January has been an impressive month for me on multiple accounts. I didn’t necessarily achieve all my goals. My blogging frequency is not as consistent as I’d like, but my efforts have been placed into areas that have moved the dial on traffic, which is a good thing.
On a personal front, I’ve made the time to sit down and give some attention to my blog this month. You’ll recall over previous month’s that life challenges have gotten in the way and I expected them to creep in a little this month also. They have, but I’ve made sure I focussed the precious time I have on areas that would move the dial for me. February is going to see my time drained again and so I have to maintain this focus because it’s having such a positive impact.
I’ll explain more below.
Last month my traffic was picking back up after suffering for a few months due to a few of my life challenges taking up too much of my time. Traffic to the site, which had previously shown consistent growth, had leveled off. Income, fortunately, remained optimistic. This month, however, traffic has gone to a new level and income has climbed also!
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.
January 2017 Online Income & Traffic Report
Her last month’s goals, crossed out items are ones that I’ve achieved:
- 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
So there are two areas I didn’t complete my goals this month. Both of these tasks would have been the most demanding on my time. Quietly, I’m a little bummed with myself. I like to achieve my goals, it makes me feel good at the end of the month. But this blog was set up to help me get out of debt and I’ve got something way bigger going on in the background that can help me move the dial down on one of my major debts and so demands my attention over my blog.
I’ve also had my son during the holidays and then getting back into the swing of things at work after some time off at Christmas and again in January.
In December I worked on a plan for blog. That still needs completing but much of it is there. I’m currently in my first 90-day sprint. I’m working on optimizing content as well as starting to formulate my own product. The product generation part is mainly research. So what I’ve done this month is to start to focus on reinvigorating old content and try to optimize traffic generation and email opt-in rates.
The traffic generation part has gone gangbusters! I have yet to work on increasing opt-in conversion rates. That probably sounds the wrong way around to most. I should optimize my opt-in boxes before turning up the volume on traffic. I have done this already in the past and I’m happy with my conversion rates. These metrics are something you should always try to keep improving. That’s what I intend to do next. It’s a good idea to always be operating tests on funnels.
So let’s get onto the juicy news that I’m so happy about:
Growth Hacking Social Media
This month I wanted to reach 5,500 followers. I hit 5,724 followers, that’s an increase of 991!
I think that’s the most I’ve grown in a single month!
If you followed some of these income reports in the past you’ll know that I had considerable success by tweaking designs to my pins to increase my impressions, shares, likes and click through rates on Pinterest. I followed the same tactic this month with massive success. I’ve got an approach to this that really works.
I created a pin for a brand new post using my methods and the pin went viral. I created a pin for a new post on creating an emergency fund using a 12-month money challenge.
The first pin I created had some research go into it. I also changed up some of my template designs. I published this pin in the first week of January. Within that week it was shared almost 5000 times!
And then one evening I realised I’d got my math wrong in the pin. Adding all the months up didn’t equate to $1,050, it was $1,175. I’d not started with $25 as I ought to have done and I also included one too many $150 in the middle of the year.
I considered deleting the pin from all my boards and anywhere I could find them, but that seemed pointless. There had been over 5,000 shares out on Pinterest. It had momentum. Yes, it was wrong, but even if I could stop that level of virality, would I even want too?
So, I did the intelligent thing and left it out there. I quickly created a new (correct) version. I expected this may get shared a lot also, but I didn’t expect this would steam-roll the other pin. Within 3 weeks the second pin surpassed the first and at current standing, at the start of February, it’s been shared 18,900 times! The first pin is currently up to 10,400!
Now my traffic has improved this month. You’d expect that with such virality.
But here’s the thing.
The click-through rates on these pins aren’t massive.
The number of impressions are HUGE! One pin (urgh, I hate to say it, it’s the one on the left) has over 225,000 impressions in the last 30 days for one instance of that pin. That pin has 2,000 saves (repins) and only 600 clicks. That’s not a good click through rate, in my opinion.
What this boils down to is the increase of site traffic is not directly associated with this pin. That is to say, not everyone has come through to my site from this pin. I would have expected more with a pin going this viral in a matter of weeks.
I have had a decent amount come through to this post, but I can only imagine what would happen with my traffic if the pin design incorporated a better call to action to encourage people to click through.
So, this month I’m tinkering with pins to try to improve the click-through rates!
I’m being intelligent about this first, though.
Recall the comment I made earlier about optimizing my opt-in forms before I turn on traffic? Well, I’m doing just that.
In the latter end of January, I started working on a content upgrade whereby people registering on my mailing list could download a cheat sheet for the emergency fund challenge. I have a different emergency fund challenge that I wrote last year. This article was one of the first ones I wrote for this blog. It needed a lot of improvement! Since writing new articles takes more time I opted to improve old content.
I also wanted to evaluate how much of an improvement I could make. The post has a crappy looking pin and gets practically no traffic.
I am in the middle of optimizing that post and pins. I have already created the content upgrade and a new opt-in box specifically for it. Although I encountered some issues with ConvertKit that took a few days to figure out. Go check out the post and the opt-in. Just be aware updating the post is still a work in progress!
I’ve continued to use Boardbooster this month. I had hoped to purchase Tailwind but I spent a couple of evenings optimising looping and campaign services in Boardbooster and I wanted to see what effect this has had (good so far). I figure if I bring Tailwind in at this point I’m not going to know which tool is responsible for the increase in traffic.
So here are the usual results for the month:
Average daily pin impression back to my site are going gangbusters. Last month my average daily viewers were around 14,000. Click through rates have doubled from 445 a day last month to 810 this month. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Doubling traffic is fantastic but compared to the impressions I was getting I can’t help but feel it could be better!
This has been an awesome month! I’m really happy with this overall. It’s even sweeter when the outcome is the result of planned action.
I’ve done nothing with Twitter again this month. I’m not even going to bother writing about it.
Site traffic has been incredible! This has been my biggest area of success. I aimed to hit 30,000 page views last month which I thought was going to be a lofty goal.
This month I hit 37,372 page views!
You may also recall last month I had a couple of individual days where my website went down. I had the same issue this month but fortunate caught the anomaly after about half a day so the impact hasn’t been so great. I think I may have missed out on about 500 page views because of this.
Here are the stats:
The problems I had with downtime last month and this month appear to be related to plugins. I think I’ve helped the issue but I still need to do some investigation work.
This month I’ve also been working on reducing the sizes of some of the pages. This was as much to do with optimizing pages for SEO as well as to try to alleviate other potential issues with server load.
Mailing List Growth
The extra traffic naturally has grown my mailing list but not by as much as it could of. This is because I didn’t have a prominent email opt-in box on the post that pulled in the extra traffic. The post related to the pin that went viral didn’t pull in masses of traffic to that post, it appears the traffic spread over a number of popular posts. Consequently, I’m still reaping the benefit of prior work from months ago.
I’ve grown by 745 subscribers to 4,509 by the end of the month.
Here’s how this played out during the month:
I’m still not leveraging that list as much as I should be. I intended to rectify this situation a little this month. To do this I updated the free budget planner for 2017 and sent an email to everyone on my mailing to give them the opportunity to access the new version. This had a very good response.
What I want to do is start to clean out the list. There are a large number of people on the list who have never opened or click on a link in the email. These people are known in the industry as cold subscribers. I have to be cautious doing this type of clean up however. The metrics that determine none opening of emails are not perfect. I may do that this month. If I do that, my subscription numbers will drop.
The upside of doing this is I’ll reduce down my cost with ConvertKit. I’m paying $79 a month now for over 3500 subscribers. That’s expensive for what it offers.
I also had some issues with ConvertKit this month. Well, really it was an issue between ConvertKit and the Rapidology plugin I use for my opt-in boxes. ConvertKit provides it’s own plugin, but does not allow you to A/B test designs. I found a plugin called Rapidology that’s built by LeadPages. It’s effectively a free version of LeadPages. I set up a new form for the content upgrade mentioned earlier and it wasn’t working correctly. It wasn’t sending out a confirmation email with my PDF cheat sheet attached. So people would have been opting in to receive something and would never have got it. I’ve been there before, this was the whole reason I moved to ConvertKit, to resolve this type of issue.
To cut a long story short, the issue may be resolved. Nathan, the founder from ConverKit, introduced me to another plugin called Bloom, which is a fork (coding speak for a copy) of the Rapidology plugin. The exception is that Bloom integrates with ConvertKit correctly. I’ve set it up on the post in question and it works.
I have to say though. $79 is still a lot for me to be paying, particularly when I think I can replicate the functionality in other service providers. Lots of other bloggers rave about ConvertKit and don’t get me wrong, they are good, but I’m pretty sure I can get the same functionality for the number of subscribers for about $30 less with two other providers. This is something I’ll be looking into this month. $30 a month can pay for plenty of other things!
Income has been positive again. My time spent optimizing in Google Adsense has continued to have great results. I’ve also continued to earn affiliate income elsewhere. Here is my income this month:
I’m also going to introduce a new metric from now on. This is RPM or Revenue Per Mille. RPM shows how many dollars I earn per 1000 page views on my site. I think it is a good indicator, now that I’m turning my mind to monetization, as to how much I’m earning compared to traffic.
This month my RPM is $5.06.
As a comparison, I calculated last month’s RPM which was $3.89. So there’s been a decent increase in my earnings.
For expenses, I continue to pay for BoardBooster. I also have the cost of ConvertKit, which has increased. I also paid a pro-rata amount for the increase mid-month in December. So my invoice this month was slightly more than $79.
Here are my expenses for this month:
So, this month I’m back in the black again with a $82.42 profit!
It’s still moving in the right direction which is great.
Next Month’s Goals
For next month I’m going to see if I can maintain traffic at above 35,000 page views, but will set myself a goal to hit 40,000. I have another wave of personal challenges in February that relate to my debt. These have to take precedence over the blog. I will also continue to work on optimizing pins and old posts because I think that’s where I can get more bang for my buck in terms of effort.
- 4 new posts published
- 40,000 page views
- 7,000 Pinterest Followers
- Optimize and enhance more old pins on Pinterest
- Optimize and enhance old posts
- Mailing list increased to 5,000 subscribers
- Clean up the mailing list of cold subscribers
- Continue working on a product
How do you think I’m going so far?