Wait, don’t go! You’re on the right blog! If you haven’t been by the blog in a few days, things may be looking a little different around here. I haven’t changed the look of the site since late 2013, so it was long overdue! We are still tweaking a bunch of little things behind the scenes (hence the silence around here this week), but we will be sure to share more details about the redesign when it’s a little closer to being finalized.
Our income report is a little earlier than usual this month, but Donnie was super quick about crunching the January numbers, so we thought we’d spill the beans! If you’re new around here, you’re probably wondering, “Why are they doing an income report on a home decor blog?!” Well, we have always learned so much and have been incredibly motivated by other bloggers who have been willing to be transparent with their businesses and share what’s working for them and what’s not, so we thought we would “pay it forward,” so to speak, and share what we’re learning (and what we’re making) in case other bloggers or bloggers-to-be find it helpful as well.
When we started these reports almost two years ago, we weren’t making much at all, and now we’re able to support our family on what we earn from our blog; if we can play even a tiny role in helping other families do that, we’ll chalk it up as a success!
Here’s how January shaped up…
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
- Framework eBook and course – $10,668 –> Download our product launch plan
- Bluehost – $9,025 –> How to Start a Blog
- Simplify eBook – $5,050
- 2016 Intentional Life Planner – $2,240
- AdThrive – $1,891
- Media Temple – $1,766
- Paperless Home eBook – $1,310
- Amazon Associates – $664
- ConvertKit – $626
- Genesis Framework – $514
- Sponsorships – $300
- Restored 316 – $246
- Fizzle.co – $146
- Food Photography School – $90
- Misc. Affiliate Income – $55
- PicMonkey – $45
- Evernote Essentials – $26
Total Income: $34,662
- Framework Affiliate Payouts – $1,465
- Assistant – $728
- Gumroad Transaction Fees – $587
- ConvertKit – $379 –> We We Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit
- Design Work – $350
- Creative Market – $289
- PayPal Transaction Fees – $210
- Stripe Transaction Fees – $191
- Optin Monster – $99
- Training – $97
- Microsoft Office – $75
- Brunch Pro Theme – $75
- Instapage – $69
- Synthesis Hosting – $67
- AutopilotHQ – $65
- Adobe Creative Cloud – $53
- Zapier – $51
- Meet Edgar – $49
- Intercom.io – $49
- Wistia – $25
- CloudFlare – $25
- PO Box – $25
- Asana – $25
- SendOwl – $24
- Board Booster – $20
- BackBlaze – $15
- Google Apps – $10
- Backupify – $3
- Fizzle.co – $0 (usually $35)
January 2016 Net Profit: $29,542
January 2016 Review
January brought the relaunch of our eBook Simplify: 35+ Printables to Help You Organize Your Life, which we originally introduced in January 2015. When we were planning for the relaunch, I thought it would be a quick and simple process; however, along with a new design and several new printables, we also added a junior version of all of the printables this year, which can be printed on half sheets, so it ended up being double the work! We had received several requests for smaller sized printables, though, so I thought it was important to make sure we included them.
The longer I blog, the more I realize that my #1 job is not just to share pictures of my house or my projects, but it is truly to serve the readers and help meet the needs that they have. Having reader-driven content not only helps people who visit the blog, but it has helped me to discover some strengths and passions I hadn’t realized I had before. If you are a blogger– no matter what stage of the game you’re in– I encourage you to listen to your readers and give them what they’re asking for! It really is a win-win for both of you– they end up with content that is helpful for them, and you end up with a blog filled with posts that will really be useful for others, which will keep them coming back for more!
What I’m thinking about in the new year…
As the new year rolls around, it always seems to get us thinking about new projects, ideas, and strategies to try. Here are just a few things that have been on my mind at the start of 2016:
- Launching a dedicated online business blog. [Coming soon!] More than half of our income each month is from blogging-related product sales and affiliate income, yet we don’t often blog about blogging. We have some interesting blogging-related posts buried on this site, but we almost try to hide them (besides these income reports) since most people come to the blog for organization and decorating posts. Abby and I have lots to share in the area of blogging, and it’s fun to write business related posts. We may or may not already have twenty-ish business related posts written and ready to go– stay tuned for more details!
- Customer Journeys. As we enter the second year of doing this blogging thing full time together, Abby and I are starting to think about customer journeys. When someone brand new visits the blog, what’s the first thing we want people to see? After they see that thing, what do we want to happen? What product should we offer to visitors first? In 2016 I’ll be mapping out various customer journeys and then taking those plans and working them into the blog design.
- Course/Product improvement. 2016 will be a time to launch new courses and re-vamp existing courses. In addition to providing great content, we want to provide students with a great learning experience. There’s a difference between providing information and teaching.
Three Legs of Blog Income
- Affiliate Income – $13,503
- Ad Revenue – $1,891
- Product Sales –$19,268
January was our highest product sale month ever as well as our highest affiliate income month ever. The increased traffic certainly helped existing product sales, but we also re-launched Simplify. As far as affiliate income goes, that’s just a byproduct of the increased traffic working its way through our site and clicking affiliate links, as well as the increased number of email subscribers working their way through our email courses.
Top Posts of January 2016
- Printable Student Binder
- The Konmari Method: Organizing Clothes
- How to Set Goals that You’ll Actually Accomplish
- 5 Ways to Maximize Space in a Shared Kids’ Room
- 5 Reasons You’re Failing at Organization
January was our best month ever in terms if traffic — it wasn’t even close! Previously we had never even cracked 600,000 pageviews, so to go over 700,000 pageviews in Google Analytics was a huge leap from what we’re used to.
Predictably, for the past few years we’ve seen huge spikes in our January traffic due to our organizing, productivity, and goal setting posts. Here you can see our annual “January jump” from the past few years…
Notice January 2014, 2015, and January 2016. It seems like every year the blog takes a major step forward in January. Nearly all of the increased traffic is social, and nearly all the social traffic is from Pinterest. I’m guessing that right around the new year people start searching for and pinning organization-related posts. At the same time Pinterest may be promoting organizing and productivity type posts in their smart feed. It’s the perfect storm for us, and we’ll take it!
As much as we like the increased traffic, we know it won’t last. You can see that last January we had an abnormally good month traffic wise, but then in February things calmed down a bit, and it would be another 12 months until we passed January 2015. The good news is that after these surges in January, things never fall to the previous lows. The “normal” months become a little better.
The nice thing about this January is that we were expecting the surge in traffic. We made sure our systems, funnels, forms, affiliate links, and products were all optimized and ready to go. It’s one thing to get lots of traffic, and it’s another thing entirely to convert that traffic in to long-term readers and maybe even customers.
Email Subscriber Statistics
- 7,513 Net New Subscribers in ConvertKit
- 56,135 Total Subscribers
In December we created a lot of dedicated landing pages with ConvertKit. These pages definitely paid off in January! Once people click over to the landing page, these things convert insanely well! To compare, our pop-ups convert between 2%-5% while our landing pages convert at 10x to 20x that rate. Here’s an example of the stats for one of our simple ConvertKit landing pages:
This budget binder landing page is converting at nearly 70%, and this single page added thousands of new subscribers in January alone. You can see that there is nothing fancy about the landing page. It’s very plain and took less than 10 minutes to create with ConvertKit. But once the landing page is created, it does take some effort to go back through well-performing posts and insert relevant links to the landing page.
It’s fun to predict “online business” trends. I started using ConvertKit last March when no one was using the software. Fast forward 10 months and ConvertKit now seems to be one of the most popular email marketing solutions for bloggers. After using ConvertKit for the first time I remember saying to Abby… “This is going to be huge… just wait!”
Let me make another prediction when it comes to email marketing… Pop-up forms, in-line forms, slide-in forms, and just about all other email signup forms will convert less and less. People are becoming blind to forms. It’s like ads: they see them, but they just tune them out.
In 2016 I think the winning formula for email list building will be dedicated landing pages– landing pages with an absolutely irresistible offer and compelling copy. If I was starting over in 2016, I would think of and create 2 or 3 amazing opt-in in offers, create dedicated landing pages, and then drive visitors to the landing pages with natural links inside blog posts and maybe a sidebar image or two. That’s it.
RPM is a metric to track revenue per thousand pageviews. This is a measure of the overall effectiveness of a blog and is a handy benchmark for comparing blogs even if they have vastly different traffic numbers. I first learned about this metric from Bjork of Pinch of Yum.
January 2016 RPM: $49.37
During months like January I’m glad I track RPM. It was a great month… but relative to our traffic numbers it was fairly standard.
So to recap…
Gross Income: $34,662
Net Income: $29,542
Well, that wraps up another month! It’s crazy to think that when we first started doing these income reports, some of them didn’t even hit four figures, and now, less than two years later, they have certainly escalated.
Donnie and I are both totally normal people. We knew nothing about blogging when I started Just a Girl and Her Blog 3 year ago. Neither of us have business or marketing degrees. (His is in political science and mine is in English.) Yes, we’ve worked harder at this whole blogging thing than probably just about anything we’ve ever worked at in our lives. We’ve had to learn a lot. (And still have a lot more to learn!) But we are proof that it is totally possible to start from nothing and be able to create an online business that thrives. And if we can do it, so can you. Go get it!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.