing.
I wasn’t short of ideas but I had no idea where to start in organising my brain. My business plan helped a little when I drew up personas for my target readers. If you have a blog and you haven’t written personas for your readers, do it!
I also considered where I am at in terms of my finances because that’s what this whole blog is about. I wanted to understand where I was at right now and what I had to teach or share about my circumstances.
Doing this helped me realise that the logic place to start with my content is around being in debt, budgeting and cutting back costs. That’s exactly what I’m focussing on right now in my life.
As I mentioned before, when in a leaky boat, plug the holes first.
I then did a mind map of all the topics around these three content areas, and future thinking topics such as making extra income, and then organised the ideas for posts that I already jotted down into these areas.
This immediately gave me a number of articles that would relate to the things that I’d been doing.
From there I organised a content calendar and scheduled draft posts from the beginning of February to the end of April.
This approach helped me consider how I could link each post to provide additional value to readers who were interested in the topics I was writing about. For the last week and a half, for example, I’ve run a series on the methods of paying off debt. Each of these posts now links to one another.
You can take a look at these posts here:
- How To Pay Off Debt: The Half Payment Method
- How To Pay Off Debt: The Debt Snowball Method
- How To Pay Off Debt: The Debt Stack Method
Other topics I talked about in February were:
Both of these topics were so on point with me this month since I raided my small emergency fund to pay off my credit card and then was kicking myself in the ass when my car was playing up and needed some repairs, my washing machine broke (I can’t afford to fix it just yet), and my son ended up in hospital (he’s kind of ok).
In terms of a content schedule, I cannot recommend doing this enough. It took so much pressure off me that I hadn’t realised I was placing myself under. It gave me an instant ability to focus on writing when I came to an article.
This in turn just opened up a flow that enabled me to write faster (and hopefully better).
One Friday evening I came home from work and knocked out three articles and close to four thousand words. Go me!
I published more consistently
Because of the unexpected personal events I wasn’t able to hit my goal of 2-3 articles as week but I got pretty close to 2 a week. I’ve still got some stuff on my plate so I’m going to let up on myself and aim for 2 a week this month.
The important thing is that I maintain consistency.
I mentioned last month that a friend of mine noticed stability in his traffic when he published consistently and he recommended I write less words but more articles.
I’ve cut the length of my articles down this month and it’s helped, but to be honest some of the topics I talked about didn’t need to be superbly detailed.
I’ve been bad with my lead magnets this month unfortunately. They are the foundation for building a mailing list and I need to sort myself out there. This is the area I need to invest some finances in.
I’m ridiculously skint at the minute but I’ve been shuffling my budget around to see where I can make further savings. This has to be done if I’m taking this seriously. I’ll find a way.
Increased social media audience
I’ve increased my social media audience but not as much as I’d hoped.
I’ve done crap with my Facebook page. I have 13 followers. 2 more than last month, urgh.
To be fair, Facebook is a harder to get reach with organically these days. I’m also not sharing my blog with my personal friends just yet.
Pinterest did pretty well. I didn’t hit 1000 followers but I got to 614 by end of month.
I was doing pretty lame up until half way through the month until someone reminded me that following people really helped so I spent some time finding people to follow and my numbers picked up.
I have to spend some time on Pinterest. I know what I need to do there, it’s just time I need to execute the strategy.
The great thing is that I’m noticing a trickle of traffic coming from there now.
Pinterest can take 4-6 months of hard work to start seeing results but once it happens it’s got some longevity to the traffic, unlike Twitter and Facebook which is more immediate and short lived.
The surprise for me was Twitter. I’ve grown to 200 followers from 63.
I confessed I’m a noob with Twitter so I’m still learning there. I’ve managed to connect with some really lovely people with it however. These people have given me some encouragement and kindly retweeted some of my links which has helped.
Thank you so much if you tweeted my links, you’re awesome!
Here’s the big one. Last month I had 270 sessions and 444 page views.
I was aiming for 1000 sessions this month, which I admitted was overly optimistic.
I did get to 471 sessions though and 699 page views.
I’m pretty chuffed with that.
My secret source of traffic
Last month I mentioned I’d stumbled upon a hot source of traffic. This source was driving consistent quality traffic my way. I wanted to keep a lid on it to see how it was panning out before I wrote an article about it. Not because I’m a meanie, I just wanted to show you some stats over two to three months.
Well, it continued, for a bit, and then came to an abrupt halt.
The traffic was coming from an app called TheseReads. It was a news reader, like Feedly or Flipboard but with the most incredible UX making it the simplest news reader I’ve ever experienced on a mobile device.
Needless to say, I loved it.
It was so simple to use it almost became addictive.
The idea with the app was that you couldn’t see who your followers were so people who followed you were simply interested in the topics you read and liked or the ones you shared. This was done to prevent follow me back cases therefore ensuring more engagement from your audience. This in turn lead to better quality feeds about what people were liking or sharing.
It also kept your personal profile and your blog profile separate so you could build followings for each. That enabled me to read and like articles on tech and movies, subjects that I wouldn’t cover in here at all, using the app as me for reading but also having a “channel” for my blog.
My blog feed was given a “publisher” status which gave me priority in trending topics about finance and family. This happened a week or two before they shut down, and really helped bolster my following.
This channel built up close to 4500 followers in about 6 weeks for my blog.
My personal profile had around 260 followers. Most importantly the app was sending me more traffic each day and I was getting a lot of engagement and shares of my posts in the app as my following grew.
TheseReads was clearly a startup. They were having growth problems on a regular basis which would see the site go down due to server overload. Eventually they put a stop to new registrations and created an invite only system to trickle feed in new users to what their systems could handle.
This tactic didn’t seem to help too much though as they still experienced issues with traffic load – no doubt because of regular and increased usage of the app, which was understandable given how easy it was to use and how engaging the content was.
These things happen, but I considered it a good sign that this was going to be a big thing.
It came to an abrupt halt mid month.
I. Was. Gutted!
At first they claimed they had a database issue and would have it sorted in a few days.
A week later there was no fix and no more communications from the CEO.
Then someone from the company emailed me, quietly, and told me the company was being sold to a Chinese company, for a fair amount of money. The company wanted the tech behind the app and were shutting the app down.
And so, what could have been the next big thing, was gone forever.
I also felt a bit let down that the company didn’t email out it’s users to explain. That wasn’t cool. You don’t handle customers like that!
Seriously, I think they were really onto something big, I hope they cashed in good because I think they would have drawn interest from some huge companies.
So what’s happened to my traffic now
This was a wake up call for me. I’d seen the massive growth on TheseReads compared to other social media sites.
4500 followers in 6 weeks was huge.
The early signs were there so I spent time in the app. The more time I spent reading articles in the app the faster my followers went up.
I put all my eggs in one basket for about 3 weeks.
Stupid, stupid me.
Mid month when it came to an end I started working on Twitter and Pinterest again.
I’ve experienced growth over those platforms in the last fortnight.
Lesson for the month: spread your promotional efforts over multiple channels.
The good news is that despite the cut off from TheseReads I seem to have maintained a great deal of direct traffic. This may be from people who read my blog on TheseReads and bookmarked or know the url. Who knows at this point. My traffic has shown some consistent growth all month. So, I’m happy. Check out the month on month view for the last 3 months:
What about income?
Last month I was in a quandary over whether I should report on income generated or income in my pocket.
I’ve decided to report on income in my pocket.
Someone commented last month that this was probably the most sensible, and I agree.
This will probably mean I won’t report an income for some time.
I think my Google Adsense account has gone from 4 cents to 24 cents this month (woop woop!), so I’m on for a long haul.
Trust me, it’ll happen, you have to sow your seeds!
Keep following along with this journey.
If you’re planning on replicating this, or you come across this post sometime in the future and see that I started earning, know that I’m pretty tied up with lots of things right now that are preventing me from giving this a more concerted effort.
My lack of any available funds to utilise tools that can make some of my life easier and help me grow my audience quicker is a big issue.
At some point (hopefully soon) I’ll find the finances to invest and run a case study on the effects they have on my traffic.
And yes, I’ll share those results for sure so you can get off the blocks quicker than I am.
Next month’s goals
I know I have some things on my plate this month so I’m going to be easy on myself. Here are my goals for this month:
- Publish 2 articles a week, minimum
- Get to 1200 Pinterest followers
- Get to 350 Twitter followers
- Get to 1000 sessions
- Work on my business plan
- Find some funds to place some investment in some tools to improve the blog
- Write an about me page
- Sort out my mailing list
If you can help with sharing my page on your social networks I’ll love you for it and if you know people who know people who would be willing to tweet out my articles to an interested audience please pass on my links.
There’s share links on each post or links to my social page links are at the top of the right sidebar.
If you’re seasoned blogger and have any valuable advice to give, or would just like to connect, please drop me a message either on Twitter or in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
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