My Monthly Income Report: September 2012

My Monthly Income Report: September 2012

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A young college co-ed came running in tears to her father.

“Dad, you gave me some terrible financial advice!”

“I did? What did I tell you?” said the dad.

“You told me to put my money in that big bank, and now that big bank is in trouble.”

“What are you talking about? That’s one of the largest banks in the state,” he said. “there must be some mistake.”

“I don’t think so,” she sniffed.

“They just returned one of my checks with a note saying, ‘Insufficient Funds‘.”

My Quest for Sufficient Funds

September was a busy month.

The most noteworthy and noticeable fruit of my labor was the brand-new Traffic Generation Café design.

I know many bloggers think that their blog design is secondary to their content.

And I agree.

That’s the way it should be.

However, many visitors will never get to read your great content, if your blog design doesn’t draw them in first.

If you don’t take your design seriously, your potential readers won’t take YOU seriously.

Your design doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to be unique.

For instance, Thesis (the theme I use at Traffic Generation Café) is rolling out their newest version – Thesis 2.0.

If I weren’t lucky enough to have Ian Belanger design my blog, I’d definitely upgrade to Thesis 2.0 in a jiffy and take advantage of the cool new interface it has to offer.

It’s one of the easiest ways to make your blog design unique and distinctive, even if you are far from adding web designer skills to your resume.

I highly recommend you check out Thesis 2.0 for yourself.

Why New Design?

There were three objectives I was after with my new design:

  1. Make TGC more reader-friendly by including my readers into the design itself.
  2. Increase my email subscriptions.
  3. Make more money.

My Main Conversion Goal

When designing your site, you should have one and only one conversion goal in mind.

What might that conversion goal be?

Whatever it is that you want your readers to do first and foremost.

Whatever your primary conversion goal is, you should bring your readers’ attention to it again and again.

Example:

My primary conversion goal at TGC is to establish a closer relationship with my readers via email subscriptions.

That’s exactly what my current blog design is focused on.

There are ample opportunities for my new readers to subscribe to my list without being too annoying (I hope).

And the results speak for themselves.

According to my Aweber stats, my daily average BEFORE re-design was about 20 subscribers per day.

My daily average AFTER re-design soared to almost double that: 40 subscribers per day.

One more example:

Another example of a great list building funnel can be found in my latest (otherwise negative) review of Empower Network.

The other side of the coin:

I hope Linda doesn’t mind me using her blog as an example here, but that’s the price of being my reader. ;)

Take a look at her blog:

how not to convert traffic

What do you think it is about?

What is her primary conversion goal (i.e. what does she want her visitors to actually do?)

I had to actually ask her what it was since I couldn’t quite figure it out.

Turned out Linda is an owner of a chalet in the area and her primary conversion goal is to fill it with guests.

You see that tag in her navigation menu that says “Australian Holiday Chalet”?

That’s the only mention of it from what I can see.

TRAFFIC ≠ INCOME. CONVERSIONS = INCOME.

How’s your conversion funnel?

Got some work to do?

Add it to your “must do” list today.

And here’s a little help along the way: my traffic conversion 101 tutorial.

September Traffic at a Glance

Let’s see what my traffic looked like in September compared to August:

traffic september

Looks like I got a nice 20% cut in traffic.

Quantity has definitely gone down.

However, quality has come up – more page visit, lower bounce rate, etc.

That paired with higher subscription rates is a good sign of a healthy business.

As I analyzed which specific traffic source was the main reason for the overall drop, I couldn’t find one.

Most of my traffic sources (direct, search, and referral) went down about 20%.

I don’t really have an explanation for that.

My best guess is that blog re-design kept me away from writing as much content and engaging on social networks and with other blogs as much as I normally would.

Thumbs Up to These Blogs

I really appreciate everyone who mentioned me in any shape or form last month.

These five blogs were my top blogging referral traffic sources.

1.   Nick’s Traffic Tricks

Post highlight: WordPress SEO Tutorial: Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings – Traffic Generation News Oct. 5, 2012

Thanks for the traffic, Nick!

2.   Buzz Blogger

Post highlight: How to Create a Wildly Popular Blog

Thanks for the traffic, Kim!

3.   Steve Scott Site

Post highlight:  [Free Kindle Book] How to Discover Best-Selling Amazon Kindle Nonfiction Book Ideas

Thanks for the traffic, Steve!

4.   Basic Blog Tips

Post highlight: Blogger Interview: Srinivas Rao of Blogcast FM

Thanks for the traffic, Ileane!

5.   Kikolani

Post highlight: 50 Great Tools for Bloggers and Freelance Writers

Thanks for the traffic, Kristi!

Want to see your blog listed here?

What do you know, so do I!

Here are some ideas: 5 Ways to Get Feng Shui Links from Traffic Generation Cafe

Last Month 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(s), but got paid for them just before publishing this income report.

My September Income

Here are my income sources for the past month:

Affiliate marketing

********

TOTAL: $1108

Difference from August:  -$843

My September Expenses

Posting gross income doesn’t really do us any good – what if my expenses put me in the red no matter how much money I made in the previous month?

With that in mind, let’s see how much running Traffic Generation Cafe cost me:

Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links to the products I love and use for my own business.

I appreciate your patronage, should you choose to purchase any of them through me.

TOTAL: $129 

********

NET INCOME: $979

And so the saga for better blogging income continues…

Marketing Takeaway

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.

traffic generation cafe make money blogging

 

PS   Just did a complete overhaul of my Internet Marketing Toolbox page.

Would love to know what you think – especially the images.

PPS   If you haven’t started building your list yet, let me tell you – you are missing out big time.

 

traffic generation cafe comment below

Google+ Comments

60 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Hi Ana,
    Your income is like a dream to small affiliates like us, even so, after Panda and Penguin massacre. Nowadays there is no point to be in the internet and spend money on hosting for affiliates like us.

  2. It’s been a while since I’ve checked in here at TGC – and this was a nice post to come back to. :)

    I’m always wishing good things for you, Ana, and I think you’re doing pretty awesome stuff here. I’ve tried to completely change my tactics on my blog, and I have COMPLETELY overhauled another site due to pointers you and another friend have made – I think both sites are going to do a lot better now.

    Keep up the awesome info. It’s more helpful and inspiring than you may realize. :)

  3. hello ana
    20% change in traffic but i think the quality of your blog is increasing day by day. you have loyal readers and traffic . so the focus should be on quality and i think the traffic will increase automatically. because we love reading your articles. i always learn something new from your blog. thanks

  4. The thing about your redesign ;Ana it is clear and uncluttered. You always share good content,not fluff,you are brutally honest with yourself, and your readers and you have fun. I like your toolbox redesign also same,clear to the point with full transparency

    Your content is unique and direct to the point. I love your stuff and like to share it with others.I like cookies too.

  5. Hey Ana, Your monthly income sounds good. But traffic is decreased by 20%. Its okay i know you will manage these problem and you will go on the top one day.

    thanks for sharing information with us.

  6. Hi Anna,
    Your monthly report is i think not making you happy.And the traffic is down too(20%).I wish it will rise up soon and you will get to see good results.

    This Income report is somewhat i have never seen,i mean the way you have given each and every single information its precious and you have shared everything.

  7. Hello Ana,

    I been reading your blog for over a year now..I only read few blogs that matter, like SmartPassiveIncome, ThinkTraffic and yours of course.

    Your Traffic numbers are amazing, you have thousand of subscribers, your Alexa ranking is 10k which is incredible … but your income $979/months Sucks big time..with your knowledge and your traffic you should be making $979/day.

    You need a business model..you know that this “Affiliate marketing” bullshit don’t work… You should have some kind of private seminar classes, school for traffic generating..etc.. I will pay to learn from you, how you got on top of the Blogosphere list in very short time..and so will other people..

    Please don’t take this the wrong way..Just come out with something unique and innovative to blow everybody else out of the water… and then show us the real money :) and Yes you can do it…

    Thank you for all your hard work and time its much appreciated,

    Marios

    • Ana Hoffman

      I do understand where you are coming from, Marios, but here are my two problems:

      1. I don’t like doing any kind of training/consulting;
      2. I don’t have time to put something like that together.

      I need to figure out how to prioritize my time and that usually means fewer blog posts, less engagement. Catch 22, from what I can see.

      • Hey Ana, I totally understand your observations about your time and how putting this together would take away from what you’re currently doing. I do however think that he has a point here. You’ve been doing awesome work to get your blog to where it’s at. I would suggest you keep up the great content. That’s why people come here, but for those who want a more cohesive & guided approach, even a small blogging “Jump Start” course could really rock things here. Maybe something similar to what Darren Rowse of ProBlogger does. It could simply consolidate all the lessons you’ve learned over time and what works, what doesn’t. Maybe it could just be a consolidation of some of your most popular blog posts with a bit of commentary from you. After your newletter signup, that could be the next thing you point people towards. Who knows, maybe it too could be free, a download that drives tons more traffic and increases the sales on all that you’re doing. Maybe you could offer something like website reviews, where you look at someone’s site and give them 10 specific changes to make money. Set the value high so you don’t get too many requests and take away too much from your time here. Just some ideas. I love to toss around ideas. :) Of course, all of this should be completely in harmony with what you feel are your strengths and what you feel your mission is. I would love to entertain the idea of helping you out put this together, so you could continue providing value, if you’re interested. :) Either way, great work! Your persistence is paying off.

        • Ana Hoffman

          Ideally, I absolutely agree, Ryan.

          I have so many ideas of how to make this blog profitable! I’d love to create more products, write ebooks, put together courses, etc.

          It’s not in the desire or idea department that I am lacking; it’s more of “I have 3 hours per day to work on my business and it takes me about 8 hours to write one post.” The math just doesn’t add up.

          I need to either start outsourcing more, which is a daunting task of its own, or write and engage less, which basically means turning my back to what built TGC to begin with.

  8. Hi Ana, sad to see some drop in your income but I guess these earning figures will rise up again the next month. And what about those CrankyAds banners, aren’t you making some money from them ?

    • Ana Hoffman

      Those are mostly affiliate ads. I used to make decent income with CrankyAds, but then my traffic went down due to an absence. I am working to get it back up.

  9. It is rare to find someone who is not afraid to show what they are earning. It is just as rare to find someone who has bad things happen but does not drone on and on about how evil Google is.

    I appreciate your honest and straightforward approach!

    I too have experimented over the years and at one time owned a highly trafficked digital camera site with an amazing income. However, it fell out of grace and these days receives a trickle of traffic and next to no income.

    When I read your material it inspires me to not dwell on the crummy aspects of business on the interent but to move forward, strategically.

    My main takeaway from your website is – There is no substitute for a good game plan.

    It’s easy to become reactionary and have knee jerk responses to website traffic and sales fluctuations.

    Thank you for sharing your “game plan.” I know it must be really hard to do at times…

    • Ana Hoffman

      Thinking ahead does help, Michael; however, most of it is just guessing game, especially when it comes down to Google.

      And yes, I have a very finely-tuned knee jerk reaction by now. ;)

  10. Ana,

    I’m just now starting to see the traffic numbers your getting. Amazing how much value you get from a solid mailing list.

    Yours is one of the few I actually look forward to reading as I tend to get the most value from them! A lot of blogs (guilty here) tend to just send their RSS feed of their posts. Yours seem to be highly tweaked with a personal touch which is definitely nice.

    Good luck with the next month!

    • Ana Hoffman

      Much appreciated, Jason.

      It certainly is tempting just to use my list to drive traffic back to my blog, but then what’s the point of building a list, right? Just point your readers to the RSS feed..

  11. You post title indicates your monthly income report by once again you provided so much more. Most monthly reports provide just the raw number facts, but you start with an amusing story followed by some crafty advice and then mentioned your stats for the previous month. That is some great writing.

    It is great to see your income, while it was lower than August, it must be nice to make your income on affiliate marketing than using AdSense like most of us. That is something that I still haven’t achieved by a long shot.

    Great job!

  12. I wish more bloggers would post their income reports. Seeing real numbers helps set real expectations for other/new bloggers. I read a lot of blogs where the person who writes it has either recently quit their job to pursue blogging full time or never has worked and always blogged. I would love to know if they are making money blogging or if their just doing it as a hobby and their spouses are the main source of income.

  13. I don’t know where to start writing this comment, Ana. You have not just written monthly report, it’s something precious for new bloggers like me. Your honest reports, writing style and this new design encourage me a lot.

    Thanks for this amazing post.

  14. Though there was a drop from your earnings I think the most important thing from it is that you still continue to have a passive income source.

  15. Another great month and was seeing your earnings for September were similar to mine except you did it with 1/3 the traffic which is always amazing as you are much better affiliate marketer than I am.

    Congrats, on your successful month and even though it is less than the previous month and I have seen you have months almost 3x you are quite a success.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I so appreciate you saying it, Justin! I definitely feel like I am making much more, but I do understand it takes time.

  16. Ana, you shared a motivating income report for all bloggers like mine. These days it is becoming really difficult for us as a blogger to make google bots happy. Even quality websites and blogs seem to be affected by latest Google updates. It’s becoming too confusing what is quality content actually.

  17. The new design speaks immediately to your requests for engagement. Even though having your email list front and center may not be everyone’s cup of tea, one of your main goals is to get new subscribers, so this strategy is perfect for your site! Design can’t be too overcomplicated. You need to step back and ask yourself, what do I want my visitors to do on my site? Once you have this in mind, your design will be much easier to envision.

    • Ana Hoffman

      You are right, Nick – there will always be people who think I am doing something wrong (like having too many optin forms), but as long as I see positive results, it means that it works for most of my readers.

  18. I love reading your openers on your income reports, nice little touch!
    I’m always interested in seeing how people do online and what kind of figures they have on their blogs, I think this kind of openness really ads authenticity to your site and it’s one of the reasons I keep coming back, and also inspires me to keep going!

    You posted up a couple of days ago about being hit by one of the new Google updates, how much of an effect do you think thats going to have on your October report?

    • Ana Hoffman

      Thanks, Alex.

      Yes, my SE traffic went down significantly after the EMD/Panda update, but the stats came back up within a few days.

  19. Ana sure your earnings are down but this is part of blogging one month you earn lot but not in second month. What great things you have done is important and for Traffic Generation Cafe you have done many great things from design change to reducing bounce rate and your visitors engagement is awesome.
    For traffic I am sure it will increase as time passes because your writing style is not for search engine but more for real readers which is great and I am learning a lot from your blog.

  20. Hey Ana!

    Let me tell you, although I know for a fact you aren’t nearly where you’d like to be with your monthly earnings with Traffic Generation Cafe, a lot of other bloggers would love to be where you’re at already.

    The nice thing though is I also know you’re not planning on giving up anytime soon and will keep working hard to up that earnings in the coming future. I think you’re doing a great job of it btw, the new design visually speaks millions of words! Keep at it, you’ll get there eventually :)

    Just curious, are YOU using OptinSkin by any chance? If yes, are you also promoting it as an affiliate as I don’t see any income on it in your report? Personally, I think you have some of the best custom OptinSkin designs (if they are) that I’ve seen around. Make your readers more aware of what you’re using or how you do it and I’ll almost guarantee an improvement in earnings with it :)

    All the best!

    • Ana Hoffman

      Thanks, Ruan.

      I did test OptinSkin at TGC, but found it to be too limiting. So I had my designer come up with a similar functionality in custom boxes.

      • Aha, interesting Ana. You do know that one can design your own forms inside Optin Skin, right? With HTML and CSS, which is maybe something your designer can do.

        What I love about the Optin Skin is the split-testing functionality, even with custom-designed forms :)

  21. This is my first time visit to your blog. And I think your blog design is really awesome. But what it just lack is responsiveness. And your income is also good enough.

    This time I got affected by panda but i am recovering from very fast. i wish i will be able to make as your in this month. And one more think.. Will you mind if I become your subscriber…

    Thanks..

  22. Ana, I was redesigning my buttons and hesitated over deleting the RSS feed and just leaving the email opt-in. I LOVE RSS and I really dislike getting so much email to go through – when I want to catch up on blogs it is just so much easier in Reader. Yet, it would be better for the blog simply to leave email as the only choice, I know. Decisions, decisions?? Still getting a thrill seeing my face off your shoulder :)

    • Ana Hoffman

      I know what you mean, Julie – it’s natural for us to want to give our readers as many options as possible.

      However, whether we like it or not, all split testing shows that the fewer options we give to our readers, the better desired effect we achieve.

      I do understand what you mean about RSS feeds – as a reader; however, as a blogger building a business, I can’t do anything with RSS readership. Not so with the email list, of course.

      Your face definitely looks good there… ;)

  23. Ana,

    I hope you don’t mind but I completely stole your “Stick at the Top” email subscribe form…

    …pairing down the options I offer in my sidebar (now only offer Facebook Like Box and Email Subscribe) has done wonders for my conversion.

    Less options more conversions!

    Great stuff!

    Ryan H.

  24. Not too shabby. I always love seeing where folks are at in their online businesses. It’s encouraging to see the heavy-hitters, but it’s even more interesting to see modest performances from everyone else.

    Keep it up

  25. Love the opener Ana! Your email through Google+ definitely caught my attention. Anyway, agree with you on the importance of identifying your conversion funnel. I like to call it the MWR – Most Wanted Response. Figure out what you want people to do and steer folks towards that outcome.

    Anyway…I got your email. I’m seriously behind on everything this week. (Was in LA since Thursday). But I’ll write back about a few things…

  26. Hi Ana,
    I think it’s so interesting that even though I loved the old design, I REALLY love this one! It must be the color combination or maybe it’s the layout but it almost seems like a different blog. Great job. And you and your daughter are a great team – she is so adorable! Reminds me of me and my daughter lol.

    Thanks for the shout out and it’s my pleasure to send traffic your way. I always want to give credit where credit is due.

    Btw – thanks for the insider tips you share in your newsletter. I discovered two Google Analytics tracking codes installed on my blog. No wonder I was getting such a low bounce rate. I knew something was wrong but after all I’m good but not THAT good. :)