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Month four as an active blogger is in the books, and I’m surprised to discover how much I’m enjoying it! I like the process of writing, promoting and tracking my results… But not only that, it’s oddly exciting! I’m building something, something that’s helpful and useful, something that’s all mine. It’s worth the extra time and occasional frustration. If you’re considering starting a blog, I would recommend it!
Why am I sharing something so personal?
I’ve decided to share my income and progress reports for a few reasons. First, reading other income reports was a HUGE motivator for me during the planning and building stages. Doing something completely new can be scary and overwhelming, so it was inspiring to see other people out there making it work.
Second, I’m using this as a record of my own progress. It can be difficult to see growth and change when you’re in the middle of it, so I want to be able to look back at these reports to see where I was and also get a clearer picture of where I’m going. It will help me to stay on track with my goals and fix any problems as I notice them.
Just a note – I’ll be sharing any income as it’s EARNED, not as it’s paid out, because the payout times can vary so much. It seems more accurate to show how what I’m doing right now is working, instead of trying to remember what I was focusing on 30-90 days ago.
I’ll also only be sharing income that came directly from this website. I have several other jobs right now and do a little freelance work, but I’m not including any of that income here. I want to show exactly and only what this website is earning.
October 2019 Monthly Summary:
My goal for October was content. Lots and lots of writing. But, as so often happens with goals, things got in the way. I still managed to post consistently, but I didn’t quite get ahead of schedule the way I was planning.
There were a few setbacks this month. The main one? I was thrown in “Pinterest jail”. Twice. Since most of my traffic at this point is from Pinterest, it was a little defeating and I put a pause on content creation until it was sorted out. And then it happened the second time. To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure if it was something I did. I have a couple of suspicions, but I may never have a definitive answer.
There were several changes inside Pinterest this month, so that may have played a part.
I also cut a corner and uploaded 3 different pins with exactly the same captions and hashtags, because I was short on time and skipped my normal process of keyword research. Pro-tip: Don’t cut corners, even if you’re in a rush.
I’m also using Smartloops through Tailwind to repin older pins for me, and it’s possible that I have it set up incorrectly. Pinterest doesn’t like it when you post the same pin too often, it’s considered spammy.
I appealed the first suspension, asked for a reason, and was reactivated within a couple of days. Yay! I didn’t get a solid answer on why though. Then, a week later, suspended again. Boo. I appealed and was reactivated again, but still no solid answer. That’s okay though. These setbacks are all part of the learning process. Because I was suspended, I took a little time to brush up on the rules and best practices for Pinterest. And that’s never a bad thing!
It also prompted me to spend a little time during the month learning about SEO. SEO is a long game, but it’s SO important to work on having multiple traffic sources, just in case.
Setbacks will always happen, but turning them into learning experiences is always a good idea!
October traffic report:
From October 1st through October 31st, I had 1530 pageviews. That’s down from September by almost 500 views, but I was kind of expecting that. (If you didn’t read last month’s report you can check it out here.) Last month I had a post – 24 Ways to Have a Cozy Autumn – go mini-viral (for my baby blog, at least) and a good percentage of my September traffic was from that single post. The only problem is that it was a seasonal post, so I kind of knew it would be a temporary boost in traffic. And that’s okay!
The good news is that even though traffic was down from the previous month, it’s also double the amount I had in August. Yay, growth! As long as things keep growing, I’m a happy little blogger.
October income report:
My October goal was to make $10. And that didn’t happen. But I did have a few wins! My total income for October was more than it’s been so far. More growth!
Amazon affiliate sales – $4.10
I made my very first Amazon Affiliate sales this month! If you’re also a blogger, you know that those first Amazon sales are a BIG deal, because if you don’t make a certain number of sales in the first 180 days (just about 6 months) your account is deactivated. I hit the required sales in October and got an email letting me know I’m officially an approved Amazon Affiliate! Yay!!!
Google AdSense – $.84
I’m still working on adjusting my AdSense setting, but I’m also not expecting it to be a huge source of income. Still, every little bit helps, right?
Sovrn /commerce (formerly VigLink) – $.09
I made a little tiny bit of money through Sovrn//commerce, but I decided to deactivate it for a little while during the month. I didn’t have a really good grasp on how this program works and I wanted to learn a little more and make sure it wasn’t conflicting with any of my other affiliates. I anticipate reactivating in November though. Stay tuned for more on that.
Total income for October 2019 – $5.03
Since I’ve been working on this project for so long, I’m only going to include expenses as they are billed. Several things, like my hosting through Bluehost, are paid annually. But I do have a few monthly expenses at this point.
Most of my expenses this month were the normal monthly expenses for programs and services I use to promote and run Cozy Simple Calm. I did sign up for an extra Tailwind Tribes boost, so I could add a few more pins than normal and try to make up for some of the lost traffic while I was in Pinterest jail. They’re nice enough to prorate if you add a boost during the month, so it only added a little over a dollar to my normal expense.
In October, I paid for:
Canva Pro for creating graphics – $12.95
ConvertKit for my email list – $29.00
Depositphotos membership – $29.00
Milotree pop-up – $9.00
Total expenses for October 2019 – $224.12
October Goals Recap:
I strongly believe in goal setting. It gives me something to aim for and also a tangible way to see if I’m progressing or just standing still. I didn’t meet all of my goals for the month, but I did see growth over last month in every single area except pageviews!
Here’s how I did on my October goals:
Write 2 posts per week – Failed, but I did write enough to post weekly all month
Work on SEO & Affiliate marketing – Done!
Make first $10 – Failed. $5.03 total for the month
Pinterest views goal: 1.5m – Failed. 1.1m
Pinterest followers goal: 500 – Success! 510
Instagram followers goal: 1900 – Success! 1910
Facebook followers goal: 100 – Success! 101
Monthly traffic goal: 3000 pageviews – Failed. 1530
Subscribers goal: 25 – Failed. 21
Goals for November:
My main goal for November is writing. I still plan to write 2 new posts a week, but only publish one per week for the next month or so. This way, I will have a good queue of posts ready to go, so I can use my time to create, research, build, and learn. Christmas is coming, and I know December will be unusually busy, so I want to get as much writing done in advance as possible.
Here are the rest of the goals I’ve set for November:
Work on SEO & Affiliate marketing
Make first $10
Pinterest views goal: 1.3m
Pinterest followers goal: 550
Instagram followers goal: 2000
Facebook followers goal: 125
Monthly traffic goal: 2000 pageviews
Subscribers goal: 25
Resources I am using:
If you’re reading income reports, there’s a good chance you have a blog or are considering starting one. That’s why I’m including a list of resources that I’m using on this adventure since I found this info SO helpful when I was reading (devouring) other income reports.
Create & Go Courses:
After toying with starting a blog for a long time, but getting buried in ALL the info that was available, I decided I needed a little help breaking everything down. So I made the decision to invest in the idea and bought the Build and Launch Your Blog course. It was a great investment! Alex and Lauren give a good step-by-step on how to get started, as well as their own experiences of what did and didn’t work for them along the way. Alex and Lauren at Create & Go have since restructured their courses. Build and Launch Your Blog and Make Money Blogging for Beginners are now one big comprehensive course called Launch Your Blog Biz! This is fantastic news, because this single course now has all the information you need to get started.
There are a lot of hosting options out there, but I decided to go with Bluehost. It’s cost-effective and their support has been fantastic anytime I’ve run into an issue or even just had a question. It breaks down to $3.95 a month, so it’s pretty cost-effective too!
I actually use Squarespace for one of my jobs, so I was a little torn when I was deciding what to use for my own website. I decided to give WordPress a shot and I feel like I made the right decision! For my needs, WordPress is easier to use and customize. There was a little bit of a learning curve at the beginning, but that’s all part of the process.
Divi theme from Elegant Themes:
Again, there are SO many theme options out there, but after doing a little research and reading LOTS of reviews, I decided to go with the Divi theme from Elegant Themes. Again, there’s a little bit of a learning curve, but hey, I was already learning everything else, so why not? They offer training videos for everything you could possibly need and their support has also been fantastic.
The Legal Bundle:
Since I wanted to do this the right way from the start, I knew I would need all the necessary legal pages from the very beginning. And frankly, that was a huge roadblock for me. I’m not a lawyer. I had no idea where to even start. I was anticipating So. Much. Research. Then I found The Legal Bundle. Amira IS a lawyer and The Legal Bundle is exactly what I needed. HUGE time saver! (And I know it’s done correctly!)
ConvertKit is so easy to use! I have used several other email service providers throughout the years and ConvertKit is hands-down my favorite. I’m not doing a whole lot with my tiny email list yet, but ConvertKit is making the emails I DO send soooo simple.
I would be lost without Tailwind. I use it to schedule both Pinterest and Instagram each week. Instead of spending tons of time each day pinning to Pinterest and posting on Instagram, I can set up my queue for the week and move on to other tasks! Tailwind is also approved by Pinterest and they have features to help keep you out of “Pinterest jail”.
Pinteresting Strategies course:
I gave this quick little course a shot and I’ve been implementing some of these strategies. And I’ve definitely seen some results from it!
I’ve been happily using Pixabay to find photos for my graphics since the beginning. But every now and then, I wouldn’t be able to find the right image…or when I found it, I noticed that it was everywhere! Everyone was using those same images. One thing I learned in the Pinteresting Strategies course is that other bloggers have had better luck using paid stock photos (or original photos, but I take terrible pictures) for their pins, for a variety of reasons. So I decided to try Depositphotos out for a month or two. I’ll keep you posted on the results of this little test, but I’m loving the selection I have available now! $29 per month for 30 images seemed pretty reasonable, especially compared to other paid stock photo sites I’ve considered.
Waaaay back, when I was just toying with the idea of starting a blog, graphics were one of my biggest concerns. I’m not a designer. I don’t have Photoshop…I don’t know how to use Photoshop! Does everyone have Photoshop? Or do they just hire a graphic designer? And then I found Canva…which is amazing. I can create all the graphics I need, easily They even have a free version! I quickly upgraded to the paid version for $12.95 a month, because some of the extra features were so worth it. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s SO worth looking into.
I had mixed feelings about Milotree since I hate visiting sites full of pop-ups, but this one is cute, customizable, and fairly unobtrusive. (You can even set it not to come back for repeat visitors for a specific amount of time.) It just shows up to direct readers to my Instagram, Pinterest, and email list. I haven’t seen HUGE growth from it, but I do get new followers for both social accounts – so for now, I’m keeping it!
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course:
Since affiliates are my next focus area, I decided to go ahead and dive into the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. I haven’t implemented a lot yet, but definitely useful info! A lot of reviews I read listed this as a “con”, but I personally LOVED the fact that it wasn’t a video course. I learn better by reading.