Hey there! Bjork here, checking in for my monthly traffic and income report.
I focus on two things with these reports (1) Pinch of Yum’s income and expenses and (2) Pinch of Yum’s analytics and traffic. I also include any tips or tricks that we’re learning as we continue to find ways to grow the blog.
Usually these tips and tricks are pretty factual, like how to block certain ads in AdSense or advice on running a sale for your eBook. This type of information is important to understand and apply to your blog. That being said, you could have all of the factual information in the world but still continue to struggle if you don’t have the right mindset. So, at the end of this post, I’ll be sharing 10 important mindsets that Lindsay and I have developed as we’ve grown Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro over the past few years.
But first, the numbers.
- Tasty Food Photography – $7,108.50
- Bluehost – $3,835
- 5DayDeal Photography Bundle – $2,521.90
- Google AdSense – $2,429.15
- BlogHer – $2,398.14
- Ziplist – $1,050.48
- Lijit – Federated Media – $997.35
- Swoop (BlogHer) – $939.52
- The Creamy Cauliflower Sauce eCookbook – $855.00
- Genesis Theme – $761.46
- Elegant Themes – $320
- Recipe Development – $200
- MediaTemple – $80.00
- Thesis Theme – $28.71
Total Income:: $23,525.21
- eBook Affiliates – $2,106.00
- Media Temple (Hosting) – $750.00
- Web Development – $750.00
- Amazon S3 and Cloudfront – $458.23
- PayPal Transaction Percentage – $454.82
- Food Expenses- $394.11
- Support Staff – $368.96
- Media Temple Server Optimization – $158
- Food Props/Storage – $102.45
- Adobe Creative Cloud – $53.55
- PayPal Website Payments Pro – $30.00
- ViralTag – $28.00
- QuickBooks – $26.95
- Treehouse – $25.00
- Time Doctor – $19.98
- Misc. Expenses – $15.72
- VaultPress – $15.00
- E-Junkie – $15.00
- Shipping Costs – $9.48
- Rafflecopter – $7.99
Total Expenses: $5,789.24
Net Profit: $17,735.97
Thoughts on Income
As expected, January was a low month for display advertising (BlogHer, AdSense, Lijit) relative to the numbers we saw in October, November, and December. It’s never a good feeling to see numbers that are significantly less than what you’ve seen before, but it’s helpful to know that it’s an industry wide situation, not a situation that’s specific to one ad network. The low advertising numbers happen because companies generally spend less on advertising in the first quarter of the year than they do in the fourth quarter.
December vs. January
We know that January typically performs poorly in terms of advertising, so how come Pinch of Yum had its most profitable month ever despite lower than usual advertising numbers?
Two reasons: diversification and traffic
While our advertising numbers dipped in January our product and affiliate numbers jumped. This happened for a number of reasons, but one of them is the fact that January is the month of resolutions.
People are looking to learn new skills, develop new habits, and start new ventures. This was one of the reasons why January was one of the best months we’ve had for Food Blogger Pro, Tasty Food Photography, and affiliate pages like the how to start a food blog page.
We also offered a 5DayDeal Bundle to Pinch of Yum readers in January. This bundle did pretty well, bringing in $2,521.90. eBook and product bundles are really interesting. In this case, 5DayDeals offered hundreds of photography eBooks and products for a significantly discounted price. If one of your products is a part of the bundle then you can sell the bundle as a high percentage affiliate. Tasty Food Photography was a part of this bundle, so we were able to earn a 75% commission rate on affiliate sales.
One of the new habits that many people want to start in January is healthy eating, which resulted in a traffic boost to certain recipes like the Creamy Cauliflower Sauce and a few different salads.
As we all know, more traffic means more sales, so the general traffic bump definitely played a role in the increased income numbers in January.
I recently published a post on Food Blogger Pro called 7 Simple Advertising Terms Every Food Blogger Should Understand. The last term that I shared in that post is RPM. It’s a really interesting number to look at (if those exist), so I’d like to chat about it a bit with you here today.
RPM stands for page revenue per thousand impressions.
It’s usually used when looking at the numbers for a specific ad company (i.e. RPM for AdSense ads), but if used in a slightly different way it can give you a really helpful performance metric.
The equation looks like this:
(Total revenue / Number of page views) * 1000 = Page RPM
Here are the RPM numbers for Pinch of Yum over the past few months:
- November: $10.76
- December: $15.31
- January: $10.63
RPM is helpful because it removes the traffic factor and shows you how much income a site earns for every 1,000 page views. For instance, I can look at the examples above and know that if Pinch of Yum’s January RPM was as high as its December RPM then our revenue could have been as high as $33,875! I just used some old school algebra to drop those numbers in and figure it out.
RPM is an awesome equation that can be used to help predict feature earnings and compare and contrast your earnings from previous months.
Below are some screenshots from Google Analytics. You can click on these screenshots to view a larger image.
Top Ten Traffic Sources
Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic
Thoughts on Traffic
This was the first month we’ve ever had 1,000,000 unique visitors. Lindsay and I celebrated by watching the first season of The Office.
Quality or Quantity?
FBP member Jacob recently brought up a really good point on the community forum in a thread, “Quality is King. Does that make Quantity Queen?” I thought it was a good question to ponder after POY reached the 1,000,000 unique visitors milestone. Here’s what he said:
“I’m curious to know what you guys think about quantity when it comes to blogging. I’m not knocking quality, or saying people should write a post just for the sake of adding to their tally. But curious to know how important you see quantity of posts when it comes to a blog and income.”
Here was my response:
“A blog that is trying to ‘make it’ is actually really similar to a band that is trying to ‘make it.’ If a band is going to be a long-term success they have to write hundreds and hundreds of songs…day after day, week after week. If they continue to work hard, enjoy the process (this is key), and perform consistently then eventually one of their songs might become a hit. That hit will carry the band to a new level of success, but it won’t carry them forever. They’ll eventually need to write another hit, which will only happen if they continue to write songs…day after day, week after week.
The same is true with a blog. If you stick with it long enough you’ll probably have a few “hits.” Posts that are really, really popular. These hits will carry your blog to a new level of success.”
I bring that up because it was exactly the case for Pinch of Yum’s traffic in January. There were a handful of posts (or hits) that did really well and brought the traffic numbers to a new high. However, if it wasn’t for Lindsay posting consistently for the past 3-4 years then we never would have had those “hit” posts.
10 Important Mindsets for Growing a Blog
This is usually the time when I share a tip or trick that we learned in the past month while growing Pinch of Yum. These tips usually have to do with internet marketing, SEO, or WordPress. As I was reflecting on what I’d write about this month I realized that I’ve neglected to talk about one of the most important things that Lindsay and I have learned about: a good mindset. You can have all of the knowledge in the world but it won’t do you much good unless you have the right mindset.
The following ten tips are all mindsets that Lindsay and I have developed when it comes to starting and growing a blog. I hope that at least one of these tips helps you develop a new mindset that in turn helps you grow your blog or business.
1. If you see it you can be it.
Sure, there are extreme examples like all-star athletes and the tallest man in the world, but when referring to starting and growing a blog this statement is almost always true. The easiest way to do this is through reverse engineering. Trace back the steps of the person you admire to see how they got to where they are today. Use those steps to guide you moving forward.
2. 3 years, not 3 months
When growing a blog or business you need to have a 3 year mindset before you have a 3 month mindset. What feels like a roller coaster with a 3 month mindset is more like rolling hills when experienced from a 3 year mindset. Do you feel like your pictures are crummy and no one likes your recipes? 3 month mindset says you should throw in the towel. 3 year mindset says it’s just a phase and you’ll be back on track soon.
3. Who, not how many
This is a tip that I share in the “blogging tips” newsletter (shameless plug: you can sign up for this newsletter in the sidebar to the right). When you’re first starting it’s important that you think about who is visiting your blog, not how many people are visiting your blog. You never know when an influential person might stumble upon your blog and see your awesome content. You might only have three visitors a day, but you never know who those people are. For all you know it could be Rachel Ray, Guy Fieri, and Justin Timberlake (not sure how this one would help you, but it’s fun think about).
4. Most people like people
I think the internet gets a bad reputation sometimes. Especially if you hang out too much on YouTube, Reddit, and CNN. Do you ever read the comments on those sites? Yikes! It can seem like everyone on the internet is out to get each other, which makes it really scary to think about putting yourself (or recipes) out for the world to see. But the reality is that most people like people. Most people in the world are friendly, caring people. Are there crummy people out there? For sure. Will they occasionally find and comment on your blog? Yep. Will the vast majority of people appreciate the work you’re doing and support you in doing it? You bet. Don’t get too scared about the criticism and negative feedback that might happen. It’ll happen, but you’ll also get lots of support and encouragement.
5. Writing a good post takes time
If you’re interested in growing a blog as a business then you can think of writing a post as your work day. Lindsay shared that a post can sometimes take her over 10 hours. There were a few other successful food bloggers that shared the same thing. Don’t rush through your content. Good posts take time.
6. To get a friend you need to be a friend
Networking feels weird. Being a friend feels great. Lindsay and I have found it’s much easier to be friends with people then to “network” with people. It’s kind of the same thing, but the mindset is different. Friendships are established not by wanting something, but by giving something. If you’re looking to connect with other bloggers think first about how you can be a good friend.
7. Be a cross country star, not a tennis star
I love tennis. It was my favorite sport in high school. But I always had a ton of respect for the cross country guys and girls. Not only because of their crazy ability to run long distances, but because of the mindset they had in regards to their performance. With tennis, if you beat your opponent you consider the day a success. With cross country, if you beat your own previous record you consider the day a success. Your journey of growing your blog will be much more fulfilling if you aim to outperform yourself as opposed to other blogs.
8. Google and YouTube are awesome
Isaac Newton said: “If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Bjork Ostrom said: “If Pinch of Yum has grown better as a blog it’s because it is standing on the shoulders of Google and YouTube.” I use Google and YouTube all the time to get my questions answered. Chances are that someone in the world has had the same problem you have had. Chances are equally good that they’ve posted their solution for that problem on Google or YouTube. Lots of people use Google, but not as many people think to go to YouTube right away to search for answers.
9. You are not your numbers
You are still a creative, smart, talented, and worthy individual even if you don’t get a lot of traffic to your blog. It sounds fluffy, but someone reading this post today needs to hear that.
10. 1% ∞
Remember that little symbol from math? ∞ stands for infinity. 1% ∞ is a little phrase I use to remind myself to continually learn and improve. My goal is to get 1% better, every day, for infinity. Consistently creating content and posting it to your blog? That’s pretty awesome. Consistently creating content and posting it to your blog while trying to make it 1% better every day? That’s really awesome.
What did I miss? I’d love to hear other mindsets that you think are important for building a blog (or business) online.
Because of you
It’s really true. It’s because of you (yes, you!) that this thing we call Pinch of Yum can exist as it does today. Thanks so much for reading, tweeting, commenting or emailing. We love hearing from you!
We’re using a portion of this month’s income from Pinch of Yum to support a special project at the Children’s Shelter of Cebu, an orphanage where Lindsay and I lived and worked for a year. The special project we’re supporting this month is new rollerblades.
We know the rollerblades will be put to good use because the kids at the shelter are really active. Need proof? Lindsay and I shot this video last April when we went up to the shelter for a couple hours to play with the kids. It’s a great example of what an average Saturday afternoon looks like. Lindsay even makes a little cameo appearance at the end.
Thanks for reading, friends.