How is everyone’s 2016 going so far? If you’re anything like me, you’re going strong on some new blogging goals for 2016. I met my ultimate 2015 goal in mid-December when I *finally* published my long-awaited ebook on blog traffic.
I waited so long to publish the darn thing that the title was no longer correct – it originally read “How I Increased My Monthly Page Views from 17K to 350K in 9 Months, but because I published it several weeks after passing the 400K threshold, I ended up adding a + to the 350! I don’t like things to be technically incorrect, so that made me feel better. LOL
Another goal of mine in 2015 was to publish an income report every month starting in July. Well, I published July…..and then didn’t feel like doing another. Ha!
I decided in December that maybe every month was a little ambitious, so I’m aiming for every other month starting with October. I’ll see what I can do – I’m not one for dwelling on what has already happened because I get excited about the possibilities of the FUTURE. But I know these income reports will help countless other bloggers figure out the direction to take their own blogs, and I love that aspect, so I’m going to do my best to share as much as I can with every report!
October 2015 Blog Income Report
I’m resuming my blogging income report series with October 2015 because it was a pivotal point in my journey.
It was when all the things I had been doing to build my traffic and diversify my income since March started to come together, and my income jumped tremendously this month!
October was the first month that I saw a significant increase in affiliate and advertising income on WhatMommyDoes. And it was the month I spent a lot of time on the phone with my ad manager with Media.net figuring out how best to optimize the ads on my blog.
In retrospect, it was a lot of work, but it didn’t feel like it at the time because I had so much fun….I was able (for the first time in years) to justify hiring a babysitter for whole days at a time so I could head out to work from a coffee shop and take business phone calls throughout the day. Even though I only did that a few times, it was so awesome! As a SAHM for the past 8 years, I thought it was a big deal. J It reminded me of my old days as a CPA. I don’t miss the hours I worked, but some days I do miss the professionalism and formality of that environment. Nerdy, I know.
Page Views Over Income
One thing I learned from another blogger (Donnie Lawson from Just a Girl and Her Blog) is that it’s helpful to look at your income compared against visitors each month. That way, no matter how you earn your income (ads, affiliates, etc), you can compare apples to apples when you look at your revenue per thousand visitors overall.
I’ve started doing that, and it’s been very eye-opening. For the month of October, my blog earned $23.69 for every thousand visitors. I have no idea if that’s good or bad. I just know that it’s better than most of my other months this year (the ones I’ve tracked this way). So that’s good! 🙂
I like looking at my income in this way because it gives me a tangible goal to aim for. For instance, using these numbers, I can tell that if I were to increase my page views to 1 million per month (roughly 3 times my October traffic), I could earn over $20,000 (roughly 3 times my October income) that month if my content mix was roughly the same. It’s eye-opening and scary at the same time!
I mean, who needs $20,000 per month?! I honestly and truly play a mind game on myself with my blog….my original goal was to simply make $1,000 per month in passive income from my blog by the end of 2015. Seriously.
But now that I’ve exceed this goal 7 times over, I don’t know if I should set new goals or call it a day! Anyway, that’s a whole ‘nother post, so let’s get to the explanations so you can see where the blogging income came from and apply it to your own scenario.
Breakdown of $7,495 Monthly Blogging Income by Type
In October, my blog income came from 3 revenue streams. I’ve long had a goal to publish an ebook, but even though I started it in the summertime, by October, I still did not have it finished!
I had hoped it would be my fourth income stream, but I didn’t quite make it….I ended up publishing my book in mid December, so you’ll see it appear in that income report.
How I Make Money from My Blog
So for October, my income was from advertising, affiliate offers, and sponsored content. Here’s the breakdown of my October 2015 income and an indication of what parts are active income (do a job, get paid once) versus passive income (set it and forget it):
1. Ad Networks – $3,850 (PASSIVE INCOME)
This has always been my big earner and October was no exception. Three of my display ads are through Media.net and I have an account manager who keeps in touch with me. I had been very happy with Media.net ads on my blog up to this point, but October marked a real change for me. This was the month after I got to meet two Media.net reps at a blogging conference (FinCon) and was able to talk with them about my monetization strategy and also ask them in person to troubleshoot an issue with my mobile ads being off center. They promptly fixed that for me and it was just really nice to put faces to email names. I spoke to my Media.net account manager quite often from September to October, and we tested out many different ad placements, ad sizes, and ad types (cost per thousand or cost per click), styles and colors until we felt like we nailed down an optimal mix. It was a lot of back and forth emails and phone calls, but in the end so worth it. (If you want more details on Media.net, I wrote a deeper review of my experiences with them on my Recommended Blogging Resources page).
Most of my ad income was from Media.net with a small portion from AdSense (I had one ad on the site served by AdSense this month).
At the end of the month, I was contacted by a representative from Sovrn, another large ad publisher, and I started the process of using them instead of AdSense for one of my ads.
2. Affiliates – $1,933 (PASSIVE INCOME)
Affiliate income is a growing segment of my blogging income. As I mentioned in my July income report, creating PASSIVE income stream with my blog is very important to me. I didn’t start this blog to create another job. I started it to make money so I don’t have to slave away at a computer all day like I did in my former job as a CPA. Affiliate income is a great way to create passive income. It just takes a long time to build up.
My affiliate income is from about 20 different offers on a ton of different posts around my blog (it includes programs like Amazon affiliates, Shareasale, Commission Junction, The Building a Framework blogging ebook/package, and Dreamhost). In September my affiliate income was around $430, so October marked a huge jump. I started to get really excited about this, but then I realized once November rolled around that this high number was a fluke. November came in under $1,000 even though my traffic increased.
I learned something about affiliate income through all of this. A) it can vary wildly from month to month and B) it is directly tied to the traffic you get to your monetized posts. In October, I received a disproportionate amount of traffic to my monetized content, particularly the programs that paid out the most, so this is why the number is so high.
3. Sponsored Content – $1,712 (ACTIVE INCOME)
Most of my sponsored content this month was blog posts, but it also includes a handful of sponsored tweets and one Facebook campaign as well.
My average sponsored post rate this month was $330, which was $100 more than September. I was very happy with that, since most posts took me 2-4 hours to complete. I feel like $330 for 4 hours worth of work is wonderful!
My sponsored posts were from Clever Girls Collective, Influence Central, MomItForward, Tap Influence, and IZEA. I wrote about my experiences with most of these in this post: Recommended Blogging Resources
Of my 3 income streams, sponsored content is the hardest for me. Making $1,700 from sponsored posts in one month was A LOT of hard work. I posted 5 sponsored posts….so an average of more than one per week, and I felt like they really drained my creativity for several days, which I consider one of my strengths.
Because of this, I made a conscious decision in October to start scaling back on sponsored content so I could focus more on building my other income streams and add a fourth one – my own product. I had started an ebook in the summer that was going nowhere because I seemed to be under deadlines all the time. So it was on the backburner. This marked the point where I started setting serious completion timeframes on the chapters of my ebook.
How Many Hours I Worked On My Blog
I didn’t track my hours, per se, but I do know in general that I worked a lot more than usual on the blog due to sponsored posts. I’d say in an average week I put in 30-35 hours….a little more than I’d ideally like to work. It’s hard to squeeze in 30 hours of real work time when you’re a full time stay-at-home-mom as well! Getting in this many hours required many late nights.
My standard work time is 8:30 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. and any other times I can squeeze in work while my youngest is in preschool or during gymnastics practice (not ideal, but you do what you have to do!) Despite working more than I wanted to, I can’t complain – I feel truly blessed to be able to work around my stay-at-home-mom schedule and still earn the equivalent of a real salary. I sometimes take an hour or two off to watch a show or two. I have been known to watch tv with my husband until 11 p.m. then work for a few hours after that because I always feel wide awake that time of night and get my best work done between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Takeaways and Resources
- If you’re not with an ad agency or are not currently ecstatic with yours, I cannot recommend Media.net highly enough. They’ve been truly professional and willing to work with me on maximizing my income. On average, my earnings per thousand page views with them in at least $7, sometimes more. I am in the finance sector, which likely boosts that rate higher than normal, but I know other financial bloggers who earn half that CPM with similar content, so I know Media.net gets good results.
- I couldn’t believe it, but everything Abby Lawson said could happen with a bit of hard work in her ebook Building a Framework came true! If you haven’t read this ebook but want blogging to become a real money making endeavor for you, I highly recommend her ebook, if only for the motivational aspect. Since I read the ebook, she’s updated it and also added training videos (which I haven’t watched, but I’d be willing to bet are AWESOME)
- The strategies I learned in Pinning Perfect really started to pay off this month. Most of my traffic comes from search engines and Pinterest, and my Pinterest traffic gained steam this month. I attribute almost everything I know about Pinterest to Pinning Perfect. It helped me take what I knew about keywords and apply them to the Pinterest smart feed in a strategic way (they even gave me a spreadsheet to use….I was in heaven!). I highly recommend this course to every serious blogger. It’s currently undergoing changes from an instructor led course to a self paced course and should be available to take in a bit. When I took it, it was $79, but I think the price is going to increase to $99 and then $149. Doesn’t matter – I would easily pay $200 for this course, knowing now what I can do for your Pinterest game! You can read my in-depth review of Pinning Perfect on my blogging resources page as well.
- The ebook I mentioned above that I seriously started working on in October is now available! It’s a checklist off the major things I did in 2015 to grow my traffic. It’s for intermediate to advanced bloggers who want to grow their traffic in order to monetize it like I explained above. I wrote it so other bloggers don’t have to experience all the same missteps I did. I grew my blog the hard way, but you don’t have to. You can grab the ebook by clicking on the link below. The best part is that I have an affiliate program set up so if you love it (and I hope you will!), you can recommend it to your other blogging friends for a $10 commission. Many of my affiliates have already recouped their purchase price many times over!
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