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At the end of June, I was starting a New England road trip with my family. I casually said to my partner, Dave…”I’d like to make some money with my blog this month. I think I’ll do that.” This past month has been full of strategy, learning, and hustle—and I’m happy to say it paid off by being my first profitable month of blogging!
Why Is This My First Income Report?
I started this blog at the end of March 2017. I set everything up entirely from an iPhone while breastfeeding my youngest daughter, and only had a chance to work in it sporadically as my schedule allowed. And honestly? That’s the reality that a lot of people who want to work from home or make extra income through blogging face.
When I come across those pins on Pinterest that say things like, “Start Making Money from a Blog in 10 Minutes or Less!”, I cringe a little bit. Yes, you could technically start a blog in 10 minutes or less, and yes, that blog has the potential to eventually be profitable–-but you’re not going to start a blog and then magically start profiting from it 10 minutes later. I really, really, REALLY wish that were the case, but it’s just not. At least not for the VAST majority of bloggers. If you’re an exception—mazel tov. 😉
What Was Going on Before This Month?
The short answer—a lot of stuff. None of it really hard. None of it too time-consuming (I had nowhere near full time hours to devote to blogging—and still don’t). Everything is doable. You just have to do it.
In my experience, setting up a profitable blog takes a little bit of building. Here’s what that building looked like for me:
End of March and April 2017
- Building a social media presence, focusing on Instagram
- Setting up the initial version of my blog (picking a theme, setting up pages, etc.)
- Writing content
- Growing Instagram account to over 10,000 followers
- Working with multiple brands in exchange for complimentary products
- Writing content
- Studying blogging and social media strategies
- Starting my first blogging course: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, whose blog makes over a million dollars a year. Common sense tells me it’s probably worth my time to listen to what she has to say. 😉
- Studying more blogging and social media strategies, with the primary focus on how to increase traffic and different types of income sources
- Maintaining steady Instagram growth while switching primary social media focus to Pinterest and Facebook
- Writing content
- Working with multiple brands in exchange for complimentary products
So that brings us to…my first blogging income report!! I’m legit excited to share everything that’s been going on this month with you guys. So without further ado….
July 2017: My First Traffic and Income Report
I’m absolutely THRILLED with my July web traffic. Everything improved across the board!
Sometimes with a big increase in traffic (particularly Pinterest traffic, which is what most of mine is), bloggers will see their Bounce Rate jump up and their Average Session Duration decrease.
Even though my web traffic more than doubled from June to July 2017, users stayed on my sight a little bit longer and clicked around a little bit more in July than they did in June. I’ve been making a big push to put out more quality content for my audience, so these stats make my heart oh so happy!
July 2017 Total Pageviews: 15,755 (+ vs. 7,484 in June 2017)
July 2017 Total Sessions: 13,361 (+ vs. 5,918 in June 2017)
July 2017 Total Users: 11,775 (+ vs. 5,155 in June 2017)
July 2017 Average Session Duration: 1:11 (+ vs. 1:06 in June 2017)
July 2017 Bounce Rate: 81.78% (- vs. 83.12% in June 2017)
Top 5 Posts of July 2017:
- 5 Breastmilk Boosting Tips for Moms With a Naturally Low Supply (4,710 page views)
- Build a Breastmilk Freezer Stash With a Low Milk Supply (3,088 page views)
- How to Stress Less When You’re Breastfeeding with a Low Milk Supply (1,057 page views)
- Road Travel Essentials for Breastfeeding Mamas (878 page views)
- How to Have a Natural Hospital Birth (859 page views)
Pinterest is my #1 source of web traffic across the board. This month I really focused on developing a solid Pinterest strategy and utilized the scheduling tools Board Booster and Tailwind to really increase my traffic—and it worked. I was genuinely surprised.
You can see on my July 2017 Pinterest Analytics that the growth was both steady and significant:
I started the month with 114,329 viewers and 6,555 engaged and ended the month with 281,274 viewers and 16,175 engaged—wow!
For those who are nerdy and nosy like me ;), here’s what my Average Monthly Viewers and Average Monthly Engaged looked like in previous months, for comparison:
As you can see, some nice steady growth since I’ve started blogging, with the biggest impact taking place in June and July when I put my revamped pinning strategy in place and started really utilizing Board Booster and Tailwind.
July 2017 End of Month Followers: 7,216
Goal for August 2017: 7,350
Instagram was the first social media platform that I focused on when I started this blog because, if used correctly, Instagram alone can generate it’s own income and connect you to brands—regardless of where you are with your blog.
After making sure that I set up my Instagram profile correctly for a blogger, I shifted my focus to really connecting with other moms and bloggers via Instagram, particularly through some of my favorite mom/mom blogger Instagram hashtags.
July 2017 End of Month Followers: 10,942
Goal for August 2017: 11,100
I started using Facebook consistently in mid-June, and it’s been SUCH a game changer.
The most impactful thing a new blogger can do with Facebook? Get involved in Facebook groups. (And don’t get overwhelmed when you do.)
Any successful blogger will tell you that you really can’t go at it alone. Joining Facebook groups of like-minded bloggers has turned out to be an incredible resource and support system for me, especially the private Facebook group just for bloggers who are taking Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing and a few groups of my fellow mom bloggers.
July 2017 End of Month Followers: 152
Goal for August 2017: 200
This is the first month that I really started actively using my Twitter account to…well…tweet. 🙂 It’s been a while since I’ve used Twitter, and even longer since I’ve used Twitter for a business, so there’s a lot of relearning happening around this platform.
I did see an increase in web traffic from Twitter this month as I became more active, so I’m interested to see where this goes next month. My instinct is that having an active Twitter will be most useful when it comes to working with brands on sponsored content, as most of the ones I’ve worked with have requested that I tweet about their campaign.
I also tried my hand at a sponsored tweet with Izea and earned $0.37 from it! Not sure yet if I’ll continue doing sponsored tweets, but if I find one that fits in with my brand and audience…why not?
July 2017 End of Month Followers: 717
Goal for August 2017: 800
This is my first month that I really started making an effort with Google+. I’m not sure how valuable it is as a social media network, but I have seen a small increase in my organic search traffic since I started using it regularly. Not sure if it’s linked, but I’ve heard other bloggers mention that being active on Google+ may help with SEO. Curious to see what my numbers look like at the end of August with a full month of consistent activity under my belt.
July 2017 End of Month Followers: 23
Goal for August 2017: 50
Income and Expenses
Okay, y’all. Let’s talk money. 😉
There are two ways that most bloggers report income: when the actual money reaches their bank accounts, or when the money is earned through a particular program.
Because I’m interested in seeing how I do on a monthly basis, I choose to report my income based on when it’s earned so that it directly correlates to my monthly strategies and web traffic. This helps give me a clear picture of what’s working and what’s generating real results.
July 2017 Income
My July 2017 income came from 3 sources:
1. Affiliates: $76.11
2. Sponsored Content: $123.97
3. Advertising: $5.67
July 2017 Monthly Total: $205.75
So let’s break down exactly where the money I earned came from.
1. Bluehost: $65
Bluehost is the wonderful web hosting company that I use to host my blog. When I made the decision to start my own blog that I could make money off of, I knew I needed a hosting company that could answer all of my newbie questions and help me through the process. Bluehost does just that. With their 24/7 customer support and one-click WordPress.org install, they make it incredibly easy for new bloggers.
If you’re interested in starting your own self-hosted blog for under $4/month, you can follow my step-by-step instructions here.
2. Amazon: $11.11
Amazon Affiliates is fantastic for brand new bloggers. The application/approval process is quick and easy, and once you’re in you can start recommending products that you already use and love.
You have the option to link to an individual product (like this link to a “Pivot” coffee mug from Friends), or to a page of search results (like I’ve done here, where I’ve linked to a list of Friends-inspired coffee mugs instead of an individual product). This makes it incredibly easy to introduce your readers to products you love while you make a little passive income.
1. Linqia: $73.60
I’m new to Linqia this month, and already I’m in love!
Linqia is an influencer network that connects online influencers (such as bloggers) with amazing brands to work on sponsored posts and social media campaigns. There are a few minimum requirements that your blog will need to meet before you’re approved (e.g. you have to have either 2500 social media followers or unique monthly visitors to your blog), but once you’re in you can start working on campaigns.
2. Direct Contact: $50
Sometimes brands or PR representatives reach out to me directly with sponsored content opportunities. Making sure that your contact information is easily available via a Contact Page on your website, as well as on your social media platforms is key to having brands contact you. If it’s not easy to figure out how to contact you—they won’t.
3. Izea: $0.37
Izea allows bloggers and social media influences to apply for sponsored content opportunities from different brands. One thing that makes Izea stand out is their opportunities for quick sponsored social media posts—for Twitter, in particular.
I tried my hand at one sponsored tweet this month, and it ended up earning me $0.37 for about 10 seconds of work. I’m trying out a few more in August to see if this could turn into a nice little passive income source.
You can apply to Izea for free here, and once approved you can start applying to work on sponsored content.
I threw up some advertising with Google AdSense towards the end of July. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with it long term, but for the time being it’s a nice source of a little passive income.
Google AdSense: $5.67
July 2017 Complimentary Products, Services, and Stipends
In addition to the income from the above categories, I also received complimentary products, services, and stipends to purchase products or services. These items are not included in the income reported above, but I like to keep track of them to really grasp what I’m gaining from my blog.
Value of Complimentary Products Received: $439
July 2017 Blogging Expenses
Web Hosting: $0 (Prepaid for the year through Bluehost)
Board Booster: $5
Tailwind: $0 (Used earned $15 credit to cover monthly plan)
July 2017 Total Expenses: $5
July 2017 Grand Total After Blogging Expenses:
$200.75 + $439 in Free Stuff = $639.75 total
Biggest “Ah-ha!” Moment in July 2017
The most game-changing thing I did in July 2017? I started saying no.
As I’ve mentioned above, I’m approached by different brands or PR representatives every week with different collaboration opportunities. When I was just starting out, I said yes to pretty much anything that could sort of fit in my niche.
I did this for two main reasons:
- To have some work with brands visible on my blog and social media platforms AND (being honest here)
- To get some really cool free stuff. 🙂
So many blogging experts will tell you that you should never take free stuff—that you should only work with brands when they pay you.
Granted, I’m only a few months in on my blogging adventure, but in my case…I’m SO glad that I decided to work with brands for free products while I was in my “building” months. I’ve gained a ton of experience and now know what to expect when I work with brands on sponsored posts. I also have a nice “portfolio” of work with brands that is visible on my blog and social media platforms for potential brands to reference.
But now that I have that portfolio built—I have to switch gears and really start investing my time strategically. For me, that means saying no to “work for product” opportunities in most cases.
Creating a quality blog post, taking and editing original photos, and then promoting the brand genuinely on social media takes a lot of time. I’m not blogging just for the heck of it—this is how I financially contribute to my family. Pay bills. Buy groceries. It’s my real job, and I decided this month to really start treating it that way.
While it bums me out when I have to kindly decline working with wonderful companies—it leaves me with the time to take on paid opportunities when they become available.
Goals for August 2017
1. Create more content around new affiliate programs that I was accepted into towards the end of July.
My main focus areas will be:
Seriously my favorite affiliate network, especially for Mom Bloggers. They have so many great partnerships with brands like Ergo, Earth Mama Organics, Gymboree, and more! I was approved by some amazing brands towards the end of last month, and am excited to write more content to share my favorite products with my audience.
If you’ve ever wondered how to become an affiliate for Etsy, the answer is through Awin! You’re required to pay $5 when you apply for Awin, but you get that $5 back in its entirety when you make your first affiliate income. With fall right around the corner, I’m dying to make some gift guides featuring unique Etsy products to share with my readers, so I’m excited to see where my Awin membership will take me next month.
I’m so intrigued at the idea of using Maven for this blog! If you haven’t see it before, it’s basically a Pinterest-esq platform that allows you to recommend your favorite products from lots of different brands, and make a commission off each sale!
This month I used it in my Postpartum Essentials for a C-Section Recovery post to share cute nursing clothes from different online shops with my audience, and I’m interested to see how else I can utilize this platform.
I use both of these apps frequently to save money on everyday purchases, and would love to find a way to share them with any of my readers who may not already be using them.
2. Create multiple pinable images for my existing blog content
Did you know that you can do this? You can! (You can learn how here.) I’m hoping to increase my Pinterest traffic even more next month by creating multiple pinable images for all of my existing blog content.
3. Publish 10 pieces of new content geared towards my audience
I went on a blogging spree at the end of July, publishing 19 posts total—my writiest month ever. 🙂
I’m going to be focusing a lot of my energy on tweaking and promoting existing content this month, so 10 new pieces would be a huge success in my book.
Final Thoughts on July 2017
I feel like my 3.5 months of Blog prep truly paid off this month. I have a solid social media base and content library under my belt, and am excited to propel my blog forward in coming months!