Here it is, you guys: my first ever blog growth and income report. What share this? I’m going to admit something to you. I’ve been blogging since my early college days, which is admittedly a very long time. But despite the fact that I’ve been put myself out on the internet for over a decade, I hadn’t actually considered that I could make some sort of sustainable living from the endeavor. Crazy, right? Well, this time around, the game has changed. While this blog is only 3 months old, I have absolute confidence that Home Beautifully and I will go a long, long way. The idea that I could create a life that I’ve always wanted? One with independence, personal drive, and enthusiasm on my own terms? Wow. What a powerful idea.
With this in mind, I’m excited to feature monthly blog growth and income reports to share with you all not only how I’m doing on this journey, but also to provide insights for anyone else who may be considering taking up blogging as a profitable hobby, side hustle, or even full time gig. Ultimately, what’s measured gets done. So I want to be totally transparent with my own analytics, successes, and challenges. Want to learn more about how this blog is growing? Curious if I’m made some money so far? (Hint: I have!) Keep on reading to dive into January 2017’s blog growth and income report.
Blog Traffic: How Many People Read Home Beautifully?
You guys, I hit a MAJOR milestone in my third month of blogging. This month, Home Beautifully’s had 1500 unique active users. When I first began, the idea of hitting this benchmark felt far out of reach. (We’ll talk about how I actively drove traffic to my site in a few sections.)
January 2017 Google Analytics Blog Growth Snapshot
Lets take a peek at the Google Analytics snapshot to show Home Beautifully’s unique users throughout this month:
See that big jump about 2/3 of the way through the month? Yup. That was the launch of my free 86 page ebook, Instagram Bliss! I’m focusing on tracking unique, active users for the next several months to really showcase growth in my audience and readership. This graph’s showing the rolling aggregate of my active users over the month of January. Throughout this month, 1500 unique visitors popped over to the blog, which is HUGE.
Traffic Growth Over Time
How have the number of website visitors varied over time? You’ll see that when I launched, I had a huge spike. Why? An opt-in, of course! In November, I showcased my gorgeous fall printable collection, which readers and Instagram followers really loved. (They’re still available for grabs here, if you want!)
There was a pretty natural dip over the holidays and after my initial launch. Seeing this dip in January, I hustled to provide more value for my readers to drive traffic over the month of January. (We’ll talk about how a little further down!) Has it worked? ABSOLUTELY. Now my challenge is to maintain and sustain the momentum I’ve gained over the last few weeks. Onwards and upwards!
Home Beautifully Traffic Sources
By an overwhelming amount, social media drives the most traffic to my site. In fact, 67% of all my visitors come to Home Beautifully because of an Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest post. Of the remaining visitors, 24% come to my site directly, and the others come via email, referrals, or organic searches.
Social Media Traffic Sources
What social media channels are driving traffic to my site? This one’s a no-brainer for me. You guessed it: Instagram. I love my Instagram tribe. So much, in fact, that I wrote an 86 page free e-book about growing your Instagram accounts to 5000+. Here’s the thing: if you listen to some of the blogging gurus out there, they’ll tell you to focus on Pinterest, rather than Instagram as a traffic driver for your site. Obviously, my data tells me not to let go of Instagram any time soon. (And I won’t! I adore it!) But could I leverage Pinterest more fully? Absolutely. If you glance down below at my social media growth, you can see that I haven’t really paid too much attention to Pinterest as a growth strategy …and I should.
Increased Blog Traffic: What’s Worked Well?
So let’s break it down. Why the big jump this month? A few things:
First, I really focused on providing lots of awesome incentives for my readers. I have a whole page dedicated to freebies! This month, I launched my monthly printables collection, showcasing gorgeous winter printables, which were super popular with my readers. Also, the free 86 page Instagram e-book knocked it out of the park. Featuring these freebies on social media? HUGE DRIVER. Huge.
Second, I flipped my content development and marketing strategy so that I’m spending about 30% of my time developing awesome posts and projects and 70% of my time marketing them. This shift was a MAJOR change for me. Gone was the feeling that I needed to write, write, write everyday. What’s the point of generating awesome content if no one is reading it? Now I focus on marketing my content. In January, I developed a comprehensive social media marketing plan for my blog (let me know if you want to see it!). The data shows me that this approach is working fantastically.
Social Media Growth: How’re My Accounts Growing?
We’ve already talked about the importance of social media for driving blog traffic. With that in mind, growing my online footprint is key to my website’s success. How are my accounts doing? Some better than others! Let’s take a peek one by one, going from my more successful social media channels to my less successful:
Of all the social media platforms, I feel most comfy on Instagram. Why? Gosh, I feel like I could write a whole book about that. Oh wait, I did! (Grab that e-book here.) I’m happy to say that I hit 15K followers this month, landed 5 brand sponsorships through Instagram’s direct message service, and was asked to sponsor a giveaway. Don’t know what that means? It’s in the book!
My second most popular platform? Twitter! My Home Beautifully Twitter account drives 5% of the social media traffic to my site. Why do I like Twitter? For me, it’s a great way for me to build a network and showcase other bloggers’ cool projects quickly via RSS feeds. I try to tweet around 18 times a day, although many days I only tweet about 12 or so. To be fair, my Twitter only drives a very small percentage of traffic to my site. But want to know a secret? I spend about 20 minutes on Twitter per week. Not a bad pay off! Let me know if you want to know more about my twitter strategy!
While I have fewer followers on my Home Beautifully Facebook page than I do on Pinterest, I’m ranking Facebook third on my list since it drives more traffic. I’ll admit that I haven’t paid too much attention to Facebook until very recently. In fact, it’s only since I created my comprehensive social media calendar that I started posting to Facebook every day. Facebook drives 15% of the social media traffic to my site, so there’s a great opportunity there to increase my marketing.
It’s pretty obvious I told my friends and family about my Facebook page in November. I haven’t yet done any paid ads on Facebook and don’t know if I will yet in February. I’m active on several Facebook groups, which have been instrumental not only towards driving traffic, but also for building my intellectual capacity. These groups provide an opportunity for me to share my blog content and ultimately drive interested traffic to my site. My fave group? Hands down Meylissa Griffin’s Biz BFFs. Definitely check it out if you’re interested in taking your blog or social media game to the next level.
You guys. Oy. My Pinterest game needs work. Seriously. I love Pinterest as a search engine. I use it all the time. I love the boards I’ve created and enjoyed designing pretty pins. But as a traffic source for my blog? It’s not going all that well. I need to buckle down, read some resources, skill up, and get going. I’m starting the Elite Blogging Academy in February and have heard amazing things about the Pinterest secrets that will be shared. Fingers crossed. I need some secrets!
Now to be fair, I have 647 followers on Pinterest. But, Pinterest drives only 10% of my social media traffic to my site. I’ll keep you posted on how my Pinterest growth goes because I’ll definitely be making Pinterest strategy a major focus area moving forward.
Just like my blog traffic, Home Beautifully’s email subscribers has growth phenomenally during this past month. Right now, there are 528 people signed up to receive Home Beautifully’s emails. (That number makes me so joyful, by the way! THANK YOU for welcoming me into your inbox!)
I use (and love, love, love!) MailerLite as my email marketing system for oh-so-many reasons. I’ll dedicate a whole post to explaining why I think MailerLite is the best for newbie business owners, but for now I’ll share the following highlights. (Also I’m using affiliate links here since I believe so strongly in the recommendations)
MailerLite Benefits: Why I Love It!
They offer gorgeous landing pages, like this one, really easy to customize email templates, and super customizable sign up forms, like this:
Their customer service reps are the nicest people in the whole world. And they never treat me like I’m an idiot even when I use words like “button thingie on the pop up thingie” via chat. Seriously.
I haven’t paid a dime. Not a penny! It’s free for the first 1,000 email subscribers. And after that? Super affordable! I think it’s $10 a month until I reach 2500 subscribers.
My Future Email List Building Strategy
For building my list, I’ll continue to offer amazing opt-in incentives, like ebooks and free printables. I love providing lots of extra special bonuses exclusively for my email buddies. It makes me feel like I have a tribe who loves freebies, and I enjoy sending them along!
I haven’t been exclusively focusing on building my email list so there’s a lot of awesome opportunity for me to grow and nurture my list more purposefully. Add that to my to-do for the next few months!
Blog Income and Sponsorships
This might be the section of my growth report that makes me the giddiest! I’m so so proud to say that in this past month, I landed my first brand sponsorships and began making an income on my blog. Now here’s the thing: I didn’t make a ton of money. On my blog this month, I only made $1.93. BUT, I’ve never been more proud of 193 pennies in my entire life. Why? I made it on my own terms, with my fingertips, a keyboard, and a whole lot of moxie. So let’s take a look at the income and sponsorships in more detail.
Throughout my posts, I’ve begun using affiliate links to products I love and would proudly recommend. After working with a business coach, I’ve begun including “Shop this Post” sections at the bottom of my post, like I did here, to more directly allow people to research the products I’m using. Now, for my readers, this comes at absolutely no charge to you. I receive a small commission if someone clicks from my site to do a little more product research and decides to buy something. Because of my “Shop this Post” section, I can officially buy a small coffee at Starbucks! Huzzah! (And that business coaching? Nope, I didn’t pay for it! Want to know how? Keep reading below about where I’ve invested.)
Over this past month, I have successfully landed eleven (eleven!!) brand partnerships. Not only have I been incredible proactive reaching out to brands, but also, public relations managers and small business owners have begun contacting me directly for collaborations. As always, I would (of course) only work with brands I know and love to stay authentic to my values. Working with brands has been an awesome way to expand my content! What do I mean? Check out this awesome post where I was able to gorgeously style my farmhouse bench by working with an incredible home decor company! I’ve also been hard at work on other woodworking and home decor projects using tools and materials provided to me gratis. My relationship with my postman has become much closer!
Where Have I Invested?
Up until recently, I haven’t invested very much into my blog (other than lots and lots and lots of time.) That said, I’ve negotiated my way into thousands of dollars worth of services, like a branding design package and business coaching. Want to know about that? Let me know in the comments below!
I paid for my hosting fees through BlueHost, using their cheapest option, which was around $3 per month for 3 years. This month, I decided to do the 30 day free trail of Canva for Work and will definitely pay the $13 per month moving forward. If you’re not familiar with Canva, be sure to check it out! They’re free version is awesome (and the paid version even better)
Also, for my combo birthday and Christmas present, my husband paid for my tuition to the Elite Blogging Academy, which was a major investment for us. We paid $499, which was a special price for her waiting list members. I was so so nervous to spend so much money on my blog without every having made a profit. I did a ton of research and vetted everything with my husband before deciding to move forward. I wanted to make sure that he thought the investment was sound as well. We b0th read and watched lots of testimonials and decided to bite the bullet. The course is launching very soon so I can’t wait to report back to you guys about my journey!
Thanks so much for continuing to support this journey. If you’re a blogger, brand builder, or small business owner and want to know more, drop a comment below or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you!
As always, all my love, from my house to yours,