January was slower, as expected. January is the start of the first quarter (Q1) and that’s when things tend to be low and slow. Meaning advertising budgets are smaller, display ad rates are lower, and traffic is generally less. So, I’m not surprised at lower earnings this month. In fact, on the contrary, I’m surprised I did as well as this – and I got really lucky that MSN.com included one of my soups in an article about how to stay warm during the impending snowmageddon, so that gave me a nice random traffic boost!
That said, I found myself struggling. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I know I should do to make this a successful site. I feel like an assistant (virtual or otherwise) would be very helpful, but I’m not sure I earn enough yet to justify such an expense, and I’m also not sure I would feel comfortable relinquishing control.
Regarding ad networks, I’m still using The Blogger Network (TBN), Gourmet Ads, Infolinks, and BuckBooks. I went ahead and applied to AdThrive, even though I don’t think I have enough traffic. But word is their waiting list is 2-3 months, so maybe I’ll be in a better position by the time they get around to me.
While I work very hard to keep sponsored posts as authentic and native as possible, I would like to maintain a better balance between sponsored and non-sponsored content going forward. December and January saw more than 50% sponsored posts, which I think is much too high. I don’t believe it’s too many sponsored posts, I just wish I had more non-sponsored to balance things out. Again, though, not enough hours in the day.
Speaking of sponsored posts, I was accepted to Tapfluence and got my first gig with them, as well as getting a couple jobs with Clever Girls. So, it’s nice to be branching out a bit. I continued to post for Social Fabric as well.
I really wasn’t able to keep up with Pinterest or StumbleUpon – when you’re an active user of these sites, they pay you in traffic dividends, but it’s a significant time commitment. I have Tailwind for scheduling pins, and on the days that I sat down and scheduled, I could see a definite boost in my Pinterest traffic. But most days I wasn’t able to make time.
If you’re wondering how to tell whether people are pinning from your site, you can check your Pinterest source page. Here’s mine: Mama Loves Food Pinterest Source Page. To see yours, just change where it says “mamalovesfood.com” in the URL to your website information. The Pinterest source page only shows original pins – meaning someone had to go to your site and pin it from there. It does not show re-pins. The Pinterest source page gives you a good idea of what’s popular on your site at any given time. If you want to check how many times a particular post has been pinned in total, you can plug it into this site: Get Pin Count.
Stumble Upon is a little harder to gauge, since there’s no source page. I’m not sure if there’s a way to see everything that’s been pinned from a particular site (if you know the trick, let me know!). But if you want to see how many times a specific post has been stumbled: thumbs the page up, then go to your SU profile and click ‘Your Likes’ (or if you use the SU extension in Chrome, click on your face in the top right hand corner, and choose ‘Your Likes’ from the drop down menu). From there you can see how many times each of the posts you’ve liked has been stumbled.
Yummly on the other hand, I’m starting to fall in love with. You’ll see in my Google Analytics screen-cap below that Yummly has made it into my top ten referrers. Barely, but it’s there. And Yummly takes almost no effort. Just add the bookmarklet to your browser, and when you post a recipe, or see someone else’s that you like, click the button in your bookmark bar and voila! Done. Seriously, so easy. If you want to see your Yummly source page, go to your ‘Recipe Box’ on Yummly. Find one of your recipes, and look toward the bottom of the thumbnail, there should be a clickable link with your site’s name – that link will take you to the source page. And this source page is even better than the Pinterest source page (in my opinion) because it shows you how many times each of your recipes has been Yummed! Here’s mine if you want to take a look: Mama Loves Food Yummly Source Page.
In Facebook land, things continue to go well. I firmly believe that if you engage your readers, they will reward you. I have great conversations with my Facebook family and do hope that continues. It’s definitely not enough to just post your blog content on a Facebook page and expect things to thrive, you need to be interesting and interested – ask your fans questions, provide good content (not just your own!). I have been warned that once a page hits 10,000 fans, it’s penalized by Facebook and engagement drops off, but I guess we’ll have to see when we get there. Possibly things get a bit harder at that point, but there are plenty of bloggers who prove that you can absolutely have a large and thriving Facebook audience. Here’s a YouTube video from Holly Homer, Queen of Thriving Facebook Pages. She lays it out for you!
My biggest new venture this month is an ebook! I’ve started putting together my first recipe ebook with Canva. So far I really like it, the tools are intuitive, the options are plentiful, and best of all it’s entirely FREE. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the best way to go about ebooks, and I’ve decided to do a series of 15’s. My first book is a compilation of my 15 favorite soups, stews, and chilis. Next, I might do 15 desserts, then breakfasts, and on, and on. This gives me a simple format and the ability to easily create a bundle (i.e. 1 book = $10 or 3 books for $25). Obviously, I’m getting ahead of myself as I still haven’t finished my first book – but I’m trying to be forward thinking.
If you decide to put together an ebook with Canva, I strongly suggest watching this gal’s video tutorial. Watch it through to the end and it will save you a lot of angst, especially in the saving/downloading part. When I’m done putting the first book together (hopefully soon!), I will have to figure out how I want to sell it, how much for, and whether I want to use affiliates. Or if affiliates will even have me! Have you put an ebook together? Link it in the comments and tell me about your experience!
I also finally broke down and got some equipment I’ve been hemming and hawing on for a while. Specifically vinyl photography backdrops from Swanky Prints, and a daylight balanced light for taking photographs after the kids go down. Several food bloggers recommended the Lowel EGO light, so that’s what I went for. I haven’t busted them out yet (just arrived today!) but I’ll be sure to let you know how I like them!
So, all in all, it’s been a good month. I need to work on balance for sure. It’s hard with 5 homeschooled kids and another job. But, I think I can make it work. I’m going to try anyway. I still expect significant dips in my traffic, unfortunately. As we talked about before, my most popular recipes are soups and stews, so my traffic tends to be highest between September and January. This is obviously another thing I need to work on diversifying.So, tell me. How did your month go? Did you start a new project? Discover a new tool? Want me to talk more about something in particular?
JANUARY 2015 – EARNED: $2,589.78
Money that 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: $46.41
- The Blogger Network: $280.95
- Amazon Affiliate: $5.77
- Gourmet Ads: $45.25
- InfoLinks: $30.95
- Izea: $75.45
- Social Fabric: $1,705.00
- BlogHer: $50.00
- Clever Girls: $350.00
JANUARY 2015 – COLLECTED: $2,096.61
Money that actually made it into my pocket this month.
JANUARY 2015 – EXPENSES: $202.40
- Izea membership: $1.00
- Constant Contact: $33.00
- Amazon gift card for contest: $15.00
- Swanky Prints vinyl photography backdrops: $47.52
- Lowel Ego Lights for photography: $105.88
JANUARY 2015 – TRAFFIC: 110,390
JANUARY 2015 – FACEBOOK:
- Likes: 2,505
Income and Traffic Report August 2014 – $227.49
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
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