"Homemade Hooplah's income report for May 2015 (9th month of blogging)."
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, lets see how Homemade Hooplah did for May!
(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a 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?
- Gourmet Ads: $124.58 (went up 91%)
- Sovrn (formally Lijit): $81.81 (went up 123%)
- SwitchAds: $28.96 (went up 129%)
- Femme / Media Nexus: $5.58 (went up 59%)
- How to Monetize Your Blog eBook: $7.50
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $5.80
- GoDaddy Affiliate: $5.60
- Amazon.com Associates: $1.93
Total Income: $261.76 (went up 122%)
First and foremost: May 2015 was the most profitable month for Homemade Hooplah to date. Huzzah!
This was also a fun month if only because of the affiliate sales, of which I scored four (!!). In the past I was lucky to land one affiliate sale for a whole thirty days, so it was nice to finally see some substantial turn around. An important note is that these sales didn’t happen because I did anything different – all the referrals are coming from my How to Start a Blog post, which hasn’t been changed in the past few months. It was just by chance that I had more readers who were interested in learning how to start or better their blog.
As a side note, I am in the process of making a better “blogger resources” page, because at this point I have so many options and services to recommend (that actually work) that it would be way too cumbersome to try to cram them all at the bottom of How to Start a Blog (not to mention way too overwhelming to the noobies). So I promise that’s in the works, although it (and most other projects) have taken a backseat to the mega redesign for the site I’ve been slaving over for the past two months. So many projects, so little time!
But back on topic to revenue: May was a stellar month, and the primary reason for this was another increase in traffic (which I gush about in more detail below). Last month I talked a lot about how bad ad revenue was for the beginning of Q2 (because, seriously, it was awful) and though I had high hopes that things would start to turn around in May, especially with higher traffic… they didn’t. CPM and fill rates were still as low as they were as April, and like last month, it was just as disheartening. However, in May I did start taking steps toward optimizing the ads on this site for mobile devices, and I talk more about the impact that had on my revenue potential further down in this post.
Secondly, How Was The Traffic?
- Total Visits: 54,051 (went up 75%)
- Total Page Views: 68,921 (went up 79%)
- Bounce Rate: 65.63% (went up 56%)
- Average visitors per day: 1,744 (went up 69%)
- Average pageviews per day: 2,223 (went up 73%)
- Best day: May 3rd with 4,551 visitors / 5,498 pageviews
Do you see that?! I’m so close to 70k pageviews a month I can almost taste it. My next major goal is 100k pageviews, so it’s very exciting that I’m getting close.
A big part of the traffic boost for May was from my first-ever feature on BuzzFeed in their monthly “what to cook” series (link: 31 Delicious Things to Cook in May). I broke a new daily traffic record a few days after it was posted, and this was despite the fact that my link was pretty far down in the list. I can only imagine how much traffic potential there must be if you are lucky enough to be in one of the first few links. The traffic was comparable to the MSN feature I had a few months back, though the influx from BuzzFeed was a tiny bit better.
Optimizing Ads for Mobile
With the new site design on the horizon, I decided I would try to experiment with mobile ads again. The new site was going to have a mobile-specific look, and I wanted to test if my options and ad revenue would again be as bad as I found them to be when I tested mobile ads last November. Another motivator: desktop ads don’t translate very well in a mobile environment, since they include elements like flash (which most phones browsers don’t support), video, and other laggy code that can really impacts web browsing on your phone, and I didn’t want them spoiling my pretty mobile layout.
So I did some digging, and then some more digging, until I finally found the solution that makes all my mobile monetization dreams come true: A (free!) plugin called Ad Inserter.
Ad Inserter makes it so you can automatically specify where an add is placed (such as after specific paragraphs, after excerpts, before post content, after post content, or you can even set the plugin to be referenced by code string you can save to a widget), on which pages it displays (options: pages, posts, homepage, archives, etc), and on which devices it will load on (options: desktop, tablet, mobile). It does take a little configuration to get everything off the ground, but I found the developer to be very helpful with questions and the documentation is pretty straight forward. In short, this plugin does everything I need it to do and more.
Once I had my ad solution, I just needed to get my mobile-specific ad codes (which was super easy to do – either your ad network will offer them outright or you just need to ask), and then get th testing. I’ve been running these mobile ads on my site for a few weeks now, and the summery of my experience is pretty much this:
- Mobile ads will have a lower CPM, because ad companies don’t seem to value mobile space right now (which is ironic, considering how everyone and their mother’s first cousin is encouraging us to optimize for it). My average CPM is around $0.25-$0.50 for mobile ad units.
- Fill rate is also lower, because again, ad companies just aren’t hot for mobile. Fill rates range from 20-40%.
- Mobile site seems to load a better and faster with mobile-specific ads.
- My desktop CPM and fill rates went up, because companies want desktop readers as much as they don’t want mobile, and the ad code seems to be able to tell the difference. CPM is up roughly $0.30 and fill rate 10%-20%.
- My (many) mobile readers seem to hang around longer now that the site isn’t being bogged down by flashy, cumbersome ads that should only be viewed on a desktop.
- Even though mobile CPM and fill numbers are low, desktop numbers increased, and the two seem to balance themselves out. My viewability score with Gourmet also increased by 15-20%.
For now, I’ll go ahead and call the mobile experiment a success – but I’m going to keep an eye on it. I do wish that there was more demand for mobile ad space, especially since there seems to be a lot of pressure put on us publishers to optimize for it (coughcoughbogusviewabilityscorescoughcough), but hopefully that will change as time goes on. The more of us that optimize for mobile the more companies will start to see it as a lucrative option. And as long as my income remains at a reasonable level, I don’t mind playing along until all of this becomes an easy standard to achieve.
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.
Even though May ad revenue numbers were similar to April, the extra affiliate sales helped push this month’s RPM up to $3.80 (went up 24%). It’s still lower than the $5 I’d like to see, but at least it’s moving in the right direction. June marks the end of Q2, so I’m really interested to see how it will compare to the glory days that were March (end of Q1).
I love seeing that Pinterest is still high on the list (THANK YOU TAILWIND!) and that Yummly is making a strong appearance, but all those “direct” referrals puzzle me. That kind of traffic should only come from direct bookmarks, email, and some social media services – but I haven’t noticed a big surge on any of my social media accounts to explain it. That leaves email and bookmarks, and while I certainly love the idea of that, it would really surprise me if it were true. Who bookmarks and emails links anymore?
But other than that one piece, it looks like I have all the right traffic sources in all the right places. Hopefully this is a pattern I can continue to maintain and grow.
Most Popular Posts
It probably comes to no surprise that Buzzfeed played a big hand in popular posts this month, but that doesn’t mean they were the only ones. Fireball Whisky’s official Twitter account linked the recipe for Fireball Jello Shot Cupcakes, and Grilled Honey Balsamic Chicken took off like a lighting bolt on Pinterest and WholeYum.
- Baked Stuffed Flank Steak – 15,134 Pageviews
- Fireball Jello Shot Cupcakes – 7,659 Pageviews
- Grilled Honey Balsamic Chicken – 3,408 Pageviews
- Classic Strawberry Stuffed French Toast – 3,322 Pageviews
- Creamy Crockpot Potato Soup – 2,282 Pageviews
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 June!