Can you truly make money blogging? In my Blog Income Report for November 2019, I’m sharing my online business strategy tips and ideas that helped me earn nearly $20,000 in just one month online. A combination of Adthrive display ads on WordPress, affiliate marketing (read: passive income!) and digital course sales helped me reach my goals of being a full-time blogger.
Welcome back to our blog income reports! You might remember back in January 2018 we published our very first income report over on my blog, Root + Revel–it was actually for the entire year of 2017 (hint: I earned over $75,000 blogging in just my second year of blogging!).
It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging for just over 4 years now, and even more amazing that my income went from $6,500 in my first year of blogging to $150,000 in my third year (including $58,000 while on a four-month maternity leave), and I’m getting dangerously close to hitting my target of $200,000 in revenue in my fourth year. #fingerscrossed
I know sharing my income with you might seem a little crazy, but let me explain.
TLDR: If this isn’t your first rodeo and you’ve been following allowing with these income reports for a while, you can skip to the next section titled Total Income.
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 Q3 2019.
Gross Income: $19,401.01
- AdThrive Ad Network, $3,705.00
- Affiliate Commissions, $8,937.09 (below are some of my most lucrative affiliates last month)
- Sponsored Content, $5,075.00
- 1:1 Business Coaching, $0
*Note: $19,401.01 is what I earned on an accrual basis, but I’ve recently started using Quickbooks and have switched over to the Cash method of accounting. So my revenue for Q3 using the cash method was actually $12,956.33. I only mention this because now I only use the cash method for tracking expenses, and to compare apples to apples, I will be sharing those numbers below.
I’m changing up how I report my expenses a bit here to streamline and simplify. Instead of listing out the exact expenses for each item, I’m just going to list out some of my favorite resources and services that I use every month to help me keep the blog up, running and profitable.
- Active Campaign (this is how I email my list; I used to use ConvertKit)
- Foodie Digital: The SEO/tech firm who manages rootandrevel.com
- NerdPress: The tech genius who manages all the backend code for katekordsmeier.com
- Gusto: Payroll (super easy and incredible customer service)
- Quickbooks: Bookkeeping and invoicing software (save $100 off your first year with our link!)
- 238 Accounting: bookkeeping and money mindset coaching
- Leadpages: The tool I use to make opt-in pop-ups, forms, and landing pages
- Teachable: The best platform for creating online courses (like 6FBA)
- Crowdcast: An affordable platform for hosting webinars and live streaming videos.
- WP Recipe Maker: create cute recipes cards and essential for any recipe posts for SEO + organizing data
- Nutrifox: Allows you to create custom nutrition labels effortlessly
- Milotree: A smart pop-up to grow your email list, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest
- Food Blogger Pro: The very best online blogging school
- Audible: My favorite way to “read” business and personal development books (here are some of my faves!)
- Tailwind: The scheduler I use for Pinterest (Tribes + SmartLoop are great!)
- Bluehost: When you run a blog, you have to use a web host, which is like renting space online to display your blog. There are dozens of hosting services out there, but the best, cheapest and easiest option for beginning bloggers is Bluehost. Once my traffic reached 50,000 pageviews, I upgraded to a more expensive host. But if you’re just starting out, Bluehost is the way to go.
*Note: I did not include my owner’s pay and shareholder taxes expenses above, although I do pay myself a salary from Root + Revel’s gross revenue.
Net Profit: $12,243.76
After a few months in the red, I am SO excited to report that we are back in black!!
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 October 2019.
Traffic + Overall Growth
Traffic Overview: 140,898 pageviews (1.57% increase since last month)
*Note: I’ve been talking a lot about the Google Medic/E-A-T update that took place this summer; it has really hurt my traffic, and thus my revenue. Before the update, I was getting around 225,000 pageviews per month. I lost over 70% of my organic search traffic after the update. But, we’ve started to see an increase in our traffic starting at the end of September, and our revenue has continued to increase since then as well. Fingers crossed this trend continues.
Top Ten Traffic Sources
Top 5 Posts on Root + Revel in October 2019:
- DIY Mold Remover: How to Get Rid of Black Mold Naturally (Without Bleach!)
- How I Got Pregnant with PCOS on my First Try
- Keto Instant Pot Beef Stew
- How I Reverse PCOS + Leaky Gut Naturally
- DIY Homemade Face Oil
*Note: We saw a lot of changes in October in our top posts, with recipes taking 3 of the top 5 spots. To help protect us from future Google algorithm updates, we’re planning to start doing 1-2 recipes per month in 2020 since that type of content is a bit more sheltered and less controversial than health content. Plus… yum! But this month, we had some of our old standbys come back into favor with Google, which is equally exciting.
Email List: 8,624 new email subscribers
Note: This screenshot comes from my dashboard in Active Campaign.
My goal for 2019 was to get 1,000 new subscribers per month and while it looks like we did way better than that, we’ve been dealing with a ton of bot subscribers that are totally throwing our numbers. In terms of new active subscribers, we actually only grew by 1,509 contacts, so we met our goal (which is AWESOME) but not by nearly as much as the above screenshot would lead you to believe.
Some other cool stats: our highest open rates come on Fridays, Sundays and Thursdays. Our best times to send: 11 am EST (by a landslide!), followed by 12 PM, 8 AM and 9 AM. My top opt-in was for my Library of Resources, followed by my DIY Cleaning eBook, Green Beauty Swaps and PCOS Recipe Guide.
I get all of these reports in Active Campaign which is easily one of the very best email service providers around! One thing that Active Campaign offers now is Predictive Sending (they’ll send your emails at the most optimal time for each individual subscriber), which I know has increased our open rates as many of our customer automations have over a 60% open rate. My goal this year was to increase my open rate to 25% so we’re well on our way. Last month, we averaged around 39.33% open rate across the board. It appears our Welcome Series open rates have dropped to less than 20% opens though, so we’re working on revamping those to make them more relevant and valuable to our subscribers. This will involve some heavy segmenting!
I also wanted to increase my click rate to 5%. Last month, our average click rate was 8.81%, so we have FINALLY met (and exceeded!) our goal. Happy dance!
Another goal I set is reducing our unsubscribe rate. Last month we deleted 8,282 subscribers, which is almost entirely due to those aforementioned issues of bots. It can be brutal to prune your list so religiously, but it’s always worth it to make sure you’re only emailing your true fans, and not paying for subscribers who aren’t active.
Domain Authority: 53 (no change from last month)
This is a new metric I’m adding to my income reports, as SEO is such a focus for us right now and I want to track how our efforts are working.
Note: DA is a ranking metric developed by Moz that predicts how well a site will rank on Google, and is measured on a scale of 1 to 100. The closer you are to 100, the more traffic and better ranking you’ll have.
RPM: $137.70 ($27.38 more than last month)
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.
What I Focused on in November 2019
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 keep this list simple and straightforward, and talk about the 3 key areas we focused on in November.
- Pre-Launch Runway for 6FBA: I’ve mentioned in the past few income reports how I’ve been experimenting and learning about digital course launches for my course, the Six-Figure Blog Academy, and after joining Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy and attending her live event in October, I knew that creating a pre-launch runway for our upcoming January launch of 6FBA was going to be the key to our success. The goal is namely to grow our email list with SUPER targeted potential customers by offering them weekly content jam-packed with value. So, in addition to our blog posts, I’ve been hosting weekly Facebook Live trainings in our new Facebook group, where I’ve been talking about everything from the 6 Types of Profitable Blogs to How a Blog Can Create Freedom, Flexibility + Fulfillment (AND LOTS OF $$$), sharing a Behind the Scenes look at a day in the life of a “Blogging Business” and more! Come join us.
- Black Friday and Holidays: Much of November was also spent preparing lots of holiday gift guides, Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal roundups and a $1 trial for 6FBA. Not only were we able to bring in about $12,000 from our $1 trial (most of which is recurring payments, and won’t be reflected until December and beyond), but we also increased our affiliate revenue by $2,844.55 in one month, which is really exciting seeing as how our pageviews stayed nearly the same as last month. Some of that is just time of year, but we were also prepared and ready and published our content with plenty of advance notice to pick up some SEO juice, Pinterest traffic and early shoppers.
- Beautycounter: I also put a large focus on Beautycounter in November with a goal of hitting Director (that’s $10,000 in sales) for the first time ever and WE DID IT! In fact, we sold over $15,000 and I’m proud to report that I maintained this Director status for December, too (and that was as of December 14th!). One of the reasons this is so cool is because of the paycheck–in November I brought in over $2,300 from Beautycounter, and if I maintain Director status for 3 months in a row, I’ll get a $1,000 bonus. But I’m also super excited about hitting this milestone because it means I get to attend their LEAD Conference next Spring, which is going to be such a great way to network with likeminded women and build that community. Since community, connection and getting out of the work-from-home isolation is one of my top priorities right now, I couldn’t be more thrilled to have this opportunity. Interested in learning more about Beautycounter? Go here!
Goals for December 2019
Alright, I’m gonna wrap up here and just let you know that my plans for next month center around getting ready for Launch #3 of the Six-Figure Blog Academy, which includes a new sales page, email funnels, webinar and more. That, and spending time slowing down, focusing on spaciousness and being present, asking for help and doing less overall. I hired a new VA who is a total rockstar and a personal assistant to help me maintain our house and personal life, and I’ve started delegating a lot more as I work on letting go of control and limiting beliefs and really stepping into the visionary role of my business. I feel so much better, lighter and happier already!
Convinced you need to jump on the blogging train? Get started with our free quiz below!
Each month, I feature one question from a reader. But sadly we didn’t get any questions last month. We did, however, receive an amazing testimonial from one of my 6FBA students so I want to take a minute to do a student spotlight. This comes from Ashlee from simplholistic:
I signed up during the Black Friday deal and cannot wait to implement these changes in my business. After just the first day of going through the course, I signed two new brands that I had been stuck on how to word the deal with. Now, we are working together for the rest of 2019 and all year for 2020. ALL IN ONE DAY. Kate, you are rocking my world. Thank you so much. I love it so much. I really am going to recommend this to ANYONE. Thank you and you did a fantastic job at explaining every part. Even for a “not new” blogger, it was more than helpful to go back and do things I never have. I credit the success I will see soon, to you!
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 to Nicholas House in your name, as I am so blown away by their incredible mission and want to do as much as I can to help these families make the transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency.
I love the structured but home-like environment that requires they earn a living wage, maintain the physical, mental and social health of parents and children, and maintain safe and stable housing. They’re also highly rated on CharityNavigator for their accountability, transparency, and performance. Join me, won’t you?
I am so incredibly grateful for you. Thanks for showing up!