Hey there! I'm excited to write this income and traffic report for my first year third quarter of blogging. In this post, I'm going to discuss how I've grossed over $3100 in the first nine months of blogging. But, before I do that, I want to talk about what goes into making a blog successful so that you can start earning money online via blogging.
I will also share my traffic insights and other things that I've learned since starting a blog to make money online. Are you ready to finally start making money with your blog? Let's jump into this quarterly report!
I Invested In My Blog Like a Serious Business
I think a common misconception in the blogging community is that you can blog for a minimal amount of money and make a ton of money together. I just don't think that's realistic. I'm not saying you have to spend a fortune, but you do need to invest in your blogging business as if it were a real business – because it IS a real business!
Here are some key things that I invested in to give my blog a distinct advantage.
- Web Designer: I am no web designer, though this current rendition of The Dollar Blogger is mostly my doing. Initially, I had a professional design my website using Elementor Pro.
- An SEO Suite: I use SEMrush to do all of my keyword research, my site auditing, content idea help, tracking where I rank on which keywords, competitive analysis, and more. Use my referral link and get an exclusive 7-day free trial to SEMrush not otherwise available to the public. I 100% recommend SEMrush to anyone wanting to get serious about SEO.
- Grammarly: I've gotten several compliments about my blog's writing style. I've heard words like “professional” and “polished”, but let me tell you; this is definitely because of Grammarly. Grammarly not only helps me with spelling and grammar, but it also helps me with my writing style and getting my message across exactly how I want to. If you want to write a blog and sound professional or like an authority, I highly recommend Grammarly.
- ConvertKit: ConvertKit is not the most inexpensive email service provider, but, in my opinion, they're the best. I have so much control over my mailing list, and I can target specific people to email about specific services and products. I definitely recommend ConvertKit once you're ready to start making money off your mailing list.
I also invested in Elite Blog Academy, which I found helpful for learning about blogging and networking with other bloggers. There are more affordable blogging courses out there, and I would actually recommend that you hire a reputable blogging coach to give you all the support you need.
I Did Tons Of Research
Before I started blogging, I researched what was profitable, and I landed on personal finance. Funny enough, most of my current income is not from personal finance yet.
After a failed course launch, I felt defeated, however, my coach, who I'll mention in the next section, pushed me to pivot temporarily and rework my course a few months down the road. I quickly pivoted to offering SEO services, something I'm passionate about.
You have to remember – writing blog posts does not necessarily equate to money. Your blog is the center of your online platform, and it's your online platform that earns money. In my case, I earn money through:
- Ad Revenue
- Affiliate Marketing
- Offering Blog Consulting Services
- Offering SEO Services
- Selling An eBook About Lending Club Investing
We're not getting paid to write. We're getting paid as the result of top quality content and the value we and our writing provides.
When you're researching a niche for your blog, it IS important to figure out if your niche is profitable. Yes, some niches ARE more profitable than others. Some niches aren't very profitable at all. The trick is to write about a topic that is profitable and that you're passionate about.
Researching the Competition
I also researched my competition when I started my personal finance blog. SEMrush has a great competitive analysis tool that tells you what keywords your immediate competition is ranking on so that you can attempt to outrank them. This has helped me come up with blog post topics that do well.
Let's face it. You are somewhat competing with other bloggers. If you offer a similar product to others, they are your competition, and you must plan accordingly. How will you stand out? How will your blog be different than all the rest? What keeps your readers coming back to you?
I Hired An Amazing Coach
Coaches can be expensive, and let me tell you, if they're not charging you a fair amount of money, they're probably not the real deal. Speaking of the real deal; my coach, Alison Reeves, is the real deal.
Before I hired Alison, I had made less than $350 all-time blogging. I hired her for 6 months, and it's been 3 months since hiring her. In these past three months, I've earned just over $2800. Her superpower is helping people monetize their online business through as many means as they can, and wow, is she good at it.
The coaching program, called MAP, or Monetization Accelerator Program, mixes up pre-recorded content about Pinterest, SEO, writing sales pages, marketing to your email list, and launching a product, along with weekly group coaching calls where you and other MAP members get high-touch time with Alison.
Currently, there is also a monthly Pinterest call where you can get your Pinterest account audited to help you gain more traffic there. There is also a monthly mindset call to help you through struggles you may be facing with staying focused.
If you aren't sure about hiring a coach, get on Alison's schedule and let her know how she can help. You will not regret it.
I Tracked Everything, Focusing on What Works and What Doesn't
You have to figure out what's working and what isn't. The sooner you figure these things out, the better. For me, one thing I figured out that wasn't working was spending a lot of time on Twitter. I became fixated that I had to be on social media all the time, but after testing an automated promotion strategy using SEMrush's social media scheduler, I found I could get the same amount of traffic without spending much time on social media at all.
I also wrote a short book on Lending Club, which I TOTALLY sold for too little. This product did not do very well, and I plan on relaunching it sometime down the road.
Let's talk about what worked, though, shall we? I found that reaching out to many affiliate networks to be helpful. With my limited traffic, many companies normally wouldn't approve me, but by providing a solid and professional email to them, citing my targeted audience and blog growth strategy, many companies accepted me into their affiliate program when they normally wouldn't.
In fact, my ad network, Ezoic, generally requires 10,000 monthly sessions to get accepted into it, and I was accepted with just under 2,000 due to the nature of my site.
What does this mean for you? It means you shouldn't be afraid to reach out to companies when it means you could earn money off advertising their products and services.
Key Performance Indicators to Track
Here are some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that I track:
- Gross Monthly Income Per Each Source: This one might be somewhat obvious. I track my income from every source, including my ad network, each affiliate, any product or service I'm offering, etc.
- Traffic From Every Source: Also another obvious one, I think. I see the growth (and decline) of each source of traffic. This includes social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and includes other sources like referral and, of course, organic search.
- Income Per User: I track how much income I'm earning per unique visitor to my site. This tells me the quality of my earnings. I want to earn as much per visitor as possible. Even a few cents more per user can go a long way in blogging.
- Mailing List Open and Click Rate: I need to know how much my mailing list is enjoying my content, so I actively track how many of them are opening my emails and clicking on my links. Once every 4-6 months, I plan to purge inactive members after sending them out a few final emails to see if they still want to be on my mailing list.
- Cost Per Action (Facebook Ads): I've used Facebook Ads to get sign-ups to my mailing list, and I closely track how much it costs per sign-up. I tested multiple ad copies before coming up with one that worked well. I'm working on a new Facebook Ad newsletter campaign and hope to launch it before the end of the year.
- Opt-In Rate: The opt-in as of writing this post is a free guide to teach the average household how to save up to $10,000 a year. It used to perform extremely well, however, it has since fallen off a bit, so I'm working on a new opt-in. Similar to my Facebook Ad campaign, I hope to have this finished by the end of the year (ideally, by the end of November).
I tracked smaller things, but these are the key ones that I found to be most important.
I Created Services Where There Are Needs
When my course idea flopped, I didn't know what to do. I took a week off to refocus, and then I started thinking about what else I could offer. It was clear that in my blogging communities, SEO is one of the toughest struggles. Being good at SEO and having an SEO suite at my disposal, I started offering SEO services. This is my second highest income source currently, and it's poised to become my highest at its current rate.
I also have a client who needs regular blog help. He's a retired writer and specifically wants to write for his blog and do nothing else. We worked out a deal, and he pays my wife and me to maintain every aspect of his blog except for the writing. This is currently pulling in slightly more money than the SEO services, but only because we've been doing it for a few months.
If it's one thing Alison Reeves taught me, it's how to stack your income. Your blog IS NOT your primary income source. You must find products and services that you create to make money. In my case, I've created a blog management service and multiple SEO services. These services are the majority of my $3100+ earnings to date.
I Promoted Like Crazy
In the beginning, Google doesn't know about you. You need to promote yourself like you're your own biggest fan. I regularly promote The Dollar Blogger in over half a dozen Facebook groups, on Twitter, on Pinterest, and occasionally on Instagram. I've also dabbled in Quora, though not regularly.
On top of promoting on social media, I've written two guest posts for other bloggers that helped me receive traffic. It's only in the past 45 days or so have I started receiving noticeable search traffic, and even now, it's still pretty limited given the competitiveness of the personal finance niche.
Either way, you can't get traffic if you don't put yourself out there over and over. My strategy is also to provide value on social media and not simply spam links. This has helped my Twitter traffic go up by over 200%.
I Reached Out To Other Companies For Collaboration
At first, I believed that companies would simply reach out to me for collaboration. While recently they have a bit more, it was all about me reaching out to them in the beginning. You have to reach out to companies if you want to earn money promoting their products. I signed up for several affiliate networks and contacted companies with affiliate programs.
I introduce myself and my blog and tell them how their product or service could be valuable to my readers, and I discuss becoming an affiliate. A professionally written email works almost every time. I highly recommend that you don't simply be an Amazon affiliate and instead reach out to companies that are paying big for referrals.
On the note of affiliate income and referrals: Always stand behind the products and services you refer people to. Test them out. Get to know them. You want to be able to provide honest feedback so that your readers will get a real taste for what they're about to buy.
Okay, let's get into some screenshots and data. I'm going to show my 3rd quarter traffic insights – my traffic for August, September, and October.
Here is my overall traffic over the past three months, according to Google Analytics.
As seen, my traffic isn't huge by a long shot. Aside from some spikes in September, I average between 40 and 60 sessions per day now, up from about 10-30 in early August. That's some great growth. I attribute much of this success to working on SEO and participating in engagement groups.
Next is my Google Impressions growth over the past three months, as found in Google Search Console.
I really like this graph. At the beginning of August, I was lucky to have 100-200 impressions per day. I started tweaking my SEO in late July, and as you can see, the results began paying off in September. In fact, my impressions on Google for October were 50% higher than in September, which was significantly higher than in August.
Below is my total search engine traffic over the past three months compared to the three months before that.
There was a significant jump in traffic in September and then a much more significant jump in October. Being a nine-month-old blog in the personal finance niche, I'm not sure if my search traffic is still very low or if it's doing okay. It can be tough to rank in this niche, especially on the topics I discuss.
My income exploded over the past three months, specifically over October. I mostly attribute this to the awesome guidance that my coach, Alison Reeves, provided to me. I'm going to continue to grow my SEO business while The Dollar Blogger ramps up.
Let's break down the income for August, September, and October:
- Ad Revenue: $47.31
- Affiliate Marketing Income: $10.41
- Blog Consulting Income: $2160
- SEO Consulting Income: $600
Total: $2817.72 for Q3
Total since beginning in February: $3,128.55
I want to note that my business has not broken even yet. My initial investment expenses were high, and it will take some more months like this to break even. This is all super promising, and I hope that my next quarter income report will show sufficient income to start doing monthly income reports.
Notes on Revenue
Ad Revenue: I switched ad networks from AdSense to Ezoic on the last week of September. My earnings per day jumped from approximately $0.15/day to $0.95/day almost instantly. Now I earn an average of $1.50/day though this number still fluctuates frequently.
Blog Consulting Revenue: I picked up a regular client in mid-August, where I help manage his blog. While this has been my greatest single source of income, my SEO income is greatly catching up, as seen below.
SEO Consulting Revenue: I just started offering SEO professional services on the second week of October, and this has already become my second largest monthly income source. I'm working on a group program right now and hope to have it finished by the end of the year.
Wrapping It Up
It takes time to earn income as a blogger, and perhaps I am an exception to the rule. My thoughts are that you must provide a product or service of value to earn money online. While I generally do not blog about SEO and how to blog, I did find a nice service in both as I continue to write about personal finance and develop a personal finance product.
How have you fared in blogging? What insights have you learned during your journey?