Traffic and Income Report - April 2018
I'm about a couple weeks late on this report. We just moved into a new place and so life has felt particularly busy lately. So here we go, some thoughts on April 2018. The more time I spend blogging, the more I'm finding how many things there are to learn about it. I'm also finding that because there are so many things, and so many resources of people telling you what is the most important thing to focus on, it gets really easy to get distracted at trying to do everything. I think this month I've been really thinking about stepping back and looking at what things are going to give me the most growth... basically, what should I really focus on. I don't make enough money to hire a team of people to manage all the things I don't want to manage, so I need to take a look at what I can do with the time that I have to allot to this online business that makes the most financial sense.
So my big goal for the next few months is to really figure that out. I want to finish up some of the courses I've started and then make a solid plan, something I can stick to and work on for the next year to reach my goals of earning an income out of this blog so we can help pay off student loan debt and become more location independent.
If you’re new to these reports and would like more details on why I’m writing these income and traffic report posts, please read the intro of my first income report.
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**A quick note: Some of the links below are affiliate links.
Oh April... Oh 2018... how quickly you pass, and how little I feel like I accomplished compared to my ever-building to-do list.
What we worked on for the blog:
- We had our first full month with the Pinterest Virtual Assistant! Anddddd It looks like things are growing a bit, but nothing huge in the first month. I want to give it a good 6 months or so to see if there is really an increase to my traffic from this more consistent pinning and active Pinterest strategy. I'll keep you posted.
- I finalized my branding colors, and fonts, and created a set of "branded" pins! I haven't updated everything on my site yet with all the new colors and fonts, but you will start to see things change over the next couple of months. You should already start to notice my newer posts have different cover images than I used to post. Those are my new pins/colors. Looking forward to giving the site a more consistent look. I felt like I was a bit all over the place with the older style. Did you notice the new site logo? Do you like it? I created it myself! I LOVED the older one, but I decided I wanted something a little more square instead of round, and something that would pop out a little bit more, and be more recognizable.
- I worked a bit more the Bschool program that I enrolled in during March, but I will say I didn't get to dedicate as much time to it as I would've liked. Progress, not perfection.
- Instagram - I took a bit of a break from Instagram growth in April. I just wanted to put my energy into other things, and we had a lot going on in April as well. So we remained pretty consistent in our following of 11k, but I'm happy to take the time to focus on engaging with our followers on that platform.
- We grew our email list by +60 new subscribers this month with Convert Kit! Even though I didn't post or promote my content that much in April, 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!
- Engaging with Brands- I didn't really pitch any new brands this month because we have a couple projects we are already working on and I want to make sure to devote my energy to them.
- Worked on SEO and Domain Authority - I've continued to participate in collaboration posts and guest posts in April to build my SEO and domain authority for the site. I collaborated on 6 new posts in April, meaning I will hopefully get 6 new backlinks to my site. My DA raised from a 7 to a 14 as well, which is rad. For the next year I plan to continue to do collaboration/guest posts (5-10 a month) to hopefully continue and build my authority on the web. I also have plans to learn more about keyword research for my own site.
- Guest Posts on She Dreams of Alpine. We had our first guest post on the blog about 10 Miles Day Hiking Humphreys Peak Trail in Arizona. Check it out! Also, if you would like to guest post on this blog, I'd love to hear your ideas. :)
- So last month I was all, "I love bullet journaling for organizing my life and blogging life," well now I'm all about Trello. I started using trello full force and I'm obsessed with it. I've basically moved my entire organization system over to it + using google calendar. The best part about all of it is that it's free and awesome! Sometimes you get free, sometimes you get awesome, but rarely free and awesome in the same product.
- GDPR - I started learning about the GDPR rules in April, and am still trying to figure it out. Hoping to having things compliant by end of May.
Other than that, it was just a lot of admin stuff and then real life... which I'll talk about down below.
Life Outside of Blogging in April:
- The first weekend of the month we finally got to backpack a trail I've been really wanting to do since I moved out here to California, the Trans-Catalina Trail! I just posted about it last week, so check it out. It was so great, and we got to spend a weekend with one of my best friends too, so it was perfect.
- I also took a solo weekend and drove up to Idyllwild, California. I booked a cute little cabin out there and spent the weekend writing and working on Bschool stuff. It was a much needed weekend of focus. I actually usually focus better when I'm not in my own house. I took Lincoln up there with me too and we went on a couple hikes in the area as well.
- So in March we bought a Van! And in April I sold my old Subaru! It was the first time I've ever sold a car on my own, but it was worth it because we were able to sell it for the price to cover the Van buildout we had done on the van, so I'm very glad we took the extra effort to sell it ourselves. More details to come on the van process and why we chose that particular van in an upcoming post, most likely in June. It was sad to see the Subaru go, we've had so many great memories in the mountains, but Micheal and I are very excited about having the van now.
- We also spent one weekend up in Monterrey to go to the Sea Otter Classic Biking Festival. We spent one day at the festival and one day mountain biking in Monterrey. It was awesome, and it was our first official weekend using the van.
- April was our last month in the apartment I've been living in the last 3 years or so. We finished up packing the house, selling things we didn't need and trying to minimize a little. End of a chapter there, but excited to be saving some money by moving into a new place!
- We forecasted a one year plan for saving money and budgeting our expenses. We really want to crack down on our spending to achieve some of our goals, so me being the engineer nerd that I am, I created a big spreadsheet with everything, and we made posters to track our progress, and we will be having monthly update meetings. It's so much easier to stick to a goal when you have a constant reminder about it. Our poster with our savings goals are right next to our bed.
- We also made our plans for our first bigger vacation of the year. We are going to take the van on a road trip up to Colorado the first week of June and go to the Go-Pro Mountain Games in Vail! We are stoked for the great weather up there, and to spend more time in Colorado.
- We also booked flights to visit Puerto Rico in December. We had flight credits with Jet Blue from last year when we were going to go to Puerto Rico, but they got cancelled because of the hurricane. Going to try again this year.
- Books this month. The Dream of The Alpine Book Club's choice for April was "The Last Season" which is a really awesome book! Definitely recommend reading it if you haven't heard of it before. I listened to it on audible. In May the book club is reading, "Walden on Wheels"and for my personal choice I am reading "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 finally got some permits to hike from Happy Isle to Tuolumne meadows, the first part of the John Muir Trail section that I haven't hiked yet. I've been hiking the JMT in sections over the last few years, and I'm just about finished with it!
April Blog Posts:
- 10 Miles Day Hiking Humphreys Peak Trail in Arizona
- Gear Review: Field Testing the PackPillow Backpacking Pillow
- The Marvin Braude Bike Trail - A California Coastal Bike Ride Through LA County
- March Income and Traffic Report
- I also participated in 6 collaboration guest posts this month on other travel blogs.
Ok, so what did we earn in April?!
"THEORETICAL" Revenue Totals: $225
- Patreon Sponsors: $133
- You can see a list of all our sponsors on our Patreon page
- Amazon Affiliate Income: $71
- Google AdSense: $8
- Skillshare Classes: $13
ACTUAL Blog Expenses: $479
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: $200
- 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.
- Gsuite: $10
- Email domain name service, i.e. hello@shedreamsofalpine. com , but I'm not finished setting it up.. oops
- Keysearch: $135
- I bought a one year subscription to keysearch, a keyword research tool to help me work on my SEO and ranking in posts.
- Creative Market: $92
- I bought some font's and png's for my site branding from Creative Market
- Other tools that I pay for (but only get charged yearly, not monthly)
Amazon affiliate income has been pretty consistent the last few months, which is cool because I haven't really been working on any additional affiliate income posts. It just means my current content is still performing for me. Definitely something I'd like to boost up. Google Adsense is a joke, at this rate, I'll get paid in 6 more months. I'm hoping to break 25k page views before end of year so I can switch to MediaVine, but I still have a long ways to go. Still working on that long game, slowly growing and building my traffic and SEO. I keep hearing other bloggers say to be patient and keep putting in the work, so that's what I'm doing!
Same story as last month. 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.
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. Right now we are getting about 55+ hits a day from SEO, and I'm starting to rank on the first page for a couple of keywords.
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: Instagram was lower this month, and I'm not sure why. I feel like it's been lower since I started using linktree, but that was also around the same time I hit 10k, which is also around the time that instagram started messing with their algorithm again. So who knows. I'm not going to worry about it right now.
Pinterest: First full month with the Pinterest VA, no significant growth, but we will keep testing this out for another 5 months or so to see what happens. I also continue to participate in re-pinning threads each week.
Most Popular Blog Post in April:
Coming in for another month in a row! This post does really well for me on Pinterest, and I also this is the time of the year for people to do this hike, so it is just doing well in general. I'm really glad because I spent over 16 hours working on this post.
So as usual, I have so many things I'd like to work on this month, but what my gut is telling me to focus on this month is setting up a solid strategy for my blog. So my big focus this month will be framing up a 1 year strategy for monetization, marketing, growth and GREAT content. I don't exactly know what it will look like but I want to have that completed by the end of May-ish. A few other things I want to work on:
- Continue to participate in blogging collaborations to build backlinks.
- I want to get all set up for GDPR as well
- Start reading through SEO materials
- Continue to update pins on older posts to my new branded pins
- Post at least 5 new blog posts in May.
Keeping it a little simpler this month, since the above are bigger tasks. We will see how things go! Wish me luck.
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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!