Welcome back to Root + Revel’s traffic + income reports! You might remember back in January 2018 we published our very first income report–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 shy of 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 on track to surpass $200,000 in my fourth year. #fingerscrossed
I know sharing my income with you might seem a little crazy–or perhaps you’re just here for holistic health advice, 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 Q2 2019.
Gross Income: $40,409.69
- AdThrive Ad Network, $9,432
- Affiliate Commissions, $20,732.21 (below are some of my most lucrative affiliates)
- Sponsored Content, $6,975
- 1:1 Business Coaching, $1,390
- Products, $1,879.98
*Note: $40,409.69 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 Q2 using the cash method was actually $46,570.59. 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.
Total Expenses: $58,123.73
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 my keep the blog up, running and profitable.
- NerdPress: The tech genius who manages all the backend code for my website
- Molly Cahill: Instagram management
- 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 this one!)
- 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!)
- Active Campaign (this is how I email my list; I used to use ConvertKit )
Net Profit: -$11,553.14
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 Q2 2019.
Traffic Overview: 538,132 pageviews
*Note: I’m going to talk more about the Google update down below, but it is CRAZY and super scary, not just for my business but for freedom of speech in general.
Top Ten Traffic Sources
Top 5 Posts on Root + Revel in Q2 2019:
- How I Got Pregnant with PCOS on my First Try
- DIY Mold Remover: How to Get Rid of Black Mold Naturally (Without Bleach!)
- How I Reversed my PCOS, Leaky Gut + Insulin Resistance Naturally!
- Natural Hypothyroid Treatments
- Top Sources for Organic Meat Delivery
Email List: 12,936 new email subscribers
Note: This screenshot comes from my dashboard in Active Campaign. You can see that I gained roughly 4,312 new subscribers per month in Q2.
My goal for 2019 was to get 1,000 new subscribers per month and we more than quadrupled it last quarter. WHOA! This is particularly exciting because we didn’t even run any giveaways or paid ads to grow our list, so it was truly all organic.
I also wanted to increase my open rate to 25%. Last quarter, we averaged around 10.46% for one-off campaigns (more on that below) and 34.16% for automations, bringing the average to 22.31% open rate. I also wanted to increase my click rate to 5%. Last quarter, our average click rate was 1.24% for one-off campaigns and 5.93% for automations, bringing the average to 3.59%. So we’re still shy of our goal, but we’ve been working tirelessly this year to really clean up our email list and get it as optimized as possible and it’s been a lot of trial and error.
Another goal I set is reducing our unsubscribe rate. Last quarter we lost 4,709 subscribers (roughly 1,500 per month), or about 52 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 (no change from March 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 Q2 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 top 4 things I worked on in Q2 (April through June) of 2019:
- Launched My Course: AT LONG LAST! Y’all, if you’ve been following along, I’m sure you were sick of hearing me talk about how next month was going to be the month I finally launched my course, only to get to the next month and I’d have to admit that I didn’t do it. The problem was, I was in the trenches, working hard on those tasks that were currently bringing in revenue and providing value to my readers, like writing new blog posts. Something had to go as I realized I truly could not do it all. So we put a real hard stop on creating new content and buckled down in May and June to finish my course once and for all. I am SO happy to report the Six-Figure Blog Academy opened up to beta testers in June and we had our first soft launch in July. It went SO well. Between the beta program and the soft launch, we enrolled 59 students and made $19,403 (you only see a very small portion of this reflected in the Q2 revenue numbers above as we didn’t sell the course to the general public until July, which is Q3). I’m going to be doing a whole post debriefing the launch and my strategy for marketing this course, as I plan to take it evergreen in 2020, but for now I will just say that “done is better than perfect” has never rung more true. We put our hearts and souls into the course and I’m so excited to see what Launch #2 brings in October. Stay tuned, and join the waitlist here.
- Optimizing Email List: You may remember that in February 2019 we switched from Convertkit to ActiveCampaign To say it has been an adventure would be an understatement. We’ve struggled with really low open rates and some glitches along the way, some growing pains as we learn a new system and figure out what exactly we want to use our email list for, and we’ve dealt with a good bit of spam/bot subscribers that have been throwing our numbers. But I’m happy to report that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and after doing a massive purge of inactive subscribers (we’re talking 15k+), I think we’re in a really good place. The customer support we’ve received along the way has been nothing short of amazing and overall, I’m super happy that we made the switch.
- Restructuring Finances: As you likely saw above, we were in the red for Q2. As in, we spent more than we brought in. While I never like to see that, I will say that it’s important to look at your year overall, rather than monthly or quarterly (although that view is important for cash flow purposes) to get the complete picture. The good news is that so far, we are profitable for 2019 and I’m confident that with our course launch and some other fun projects in the works, we’ll end the year on a high note. But the first half of this year has been rough, I’ll be honest. First, I was hit with a HUGE tax bill because my previous CPAs did a truly horrible job handling my taxes and not only did we owe a TON but we also had to file for an extension at the last minute and didn’t end up paying until Q2. Despite the fact that my cashflow was positive, I knew that it was time to get serious about managing my finances, so I fired my CPA and hired a new accountant who specializes in working with creative entrepreneurs in the online space (Rebecca from Steadfast), finally got myself a bookkeeper and financial wellness coach (Kelly from 238 Accounting) and started working with a financial advisor (Shannah from Millennial Money) on the personal side, too. I started implementing Profit First, which has totally revolutionized the way I think about money, and really doing a deep dive into what was happening with my money at Root + Revel, began tax planning for the first time ever, using Quickbooks to track everything and I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more secure and confident in my financial situation. I now have a whole team of experts helping me manage Root + Revel’s finances, essentially Virtual CFO’s who hold me accountable, advise me, answer questions and help me make sound financial decisions and I feel like this in itself is going to take my business to new heights.
- Google Algorithm Update + Crisis Management: And now for the bad news, and let me just say this is freaking crazy!! You may have noticed in my traffic section above that my pageviews have taken a HUGE nosedive as of June–and, naturally, my income has gone down along with it… ad revenue is 100% dependent on traffic and some of our top performing affiliate posts have basically been erased by Google, plummeting that income as well. So what the heck happened? Well, here’s what I can gather. Google is now in cahoots with Big Pharma and a lot of sites that talk about natural wellness, holistic health or functional medicine have been severely penalized by their Medic update, which rolled out in June 2019. If what the experts are saying is true, this kind of censorship is a huge first amendment violation and some seriously shady propaganda! (source; source). This is really scary, not just for my own business, but for free speech in general. I’ve even been working with one of the country’s foremost SEO experts this year and even they can’t believe how badly Root + Revel has been hit considering we are “doing everything right” when it comes to SEO (their words, not mine). Don’t believe me when I say this has been drastic?? Here’s a screenshot of my organic traffic (that’s traffic sent from Google) before and after the update:
IT’S HORRIBLE!!! If you want to fight back against this kind of censorship and help Root + Revel and other sites like Dr. Axe and Mercola save their businesses, you can sign this petition here!
Goals for Q3 2019
Alright, this has been a doozy of an income report so I’m gonna wrap up here and just let you know that my plans for Q3 are simple: Prep for Launch #2 and Hire a VA. That’s right, R+R’s small but mighty team is growing once again and if you’re interested in working together, you can apply for the job here.
Each month, I feature one question from a reader. Here’s the question from last month:
Can you explain your RPM calculation? $73 doesn’t make sense to me with your PV and ad revenue. Also, mine is so much lower, and I’m completely dumbfounded as to how I could increase it that much! Love your reports, btw. These are so inspiring!
Great question! While your advertising network will likely give you an RPM calculation, for the purposes of these income reports, I’m looking at RPM for all types of revenue, not just ad revenue. So I take my total revenue and total pageviews and run the numbers to see how well optimized my entire site is, not just my ads.
Hope that helps and so glad you love the reports!
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 year, 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!