"A detailed report of Homemade Hooplah's income for October 2015 (14th 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 October!
(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?
- The Blogger Network: $1,016.66 (went up 21%)
- Social Fabric: $300.00
- Tailwind Affiliate: $17.98
- Amazon.com Associates: $12.45
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $5.80
Total Income: $1,352.89 (went up 56%)
October was another great boost in revenue (growing more than 50% from September) and this month’s success can be summed up with these three points:
- Continued traffic growth, albeit slower this month than the previous few.
- Higher CPM (cost per mille) from my ad network, likely due to us finally being in the lucrative Q4.
- Two sponsored post opportunities from Social Fabric.
The first two points (more traffic and higher CPM) are what I feel like I’ve been working all. year. long. for, so it’s been amazing (and SUCH a relief!) to finally see the fruits of all that tender loving care from the past twelve months. However, it’s the third point in this list (about the sponsored post opportunities) that I’m most excited about. I talk more about that and how it’s changing my blogging strategy further down in this post.
Secondly, What About Those Expenses?
- Tailwind: $10 (annual plan)
- CoSchedule: $10 (monthly plan)
- Buffer: $10 (monthly plan)
- WPopt (hosting): $100.50
- Adobe Creative Cloud: $49.99
Total Expenses: $180.49
The cost for running this blog remained the same for October, and it’ll likely stay this way throughout the holidays and the first part of next year. Overall, I’m happy with my host’s performance and my current social media strategy.
However… as sad as I am to say it, I am thinking about ditching CoSchedule. They were the first social media managing company I ever used, but the fact remains that CoSchedule is designed to work best with multiple authors – hence the “Co” part in their name – and a lot of their “higher tier” services weigh heavily on expanding on how many social accounts or users can link to the same account as opposed to expanding on the services CoSchedule provides. The cost for each new tier is also very steep, probably with the assumption that multiple users = more revenue to pull from, but that approach also makes the cost hard to swallow for a single user like me.
My feelings about canceling certainly aren’t helped by the fact that CoSchedule keeps telling me about how awesome their new browser extension is – and I’ll admit, I was totally excited that they finally developed one. After all, the browser extension is the primary reason why I subscribed to Buffer’s Awesome plan, because I needed an easy way to add interesting topics to my social media queue. However, CoSchedule won’t let me use their browser extension until I upgrade to a new plan – you know, those same plans all the multiple-user features that I don’t need. My $10/month plan is considered “legacy” and the next available plans cost $15 or $30. I love CoSchedule‘s calendar, social stats, and their ability to post to Tumblr… but I don’t think I love them enough to spend more than I do, especially now that Buffer has a new calendar feature in beta. I’ll have to take a closer look at both services and see which one I want to move forward with.
Thirdly, How Was The Traffic?
- Total Visits: 202,512 (went up 7%)
- Total Page Views: 258,447 (went up 7%)
- Average visitors per day: 6,533 (went up 4%)
- Average pageviews per day: 8,337 (went up 4%)
- Best day: October 13th with 11,551 visitors / 15,520 pageviews
Traffic was a tad better this month, but only by a little – October 10k more than September, but at the same time, you certainly won’t hear me complaining about that. Growth is growth is growth and all of it is good. I’d have no problem hanging out at 250k pageviews, since ad revenue is reasonable at this level and sponsored post opportunities seem easier to get.
One awesome thing that happened this month: for the first time ever, one of my recipes was featured in a Yummly newsletter, and the traffic from it was simply amazing. For the entire day, my active users hung between 100-140, which is about 50-70 more than average. My site even went down a few times during the onslaught – but only briefly, about less than a minute each time, and WPopt has sense re-calibrated some of my settings to ensure it doesn’t happen again (without me even having to ask me to – love them!). I usually don’t get a lot of traffic from Yummly, maybe 100-200 hits a day if I’m lucky, so it was really exciting to see all those promotion efforts I do for Yummly finally pay off some.
A Shift to Sponsored Posts
Up until now, I’ve put a large focus on optimizing my ad revenue, whether it be building my own waterfall or switching to a company that handles ad management (like The Blogger Network). In fact, a large majority of these income reports are just paragraph after paragraph of me analyzing and scrutinizing my ad revenue. For the longest time, I considered that to be the be-all-end-all of my ability to make a living off of this blog.
And don’t get me wrong, ad revenue is important. I’d even go so far as to say it’s very important. As one of my old bosses once said, the sign of true success is being able to “make money while you sleep”, and in a way, this is exactly what an ad network does for you. However, ad revenue is not what it used to be. Long gone are the days of ad revenue paying your mortgage with 20k visitors a month. You’ll have to bust your butt to get your traffic up, and your CPM will increase with it, but not by much – or not enough to be proportional for your efforts. Between mobile devices and ad blockers, companies just aren’t paying what they used to for advertising, and the trends shows that these numbers will continue get smaller, not bigger.
But you know what companies are paying bloggers for? Sponsored post opportunities. So while brands are losing interest in owning a 300×250 ad in your sidebar, they do want to “hire” you to make their products appealing to the loyal readers you worked so hard to earn. Most of the bloggers I know that are able to maintain a livable income are doing it by posting multiple sponsored posts a month – and even though I saw this right in front of my face, it’s taken me until now (a good 14 months into blogging) to really let that piece really sink in.
Ad revenue is just not enough to keep the ship afloat anymore. Hell, it hasn’t been enough for almost as long as I’ve had this blog, and that’s totally my fault. I just couldn’t let go of that “earn money while you sleep” idea. As much as it pains me to admit it, to be a successful blogger, you have to work even harder for it – even more than you already are.
So, if nothing else, you can trust me on this: if you want your blog to make have enough money to feed your dog treats, you need to get on board with writing sponsored posts.
And so, this is what I’ve begun to do. I’m applying for more sponsored post opportunities and getting a feel for all the networks out there. As the months go on, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on each network – which ones work, which don’t, which are fun to work with, which ones aren’t.
The tricky part to all of this? Trying to make sure any post opportunities I sign up for are still a good fit for this blog. This limits me a little, but in the long run I hope it makes this blog better – if for no other reason than giving me more resources to make the site better. So far it’s been a fun challenge to work with the products I’ve been given, even when they’re products I already use on a daily basis. I can only hope my readers (like you!) feel the same way.
Social Media Numbers
There’s not much to report on this front, other than (most) of my social media accounts continue to show steady growth. I’m excited that Pinterest continues to see strong improvement, as my next big goal is 5k followers. Granted, that’s still a long ways off with the rate I’m currently growing, but low and steady will (eventually!) will the race.
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.
Thanks to the sponsored posts this month, I was able to snag a RPM of $5.23 (went up 20%). Getting above $5 has always been my goal, and I’ve managed it a few times int he past, but maintaining it has (so far) proven to be tricky. Hopefully now I’m focusing on more sponsored post opportunities I’ll be able to keep this number going up.
The order of my referrals for October are almost identical to last month.
Pinterest came out on top yet again this month, which (as always) I’m totally okay with.
Google also increased this month, and at a higher percentage than Pinterest (14% for Pinterest vs 25% for Google). I still don’t feel like I get a ton of traffic from Google, or at least not anywhere near what other bloggers seem to, but it’s nice to see that it’s growing nonetheless.
Yummly traffic was higher than usual due to the feature – 3k last month vs just over 13k this month. It’s amazing just how much reach those Yummly newsletters have, and thanks to them, I received a lot of new email subscribers in the process. Turns out that those who reach your site via a newsletter are far more likely to sign up for more newsletters when given the chance.
Social Fabric also opted to do a paid promotion for one of the sponsored posts I did for them, which was a nice surprise, especially since I was a last-minute replacement in that specific campaign. I wasn’t expecting it to bring much traffic, but the it ended up being decent – the P-0764a entry (about 4k hits) is from the paid promotion they did on Facebook.
Most Popular Posts
Posts this month seemed a bit more even, with two “mega” traffic draws as opposed to one. Also, this was the first month in a long, long time that the Grilled Honey Balsamic Chicken recipe did not appear in the top five, which makes sense – that’s more of a “summer” recipe while the posts below fit more with a winter theme. I also love that the Puppy Chow and Garlic Parmesan Broccoli are making a bit of a comeback, especially since both are very “old” posts (at least as far as this blog goes).
- Honey Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli – 26,201 pageviews
- Cookie Dough Dip – 24,321 pageviews
- Homestyle Sausage Gravy – 11,788 pageviews
- Garlic Parmesan Broccoli – 11,185 pageviews
- Puppy Chow Chex Mix – 9,785 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 November!