"A detailed report of Homemade Hooplah's income for December 2015 (16th 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 December!
(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: $3,181.56 (went up 10223%)
- Clever Girls: $600.00 (went up 50%)
- Linqia: $354.00 (went down 57%)
- Massive Sway: $350.00 (new)
- Amazon.com Associates: $26.93 (went up 106.99%)
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $5.80 (same)
- Tailwind Affiliate: $0.50
Total Income: $4,518.89 (went up 69%)
So, you guys… I don’t even know where to begin. December was clearly an amazing month for Homemade Hooplah and it has me a little speechless (and for those that read these reports, you know that’s a first!). I mean, what more can I say? Us bloggers pay our dues all year long so that we can cross our fingers and hope that companies are willing to dump the excess of their coffers toward advertising and promotion. And even when companies decide to do exactly this, it’s still a gamble every year, since you never know what opportunities may (or may not) be coming your way.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had high hopes for the end of Q4, but December 2015 still managed to completely blow all of my expectations out of the water. I’m obviously happy with how it turned out, but I’m also really, truly humbled.
As for what made December great? It comes down to three key points:
- Higher base RPM from my ad network. Advertising revenue did not disappoint for the end of the 2015 holiday season, and it was made all the better by my move to MediaVine. My RPM with MediaVine hovered between $6 and $7 for most of December, which completely blew my mind – those who have read these income reports before know that it’s been my goal to keep my RPM above $5 from all my revenue streams combined, and yet here was MediaVine, just giving me my RPM goal to me at a flat rate. I’ve only been with MediaVine for a month, but I have absolutely loved how helpful and transparent they are with what’s going on in their network. Between the biweekly status calls (plus the written recaps if you’re not able to join said call) and a Facebook group with helpful tips, updates, and opportunities, MediaVine feels more like a community than an ad network. I only wish I had stumbled across them sooner!
- Higher paying sponsored opportunities. Not only were companies paying top dollar for advertising, they were also compensating bloggers much more for writing content. I got to participate in a lot of fun campaigns this month from Clever Girls and Linqia and I got my first opportunity with Massive Sway (which I hope to be the first of many). I’m really finding my groove with sponsored posts and I love the direction and challenge they provide me as a blogger.
- Higher traffic. Traffic was actually a little ridiculous this month, especially as we got closer to Christmas day. I’ll talk about this more in the next section as well as the “popular posts” list below.
But while December was an absolute dream for this little blog, it’s important to remember that this success will not last. Even if I did everything in January the exact same way as I did in December, I would make about 50% less, because that’s just the reality of the business world: the end of Q4 is when everyone spends their excess cash to cap off the fiscal year. Then, at the beginning of Q1, everyone tightens up and takes a more conservative approach to spending in order to ensure that their funds will stretch for the whole year. This makes all kinds of smart business sense for the corporations to do this, but ultimately it means that those who depend on advertising revenue (hi, over here!) will be scraping by until we reach another lucrative point in the year… which, as it turns out, seems to only be November and December. I had a little luck with a traffic/income boost in March 2015 but I’ll be very surprised if the same thing happens again in March 2016.
Secondly, What About Those Expenses?
- WPopt (hosting): $152.85
- Adobe Creative Cloud: $49.99
- Meet Edgar: $49.00
- Tailwind: $10 (annual plan)
- Buffer: $10 (monthly plan)
- Dropbox: $9.99 (monthly plan)
- CrowdFire: $9.99
Total Expenses: $291.82
Expenses changed a little bit from last month:
I increased my hosting package with WPopt (hosting) to help stabilize resources & site load. There are a couple things going on with my current site design/setup that made this a necessary change.
After much debate, I dropped my CoSchedule subscription – but then a week later, I signed up with MeetEdgar to help manage my social media. For those that don’t know, MeetEdgar is sort of like BoardBooster for Facebook and Twitter; you can create a library of content and MeetEdgar will automatically post it for you in time slots you specify. So far MeetEdgar has been a big help for promoting my Linqia campaigns, though I haven’t finished setting up MeetEdgar for all my other post content.
I also signed up for the paid version of CrowdFire. I’ve used the free version for almost a year, but now that I’m trying to grow my social media followings, I needed a tool to help give me more direction and CrowdFire ended up being a good fit. Crowdfire allows you to search for other users with a similar interest so that you can follow their accounts (and the paid version of CrowdFire will keep track of who you’ve already followed). Once or twice a week I’ll search for new accounts to follow, and at the end of the week, I’ll unfollow anyone who hasn’t followed me back. It’s a slow and tedious way to grow my following, but I’m hoping if I keep with it it’ll pay off in the long run.
And, finally, I added Dropbox to my list of expenses. I’ve actually had a paid Dropbox account for quite some time, but I never really thought about it as a business expense… until I realized that all I really use it for these days is saving and syncing the data for this blog. Between my laptop, surface, tablet, PC, and phone (yeesh!) it’s nice to have access to all of my up-to-date blog data no matter what device I’m on.
At this time I’m still very happy with my “regular” services: Tailwind keeps my Pinterest moving, Buffer makes it easy for me to share great content I find, and Adobe Creative Cloud makes all my graphics / ebooks / logos possible. I could see myself adding similar or complimentary services to this list in the future, but I currently have no plans to make any changes with these three.
Thirdly, How Was The Traffic?
- Total Visits: 374,110 (went up 73%)
- Total Page Views: 486,364 (went up 70%)
- Average visitors per day: 12,068 (went up 10%)
- Average pageviews per day: 15,689 (went up 15%)
- Best day: December 20th 21.676 visitors / 28,111 pageviews
December traffic was a little crazy, and it was really all thanks to four posts becoming outrageously popular as we got closer and closer to Christmas. Near the end of the month there were multiple days where I had more than 20k pageviews, and for weeks I would have more than 100 visitors on the site at a time, usually hovering at 150 and sometimes soaring all the way above 200 (212 was the highest I saw).
But as for why this happened? Honestly, it’s kinda hard to say, other than I just “kept on keeping on.” As the holidays were ramping up, I put extra effort in promoting my all of my dessert posts, and it just so happens that four of them caught fire – and that’s only four out of probably fifty +. Not very good odds, but I think that’s just the nature of the beat. You never know just what the masses might be interested in until they’re already interested.
I have many blogger friends who are constantly analyzing the system, trying to find that cheat or hack or shortcut that will get them to glory as fast as possible, but the longer I’m in this “business” the more firmly I believe that success really just boils down to a lot of luck. You will not find the magic combination to beat the system because there isn’t one other than time and hard work. And that’s not great to hear – believe me, I know – and while the journey may take a long time, but I’m proof that persistence and unwillingness to give up does pay off. If these income reports prove anything to you it should be that dumb luck does exist, because this dummy and got lucky. I only hope that it lasts!
Social Media Numbers
So while I managed to pull of a lot of dumb luck when it comes to traffic, my social media growth is still a struggle. The channels that I focus most of my attention on (Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) are showing steady growth… but still not as much as I would like. Now, don’t get me wrong – growth numbers were up significantly, with most networks seeing 2x the increase from November and some others nearly as much as 4x – but I have no way of knowing if this was due to my extra efforts or if it was just another side effect of the holiday season. I’ll have to see how next month compares to really see what’s working and what isn’t.
Also, I have begun promoting posts on Facebook more, giving myself a budget of $3-$9 a week that I can use to promote my new posts (between $1 and $3 per post). So far results have been good, but again, I’d like to see how this approach performs once the holiday season has passed.
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.
Oddly enough, December’s RPM was about the same as November’s, ranking in at $9.29 (went down 1%). This is still higher than my $5 RPM goal, so I’ll always be ecstatic when I can pass it. Hopefully my RPM won’t fall too far in January and I can still stay close to (or above!) a $5 RPM.
Oh, Pinterest. I absolutely love you, but the way you dominate my traffic makes me nervous. What if you find someone else? What if you turn on me one day? What if you don’t pay your mortgage and you go out of business? Where will I be then?
One of my big goals for 2016 is to increase my traffic from other avenues. I feel like I go through the motions go appease the Google, Yummly, and Facebook, but my traffic from all of these sources is still very weak. Whether it comes in the form of completely overhauling my strategy or actually paying someone to tell me everything I’m doing wrong, big changes need to happen in 2016. Pinterest traffic is lovely, but I don’t believe for a second that it’s guaranteed. I need something a little more substantial to fall back on should I ever fall out of favor with Pinterest.
Most Popular Posts
- Classic Chocolate Crinkle Cookies – 61,630 pageviews
- Classic No Bake Cookies – 50,024 pageviews
- Puppy Chow Chex Mix – 46,832 pageviews
- Nutella Stuffed Sugar Cookies – 43,033 pageviews
- Cookie Dough Dip – 22,593 pageviews
After alluding to it multiple times in this post, here is what all the fuss was about in December – cookies and dessert snacks. Seriously, people were ravenous for cookies, which I probably should have anticipated more.
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 January!