"Homemade Hooplah's income report for February (6th 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.
Overall, February was a bittersweet month. This was the first time my “real life” had any impact on the blog and what I was able to post, and that impact is clearly evident in the numbers. But even despite that, February marked some changes and new beginnings that I’m really excited about.
So without further ado, lets see how Homemade Hooplah did for February!
(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.)
First Things First, How About That Income?
- Gourmet Ads: $22.76 (went up 9%)
- Sovrn (formally Lijit): $8.33 (went up 48%)
- Google Adsense: $0.39 (went down 73%)
- SwitchAds: $1.54 (went up 28%)
- Femme / Media Nexus: $0.91 (new)
Total Income: $33.93 (went down 9.40%)
Homemade Hooplah made $4 less in February than it did in January, but there’s still good news to be had – my eCPM (which means the estimated amount I receive per 1000 ad impressions) was significantly higher this month, sometimes ranking in at $1 or more. This helped take the sting off the fact that I didn’t land a single affiliate sale (boo hiss).
I’m also trying out a new ad network: Femme, by Media Nexus. I’m using them in place of Google Adsense, since my readers are simply not “clicky” enough to benefit from a pay-per-click structure. The eCPM for Femme appears to be fairly low, but they at least pay a consistent amount whereas with Adsense it was always feast for (usually) famine. I made the change about half way through the month.
Secondly, How Was The Traffic?
- Total Visits: 7,512 (went down 18%)
- Total Page Views: 11,425 (went down 21%)
- Bounce Rate: 42.24% (went down 49%)
- Average visitors per day: 321 (went down 8%)
- Average pageviews per day: 408 (went down 13%)
- Best day: February 8th with 484 visitors / 576 pageviews
My traffic wasn’t too bad this month, but it was still a noticeable drop off from January – but thankfully, I know exactly why that is. Which brings me to…
Why February’s Traffic Was Low
There were two big factors that impacted the blog’s potential this month:
- Only one DIY post. In the January Income Report, I talked about how (surprisingly) successful my craft tutorials had been. Moving on to February, I had every intention of continuing that trend, but sadly I only managed DIY post for Tissue Paper Bottle Art. And while that post did okay traffic wise, it was no where near the home run that Homemade Mod Podge or Homemade Chalkboard Paint had been. And as for why there was only one DIY post…
- “Real Life” issues. February was the first month where events in my life had any impact on the blog. There was a tragedy in The Boyfriend’s family at the very end of January, which meant being away from the computer so we could spend time visiting loved ones. And then for the second half of the month, I came down with my annual cold, leaving me pathetically couch ridden and very unmotivated. Cooking and jotting down recipes was about as far as I could stretch my motivation. Being crafty and creative where the last things on my mind.
But even with these set backs, February traffic was not bad – it was still far better than December, which was before I started writing those mega traffic DIY posts. So what helped keep February numbers consistent despite my lazy posting habits?
Using Tailwind to Manage Pinterest
I’m going to come right out and say it: I am absolutely in love with Tailwind and I wish I had stumbled across it sooner. It’s to the point where I have no idea how I ever managed my Pinterest account without it.
But what does Tailwind do, you might ask? Many things, such as letting you schedule your pins in advance. Tailwind will also analyze the repins you’ve already received and provides you with a customized schedule so you know the most ideal times to pin. They provide analytics on your followers and repins so you can review how your Pinterest account is progressing each week. You can also see your most successful pins and then reschedule those pins (or any pin) directly from the Tailwind interface. Tailwind also has browser extensions that make it easy to add pins to your schedule from anywhere.
Since I started using Tailwind in mid February, I’ve gained 100 new followers – which is more followers than I managed to get in the past six months combined. This was a perk I wasn’t expecting, but the formula makes sense: pinning more at ideal times = more people likely to see you = more people likely to follow you = more repins from new followers = more followers. I feel like I’m finally on the right path to becoming a force to be reckoned with on Pinterest, and it’s awesome.
To help get the most out of Tailwind, I’ve been pretty aggressive about searching for and joining more group boards. I think I nearly doubled my number of group boards in February.
As for my current approach for Tailwind, I have it scheduled to post 15-25 pins per day, using the optimized times they recommended for my account. And at the beginning of each month I fill my pin queue with my most successful posts and pins. Then I shuffle the queue up (so pins and boards are distributed throughout my schedule) and just let it go! This way good posts continue to get exposure and I don’t run the risk of being too spammy on the group boards (which can sometimes get you removed if you’re not careful).
I’ve had such a good experience with Tailwind that I’ve even ditched my beloved SNAP, which is what I’ve used to managed my pins for the past 6 months. I’ve always been a big advocate of SNAP, and I think I’d still recommend the service to someone who was looking for a cheaper option, but I couldn’t refer someone to SNAP without advocating Tailwind first. It just works better and does more for you.
Moved Hosting to Media Temple
At the end of January I made the decision to move the hosting of my site over to Media Temple. They offer a “managed” WordPress service and, let me tell you, I am so glad I made the change.
For those of you who might not know, I’m responsible for everything on Homemade Hooplah, from the content to the design to all the technical pieces, and while I have the knowledge to handle most issues that crop up I found that what I didn’t always have was the motivation to deal with it. I wanted my site to perform better, but it started to feel like all the extra work and troubleshooting involved was getting in the way of what I liked most: creating content.
This is where Media Temple came in, because their optimized WordPress setup makes it so that your site runs better, faster, and more efficient – without you having to get your hands dirty. In short, they do a lot of the technical stuff (like caching) so you don’t have to. You have to pay a little more per month to get these benefits, but for me and the future I envisioned for my blog, it was a completely worthwhile investment.
There was also two unexpected perks that came from my move to Media Temple: for 1) my rankings in Google search improved, because Google takes site speed into consideration when calculating their results. And 2) my bounce rate significantly decreased, and I think this is because a faster loading page encourages visitors to stay and look around.
But don’t worry, I didn’t leave my original home of GoDaddy too far behind. GoDaddy acquired Media Temple a few years ago, so they’re all under the same parent company.
Approached by POPSUGAR
I remember back when I first started to research ways to promote a food blog I stumbled across an article that suggested you needed to “get your recipes on POPSUGAR.” I had heard of POPSUGAR before, of course, so I immediately went their site expecting to find some sort of recipe submission form alla FoodGawker. But there wasn’t one, and the more I read the more I realized that POPSUGAR will only feature your recipe if their editors find it and decide to feature it – you know, just like any other news publication out there. POPSUGAR has a group of editors that work very hard to find the best content for their viewership. Those editors might even browse sites like FoodGawker to find a recipe to round out their next big article, but that’s as close as you’ll ever come to directly submitting a recipe to POPSUGAR. In a nutshell, to be featured on POPSUGAR, you just need to create good content and hope that maybe one day they find it.
I read the email once. Twice. And then I ran a few laps around the house, scaring the dogs and probably concerning my neighbors, but I was just so absolutely over the moon elated that I couldn’t sit still. I could barely process just how happy that email made me, because sometimes you don’t realize just how much you want something until you finally get it, and when it hits you it’s so amazingly overwhelming that you just completely lose yourself in the moment. You’re nothing but pure, unfiltered emotion and it’s great.
I tried to calm down a bit before I wrote back to her – to which my answer was YES PLEASE FEATURE THE RECIPE, punctuated by about a hundred THANK YOU’S – and then I ran a couple more laps around the house. The dogs joined me this time, all excited as if we were playing a new game, and I guess we were. The game of success. And I was winning.
A little bit later, this amazing POPSUGAR editor sent me another email, asking if she could add my site to a short list of blogs they routinely check for future roundups, and if it’d be okay if they shared these leads with some of their partners like MSN and Yahoo.
A few more laps around the house later, I told her YES I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE THAT. Plus another hundred THANK YOU’S.
I told her that she had just made my month, maybe even my year, and I truly meant it. I can’t wait to see how this incredible opportunity benefits the blog in the future.
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.
Despite February’s underwhelming performance, my RPM improved, rising up 14% to $2.97. It just goes to show how big of an impact CPM can have, since it was roughly $0.20 to $0.30 more this month than it had been last month. I hope the trend continues!
My traffic sources were about the same this month as they were last month, with a few changes in order and a lesser showing from CraftGawker. I’m happy to see that Pinterest and Google are still holding strong in the top four.
Pinterest numbers were also about the same as last month, but since January had the benefit of some insanely popular DIY posts that February did not, I’m going to count February’s Pinterest traffic as an improvement. These numbers mean more people are seeing & pining my recipes, which accounts for more than 50% of my post content, and that improvement is all thanks to Tailwind.
Most Popular Posts
For the third month in a row, my post for Soft and Chewy Sugar cookies dominated in pageviews. Seriously, you guys must really love sugar cookies. My thanks go to whatever algorithm it is in Google’s system that’s somehow putting my post at the top of the search results.
As for the rest: Chocolate Cheesecake did extremely well on Pinterest and Tumblr, while Baked Red Velvet donuts got a lot of traffic from the POPSUGAR feature. The other two were DIY prosts, and I’ve already mentioned many times how well they do with traffic.
- Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies – 1,776 Pageviews
- Chocolate Cheesecake – 860 Pageviews
- Baked Red Velvet Donuts – 759 Pageviews
- Homemade Mod Podge – 613 Pageviews
- Tissue Paper Bottle Art – 440 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 March!