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: $15,167.70
- AdThrive Ad Network, $2,626
- Affiliate Commissions, $6,092.54 (below are some of my most lucrative affiliates)
- Sponsored Content, $0
- 1:1 Business Coaching, $0
*Note: $15,167.70 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 $18,266.17. 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
- The Blog Village: An online blogging school with tools for tracking social media growth all in one place and creating a media kit
- 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.
They’ve got a few different plans, but I recommend just starting with the Basic Plan for just $3.95/month (this is a special deal just for my readers; normally it’s $7.99/month). I also recommend choosing the 36-month plan, which will help you save money, too. Another way to save money? Sign up for eBates, the FREE cash back app that gives you extra money in your pocket! With Bluehost, you’ll get $10 cashback.
Even better? When you choose Bluehost, you can get your domain for free. Keep reading to find out how! Simply type in your desired domain to make sure nobody else has already taken it.
AAAAAAAAnd, with Bluehost, you’ll have WordPress automatically installed, and you can even pick a theme right away. To learn more about how to get started blogging, check out this 6-step guide we created for you!
*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: -$1,689.25
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: 138,726 pageviews (35.15% 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. 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
- DIY Homemade Face Oil
- Top Sources for Organic Meat Delivery
*Note: We saw a lot of changes this month 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!
Email List: 5,988 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 we SEXTUPLED it last month with nearly 6k new subscribers. WHOA!
Some other cool stats: our highest open rates come on Fridays, Wednesdays and Sundays. Our best times to send: 11 am EST (by a landslide!), followed by 12 PM, 4 PM and 9 AM. My top opt-in was for my Library of Resources, followed by my PCOS Recipe Guide, DIY Cleaning eBook and 99-Step Roadmap to a Profitable Blog.
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 3 of our 5 automations have over a 27% open rate. My goal this year was to increase my open rate to 25% so we’re well on our way. But last month, we averaged around 18.75% open rate across the board. It appears our Welcome Series open rate has dropped significantly this month so I’m going to need to troubleshoot that in November.
I also wanted to increase my click rate to 5%. Last month, our average click rate was 5.28%, so we have FINALLY met (and exceeded!) our goal. Happy dance!
Another goal I set is reducing our unsubscribe rate. Last month we lost 4,343 subscribers after I did a huge purge of our cold subscribers and dealt with some issues of bots subscribing through a particular form. 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 Q3 2019)
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.
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 October 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 October.
- Failure and Launch #2 of 6FBA: Last month, in our Q3 income report, I shared a very vulnerable lesson I learned about failure and setbacks and this continued into October. In fact, it wasn’t really until the end of October that I started to come out of my funk and get re-energized about work again. Just as our traffic from Google was starting to rise again, we were hit with another major setback in the form of failed Facebook ads. I’m going to get into ALL of the nitty gritty details in a forthcoming post debriefing this launch, but the short version goes like this: We spent a total of $10,879.14 on FB ads, plus $6,500 on agency fees = $17,379.14 total ad spend. And guess what? Sadly, those ads only resulted in $5,467 of revenue (note that the course itself earned more than that ($14,409 including payment plans), but sales attributed to the ads were just $5,467), meaning we took a HUGE loss of $12,412. Man was that hard to swallow, especially since our overall revenue was down overall from a rough summer after Google updates. But in the end, once the rain began to stop and the sun started to shine again, I learned MANY hard lessons and now know exactly what I need to improve for Launch #3 (pssst it’s happening on January 7, 2020 so mark your calendars!). One of the biggest lessons I learned: my Root + Revel wellness audience does not have a lot of overlap with my blogging business audience. And so I need to separate out those 2 business like the truly separate entities that they are. Which brings me to…
- New Website: If you’re reading this post, you’ve likely realized that we launched a TOTALLY new website for the blogging biz arm of my business. KateKordsmeier.com has been my main focus the past few weeks, getting the new site set up, a new logo designed, a new Facebook group created and a new overall strategy for moving forward. I’m so excited about this new venture and I know that it’s going to bring so much joy and fulfillment to my life, as I am SO passionate about helping other heart-centered entrepeneurs achieve their dreams. This work has been lighting me up all month and it feels so good to be back in my groove!
- New Hire: Speaking of new, we hired a new employee in October bringing our team to a total of 3 (plus lots of contractors!). Brooke is a beautiful soul who is part VA part marketing director right now and although she’s part-time to start, my goal is to bring her on full-time in 2020 as we continue to grow and launch new projects. Recognizing that you can’t do it all yourself, that you’ll go farther together than alone, and that investing in your business to create freedom is key to success has been a tenet of my business for a few years now. And once I truly started treating my business like a business, everything changed! I’ve been reading the book Rocket Fuel this month and really trying to step more into the Visionary role and hiring team members to help get me out of the weeds is step #1.
Goals for November 2019
Alright, I’m gonna wrap up here and just let you know that my plans for next month center around the pre-launch runway we are doing for Launch #3 of the Six-Figure Blog Academy. I’ve been learning about in Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy and we’ve come up with an 8-week plan to grow our email list and truly connect with and serve our tribe.
One of the ways we’re doing this is with Facebook Lives–every week from November 11 through January 7 I am going live in our brand new Facebook group (come join us!) to talk about building a profitable online business and achieving true and lasting success with soul.
In our first live, we talked about the 6 Types of Profitable Blogs (you can catch the replay here!), plus what to do next to get started. If you’ve been wanting to start a blog but aren’t sure where to start or what you even want to blog about, this video is for YOU! We even created a FREE quiz you can take to find your true calling here:
Each month, I feature one question from a reader. But sadly we didn’t get any questions last month. We did, however, receive some beautiful words of encouragement so I want to take a minute to do a reader spotlight. This comes from Kristina:
I love the honesty here, it’s actually really refreshing because we all experience it. If every single income report was more and more money, more and more success, I think some readers would wonder why they’re the only ones experiencing setbacks. This blogging world is truly the wild west and I think this is an important lesson that it’s key to diversify. But excited to see where this new website takes you and your team!
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 a fundraiser that I co-hosted for breast cancer patients. We partnered with the Cancer Support and Survivorship program at Atlanta’s Northside Hospital Cancer Institute to donate Beautycounter care packages, a cause I was so honored to be a part of. Thanks for your support if you donated!
I am so incredibly grateful for you. Thanks for showing up!