My fifth month of this blogging journey came to a close on July 9th, which means it is time for another detailed blog income and traffic report to show how things went. While I am still loving blogging and excited for all the months ahead, this month was my toughest so far. I faced some personal and work roadblocks that meant I spent less time on the blog than I would have liked, and my results suffered because of it. But as you’ll see in this report, I feel like months like this are all part of the process.
As a reminder, I plan to do monthly blog income and traffic reports every month for the first six months based on when I started (February 10, 2017), then switch to calendar months. However, when I move to calendar months, I am debating whether to move the reports over to email instead of public posts. I’ve heard mixed views on public income reports from some lawyers, accountants, and other bloggers; especially when including net income instead of just revenue. If you have thoughts on my internal debate, let me know!
Anyway, on to what you came here for, the month 5 report!
*This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures.
Month 5 Successes
- Launched my first email challenge! One of my goals this month was to roll out my first email challenge. I created the July $500 Savings Challenge to help people build (or grow) their emergency fund by $500 in just one month. My goal was to have 250 subscribers for the challenge, and I ended up with over 430 people! While keeping up with the challenge and finding ways to keep participants engaged has added an extra layer to my blogging work, it has been incredibly fun to interact with participants so far. Last week I asked them to share their first week savings wins on Facebook as part of a giveaway and their responses were excellent!
- Cleared 1,000 email subscribers! I had 720 email subscribers at the end of last month, and my goal was to get to 1,000. At the end of this month, I had 1,144! Almost all of these new subscribers were from the email challenge, but it was so fun to watch my list grow. I also like that many of these new subscribers will get used to receiving and opening my emails through the challenge, and will hopefully be engaged on the list going forward.
- Faced my fears and appeared as a guest on a podcast! So, I love listening to podcasts, but the idea of being on one really freaked me out. Wouldn’t I sound ridiculous? What if I just kept tripping over my words? Well, I faced my fears and reached out to Stacking Benjamins about being on one of their roundtable discussions. The episode I was a guest on went live July 7 (you can find it here) and was a lot of fun to record! I still haven’t been able to listen to it, though I’m thrilled I got that first one under my belt.
Month 5 Learnings
- Traffic slumps happen, but they are more likely when I’m not fully engaged. Due to some personal and career dynamics this month, I didn’t commit the same amount of time to blogging. I was mostly writing posts the night before they were supposed to go live, I wasn’t commenting on other people’s blogs, I didn’t secure any guest posts, and I generally just wasn’t interacting as much with readers or other bloggers. Not surprisingly, this was also the first month I saw my traffic fall month-over-month. It was tough to see, but also a bit of a wake-up call. I have to put in the time to get ahead on posts, so I’m not scrambling, create a system to stay on top of the non-writing tasks and make the blog a priority.
- There will always be ups and downs in blogging, I assume, but I need to not be my own worst enemy. My personality has never been to fly by the seat of my pants so I can’t expect that method to work for the blog. I’m going to dig into a more defined work schedule and strategy for Month 6.
- Get help at the first sign of smoke. I was incredibly excited about the July $500 Savings Challenge and wanted to do a decent size Facebook ad to bring in sign-ups. I decided to have sign-ups open for the last two weeks of June. Well, the first two days I had 20-30 sign-ups each day. Then the next day I had none, then none, then none. I tested the form, and it worked for me, so I assumed nothing was wrong and that conversions were just slow because it was a summer weekend. However, people started commenting on the ad that they couldn’t seem to sign-up for the challenge. I tried to fix it, then reached out to iMarkInteractive to take a look. They determined it was an issue with the ConvertPlug plugin, and got me up and running. I missed three full days of conversions and wasted three days of Facebook ad spend because I didn’t ask for help.
- The following weekend, the challenge was posted in a major Facebook group. The blog started getting a lot of traffic for people to sign up and all of the sudden no one could get their information to go through again. Ultimately, the site was so bogged down I couldn’t even get into the backend. This time, I went straight back to Grayson at iMarkInteractive. In just a few hours he had my hosts switched, my forms up and running, and was submitting complaints to my old host. I missed a lot of sign-ups that day, and potentially the day before when I once again wasn’t aware of an issue, but I would have sacrificed a lot more without Grayson’s help. I am now on a monthly WordPress maintenance plan with Grayson and think it is worth every penny. When it comes to speed and downtime issues, I don’t always know what I am looking for, and I’m more than happy to turn that over to him!
Month 5 Numbers
Time to own up, in black and white, with how things actually went this month. Typing the traffic report was a bit of a gut punch…
Posts: 12 (-20%)
This was my first full month on my reduced posting schedule, which drove the decline in total posts. When I started the blog, I was doing posts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a Weekend Wisdom on Saturday. Now I post Monday and Wednesday, with a Weekend Wisdom on Friday (sometimes Saturday if I am lagging and can’t get my favorite posts together Thursday night). The new schedule has been good and allowed me to at least stay on task, even when my time to blog was more limited.
Top posts for the month:
- How We Spent Almost $13,000 on Our Son in His First Year
- Blog Report – Month 4: +700 Subscribers
- Side Hustle Showcase: What It’s Like to be an Usborne Consultant
This month was the first time I saw the mini power of Pinterest. My article on our first-year expenses for Fuss Fish got repinned somewhere (I haven’t yet figured out where) on a Friday evening around 9 PM. From that point through Sunday night, just that post received over 800 views! Way better than any traffic I’ve ever seen from Pinterest before, and definitely pushed it to my top post of the month. For reference, that post had 1,082 pageviews for the month, while the blog report had 353!
Pageviews: 9,379 (-35%)
This month’s traffic numbers clearly lagged my goal of 15,000 pageviews and saw my first month of notable month-over-month decline. Without the benefit of guest posting, or a lovely Rockstar Finance feature, my pageviews fell off. I also faced some tech difficulties in the month which significantly slowed my site down and potentially caused some traffic headwinds. While numbers also probably weren’t helped by the “summer slump” noted by some other bloggers, it was still tough to handle.
I’ve got some work to do in month 6, as discussed above, if I want to bring my traffic back up. Some goals for month 6 are to keep focusing on getting ahead, secure a couple more guest posting opportunities, and recommit to interacting with the personal finance blogger community.
Sessions: 5,999 (-38%)
Users: 4,658 (-38%)
Bounce Rate: 78.0% (-3.7%)
Session Duration: 1:23 (+3.1%)
Email subscribers: 1,144 (+59%)
My goal this month was to break 1,000 email subscribers, and I happily surpassed it! Almost all of the new subscribers signed up for the July $500 Savings Challenge, but I did see some pick up in sign-ups from the new Freebie Library and continued traction from the Better Budget Toolkit.
I’m still struggling to make sure people actually see my emails, as it seems many are getting caught in Google’s “promotions” folder or other services spam folders. Open rates so far on the Savings Challenge have ranged from 35%-50% day-to-day, which is a little lower than I would expect for a challenge. I have received some emails from people where I had to help them find my emails in their inbox abyss. Not ideal! Something I will have to research in the future.
I saw a small creep upwards in Twitter and Pinterest followers this month, but I didn’t dedicate much time to either. I did make more of an effort to schedule Tweets and keep my Tailwind queue full, but I wasn’t following people or regularly interacting on either platform. Alternatively, Facebook grew nicely both driven by the Facebook ad I ran for the July $500 Savings Challenge and some more people interacting and sharing posts with their communities.
Net Income Report
Net income: -$1,080.73 (-$521.62)
This included a couple of small Amazon affiliate book purchases and a purchase of Grammarly premium through one of my links. As I mentioned last month, I haven’t dug into monetization at all and don’t have affiliate links in many posts. Something I should probably start thinking about, but traffic and building a following seemed a more important place to start.
The affiliate programs I am in that I want to keep highlighting over time are Grammarly, PicMonkey, Tailwind, and ConvertKit, which I use every single day, and FamZoo, which remains my favorite allowance system for kids. I will keep joining programs as I come across them!
This was a heavy expense month for Mama Fish Saves, driven by the completion of my site redesign, a Facebook ad for the July $500 Savings Challenge, and some tech issues (again!). In the first five months, I have spent a net total of $3,353. Inside my start-up budget of $5,000 and spending should slow down from here!
$521.89 – Facebook ad for the July $500 Savings Challenge. While this brought in a lot of subscribers, it wasn’t as productive as I would have liked. It ended up turning out that because of tech issues, the sign-up form wasn’t working for about 5 of the 14 days the ad was running. Painful.
$250.00 – Pixel Me Designs. My blog redesign was finished this month, so I owed my final payment. Yay! I love the new logo and simple layout.
$129.00 – iMarkInteractive. Grayson saved me yet again when my site slowed to a crawl, and no one could sign up for my email challenge. I paid for a quick fix, then just jumped in and joined his monthly maintenance plan. That expense is worth every penny. He now monitors plugin updates, backups, and watches for downtime. Such a relief!
$75.45 – With the blog’s new logo, I designed some t-shirts and water bottles for readers and to offer as giveaway items. I sent some to some of my early supporters as thank you’s! You can check out my Spreadshirt shop here!
$67.00 – ThriveLeads. I purchased ThriveLeads opt-in form plugin after all my difficulties with my sign-up forms during the Challenge ad. I also wanted the “Locked Content” feature for the Freebie page.
$59.98 – Miscellaneous expenses. This includes my monthly ConvertKit fee, some stock photos, hosting and other small items.
Goals for Month 6
- 12,000 pageviews
- Comment on 3 other personal finance blogs a day
- Secure 2 new guest posts
- Maintain Monday/Wednesday post schedule with Weekend Wisdom each Friday
- Get ahead on posts to keep from getting overwhelmed when I have less time for the blog. I plan to write a post a day in August when my work schedule is slower, and I have some vacation time.
I got a real taste this month of how it feels to see your traffic slump. I know if I want the blog to grow and flourish I need to find a balance between putting in sufficient hours and maintaining my sanity. My Month 6 goals aren’t super aggressive, but look to keep me focused on priorities for a new blog. I can’t wait to see how it goes!
How do you think I did in Month 5? If you are a blogger, how do you handle weaker months? Let me know!
This post was proofread by Grammarly.