Happy October my sweet friends, and welcome to my third blogging income report! This month was successful in a lot of ways, but I also felt like I took some steps in the wrong direction as well. The self-employment journey never is a smooth upward trajectory, is it? At least, it doesn’t seem to work that way for me.
If you missed my first two blogging income reports, you can find them here:
My goal is to make these income reports valuable resources to those of you who are interested in monetizing your own blogs, so there really is a lot of info packed into each one. Give the previous ones a read if you have the time!
Why I’m Sharing My Blogging Income Reports
I went into detail back in August about why I’m sharing these blogging income reports, but here’s the basic rundown in case you missed it:
- To be a better resource for other aspiring bloggers and entrepreneurs
- To help myself stay more organized throughout the year (for tax purposes, among other things)
- To reflect on which of my monetization strategies are working and which ones are not
- For better goal setting and greater accountability
- Because I’ve found other bloggers’ income reports to be extremely valuable
Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Sweetest Way!
My Goals for September – How I Fared
Before I get into last month’s goals, I’d just like to share some personal reflections on goal setting.
Each month, I write these goals with the best of intentions based on what I believe, at the start of the month, to be the most important things to work toward. But those things don’t always turn out to actually be the most important things to work toward, and in other instances, life happens and other things simply take precedence.
This month was not a great one for me from a personal standpoint, and as a result, I failed to reach many of my goals. I could let this fact get me down, but instead of adopting a counterproductive defeatist mindset, I would like to use this as an opportunity to practice acceptance.
Not reaching my goals doesn’t mean I’m lazy or incompetent or whatever other insulting words my mind might come up with–it just means that those particular goals were not meant to be accomplished. Other things turned out to be more important in the end.
So while I still think goal setting is important and worthwhile, I’ve made a promise to not beat myself up if I fall short of these aspirations, and I encourage all of you to be kind and forgiving of yourselves should you fall short of your own.
With that being said, I accomplished NONE of the goals I set last month in their entirety. I made some progress on each one, which I’ve explained in more detail below.
Review the course material in Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing from start to finish – I worked through a few of the lessons, but certainly not all of them. Not all of them are worth reviewing anyway, but I plan to continue working through the ones that are, at a slow and steady pace and without expectations.
Create a list of my top affiliate posts and share on a rotating schedule – Ha! Still no. I regularly pin my best content on Pinterest, but organizing the info into lists and spreadsheets, as it turns out, isn’t my forte.
Create a content strategy with the help of Clapping Dog Media – I received my ‘baseline findability report’ from Meg this month and it contained a lot of great info. She gave me a list of suggested keywords to target and a few post ideas, so now I just need to get them down on a calendar and start writing, writing, writing.
Focus with laser-like precision on putting out new content – LOL. This goal turned out to be the biggest joke of all. I was not in the right frame of mind this month to crank out new blog posts, so I fell short of my goal of 10 new posts (not counting these monthly roundups). I did manage to publish 7 new ones, which is the same number as last month.
What I Accomplished Instead
Here are a few of the things that took priority over the goals mentioned above:
I took a MUCH NEEDED break from blogging – Blogging was hard for me this month, guys. In fact, it was the opposite of fulfilling. And the most ironic part is, it was a pretty solid month in terms of earnings (see below) so by all accounts, I should have been feeling great, right?
Well, as I explained in the video I shared on Facebook during my blogging hiatus, money is hardly the thing I care about most around here. My sanity just so happens to outrank it. So does my happiness, and so do a lot of other things, actually. So what I learned this month was that putting monetary gain above all else when writing this blog is the quickest way to strip the activity of all the joy it once gave me.
What is the solution, then, since I still want to make a full-time income from it?
I don’t know if there is one right answer here, to be honest. My best guess as of right now is that I can strike a balance between writing the things that’ll help me earn a paycheck and writing the things that set my soul on fire. It won’t be easy, but if I don’t at least try, there is no future for The Sweetest Way, plain and simple.
Oh, and if you are one of the many people who took the time to reach out to me with a kind word after that video went live, THANK YOU. Those messages gave me life. Encouragement, positivity, hope, and love all wrapped into neatly packaged emails, comments, and messages.
I tried my hand at video with fantastic results – Another conclusion I reached this past month is that it’s time to start mixing up the type of content I’m creating. Focusing the brunt of my efforts on writing has led to boredom and burnout, so it’s time to dive into video to keep things fresh and exciting. I think we both deserve that.
I posted a video that explained my mixed feelings about monetizing my blog, and if you happened to catch any videos I’d produced prior to this one, you’ll know how much of an improvement it was in terms of quality. Not only that, but it reached TONS of people and garnered oodles of positive feedback. There’s plenty of room for improvement still, but it was a huge step in the right direction.
And as is often discussed in my blogging and business circles, video seems to be the way of the future on most social media platforms. Photos on Instagram are seeing declining reach while stories are taking center stage. Videos on Facebook garner incredible organic reach when compared to other types of media, with live videos given highest priority of all.
Videos are even a Google ranking factor when embedded in blog posts and help keep people engaged with your content for longer periods of time. And lastly, videos help create a deeper connection with readers. I had more than one person tell me they felt like they were just chatting with a friend when they watched my video, and at the end of the day, that’s the kind of connection I’m after. THAT’S the kind of connection that builds trust.
Knowing all of this, it’d be silly to continue ignoring this powerful tool, so get ready to see a lot more video content from me in the near future (Maui videos, anyone?).
I enlisted the help of a fellow blogger to perform a site audit – One thing I probably don’t do enough of is solicit advice from my fellow bloggers. There are tons of success stories out there and many people offering consulting services, so when I found one with a very reasonable price tag, I jumped at the opportunity.
I found Megan from Love Family Health through Pinterest where I came across a post of hers describing how she earns $12,000+ per month from her small(ish) blog. She makes use of Pinterest and her email list to crush the affiliate marketing game, so she seemed like the perfect person to talk to since I have similar goals.
I opted for Package 2 (listed on her Work With Me page) and received a several-page writeup of things I could change and improve. I haven’t found the time to implement many of the suggestions yet, but I’m excited by her ideas and look forward to hammering out some of the details in a phone call and follow-up emails with her.
I will keep you all posted on the new strategies I employ and the results I achieve!
September Traffic Overview
Here’s a snapshot from my Google Analytics dashboard of my site traffic for September:
I’m not all that surprised to see a dip in traffic this month compared to last month (last month’s page views were ~50,000). My blogging was sporadic at best and I’m sure I didn’t give as much attention to my usual promotion strategies as I normally do.
And while Meg, my SEO expert, is making improvements for me behind the scenes, those changes aren’t likely to produce immediate results. On my end, I’ve continued with efforts to secure high-quality backlinks, including creating an account with HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and responding to queries whenever possible.
Pinterest is still a source of frustration, as I haven’t seen growth on that platform in several months. My follower count is growing at a reasonable pace, but sadly there’s no direct correlation between followers and traffic. I did catch a free Pinterest workshop last month (which unfortunately is now over) that inspired me to continue experimenting with my pin design–I’m now focused on longer pins that will stand out on Pinterest’s mobile app, where 80% of Pinterest’s users are browsing.
Here is an example of my old pin design versus my new designs:
I’ve updated a few of my best-performing pins and have used this pin template for all my recent blog posts. I like the consistent look and that creating pins is now a fairly quick process. Time will tell if this has any impact on my Pinterest traffic or helps any of my posts go “Pinterest viral.”
A Few Final Reminders…
Just a reminder of some things to keep in mind before we get to my earnings:
- I use cash accounting, so what I’m reporting is the money that actually arrived in my accounts in September
- I’m not currently reporting expenses out of sheer convenience, but likely will in the future
- I’ve been blogging for three years, but just went full-time in April of this year
- I’m focusing primarily on growing my passive income streams, such as affiliate marketing and ebook sales
- I have minimal living expenses at the moment, as well as a bit of financial cushion–without those things, I may not have taken the leap
- I value your feedback greatly–please let me know how I can make these reports more valuable to you in the future
How Much I Earned in September 2017
Here’s the breakdown of my September income, before expenses:
Display Ads – $342.69
- Mediavine – $342.69 (June earnings)
Affiliate Marketing – $781.84
Remote Job Sites
- FlexJobs – $15
E-Book Sales – $54
Sponsored Content – $680
Miscellaneous – $75
Total Earnings: $1933.53
Not much new to report with regard to ads this month. I made a lot of changes following my first income report in July, which was a low earning month for my ads. A Mediavine rep reached out to me with a ton of useful suggestions, which I was able to implement immediately (see last month’s income report for the full rundown of what those changes were).
Thankfully, my RPM (rate per thousand impressions) has been steadily increasing since making those changes, so even though my traffic has not increased, I’m earning more. September’s RPM was my best yet at $12.45, up from $7.73 in July! Of course, I won’t see those earnings until December due to Mediavine’s NET 75 payout schedule.
This month was great for affiliate marketing, but there still isn’t one affiliate partner that consistently outperforms the rest. What I would like to focus on moving forward is growing and making better use of my email list, which tends to have high conversion rates for affiliates.
Plus, ConvertKit just released their new Visual Automations tool which will allow me to create funnels for new subscribers so I can send them the information and offers most relevant to their needs. I’m super excited to start playing around with this feature.
This month was the same as August in terms of e-book sales. I didn’t put any work into this income stream though, so this one was entirely passive. There’s still plenty of room for improvement, though. I do have a few new affiliates getting ready to share their reviews soon, and I can’t wait to read them! I’d also like to promote the book more regularly on Facebook.
This month, I was paid for a social media campaign I worked on back in August as well as a sponsored blog post. This is atypical for me as I’m usually not very proactive about seeking sponsors–the opportunities I do get are usually from brands who reach out to me, not the other way around–but I would like to change that, particularly with regard to Instagram.
I think there’s a lot of income potential there, so I’m putting more effort into that platform lately in the hopes of continuing to build a following (like many others, I have actually lost more IG followers than I’ve gained this year–I started the year at 19.9k and have dropped to 19.6k).
I’d also like to explore using affiliate marketing on Instagram and potentially even designing my own products with a print fulfillment company. This blog post gives more details on these and other ideas for monetizing your Instagram account.
Lastly, I’m making more of an effort lately to connect with other Instagrammers in the travel niche and have made plans to chat with some of them to exchange ideas.
This income came from a Pinterest consult I did at the start of the month. I don’t promote this service at all anymore, but I still get requests from time to time and I’m always happy to help new bloggers get their Pinterest accounts off the ground.
Goals for October
Schedule blog and social media posts for the week we’re in Maui – Hans and I are finally taking our long-awaited Maui trip for a week in mid-October, so I’m doing as much work as possible ahead of time so that I’ll actually be able to relax a bit while we’re there. We’re going to be camping for the first several nights anyway so WiFi will be hard to come by anyway.
Begin implementing the strategies Megan outlined in her blog audit – I have a 30-day plan for gaining new email subscribers and I plan to work on that throughout the month. It’s broken down into small daily tasks, so it’ll be easy to follow and stay on track. The first step is deciding on some opt-in freebies to create.
Start writing blog posts based on suggested keywords from Meg (Clapping Dog Media) – I will decide which of the keywords I’d most like to target this month and publish at least 2 posts that are optimized for SEO using these keywords.
Create new pins for old posts using my new template – I plan to update at least 10 more pins from old posts that I think will perform well on Pinterest.
Make more time for self-care – While not a blogging goal, making more time for self-care (by doing things like reading for pleasure, going to yoga, and spending time outside) will put me in the right mindset to accomplish what I want to accomplish without pulling all my hair out in the process. I also had my first appointment with a behavioral health counselor (just this morning, actually) and I have been tasked with journaling about some of my past experiences, so I plan to make this a regular part of my daily routine if even just for 5 minutes.
Last month I’d mentioned hiring a VA to help me with some social media and other basic tasks. And I did give that a try briefly, but it wasn’t what I was looking for, so I’m back to being a one-woman operation again. Thankfully, I’m ready to allow myself more grace on the days when I just don’t feel productive or I don’t achieve what I was hoping to.
If you have any lingering questions about this income report, be sure to leave them in the comments! Feedback and suggestions are always welcome.
More Posts on Blogging for Profit:
- Blog Post Checklist: 25 Things Every Blog Post Must Contain Before Hitting Publish
- Blogging for Beginners: 5 Skills to Master from the Start
- 10 Steps to Creating Blog Content That Doesn’t Suck
- Want to Become Location Independent This Year? Consider Starting a Blog
- 8 Affiliate Networks to Join to Start Earning Passive Income
- How to Quickly Create Multiple Pinterest Pins: PicMonkey & Canva Tutorials
Until next month! Thanks for reading 🙂