This month has been positive. If you read my report last month you’ll know that I had a bad month due to some personal challenges. These were preventing me from spending time on my blog. I expected these challenges to bleed into this month, and they did.
Despite this, I’ve managed to make some fantastic progress and that comes down to one single reason; which I’ll divulge in a moment.
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 and I’ll let you know when I publish a new post so you can keep up to date on my progress.
Here are this month’s details:
July 2016 Online Income & Traffic Report
Last month I set myself the following goals and I achieved almost all of them. In fact, this is probably the month of most achievement as far as goal setting is concerned. Go figure!
Here are my goals with the achieved goals struck out:
2000 Sessions 1500 Users
- 4000 Page Views (too close though)
2000 Twitter Followers
- 120 Facebook Fans
1200 Pinterest Fans Complete About Me Page Minimum of 1 Post Per Week Increase Mailing List to 170 subscribers Optimize my Pinterest account
I was so close to hitting all goals. I’m up to 104 Facebook fans and I was short by less than a hundred page views.
Here are the posts I got around to writing this month:
- June 2016 Online Income & Traffic Report
- 7 Best Reasons You Should Save Money
- The Most Effective Way to Cut Your Budget
And, drumroll please, I finally finished my About Me page.
I have to say a big thank you to Francesca at From Pennies to Pounds. She kindly extended a helping hand last month and offered to read it through for me and give me feedback. I took he rup on the offer and she was great!
I explained last month that my About Me page had become long. I had decided to pull out a lot of the detail from this first draft in favour of putting these into a series of posts. These posts will lay out the story of how I got into my predicament. I will get around to publishing these in time. I was also struggling with balance and tone but Francesca was reassuring that I’d found a nice fit. Anyway, you can go and check this out yourself now. It’d make my month if you can take a read and let me know what you think in the comments.
The sole reason I achieved all my goals this month was down to focus. I knew I would have limited time on my hands so I really got my shit together. I maximised short free periods of time to put in effort where I could. I got super organised which helped feed some great productivity spikes.
When I completed last month’s income report we were already a week and a half into the month. I knew I’d have less time this month with what I already had on my place and so I took a step back to view my strategy. With my goals clear I wanted to figure out how I would achieve them in the time I had. I had set some achievable goals by toning down the pressures on growth. Consistently each month I’ve sought to gain 60% month on month growth in my traffic. To remove the pressure I reduced down my posting schedule to once a week.
This was sensible.
However, I genuinely believed that my traffic goals would be a stretch to maintain for three reasons.
The month prior I’d had a few days of minor virality on one of my pins on Pinterest causing a spike in traffic and an increase overall that month. I didn’t expect the same thing to happen this month. If traffic remained consistent at levels post-spike I wouldn’t reach my goals.
The second was that time constraints would likely keep me from promoting posts.
Finally, I expected a reduced posting schedule would see less traffic returning. I do see traffic returning when my mailing list is notified that I have published a post.
Knowing this I approach the conundrum strategically.
Where to place my efforts for maximum impact over the short term (this month) whilst still playing the long term game?
It was really important to me to keep driving for a long term result and that priority for me was to build my mailing list. I’ve got traffic to “happy” levels and whilst I am still seeking growth I’ve entered a phase where I need to really focus on building my mailing list. So, aside from writing posts I focused on social media and optimising funnels to increase sign ups to my mailing list.
And am I seeing results!
Keep reading and I’ll tell you what I did.
Growth Hacking Social Media
I’ve experienced some awesome growth this month in terms of Pinterest. I largely attribute my success to tips picked up in Melyssa Giffin’s course. I’m currently taking the Blog to Biz Hive course and one of the modules was all about Pinterest. I think it fair to say this touched on some of the information contained in her Pinfinite Growth course which I imagine is packed full of more actionable tips. I’ve taken a bucket load of value from Melyssa. The courses may seem pricey to a beginner blogger, but they are packed with value and delivered so positively.
If you’re on a budget Melyssa also has a teaser course for just $37 called Social Media Superhero which will expose you to high-level details, but still contains actionable tips that will give you some results. This course was included as a bonus in the Blog to Biz Hive course. I’ve completed it and I can say it was extremely helpful and great value for the price tag.
As a consequence, I’ve had my highest growth month on Pinterest yet.
My Pinterest following increased by 292 followers from 1038 to 1330 in July.
Generally, all metrics in relation to my profile are up about 160%. Below are stats relating to the number of impressions my profile got in July. You can see the increase in views after the first few days. This is when I executed on the tips from Melyssa’s course.
Below contains the click through rates to my website from Pinterest. These are up around 280% (in the blue below) and the number of pins being saved by other users are up 130% (in the green below).
To the latter end of the month, I was on track for hitting 100 new followers a week, which is an epic improvement from between 10 and 30 a week I have experienced before.
If you’ve been following along you’ll know I took a Pinterest strategy from the start. Pinterest takes a while to gather momentum but provides long-term benefits as Pins stick around in people’s feeds for as long as 2 years. It’s well worth the time investment even though you may have to put in some consistent effort at the start.
That effort can be automated in some respects by using BoardBooster. I began using this a few months back. BoardBooster offers a free trial with 100 pins. This should remove any excuse for not trying it. I think BoardBooster is gold! One of the big takeaways from Melyssa’s course was my implementation of it. I did not have it set up to maximise some of the features. This product has saved me a TON of time and the optimisations have helped me focus on other things.
BoardBooster charges on a monthly basis giving you a quota of pins to be automated. I signed up to the basic tier of $5 a month for 500 pins. With all my changes I ploughed through that quota mid-month without realising. I was sent a lovely email from them at the end of the month to let me know I’d gone over my quota but advised they weren’t going to charge me. I’m impressed with that. They didn’t cut me off mid-month and demand more money and largely because of this I’ve been happy to upgrade to the next tier, $10 this month.
Well done BoardBooster for an excellent customer experience!
Another product I have also been introduced to for scheduling pins on Pinterest is Tailwind. Tailwind has a free trial which gives you limited functionality and restrictions on posting rates. I’ve not had the time to get down and dirty with this product but having had a little play with it I can already see the benefit. I’ll try to spend some time with it this month and let you know what I think.
I’ve been connecting more with people on Twitter this month and trying to keep a pipeline of content running on Buffer to build up some engagement, which is working.
Again, I’m trying to automate the scheduling of content that people will find of interest to save me time and enable me to batch together tasks.
Batching tasks is a productivity hack which basically means you spend a block of time doing a certain task. So for example, rather than creating images and pins for each post as and when I complete it I may do images for 4 posts all in one sitting.
I’m doing this with much of my social media. I’ll find content and put it into Buffer or I’ll work on putting pins into BoardBooster during a single 30-minute block each week.
My Twitter followers are up 544 to 2297.
I’ve been following people who engage with my posts and anyone recommended to me by Twitter who don’t look like spammers. I’ve started to do this manually during short breaks in my day, for example when I’m stood around waiting for the kettle to boil.
I did try automating with another platform last month but I was severely unimpressed with the quality of people it was following on my behalf. This new approach connects me to a more engaged audience and reflects in the results I’m getting. The traffic I’m starting to see come to my site from the platform is way more engaged and has a higher opt-in rate. I never like Twitter, I was a total noob 6 months ago, but I’m starting like it more and more.
After a few days of following people, I’m then using the free trial of Crowdfire to remove those who don’t follow me back. This keeps my following levels below my followers. A tip I learnt from SocialQuant last month. SocialQuant is the tool I was unimpressed with, just so you are aware.
Facebook followers are up 23 to 104.
Again, not awesome. It was the only goal I didn’t hit this month. If I’d kept my eye on the metrics a little closer I’m sure I could have found 16 more people to like the page.
The metrics are a little lame but my view is Facebook is no longer the platform it used to be. When I ran an e-commerce site, a few years ago, it was easy to get followers and engagement and so it was worth the effort and equated to ROI. That became a lot harder when Facebook changed it’s news feed algorithm. These days Facebook tries to encourage you to pay to get your posts in front of eyeballs by boosting posts. That’s not my bag right now.
I will turn my attention to Facebook at some point soon. I have some strategies but these will require some time and effort to avoid turning to boosting posts. I have other priorities that will give me better outcomes so I’ll have to work on this area later.
Last month I was hopeful that I could at least maintain the same traffic rates as I had that month. I trimmed back my blogging schedule to one post a week and I really expected that to have an impact on traffic.
I’m pleased to announce that my fears were unfounded:
I exceeded my goal to gain 2642 sessions from 2281 users and fell just short of 4000 page views at 3929. My bounce rate reduced and my average session times increased slightly. Average session times were doing a lot better until the last day. I’m not sure what happened but I had the average around 1 minute 27 seconds and it just fell away in the last 24 hours.
I’m pretty pleased with myself with these results this month. I really did have a lot of crap going on in other areas of my life and was extremely limited with my time so this is a really good outcome.
So you’re probably wondering what helped achieve this?
Taking the pressure of writing 2-3 posts a week and just focusing on one post has had two major advantages. I was able to spend a little more time on the single post in order to make it better in a number of ways. Secondly, I had more time to promote posts through social media.
I took a hard look the last couple of months and noticed engagement dropping. In particular, I was getting fewer comments on posts. I also scrutinised other blogger’s income reports and in some cases reached out for advice.
I came to the conclusion that I had, in my first few months, been networking and promoting more. So, mid-month, after I’d spent some time on optimising Pinterest, I returned to placing effort in these areas.
I have to say, I love touching base with fellow bloggers. They are such a helpful and kind group of awesome people. I have no idea why I stopped doing that for a month or two. This has had a number of positive results. I’ve had others visit my site, share my posts on social media and generally driving traffic back to my site. It’s been awesome and definitely an activity I’d recommend you make time for.
Networking and relationships are key in any business. If you’re a blogger or a small business owner, don’t be afraid to reach out and say hello.
The network effect works!
I have also spent time inside Google Analytics making small optimisations to my site. I downloaded the Google Analytics extension for Google Chrome.
This tool is awesome!
When activated I can see the number of click-throughs on each element on the page. You can see this inside your analytics account. The benefit is that I can see which links are getting a higher percentage click through and where they are positioned on the page. For example, I have images on my sidebar pointing to my most popular posts, I adjusted the order of those images based on the most popular items.
I also spent some time going through my old posts and finding places to link to other articles on my site. This will hopefully increase the number of pages read per session.
In addition, I also placed in calls to action (sign up to my mailing list to download my budget planner) on older posts that didn’t have these in. This was an interesting exercise. My second most popular post had no calls to action. Adding some in, just a few of days ago, has increased the sign-up rates to my mailing list already.
Such a quick and easy win!
Mailing List Growth
I’ve grown my mailing list by 70 people this month compared to 46 last month.
I’ve been gunning to grow my mailing list this month. After sorting automation a couple of months ago and finding the Rapidology plugin (which is a free version of LeadPages) I was throwing myself into A/B testing my opt-in form.
Take a look at my list growth since I started my mailing list in February:
When you consider I started implementing opt-in boxes at the end of May, you can see the benefit behind them, right?
This month I also came across an offer by SumoMe. I have been using SumoMe on their free plan for the last couple of months. I was keen to upgrade to the paid plan but, as you know, money is very tight and I just couldn’t warrant the cost. The offer was to sign up for a year and you’d get a free lifetime copy of their KingSumo Prize Giveaways plugin for free.
Now I’d been thinking of buying this product down the line anyway so it made sense to snap it up, much to the detriment of my budget.
It’s been well worth it already, though, as you can see!
At the start of the month I installed SumoMe’s “Welcome Mat” to work in tandem with their pop-up generating “List Builder”. I started off running some A/B tests and have seen some massive variations. I’ve had opt-in rates go from 0.1% to 4.6% in some cases.
This is the power of A/B testing.
By tweaking my funnel and testing as much as I can on my site I’m reducing the immediate need to raise traffic levels to obtain certain opt-in levels.
The upside is, once things are fully optimised, I can focus on turning the tap on in terms of traffic. This will include heavy promotion and may even include paid traffic.
There’s a whole conversation about figuring out your cost per lead when throwing money at advertising to gain traffic. I’m not even going to go near that today.
I see so many companies piss marketing budget up the wall without A/B testing their messaging across the web or email. The best thing you can do is get your messaging and funnels tweaked THEN spend your money.
Consequently, I spent a good couple of hours one Sunday evening creating different versions of my opt-in boxes to see which colours and words made a difference. You’ll likely see me playing around a lot with these things over the coming months. Let me know what you notice and what you think.
I’d also be keen to hear of any successes you’ve had in changing up your site or your opt-ins, so please drop your stories in the comments and maybe I can give some of your ideas a try.
This month I found some affiliate income accumulated in an old account I’d missed. Admittedly some of this was earned maybe a year ago but at the end of the day I found it this month and, well, it’s extra income, which is the whole point of the blog. It was this income that helped me be able to afford the SumoMe deal.
- Everleap Hosting affiliate income – $225.00
- Google Adsense – $11.79
Total income: $236.79
- Mailchimp – $10
- Board Booster – $5
- Blog to Biz Hive course by Melyssa Griffin – $97
- SumoMe subscription – $240
Total expenses: $352
So overall I’m experiencing a loss again this month of $115.21.
I’m not too despondent, it will pick up as I start to make headway. I can see the traffic and reach of my blog increasing and I’m learning a lot on top of what I already know.
The frustration remains the shortage of time and money. Things could move along at a much faster pace with either or both.
It will come.
Next Month’s Goals
I’m expecting to have a little more time available this month but I still have some challenges. I’m going to keep my blogging schedule down but focus on networking and promotion. I also want to have a look at the branding on the site and I need to start thinking about monetization. So here are my goals for this month:
- Look at branding
- Publish a minimum of 1 post a week
- 3200 Sessions
- 2400 Users
- 6400 Page Views
- 1700 Pinterest followers
- 3500 Twitter followers
- 150 Facebook fans
- Work on monetization plan
How do you think I’m doing so far? Do you have any tips you can share?