"A detailed report of Homemade Hooplah's income for November 2015 (15th 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 November!
(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: $1,398.55 (went up 38%)
- Linqia: $832.80 (new)
- Clever Girls: $400.00 (new)
- MediaVine: $30.82 (new)
- Amazon.com Associates: $13.01 (went up 5%)
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $5.80 (same)
Total Income: $2,680.98 (went up 98%)
November marks a brand new era for this blog, because after 14 (very long) months of hustling and learning and giving it my all, Homemade Hooplah now officially makes more per month than the office job I left in July 2014. And believe me, there were plenty of times over the past 14 months where I nearly gave up, times when I didn’t feel like I was getting near the results I should be for all my effort, times when I was all too quick to fear this would never work and before I knew it I’d be trapped in another cubicle working another dead-end office job.
And then November came along and changed everything.
I usually try to keep these income reports humble and focus on the craft of building a blog, but just this one time I want to be senselessly happy. I want to gloat a little, if only just to say, “See, I told you I could do it!” to all those whose eyes started to glaze over when I told them this blog was my new career path (and we’ve all seen that look before, amirite?) This success is a big deal in my little world because it means this blog has officially become my job. I set out with a goal and I accomplished it. Career Blogger = Me!
Ahem. Okay, I think I’ve got that out of my system (for now). Further down in this post I break down what contributed to November’s success, as there a bunch of new items in the revenue stream this month.
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
As I predicted last month, expenses remained the same for November and probably will for the next few months. And also like last month, I’m still weighing the pros and cons of using Buffer, CoSchedule, or a combination of both. I really think I need to consolidate my approach to social media management, if for no other reason than to save me from bouncing between the two services, but there are still features in both Buffer and CoSchedule that I’m not willing to give up. I can’t seem to quit either of them just yet.
If you have a social media managing service you love, I’d love to hear why in the comments!
Thirdly, How Was The Traffic?
- Total Visits: 215,512 (went up 7%)
- Total Page Views: 286,586 (went up 11%)
- Average visitors per day: 7,194 (went up 10%)
- Average pageviews per day: 9,553 (went up 15%)
- Best day: November 24th with 13,522 visitors / 19,723 pageviews
Traffic grew only a little this month, and that “little” probably all came from the 24th, where I nearly hit 20,000 (!!) pageviews in a single day. To put that in perspective: in November 2014, Homemade Hooplah had around 7,000 pageviews for the whole month. It really is amazing what 365 days can do.
The success of the 24th was just a hurricane of luck, with Pinterest traffic booming and a MSN feature thrown in the mix. And thanks to all that traffic, on that one day alone Homemade Hooplah made $124 in ad revenue. It definitely puts things into perspective, because if I were to continue to use my last job as benchmark, that was about how much I made each day (before taxes). If I could find a way to accomplish that every day it would certainly take a lot of strain of my post management and scheduling.
And speaking of daily revenue potential…
Changing Ad Networks… Again
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love The Blogger Network. I think their Build Your Blog academy is extremely valuable and the signup fee for Propel is totally worth it, especially if you’ve got a young blog you’re still building up. I know everyone’s experiences are different, but I can say with confidence that I never had a bad interaction with the TBN staff.
However, as my site grew, it felt like TBN’s revenue potential wasn’t growing with me. Other bloggers I knew were reporting much higher RPM’s for October and November, and naturally that struck a chord with me since Q4 is supposed to be the “end all, be all” for revenue for bloggers. Q4 is our chance to be paid the absolute most we possibly can, and from everything I was hearing, I wasn’t getting that from TBN.
So as luck would have it, right around this time I received an email from AdThrive informing me that they were ready to board my site – this being in response to an application I submitted 4+ months prior. I couldn’t help but jump at the chance, since AdThrive was the network all these big RPM quotes were coming from. It seemed like the right move to make at the time… and in the end, it totally blew up in my face.
To save you the time, here is the cliff notes version of my interactions with AdThrive
- October 2nd – AdThrive emails me to let me know they’re ready to board my site. They detect TBN on my site and inform me I need to give TBN a 30 day cancellation notice before we can proceed. They originally quote me “end of October / early November” as a launch date for AdThrive ads.
- October 5th – After much debate, I gave my cancellation notice to TBN and inform AdThrive that I’ll be ready for ads on November 5th.
- October 9th – AdThrive confirms they’ll be in contact with me at the beginning of November.
- November 2nd – AdThrive informs me that they’ve “started” my application and it may take up to a week to get finalized.
- November 4th – AdThrive sends me a few forms to fill out, such as requesting access to my Google Analytics account (and doing so in the most manual way I’ve ever seen), granting them admin access to my blog, and a questionnaire about ways they can increase the revenue on my site, such as adding 2-3 more ad units (bringing me to a total of 8-9 per page) and heavily pushing their mobile theme (even though I already have a responsive mobile design). The email also stated they will “hold my spot” until November 11th, which just seemed like a fancy way of telling me I had until the 11th to get everything back to them.
- November 9th – After some back and forth, all my documents are submitted. I get a confirmation email with lots of good info, stating that the next time I hear from AdThrive it will be just before they log into my site to install the ads.
- November 11th – AdThrive emails me to inform me that due to my “custom theme” they did not have the technology to board my site at this time and would be putting my application on pause. I argue this point vehemently, stating there’s nothing out of the ordinary about my theme and that I’d be glad to assist with installing the ads, but they had apparently already made their decision and stuck to their guns. In closing, AdThrive said that Icould contact them in February and “hopefully the new technology will be ready.”
So after more than a month of being strung along and canceling my contract with TBN, AdThrive left me high and dry with a bogus reason. Another blogger friend of mine also got the run around from AdThrive, and the best I can assume is that AdThrive sends out invites like planes book flights: they purposefully overbook the flight, and when the flight winds up being full, they have no choice but to decline passengers. My guess is that AdThrive invited too many candidates this round and had to decline some. I was a lucky member of the “some.”
And where did that leave me? Well, even though I had canceled with TBN, they were still delivering ads to my site – but the original problem still remained. The revenue just wasn’t where I wanted it to be, especially in the home stretch of Q4.
It was about this time that I started to hear rumblings about MediaVine. MediaVine is another ad management network like TBN and AdThrive, but they’re a little different in that they 1) install fewer ads and 2) require 100% of your ad space – which for them ends up being a big selling point they can pitch to the companies who want to buy their ad space. And that’s the kicker, because that dedicated as space means MediaVine can run less add for more $$. So where AdThrive was trying to sell me on installing more ads, MediaVine said they could pay me more for fewer ads than I was already running. And who doesn’t want fewer ads? Fewer ads = less clutter, plus more interaction the ads you do load, AND your site speed should increase significantly. Speaking of site speed, MediaVine even boasts better technology for delivering ads, which will also benefit pagespeed numbers. Spoiler alert for December: my pages are loading an average of 20 seconds faster since I made the switch.
And so, I made the jump. It was just too good not to. I’m going to miss TBN, but I’m really excited to see how MediaVine is going to take my earnings to the next level.
A Shift to Sponsored Posts
This month I experimented with two new networks for sponsored post opportunities: Linqia and Clever Girls. They both have very different approaches to sponsored posts, and I kinda liked that – it gave me some variety as I did promotion work.
For those who don’t know, here’s a breakdown of how these networks work:
- Clever Girls has very specific instructions for their posts, and all of your writing, pictures, and social media amplifications must be submitted for approval before you can publish. Once approved, CG will give you a window of time when you can publish your post. Before the campaign is over, you must report all your links & social media message in the CG dashboard for final approval. Payments are sent 60 days after confined completion of the campaign.
- Linqia pays “per click,” meaning that the amount you are compensated for the sponsored post will depend entirely on how many clicks you can earn through the special campaign links they give you. When the campaign starts, you usually have seven days to publish your story – and for the most part, you can post whatever you’d like. There may be some guidelines in the campaign that you need to adhere to, but when it comes to the overall content, all of the campaigns I’ve worked with have allowed me to post any recipe that uses the product. This is probably because regardless of what you post, it is your job is to create compelling enough content earn click-throughs. It’s in your best interest to make something “good enough” to get those clicks. You can also post your campaign links on social media, so you’re not restricted on only earning clicks through your post. You could even post links on your personal Facebook account, so long as you properly disclose it with the campaign hashtags (just be sure you don’t ask for clicks – that’s a big nono for Linqia).
So far I’ve been really happy working with both of these networks. Their pay is extremely reasonable (significantly more than Social Fabric ), their team members have been a joy to work with, and so far all of the products have been a good fit for my blog. As long as I continue to stay in their good graces (fingers crossed!) I could see myself working with them for a long time.
Social Media Numbers
November was yet another month of slow and steady follower gain,and I’ll gladly take it – however, I do want to get engagement up on my social media channels. I post to them all the time, and my follower counts are moving in the right direction, but I feel like my overall following is very small compared to the daily traffic my site is pulling in. I’m clearly missing something here and I need to work on fixing it, especially now that I’m doing more sponsored posts. These companies are hiring me to get the word out on their product, so wielding a powerful social media influence is an important piece to making a campaign successful.
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.
You guys, I finally did it – not only did Homemade Hooplah exceed my goal of $5 RPM, November ranked in at $9.35 (went up 79%). This is all thanks to a lucrative Q4 and those wonderful sponsored posts. I fully expect this number to dip in 2016, but for how I’m going to bask in the uber RPM while it lasts.
It probably comes to no surprise, but Pinterest ruled the roost again this month. Everyone and their mother’s second cousin dog walker is looking for tasty recipes to whip up this holiday season, and thankfully, my blog seems to be included in that traffic.
I’m also starting to see a surge in traffic for last year’s posts, which just warms cockles of my heart. It only I could go back in time and tell myself, “Don’t worry. You know that post you worked so hard on that went over like a tree falling in a deserted forest? Just you wait until next year. Next year, it’s going to be awesome.”
Most Popular Posts
Here’s some of the proof about 2014 posts doing so well in 2015: I made those no bake cookies just a few days before Christmas, not realizing that I should have been posting holiday stuff long before an inch from the holiday, and I felt pretty dejected when it didn’t take off like I thought it would. But here in 2015, it has been my top referrer all month long. I suppose good things really do come to those who wait.
One big change that happened this month: At the beginning of November, Pinterest did something to their search algorithm so that my cookie dough dip no longer appeared in search results… like, at all. There were two mega pins, each with 8k+ repins a piece, that used to be at the very top of the search results and after November 1st they were dishonorably discharged to the absolute bottom.
I have no idea why Pinterest made that change, as the pins were still active with no complaints, but it ended up being a very valuable lesson for me: Pinterest is a third party and not a traffic source I can always depend on. Having the Cookie Dough Dip be so popular was fun while it lasted, but ultimately, it was never going to last forever.
- Classic No Bake Cookies Cookies – 17,700 pageviews
- Cookie Dough Dip – 15,924 pageviews
- Homestyle Sausage Gravy – 15,865 pageviews
- Puppy Chow Chex Mix – 14,783 pageviews
- Nutella Stuffed Sugar Cookies – 14,577 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 December!