The Income + Traffic Report: A New Series
One of the most asked questions of all time that I hear is: “How do you make money blogging?” or “How can you make money online or through your website?”
It’s understandable that people love this question and this concept. “Is it even possible?” people ask. “But it can only make a few dollars per month, right? Nothing you can live off of.” Wrong. In another post, I shared an infographic of how much some bloggers make each month, and whereas I don’t make anything near that yet, I wanted to begin sharing how I do make money through my blog so others can be inspired to try, if it’s something they’re interested in.
So my new series of Income + Traffic Reports will be brutally honest and will discuss actual stats and dollar amounts. If this offends you, you may want to skip over these posts. I know money can be an uncomfortable topic. Our society is very closed-mouth on how much we make … it’s rude to inquire about salary. But I’ll be honest, I sometimes wonder how much certain professions/jobs make, and I know others probably wonder too. That’s why I’m starting this column. You will see behind the scenes of how I make decisions and make money through my blog.
With my new series you won’t have to awkwardly inquire about earning potential or wonder without asking. In some cultures it’s perfectly acceptable to ask about salary. It helps other people decide if they want to get into the field you’re in. I think it can be highly useful, but it’s still a bit scary.
So, in this series I’m only sharing the income I make through my blog, and the products/services directly related to it.
I won’t share stats on my consulting income or freelance design income, because most people’s questions are related purely to blogging. Also, I think a high-quality blog with valuable content on a topic you’re passionate about is simpler to replicate and learn from than my consulting & freelancing that I’ve been doing for 5+ years.
In fact, as many of you know, I switched my main blog to this URL in March, and I rebranded my consulting business. So, my web traffic and blog readers will have to slowly climb back up. It’s the perfect time to start following along if you hope to make money online through your blog.
Keep in mind:
The only thing to remember as you follow along with this series, is that comparison should be used wisely. Depending on the amount of time you’ve been blogging, your industry of choice, and 1.5 million other factors, everybody’s results will vary. I hope you learn to make way more money online than I do, but if it takes a while to build up, don’t let that mean my blog is “better” to you. That is simply not the case. Stick with it if you love it, or move onto something else if you don’t. If you add value to the world by creating what you love, your version of success will come and it will be all that you need.
What to Look For and Learn from Each Month:
Your blog/website traffic can tell you a lot! You’ll generally want to pay attention to:
- YOUR OVERALL VISITS: As in, how many times your site was visited that month.
- THE NUMBER OF UNIQUE VISITORS YOUR SITE HAD: Basically, the number of individual computers accessing your site from a single browser in any given time period.
- YOUR TOTAL PAGEVIEWS: The number of pages and blog posts that were accessed/viewed that month.
- YOUR AVERAGE VISIT TIME: Lets you know how long each person stays on your site, on average.
- PAGES PER VISIT: The average number of pages or blog posts someone clicks on and visits while on your site.
- BOUNCE RATE: The percentage of your website visits with visitors who leave your site after only viewing the one page they entered on.
- PAGE/POST EXIT RATE: The percent of your website visits with visitors who leave your site after viewing a specific page or blog post.
- TOP TRAFFIC SOURCES: Lets you know which sites/links are leading people to your blog (ex: Facebook, your email newsletter, someone’s Feedly subscription, etc.).
- TOP CONTENT: Lets you know what your most popular pages and posts are.
- TOP SEARCH KEYWORDS LEADING PEOPLE TO YOUR CONTENT: If someone is searching a term or keyword in Google/Bing/Yahoo! and he/she lands on your site, wouldn’t it be nice to know what exact term led that person to you?
Traffic for the Month of March (using Google Analytics)
Some Thoughts on My March Blog Traffic:
Well, rebranding and switching content to a new domain can hurt your traffic a little bit, but I’m not too worried about it. I have some key supporters who wouldn’t stop supporting me even if I changed my business name once per month and used a new domain for every single blog post (thanks mom + BFFs). But, most people would get confused and annoyed after the third change or so. It’s best to rebrand only when you really need to, but listen: when you need to, just do it.
I’m actually not even a smidgen upset about the loss in traffic from switching my blog this March. Why? I’ve now established a cohesive, consistent online presence, and it will only get better from here. I’m more comfortable blogging under this domain/brand, and I have a style that makes sense for me. Basically, the switch was good for me (I’m more excited to blog now) and my audience (y’all will have access to more quality and aesthetically pleasing content over time–but you can let me know if you disagree).
Key Takeaways from My March Blog Traffic:
Some great things: My average visit duration was over five minutes. That means that each person generally reads one to three pages or posts, fully. Also, my average pages per visit was 2.81 pages. So again, people are checking out multiple resources when they visit, yay!
Some things to improve: My bounce rate was at 68.47%, so I want to try to do more to get the average visitor to interact/click at least once while on my site.
- If your average amount of time per visit seems low to you, start asking trusted friends if your blog design, layout, or user-friendliness could use some revamping. Ask people that are honest with you, or join one of my Monthly Q & A sessions on Facebook, and I’ll be happy to answer.
- If your bounce rate is higher than you want it to be (like mine is), think of additional valuable content or links you can include on your home page or in your sidebar to interest people without overwhelming your visitors. Also, continue to plan more quality content for your blog.
- Set realistic goals for increases in traffic. Perhaps doubling your traffic in one month is a bit ambitious or unrealistic, but what about getting five more visitors per day on average, or increasing your unique visitors by 1 – 10%? That will be my goal this month, so check back with me: I want to increase my unique visitors by 10% during April. So, if I’m at 879 now, I want to get at least 88 (~10%) more unique visitors in April, for a total of at least 967 unique visitors.
- Share your goals with a support network or blogging buddy, who will cheer you on, help you, and check in with you if need be. Or, leave your goals in the comment section of this post, and I’ll check in with you!
- Stay encouraged and don’t compare yourself in a negative way. It’s never good. I even wrote a blog post about it.
Top Traffic Sources
Key Takeaways from My March Blog Traffic Sources:
- Most people still get to my site via an organic Google search (even though I’m on a new domain) so that’s cool. This means my content and preferred WordPress SEO plugin are working.
- “Tons” of people just type in my domain name and come directly to my site so I don’t know how they know about it. These visits could come from people who see my domain name on Instagram or Twitter, or heard it mentioned by me or others. There’s no way to tell, but, having a domain name that’s short and simple–byRegina.com–probably makes that more possible. Keep “ease of use” in mind when choosing a blog domain name.
- The average person that comes to my site from Pinterest spends over 16 minutes on my site; the average person coming from Twitter (the t.co on Line 6 in the picture above) spends over 19 minutes; but the average Facebook visitor only spends about 4 minutes on my site.
- As far as search engines are concerned, Google sends me the most traffic (Line 1, above), then Bing (Line 13), then Yahoo! (Line 20), but people that come from Yahoo! and Bing spend more time on my site than Googlers.
Take some time to look at your own statistics. Find out (1) where most of your visitors come from, and (2) where most of your quality visitors come from. Though most of my visitors come from a Google search, most of my quality visitors (people who spend 15+ minutes on my site) come from Twitter and Pinterest. Statistics like these can help you decide where to focus more of your efforts. P.S. If you spend advertising $$ on a site like Facebook, but you don’t get many quality visits out of it over a significant period of time, you can quit wasting money!
Top Blog Content for March
- Figure out which pages and posts get the most traffic each week/month and try to figure out why.
- Go back to your most popular posts and add links to other related content on your site (but only if it adds value to your readers!).
- If you make money from your blog, go back to your popular posts and see if there are organic, helpful places you can link to products you sell, or affiliate partnerships you have. Just be careful to be genuine and not overdo it.
- Look at the posts people visit most often and the posts that people spend the most time on and figure out if you can make them into a series or try to think of similar/related posts you can write that might be just as popular.
- Look at your least read posts and posts with the highest bounce rate and decide if you need to rename, rewrite, refocus, or even delete those posts (if they are, for example, confusing people or not adding value and thus hurting your image a bit).
Top Organic Keywords
Some Thoughts on My Top Organic Keyword Traffic
The term “examples of amateur blogs” leads people to my post Don’t be an Amateur Blogger. I should try to figure out what other terms might lead people there, then incorporate them into my text so that I can drive more traffic to that post that has an average read time of over 11 minutes. Also, I should do more with the “daily small business tasks” term, as that is one of my favorite topics to help creative business owners stay on track with their companies.
- Figure out which terms lead people to your blog with little impact (meaning, people spend only a few seconds on your site afterward) and figure out what you can do to keep people on those pages longer. Also consider if some of the keywords and terminology you have on that post/page might be misleading web searchers.
- Figure out which terms lead people to your site with a high impact (meaning, these people stay on your site for a long time and have a low bounce rate).
- Think of which search terms your target audience is likely to use to find a blog like yours or to find and hire someone with services like yours. Include these terms (in a natural, human-friendly way) into your posts, page titles, headings, images, and text. But never try to trick Google. Google no like.
How I Do Small Business Accounting
I use accrual accounting for the purposes of these reports. This means that any income I accrued (earned even if it hasn’t been paid out yet; or earned even though it’s already been paid) is what I report. As an example, if I have a partner/affiliate link to a company, and a visitor clicks on it and buys something in March, I will count my commission in March, even though the partner company might not pay me until April or May.
For the purposes of showing you the earning potential of a blog, and specifically what I earn through blogging and offering complementary products/trainings, I believe it is best to show the money as it is earned, and not as it’s paid, since that varies.
March Blog Earnings | byRegina.com*
*Note: These figures do not include my consulting or freelancing income since I have built those businesses over a period of 5+ years. I am only showing you money made through this blog and its related offerings.
Second note: I will be releasing a guide on making money online next month. This will help you discover the different ways to make money through your blog + I’ll be sharing a few insider secrets. (Update: Here’s the guide to the 10 ways to make money online, sans the sleaze.)
- Bluehost Affiliate Commission: $455
- WordPress Class: $375 (I’m revamping this page on my site now. Will link to it soon.)
- The Small Business Manual royalties: $166.90
- WordPress Class binder: $150 (includes materials people use in class)
- Pre-made WordPress Theme Sales: $60
- Amazon Associates commission: $16.10
- The Epic Brand Identity Workbook: $15 (sold on Etsy and from my blog)
- Other business affiliates: $1.20 (links to software, insurance, and other tools)
Total: $1239.20 for the month of March*
*Before freelancing + consulting income; before business expenses (which are hosting: $25, Buffer: $10, and Internet: $65).
Thoughts on My March Blog Income
- I only make a percentage royalty on each book I sell because it is sold through channels such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You could easily make a higher profit percent selling your books/content directly through your site if you have the right audience. I’m working on a second edition now, so I may look into that once it’s done.
- Now that I’ve started selling themes, I need to create a marketing plan and figure out how I’m going to promote them. To be honest, I probably won’t do that this month (April), so I can’t expect many, if any, sales.
- Write a list of all the software, services, and products you already use (including classes you take and anywhere else you spend money) related to your blog/passion/business.
- Research each of these companies and see if they have an “affiliate program,” “associates program,” or “partnership/partner program.” These programs will likely allow you to earn a commission any time someone clicks on your link and buys from the provider. Since you already use and recommend these services, why not make a commission from the time you spend promoting them? Research other affiliate programs in your field that may be of value to your blog audience as well.
- If you don’t plan to make money through partner programs, write down a list of 3 – 5 other ways you can make money through your blog that you would be comfortable with. Many people sell their own books/eBooks/courses, handmade goods, and virtual consultations. Others sell ad space or work with ad providers such as Google and Blogher (which pay either based on the number of people who see your ads or the number of people who click on your ads).
So, any questions for me on this first installment of my new series? Please ask any of your blog traffic, blogging strategy, or “money making” questions below.
I’m not the expert at everything, but I will definitely be happy to help. Please take a second to share this article with anyone who might be interested! Thanks.
Photo: by Viktor Hanacek (Creative Market)