This week’s post is going to be a little different as I’ve committed to starting a blogging report. Now i’m not going to call this an income report, because I’m not sure $1.98 counts as an income. BUT – I made my first $1 and that is definitely something to celebrate!
A little about me
My name is Carly and I am a full time working mamma with one lovely little lady. By day I work in brand marketing, and by evening/weekend/early morning I’m an online shopper, researcher, and blogger at The Mamma’s List. I don’t love the idea of publishing monthly income, but since I don’t really have income at this point I don’t have a lot of issues sharing my story!
My overall goal with sharing this post is to document where I am with my blog and to remind myself how far I’ve come each and every month, while holding myself accountable to hit BIG goals in the future. Other bloggers’ income reports have motivated me and are part of the reason I started blogging in the first place. They remind me that if someone out there is doing it, I should be able to as well. That being said, I see a TON of pins and posts about “how I made $6,000 in my sixth month of blogging,” or “how I made $1,500 my first month,” and I am definitely not in that camp. However, I have made progress since starting my blog, and I want to formally remind myself monthly of the goals I’m hitting, even if they haven’t yet translated into cash.
Also, everyone starts somewhere, and I haven’t found a ton of information on how people start, and how long it takes to really grow if you can only work sporadic hours on your blog throughout the week. As much as I wish I could be one of those “I made 6,000 my sixth month” stories, I think I can provide more value if I show how to increase and grow from the ground up. Like literally zero.
If you aren’t interested in blogging for profit (or don’t care how I made $1) feel free to stop reading now and we’ll chat again next week 🙂
This post probably contains affiliate links. That means if you buy something using one of my links I may receive a small commission – at no additional cost to you! How cool is that? It’s kind of boring, but feel free to read my full disclosure if you want more info.
Where I am on my journey
So, first things first. I launched this blog on a whim and didn’t even mean to publish my first ‘welcome’ post in June, 2017. I knew literally zero about blogging and had just signed up for Abby’s 10 day free course on how to set up your blog. More on that course below. Since I hadn’t even set up my theme or signed up for social networks, I just put up a maintenance plugin so no one would stumble upon my site that was basically blank. I started writing some posts and actually published a few in July, so I count that as my first month of blogging. According to that timeline, November was my fifth month blogging and the first time I made $1. Amazon doesn’t pay out for that low amount, but with any luck I’ll get something by next month!
I knew that I’d need to invest in my blogging education and learning if I wanted to actually do this, so my investment in this blog is still net negative due to startup costs, as well as the courses I’ve purchased so far. I plan to enroll in the Elite Blog Academy when it opens again in February, so I’m going to be REALLY in the hole by then. All the reviews of the course I’ve seen have been positive, and since there is a money back guarantee I figured I don’t have a ton to lose other than more time. I’m already so many hours of work into this thing I feel like I have to make it work at this point. I’ve outlined a list of all my expenses and “income” to date so you guys can see what I mean by investing in the blog:
*I subtracted my $1.98 in affiliate earnings from the total investment, which is why it shows up as a negative in the table.
Classes/Tools/Strategies I’ve used so far
After setting up the blog, I didn’t even publish a post on Facebook until late August, and didn’t join or really start pinning on Pinterest until October. My Facebook group still only includes my family, friends, and acquaintances as I’ve never promoted it in any of the groups I’m using to drive traffic. I was a little late to the game, but I purchased the Genius Bloggers Toolkit for 2017 on 10/1 which is when my learning really began. This bundled toolkit is only available once a year and I was able to get over $5,000 in learning materials for $97. It felt like a steal since I have SO MUCH TO LEARN!
Here are the courses I’ve taken from the bundle so far, with some comments on their effectiveness as well as links to purchase individually outside the bundle. In no particular order…
How to start a blog:
- 10 Day Blogging Quickstart by Abby @ Justagirlandherblog (FREE!)
- Blog by Number by Suzi @ Start a Mom Blog
I launched this blog with Abby’s 10 day quick start. It is a 10 day email course that is jam packed with information on how to get set up. She is super detailed and helpful at walking you through the process. I do wish I’d taken some time to do additional brainstorming or learn about the technical side of blogging before I just jumped in, but that’s not the course’s fault! If you’re looking for a free resource to get started, this is it. She provides so much information I really couldn’t believe it was free.
Blog by Number is an amazing resource with detailed videos that show you EXACTLY what you need to do to create your blog, and it teaches you the basics of driving traffic. It essentially covers the information shared in the Group Board Master course I also took (and liked) below. If you haven’t yet set up your blog, it is a great investment and one-stop-shop to get you going. I’d still recommend doing some technical research before starting just so you make solid decisions when you get set up. For instance, Abby uses the Genesis Framework and child themes, which I jumped right into. Suzi uses Divi and Elegant Themes, which are also well liked in the blogging world. I didn’t even know that Divi was an option when I started my blog and just jumped in with Genesis. It hasn’t been a bad choice, but is one I wish I’d at least known a little more about.
Pinterest and Driving Traffic:
- Pinteresting Strategies by Carly @ Mommy on Purpose
- How to Master Tailwind by Kate @ Simple Pin Media
- Group Board Master by Caroline Vencil at CarolineVencil.com
- Blog Traffic Bootcamp by Lena @ What Mommy Does
I’ll be totally honest and say that I need to go back and re-read Pinteresting Strategies(PS), and I haven’t fully implemented all the ideas from Blog Traffic Bootcamp (BTB). PS recommends a manual pinning process that I wasn’t able to get behind this month. It takes me over two hours to schedule Tailwind, and I can’t really fathom getting into Pinterest and pinning manually every single day. I feel like I might use my entire blogging time in one social platform. However, I’ve read the amazing reviews, so I’m definitely going to go back and check it out again.
BTB was a good course, but since I haven’t really implemented a lot of the information I need to withhold judgement on that one right now as well.
I did really like both the How to Master Tailwind and Group Board Master classes. Obviously if I’d had any experience with Pinterest or group boards these classes may have been too basic, but as it stood, I watched the videos multiple times to make sure I was following all the steps! It was definitely helpful to have everything spelled out so I could just replicate the process.
And for the results…
As I mentioned, I hadn’t put one post on Facebook until August or pinned anything to Pinterest until October, so all traffic before then was me hoping someone would stumble upon my blog in the blogosphere and want to read it. That said, I’m still going to post my trends starting in July for reference.
Here’s a quick snapshot of my growth month over month across a few key metrics:
Although my pageviews are still very low, and social stats aren’t much to speak of, I’m moving in the right direction and trying to stay positive. I’m going to keep working to optimize my content and create new posts as well as push to complete more courses from the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit.
I’m assuming most traffic spikes are associated with when I post or promote, but I haven’t been able to discern if it is from someone else pinning one of my pins, or if they get more views when they’ve been scheduled on a group board.
- My biggest win here was my Pinterest follower increase, most of which happened in TWO DAYS on 11/29 and 11/30. As I mentioned I joined a bunch of Facebook groups in the beginning of the month looking to drive traffic and gain some knowledge. I found a follow thread on Bloggers Unite on Pinterest and got 36 followers in less than one week, +16 from one follow thread. Now, I have no idea if all these people will unfollow me next week, but I’m taking it as a big win for now!
Biggest pain points
So far, my biggest challenge has been driving traffic to my blog, driven by the fact that I haven’t gotten accepted to many Pinterest group boards. I’ve applied to over 50 and have been accepted to only five. But I won’t take no for an answer! My strategy to rectify this has been threefold:
- I joined Facebook groups and use the Facebook group traffic threads to gain additional followers
- I’ve continued scheduling pins via Tailwind so I can organically pick up people who like what I’m sharing
- I posted in Facebook groups for advice and got a few additional board list to comb through and send requests
I’ve also not completely figured out how to appropriately schedule on tailwind and want to ensure I don’t spam the groups I am accepted to, so I’ve been doing a little more manual follow up than I’d like.
Another key issue has been around my general lack of knowledge and tech savviness that makes things take 45x longer than I think they should. I’ve always been a quick learner and was blessed with an ability to study and memorize things during my schooling years. If I studied and put in the work, I usually got good results. However, I haven’t had to teach myself an entirely new skill in a long time, and it’s HARD. I am easily frustrated by how long small tasks take when I’m in the learning phase. I.e. when an experienced blogger says “20 minutes to create images” and it takes me an hour, I feel unproductive and slow. I’m working through it, but it’s something I have to cut myself slack on daily. I can’t wait until I’m proficient at all these tasks and am no longer in the learning curve!
My biggest win this month was actually making money for the first time. While most people wouldn’t celebrate a month of work for $2, I’m happy because I’ve proven that it IS possible to make money at this, and if I optimize my strategies and keep plugging away, I too can turn my blog into a successful business.
And since I’m a believer of celebrating wins big and small, here is a list of the other milestones I achieved this month:
- Joined Facebook groups and started promoting posts/social accounts
- Got accepted to Google AdSense and added Adsense Code
- Completed Suzi’s Blog by Number training
- Created a backup test site and tested my blog backup file to ensure it was working
- Sent two e-newsletters to my email list
- Created and promoted three new posts (and compiled this report!)
- Completed Blog Traffic Bootcamp training
- Created a weekly schedule and system for the blog, and started outlining my content calendar for 1H 2018
Goals for December
Now for the hard part… what do I want to accomplish next month, besides everything?
My initial goal was to make $500 this year, before I had any clue about how to do this and how challenging it would be. Although it looks like I’m not going to hit that one, I do think I can safely make it a goal to earn money again next month. Hey, $1 is a dollar I didn’t have before!
Here are some of my goals for December:
- Make money again next month
- Grow Pinterest followers to +150
- Grow Email subscriber list +10
- Finalize content calendar for 1H 2018 and fill out a blog planner
- Gain acceptance to 5-10 new group Pinterest boards
- Grow pageviews +50%
If you’ve stuck with me through this entire post, I’m SUPER impressed. If you have any words of advice or encouragement feel free to leave them in the comments below! To all my fellow bloggers struggling, keep fighting, keep optimizing, and share your story with me so I can commiserate 🙂
P.S. For more information on how the blog is doing, or to be updated on all the other parenting and goal setting resources from the Mamma’s List, sign up by clicking below!