September 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.
September Was My Best Month, Yet!
I say that not to brag. Okay, well maybe a little. Without a doubt though, September was my best month in a long time professionally, financially, and personally. I’m proud of my efforts and the results that they are (finally) yielding and feel that there’s nothing wrong with a little bragging every once in a while. Rappers do it all the time, after all.
My freelance writing career took off in September. I signed contracts with three new freelance writing clients and published several articles ranging from hotel and brewery reviews to cooking with craft beer recipes to Buzzfeed-style travel posts. I also started working with a fourth writing client, but it’s more of an ad hoc basis.
If you’d like to read some of these articles, I do share what I deem are the best on my Facebook Page.
Yes, these are all paying clients! Which has led to my best month in revenue since I started my venture to be a fulltime writer! With that said, I’m still making nowhere near enough to consider this a fulltime living. I’m glad I have the support of my amazing wife to help make my dream come true.
On the personal side, we finished our baby-readiness plan about halfway through the month. The nursery is complete. We attended what felt like a semesters worth of classes. And we figured out how the car seat works before a hospital embarrassment. With a few weekends to spare before our due date, we enjoyed the time to ourselves going out to dinner at some of our favorite restaurants and watching Sunday afternoon football with our friends (Go Panthers!). I feel peaceful saying that we are ready for this baby and the next chapter of our lives.
Then, the month ended on a rather frustrating note. I was headed out to a coffee shop to enjoy some writing time outside of the house and was in a car accident. I was stopped in traffic waiting for a car to turn left and was hit full-speed by the car behind of me. I’m now suffering from neck pains that are prohibiting from sitting for very long in from the computer to write and a concussion that has affected my ability to think coherently. Oh, and this all happened less than a week before the due date.
September Goals Summary
I’ve given a glimpse into my goals success above, but how did I really fare?
- Redesign my web site – Check!
- Redo about pages – Check!
- Finish SEO optimization tactics – Fail!
- Start on a draft of my e-course – Fail!
- Make $1,000 – Fail! But, I still hit my highest monthly revenue, yet!
You may have noticed a lot of changes taking place at The Wandering Gourmand. These are just the first of many as I continue to evolve my brand.
Around mid-September, I redesigned the site. While the general look and feel is where I want it to be, I am still working through some tweaks (that concussion has seriously slowed me down…). I decided to redesign for several reasons.
- Branding – The old design gave my site more of a “magazine” feel, shifting the branding away from me and more towards The Wandering Gourmand site itself. As a freelance writer, I want the branding focused on my words and myself as the writer. The new theme does a better job at this. It doesn’t look like a business page; it doesn’t look like a magazine page; it looks like a writer’s page.
- SEO – My old site was not optimized for SEO. The new site is. With better SEO optimization comes higher traffic. With higher traffic, comes more opportunities both for increased revenue and publicity.
- Speed – My old site was dog slow! The new one tests at 99 for Google Page Speed. It’s still a bit slow now, but I am deactivating some old plugins that were slowing the site down. Speed is important because it is major factor in the user experience. The greater the user experience, the longer readers stick around, interact, and come back, which of courses helps with SEO.
I also re-wrote my About Pages. The branding in my old page was all wrong before. Now there are multiple pages for the various visitors who are visiting the site. The new pages focus on the real story of my web site. It’s a food travel blog. Nowhere in the old page did it mention food travel blog. Now, I have a page dedicated to what a Food Travel Blog is. I also created a Hire Me page to help potential partners learn a little bit more about ways that we can partner together.
I still have a lot of other SEO optimization fixes to make, which I plan to complete in October with the help of Mrs. G since she understands the IT stuff better than I do. In return, I’m going to help with her hustle and craft some marketing campaigns for her Jamberry business. I also need to start working on my upcoming e-course. As the baby arrives, I’m streamlining my schedule to allow time to write the course.
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September Income Report
While I didn’t exactly meet my financial goals, I did have my best month yet in regards to income with the promise of many more prosperous months to come.
The largest portion of this increase was from freelance writing. As my previous writing contracts dried up because of project completions, I spent August hustling to drum up some new contracts. While my August income suffered, I am now experiencing the fruits of my labor. Not only am I happy with my hustle to find new clients, I’m super proud of the articles I’ve written. These are some of my best work to date, which will only bolster my portfolio to help propel me to the next level.
I can credit my success in freelance writing to two resources:
- 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing – When I started out as a freelance writer, I was absolutely clueless. I didn’t know how to write a pitch letter or who to pitch. This e-course is the number 1 reason why I’m now experiencing success as a freelance writer.
- Hustle – So many bloggers build their blog, write a few posts, and expect Travel and Leisure to come calling. Here’s a reality check, that rarely happens and chances are you aren’t the exception. Opportunity doesn’t find you, you have to find opportunity. With the knowledge I acquired in 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing, I went out seeking success, and I found it.
I also experienced a slight bump in affiliate income. Oddly, none of it was from Amazon. I actually lost money from Amazon due to returned purchases. Instead, all of my affiliate income came from 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing (which you know I’m a huge fan of). How did this happen? Through two tactics:
- I included an affiliate link in my Freelance Writing Resources page
- I hosted a Periscope talking about the resources in my Freelance Writing Resources As I credit 30 Days or Less as the number 1 reason for my success, it was the first resource I spoke about. Someone actually signed up during my Periscope! Whoever that is, I know they will have a successful career if they follow the steps outlined.
I still want to generate more affiliate income from other resources though. Right now, I seem to experience “seasons.” I’m always hot during the summer with Amazon due to my What to Wear in Europe Guide. Anytime Travel Blog Success has a sale, I see an increase from them. My next step is to find more ways to create seasons. I’m hoping the optimized tool bars in the new site design help with that. Notice that the floating tool bar mostly generates clicks to revenue generating pages…
Expenses were higher as I had some extra expenditures come up. Since my Elegant Themes contract was up for renewal, I decided not to renew and instead purchased a Theme Forest theme. The theme was about $30 cheaper and was a one-time fee versus an annual subscription. I also enrolled in another e-course. I’m not worried about my reoccurring expenses as they are low. I’ll highlight these next month.
September Traffic Report
I’m already starting to see an increase in traffic by implementing some of my new SEO strategies with a growth of 24% and 25% for Page Views and Unique Visitors. I’m also sticking to a regular posting schedule (a little bit) better which also helps with the growth.
My social media numbers have remained the same. If you remember from last month, I’m not touching social media strategy until I can reign in my SEO and increase my traffic.
I saw some change to my top posts in September, which I’m quite pleased about. For the past two months, my top posts have been filled with my European Vacation Packing list, an income report, and a bunch of stuff from the archives. For September, the European Packing list is still one of my top five, but it has fallen from the number one spot as the summer vacation season comes to an end.
The rest of the posts are all from the previous two months though, which is proving my content strategy successful. About two months ago, I started looking at my top posts and was quite disappointed to see posts coming from so far back in the archives. I noticed that those posts were information based and not purely entertainment. They also showed a bit more of my personality. Thus, I decided to change up my content strategy and start focusing on more information based posts. I’m also sharing a bit more about me and my journey to be a fulltime writer, which readers also enjoy.
Here are my top posts for September if you want to check them out:
- 14 Tips for Attending TBEX
- July Traffic and Income Report
- What to Pack and Wear in Europe this Summer
- The Number 1 Thing that Jumpstarted my Travel Blogging Career
- Hotel Review: Fond Doux Plantation and Resort
- Make $1,000 – This will be a stretch for me with the birth of Baby Gourmand. I want to spend good quality time being a Dad and supporting my wife. I also started the month with a week of low productivity. The back pain from the accident have hindered me from sitting for long periods and the concussion has clouded my thinking.
- Finish Tweaks to my site
- Finish SEO optimization tactics
- Start on a draft of my e-course
- Find another new client