Why did I start publishing my monthly income reports?
Blogging is never about talking the talk.
That’s what politics are for.
It is my goal for these reports to show that walking the walk and actually bringing in income from our online ventures is possible and within reach for all of us, whatever the niche.
As you’ll see, traffic and perceived popularity doesn’t always automatically translate into cash.
I’ll show you my traffic stats, let you know what I’ve done in the previous month to improve them, what worked and didn’t work, and how much went into my bank account in terms of earnings as well as left it in terms of expenses.
On a Personal Note
It’s official: I am a super woman.
I grow sunflowers and make cats out of socks, golf balls, plastic gloves, and paper towels (thinking of writing an ebook with step-by-step instructions on how to make your own cat Ana-style) by day, make gourmet meals and bake crystallized ginger scones by night, and run Traffic Generation Cafe in my spare time.
I am often asked how I manage to be all over the internet while still working part-time.
The best way to sum it up is through this quote by John Wesley:
“I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.”
Here’s another one from Abraham Lincoln:
“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.”
On another note, San Fransisco – here we come!
My husband has already made it over there, started his new job (he is very excited about his floor to ceiling office window with the view of the Golden Gate bridge), got settled into our temporary home (extended stay hotel), and experienced his first earthquake.
All in his first 3 days there…
Within the next week, I will finalize the sale of our house in Arizona, pack up the household goods, put everything into storage, stick the essentials in the car – including my 4 year-old and our cat, and drive out to San Francisco.
Yes, I am a super woman…
Reminds me of how blessed we are to be in a business that can go wherever we go and still make money even when we find ourselves in a tornado of life.
Speaking of making money: the fact that my business was on the back burner for the past 3 months definitely reflects in my bottom line (are you going to rush down to the end of the post to see the number now? lol).
As a fellow blogger Dave Lucas put it in one of his recent posts:
“Ana is making some good money with her blog (she periodically releases blogging income reports), but to read her article entitled “Why Traffic Generation Cafe Is NOT Doing As Well As It Should” – you’d think she was living and blogging out of the back of a pickup truck.
Of course, she’s obviously built her blog as a moneymaker, but gee whiz, four figures a month in amounts that equal the take-home pay of minimum wage workers is nothing to be ashamed of!
(Hey, if Ana can do it – YOU can too!)”
January Traffic at a Glance
Last month’s traffic graph from Google Analytics was bizarre to say the least.
It showed that my direct traffic brought in close to 50% of all my traffic for the month (almost 100% increase from what it would normally be).
I am still convinced that GA was just being naughty and screwed up my stats.
February stats look a bit off as well.
I think it’s because now the system is trying to compensate for the previous month’s mysterious jump in direct traffic.
My direct traffic number is close to normal; however, my search engine traffic almost doubled.
If I accept the fact that these stats are as accurate as stats get, that’s great news.
As I mentioned in my January income report, increasing my SEO traffic was one of my goals for the month.
Even though I never want to put all my eggs in one basket (especially with Google’s name on it), it’s nice to have a steady flow of traffic without having to work for it too much, like we do with networking for instance.
With that said…
Thumbs Up to These Blogs
Referral traffic is still one of the best kinds of targeted and responsive traffic we can get.
Because it’s endorsed by someone else.
When another blogger mentions you in one of their posts, they pre-sell their readers on YOU.
You have to do nothing more than to look pretty and write about smart things on your blog and their readers will become YOUR readers.
Leo Dimilo just published a great guest post on the topic, by the way: 4 Proven Reasons You Should Quit Building Links for SEO.
I really appreciate everyone who mentioned me in any shape or form last month.
Special thanks to these ten blogs that were my top blogging referral traffic sources in February:
1. Nick’s Traffic Tricks:
Take a look at Nick’s Baby Steps to Ranking #1 in Google (99% Of People Skip The First 2 Steps)
Definitely read Kristi’s 70+ Resources on How to Start a WordPress Blog
3. Kim Roach’s BuzzBlogger
More traffic? You got it: 21 Steps to 1,000 Visitors per Day
4. Yaro Starak’s Entrepreneurs-Journey.com
Learn from Yaro (also Gideon and Leslie): Just Released: Our Ten New Become A Blogger 2.0 Training Videos
5. BasicBlogTips by Ileane Smith
Ileane knows what she is talking about: How to Get More Traffic from YouTube
6. Leave Work Behind by Tom Ewer
Linkbait done right: It’s Here: The 100 Blogs You Need In Your Life
7. Lisa Irby’s 2CreateAWebsite:
Only because Lisa says so: Pinterest: My Favorite Free Traffic Source in 2012
Check out Danny Iny’s Why Guru Strategies for Blog Growth DON’T WORK… and What Does!
9. DiTesco’s IBlogZone
Great recommendations: Best SEO Tools For 2012
10. WordPress-WebsiteBuilder.com by Mitz
Something we all need to pay more attention to: WordPress Website Maintenance Checklist
My January Bottom Line
Let’s get on with the best part.
By the way, as I write this post I have no idea how much I made, so I am in anticipation as much as you are.
Note: these are all paid earnings, meaning I might’ve actually made those sales in the previous month, but got paid for them in February.
Here are my income sources for January:
1. Affiliate marketing
- TweetAdder – $120
- Thesis theme – $112
- SEMRush – $96
- Market Samurai – $93
- Income Blogging Guide – $45
- Thirsty Affiliates – $20
2. Paid Advertisement
Difference from January: -$1256
After I published last month’s report, many of you asked “What about your expenses?”
Here’s a list of my expenses:
- SEMRush.com (my favorite SEO tool) – $50
- Aweber -$49
- Fiverr.com (outsource tedious tasks I don’t have time for) – $35
- Hostgator (hosting) – $10
FINAL FEBRUARY INCOME: $1292
Moment of Silence
So this wasn’t a great month for me.
On the bright side, it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to outdo this number in March. lol
My Goals for March
I started March off with getting a second opinion.
You know how I always say that developing an emotional attachment to our sites could cloud our objectivity?
And we can’t help but get attached – this are our businesses, our babies we are talking about here, right?
Well, I called on my friend Danny Iny to help me sift through any potential blind spots that I might be unaware of.
That was HUGELY helpful – thank you, Danny!
My main takeaways:
1. Narrow Down my Focus
Want to make money with your blog?
HOW are you going to do it?
Affiliate marketing? Your own products? Niche sites?
I think the reason many bloggers don’t make the kind of income they’d like to is their lack of focus (me including).
The very first time I knew I needed to work on this specific issue was after I listened to this interview where the interviewee (Penelope Trunk) ended up grilling the interviewer (Steve Roy) on why Steve was not successful online and, according to Penelope, would never be successful until he figured out what it was he wanted to do.
“What do you want to do to accomplish your income goals?
Do you want to be talking to people?
Do you want to write?
You can’t do both, you see.
Either you are a writer and want to be left alone or you are too social to do that and just want to help people one-on-one basis.”
I’ve tried a few different income streams in the past and figured out that I:
- Strongly dislike doing consulting of any kind.
- Don’t want to/don’t have the time to come up with my own training of any kind.
- Don’t want to create a high maintenance site like a forum.
- DO like affiliate marketing.
Now that I know what it’d like to do to make money online (the destination), it’s much easier to map out HOW I am planning on getting there (the route).
My next steps are to focus on finding the BEST affiliate marketing programs out there that offer the BEST products (nothing less will do) and find ways to introduce them to my readers.
What about YOU?
Do YOU know what your heart is set on doing online?
If you don’t, you are just setting yourself up to fail – no one wants to willingly do something they hate doing.
2. Define my Audience
In theory, we all know that properly targeting our audience can make or break our business.
In practice, we rarely take our time to do that.
Sometimes, it’s because we simply don’t know how.
Sometimes, it’s because we don’t make it a priority.
Either way, it hurts us.
One interesting thing Danny and I discovered was the fact that I was approaching segmenting my audience from the wrong direction.
My readers come from all walks of online life: bloggers, affiliate marketers, e-commerce site owners, small business bloggers, etc.
So should I focus on only one of those segments and sentence the rest to an eternal traffic-less existence (since no one can teach them about web traffic the way I can…)?
Or do I continue to catch all the traffic I can and let them decide whether they can apply my advice to their specific niche and circumstances?
And that’s where Danny’s brilliance came in.
He saw something that I kind of knew all along, but never really took the time to understand what it meant to my blog.
My pool of readers can be subdivided into:
Makes complete sense.
Now I can write my content based on those two groups and set up my affiliate marketing offers accordingly as well.
Of course, there was a whole slew of others things I took away from my conversation with Danny, but I’ll leave it for another post.
My Blog Audit Fridays
If you’d like to have an extra pair of eyes (mine) to take a look at your blog and give you an honest opinion on what’s working and what isn’t, feel free to join my email list.
Besides providing timely no-fluff marketing advice exclusively to my subscribers, I also do a monthly drawing for my Blog Audit Fridays as an added benefit.
So to have the privilege of being the next blog I tear apart and publish the results at Traffic Generation Cafe for all to see and make fun of you… no, of course not – to help out with any additional advice and to give you a boost of traffic:
There’s no such thing as free bacon.
Making money blogging is entirely possible, as I was surprised to learn from my own experience.
Just takes time, determination, and a lot of work.
Image source: amazing photo by Kira Rozanov