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Welcome friends! If this is your first time checking things out, thanks so much for the visit! I'm April and I've been blogging here since 2008. Just this past year though, I decided to buckle down in the 'trying to make money' department - so in August of 2014 I started getting my booty in gear and (inspired by Pat Flynn) also began publishing these income reports as a way to keep myself accountable and (hopefully) help others along the way. If you have any questions or suggestions, please please feel free to ask in the comments or shoot me an email. And if you're just interested in the numbers, by all means, scroll down to the bottom!
It's April, yay! The month when I'm constantly looking over my shoulder because I think everyone is talking about me! Hah! And no, I wasn't born in April.
So, I can't decide whether to be proud of myself or disappointed - because the secret goal I set out at the beginning of the year was to make at least $1,000.00/month for the entire year in 2015. So, I'm proud of myself because I've obviously exceeded that goal each month so far. But I'm also a little disappointed because of course I hoped that I would see a steady progression of income increases. I know this blogging and traffic thing is very seasonal, but it's hard not to get down about it sometimes.
In exciting news though, MSN.com ran a feature with recipes they recommend on a budget and it included several of my recipes. This resulted in a huge traffic spike for a few days - over 13,000 visitors in one day alone! I also had two Social Fabric campaigns that were chosen for Facebook promotions. So even though April is generally a low traffic month, things looked pretty good!
We're continuing to chug along with The Blogger Network (TBN), and Gourmet Ads, and nothing's really changed performance-wise. Unfortunately I heard back from Adthrive and they're unable to accept me into their network until I can show a previous thirty day period with at least 100,000 pageviews. On the plus side, they did say that as soon as my traffic picks back up, I can jump back to the top of the line since I already waited. So, I guess we'll see how things are looking around the holidays.
Since I wasn't accepted into Adthrive (who has their own mobile friendly set up), I applied to PadSquad and was accepted. If you haven't heard as of this month, Google will be downgrading sites that are not mobile friendly. PadSquad makes your page page mobile friendly and supplies it with advertising. From what I've heard, their ad rates are better than average, so I'm looking forward to trying them out. Unfortunately, they're a bit back logged, and we've run into a few compatibility issues on my site, so hopefully things will be up and running by the beginning of May. The Blogger Network has their own mobile friendly ads program called Flight, but I haven't heard great things about it, so I'm going for PadSquad. Plus, I think it's good to diversify.
I also continue to supplement with Infolinks, BuckBooks, and Google Adsense. Technically BuckBooks is an affiliate program, but I'm talking about it here because I run an ad banner in my sidebar.
This month was kind of all over the place. I did my first campaigns with Linqia and Pollinate, as well as a few with Social Fabric.
As for Linqia, I liked the brand, the backend, and the communication, however, I did not care for the pay-per-click model. The way it works is you're given a few links to include in your post and with your social media pushes then you're told that for every click through you earn a certain amount of money (up to a designated ceiling). My readers, you folks, are all wonderful and brilliant. But you're not much for clicking through to advertiser pages. Which is totally fine and I respect that, but it made working with Linqia difficult and I felt like a pusher trying to get people to click on links. It's just not how I want to run my brand, so I probably won't be doing many more Linqia campaigns. Which is a bit of a bummer because I do really like the brands and food products they work with.
Pollinate was enjoyable to work with - unlike most influencer networks I've worked with, they don't have a backend, instead choosing to do all their exchanges via email. Which is fine, so long as you're vigilante about checking your emails! On the plus side, the pay was a little better than Social Fabric tends to be, but there's also no chance at a Facebook promotion.
I also did a couple of promotional posts with Social Fabric as well as paid tweets with Izea. As stated above, two of my Social Fabric campaigns were picked up for Facebook promotion, so that was great. You'll be able to see those in the traffic report as P-0504b and P-0504c!
Facebook engagement continues to do well for me (and if you're struggling with this, I would encourage you to check out my articles: Why Your Facebook Page Sucks and What You Can Do About It, and 25 Statuses to Get Your Facebook Audience Engaged). On the other hand, I do have a hard time with gaining Facebook followers. I find the round robin contests to be helpful, as well as the tag-a-friend contests, however I don't seem to attract organic followers the way other bloggers do. I think it may have something to do with the disconnect between my blogging brand (Mama Loves Food) and my Facebook brand (April's Little Family).
I started my Facebook page when I was primarily a mommy blogger and as such used that name - but now it isn't so fitting. While it does lend itself better to the familial atmosphere I foster on the page, people who click over from the Mama Loves Food website are probably a little confused. To this end, I redesigned my Facebook page header to include the Mama Loves Food logo and pictures of some of my more popular recipes. I also applied for a name change, but unfortunately that request was denied.
My other concern was that if people search for me on Facebook, they wouldn't find any Mama Loves Food page and wouldn't know to search for April's Little Family. So, I went ahead and started a Mama Loves Food Facebook page. I don't intend to use it for any other purpose than directing people to the correct page though. Since my community is so active, I'd be afraid to mess up a good thing by trying to migrate it.
I haven't done much with Pinterest this month, other than maintaining my presence via Tailwind. I'm also still a part of a few exchange groups where I pin other bloggers content in exchange for them pinning and sharing mine. I know I've spoken about this before, but I think it's incredibly important to find a tribe of like minded bloggers that you can have exchanges with and with whom you can candidly discuss your business. I cannot express enough how much I've learned from becoming friends with other bloggers. (Shout out and big thank you especially to Shauna from The Best Blog Recipes and Jamie from Love Bakes Good Cakes!)
I heard back from PubExchange and sadly, don't meet the minimum traffic threshold right now (100,000 UMV). They offered me a paid option, but it didn't seem like a prudent move at this point. I'll probably reapply when my traffic picks back up.
Stumbling is going well, it's not a huge traffic source, but it is pretty consistent and doesn't take a big time investment. I've been thinking about trying another paid campaign, but haven't pulled the trigger yet.
I have my doubts that Yummly will ever turn into a behemoth like Pinterest, but I'm still enjoying the traffic from it and find the site itself to be enjoyable and well thought out. It's kind of like Pinterest but food only. Which, of course I can get behind.
I'm still not in love with Google+ and I keep hearing rumors that it's going away soon, but I've determined to maintain it for the time being. I'm wary of turning my nose up at anything Google, since they pretty much own the internet.
I'm still selling tweets on Twitter and still not finding the appeal beyond that. But that's enough for me! And Instagram I use as a companion to Facebook (do you have your Instagram account linked to your business Facebook page? If not, you should!), as well as a personal thing. Also a lot of campaigns now are requiring a presences on Instagram, and some will even pay more if you include a short Instagram video. I'm kind of enjoying putting together stop-motion clips!
My love affair with Mad Mimi continues and I've been adding drip emails when I have a few minutes here and there. A drip email, or auto-responder, is just a series of emails that get sent out at designated intervals. So for example, when someone signs up to receive my newsletter, over the course of a month or two they will get a series of emails that cover a variety of introductory topics like my most popular recipes, my favorite recipes, best dessert recipes, and so on. It's fantastic because I only have to set it up once and from there forward it's completely automated.
Between the drip emails and the automatic RSS emails (I have it set up so that an email goes out every time I put up a new post), people are seeing me in their inbox regularly without my having to do any work at all. I recently learned that Mad Mimi is actually a GoDaddy derivative company, and I have to say that having been a GoDaddy customer for seven years, I was thrilled to hear this. I've never received anything but great service from GoDaddy. So, yay for good companies!
I'm still using Amazon Affiliates and BuckBooks to make a few dollars each month, but I definitely haven't cracked the affiliate money making secrets. I recently listened to a few podcasts by Pat Flynn on the subject and feel like I have a better grasp of how people are doing well with affiliate marketing, but haven't really figured out a way to bring it home here. It's on my list, though.
I'm just going to make a list here of resources for now, but at some point I'll have an ongoing post to point you toward rather than burying this stuff in an income report.
Mad Mimi (email marketing)
GoDaddy (web hosting)
PicMonkey (online photo editing)
Canva (ebook/pamphlet/poster creator)
Swanky Prints (vinyl backdrops/fake wood)
Lowel Ego Lights (daylight mimicking photography light)
Fiverr (hire help starting at $5/task)
Social Fabric/Collective Bias (influencer network)
Izea/Social Spark (influencer network)
Blogher/Sheknows (influencer network)
Clever Girls/Fanny (influencer network)
Pollinate (influencer network)
One2One (influencer network)Tapinfluence (influencer network)
Linqia (influencer network)
Sverve (influencer network)
Tomoson (influencer network)
Find Your Influence (influencer network)
Link Vehicle (influencer network & affiliate hub)
Markerly (influencer network)
Business2Blogger (influencer network/job board)
Pinterest for Business (social media)
StumbleUpon Ads (social media)
Tailwind (Pinterest scheduler/social media)
PubExchange (traffic exchange network)
BuckBooks (affiliate marketing for inexpensive books)
Amazon Affiliates (affiliate program for Amazon merchandise)
Share-a-Sale (affiliate marketing hub)
Affiliate Window (affiliate marketing hub)
E-junkie (affiliate marketing hub)
Commission Junction/CJ Affiliate (affiliate marketing hub)
Gourmet Ads (advertising network)
The Blogger Network (advertising network)
Infolinks (advertising network)
Adsense (advertising network)
Adthrive (advertising network)
Padsquad (mobile advertising network)
Food Blogger Pro (food blogging course)
How to Grow Your Blog, Advice from 30 Top Bloggers (ebook)
How to Grow on Twitter (ebook)
Blogging on the Side (ebook)
Tasty Food Photography (ebook)
Thoughts and Things To Do
I feel like I'm swimming a bit right now. I have a notebook full of ideas, from post inspiration to monetization plans, to site revamping. My cup runneth over when it comes to the things I want to do - unfortunately though, time is very limited and I find myself having a difficult time choosing what direction to take.
Here are a few things I definitely want to address before the end of the year:
- Minor site redesign (cleaning things up a little more and making them more streamlined).
- Bringing older posts up to date.
- Exploring more affiliate options.
- Finishing the ebook.
Here are a few longer term goals:
- Getting a YouTube channel up and running - adding recipe slideshows and maybe some short cooking demonstrations.
- Putting together a series of ebooks and an affiliate network to sell them.
- Hiring a second VA to take care of additional administrative items and for submitting posts to food sites.
- Starting and selling a line of Mama Loves Food merchandise.
How about you? Did you try something new this month that worked? Do you have any questions about what's happening here? Hit me up in the comments!
APRIL 2015 - EARNED: $1,331.40
Money I earned during this month, but have not necessarily been paid yet. For example, most advertising companies don't pay until 30 - 90 days after your impressions, and many sponsors don't pay until your post has been live for 30 days.
Google Adsense: $40.63
The Blogger Network: $289.43
Amazon Affiliates: $5.52
Gourmet Ads: $69.33
Social Fabric: $325.00
APRIL 2015 - COLLECTED: $1,727.44
The Blogger Network: $194.52
Gourmet Ads: $45.25
Social Fabric: $1,205.00
APRIL 2015 - EXPENSES: $582.49
Groceries/post items: $243.74Amazon gift card for contest: $5.00
APRIL 2015 - NET PROFIT: $1,144.95
APRIL 2015 - TRAFFIC: 89,274
APRIL 2015 - FACEBOOK:
- Likes: 2,666 (+86)
Income and Traffic Report September 2014 - $664.88
Income and Traffic Report October 2014 - $797.11
Income and Traffic Report November 2014 - $1,095.85
Income and Traffic Report December 2014 - $2,880.00
Income and Traffic Report January 2015 -$2,589.78
Income and Traffic Report February 2015 -$1,231.07