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?
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.
Table of Contents
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
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:
And by source:
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!
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:
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  months.”
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:
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)
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.
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:
- I need the money to feed my family. I don’t have a full-time job.
- 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.
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.
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:
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.
- Leverage time w/ non-essentials (through DYEB team) so I can spend more time on planning effectively.
- Do NOT set a launch date until I’m actually prepared to launch
- 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.)
- 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:
- Make a complete a “quit list,” (Thanks, Elite BU Mastermind folks) to free up all non-essential commitments
- 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:
- Would you like a detailed case-study of this past BU launch?
- How to grow podcast downloads – am I just making excuses? (read that section above)
- How are you currently reinvesting blog income?