Traffic and Income Report - March 2018
So I sort of shifted energies in March for a bit. I joined a business school of sorts for online entrepreneurs called Marie Forleo’s Bschool and it kicked off in early March. I’m not really going to go into why I decided to take this course besides to say that it felt right and I wanted to invest in my business (this blog) to give it focus, purpose and more direction and the curriculum for Bschool really felt like it fit what I was looking for. In March I really wanted to give the course good focus, and I knew that meant that I might not be able to give writing new content as much focus. I think in the longer term, it is still the better decision. So while I only wrote 3 new posts for the blog in March, I feel like the things I’m learning from the course and the time I’ve invested in it has been really good. You’ll start to see me incorporating what I’ve learned from that into this blog here in the next couple months.
If you’d like more details on why I’m writing these income and traffic report posts, please read the intro of my first income report.
And if you’d like to support us in our journey, the best way to do that is via our Patreon account. You can read more about that here. As an added bonus, we provide Patrons some extra benefits such as being featured on our support page and $5 patrons get access to exclusive video tutorials we put out each month that delve more into the nitty gritty of blogging as a business and teaching you what we are learning. We currently have 10 amazing patrons! We are so grateful for all the support and love we have received from this community so far.
**A quick note: Some of the links below are affiliate links.
Despite only writing 3 new posts for the blog, there were a lot of things that still went on in March and a bunch of little wins!
What we worked on for the blog
- I hired a Pinterest Virtual Assistant! For the first few months of my blog I really focused on building and growing my Instagram account, but now I’m shifting energies to Pinterest. Pinterest seems to be a game changer for a lot of bloggers, and I decided I just don’t have the time to commit to it that I need to, so I bit the bullet and at the end of March invested in a Pinterest Virtual Assistant. You may think… why would you do this if you aren’t making that much money yet, and to put it simply, it’s because I trust I will get there, and I think I will get there faster if I have someone helping me. This gives me time to focus on other things with the blog, like writing great content!
- More Pinterest. I've been dabbling around in March with developing my own Pinterest "branded pin" style, I still have really created one, but I did a lot of research online to see what other bloggers were doing.
- Investing in my Business. As I already mentioned in my introduction, I joined Bschool, and that has been a 6+ hour a week time commitment. It is an "8-week" course, but it really is self paced. I'm still only on week one materials, because doing all the coursework and really committing to doing it well is taking me some time.
- This month we reached 11k followers on Instagram.
- One-on-One Instagram Coaching. I also coached my first “client” on how to grow their Instagram accounts using the same strategies I used to build mine. If this is something you'd be interested in, just shoot me an email. I'd be happy to discuss with you how I grew my account from 450 followers to 10K in 5 months.
- We grew our email list by +56 new subscribers this month with Convert Kit! Even though I didn't post or promote my content that much in March, I see that as a win that at least my content marketing is continuing to build up gradually. I seriously swear by Convert Kit you guys, since I changed over in January we have seen great progress in growing our email list! I've actually been really slacking in my "writing a newsletter" consistently department, but mostly because I've been really trying to focus on my "why" and my "vision" for the future of this blog and I want to have a consistent voice and message in my newsletters. More to come on our "why" in April and how I'd like to use this blog to be a purpose-driven-business.
- Engaging with Brands- We have got a few things finally lined up on our calendars with brands, and I continue to learn about this process a bit each month.
- Bitly and Linktree. I started using both of these services (both free) this month. I put Linktree in my instagram profile so that I can have more links in my profile all at the same time. I also put most of my links that I use in link tree through a service at bitly.com that creates trackable short links for you. This way I can see how much people are actually clicking over using Linktree profile link in Instagram.
- Worked on SEO and Domain Authority - This month I tried participating in a couple of collaborative assignments on other blogs to help build my backlinks into my own site. I wrote a short piece on Big Sur and also wrote a guest post about A Weekend Guide to Amsterdam. I haven't focused on SEO much outside of optimizing my own posts, and I still have a lot to learn. Baby Steps. Next month I'm hoping to do more guest posting/collaborations (I'm hoping 5-10 a month) to continue to build authority for my blog, and also I hope to learn more about Keyword Research.
- Making New Blogging Friendships. Each month it seems like I'm making new connections and friends in the blogging world. I really love it! Some people say online business can be lonely, but I'm finding amazing people to connect with and collaborate with. I'm already planning some hikes with some bloggers I've met over instagram, which sort of blows my mind. Social media can be a positive thing you guys. Lets be friends!
- Email Domains. At the end of the month I started to set up an email domain so I stop using my @gmail.com account for business emails. This is mostly to look more professional. I am doing this with Gsuite, but I'm still getting it all set up. I want to be able to forward everything that goes to that Gsuite email domain to my normal gmail account, because I already have it organized and systemized how I like and I don't want to start over. I am still figuring out how to set up the forwarding feature.
- Guest Posts on She Dreams of Alpine. I'm also considering accepting guest posts to my own blog, if the content fits right for my audience. This month I am working with a particular blogger on a hike in Arizona. We are still in editing phase, but I hope to have it published soon! If you think you would like to write a guest post for my blog, feel free to pitch me an idea by emailing me! I'd love to have more trail reports, particularly in areas that aren't California.
- We published our 4th Patreon video! This month I talked about Bschool a bit, how I am working to increase my pageviews, rebranding, sponsored content, and mindset. It’s only available to patrons, but we try to make our tutorials very affordable for patrons. Gaining access is only $3/month, and we are putting out at least 1 new tutorial a month for patrons + all patron earnings (and all blog earnings in general) go straight to supporting blog expenses and student loans. We currently are only investing in our business and student loan debt with any of the money we make with the blog.
Other Fun Things From March:
- The biggest thing that happened in March is that WE GOT A VAN! After several years of sleeping in the back of our Jeep and Subaru on car camping trips, we finally made the plunge to upgrade our camping a bit. I spent nearly all of March coordinating it and getting everything ready, and the last weekend in March we flew to Denver and picked the van up and drove it back home to California. I will write more about all of this some other time though. In the process I got to spend time with one of my best friends who lives up in Denver.
- One bummer of March is that I caught a cold for about 2 weeks, which made me not want to do anything related to the blog, I was pretty worthless. Sigh. What can you do?
- We also got to go up to San Luis Obispo with Michaels family for a camping weekend, which was fun and we went on a few hikes there with them. The weather was amazing!
- I also went up to San Diego one weekend, but it was pretty rainy the whole weekend so we didn't do much outside. We went to a climbing gym though on one of the days.
- One weekend we spent at the Wind Wolves Preserve helping to film a project for that Conservatory.
- I took the Clifton strengths finder test and it told me that my top 5 strengths are: achiever, focus, discipline, futuristic and learner
- Books this month. This month I was simultaneously reading 3 different books, which is probably why I haven't finished any of them. I am reading Trespassing Across America which was the Dream of The Alpine Book Club's choice for March and two other personal choice books called "Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way" and "Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin". I'm really loving Do the Work. It is small but really impactful, talking a lot about overcoming the fear and the resistance we will have when trying to break new grounds in creativity and personal pursuits. In April the book club is reading, "The Last Season" and for my personal choices I am going to try and finish up my books from last month + maybe start a book I've been wanting to read called "Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel".
- I secured some more hiking and backpacking permits for this Summer/Fall. I got permits for backing to Petite Griffon in the Sierra, and tried to get permits for Mt. Whitney Trail so I can hike Mount Muir, another 14er, but with no luck. I will just have to try to get "walk-in" permits. Want to hike your first 14er?
- In order to start getting my self back into hiking shape a bit I started training for a half marathon again. I find running to be really time-efficient training, and then hiking on the weekends when I have the time. It's all I can manage right now with also rock climbing training.
- I feel like my organization system has been changing a lot lately because I can't seem to find a system that really works for me. However, this month I came up with a bullet journal template I love for helping me have a morning routine and get work done as effectively as possible.
- I had a financial goal win this month. I have been wanting to save at least 3 months worth of living expenses into an emergency fund of sorts, and I finally reached my goal this past month.
- And finally, but not least, I said goodbye to a coworker and friend who is moving on to new adventures on the East Coast in pursuit of an MBA (but not without a bit of traveling first)! We wish him the best!
March Blog Posts:
This is pretty straight forward, I continue to like to track my time at the end of each day to see where I've been focusing each month. At the end of the month I throw it into a spreadsheet to make sure I'm on track. I knew I'd be focusing on Bschool in March and not content, so this seems pretty consistent. I was also sick in March, so the number of hours I worked on the blog was a bit down from February.
Ok, so what did we earn in March?!
"THEORETICAL" Revenue Totals: $296
- Patreon Sponsors: $133
- You can see a list of all our sponsors on our Patreon page
- Amazon Affiliate Income: $79
- Google AdSense: $10
- Skillshare Classes: $14
- Other Affiliates: $0.50 (ha! I just had to add this one)
- Coaching: $60
ACTUAL Blog Expenses: $318
Monthly expenses breakdown:
- ConvertKit (monthly): $29
- I made the leap to ConvertKit at the end of December and I couldn't be happier! I love love love it. I wouldn't go back to Mail Chimp now, it has seriously made my life so much easier and given me back so much time. I used to spend hours trying to figure out how to do something in Mail Chimp that is very intuitive in Convert Kit. I'll write a more detailed post sometime soon about why I moved from Mail Chimp to ConvertKit.
- Virtual Assistants: $276
- I have hired a VA to help me with a few things from time to time each month. It costs me about $26 a week, but has been a great help so far! I actually canceled this though at the end of March as I've hired a Pinterest VA now, and wanted to put my money there
- This includes my first payment to Pinterest VA
- Canva: $13
- I finally upgraded my Canva membership to the pro version from the free version because I wanted to be able to save my "brand" colors and fonts, and build folders within Canva.
- Other tools that I pay for (but only get charged yearly, not monthly)
Still working on that long game, slowly growing and building my traffic and SEO. I keep hearing other bloggers to say to be patient and keep putting in the work, so that's what I'm doing!
Since a lot of my monthly traffic has been dependent on me creating new content and hustling to promote it, my traffic numbers were slightly lower this month because I wrote less posts. I am working each month to improve my SEO, Pinterest promotion, and getting a consistent social media content schedule in place so that these numbers just grow and rely less on just new content, but I’m not there yet.
Did you guys know you can add "annotations" into your google analytics? I went back into my analytics and marked where all my newly promoted and published content days were. You can see around March 26th there are 2 comments because I also annotated that I hired a Pinterest VA.
Top 10 Traffic Sources
Direct Traffic: This is always my "biggest" category. Direct traffic can occur any time that Google Analytics can't determine the source of the traffic. Often times this can be from mobile social media apps or emails, or even organic search. It's a mixed bag.
Organic Traffic: Yay! Every month this piece grows and that is so exciting! I can't wait to see what it does when I REALLY start focusing on SEO more! I can only imagine that it will get better with time as I have more time to go back to older posts and clean them up.
Reddit: I'm really moving away from posting in Reddit, I don't like it, the people aren't that friendly there and it just stresses me out. So I'd rather not stress myself out. I could probably have more monthly pageviews if I posted there, but it's just not worth the pain for me.
Facebook Groups: these continue to be great ways to promote new content, but like I said, I didn't publish many new posts this month.
Instagram: As we've increased out following on instagram, we've seen increased engagement of clicks over to our blog as well. So while I don't expect IG to be the bigger turnover to our blog, I still think it's a valuable platform to invest in. I didn't publish much new content in March, so this was lower this month. I've also started tracking some of IG stats by using bitly.com, where you can see directly how many people click over on your link.
Pinterest: Just hired a Pinterest VA at end of the month, so hoping to see this grow in April, but I also participate in Pinterest re-pinning threads every week!
Mobile Vs. Desktop Vs. Tablet
Most Popular Blog Post in March:
I always wish I had more time to work on the blog, there are so many things I want to improve, but I also I have to remember that I'm still making progress and that's the important part. Here's a look at the things I want to focus a bit more on in April
- Getting more backlinks from doing more collaborations and guest posts on other blogs, I've already scheduled about 9 opportunities for April, so it will be busy, but I want to focus on this to start working on improving my DA and SEO NOW instead of ignoring it
- I want to learn even more about SEO and keyword research, thinking about investing in a tool called keysearch.
- I want to build some "Pillar Content" for the blog, again for SEO, and for a better user experience
- I want to work more on my website and it's branding
- I currently have about 7 posts scheduled to write and publish in April, I'm hoping I can meet that goal!
- I also want to continue to get better at managing my time, and spend less time distracted on social media. Sometimes the facebook groups for blogging are great, but they are also really distracting when I want to get work done. Whenever I write a post I close out all my other web sessions and just have one tab open. I need to do better at this though with other tasks.
- Don't make fun of me, but I still haven't set up Google Search Console for my blog yet! Yikes, I know! I have google analytics, and almost Gsuite, but Google Search Console is an important piece that I keep putting off. I want to do that this month.
- Continue to engage with brands!
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Hope this all was helpful and insightful, please leave me a comment if you have any questions or want to follow up! Thanks for following us on this online business journey!