Welcome back to Root + Revel’s monthly traffic + income reports! You might remember back in January we published an annual income report for 2017 (hint: I earned over $75,000 blogging in my second year!).
But, as promised, moving forward I’m going to be sharing monthly reports so we can dive deeper into the every day of running a blogging business.
I know this might seem a little crazy to you, but let me explain.
P.S. 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 May 2018…
Total Income: $13,143.92
- Mediavine Ad Network, $1,562.23
- Affiliate Commissions, $7,078.57
- Butcher Box $3,605.00
- Amazon $551.71
- Viome $400.00
- Food Blogger Pro $369.16
- US Wellness Meats $290.60
- Dry Farm Wines $214.72
- Thrive Market $210.00
- True Botanicals $179.70
- Vital Choice $178.77
- Food Revolution Summit $169.00
- AnnMarie Skincare $135.47
- SunBasket $100.00
- Aillea $80.37
- Truvani $79.09
- Credo Beauty $68.10
- Kettle & Fire $54.79
- Beautycounter $51.25
- StudioPress $45.48
- Melyssa Griffin $43.50
- Real Plans $36.00
- Adventures in Blogging $31.60
- The Detox Market $31.13
- Daily Harvest $30.00
- Reward Style $27.16
- Philosophie $27.03
- Ultimate Bundles $11.99
- Intelligent Blends $10.84
- MightyNest $10.80
- Vital Proteins $8.85
- ConvertKit $8.70
- Love Goodly $6.28
- Pique Tea $4.80
- Raw Spice Bar $2.08
- Yoga Download $2.00
- Four Sigmatic $1.60
- Tailwind $1.00
- Sponsored Content, $4,375.00
- Business Coaching, $96.80
- 13 Pitches That Worked eBook, $18.46
- Outbrain, $12.86
Total Expenses: $6,881.89
- Social Media Management $59.98 (this includes tools like Tailwind and Board Booster)
- Virtual Assistant $2,533.73
- SEO Help, $1,500
- Website/Tech/Tools $1,769.57 (this includes partial payment for a website redesign and tools like VaultPress, my hosting service Cloudways, my tech manager, The Blog Tutor, and tools like Milotree)
- Ads $176.01
- Accounting/Bookkeeping/Payroll $229 (this includes Tax Prep and my online accounting service, Bookly)
- Courses + Education $199.00 (this includes Food Blogger Pro, The Blog Village, B-School and more)
- Office Supplies + Networking $414.60 (this includes resources like Texture and Audible, networking meals, conferences, etc.)
- Adobe Creative Suite $9.99 (this is what I use to edit photos)
Net Profit: $6,262.03
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 May.
Traffic Overview: 114,906 pageviews for the month
Top Ten Traffic Sources
Top 5 Posts on Root + Revel Last Month:
- How I Reversed my PCOS, Leaky Gut + Insulin Resistance Naturally!
- DIY Mold Remover: How to Get Rid of Black Mold Naturally (Without Bleach!)
- Top Sources for Organic Meat Delivery
- A Butter Coffee Recipe to Balance Hormones + Improve Digestion
- Keto Beef Stew in the Instant Pot
Note: This screenshot comes from my dashboard in ConvertKit.
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.
Hourly Rate: I worked on the blog for a total of 40 hours in May (that’s right…the 4-hour Work Week is a real thing). With a gross income of $13,143.92, that means I earned roughly $328 per hour. Not too shabby!
If you look at my net income instead, my hourly rate drops to about $156/hour, which is above my goal of $100 per hour. This is super exciting, as it’s the first month this year that I’ve been above my goal!
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 two main things I worked on this month:
- Maximizing Output by Minimizing Input: Not only did I take a few vacations in May, but I started reading two really powerful books: The 4-Hour Work Week and Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, both of which really focus on how to do more by actually doing less. This has been a big theme of mine over the last year and a half, both in my personal life for anxiety reasons, and in my business. It was really amazing to me to see that this month I worked less hours than any other month this year, and yet my income was the highest it’s been. It can be hard to figure out exactly what tasks move the needle the most, but I spent a lot of time in May thinking about this concept and essentially getting rid of the many trivial tasks that fill up my day in favor of focusing on only those that truly make an impact in my business. And spending the leftover time doing things just for me and my family, like going to the beach, reading, doing crossword puzzles, gardening, walking my pup, decorating our house, and spending time with friends and family. So which tasks make the biggest impact: writing blog posts, email marketing, SEO, Pinterest. Which tasks are we cutting back on, if not getting rid of all together: social media, comment pods and share threads, one-off sponsors. This has been especially important as I’m planning my maternity leave for the Fall. And this month was really reassuring to see that it’s possible for me to work less than 10 hours per week and still make this kind of income.
- Affiliate Emails: Speaking of which tasks move the needle most, my email list is easily at the top of that list. And my assistant and I spent a lot of May planning our email edit calendar for the next few months and writing and scheduling those emails in advance. We worked a lot on our Favorite Finds affiliate emails that go out every Tuesday, but we also spent a good chunk of time updating our email sequences with new affiliates and helpful content for our subscribers. We’ve also started really analyzing the programs we’re in to see which ones resonate most with our readers, result in the most clicks, the most sales and the most income for us. Moving forward, this will help us to really hone in on the most successful affiliates and spend less time promoting those that don’t provide enough of an ROI. This takes some trial and error, so it’s an experiment we’ll be testing out over the Summer, but one that we’ve already gotten some answers to. For example, we’re an affiliate for a bone broth company that we’ve promoted pretty heavily through emails, blog posts and social media this past year. So far, we’ve sent 681 potential customers to their site. But only 23 have purchased anything. That’s a conversion rate of just 3%, which might be okay if the commissions were great. But unfortunately, we only earn a 20% commission on sales and most sales are less than $40. So this means we’re only earning roughly $8 per sale. Compare that to a meat delivery service we’re an affiliate for: so far, we’ve sent 9,182 potential customers to their site (first, this shows that our audience is more interested in this product). Then, we generated 333 sales, which is a conversion rate of 3.6%…so it’s not that much more than the bone broth, however, we earn $35 for every sale (compared to roughly $8). So this has a much better payout for us and makes it more worth our time to promote a product like this than a product where we don’t earn much per sale.
Does that make sense? I know that was a lot of info and numbers. I’m actually working on an affiliate post now and will have a big section on affiliate marketing in my upcoming course, so if you have any questions about affiliate marketing, please leave them in the comments below so I can include answers in our content!
Goals for June 2018
- Ads: I’ve heard time and time again that you should spend at least the same amount of time promoting your content as you did creating it, if not more. This is something I’ve been wanting to change for a long time, but often feel stuck on what the best ways to promote are and whether it’s organically or paid, like with ads. I’ve experimented with ads a little bit, but would like to really hone this strategy as I know a lot of bloggers have success with Facebook and Pinterest ads. As some of you may remember from previous income reports, I have been playing around with Outbrain ads, which are basically in-content ads on other sites that promote your content. On the one hand, this has been a great strategy for increasing pageviews, but on the other hand the ROI just hasn’t been there. Those visitors spend less than 15 seconds on R+R, they don’t sign up for my email list or purchase any of my products, and they rarely visit more than 1 page. I’ve been trying to calculate whether the impressions on ads they’re providing are enough to offset the cost of driving the traffic, but so far, I don’t think it has been. And really, it’s been more of a vanity pursuit of making me feel good about having higher pageviews, a surface level success. But when you really look into it, it’s not doing much for my bottom line. So I either need to tweak or stop running these ads moving forward.
- Miscellaneous: This is sort of a cop-out answer, but I feel like I’ve been really repetitive this year in my goals so I’m just going to summarize some ongoing strategies here: getting ahead on our content, launching my blogging business course, spending time on education with B-School and other relevant books, continuing to hone our affiliate strategy, only working with long-term sponsors and working smarter, not harder.
Featured Question: Last month, I shared how I’ll be featuring one question from a reader in each monthly income report. Here’s the question from last month:
Hi, Thanks for sharing your income report but pls reply are u using any paid traffic like facebook ads for affiliate marketing. I am also promoting affiliate product but not converting into sales. Presently i am not using any paid traffic sources. Many people suggest me facebook ads method. Pls reply how you promote affiliate product because you are getting many sales…
So I basically answered this questions throughout this post, but to reiterate, my answer is yes and no. No I am not using facebook ads for affiliate marketing. But I do use organic social media for affiliates.
If your affiliate products aren’t converting into sales, I think you need to analyze your strategy. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are people clicking through your affiliate links to begin with, showing you they’re interested in the product?
- What is the conversion rate? What could you do to boost sales, instill more confidence in your readers that they would benefit from buying this product?
- Are you authentically integrating affiliate links into your content in a genuine way or are you slapping dozens of links all over your site with no real context or purpose?
- How do you incorporate affiliate links into your content? Is it just through blog posts? Do you promote to your email list? Do you share on your social channels?
Paid ads might be a good strategy, but you’d have to earn more from the commission than you spent on the ad, and it’s going to cut into your bottom line. So it’s definitely oging to be an experiment of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I 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. This month, I donated to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in your name. My cousin committed suicide a few years ago, and with the recent news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I felt compelled to do something for this cause, as I know personally how absolutely devastating it can be to lose a loved one this way. 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 extra cost to you when you purchase through my links.