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.
January was Homemade Hooplah’s fifth month on the web, and like last month, there were no “major” issues to report. It seems I’m finally past the growing pains of running a website and now it’s all about learning the landscape, and January was definitely an eye opener in more ways than one.
So without further ado, lets see how Homemade Hooplah did for January!
First Things First, How About That Income?
- Gourmet Ads: $20.79 (went up 5.48%)
- Sovrn (formally Lijit): $5.62 (went down 52.09%)
- Google Adsense: $1.45 (went up 22.88%)
- SwitchAds: $0.81 (went up 3950.00%)
- GoDaddy Affiliate: $8.39 (new)
Total Income: $37.06 (went up 13.54%)
In January I got my first real taste of what I’ve begun to call “the holiday drop off.” January is the lonely month that sits between the mega spending holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, and it showed in my ad revenue. My CPM (cost per thousand impressions) was down $0.30 for most of my ad networks, and for Sovrn in particular my fill rate dropped from 70% to sometimes as low as 40%. This was all very disheartening to see, especially since my traffic for January was significantly better than it had been in previous months. I could have easily made more than $60 this month if the ad revenue had stayed consistent.
But I do have some good news to report for January: I landed my first affiliate sale from my How to Start a Blog tutorial! Granted, I’m 99% sure the sale was from a friend of mine, and while that does taint the success a little bit I’m still hoping this sale will just be the first of many more to come. A lot of love (and chocolate and coffee) went into writing that tutorial so hopefully it’ll be a great resource for more budding bloggers in the future.
Secondly, How Was The Traffic?
- Total Visits: 9,122 (went up 73%)
- Total Page Views: 14,474 (went up 67%)
- Bounce Rate: 82.90% (went up 155%)
- Average visitors per day: 347 (went up 60%)
- Average pageviews per day: 467 (went up 67%)
- Best day: January 12th with 740 visitors / 931 pageviews
I’m just going to come right out and say it – I’m ecstatic with how awesome traffic was for January! Cause I mean, seriously – a 60% increase from last month? That’s insane! And the best part is that I know exactly how I did it:
I began posting about topics other than food.
Does that fact shock you? Cause it certainly shocked me.
Branching Out Into the DIY World
My original plan for this website was to have two recipe posts and one DIY / craft post per week. The goal was to feature anything that could be homemade, whether it be food or crafts or even useful life hacks. And for the first week of this blog’s life, I did just that, rounding out Creme Brulee French Toast and Pesto Shrimp Pasta with a thorough tutorial on How to Stain Cabinets. But by the time the second week rolled around, I was struggling with site promotion and a few other technical issues, and it just seemed so much easier to throw together a few recipe posts than to sit down and write another quality DIY tutorial. Before I knew it, it was week three, and I was so wrapped up in all the resources and means for promoting a food-oriented blog that I began to lose interest in the DIY path. I thought maybe I’d do one DIY post per month instead of per week, but by the end of November that idea had fallen flat, too. When my post for Sweet Italian Chicken was accepted on Food Gawker, I knew I was hooked – posting recipes was easy, fun, and apparently profitable, so it made the most business sense to stick with it.
The problem is, everyone else out there feels that way, too.
The food blog market is extremely saturated, and in some respects that also makes it extremely competitive. I’ve read plenty of guides that encourage food bloggers to band together and not see each other as the enemy, and I always try to do my best to stay neutral and supportive of other bloggers, but you can’t tell me I’m the only one who visits Food Gawker after the most recent “submission batch” and curse those who were lucky enough to land a spot in the top 1-2 rows. We’ve all done that at one point or another, especially on the days our own photo submission was declined. There are just so many food blogs out there, probably because it’s so fun and easy and “you’re going to cook dinner anyway,” but sometimes it feels like we’re all fighting over the same measly scraps of attention. I love the blogging community, I really do, but there are days when the sheer size of the community is staggering and suffocating, especially when all you want to do is break free and be noticed.
But to get back to the point: there I was, running a up-and-coming blog that featured 99.9% food. Traffic was up and everything seemed to be going okay, despite the competition for the spotlight. So why make any changes?
Part of it was that I was starting to feel like my traffic potential had reached a plateau (going back to that “fighting over scraps” thing). I was getting visitors but I wasn’t keeping them. If one of my posts didn’t make it on Food Gawker, my traffic completely tanked until I could get another photo accepted. My posts seemed to be lacking any sort of longevity – they’d be popular for a day or two and then fall straight off into nothingness. Somehow I needed to find a way to fix this.
The other part was just me fulfilling a new years resolution, as my goal for 2015 was to amp up my blog exposure in any way I possibly could. I still had the original post schedule lingering in the back of my mind and wondered if I could take another shot at making it work. I just knew that whatever I did, it would have to be something on a smaller scale than my mega cabinet staining tutorial. That was simply too much to maintain on a weekly basis. I needed to set the pace for something manageable that I could knock out each week and still find enjoyment in. With that in mind, I settled on a project I had wanted to try for a long time: Homemade Mod Podge. It was easy to make and the tutorial was fun to write.
And let me tell you, when that tutorial went live it was like my Google Analytics exploded. I submitted the post to Craft Gawker and Totally Tutorials and the traffic I received from them was crazy. Granted, it’s not like it was internet-famous-overnight-crazy, but still tons more traffic than my even best recipe posts could receive.
The best way to showcase this traffic spike is probably with WordPress’ daily pageviews. January 11th is when the mod podge tutorial was accepted on Craft Gawker, and January 21st is when Totally Tutorials featured the link. I still wouldn’t say that the Homemade Mod Podge post went viral, but it’s the closest I’ve come to anything like that yet.
Riding on the success of the first post, I put out another DIY tutorial the following week on how to make Homemade Chalkboard Paint. It was also featured on Craft Gawker and Totally Tutorials, though it didn’t receive as much traffic as the mod podge one. But it still meant more sharing, more exposure, and more traffic than any of my recipe posts were receiving.
On a side note, I think the influx from Craft Gawker and Totally Tutorials is what impacted my bounce rate so much this month. But that’s okay – I can live with a higher bounce rate if it means more visitors overall.
The moral of this story? Don’t sell yourself short by boxing yourself in to a single topic. If you have other interests, branch out and give them a try – you might be very happy that you did!
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.
Gotta be honest: My RPM for January was a bit of a bummer. Due to the “holiday drop off” my outstanding traffic was rewarded with a $2.56 RPM, which is down 32.02% from last month. I can only hope that I’m able to maintain the same traffic numbers for February (or better yet, manage to get more) and profit from the ad revenue that’ll be spent for Valentine’s Day.
My traffic sources remained about the same this month, though you can clearly see the benefit of having Craft Gawker in the mix. And keep in mind, the 2300 referrals they sent me was for only 3 DIY posts. Compare this to Food Gawker, who provided me with 1575 visitors for 7 recipe posts.
In other good news, it’s great to see that direct traffic is up (which typically means the visitor came from a bookmark or email) and that my Google search is still hanging in there. I experienced a pretty big drop from Google after Christmas, but it’s nice to see that it leveled itself out by the end of January.
Pinterest traffic is still holding strong at #4 – and I’m totally okay with that. As long as it stays there and doesn’t drop any lower, I’ll be happy!
Most Popular Posts
The below numbers just echo what I’ve already said: my DIY posts rocked the house this month. I was also lucky enough to be featured in a few roundup posts, which I’ve listed out in the next section. Overall it was a pretty exciting month!
- Homemade Mod Podge – 2,859 Pageviews
- Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies – 1,284 Pageviews
- Honey Baked Salmon – 1,206 Pageviews
- Homemade Chalkboard Paint – 1,130 Pageviews
- Chocolate Cheesecake – 675 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 February!