README: Generally, I do NOT approve of many monthly blog income reports–they are often filled with affiliate links but LACKING practical and useful info for bloggers. That’s why I’ve vowed to share NOT ONLY revenues–but also expenses, wins, fails, and additional behind-the-scenes operations. Enjoy!

13 months after starting a blog with no existing audience–I made $9.6k in a month.

I must be super happy, right?

All bloggers who make a buck are happy and fulfilled, right?

I’m just that good and making money from a blog is easy, right?

Wrong.

July proved to be the most stressful, overwhelming, and confusing month of DYEB, and I’d like to explain why I think that is.

(Hint: It wasn’t just the fact that I launched Blogger U, which accounted for the bulk of my income and stress. )

However, let’s dig into numbers & strategies first.

Monthly Blog Income Breakdown – $9,662.85 Gross

Here’s the income statement for July:

Two interesting (and exciting!) things to note:

1 – The Blogger U launch obviously accounted for most of my income (from members who signed up with the up-front payment)

However, a great deal of the sales were payment plans, so only $50 of that was recognized in this amount 🙂

A recap of the pricing model (which I’m re-doing–more on that below):

  • $500 one-time payment, or
  • $50/mo for 12 months
blogger u sales
Forget money–sales validate effort too.
That’s monthly–after splitting Elite fees w/ Jillian AND accounting for affiliates

2 – Affiliate marketing income is growing!

No, it’s still not at lifestyle blogger levels, but it has been growing steadily for the past few months, and I’m stoked be growing the passive income side of the business (hahahahaha “passive” yeah right).

Want to learn how to start a blog–and monetize it?

I’ve written massive guides on both subjects–so I won’t cover this stuff in the income report.

You can find those guides here:

Speaking of Blogger U sales/launch…

Would you be interested in seeing a video breakdown of the product launch?

I wrote up a case study of my first product launch ever (that generated roughly $1,500), but that was 10 months ago now.

Comment below if you’d like to see another case study of this launch. I’ll make some slides and a video w/ the email sequences, strategies, etc.


Expense Breakdown – $593

Expect this number to GROW for the rest of 2018.

I’m planning on dropping some cash on contractors/freelancers and a part-time VA to leverage out some of my precious time.

We’ll talk more about that below in the “reinvestment” section.

Note 1: I’m extremely grateful right now for software programs w/ “free credit” affiliate programs like Tailwind and SmarterQueue. I have months of credits for SQ. Thankful for that at this early stage of the business.

Note 2: I’m seriously considering moving to Drip for email marketing–now that my email list has grown to the next pricing tier on ConvertKit.

The recent changes at ConvertKit have left me frustrated. I’ve seen one or two handy features (modal pop-up forms) disappear, and while I appreciate their new form designs, it’s still clunky and buggy.

That and Drip is AWESOME. So, I’m debating pulling the entire list over.

Last–credit card transaction fees suck.

That is all.


Monthly Blog Traffic, Podcast Downloads, and Email List Growth

To be honest, the growth of DYEB is still going slower than I’d like.

(#blogging right? It’s a normal feeling for all bloggers around the 6-18 month mark)

Here’s my traffic breakdown for July 2018:

july 2018 blog traffic
Still low honestly lol

And by source:

seo traffic blog 2018
Finally starting to catch good SEO waves!

A few interesting things here:

1 – Look Mom, I made over $1 per page view! ($1.10 gross revenue per page view)

This is a silly metric, and it isn’t sustainable with my current business model (which is changing though), but it’s still kinda fun.

In case you’re wondering, “gross revenue per email subscriber (3-month average)” is my #1 tracked metric. It’s what I care about the most.

That number was just below $4 for the past 3 months.

That’s LOW btw–mainly due to the fact that I only made $1.2k in June (dropped 1 freelance client and dropped everything to prep for the Blogger U launch).

2 – For the first time since DYEB was born, organic SEO is overtaking social media in terms of traffic source.

Pinterest and Twitter are still my top two referrers, but given I’ve all but killed my Pinterest efforts…this is welcome news.

See the “what worked” section below for a bit more insights here.

And what about podcast downloads?

Considering I only published 5 episodes (I usually publish 8), not too bad!

podcast downloads july 2018
Big Takeaway: How can I grow downloads??

On the scale of podcasts at the 13-month mark–this is LOW. Here are my thoughts on why:

  • I had no existing audience when I launched
  • Meta-Blogging is a tough niche still–especially since podcasting is such a brand-loyalty thing (shoutout to Pat and Darren)
  • I should publish more (and possibly shorter episodes)(?)
  • I’ve stretched myself thin w/ the podcast, the blog (SEO), freelance clients, and Blogger U, etc.

My big question for you: are these just excuses for me not knowing how to market a podcast and grow downloads?

🙂 Honestly asking. Drop me a comment.


What worked this month? What didn’t?

Ok, here’s where the income report gets juicy.

WIN = the Blogger U launch sequence.

If you’ve listened to more than 3 episodes of the podcast, you’d likely know that I do NOT like to spam people w/ emails.

I’ve publicly expressed my disapproval for email-intense product launches (especially those that contain emails from the product owner AND dozens of affiliates.).

Just one problem…

Product launches require a certain amount of communications. Period. There isn’t a way around sending more messages than usual.

However, I DID find a way around my hatred of spammy launches: Be proud of what you send.

I am DANG proud of my email sequence.

Aside from the fact that it made sales, I had fun creating the emails and did not feel bad at ALL with the number of emails I sent. (which was still less than other meta-blogger launches.)

I even had a few notes from readers/friends that reinforced what I hoped to be true:

Thanks Des. Hope you’re correct 😉
🙂 on the right track

FAIL – The affiliate portion of the Blogger U launch

I initially tried to line up several “big name” and “huge similar audience” affiliates for BU.

So I sent a few emails to the first 3-5 names (all of whom know me by the way. We’ve hung out offline. We’ve talked & have a relationship), and what happened?

They said no.

Here’s how those conversations went:

Me: “I have a product I believe in, it is WELL worth the price I’m asking, and it’s really awesome for your blogger-audience.”

Them: “Oh that’s awesome! But I’m already an affiliate for Elite Blog Academy, and that’s who I promote.”

Also them: “Oh that’s awesome! But I’m also releasing a blogging course in [123] months.”

Me: ….

After getting shot down by some key affiliates, I made a decision:

Blogger U would move to a student-only affiliate system (like Making Sense of Cents or Elite Blog Academy.) This would save me massive time prepping the affiliate launch, and also provide a few more benefits:

  • It limits promoters to those who have TAKEN courses in Blogger U
  • It adds exclusivity
  • This might even tempt some people to join Blogger U

Fast-forward to after the launch. Here’s why that was a mistake:

I confided a few issues about the launch to a trusted blogger friend, who sent me this:

Dangit. Truth bombs hitting me in the face

Reasons why my decision was dumb:

  • Students in Blogger U are still in their first few years and don’t have massive reach (yet).
  • I aimed to save time (which worked), but I didn’t even provide affiliates with proper information and assets to promote.
  • My network is my biggest asset, which was totally underutilized.

In my haste to ship product, launch, and make things easy for myself–I sacrificed a key strategy that probably could’ve resulted in a much bigger launch.

Lesson learned. I have a new strategy for affiliates going forward.

WIN: Organic SEO gains across the board.

While a great deal of May, June, and July was made up of NON-growth traffic activities (read: I spent 2.5 months straight on Blogger U), my SEO juice is growing.

This is due to a few factors:

  • I’ve continued to gain backlinks (most naturally, roughly 6-10 via outreach)
  • The site is as optimized as ever.
  • Age and authority are continuing to increase

2 recent changes to DYEB that have helped w/ site speed:

1 – I went all-in on image compression and automation.

I had been manually compressing images this entire time, and after trying 3 separate plugins, I finally landed on ShortPixel. It’s amazing, and I’m thinking about doing a full review post soon.

2 – DYEB is now utilizing a CDN (finally)

CDN = content delivery network.

I had tried to use Cloudflare before, but it had messed up my email DNS. I have since moved all DYEB over to a G Suite business account, so I went back to Cloudflare and all’s been great since 🙂

FAIL – I have over-committed across all areas of life.

My lineup currently looks like:

  • DYEB podcast (2x per week)
  • DYEB blog content (for SEO and fun)
  • Marketing & Outreach
  • Blogger U engagement
  • Blogger U content
  • Learning (I’m working through 2 advanced SEO courses and a funnels course)
  • THREE Freelance clients
  • Side Project (not shiny objective syndrome actually)
  • Life

That’s too much.

There are bloggers out there that can thrive with this many commitments. I am not one of them, and it has taken me a long time to discover this.

I used to think “lacking focus” was primarily due to chasing “shiny objects,” i.e. new opportunities.

I’ve since realized over-committing is also a huge part of that.

essentialism notes
A few notes from “Essentialism,” a book I read recently

Here’s one of my problems:

(Also, drop me a comment below and let me know I’m full of crap or justified)

I feel like I need to keep the freelancing clients, for two reasons:

  1. I need the money to feed my family. I don’t have a full-time job.
  2. I can imagine non-monetary benefits to DYEB, given the relationships I’m building.

Can you spot the issue?

Freelancing (and side projects, and anything else EXCEPT for DYEB growth tasks) are absolutely non-essential for my main goal: to grow Do You Even Blog in both impact and income.

Non-essential.

See the goals section below for what I’m doing about this.


How am I reinvesting blog income to grow the business?

A few days back I reached out on socs meds and wondered what you all might like to read on this income report.

The response?

Great Q

This question is rough for me. I am dependent on DYEB income to live. I still have 30k in debt to pay off.

And while I almost made 5-figures this month, I’ve still made less than $50k since DYEB’s inception 13 months ago. It’s a full-time job for me (a sole bread-winner for a family of FOUR).

Thus, the topic of reinvesting blog income is a bit tricky for me personally.

Here’s how I believe OTHER bloggers should reinvest their income:

It’s time for a simple flow chart:

BLOG INCOME reinvestment chart
Explanations below

Scenario 1 – You are dependent on your blog income to survive:

Use your best judgment on a percentage to save and reinvest, but only on low-risk investments such as

  • project-based virtual assistants or interns (i.e. NOT ongoing monthly costs)
  • blogging software products (Essentials like Drip, Tailwind, SmarterQueue)

These types of investments are straightforward, and the value you get in return is clear! These will absolutely bring some benefit and growth to your blog/business.

Invest in these activities without hesitation.

Scenario 2 – You aren’t dependent, but aren’t making much income yet (less than $200/mo):

I’m still heavy into personal finance, so I’m all for NOT changing your lifestyle for increased income–so I’m still recommending you save 100% of this blog income for reinvestment.

However, $200/mo is not quite enough to regularly poor cash into Facebook ad funnels. Not yet.

I’d suggest you:

  • reinvest in low-risk essentials (as above)
  • save monthly incomes in a separate bank account
  • reinvest in bigger marketing projects (giveaways? t-shirts? etc)

Scenario 3 – You aren’t dependent, and are regularly bringing in $200+/mo:

Invest everything as quickly as possible. Your goal is to leverage this money for growth as quickly as possible.

  • the software essentials (as above)
  • marketing projects (as above)
  • part-time or full-time virtual assistants or contract employees
  • Facebook or Google Ads
  • Paid PR opportunities, etc (paying other people to get you on other podcasts)

Ok, that said…

Here’s how I am personally reinvesting my blog income:

1 – I’m still paying for software essentials.

This is nothing new, as I’ve been paying for the BEST tools I can for a while now. Here’s my entire blogging tool lineup.

2 – I’m paying myself more so I can eliminate freelance clients.

This might not be “reinvestment” per se–but it’s a CRITICAL use of my cash right now.

I’ve spread myself thin, and need to back out of freelance projects when that opportunity comes (Side note: I’m committed to my freelance clients, and will be giving them more than a 2-month notice. I’m not one to simply quit them like it was a 9-5 corporate job).

3 – I HAVE to grow the DYEB team.

My honest opinion:

Full-time bloggers making money w/ no kids (who don’t struggle with focus) = hiring team members is an attractive way to create leverage.

Me = hiring team members is a MANDATORY way to create leverage, stay sane, and grow my business.

Paid ads are difficult in any niche, especially digital marketing, and ESPECIALLY with no evergreen product funnel (hint hint though).

That, and I

  • struggle with over-comitting & focus
  • want my time back
  • suck at long-term planning due to short-term execution overwhelm
  • really like working with other people

The decision has been made: hire people.

My rules for making your first blog hire:

I’m a hiring fanatic (this stems from several poor job decisions of my own!), and have VERY strong opinions on how bloggers should start leveraging their time through employees/freelancers:

Rule 1 – NEVER hire somebody outright with a long-term commitment, without giving them a trial period first.

Rule 2 – Do not hire quickly. Ever. Do your due diligence and vet. (hence the trial period).

Rule 3 – Do NOT hire people to literally speak for your brand, at least at first. (I.e. no ghostwriters to literally produce YOUR content)

Rule 4 – Always ask for referrals.

Rule 5 – Pay people very little for a trial period, and pay/reward them a TON if they turn out to be valuable.

Rule 6 – Leave as little room for error as possible with regards to your management! Put systems and training videos in place.


What will I do differently next time I launch Blogger U?

Here’s the deal on product launches:

They’re not “hard,” as there’s tons of info on how to run them. But they do require absurd amounts of work & planning if done properly, and that consumes time.

Long-term planning and time. Two things I suck at.

Things I don’t suck at it? Creating and selling helpful products and building relationships.

Solutions:

  1. Leverage time w/ non-essentials (through DYEB team) so I can spend more time on planning effectively.
  2. Do NOT set a launch date until I’m actually prepared to launch
  3. A secret-sauce affiliate strategy that I can’t share yet. (it’s experimental and different, and quite frankly I don’t wanna make it public yet. Sorry.)
  4. Make some parts of Blogger U evergreen, a la carte, and more accessible for both purchase and promotion (more on this when I reveal the affiliate strategy!)

Gotta leave it at that for now 😉


My goals for August & September:

Screw traffic, downloads, and the email list.

Both the long-term AND short-term growth of DYEB is dependent on me creating leverage immediately. This is a personal problem and personal revelation.

2 goals for the next 2 months:

  1. Make a complete a “quit list,” (Thanks, Elite BU Mastermind folks) to free up all non-essential commitments
  2. Make a SOLID first hire.

If I accomplish those two goals, I’ll be setting myself up for a very strong 4th quarter. A time period I am greatly looking forward to 🙂

Please drop me a comment below!

I’d love to hear from you on 3 things, specifically:

  1. Would you like a detailed case-study of this past BU launch?
  2. How to grow podcast downloads – am I just making excuses? (read that section above)
  3. How are you currently reinvesting blog income?
monthly blog income report july 2018
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Join the Conversation

33 Comments

  1. Great article Pete, I’m 4 months into my first blog. It’s going well but still in it’s infancy. I’m also guilty of trying to do too much at the same time, you told me what my subconscious has been telling me, focus on less things! Keep up the great work and hopefully I’ll make enough soon to join Blogger U! Thanks.

    1. Oh man. It’s such a killer.

      If it helps, here’s my broad to-do for you to focus on: grow the audience first.

      (I.e. put off products and other monetization, or make that secondary to audience-building) = my 2 cents

  2. This is huge Pete!! Congrats. Totally feel you on the paid ads for digital marketing. Thus far this is where I’ve been reinvesting my blog income. Specifically on LinkedIn Sales navigator. I would like to try reinvesting some money on promotional shirts but I’m scared it won’t work. Well, more like I don’t know how much I should budget or where to start and whether it’d Be worth it.

    1. Thanks Javi, I appreciate that!

      Yeah, shirts are definitely low-ROI, but can still be great for brand-building. I just try to break even on my shirts >_

  3. Hi Pete,

    This income report, like everything you do, is just awesome. I love that you pour your heart out to us. THAT is what sets you apart from Darren and Pat.

    Yes, I love them too, and think they’re helpful. But both of them are a little too polished and professional. To me, they’re way less approachable and relatable. As helpful as they may be, I find it a chore to listen through their podcast archives.

    Not so with you. I always drop everything to download and listen to DYEB every time a new episode is released. I love listening to your content THAT MUCH! It’s fun, funny, relatable, engaging, unique, etc. etc.

    I’m sorry that I don’t have any advice since I’m neither a podcaster or a blogger (yet). But I think you’re doing simply amazing, and I can just feel that huge successes are right around the corner for you!

    Thanks for everything you do for us readers/listeners. You’re the best Pete!

    1. START BLOGGING CHRISSY!

      🙂

      On a serious note though, thank you so much for the kinds words. They truly mean a lot. I shall try to live up to what you’ve said!

  4. Hey Pete! You know all this is new to me, but I’m finding BloggerU massively helpful. You totally nailed it that your strengths are creating great, helpful content and relationship building. Recognizing where you add the most value to your brand and separating that stuff from the things that can be delegated and aren’t your strengths seems huge. Good for you for setting aside the time to sift through all this and figure that out! That alone can be an overwhelming process. This a was a super authentic blog post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It’s definitely a work in progress, as always 🙂

      and thanks for that, Raina. I appreciate you!

      Now go work on your own blog and ignore this 🙂 (semi-joking of course)

  5. I enjoy income reports, but I feel you on those that seem to push affiliate links – especially those that push what ever hosting site pays the most and for some reason 90% or more of their blogging income comes from those referrals.

    > How are you currently reinvesting blog income?

    Lol my blog doesn’t really have an income yet. I have made a little bit via Amazon Associate affiliate links, and I’m almost to a whole $30 in Google Adsense money. Currently I just through anything I do make towards debt (student loans). Unsure what I’ll do with any blog income when I pay those off, though.

    1. Ah Adsense. Crazy low payments.

      But hey–working towards student loan debt is about a great an endeavor as I can think of. Do it!!

  6. Great post featuring #truthbombs
    Not many bloggers pull back the magic curtain… so thank you for sharing!
    Can’t wait to see what the fourth quarter brings!

    1. THANKS KRISTINA! SORRY FOR ALL-CAPS YELLING, BUT TO BE FAIR YOU YELLED AT ME FIRST.

      (I’ll stop trying to be clever now. Thanks for the read and the comment Kristina. Appreciate you)

  7. This was super helpful.
    Just a thought on podcasts…I know I am more likely to download episodes that interview experts in their area vs interviews with people who were personally successful but possibly with strategies that don’t work for everyone. Those latter podcasts are helpful bc they are inspiring and I can learn from their hustle, but sometimes I hear conflicting strategies, and that’s when I look for what the expert has to say. For example, I’d love an interview with someone like Kate Ahl, bc she manages Pinterest for many people and knows what works across the board.

  8. Hey Pete, great report. I absolutely love how transparent and honest you are – this is what sets you apart from other bloggers. This is your one thing and you do it well.

    As far as ideas to grow the podcast & traffic – what are your most popular episodes? You should repackage the content and create an expert guide featuring advice from those who are killing it (as a separate podcast, no more than 30 minutes). You can also create a roundup post with those podcasts. I’d definitely suggest creating more round-up style posts/guides with already existing content.

    You have amazing info on your site but it seems scattered. You also need a “New to blogging? Start Here” guide that walks new bloggers through the sequence of episodes they need to follow when starting out with your podcast.

    Do an audience survey – what does your audience want from you? What was their favorite episode and why?

    I have a few more ideas but overall you’ll need to look at what is drawing your audience to your website and than creating breadcrumbs for them to follow throughout your blog. Feel free to shoot me an email if you’d like more of my thoughts.

    That’s my two cents and I could be totally wrong 🙂

  9. Pete! Epic post and I love the transparency, takeaways, and fantastic review of your income and expenses.

    You did well with the blogger U launch, and I got butterflies in my stomach seeing our episode did the best in July 🙂

    It’s a learning process and it’s been awesome to see you continue to grow over time. Keep it going – I know it’s tough and I’m in a doldrums as well. That being said, we will be able to push through when times get tough because we’ve already had those tough moments!

    Super inspiring you’ve been able to support your family through blogging and can’t wait to see you in the coming months continue to explode the site here.

  10. Well done Pete. I have a feeling that comma is gonna move right between those sixes before too long 😉

    I’m glad to have joined BU and be a part of such a great group. I think it’d be super cool to see a case study of the launch for those new BU guys/gals like me who’ll eventually have a launch one day.

    At that point I’ll have some blog income to reinvest and answer your third question haha. Until then, I’m working to build freelance writing income and I’ve reinvested that so far into courses/tools for growing that and my blog. I want to make it a full time freelance income soon 🙂

    Cheers man and keep on killin it!

  11. Great post! Did you hit 10k words 😉
    I was hoping to join blogger U in its early stages but i haven’t made anything yet and keep spending..my husband may question this whole blogging thing soon. 😳
    I am not dependent yet, which also makes it hard to grow (full time job+commute+2 young kids)
    I’ll be sure to reinvest in Blogger U and be in one of your next income reports!
    Love the podcast! Keeps me entertained for my hour commute every morning!

    1. Aw. Thank you Christine!

      I appreciate that, and of course we’d be happy to have you in when you’re ready. Keep up the side hustle 🙂

  12. Pete,
    I’d love to see a more detailed case study of the BU launch. Congratulations on the success that you had last month.

    As far as re-investing is concerned, I tend to focus on software/tools that can help me to save time, and sometimes on education and training. I don’t have a set percentage and it fluctuates based on my income. I support a family of 4 with my income so being able to take money out of the business is important.

    1. Whew Marc. I totally feel you on supporting the fam!

      I used to budget specifically for courses or other education–but seems to take up a bit too much time these days. I gotta figure out how to scale that a bit better once I have some hired help–then I’ll HOPEFULLY have your exact investment strategy again 🙂

    1. ha thanks Todd!

      Is this your very first blog? If so, it’s going to get harder before it gets easier 🙂 🙂 🙂

      (not a bad thing eventually)

  13. Glad to see you being transparent with your list and viewers!
    That’s one of the biggest ideas I’ve seen most companies and individuals struggle with, even though it helps drive conversion and relationship with your customers.

    Awesome job, and awesome post!!

  14. Hey Pete, this was so insightful. I really appreciate the depth that you go into for the fails and wins with your launch and your corrective actions for the future. It helps me think about my own strategy and helps me brainstorm solutions to my own shortcomings. I’d love to see your case study for your product launch. I think it would be a beneficial since I’m currently creating my product and have no clue how to actually launch it.

  15. Thanks for this! To address your specific questions:

    1. Yes, please
    2. No idea (not my world)
    3. I have started reinvesting my income into creative ads (like professional video ads). My first one worked very well and my second one has been a flop (so far). Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn, right? 😉

  16. Hey Pete,

    First off, love the content and transparency
    Second- traffic and downloads

    The content is already great, so I would look at promoting more of what you have already

    If you know the avg listener (on site) to subscriber to customer, you could push some low cost ads out and scale up

    Otherwise some linkbuilding and outreach to the content you have should see a big push in your rankings and traffic

    Not sexy I know, but often faster than new content

    Hope that helps!

    Dan

    1. Orly? I’m glad to hear that!

      And I appreciate the long-form inputs as well. I do! Thank you Daniella 🙂

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