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 March!
(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you make a purchase through those links. These are all products I have used and personally recommend. Thank you for your support!)
First Things First, How About That Income?
- MediaVine: $3,291.66 (went down 37%)
- Linqia: $256.80
- Amazon.com Associates: $18.30 (went up 3100%)
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $11.60
- How to Monetize Your Food Blog eBook Affiliate: $7.50
- Tailwind Affiliate: $0.50
Total Income: $3,586.36 (went down 31%)
March was no February, but it certainly wasn't a slouch, either. Traffic took a significant drive, but at the same time, I managed to get lucky on a few holiday posts to keep things afloat. In other good news, I also landed my first Linqia campaign in what feels like ages. Amazon associate rates were also up, but that's only because I've been placing a few more affiliate links in my post than I have been in the past few months.
Overall, I'd qualify March's income as good – I'd be more than happy if I could make this much every month, but as always, there were plenty of factors that were unique to the last 30 days that I won't be able to recreate next month. I talk about that more below in traffic.
Secondly, What About Those Expenses?
- Virtual Assistant: $310.00 (Need a VA? Contact sky.fisher(a)ymail(dot)com for info!)
- WPopt (hosting): $152.85
- GiveawayPromote.com: $148.97
- MOZ: $99.00
- Buffer: $50.00 (monthly plan)
- Giveaways and Loops: $80.00
- Adobe Creative Cloud: $50.00
- Meet Edgar: $49.00
- Facebook Post Boosts: $65.26
- BoardBooster: $64.41
- MailChimp: $25.00
- Tailwind: $10.00
- Dropbox: $9.99
- CrowdFire: $9.99
Total Expenses: $1,124.47
Yeesh… how about those expenses this month, eh? All I can say is that they're currently way higher than I'd like them to be, but there's a couple things contributing to it right now:
- They say that for the first year your business generates revenue you should return that revenue back to the business. I'm not necessarily trying to do this (because I've still got bills to pay, ya'll) but I am trying to reinvest as much as I can. This month was probably too much reinvestment.
- I'm still testing things out. For example, a few months ago I signed up for the paid version CrowdFire to help grow my followings, but it wasn't long before I simply ran out of time to work on it. I've kept the paid version because I like how it tracks who I've followed and unfollowed, but is it that really enough to keep paying for it? I'm still undecided. That's just one example, but there are many other services in the list above that I have similar feelings about.
- I'd be lying if I said that last month's insane revenue didn't encourage me to spend a little more than I normally would have. Big examples of this would be for GiveawayPromote.com (since I purchased a mega plan to promote March's giveaway) or BoardBooster (since I paid for their board cleanup service). I haven't been crazy with my spending, but I've definitely more liberal with money than I have been in the past year or more.
- I also experimented with a few different ways to promote the Linqia campaign I landed for March, the best of which was a $30 giveaway that I promoted on both GiveawayPromote.com and Facebook. I had great success this approach and hope it's a tactic I can use again (and again!) to gradually raise my required Linqia clicks to the point where I can factor the giveaway & promotion costs in the amount that Linqia is willing to pay me for campaigns. Now, if only they'd just send me more campaigns…
Thirdly, How Was The Traffic?
- Total Visits: 539,998
- Total Page Views: 680,620
- Average visitors per day: 17,419
- Average pageviews per day: 21,955
- Best day: March 6th with 34,371 visitors / 42,978 pageviews
With the craze from February's Baileys parfait post slowly fading off, site traffic also made the inevitable fall from grace… but that doesn't mean that March numbers were bad – actually, very far from it. Having nearly 700,000 pageviews in 31 days is extremely good.
If this whole “viral experience” has taught me anything it's that I think I could be totally content to maintain 17k visitors or 20k pageviews a day. I'm sure my fellow bloggers know how traffic growth tends to “plateau” at certain points – where you can go months without seeing any significant growth and almost hit the exact same numbers every day – and typically, this is a bad thing. As bloggers, we always want to see those numbers climbing higher and higher, as a sign that what we're doing is working and that we're moving forward. But if I ever plateau again, I really hope it's at this 17k / 20k sweet spot. I could hang around there indefinitely and be completely happy. Now if only I could think of a way tp keep my traffic from falling too far behind, because even by the end of March I was already having trouble hanging on to these numbers.
I did have one surprise this month: my new post for Cadbury Creme Egg Dip managed to break the barrier and be popular in the same month that it was posted. That never happens anymore, and I think a big part of the success was that tatertots & jello posted this dip on their Facebook page shortly after it went live. I have a sneaking suspicion that they also paid to promote the post, seeing as Facebook traffic was oddly consistent for the entire week and did fluctuate in the slightest. And if tatertots & jello did choose to promote it, I'm guessing it was their way of saying “thank you” for last month's Bailey parfait craze, since they did gain about 100,000 followers out of the whole ordeal. But no matter the reason, I still appreciate it – it all helped March be far better than it would have been otherwise.
Social Media Numbers
After months and months of being my top social media following, Tumblr not only fell out of first place but tumbled all the way down to third. Pretty harsh, right?
My Pinterest following has been soaring, and rightly so, if I do say so myself – I spent hours setting up BoardBooster and coming up with a pinning strategdy that's actually helping me move forward. And whenever I see my repin counts starting to drop, I go in and delete pins that are more than 7 days old and have 3 interactions or less (and by “interactions” I meant the total sum of repins, likes, and comments). I know people are divided on whether or not deleting pins really helps you, and I think there's even been a few reps from Pinterest that have come out and said it doesn't help at all, but quite frankly, I don't believe them. My repin rates always climb back up whenever I delete dud pins. So I can't believe them when the evidence to the contrary is always showing up in my pinning history.
And as for Facebook, the fact that my follower count has continued to grow is completely baffling to me. I constantly struggle with my reach, usually hovering in the 100-1000 range, and I do everything the experts tell us to do: post numerous times a day, occassionally post questions for engagement, post quality content (or, what I think it is quality content), etc etc. I did get lucky with a few big Facebook pages sharing my posts directly, and those shares equated to more organic likes to my page than any of my own posts or paid promotions ever did.
… But as with everything else, it was just pure luck that those shares happened at all. Sadly there's no way to keep a consistent flow of big FB pages sharing your content unless you “network” your way into such an arrangement. Which, honestly, I still can't bring myself to do. If we're going to be friends, we'll be friends, but I'm not going to turn on the charm for someone just becuase of what I think they can offer me. EIther we connect organically or we don't, you know? I've already accepted the fact that that belief may stifle my blog growth in the short term, but I also hope it will become a benefit to me somehow in the long term. True relationships (business or personal) are better than those made only out of convenience.
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.
Good news on this front – I managed to get above my $5 RPM goal for a total of $5.27 (went up 49%). It's still not the $20+ that I see some bloggers bringing in, but I'm taking it one step at a time. By the end of the year I'd love to see a $10+ RPM.
Traffic sources were weird this month, primarily because Pinterest made a change to their iPhone app that resulted in most of the traffic it generated reporting as “Direct.” For a while there I was worried this would be a permantnt change – because that's just what the internet needs, another big referral giant being ambigious about where their traffic is originating from – but thankfully, it was a bug that Pinterest only recently managed to fix (in April).
But to look at the silver lining: If this month's Pinterest's traffic does not include any from the iOS, it's interesting to see that Desktop and Android users alone made up 114k Pinterest visits for this month. That's a stat I normally don't see (cause I never go through the trouble of setting up Google to show that kind of data) so at the very least it's an interesting perspective on my visitors for the month.
Aside from that, the rest of the traffic is to be as expected. I've been putting a lot of work into getting my Google traffic higher (via MOZ and all their helpful tools), but even after all the hours I've spent, there doesn't seem to be much improvement yet. I think the bulk of the benefit will come when I (finally) finish the redesign of this site, since Google's page insights tell me that they absolutely hate the current structure and load times of my theme.
Most Popular Posts
- Baileys Cookies and Cream Parfaits – 152,144 Pageviews
- Cadbury Creme Egg Dip – 92,030
- Honey Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli – 36,700 Pageviews
- Garlic Parmesan Broccoli – 30,624 Pageviews
- Bacon Wrapped Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken – 27,024
Ah, that darn Baileys post. May it continue to live long and
make me money prosper.
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 April!