Welcome to my very first online income report!
I started this blog because I’m in a heap of debt. I’ve had a fair bit of crap happen in my life over the past 10 years, with the last couple of years being particularly tumultuous. I ended up at the end of a road that I had no desire to be in and so I made the decision to get myself out of debt and turn life around. It’s been far from easy so far, but you have to start somewhere, right?
This blog is documenting my journey getting out of debt, finding ways to earn an extra income online and working toward building up passive income so I can exit the rat race and, hopefully, spend a future of financial freedom focused on my children and my partner.
Through this blog I hope to be able to teach you, and inspire you, to do the same. Whether you are in debt, sick of your job, just want some extra income or would love to be self employed and running your own gig, this blog will be for you!
I’d be grateful if you followed along by signing up to my mailing list (see the box to the right) and I’ll keep you informed via email when I publish a new post or have something else to tell you that you may be interested in.
I set this blog up in October 2015 and really committed myself to it in January 2016, so by all respects this has been my “first month” of blogging.
Before we get going with the main thrust of this post, I’m going to ask you one big favour, if I may.
If you’re also one of the hip crowd who keep up with the latest trends then you’ll also be on TheseReads, which I think is awesome despite them suffering from growth issues.
If you’re not, give it a try.
Like I said, feel free to introduce yourself; say hi. I’d love to hear your stories if you’ve been in, or you are currently in a similar position to me, or if you’re a blogger who’s got advice, tips or a compelling story you’d like to share. I’m really keen to hear your thoughts, ideas and pains in life.
Online Income Reports
Why am I posting an online income report you may ask?
There are a number of bloggers who share their monthly online income reports. Many of these bloggers are making quite a decent amount of money, certainly enough to quit their day jobs and work at it full time. It’s fair to say these bloggers, some of whom I’ve followed some for several years, have been an inspiration to me.
The one thing I have noticed however is that these bloggers didn’t start posting income reports from day one. Consequently you don’t get a true feel for the struggle it took to get where they are today.
I’m hoping this will be part of a point of difference for you in reading my blog. You’ll be able to see the effort it takes to get to the tipping point of turning a profit and heading toward a more fulfilling life where you control your career and your finances.
No business is ever easy. If you come across some of these blogger income reports and see the figures you’ll think it’s easy.
I’ve run my own businesses for close to two decades myself and I can tell you it’s never easy, but hard work pays off.
There’s a famous quote, that I thought came from Henry Ford, that said something like, “The harder I work, the luckier I get”.
I’m expecting this to be a bit of journey though. More so because I have very little, if any funds, to invest in my blog. That said, I may need to find something, as you’ll see shortly.
One thing I am still toying with is whether I post actual income or expected income. Many bloggers post about actual income, that being the money they get in the bank. The distinction is important for bloggers earning money from affiliate programs. Such programs often have 30-60 day pay out periods where, if a product that you have earnt a referral fee for is refunded in that time, your referral fee is reversed and you don’t get paid.
So, for example, I could earn an affiliate fee of $100 this month (the expected income) and post this amount in my income report, but then it’s taken off me next month, so my actual income would be $0 (or -$100). If I got paid the $100 fee after the period then my actual income would show $100.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts via the comments on what you think I should do with this. I’m leaning toward showing expected income, just because it’ll be easier to report, but then this probably won’t be an accurate presentation of what income I’m actually getting. Let me know in the comments.
So, without further ado, my January 2016 Online Income & Traffic Report.
January was never going to be an income report because it’s my first month.
What I should be calling it is a progress report, or a success report to keep it positive. However, I want to get into a routine of calling it an income report and make it easier for people to find. I also want to keep believing I’ll get to “income” sometime soon so I’m projecting some success into my future (hopefully) by doing this.
Now, theoretically, I did earn an income from my blog this month.
I earnt the timely sum of 4 cents!
I know! Stop the press, It’s nothing to write home about!
This was done through Google Adsense and if I’m posting actual earnings I can’t post that figure because you don’t get payout for such a small amount.
Now most of you are thinking that’s crap, and you’d be about right.
But it’s a start. The reality is it’s my first month and efforts haven’t been focused on income, it’s been focused on audience building, channel nurturing and building a foundation.
But there’s more to get a little bit excited about, so keep reading.
What I achieved this month
I had uncertain goals to get my blog established this month. I did my first post back in October 2015. This month I was a bit more committed in my writing. I’ve got a ton of content in draft but published three epic articles:
- How to a family budget helped me pay of $5000 of credit card debt in 6 weeks
- 14 Amazingly powerful benefits of goal setting
- How to save a $1378 emergency fund and have fun doing it!
My traffic has increased. From these articles, and the work I’ve done in promoting them.
I’ve seen a 500% increase in sessions, 196% increase in page views and a whopping 933% increase in users to my site.
I’m pretty damn happy with that.
Whilst the actual figures for this month are still low, I’m taking the positives here. This is a journey and every journey requires steps to progress. So, here’s my stats for January:
270 sessions, 217 users and 444 pageviews. It’s ok, not brilliant by any means, but I’m happy, so far. Particularly because I haven’t spent any money on promoting at all.
This is all dividends from some networking and hard work.
So what have I done to get this traffic so far?
I wrote more blog posts
Well, I’ve already mentioned I’ve got a little more committed with my writing. I pushed out 3 posts. I need to be doing more. I have a bunch of friends at work who are all doing something similar and a good friend of mine in the group suggested I should be shortening my posts and posting more frequently.
I agree, partially, on the posting more. I’m not so sure about shortening my posts, I may have to and since I’m a web developer at my core I’m always keen to test something out and let the proof be in the pudding. So I may try it, measure it and prove whether it works. His reasoning is that posting more frequently will help me get indexed in search engines more and faster. He’s experienced this himself, and I’ve seen his Google stats, so there has to be some truth.
I’ve learnt to write much faster this month for sure. However, I like my posts to carry benefit and value so I’m doing a reasonable degree of research for some topics to backup my thinking with facts and ensure there’s useful and interesting information contained within them.
I set up social profiles
The second thing I did was set up my social accounts. I didn’t have these before January and they took a little longer than I thought they would to set up since I had to do some artwork. I set up Pinterest, Twitter and a Facebook page.
Please like, follow and share them!
You can’t be without social profiles in business, particularly if you’re a blogger.
I began a social media strategy
The main thing I did serious about was Pinterest.
I’m stacking my chips on Pinterest as a social platform. Why? Because, reading lots of other income reports from other bloggers suggests that their biggest source of traffic comes from Pinterest. It seemed a logical decision to get that rolling.
I’ve been absorbing all kinds of strategies for this beast as I’m expecting it to be a big part of my inbound traffic eventually.
I have no expectations of immediate traffic from there. That’s the kicker with Pinterest, as a source of traffic it’s a slow building snowball taking it’s time to build up momentum. It can take 4-6 months to start sending reasonable traffic from pins so it seems like a lot of work for little effort right now. There’s a number of strategies I’m employing to help though, the successes and failures or which I’ll share with you in time.
However, the wins for me are that I grew my Pinterest follower numbers to around 450 in January, from 0.
For Pinterest, I had to get serious about my graphics in my page post and whilst I enjoy doing these they take up a little more time than I’d like I consider it a necessary evil since I’m bootstrapping this blog.
I have no cash to invest, right now. Truly, I’m seriously cash strapped. If you read my article about how I paid off my $5000 credit card last year in just 6 weeks you’ll know I’m on a tight budget when I tell you I’m doing it again. I had to pay off some pressing debts late last year, using my credit card was my only option. The good news on that front is I’m on track to pay the same amount at a similar rate (despite a disastrous week this week because my best from from L.A. came back to New Zealand and we all went to another best friend’s wedding).
So, anyway, because I have no cash, things like Facebook Ads, Google Ads, sponsored Tweets are all off the cards. I’m relying entirely on the network effect (through wonderful people like you sharing my articles) and the power of my article titles pulling people in, which is an interesting lesson in itself.
I have however come across a small nugget which may be the next shiny new tool for bloggers to source traffic from!
I only found it in the last week and it quickly became my top source of traffic.
This month it’s powering away.
In fact, that’s putting it lightly!
I think this may be the next big thing and it’s really truly in its infancy.
Now, it’s not that I’m being mean by not telling you what it is (just yet), it’s just that I’m keeping an eye on it for the next couple of months to see how it’s tracking.
I intend to increase the amount of posts I create to see what effect it has with this channel. If it’s still steamrolling like it is now then I’ll be sure to create a post to tell you what it is and how you can take advantage of it.
In fact, I’m quite excited to see what happens with it because it’s looking like a sprinkle of gold dust to me at the moment, but I don’t want to look like a banana if it’s not.
All I can say is, sign up to my mailing list if you want to hear about it.
Facebook activity has been lax. I only have 11 followers. Feel free to help me out with that!
I’ve run a successful Facebook page for a previous business before but the landscape has changed since then. It’s much harder to get page likes and engagement without boosting posts or running ads. Facebook will have to get some love another day.
Twitter has been a work in progress also. I have to stand on a chair right now and confess that I’m a Twitter noob. I’ve never had an account before so I’m pleased I got 63 followers on Twitter this month.
I commented on other blogs and networked
So accidentally on purpose fell upon strategy for obtaining traffic.
I consider commenting on other blogs to be a traction channel. I’ve read many blog posts that suggest posting comments on other blogs or getting involved in forums is a good way to get traffic. Networking with other bloggers is also important.
However, I was on favourite blog of mine, reading an article to which I was compelled to comment on simply because the article resonated with me and I had something to add. This blog had the CommentLuv plugin, which provides you with the ability to provide a link to a recent post on your own blog, displaying the title as the link text.
Now, this link is a “nofollow” link, so it’s not really helping with a back-linking strategy for search engines but what it clearly does is piques the interest of other readers of that article when they read your title, especially if the title is a related subject to the post you are commented on.
I saw a spike in my traffic after I made this comment and decided to test a few more. I kept them genuine and relevent so that I wasn’t being spammy. The last thing I want to do is piss off a blogger who I respect and would love to connect with. It’s important that any comment you make adds value to the article and the blog that you are posting on. It worked, they were, until the last week of the month, my main source of traffic, and they continue to send me a steady supply. I’m piggy backing.
I also networked a little bit with other bloggers and I’ve joined two Facebook groups.
I have to say I’ve met some incredibly nice people. Bloggers are such a positive and inspiring set of souls!
I set up a lead magnet
I had two articles this month where I offered to give something away, such as my budget sheet for the year, in return for signing up to my mailing list. This is an attempt to grow my mailing list so I can keep people informed when I post new articles that will be of interest.
Now I mentioned that I may have to invest some cash somewhere and I think this is where I’m going to have to dig deep. My lead magnets worked and I know email lists are valuable. I may not be monetizing my blog just yet but I am building an audience and I need to get intelligent about setting up a sales funnel for when I do.
I stuffed up my lead magnet in that my autoresponder didn’t work, which is not a good experience for those who signed up and so the solution I employed needs to be modified with something more reliable. I’ve got two options in mind which I may blog about in the next week or two.
Goals are important, so here are my targets for February.
- First and foremost I’m going to work on a business and content plan for the blog. Currently I have a billion ideas for blog posts all written down in Trello which has caused me a bit of insanity on where to start first. Consequently I have a large amount of half written posts in my drafts folder. That needs to stop and I know defining a plan, both a business plan and content calendar, will sort that shit out!
- I’m going to write more articles. I’ve got a busy month at work and possibly some other busy things outside of work so I’m going to pitch for a minimum of 2 articles a week. Keep on track if I’m not by Tweeting me. 🙂
- I want my Pinterest followers up to 1000.
- I want to get my Facebook followers up to 100.
- I’m aiming for 1000 sessions to my blog this month, which would be a 400% increase – possibly no mean feat, but I’m game for a BHAG!
I’m stopping there with my goals because I’m keeping it real and I’m conscious of time constraints this month.
If you’re a seasoned blogger with any tips or tricks to steamroll some progress, please feel free to comment your ideas, I’d love to hear them.
And if you’re keen to help, please share out some of my articles on your social media accounts. I’ll give you a virtual high five if you do!