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 January 2019…
TOTAL INCOME: $11,271.39
- AdThrive Ad Network, $3,044.00
- Affiliate Commissions, $7,115.82
- Sponsored Content, $750.00
- Business Coaching, $261.87
- eBooks (13 Pitches That Worked eBook and Superfood Green Smoothies), $99.70
TOTAL EXPENSES: $5,185.36
- Social Media Management, -$75.94 (this includes tools like Tailwind, but was negative this month due to some refunds)
- Virtual Assistant $2,802.14
- Website/Tech/Tools $610.98 (this includes partial payment for a website redesign and tools like VaultPress and Milotree, my hosting service Cloudways, and my tech manager, The Blog Tutor/Nerdpress, and my email service provider ActiveCampaign)
- Photography + Video $309.99
- Advertising + Marketing, $774.00
- Accounting/Bookkeeping/Payroll $678 (this includes Tax Prep and my online accounting service, Bookly)
- Office Supplies + Networking $86.19 (this includes resources like Texture and Audible, networking meals, conferences, etc.)
NET PROFIT: $6,086.03
Whew! I know that’s a lot to take in. One of the things I hope people will take away 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 August.
Traffic Overview: 209,507 pageviews for the month (a -8.32% decrease from last month, which makes sense since February is a shorter month)
Top Ten Traffic Sources
Top 5 Posts on Root + Revel Last Month:
- How I Got Pregnant On My First Try with PCOS
- DIY Mold Remover: How to Get Rid of Black Mold Naturally (Without Bleach!)
- Keto Beef Stew in the Instant Pot
- How I Reversed my PCOS, Leaky Gut + Insulin Resistance Naturally!
- Top Sources for Organic Meat Delivery
So excited to see my natural pregnancy with PCOS post as our most popular! This is so near and dear to my heart 🙂
Email List: 1,967 net new subscribers
I’m not showing a screenshot this month because we switched from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign and so our tracking looks wonky. But we started the month with 17,055 subscribers and ended February with 19,022 subscribers.
My goal for 2019 was to get 1,000 new subscribers per month and we almost doubled it, so that’s really exciting! I also wanted to increase my open rate from 20.99% to 25% opens. According to our open rates for our Welcome Series, we’re getting a 24.17% open rate, so we are VERY close. I also wanted to increase my click rate from 3.47% to 5% clicks. Our Welcome Series is now getting a 6.08% click rate, so it’s so encouraging to see our goals being exceeded 🙂
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 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:
- Optimizing my Email List: I mentioned last month how I was switching from Convertkit to ActiveCampaign. And although AC offers an amazing free migration service, it still wound up being an extremely time-consuming process, particularly with regards to the subscribers who were currently in my Welcome Series. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details, but I’ll say this: I have never worked with a company that offers such AMAZING customer service. I have had twice weekly, if not more, calls with support (I was assigned someone specifically) and have spent HOURS working through some issues, making sure everything is set up right and getting my questions answered. I cannot believe this help is offered to me free of charge and I really don’t know what I would’ve done without it, as getting acquainted with a new system and how it works is difficult enough in and of itself. It’s still too early to report much else at this point, but we are now 100% switched over to the new service, have updated some of our automations, created beautiful new templates for our email campaigns, are starting to prune our list on auto-pilot, and will eventually be working to optimize more of what we do so that our email list can really work for us. Stay tuned!
- Instagram: I mentioned last month that I hired a rockstar social media manager (here’s her website!) to help increase my engagement on Instagram and she is full of amazing ideas, many of which we’ve been implementing. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you may have noticed our new bio, some pretty new Story Templates, more engaging captions and overall just a more refined and focused strategy in what we’re posting, when, how, etc. Like any new venture, there’s a ramp up period, but I am so happy to report that I’ve already noticed a big difference in our engagement. First of all, my reach in February compared to January was up 91.08%. That’s almost double the number of accounts reached!! Likewise, my average engagement rate by post was up 42.50% AND even more important, my average engagement on reach was up 17.29%. I like looking at engagement on reach because Insta’s algorithm is so convoluted so why would I care what my engagement was on accounts that never even saw my content? Instead, I look at how many accounts are seeing my content, and then from that number, what the engagement rate was. In February, we were up to 6.11% engagement on reach, which is awesome. That said, my followers continue to slowly decline (not worried about that for now) and my story views (the reach of my stories) is still way below where I’d like it to be. So we’ll be working on that moving forward. In terms of using Instagram to drive traffic back to the blog, we’ve found that static posts drive almost none, but Story Swipe Ups are very effective.
- Beautycounter: Last year, I mentioned that this beauty brand was going to be a big focus for me in 2019. And I’m ECSTATIC to report that with very minimal effort on my part, I was able to make nearly $1,500 this month from Beautycounter. March is going to be even better as I’m really close to making Director thanks to recruiting 9 new team members during their Half-Off Consultant promo. I’m SO excited to be empowering these women and working together and I know it’s going to do great things for all involved. Want to learn more? I’ve found their consultant program to be an amazing way to build revenue from my blog and it’s a business that I am super proud to be a part of. I primarily use Beautycounter as an affiliate program, rather than trying to sell to friends and family (though there’s some of that, too). As I’ve done with Root + Revel, I love being an educator and helping people understand what they’re putting on their body and WHY IT MATTERS. So how’d I do it? Easy! They have an amazing commission structure that allows you to not only earn up to 35% on all sales, but also to earn additional 5-12% commission from your team’s sales AND get 25% off all products for yourself. My goal is to make at least $2,000 per month from the program, and in my second month of putting in any real effort, I’m already 3/4 of the way there. I’ll continue to keep you posted in future income reports, but in the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about Beautycounter and/or becoming a consultant, I’d love to talk with you about joining my team. I can’t wait to see where this program can take my business, and as I’m working to build a team of bloggers, if you’re reading this and wanting to add a great new revenue stream to your arsenal, we should chat! Comment on this post or email me (kate[at]rootandrevel.com).
Goals for March 2019
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet as my goals haven’t changed much this quarter, and I still need to FINALLY finish my Blogging Business course. One day it will happen. We’re getting closer. Stay tuned. But there is one quick thing I want to talk about here:
Income Ebbs + Flows: You may have noticed that we had a relatively low income month in February, especially in comparison to January when we earned over $20,000 (this month’s was nearly half that). Some of that was intentional–due to all of the other work we had on our plates, we decided not to take on any sponsored content in February, which was a loss of roughly $5,000 for the month. We also had a snafu with one of our affiliates and a coupon site, which caused that income to drop by about $2,000 for the month. And it was just a shorter month in general, so less ad revenue.
So we can pinpoint exactly what happened and we know what we have to do to get that number back up. But I won’t lie to you: it didn’t feel good to see that number drop so much.
You’d think that after 10 years of being self-employed (read: no steady paycheck), I would be used to the ebbs and flows, but they still get me every time. While I know how to manage my personal finances in such a way that these drops don’t make me immediately go into feast or famine mode, the dips still always give me a punch in the gut and it’s hard not to get down on myself.
I’m trying to remember that it’s all relative. This time last year I would’ve been OVER THE MOON to make $11,000. It’s only because we’ve grown our business and revenue that now $11,000 seems like not enough. It is. In some ways, it’s more than I ever could’ve dreamed this little blog of mine could generate. And it’s more than I need to provide for my family. I am grateful and I’m putting everything in perspective.
But I’m human, too. And seeing your revenue cut in half is a hard pill to swallow. And a good kick in the ass to get busy for March and beyond. I’ve realized that I’m not at a point yet where I’m ready to forgo sponsored content income, and I truly love working with our partners. We just need to be more strategic and raise our rates to correspond with our much larger audience size and unique reach every month. So we’ve come up with a new plan, are reaching out to some new brands about partnering and hopefully by April, we’ll be back up to $20,000 per month and beyond! Stay tuned 😉
Featured Question: Every month, I feature one question from a reader in each monthly income report. Here’s the question from last month:
Hey Kate! Congrats on an amazing year! I love seeing how all your planning and hard work has paid off. One of the biggest takeaways for me is investing in your business to help it grow. So far I’ve invested in technology (ActiveCampaign, Leadpages etc….) but I have not taken the plunge on hiring help yet. If you had to pick the place where hiring helped you the most, what would it be? The PR person, social media, video production, a VA to add links to posts…. to be honest, I’m not sure where to start! Thanks!
Thanks so much for asking such a thoughtful question. I’m glad you’ve seen the light in terms of investing in your blog. It’s funny to me that bloggers are so hesitant to spend any money on their blog before they’re making tons of money. And I get it–the money has to come from somewhere right?
BUT in nearly every other business, you’d expect to have an upfront investment in ads/marketing, supplies/materials, building/construction if you’re a brick and mortar, employees and customer service, etc. There’s almost no business that you can start with $0 down and grow into something profitable. And yet bloggers try to do it this way ALL. THE. TIME.
Would a restaurant open without food? Would a retail store open without clothes? Would Apple open without iPhones or Genius bar dudes? No! So why should an online business open without the resources that we need to run our business? It IS a business. Treat it like one, invest in it, and it will reward you with revenue much faster than if you try to do EVERYTHING yourself. I don’t know anyone who is a writer, photographer, marketer, accountant, social media guru, video producer, publicist, SEO expert, AND succeeds equally well in all of those fields. Don’t try to be everything for your business, you’ll burn out so fast that way!
Ok, getting off my soapbox, let me actually answer your question. What was most helpful? I hired my VA/business manager nearly 2 years ago and without her I can guarantee you that R+R wouldn’t exist. She is a Jill of all trades and helps me with everything from PR and pitching me as a podcast guest to writing content for the blog and our emails, and working with our affiliate and sponsor brand partners. She is THE BEST MONEY I have ever spent.
I made sure when I hired her that she had not only the background and experience and skill set I was looking for, but also the personality type: I wanted someone that was really self-motivated, ambitious, and hard-working, but also kind, green-thinking, health-minded and a genuinely good person. Sarah delivers on all fronts and she has grown to be such an important part of my business that I honestly can never imagine doing it without her. So do your due diligence and make sure you hire someone that has the skills AND qualities you’re looking for in a team member.
Sarah never feels like an employee of mine, rather like a trusted advisor and partner who is equally invested in the success of Root + Revel. She works roughly 20 hours per week for Root + Revel, though she’s not paid hourly. Instead she’s paid a flat fee, plus a commission on our profits, which we’ve both found to be an excellent incentive.
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.
Last month, I donated to Nicholas House in your name. And then they reached out to me to say thank you and I went on a tour of their shelter a few weeks ago. I was 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. So this month, I donated to Nicholas House again.
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! 🙂
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 additional cost to you.