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: $16,296.14
- AdThrive Ad Network, $3,942.00
- Affiliate Commissions, $11,328.67
- Sponsored Content, $750.00
- Business Coaching, $150.00
- eBooks (13 Pitches That Worked eBook and Superfood Green Smoothies), $125.47
Total Expenses: $7,537.23
- Social Media Management, $1,009.00 (this includes tools like Tailwind and my Instagram account manager)
- Virtual Assistant $$3,254.61
- Website/Tech/Tools $211.98 (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 $159.99
- Advertising + Marketing, $2,314.45
- Accounting/Bookkeeping/Payroll $229 (this includes Tax Prep and my online accounting service, Bookly)
- Office Supplies + Networking $358.20 (this includes resources like Texture and Audible, networking meals, conferences, etc.)
Net Profit: $8,758.91
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: 222,581 pageviews for the month (a 6.24% increase from last month)
Top Ten Traffic Sources
Psssst….love seeing my new email service provider driving traffic back to the blog!
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!)
- How I Reversed my PCOS, Leaky Gut + Insulin Resistance Naturally!
- Keto Beef Stew in the Instant Pot
- Top Sources for Organic Meat Delivery
So excited to see my natural pregnancy with PCOS post as our most popular for the 2nd month in a row! This is so near and dear to my heart 🙂
Email List: 4,455 new subscribers
March marked my first full month with ActiveCampaign (where the screenshot above was taken).
My goal for 2019 was to get 1,000 new subscribers per month and we more than quadrupled it last month. WHOA! A large part of this was because of a big giveaway we ran for Air Filters, which had over 2,500 people enter (not all were new subscribers). I also wanted to increase my open rate to 25%. Last month, we averaged around 25.84%, which is so exciting! I also wanted to increase my click rate to 5%. Last month, our average click rate was 4.87%, so we are almost there.
Another goal I want to set is reducing our unsubscribe rate. Last month it was 0.61%, which means about 10 people unsubscribe every time we send an email on average. But we also lose subscribers without sending emails. In fact, last month we lost 933 subscribers, or about 33 subscribers per day. I’d love to see that number be under 500 unsubscribers per month, or less than 15 unsubscribers per day. Hopefully as we continue to improve our segmenting and value, our subscribers will stick around more.
Scroll below to Takeaways section to read more about our email efforts and optimization.
Domain Authority: 53
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 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: You may remember that in February we switched from Convertkit to ActiveCampaign, so March was our first full month with the new system. It hasn’t been without its kinks, but I have to say I couldn’t be more pleased. I especially love the reporting and analytics features, which really help to optimize your email efforts. Take a look at last month’s campaign performance report:
As you can see, although we have nearly 25,000 email subscribers now, we don’t send every email to everyone on the list. First, when subscribers first join, they go through our Welcome Series. Then they get put into different funnels based on their interests. We spent a lot of March tinkering with segments and targeting, trying to balance sending to the most people to maximize our reach, while also sending only to those engaged and active subscribers to improve deliverability. We’ve tested some subject lines, too. And soon we’ll start A/B testing more campaigns, both the subject lines and the content itself.
One of the key things I noticed when analyzing my campaign performance this month was that our emails with the highest open rates are the Welcome emails when people first join and are looking to get their freebies, whether it’s access to our Library of Resources or our Blogging Biz Toolkit. After that, I notice that the more niche the emails, the higher the open rates. For example, our 7-Day Free Green Smoothie challenge has super high open rates, as do our Blogging Biz Series emails, both of which are between 32-58% opens. This tells me we should create more targeted email series. I’m thinking of adding a Green Home and Green Beauty series, as well as a Natural Mama + Baby series to our email list.
- 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 over $1,500 this month from Beautycounter and grow my team to 14 people. I was just $600 away from making Director last month, so April is all about working with my team to hit that promotion. The 15% Friends & Family sale will definitely help 😉 I’m SO excited to be empowering these women (and ONE MAN who joined recently!). 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 third 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).
- Speaking of Affiliate Income, I was so happy that we got the kink worked out with Butcher Box from last month, and our income returned to nearly $5,000 in one month. In fact, our affiliate revenue hit an ALL TIME HIGH in March at a whopping $11,328.67. This is incredible, especially since our pageviews/traffic haven’t really changed. It makes me think: if my goal is to make $25,000 per month, and I can make $12,000 from affiliate income, $2,000 from Beautycounter, and $4,000 from ads then I only need to come up with $7,000 more each month, which could be my goal for my course sales each month. And then I would only work with a VERY FEW select sponsors and stop relying on that kind of time-for-dollars income. As I’m still battling with finding that elusive working mom balance, finding more sources for passive income and scaling back on the number of new blog posts we publish each month might just be where I take things in Q2. Stay tuned!
Goals for April 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. I’m in the process of hiring a copywriter to help me create some email funnels and a sales page, and I think working with her will also help hold me accountable, as I’m clearly struggling to do that for myself.
But there is one quick thing I want to talk about here: abundance.
You may have noticed last month that I participated in a blogger collaboration called #betterforyoucrew with five other green bloggers. While many influencers often see our peers as the competition, I couldn’t feel more opposite. My peers are my friends, they are who I learn from, network with, share successes and challenges with, bounce ideas off of, meet with to vent about the Instagram algorithm…you get the idea.
There is room for EVERYONE. I always want to come from a place of abundance, of support and encouragement, not only because I’m a huge believer in karma, but because the truth is “the world is wide enough for Hamilton and me.”
There is only one YOU, only one person who has your incredibly unique perspective, experiences, skill set, talents, voice, opinions, and passions. And nobody else can ever replace you. Think about it–how many people ONLY shop at one store? Only listen to ONE band? Only eat at ONE restaurant? NOBODY!
The world is wide enough for all of us. There is room for everyone, so a big focus for me this year is collaborating with my peers more. I want to build each other up, not tear each other down. Comment below if you agree!
Featured Question: Every month, I feature one question from a reader in each monthly income report. Here’s the question from last month:
Can you tell us what percentage of your affiliate sales come from the blog vs email list? Also, you noted that ultimately you want to drive traffic to selling your own products. Do you think you’ve worked as hard this past year driving traffic to your own ebooks as you have to affiliate products? Just curious if that is truly passive income or if you continue to work on the sales? Thank you SO MUCH for all you share to your readers. It truly is inspirational and helps as a bit of a pick-me-up when I’m frustrated….. ???? You’ve built an amazing blog and your posts are very enjoyable to read.
I wish I knew the answer to this brilliant question, but alas it is far too complicated to track where affiliate income came from for all of our hundreds of partners. While it is possible to use specific tracking links, it would require so much work for us to create 2 unique links for every single affiliate link we use (there are literally THOUSANDS) and so we don’t really know exactly where our affiliate sales come from across the board.
However, we’ve been trying to determine the value of a subscriber for a while now, even just to get a ballpark figure. And there’s a few ways we’ve tried:
#OF EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS/TOTAL REVENUE = $ VALUE OF A SUBSCRIBER
So for example, in March that would be $16,296.14 divided by 23,477 subscribers = $1.44 per subscriber
However, this assumes that all revenue came from email. So we’d have to then take a percentage of that revenue instead. If we guesstimated that 50% of our revenue came from email, that would bring the value of a subscriber up to $2.88.
But this doesn’t take into account expenses. So we’d try using net profit instead ($8,758.91), 50% of which is $4,379, which would bring the value of a subscriber up to $5.36.
Why does this even matter? Other than being a “good to know”, if you ever run paid ads to grow your list, you’ll want to make sure that you’re not paying more per lead than that lead is worth to you. So if I determine I make about $5 on every subscriber on my email list, I want to make sure that my ads cost less than $5 per conversion.
To answer your second question: affiliate income is not 100% passive. While we do make the bulk of our affiliate income from our email autoresponder series and static blog posts (do it once and forget it and keep earning forever), we also make money from the weekly emails we send out in real time, social media posts that we do daily and creating new content for the blog. I don’t have an immediate answer for you about how passive it really is, but you’ve inspired me to look deeper into this and I will report back next month with my findings.
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.
For the last 2 months, I’ve been donating 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. 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?
P.S. Stay tuned–we’re working on an exciting virtual fundraiser coming to you soon!
I am so incredibly grateful for you. Thanks for showing up! 🙂