Every month I post a summary of how Homemade Hooplah is doing both in traffic and income. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m trying to become a career blogger and I thought it might be interesting (and helpful!) to chronicle how this crazy idea of mine is doing from a business perspective. You can view past income reports here.
So without further ado, let's see how Homemade Hooplah did for July!
First Things First, How About That Income?
- MediaVine: $3,097.22 (went down 13.58%)
- Amazon.com Associates: $12.45 (went down 4%)
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $5.80
- Mass Planner Affiliate: $24.50
Total Income: $3,122.02 (went down 20%)
If there's one word I could use to describe July, it would be low.
Opportunities for sponsored posts were low, both in volume and compensation.
Traffic was also lower than I expected (particularly around July 4th) and that was only compounded by the fact that ad revenue as a whole was also very low.
But, thankfully, I was at least “prepared” for all this lowness. After all, the Summer Slump is still in full
crawl swing and it will continue to be a blogger's resident Debbie Downer until well into August. It also helped that late last month MediaVine provided us with a graph that detailed the average amount companies spend on advertising each month (and, spoiler alert: July and August were just as low, if not lower, than January), so July's less-than-stellar revenue wasn't a total shock.
So while I totally get why July was low, it still stung to watch this month slither by. Needless to say, I am certainly not sad to see the last 31 days fade away in my blogging's history. Onward to the end of Q3 and the beginning of Q4!
Secondly, What About Those Expenses?
- Virtual Assistant: $177.00 (Need a VA? Contact sky.fisher(a)ymail(dot)com for info!)
- WPopt (hosting): $152.85
- MOZ: $99.00
- Buffer: $50.00
- Adobe Creative Cloud: $50.00
- Meet Edgar: $49.00
- BoardBooster: $16.84
- MailChimp: $20.00
- Tailwind: $10.00
- Dropbox: $9.99
- Mass Planner: $9.95
- CoPromote: $19.99
Total Expenses: $664.62
If July brought any good news, it was that expenses were a little more forgiving this time around.
I've kept firm with my decision to no longer boost posts on Facebook, and that ultimately equates to $50-$100 I get to keep in my pocket each month. And so far, I'm happier saving the money than I ever was with the performance of a boosted post. In fact, since I've stopped boosting, the only change I've noticed is that my average reach is a little higher now. Not by much, of course, because Facebook would never let it be that easy on us, but it's clear to me that when I was actively boosting posts my average reach was simply awful unless I boosted. It was if Facebook had targeted me as someone who was willing to pay and so they would “artificially” lower my reach in the hopes that I would pay to get it higher (which, of course, I did). And now that I've stopped boosting posts, I'm sure Facebook is giving me above-average reach in the hopes that I'll get greedy for more and start paying them again.
Hate to break it to ya, Facebook, but this business page owner is no longer playing that game. I'm going to keep letting the cards fall where they may.
In other news, BoardBooster was also a little cheaper this month… but I can't tell you why that is, as I certainly haven't been using the service less. If anything, I've given BoardBooster more tasks over the last few weeks. I'm assuming this just means I'll be charged the extra next month to make up for it.
Thirdly, How Was The Traffic?
- Total Visits: 397,161 (went up 9%)
- Total Page Views: 504,323 (went up 7%)
- Average visitors per day: 12,812 (went up 6%)
- Average pageviews per day: 16,268 (went up 4%)
- Best day: July 3rd with 15,852 visitors / 17,576 pageviews
Traffic remained steady for July, but at the same time, I was a little underwhelmed by the amount of visitors I had for the “biggest” summer holiday – July 4th.
To compare, the highest day I had for holiday traffic (which would up being July 3rd, the Sunday before the holiday) was about the same as my average daily pageviews in May. Heck, my average pageviews for this month was only about 1,000 pageviews than what came in for the holiday.
And I know 17,500 pagviews not awful by any means (I mean, c'mon, that many pageviews in one day is always awesome) but knowing what I did about the impending lowness of July… I guess I put a lot of hope in the fact that this one holiday would help carry me through the month. Sadly, it was not to be.
On the plus side, traffic did manage sneak above 500,000 again, and I'm hoping this will put me in a good position in the coming months. Fingers crossed that I can keep that momentum up as we move into Fall!
Social Media Numbers
- Pinterest: 39,553 (up 7,519)
- Facebook: 14,368 (up 1,994)
- Instagram: 8,393 (up 1,714)
- Tumblr: 6,519 (up 220)
- Twitter: 3,319 (up 497)
- Google+: 343 (up 81)
- StumbleUpon: 276 (up 1)
Ever since I “raged war” on social media last May this section of the income report has become my favorite part to write. And if I'm being honest, that affection might be because social media growth is the only area I'm seem to be showing improvement on lately, but hey, I'll take it! A win is a win is a win.
So I've made social media my “main” project for two months now, and for the most part, I'm happy with my results. I'm still not seeing what you'd call “outstanding” growth, but I am having consistent growth, and that is leaps and bounds better than the stagnant growth I had before this started.
And now that I'm at least two months in, I thought it might be helpful to break down what I'm doing (and not doing) for each network and take a tally of how much progress has been made.
Pinterest: This is the social network I've been building the longest, as I totally revamped my strategy near the end of January. I use a combination BoardBooster‘s Campaigns for growing my own pins, the Scheduler for growing my personal boards (much love to pin sourcing!), and Looping to keep the content on my blog boards fresh. I also use Tailwind for promoting new content and for any content that's seemingly fallen out of favor with Pinterest (and I'm trying to revive it) or whenever I create a new pin image for an old post.
Followers in January: 4,331. Growth over six months: 35,222.
Facebook: I wish I had a secret for my Facebook growth, but frankly, it's been almost entirely pure luck. And I've tried all the methods – posting 24 times a day, posting 5 times a day, using a scheduler, not using a scheduler, boosting posts, not boosting posts… honestly, at the end of the day, none of those really seemed to make a long-term difference for my page. The only thing that consistently works is when a “big” Facebook page (90,000+ followers) directly shares one of my Facebook posts. A good share from a big page can usually net anywhere from 500 – 3000 new followers within 2-4 days, but I'm very lucky if I manage to snag 1-2 shares like that a month, if that. But to get back on the topic of what I actually do with Facebook, I use a combination Meet Edgar and Buffer to keep my queue full. I used to share my posts to a bunch of other Facebook pages, but like boosting, I've stopped doing for the most part as well. For me, my average reach was higher once I stopped trying to game the system.
Followers in January: 2,374. Growth over six months: 11,994.
Instagram: I never thought I'd say this, but Instagram has slowly become my favorite social network. It's simple and easy and I've been interacting with a bunch of new bloggers ever since I started focusing on it more. I'm still using the follow / unfollow strategy with Mass Planner, but I'm also in about 5 comment pods (both through Instagram Posse and other groups) and I regularly participate in the Facebook group Instagram Fabulous (particularly their “Insta Instant” thread).
Followers in May: 4,027. Growth over two months: 4,366.
Tumblr: Oh, Tumblr. I made an account because a blogging guide I read ages ago said it was a good audience to tap into, and it was just kinda “there” until nearly a year ago when a Tumblr staff member to flagged one of my posts as “trending.” I got about 3,000 followers from that opportunity, and my followers have continued to grow at a steady pace since then. These days I manually compose and queue my updates to Tumblr, but it's nothing special – I use the same text that I do for my Facebook shares. The only difference is that I take advantage of Tumblr's visual aspect and include a bunch of large photos in each post. I also still share to a handful of Tumblr photo grazing sites, but I have no way to tell how much of that actually equates to new followers. Overall, Tumblr's true benefit is a bit of a mystery (since so much of its traffic counts as “Direct” in Google Analytics) but at least it all looks good on paper (and, hopefully, to brands).
Followers in January: 3,777. Growth over six months: 2,742.
Twitter: Since I started my social media war, I put a lot of new stipulations on what I would (and wouldn't) do with Twitter. For example, I no longer participate in retweet threads, because I really wanted to keep a “clean” feed with only posts that were relevant to my account's focus. And if I ever do participate in share threads, they have to give me an option on what action to take (such as like, comment, OR retweet), because in those cases I will almost always just “like” another person's tweet. And because I've used my Twitter account for so many of these spammy threads in the past, I bought a block of tasks with UnFave.me to help clean up my like, reply, and retweet history. These days when I retweet something, it's typically through CoPromote – and overall, I like their platform of sharing “tweet for tweet,” since I have full control over what I retweet. Aside from that, I'm continuing to use Mass Planner for follow / unfollow, but it's a slow and grueling process with Twitter, since there are so many junk accounts out there and many of them fail the “account quality filters” I've set in MP.
Followers in May: 1,747. Growth over two months: 1,572.
Google+: Like Tumblr, I have a G+ account because a blogging guide told me it'd be a good idea, and I know some bloggers have amazing success with this platform, but for me… it's just kinda “there,” and unlike Tumblr, no friendly staff member is going to come along and help give my account more exposure. I use Buffer to keep my queue G+ full, and I also have Mass Planner doing the same follow / unfollow tactic that I use with Instagram and Twitter, and while there has been some follower growth, it's been monumentally slow.
Followers in May: 180. Growth over two months: 163.
StumbleUpon: I'm not even sure what to do with StumbleUpon anymore. I was in a decent Facebook group with a focused strategy for SU, but I managed to upset the admin of that group so much (the how and why of which still confuses me) that I was booted from the group. I've also heard a lot of rumblings that StumbleUpon was purchased by another company, so I assume there will be significant services to the service over the next few years. So for right now, StumbleUpon falls in the category of “it is what it is” – my content still ends up on the service, and sometimes it manages to do well for a day or two, but most of the time it's just not on my radar.
Followers in January: 182. Growth over six months: 94.
RPM stands for revenue per mille, and “mille” stands for a thousand impressions. It’s a metric web sites use to see how much income every 1000 page views (note: that’s different than each unique visitor) could potentially bring to their site.
The lack of sponsored posts this month brought the pain, bringing my RPM to 6.14 (went down 26%). I still have a goal of a $10+ RPM in 2016, and we've still got the lucrative Q4 months aheads of us. Here's hoping I can find a way to make that goal a reality.
Traffic sources were in an almost near-identical order as they were in June, but there's one big difference I see in the numbers: Google traffic was up 10,000 hits from last month!
I've talked a lot about my struggle with Google organic search and their seeming dislike for my site (and this lack of affection is a big reason why I wanted to redesign this website), so it was surprising to finally see an uptick in traffic despite the fact that the new design hasn't launched yet.
On the surface, I'd love to think that this increase is due to all the efforts I've made to optimize my SEO, which I've slowly been working on with the help of MOZ, but from the stats I'm seeing… I don't think that's it. I'd need to dig deeper to see what's really causing this increase, but if I had to guess, I think it's because my domain name has nearly reached it's two year anniversary. Domain age is a fairly big deal with SEO, since an older, established domain name implies a certain level of trust… but is that trust really enough to increase my Google search traffic by 125%? I guess only more time may tell!
Most Popular Posts
- Cannoli Dip – 45,675 Pageviews
- Baileys Cookies and Cream Parfaits – 40,997 Pageviews
- Cookie Dough Dip – 32,053 Pageviews
- Homestyle Sausage Gravy – 21,185 Pageviews
- Bacon Wrapped Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken – 24,874 Pageviews
Another month where the famous “Baileys Parfait” is kicked out of the top spot, and the post that took it's place is certainly no slouch. That Cannoli Dip recipe was only published last May, and over the past two months, it has managed to accumulate more repins on Pinterest than any of my other posts, including the Baileys Parfait and the Cookie Dough Dip. If only every new post could have a fraction of that success, amirite?
That’s a Wrap!
That’s all for this month – thank you for reading! Here’s hoping there will be bigger and better numbers for August!