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 June!
First Things First, How About That Income?
- MediaVine: $3,562.89 (went up 6%)
- Linqia: $315.20
- Amazon.com Associates: $12.95 (went down 65%)
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $11.60
Total Income: $3,902.64 (went down 10%)
Revenu dipped a little this month, and the biggest reason for that was a lack of sponsored posts. Last month I had a strong multi-post deal with IZEA to fill in the gaps, but as for June? I didn’t receive any direct offers for sponsored posts, and most of the sites I cruise for sponsored ops either had offerings that weren’t a good fit for Homemade Hooplah or (in most cases) the pay was simply too low for the work (I usually aim for a minimum of $300). Even the Linqia post that’s listed in this month’s revenue was originally offered to me in May; I only included it for June because that’s when the campaign ended and I officially “earned” the money.
But in other good news, MediaVine‘s revenue rocked the house this month. This month’s traffic went down almost 12% and yet overall MediaVine revenue went up nearly 6%. There are a couple factors that went into this, such as June being the end of Q2 and the fact that companies always get more spendy near the end of a quarter, but the biggest change was that MediaVine developed some amazing new methods for ad delivery. Thanks to these changes, RPM’s shot up to nearly $9 by the end of the month. The only downside is that these new features perform the best when ad sales are high (such as the end of a quarter for during Q4), so they can’t be run all year long, but seeing it in action for June has made me all the more excited for October to roll around. I can’t wait to see how profitable those months will be!
Secondly, What About Those Expenses?
- Virtual Assistant: $162.00 (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
- Facebook Post Boosts: $61.60
- BoardBooster: $30.00
- MailChimp: $25.00
- Tailwind: $10.00
- Dropbox: $9.99
- Mass Planner: $9.95
Total Expenses: $709.39
Expenses for June were about the same as they were for May, with only a few minor changes: I spent more on boosting Facebook posts, I didn’t spend money on sponsoring or promoting a giveaway, and I added Mass Planner to the monthly expenses. Aside from those three things, I’ve kept all the same services in June, and going forward, what you see here will probably be my “core” list of expenses.
Well, except for boosting Facebook Posts. Starting in July, I will no longer boost posts on Facebook.
Boosting posts has been a fun experiment over the last six months, and it seemed to work “well enough” for me, but I still didn’t feel I was getting the reach my posts deserved given my follower count and the money I spent. It also seemed that paying for reach was starting to hurt my page, as if Facebook had identified me as someone willing to spend money so they would purposefully tank any post I didn’t promote in the hopes that I’d be more willing to save it by shelling out more money.
And, finally, when Facebook decided to make yet another algorithm change that favors posts friends and family (and thus lowers my organic reach even more) I decided it was time to stop paying into the system. I already felt cheated that I had to shell out money in order to be seen by those who have liked my page and I certainly wasn’t going to pay more for the same mediocre feeling.
Next month I’ll post an update on how “breaking free” of the Facebook money sink has helped my page. And, spoiler alert – so far, it’s promising!
Thirdly, How Was The Traffic?
- Total Visits: 362,329 (went down 12%)
- Total Page Views: 471,149 (went down 12%)
- Average visitors per day: 12,078 (went down 9%)
- Average pageviews per day: 15,705 (went up 9%)
- Best day: June 1st with 15,078 visitors / 20,278 pageviews
Oh, The Summer Slump, how you have wreaked havoc on my stats.
Almost every blogger out there is feeling this pain, and from what I can tell, we’re only half way through the thick of it. Fair weather means people are away from their computers, and if they are bothering to cook, it’s probably with fruit or veggies or their crockpot or other any number of uncomplicated recipes that don’t require them to go searching online.
Which actually brings up an interesting point – how are people not searching for recipes during the summer? What services aren’t they using to find recipes during May and June that they use during every other time of the year? Pinch of Yum looked at this during their June 2016 income report and I thought it might be interesting to see how their graphs (coming from a site that gets 4 million pageviews a month) would compare to Homeamde Hooplah’s (a site that gets about 500k a month).
To start off with, this is Homemade Hooplah’s overall traffic from January 2016 to June 2016.
If you can, please try to ignore the huge uptick in February – that’s when the Baileys Parfait post hit. Sadly I wasn’t savvy enough to figure out a way to filter that specific post from this data view. Thankfully, that post doesn’t ruin the results of all of the graphs.
Next up is Pinterest Traffic from January 2016 to June 2016.
There’s a lot more character in this graph than the one above, but it’s still slightly skewed – last April, Pinterest had a bug with their iPhone app that resulted in their referral traffic to report as the ever-ambiguous “Direct.” You can clearly see this dip in the graph above. You can also clearly see that my Pinterest traffic is higher in May and June than it was in January and February, which is in line with my efforts to grow my Pinterest account using BoardBooster. However, that doesn’t get us any closer to figuring out where The Summer Slump is coming from.
And speak of the devil, here is the Direct Traffic from January 2016 to June 2016.
Much of the traffic to the Baileys Parfait post counted as Direct, but even with that mammoth post ruining the perspective of the graph, you can still see the uptick in April that was caused by Pinterest’s iPhone bug. You can also see that Direct traffic has gone down quite a bit in May and June, even compared to January and February of this year, so at least that’s one thing that’s clearly changed during the warmer months.
Finally, we have Organic Search Traffic from January 2016 to June 2016.
This graph is a little embarrassing, as I feel it shows Google’s gradual disinterest with my site, but there’s still some important data here.
If you look at January and February, there were many peaks and valleys in my traffic from organic search. But when you compare that to April through June, traffic begins to level out to an almost solid line of meh. What’s happening here is that the weekend traffic has changed. In January and February, I would get nice upticks in organic search traffic on Saturday and Sunday, but starting last April, I seem to get the same amount of organic search traffic no matter what day of the week it is.
So, technically, you could argue that this change is a casualty of The Summer Slump. My progress toward optimizing for SEO has been a slow and steady battle, so most of my posts are not ranking high in search – and it seems that when the weather gets warmer, readers are less and less likely to browse their search results beyond the first page. They pick whatever ranks highest on the page and go on their merry way. This idea seems to be supported by the fact that Pinch of Yum’s organic search traffic, which ranks much higher than mine, was “mostly” unaffected from January to June. Their overall traffic went down a bit, but their peaks and valleys from weekday/weekend traffic remained, probably because they appear on the first page of search results far more often than Homemade Hooplah does.
So, what’s my overall conclusion? It seems weekend traffic takes the biggest hit during The Summer Slump. Not everyone has the whole summer off, but people are still taking any chance they can to get out in the world and enjoy the nice weather, and statistically they have more opportunities for that during the weekends.
If I remember to, I’d like to post some similar graphs in the December Income Report. It will be interesting to see if weekend traffic really does make the difference!
Social Media Numbers
Last month I boldly proclaimed that I would be waging war on social media, and so far, I think I’m off to a pretty solid start. Thanks to Mass Planner, I’ve begun executing a solid “follow/unfollow” strategy that is slowly growing my followers on my two weakest networks: Twitter and Instagram. I’ve even managed to grow my followers on Google+ a little.
Now, I know the whole idea of follow/unfollow can come with mixed reviews. I’ve seen plenty of discussions on Facebook where others have said it’s tacky (or downright rude) to follow someone with the sole intention of unfollowing them a few days later. Some see the act of unfollowing as a personal slight, and honestly, I totally get that. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been bummed when I’ve discovered people who unfollowed me.
However, after my long struggle with trying to achieve follower growth, it came down to this: the social media accounts I have for Homemade Hooplah are for my business. They are not personal, and they do not represent me personally beyond the fact that this is the work I do. I mean, if we’re being totally honest here, the only social network I have for personal use anymore is Facebook, and even that is just the private account that’s in my name. Everything else is 100% about advancing Homemade Hooplah as a “brand.” And as much as I hate this saying, the old adage still tends to be true: it’s not personal, it’s business.
Also, I think it’s important to point out that I spent the better part of a year trying to grow my followings the “old fashioned” way…. and it went nowhere. It all goes back to the analogy I made last month of spending your days screaming into the void and yet not be heard. The social media game has changed since 2014 and sometimes you need to change right along with it.
So, let’s talk about the numbers (and look at some more graphs!)
Below is my Twitter growth from the beginning of September 2015 to the end of June 2016. You can see the huge difference Mass Planner made. (Note: this graph is from TwitterCounter, a service I picked up just so I could better track how my Twitter account is doing. It’s $10/month.)
And here is my follower growth on Instagram from the beginning of April 2016 to the end of June 2016. Again, Mass Planner has made all the difference. (Note: this graph is from Iconsquare, another service I picked up just to help me track Instagram stats. I paid $25 for the whole year.)
It’s only been a little more than a month since I started this project, but so far, I’d say my “war” on social media has been a success. I’m seeing slow and steady growth across both Twitter and Instagram and I’m (finally) starting to see organic interaction on my posts (particularly on Twitter). Many social media networks have a “tipping point” when it comes to followers, where their algorithm suddenly starts giving you more exposure simply because of the amount of active followers you have, and I can only hope I reach one of those milestones soon. It would be so nice to diversify my social media traffic from Pinterest and Facebook.
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.
RPM rang in at $8.10 (went down 2%) for June, and the reasoning is the same as it was for this month’s profits: too few sponsored posts and very high ad revenue. And even though this number isn’t my $10 RPM goal, I’m going to love it anyway, because this will probably be the highest RPM I’ll see for the next few months.
July marks the beginning of Q3, and as far as revenue goes, it will likely be just as bad as the beginning of Q1. It’s an ironic balance – companies spend Q3 saving up all the money they’re going to spend in Q4, and once it’s over, they spend all of Q1 recuperating from the money they spent. This essentially means that Q2 and Q4 are the most profitable times of the year for a blogger and Q1 and Q3 are the least profitable. And with July now on the horizon, it means this little food blog is about to venture into dark times. Traffic will go up but revenue will not, so the RPM will look worse on paper than it normally would.
My only hope is that once the new design is released (SOON OMG SOON) I can use the “new and improved” image to reach out to more brands and rustle up more sponsored opportunities. Ideally, those deals would help fill in the money gaps.
Traffic sources this month went largely unchanged for June. Yummly and Facebook traded places in the rankings, but beyond that, it’s all “no news is good news” on this front.
Most Popular Posts
- Baileys Cookies and Cream Parfaits – 48,150 Pageviews
- Cannoli Dip – 41,601 Pageviews
- Cookie Dough Dip – 30,288 Pageviews
- Bacon Wrapped Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken – 24,874 Pageviews
- Weight Loss Wonder Soup – 19,208 Pageviews
It was just last month that Weight Loss Wonder Soup took the spot of my most popular post, but here we are 30 days later and it’s been knocked back down to number five. The Baileys Parfait post reigns supreme once again, and it’s in interesting company: Cannoli Dip was another one of those posts I made on a whim and yet these days it’s one of my most popular posts. Go figure!
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 July!