Traffic and Income Report - May 2018
Sometimes I think about why I write these income and traffic reports, and I know why I started writing them... to chronicle our journey in trying to grow a blog into a business, and hopefully be able to share with others what we have learned along the way, but also I think it's a really great reminder for myself, when I'm feeling down, about all the things we DID actually accomplish in the last month.
May was a whirlwind of a month, and a really big stress to be honest. We had a lot of changes go down in our life, and I feel like I bit off a bit more than I could chew. Coming into June it has left me feeling like I'm going as fast as a turtle up the Mount Whitney Trail, but I guess the good news is that I'm a stubborn person, and it'll take more than a few hiccups to stop me from going forward. I'm writing this income and traffic report for you guys from my second office, Starbucks, where all the blog work goes down and I widdle away at a dream that I have in my mind. It's a couple weeks late, and we are already half way through June, but none the less.. here we go!
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.
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 currently have 10 amazing patrons! We are so grateful for all the support and love we have received from this community so far. These people have helped me keep up the momentum on this blog, while I learn how to turn it into a business.
**A quick note: Some of the links below are affiliate links.
A lot more personal stuff went on in May than blog stuff, but I'll break down what we were able to accomplish on the blog below.
What we worked on for the blog:
A 90-Day Plan - If you read last months report, you know that I really wanted to be a bit more "focused" the next few months, and so I put together a "90-Day Plan" where I literally planned out every week for the next 90 days with what I would ideally love to accomplish. I detailed the content I want to write, the website site clean up I'd like to do, and scheduled out trying to finish my training from the courses (like Bschool) I had signed up for earlier this year. I function a lot better when I have a plan, so this gave me a lot of relief, to just know I was headed in the right direction. Now.. being 2 weeks into June, I can tell you that my plan is already off to a bit of a rocky start, since our first week of June we went on vacation to Colorado and I didn't get much accomplished, but oh well, I can't be too hard on myself.
Building Backlinks- I participated in over 9 collaborations in May to help continue to build my backlinks to the website. Looking back at May, I wish I would've spent a little bit more time on my own content, but oh well. I'm going to start keeping my collaborations down to 5 or so a month as I go forward, because I'd really like to be writing more articles for my own website.
Instagram - I barely paid attention to IG in May, except for posting stories. Honestly, it's hard to do "all the things" and I'm really considering hiring a social media manager in the future to help with some of this stuff.
We had our 2nd full month with the Pinterest Virtual Assistant! Like I said in the last report, I'm going to be giving this a bit of time before really evaluating the progress, but here's what I know.
Followers continue to increase +75 in May
Monthly views continue to increase +37,000
Daily pin impressions increasing +1,700
However, my average daily saves and clicks remain pretty constant... and those are some of the metrics I'd like to see increase too, especially clicks. I really like my VA though, she is very responsive, participating in pinning threads for me, and giving me monthly reports, so we will see. It has definitely been nice not having to deal much with Pinterest.
SEO BOOKS - In May I read two books that have revolutionized the way I understand SEO and how to optimize articles for search engines. I am so stoked to move forward in optimizing some of my old content and new content to try and get more search engine traffic.
I updated more pins on my site to my branded pin images, but still working through all this... alot of my old material makes me cringe. I need to update so many older articles.
Domain Authority- still a work in progress... building backlinks and trying to write great content.
We grew our email list by +64 new subscribers this month with Convert Kit! I also deleted about 30 email addresses from my list due to GDPR regulations, but that was fairly small. 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.
Business Cards! I made my first set of business cards on Canva and had 50 shipped to my house. I didn't order them for any particular occasion, but thought it would be good to carry them around just in case. You never know who you will meet...
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 May:
The big (and most time consuming) thing that happened in May was that we moved into a new place. I used to think that we didn't own a ton of stuff, but after packing and moving into a new place, I realized that we own so much! It was a little depressing, and it made me want to get rid of everything (ha!). We did reduce many of our belongings in the move though, and are going to work to reduce even more over the next year. As I get older, I just want less things to clutter my mind, and just simplify life a bit. It's a little hard though because a lot of our stuff is outdoor gear, and we do a lot of different things like mountaineering, sport climbing, trad climbing, bouldering, hiking, mountain biking... so just got to figure out how to pair those things down to the essentials. Moving is so draining to me, but we are finally settled into the new place, and are saving a ton of money on rent, which is great and was the whole reason we moved in the first place.
With moving, we also sold the Subaru. We got lucky and were able to sell it for enough to pay for our van build out, which was my ultimate goal. Selling a car on your own though is a lot of time and energy, this was my first time doing it.
One weekend we decided to drive up to the coast to really use the van and went camping in Santa Barbara and went bouldering at a place called Lizards Mouth. It was a nice little getaway weekend, and we brought Lincoln with us. Our campground was right on the beach, and it was so funny watching Lincoln look out into the waves. Michael would be playing his guitar, and I was reading some, and Lincoln was just sitting in his dog bed watching the waves. I never knew how much he loved the ocean. I can't wait to travel more with the pup, my old-little man.
We are thinking of selling the motorcycle too, so we decided to take a trip up to the San Francisco area with the motorcycle trailered behind the van. It took a bit of logistical planning, but we stayed at Hipcamp sites and got to ride the motorcycle around Gilroy, San Francisco and Stinson Beach. It was a really nice weekend, even though we had a few hiccups. We (accidentally) left the lights on the motorcycle and the battery died when we were in Stinson Beach, but long story short, a series of nice strangers helped us get out of that pickle. First a guy who told us how to open up our battery compartment, and then another stranger told us we could jump the battery with a car if we left the car off (something we didn't know), and then the stranger who helped us jump the battery with his car! The whole process took a couple hours, but could've been worse. At one of our Hipcamp locations we got to stay at a farm, and the owners showed us all their animals (including a llama named Sand Dance) and they let us try their homemade goat cheese. We also met up with one of Michael's college friends in San Francisco and got to go bouldering at The Dogpatch. It was a nice time.
We also started looking more into our options for our student loan debt. We talked with an actual student loan lawyer to see what our options were, and we have a bit of thinking to do about that. More to come..
We also did a bit of prepping for our road trip up to Colorado in June, and planning out some of the places we wanted to visit and things we wanted to do.
Books this month. The Dream of The Alpine Book Club's choice for May was "Walden on Wheels" which was a really interesting account of Ken's life living in his van to help stay out of debt while he went to college for his master's degree. In June the book club is reading, "Jungle" and for my personal choice I am still finishing "Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel".
May Blog Posts:
I sadly only wrote 3 articles in May, and one of them was a traffic report. Sigh. But, there's only so much time in a day.
I also participated in 9 collaboration guest posts this month on other travel blogs.
More notably, I wrote a guest post on the A World to Travel Blog all about the 6 Best Climbing Destinations on Earth. Check it out.
Ok, so what did we earn in May?!
"THEORETICAL" Revenue Totals: $192
Patreon Sponsors: $133
You can see a list of all our sponsors on our Patreon page
Amazon Affiliate Income: $44
Google AdSense: $9
Skillshare Classes: $6
ACTUAL Blog Expenses: $591
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: $180
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.
Email domain name service
Flight to a Blogging Conference in September: $226
Business Cards: $37 from Canva for 50 cards
SEO Books: $99
I bought SEO training from two different sources.
I spent $39 on an Ebook labeled SEO for Squarespace, and I thought it would be really great for Squarespace specific tips, but honestly, it was a bit of a waste of money and I wouldn't recommend it. I already knew everything taught in it and it was only about 10 pages long with very basic SEO tips. You win some, you lose some.
The other $60 I spent on a pair of SEO books Called SEO The Easy Way and Revive Old Content from the creators of Make Traffic Happen, and that was some of the best $60 I've ever spent. I highly recommend these books for anyone really wanting to get better at SEO for their blogs! Check them out at Make Traffic Happen Facebook Page.
Other tools that I pay for (but only get charged yearly, not monthly)
Yikes, I haven't broken even in a long time. It would be really easy to just give up, but I'm trusting in the "long game" and willing to invest in this for a bit longer. Time will tell. I'm really hoping to pick up on SEO traffic a bit more because social media is exhausting.
So for the last few months I've been putting out less "content" and thus less social promotion (which a lot of my initial traffic from 2018 was based off of). Basically, I've had a lot going on, so haven't had as much time to write content. So While the growth here isn't dramatic, there is still one positive thing going on here. My organic traffic continues to increase a little bit each month and I'm seeing a bit of an increase in Pinterest traffic from google analytics. I'm really excited now that I've read those SEO books to see how SEO takes off in the next 6 months or so.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
Top 10 Traffic Sources
Direct Traffic: 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: This is still growing, and the potential here is still untapped, looking forward to the next 6 months!
Reddit: I'm really moving away from posting in Reddit, I probably only posted one article in Reddit in May.
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: I think my instagram stats are a bit skewed, because I started using bit.ly to track my clicks from instagram and I think google analytics won't recognize it as a source from Instagram if you do that. I definitely got more than 24 bitly clicks on articles. This traffic probably got dumped into "direct" traffic.
Pinterest: Second 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 only show 8 traffic sources this month because number 9 & 10 were "spam" referrals, which I just learned about, and I didn't want to give them any more "traffic" than what they are already trying to scam ME with. You can read more about referrer spam here.
Most Popular Blog Post in May:
Coming in for a third month in a row!
The other day when I first started looking back at May I got really "sad" so to speak. I'm really competitive in my nature (not in the bad way, but more like the motivational way) and I believe that I can do anything I put my mind to (possibly a bit of an inflated ego here), and so seeing that I am still moving very slowly to build this blog into a business really brings me down sometimes. What am I do wrong? I am obviously focusing on the wrong things? Or does it just take this long? I want to create something meaningful and successful. I want to be in control a bit more, but I feel like I'm just sort of all over the place. There are so many things in blogging that are distracting, and I'm realizing that being a "solopreneur" is a lot harder than it sounds.
It's ok now though. I need to think about life more like a game. I need to have a bit more fun with it. I have a plan in place and I need to trust that my progress is my own journey. I need to enjoy the journey. So don't worry, I'm still hanging in there, but in case you were wondering... I'm still human, and I doubt myself all the time. :)
Based on my 90-Day Plan, here is what I'm working on in June:
Finish Reading SEO guides (I can already say this is completed, but I'd like to write up some quick reference notes for myself)
Test out "batch writing" I initially wanted to publish 9 articles, but I think now I am aiming for more like 5.
Participate in at least 5 collaboration articles/guest posts to build backlinks
Work through more modules in BSchool
Do a content audit on my site (and delete/redirect posts that I don't want to revamp), then make a plan to revamp the old posts I want to keep on the site
Start putting out a consistent bi-weekly newsletter again, I have been bad with my email list the last few months.
Finish updating my blog post cover content with new branding
Yikes. I already know I won't get it all done, but here's to hoping and hustling. Wish me luck.
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!