"A detailed report of Homemade Hooplah's income for September 2015 (13th 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 September!
(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. Thank you for your support!)
First Things First, How About That Income?
- The Blogger Network: $843.29 (went up 50%)
- Amazon.com Associates: $17.56
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $5.80
Total Income: $866.65 (went up 47%)
This month’s income was as simple as it was last month, and just like last month, I still absolutely love that about it. The Blogger Network has helped keep me from going prematurely gray over maximizing my ad revenue.
However, it goes without saying that you have more potential of maximizing your income if you go to the trouble of configuring your own ad waterfall from multiple ad networks. You will ultimately make more money that way. But at the end of the day, I would rather maximize my time doing these to better this blog. The Blogger Network allows me to have a “hands free” ad solution while still providing me with competitive income. They, in return, will take a small cut of the profits for their effort, and that’s the bottom line: I am totally okay with sharing a small piece of my revenue (or, more accurately, “paying” for a service) if it means someone else is taking on the burden of maximizing said revenue for me. It’s also nice to know that companies like The Blogger Network have an vested interest in getting me the best rates possible since those rates will directly impact their own income.
Other notes about this month’s revenue: I didn’t land a Tailwind affiliate sale, but my Amazon Associates revenue went up. Oddly enough, most of the time people aren’t even purchasing the products that I recommended – it’s just that once they’re on Amazon, and they end up buying something else, I get a small referral percentage of that sale. However, some readers did take my advice and snagged some Red Velvet Emulsion or Cream Horn Molds. For whoever bought them, thank you, and I hope whatever you made (Pumpkin Spice Cream Horns? Red Velvet Bundt Cake?) turned out great!
And 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
This is the first time I’ve ever posted my expenses in an income report. This list also does not include food or photography props, as right now they’re not substantial enough (or blend right in with my daily living expenses) to warrant mentioning. For now, these are just the monthly fees I incur to run the blog the way I do.
Most of these services I’ve had for quite some time. Tailwind helps keep my Pinterest traffic my number 1 referrer, CoSchedule manages my social media presence and gives me an awesome editorial calendar, and Buffer allows me to schedule posts directly from my browser with ease. In short, these are the tools I use to tame the best that is social media.
I’ve also had an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for almost two years. It gives me access to their entire catalog of software, which is a benefit to me since I do all my own graphic design, photo editing, and all other media creation for this site.
The new expense in this list is WPopt, the hosting & management company I switched to on September 1st. I was sad to leave Media Temple, but as my site continued to grow I wanted a managed WordPress solution that also provided me with CDN (aka Content Delivery Network). Like caching, CDN’s are another big part of having a fast, speedy website. In layman’s terms: imagine a cluster of super fast servers that are all jockeying for a chance to be the first one to load the more resource-intensive aspects of a website site (such as images, scripts, etc). That’s what a “content delivery network” does – make the loading time of web content a contest of whoever can do deliver it the fastest, and the whole process drastically speeds up the load time of a website. Media Temple has a great setup for bloggers who want that “next step up” for hosting, but their managed WordPress solution does not offer integrated CDN. And also, being the uber geek that I am, I also missed having full control and access to my cPanel, which does not automatically come with MT’s managed WordPress plan.
So after a few months of research (ie, trying to find a more reasonably priced provider than WPengine – their traffic tiers are harsh and the cost is astronomical) I found my home sweet home with WPopt. The first few days were a little bumpy because we underestimated the resources my site would need, but once that was ironed out I haven’t had a single problem since. I get all the services that MT offered me plus CDN, more thorough backups, two step login verification, and plenty of security checks and features. My site also loads lighting fast. I’ve been very happy with the move thus far – it’s been worth every (reasonably priced) penny.
Secondly, How Was The Traffic?
- Total Visits: 188,769 (went up 39%)
- Total Page Views: 241,370 (went up 43%)
- Average visitors per day: 6,292 (went up 44%)
- Average pageviews per day: 8,046 (went up 48%)
- Best day: September 25th with 9,560 visitors / 13,537 pageviews
Traffic saw another huge increase in September, nearly doubling what it was in August. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me, especially with the holiday season fast approaching.
And as for the root of all that traffic success? It’s the more of the same of what I’ve been preaching over the past few months: promotion, promotion, promotion. These are certainly not the most fun tasks in the world, but it wasn’t until I switched my tactics to a “20% content creation and 80% content promotion” model that I really started to see results. Because, after all, what good is excellent content if no one knows where to find it?
That being said, about half way through September I slowed down some of my promotion efforts – but only slightly. Pinterest is still a big focus for me in promoting both old and new content, but as for all the other social media channels, I’ve zeroed my focus on only promoting new content. The only time I actively promote old content is when it has already done exceptionally well and it hasn’t appeared on my social channels for some time. I know that being able to do this is a huge luxury, something I would have killed for six months ago, but unfortunately it only became an option to me as my site grew with age.
Another aspect of site growth that I can’t stress enough: being involved in the food blogging community and actually talking to other bloggers. I still never network just for the sake of networking – if I’ve reached out to you, it’s because there’s something about you that struck a cord with me, not because I covet what I think you can “offer” me – but even with that approach, I’ve still managed to find myself in great and talented company, all of which are more than happy to work together to promote each other’s work. As an added bonus, I’ve been able to made friends with bloggers all over the world, and quite honestly, it’s awesome. You can trust me on this: as you get deeper into the blogging world, you will need your blogging friends, if for no other reason than to have someone who understand all the trails and tribulations you’re going through. They will help keep you sane.
And finally, another big success this month was that I was lucky enough to land features on some pretty big sites. I go over that in more detail in the traffic sources section below.
Homemade Hooplah’s One Year Anniversary
On September 1st, Homemade Hooplah became a one year old. Crazy, right? It’s a weird feeling, since on the one hand I can’t believe it’s been that long and yet on the other it feels like I’ve been running this blog for years. Looking back on it all, I’m pretty proud that I managed to stick with it and get this far.
Below is a snapshot of Homemade Hooplah’s traffic over the past year. It’s certainly been a fun and crazy ride, especially the past few months! Fun fact: my best traffic day for September 2015 was more than twice as much traffic as all of the traffic I received for the whole month of September 2014.
And if you’re curious, these were the top five posts for the past year:
- Cookie Dough Dip – 34,017 pageviews
- Baked Stuffed Flank Steak – 29,534 pageviews
- Grilled Honey Balsamic Chicken – 28,589 pageviews
- Tuna Noodle Casserole – 17,650 pageviews
- Bacon Wrapped Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken – 17,503
I celebrated the blogiversary by joining up with a group of bloggers (some of that talented bunch I mentioned above) to throw a giveaway for a Amazon gift card. It was the first time I ever participated in a group giveaway, but now that I’ve got the hang of it I hope to do a lot more of them in the future. It was pretty successful overall, granting me a couple hundred followers across all my social networks. It ended up being a pretty nice “birthday present” to the blog.
Social Media Numbers
I had pretty reasonable growth this month, with most of my Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook followers coming from the blogiversary giveaway, but the shocker here is Tumblr. I gained 2,197 followers in 30 days.
But how could this happen? Well, on September 9th, I got an official email from the Tumblr staff, telling me that they liked my little Tumblr and wanted to feature it in their “Food & Drink” category. Of course I was thrilled, and filled out the form they provided in order to get my site listed. A few hours later I received another email from Tumblr, announcing that my Tumblr was trending, and would be seen by their millions of users over the coming weeks. From that point on I gained a few hundred followers each day for a solid three week period.
I have no idea which Tumblr editor not only found me, but decided to grace me with such an awesome gift, but I wish I could send them flowers. Or maybe an edible arrangement. I really can’t say how thankful I was to be chosen for such a nice promotion.
The only “downside” (if you can even call it that) to all the Tumblr followers is that my engagement did not see a big improvement. Before the big feature, I would typically get anywhere from 5-10 interactions per post. These days I get anywhere from 10-40. I still appreciate it the extra attention I get now, but it’s only 2x as much interaction for nearly 20x the followers. It has me wondering if I should extend my aggressive social media promotion to Tumblr as well, if for no other reason than to make better use of all those wonderful followers, but it would be a lot more work to do so – Buffer, my primary means of promoting content from other blogs, doesn’t connect to Tumblr, so scheduling of posts would be more manual and complicated for me. So while it’s something I’m considering, and maybe it will happen… I just don’t know if I’m willing to invest that much time yet. But it sure would be a shame to let all those eager foodie lurkers go to waste!
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.
My ad revenue went up a bit this month, which in turn meant the RPM did as well: RPM was $3.58 (went up 2%). It’s still not anywhere near what I wish it was, but I’m learning more and more that most successful bloggers get their RPM up by doing sponsored posts and other opportunities. Hopefully I can snag more of those in the coming months and get my RPM off the ground level!
The good news: Pinterest has reclaimed my top referral post! I think this is both because I stopped submitting my old content to Tumblr (Tumblr app = direct raffic, thus pushing direct traffic back down to the #2 spot) AND the continued success of networking with bloggers and utilizing Tailwind.
The better news: September brought with a bunch of new sites featuring my content, such as The Kitchn and Delish. Delish is also part of the same network of sites as POPSUGAR, so MSN eventually picked up the Delish article and circulated it on their Food & Drink site. I also got lucky with a few hit posts on StumbleUpon. The traffic spike on the 25th was the result of both MSN and StumbleUpon surges happening at the same time. That certainly made my day!
Most Popular Posts
My post popularity this month was entirely dictated by features and posts that were successful in August, but you know what? I’ll totally take it! All exposure is good exposure in my book.
- Cookie Dough Dip – 30,232 pageviews
- Nutella Stuffed Sugar Cookies – 15,076 pageviews
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodles – 11,747 pageviews
- Grilled Honey Balsamic Chicken – 11,190 pageviews
- Homestyle Sausage Gravy – 10,738 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 October!