February Blog Income Report (And Traffic, Too)
Each month I publish a Blog Income Report. My desire is to inspire others to dream big and plan their own exit strategy from the cubicle hamster race. I also want to set the proper expectations that this is tough work. You’ll work harder than when you were working for the man with (a lot) less income at first and more fear than ever. But you know what? You’ll love it because you’re following your passion and have the opportunity to control your destiny. Get started running your own blog today!
A couple of hits and a couple of misses in February
The month of February was a very trying month for me business-wise. I had several moments when I was ready to toss in the towel. This whole stay-at-home Dad / blogging / freelance-writing / still trying to publish a novel / still in therapy from my car accident thing started to wear on me.
Outside of working on average 10-hour days during the week, I find myself working several hours on Saturdays and Sundays. With all that work, I still didn’t see my income climb. It’s like I’m banging my head against the wall. I find myself cramming at the end of the month as I try to pull out a miracle to hit income goals that seem to be moving further and further away. All the while, I’m ignoring my family and the precious first few months with my son.
I admit to letting go of my income goal at the end of the month. I was tired, my back hurt, and the creative juices weren’t flowing. Anything I crammed out would have been disappointing to my clients and not a reflection of my true work.
Luckily, I can tell you March is shaping up to be AWESOME with my first appearance in print and maybe an interview on local TV…
Of course, there were several rays of sunshine in February!
I had an awesome trip out to Huntsville, Alabama. While I was invited to explore the craft beer scene (which is definitely noteworthy), I was even more impressed by the local art scene and the Space and Rocket Center. But more on that towards the end of the month when I start covering my trip.
And while I didn’t hit my freelance goals, I did manage to hit my blog traffic and novel writing goals, so I guess the month wasn’t all bad, right?
February Goal Summary
So, how exactly did I fare goal-wise in February?
- Make $1,278 from freelance or otherwise – FAIL!
- Complete draft of my e-course – FAIL!
- Land a featured article – FAIL!
- Hit 5,000 in monthly traffic – I’m called this a SUCCESS as I increased traffic by a thousand views landing me a smidge below my goal.
- Launch Pinterest strategy – SUCCESS!
- Complete Jacksonville series – SUCCESS!
- Fiction Writing:
- Finish Draft 3 edits to What Lies at Home – SUCCESS
Blog Income Report
I’m going to be honest. I have no idea what happened income goal wise in February. I set my goal at $1,278 based on my 2016 planning session. I was thorough in those sessions and plotted out what I needed to do to make the goals happen. January and February were supposed to be easy months as the goals were based on current clients and weren’t anything higher than previous months.
Yet both months I came up short. Why?
I’m working so much that the answer is a blur. Perhaps part of it is that I’m not prioritizing well. Perhaps another part is the old 80 / 20 rule. The client that eats up the most of my time is the lowest paying. Why am I still writing for them then? That’s an question I will be answering early in March as I’m spending so much time on their work that I’m not able to pitch higher paying clients.
The sad part? Outside of low pay, they are a joy to work with. They sent Baby G a present when he was born, they pay within 24 hours of invoicing, and my contact there is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. However, none of that counters their below burger flipping pay. I don’t need the bylines in my portfolio that badly.
Income Source Distribution
My channels of income greatly diminished to primarily freelance and sponsored posts. My brand ambassadorship wasn’t canceled, but they have no work for February or March. In addition, my affiliate income is next to nothing. The good news is that within my current client base, I have diversified to nine clients.
A major goal for March will be to diversify my income through the offering of a course and a new push for affiliate income through the creation of evergreen pages and more affiliate links. You may have noticed this approach in my latest blog posts. For example, in 11 Must Eat Foods in Catalonia, Spain I included an affiliate link to Booking.com for hotel bookings in the region and my European packing guide, which is filled with affiliate, links.
Business Operating Expenses
Nothing extra-ordinary happened expense-wise in February other than a few networking expenses that fell under meals and entertainment. I’ve joined a group of local food bloggers that meets monthly and a few drinks and dinners have accrued. However, the value of the contacts I’m making far exceeds the expenses.
Blog traffic is where I experienced my greatest success in February. I climbed from 3,663 hits to 4,649. That’s an increase of almost a 1,000 views and just below my goal of 5,000 views. This increase was a direct result of strategic planning on multiple fronts. As you can read below, some were an absolute success while some were not. I highlight both to help readers learn and grow.
- More frequent and regular posting – My goal is to publish three posts a week and promote an old post on Throwback Thursdays. I didn’t start this strategy until halfway through the month, but the results are already proving successful given my jump in traffic.
- A new Pinterest strategy – Pinterest is huge when it comes to blog traffic, and it’s a source of traffic that I have been completely ignoring. Not anymore. In mid-February, I began to implement a strategy I developed from Food Blogger Pro tutorials (I highly recommend Food Blogger Pro to new and veteran bloggers alike. The insights are game changing. Sign up for the waiting list today!). In just two weeks, I saw my Pinterest following grow from 67 to 471. Likewise, traffic generation from Pinterest jumped from 9th on my list of most referred resources to 4th.
- SEO Optimization – Regular readers of my income reports may recall several mentions of SEO strategy that I was working on at the end of 2015. There was a lot of study involved, a re-design of the site, and a new formula I created to both write and launch new posts and to edit and promote old posts. One of those strategies is to use my SEO keywords in the file name of images. As a result, Google Images is now my fifth most referred source. In previous months, Google Images didn’t even make the top 10.
- Alex in Wanderland Advertisement – I signed up for advertising with Alex in Wanderland for the month of February. For $100, she posted my banner on her site, promoted three of my posts via social media, and mentioned my blog in her first newsletter of the month. Was it worth the money? I’m not sure. Only 87 unique visitors came to my site from Alex in Wanderland. That’s a cost of $1.14 per visit. However, the traffic was good quality. The bounce rate was 44%, pages per sessions was 2.74, and average session duration was 5 minutes. Now, let’s look at email sign-up conversions. I gained 16 new subscribers. Of those 16, only 12 can possibly be traced back to Alex in Wanderland for a cost of $7.10 a sign-up. Meh…. Overall, am I upset I participated? No. Would I do it again? No.
- Trip101 Featured Writer – You know how companies always want writers to write for free or low pay? They always site “exposure” as the true benefit for slave labor wages. My response is normally that the only thing exposure results in is frostbite. Here’s proof. I’ve been writing for Trip101 for several months now. In February, they promoted me as their writer of the month. My picture, bio, and link to The Wandering Gourmand was on their homepage. While I was honored to be named, according to Google Analytics, not a single visitor came to my site from Trip101 in February.
Top Posts in February
It’s that time of the year again… My European packing lists are creeping into my top five posts for the month. They’ll remain there until the end of the summer. These archived posts popping up don’t bother me as they are drivers of affiliate income. I do plan to edit them for my next two Throwback Thursdays with more call to actions and affiliate links. More on those results in coming months.
The rest of my top five include two posts from February (Aardwolf and January Income Report) and my Craft Beer Guide to Aruba (whose success I just pitched to Aruba tourism for a FAM trip).
- What to Pack and Wear in Europe This Summer
- Brewery Snapshot – Aardwolf Brewing in Jacksonville, Florida
- A Craft Beer Guide to Aruba
- What to Wear in Europe
- January Blog Income Report
- Make $1,556 from freelance or otherwise
- Launch beta of my e-course
- Hit 6,000 in monthly traffic
- Fiction Writing:
- Create a new outline for my first book, It’s Always Personal, that is better suited for self-publishing
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