Happy New Year everyone!!! Trevor here, making my monthly appearance to present the January 2016 income report.
I’ve been cranking away on The Blog Village the past month, getting it ready for the launch on April 9th. I’m really excited to show it off to everyone, and hope to have a little preview in next month’s income report. In the meantime, if you want an even earlier look, be sure to sign up for The Blog Village newsletter which is also the home of our future blogging tips, behind the scenes, and more.
Well, it’s time for your resolutions, or on the business side goal setting! But before we get to that…
If you haven’t read one of our income reports before, you may be scratching your head. This is where we embrace our inner Jerry Maguire… no… not “You had me at hello”, the other one… “Show me the MONEY!” As always, the food will return shortly. If the idea of sharing income and learning how to make a living on this little thing we call the internet (it’s gonna be huge) isn’t interesting to you, then please treat yourself to a delicious fluffy chocolate chip cookie, they’re frickin amazing!
Here’s a brief introduction to these traffic and income reports…
If you’ve stopped by our about us page, you know that Jennifer and I started this blog thirteen months ago with the hopes of it earning an income for Jennifer. I’ve since quit my job and we’re taking a calculated risk that we can make this blog both of our full-time jobs.
We still have a long way to go before it’s to that place and we owe a lot of our realization that this was even a possibility to income reports like this. Our hope is that, for those interested, these reports can help to show what worked for us, the mistakes we made and that it is possible to make an income online doing something that you love if you work hard and stick with it.
None of these reports on their own tell the story of how to create, grow and monetize a blog. Think of each one as a chapter in a book that continues to be written. To get the full picture, I suggest looking at our traffic and income reports page where you can click into individual reports, like this one, to see the slow steady growth and get the details.
Okay, enough with the backstory, let’s get on to the report…
This month will illustrate very clearly, as with many industries, there are significant peaks and valleys with a food blog. It’s difficult to get the big picture with each of these monthly reports, so I’ve decided to add a new feature to the breakdown, “Rolling Annual Salary”.
The rolling annual salary will be a rolling twelve month total income after expenses which I think is a bit more relatable to most and a more balanced look at growth through the peaks and valleys. I’m using salary and not hourly wage… because… well… that would be depressing to see at this point 😉
Leave a comment and let me know if you guys like the Rolling Annual Salary and think it should stick around!
Sponsored Content: $666.00
Google AdSense: $103.99
BlueHost: $130.00 <– this is from our How to Start a Blog page
Amazon Affiliates: $79.05
Genesis Framework: $0 <– the framework our site is built on
Gourmet Ads: $48.93
Audio Jungle: $76.00 <– music for our videos
Adobe Creative Cloud: $54.79
Capture One: $10.00
Net Profit: $3,181.21
Mayday! Mayday! The sky is falling!
Yes, it stings a little, but it’s just January and as we expected, with ad budgets resetting for the year and marketing strategies getting sorted out, ad spend is low in January. To be more precise, it was down 49% (Ouch!) from December which is the primary reason revenue and our RPM dropped by almost exactly that much.
On the positive side, traffic grew slightly because new years resolutions tend to include a new diet and people gotta find those recipes somewhere! If this year works out the same as last year, next month will see a decline in traffic before starting to rebound in March.
Overall we’re thrilled with where traffic stands as we start the new year!
Goals are so important to implement in your business and daily life, that’s why I love when January rolls around. January for us is time to put down on paper what we want to achieve in the new year and work hard to make that happen.
Going into 2016 we want to push ourselves with our goals. Michelangelo said…
The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that our aim is too low and we reach it.
So we’re aiming high and I encourage you to do the same! Here are our big goals for 2016, our 2nd year on the blog:
$100,000 total revenue (4X our 2015 total)
1,000,000 monthly pageviews
100,000 person social reach across all social channels
250 members of The Blog Village
If you’re wondering, I’ll be honest, those numbers don’t seem easy… I’m not even sure they’re possible, but I’ve got an amazing partner and I believe we can do it! Goals make me pull up quotes, so let me then move on to the French author Antoine de Saint Exupéry who said…
A goal without a plan is just a wish
Well said, Antoine. So how are we going to make those lofty goals a reality? Here’s the 10,000 ft plan:
To quadruple our revenue we can’t just depend on ad revenue and increased pageviews. We’ll be diversifying our income streams and be more proactive when it comes to acquiring sponsors.
Ad revenue was 82% of our income in 2016 which makes it very important to our business but we would like to reduce our reliance on ads.
This month is a good example of how much income can fluctuate when advertising rates dip, so we want to minimize our exposure to those big shifts. We’ll continue to work closely with AdThrive, our advertising partner, to ensure that we’re maximizing the revenue from the ads on the site.
We can do a better job promoting the products that we use by featuring them more as the hero of posts, so we’re planning on creating product specific posts to help increase the income we see from these sales.
The Blog Village will also open up another affiliate sales channel where we can recommend the products we use on the blog creation side to our users. A key part of this channel will be revamping our How to Start a Blog page, redirecting users to a much more thorough learning experience at The Blog Village.
We haven’t been proactive up to this point about approaching brands and pitching what we can offer them. I really like this avenue for two reasons.
One, we have so many brands of products that we use and love that we haven’t worked with, it makes for a very natural partnership.
Two, it puts the ball in our court and lets us shape the potential work we will be doing. That’s not to say that brands will always jump at what we pitch, but I think it shows you’re thinking through what would make sense and if I’m in charge of marketing and you pitch me a great idea… heck, that’s one less thing that I don’t have to do.
The Blog Village
This is going to be where a lot of my time is going to be spent in 2016. I think it has a massive amount of potential and am so excited to share it with everyone. The thing that I’m most excited about is that the success of The Blog Village will be a direct correlation to the success that it’s members see. Success begets success.
We have discovered a secret way to always rank as the first result on Google and will begin to implement it in February, the results should be amazing!
Ha! Wouldn’t that be nice.
In reality, this one is going to come down to… yes, I’m tired of everyone saying it too… quality content. What does that even mean, right? Where’s the quality content page test when we need it?!? As tired as it is, everyone keeps saying it because it’s true. So what is it?
Well, for a food blog it pretty much boils down to great photos and great recipes. Don’t get me wrong, writing is important too, but only for maybe 15-25% of people if that. Everybody else wants great looking recipes that will make everyone they make them for happy.
If there’s ever one thing you’re trying to focus on to grow your food blog, focus on your photos. They’re the key to everything else.
Here’s what we do with every post:
- Jennifer works hard to make the photos more delicious
- We try to be a little smarter with SEO
- Plan the editorial calendar better
- Try our hardest to put out recipes that our readers are looking for
The good news about social media is that once you hit a tipping point on a certain platform, you start gaining a large following with minimal effort. The bad news about social media is it seems to take AN ETERNITY to reach that tipping point
Our 2016 plan for social media is to take a more analytical approach to try and find patterns in what works for us to attract a following. That includes when we post, what we post, how we caption, tag, etc. This means a lot of trial and error and we’ll be sharing our findings with you as we experiment.
Growing our social media presence is also about time. Dedicating time to each platform and determining where our time should be spent. In 2016 we’ll be giving weight to the platforms we’re seeing the most traffic and engagement on.
The Blog Village
My efforts in 2016 will be continuing to expand the membership of The Blog Village as well as building out content, tools and finding ways to make creating, growing and monetizing a blog easier for it’s members.
I’ll go into more details in later reports, but I’m particularly excited about all of this!
So if all of that goes perfectly, we’ll be 75% of the way there, the other 25% we’ll be figuring out as we go through the year!
There you go, our super-secret master plan for 2016. It can really all be summed up with two words. Hard Work.
Be sure to sign up for The Blog Village newsletter which is the home of our future blogging tips, behind the scenes, and more will be coming from.
Have you set your goals for 2016? Let me know about them below.
As always, if you have questions leave a comment below, I read and answer each and every one!
* This post contains affiliate links, thank you for the support in keeping SMTY up and running!