Welcome back to Root + Revel’s monthly traffic + income reports! You might remember back in January we published an annual income report for 2017 (hint: I earned over $75,000 blogging in my second year!).
But, now I’m sharing monthly reports so we can dive deeper into the everyday of running a blogging business.
I know this might seem a little crazy to you–or perhaps you’re just here for the food (might I recommend this refreshing turmeric tonic to hold you over), but let me explain.
And they’ve inspired me so much, not only to know what’s possible in the world of blogging as a business, but also with their incredible ideas and generosity in sharing their mistakes and successes along the way.
And now, I want to return the favor.
I feel like I’m at a point with Root + Revel where I have something valuable to share about making money online, something that I hope will help you learn how to make money doing something you love, something that lights you up every day and makes you excited to get to work, something you’re passionate about, something that impacts others for the better, something you can do from your couch in your jammies or on a beach in the Caribbean or at a desk in a co-working space at whatever dang time you please because YOU’RE YOUR OWN BOSS.
Please know, the goal of these income reports is not to brag or show off or pat myself on the back (though it’s always a good idea to celebrate your own successes, too!). Rather, my goal with these income reports is three-fold:
- to help anyone interested in starting a blog learn the ropes and find inspiration and motivation to be successful and change your life, whether that’s simply finding an outlet for your passion, improving your financial situation by making some extra money, or finally quitting your job and making six figures working for yourself. I hope that by sharing my own journey, my transparency and story might help you to achieve your dreams.
- to show fellow skeptics (hi, I used to be one of you when I was a full-time journalist who wrote for real publications and turned my nose up at bloggers who were running their blogs without integrity, transparency and a business mindset) that it IS possible to make money online and to do so while keeping your soul intact.
- to help myself. Yes, I’ll admit it. I do have some selfish motivation for publishing these income reports. Because quite honestly, it’s a great opportunity for me to reflect on my business, to look back and see what worked and what didn’t, to learn from my mistakes and to track my achievements.
I’ve been self-employed for nearly a decade at this point, but since I began blogging full-time in January of 2017, my life has exponentially improved.
I’m finally writing the stories that I want to tell, I’m finally helping others to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives, and I’m doing it ALL on my own terms.
I’m so proud and happy to report that life is so much better now that I’m truly my own boss and a full-time blogger. I look forward to each and every day–I wake up excited to work, I’m always learning something new and I love the challenge of running your own business, constantly coming up with new ways to monetize and help people, simultaneously.
Alright, enough talk. Let’s take a look at the numbers for March 2018…
TOTAL INCOME: $9,214.45
- Mediavine Ad Network, $1,738.46
- Affiliate Commissions, $4,279.59
- Butcher Box $2,135.00
- Amazon $557.76
- US Wellness Meats $278.25
- Thrive Market $240.00
- Dry Farm Wines $197.44
- Beautycounter $159.75
- The Detox Market $150.13
- Vital Choice $104.10
- Green Smoothie Girl $98.77
- Truvani $92.04
- Reward Style $61.52
- AnnMarie Skincare $46.25
- SunBasket $40.00
- Vital Proteins $23.16
- Tailwind $18.48
- Four Sigmatic $18.11
- Philosophie $16.65
- Kettle & Fire $12.58
- Credo Beauty $11.80
- ConvertKit $8.70
- Real Plans $7.00
- MightyNest $2.10
- Sponsored Content, $3,150.00
- 13 Pitches That Worked eBook, $30
- Superfood Green Smoothies eBook, $16.40
TOTAL EXPENSES: $6,339.96
- Social Media Management $30
- Virtual Assistant $2,209.60
- SEO Help, $1,500.00
- Video Editor, $400.00
- Website/Tech/Tools $230.55 (this includes tools like Tailwind, VaultPress, my hosting service Cloudways, and my tech manager, The Blog Tutor)
- Ads $223.14
- Accounting/Bookkeeping/Payroll $559.32
- Courses + Education $199.00 (this includes Food Blogger Pro, The Blog Village, B-School and more)
- Office Supplies + Networking $978.36 (this includes resources like Texture and Audible, networking meals, conferences, etc.)
- Adobe Creative Suite $9.99 (this is what I use to edit photos)
NET PROFIT: $2,874.49
Whew! I know that’s a lot to take in. One of the things I hope people will takeaway from these reports is just how much work, energy, thought and heart goes into running a blog. It’s not just as simple as slapping up a few words and an iPhone photo and pressing publish.
Before we get into the details, I also wanted to share my traffic totals for March.
Traffic Overview: 128,036 pageviews for the month
Top Ten Traffic Sources
Top 5 Posts on Root + Revel Last Month
- How I Reversed my PCOS, Leaky Gut + Insulin Resistance Naturally!
- DIY Mold Remover: How to Get Rid of Black Mold Naturally (Without Bleach!)
- Keto Beef Stew in the Instant Pot
- A Butter Coffee Recipe to Balance Hormones + Improve Digestion
- DIY Charcoal + Clay Face Mask for Acne and Blackheads
**Note: This screenshot comes from my dashboard in The Blog Village, a membership site that helps bloggers monetize their blogs. This tracking tool is my favorite part of the site!
Note: This screenshot comes from my dashboard in ConvertKit.
Note: RPM stands for Revenue Per Mille, or the revenue earned per 1,000 pageviews. When you look at RPM, you put the focus on optimizing your revenue as efficiently as possible, rather than just getting the most people to your site. For example, a site with 100,000 pageviews and a $1 RPM makes $100, while a site with 20,000 pageviews and a $10 RPM makes $200. This is good news because it means you don’t have to have TONS of traffic to make a great income. In fact, when you niche down and focus on providing as much value as possible to your current audience, you earn more money.
Hourly Rate: I worked on the blog for a total of 109 hours in February (a lot of this time was spent going through B-School). With a gross income of $9,214.45, that means I earned roughly $84.54 per hour.
If you look at my net income instead, my hourly rate drops to about $26/hour, which is FAR below my goal of $100 per hour…that being said, I expected this to be the case since I spent so much time on education this month.
What I Focused on This Month
Running a blog is a TON of work and each month I feel like I could fill an entire notebook with “what I focused on” details. But for everyone’s sanity’s sake, I’m going to focus on the three main things I worked on this month:
- Affiliate Marketing: It’s been pretty amazing over the past few months to see that with a few small tweaks to my marketing strategy I’ve been able to nearly double my affiliate marketing income, and replace a lot of my sponsored content income (which is my goal). I’ve been working with my amazing VA to update some email sequences and create weekly emails for affiliates, adding images with affiliate links to social media, add affiliate links to Top Performing Posts, etc. I’m also working to update my Resource Page, and in the meantime I’ve created a new Green Beauty resource to help boost affiliate income and help people find clean, non-toxic and effective beauty products. Maybe I should do the same thing for food products? Household favorites? What do you think?
- Optimizing Email List: I mentioned last month that I pruned my email list to get rid of cold subscribers and people who weren’t active. It’s helped boost my open rates by a few percentage points and I do think people are more engaged lately. Plus, I’m paying less for my email service since I have less subscribers. To continue optimizing my list, I decided to really start segmenting everyone a lot more based on interests (i.e. food vs beauty vs DIY vs health), health concerns (i.e. PCOS vs Digestion vs Thyroid), etc. I’ve been doing a lot of surveys, 1:1 phone calls with subscribers and link triggers in ConvertKit (an amazing feature!!) to help me segment. I also created a series of 3 regular emails that I send out to my list every week. People can opt-out of all of the emails, or just one if they’re not interested, but this way we build in some consistency so people know what to expect and hopefully look forward to the emails. Right now we do a Favorite Finds email on Tuesdays, a Weekly Wellness Wrap-Up on Fridays and my Whole Soul List on Sundays. If you have questions about this strategy, please leave them in the comments below and I can go into more detail 🙂
Goals for April 2018
- I mentioned in last month’s income report how my goal for March was to spend time going through B-School and planning my PCOS course launch. After doing so, and having nearly 2 dozen phone calls with my readers to understand their needs and goals, I’ve decided to switch gears and make my course more business focused. So I’ll be starting with either a course about freelance writing or monetizing a blog. Any requests?
- Getting Ahead: Towards the end of 2017, I was working about 4-6 weeks in advance, meaning I had the content written for all the blog posts a month ahead of time. This was such an amazing way to work, as the rush of looming deadlines was gone, I was able to better plan my editorial calendar and ensure I got in the content that I needed to for SEO, reader requests, sponsors, affiliates, etc. I’ve gotten behind by a few weeks lately and so my goal for April is to get back ahead at least 4 weeks. It’s such a more enjoyable way to work!
Featured Question: Last month, I shared how I’ll be featuring one question from a reader in each monthly income report. Here’s the question from last month:
Love reading your income reports – they are so helpful and inspirational to me! I’m curious – of all the things you have done to grow both visits to your blog and email subscribers – which things have had the most impact? Is is ads (FB, Outbrain etc…), SEO tactics, giveaways, being on a podcast? I’m trying so hard to grow my readership and it is so slow. I’ve tried some FB and Pinterest ads (not too impressive) and am going to try Outbrain soon. Really looking to amp up my growth and want to spend my time and money on things that work! Thanks!
What a great question! I can say with some degree of certainty that ads and giveaways have NOT helped me grow traffic the most.
While giveaways are great for getting new email subscribers, I’ve found that the vast majority either don’t stick around, or don’t open any emails that don’t have the words “Giveaway” or “Free” in the subject line, so they’re very interested in one thing and one thing only and are not my target market. It’s definitely made me re-evaluate whether giveaways are really worth it.
When it comes to ads, I’ve experimented with Facebook ads to sell eBooks (total bust!), Facebook ads to grow my list (worked well but was expensive and didn’t see enough of an ROI to continue) and Outbrain ads to drive traffic.
I’m still trying to figure out Outbrain as I’ve noticed that these visitors don’t stay on my site long and have a really high bounce rate… so I’m not sure it’s worth it. But it is relatively cheap, does work to drive traffic and depending on your ad revenue, could be worth it for the eyeballs. I’m still trying to test and tweak and decide.
Ok, so that’s what has not been my been the strategies that have had the most impact. What has? I’d say SEO and Pinterest, which are more similar than you’d probably think.
Pinterest is really a search engine, not a social media platform. What I mean is that users get on Pinterest to search for something, not to engage with other users. So by focusing on optimizing my content and images for Pinterest and Google, I’ve had the most success.
I’m considering taking Melyssa Griffin’s Pinfinite Growth course to try and increase that traffic even more.
I’ve also been focusing on doing guest posts, syndicating content and being interviewed on podcasts and websites to see if that helps drive traffic. It definitely does, and while it’s technically free, it does require a lot of time.
One of my VA’s tasks is to pitch me as an expert to websites, magazines, podcasts, etc. so that really helps. She essentially acts as my publicist. Sometimes the press results in thousands of people coming to R+R and sometimes it’s crickets. So it’s all trial and error. But I do think it helps.
To date, the best hits for me have come from draxe.com, forgetsugarfriday.com, theeverygirl.com, greatist.com, and chasingabetterlife.com.
Podcasts are harder to track since listeners don’t always click through a trackable link, rather they hear you on the show and then Google you or type in your URL directly. But I’ve heard from a lot of readers who heard me on the Food Blogger Pro podcast, Food Heals Nation, Dishing with Delishes, and the Dr. Taz Show.
Alright, that’s pretty much it. I hope that helps!
For next month, please leave a comment below if you have a question that you would like me to answer.
IT’S ALL THANKS TO YOU
Please know, I am keenly aware that I have the flexibility, freedom and finances to work on this blog as my full-time job because of YOU–dear reader, sharer, Pinner, commenter, Liker, customer or silent follower of Root + Revel. Your support and participation in the R+R community reaches beyond just this website. This month, I donated 1.5% of my proceeds to Made Safe in your name.
I am so incredibly grateful for you! Thanks for showing up 🙂
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no extra cost to you when you purchase through my links.