November 2016 Income: When Is It Time to Upgrade?
Welcome to my once a month income report for bloggers and freelancers. If you’re new here and want to catch up on my progress, feel free to browse my previous income reports here. If you're looking for help on how to start your blog, or how to increase your web traffic, check out my resources page!
Oh man. Another month down in my crazy blogging career!
Before we dive right into this month's income report, can I just say that I CAN'T BELIEVE CHRISTMAS IS LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY?
What the heck?
Where has the time gone?
This past weekend I found myself asking that very question repeatedly as I toiled away on random projects that needed wrapping up before I prepare to take a 10 day break during the holidays. That alone is scary but I've discovered I've been burning out a bit and really need to get away from the computer and recharge and get back to all the things that really bring me joy in blogging, like the recipe developing and photography.
Too much of my time lately has been spent on admin, social media and the like so it's about time I take some much needed downtime to connect with family and friends and clear some headspace in preparation for the New Year!
As I write November's income report, I'm not only reflecting on the past year in my blogging journey but I'm also preparing for 2017 as a whole. This is the first whole year where I will be doing nothing but work on my blog and some other projects that are closely related to it.
Every other year of my life has been spent in school full time, then struggling to balance my studies with part time work and my blog. I was never able to dedicate my whole energy to The Girl on Bloor until this past July when my Master's thesis was FINALLY accepted, so it's been a crazy few months of learning everything about this industry at a light speed pace.
I'm so grateful I have the proper time to dedicate now, but it's been hard to manage my time in a professional capacity and achieve everything I want to. I am my own harshest critic and never seem to be satisfied, especially when it comes to improving on what I'm already doing. The life of a business owner, right?
But, as usual, before we get dive too far into my 2017 goals, we have to talk income!
Here’s a breakdown of my income from this month:
- $3315 sponsored blog, social media and video posts
- $452 advertising (Mediavine)
- $80 freelance photography work
Here’s a breakdown of my expenses from this month:
- $30 Adobe Creative Cloud (I have the student discount for Lightroom, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Premiere Pro)
- $400 Teachable plan and marketing courses bundle
- $9.95 Crowdfire social media app (so I can continue to grow my social media and unfollow those who unfollow me)
This month, I made a big decision to stop seeking sponsored opportunities from blogger networks and memberships such as Food Bloggers of Canada and Social Fabric so I could focus more on pitching brands independently. I am so grateful for the opportunities I had through them, but I feel like there is just so much competition when you are applying for opportunities that so many other bloggers have access to, and the pay is much lower than I can get by reaching out to brands independently.
I also want to be careful that I don't end up crowding my site with too many sponsored posts, so I feel as though I need to start charging more in order to free up a bit more space on my blog and still get the income I need to support myself. A brand I'm working with should feel that they have one of a few coveted spots available on my blog, not that they are slotted in among a billion other brands, some of whom may be their competitors. Definitely not how I want our working relationship to go – and I want to be able to devote the proper time and energy into promoting everything I publish too.
Sure, it's more work on my part, but the good news is that I get to tailor my media kit to fit whatever brand I'm pitching and set the price accordingly. Because I'm working on this blog full time and have many expenses/investments I need to continuously make, I need to make sure the money I'm making is worth my time.
This is especially important as I am working to sell more video services, and since video often takes up to 8 hours to produce, edit and publish from start to finish, I HAVE to charge the big bucks. Further, it's really not fair to another brand I work with that I charge them a higher rate than one I would accept through a blogger network.
SO, I have decided to just stop applying for them altogether and focus more on pitches/proposals.
Since setting these standards for myself, this month has been my highest income to date, and the best part is that it isn't even accounting for the money I will be paid in US dollars which will translate to higher Canadian dollars – I have been working more with US brands since the majority of my web traffic is US, and I am loving the exchange. This month alone it's looking like I will make close to $800 more than the income I have listed above because of it.
Because I'm a Canadian blogger and the blogging industry is even newer here than in the States, I've found that most brands in Canada are unwilling to pay above a certain dollar figure for a post because they just don't have the budgets yet and the industry is so new.
I've realized coming into the New Year that not only do I have to manage my time wisely (I will probably write a little bit more about time management in December's income report), I also have to set realistic goals that are in line with my blog over the long term. While charging more helps me prioritize better, I have so many visions for the blog for 2017 and so many pieces of equipment and tools I want to upgrade, and it's been hard having to reel myself in from just going out and buying everything.
For instance, I REALLY want to buy a full frame Canon 6D camera in 2017 and pay for a site redesign to set myself apart in the most professional way possible and attract even more eyes to my work. Sometimes I feel that there are so many limitations in my work flow and it gets frustrating as I feel an urgency to get better faster. I know certain skills can't be rushed like styling and photography, but I just really feel like I have outgrown my entry level Canon Rebel DSLR and am ready for a better photography set up! Of course, these are going to be educated business decisions I need to make in the New Year. Hopefully the new camera will come mid-spring or summer.
I am also going to be creating a blogger crash course guide to help other bloggers start their blogs off on the right foot and incorporate all the things I wish I knew about blogging from the start, from good SEO to blogger-brand relationships, building better content and more. That will be an exciting new passive income stream that I hope to talk about more in next month's income report and may just help me buy that camera and the site design at the same time. 😉
Now let's talk web traffic!
Here’s a breakdown of my traffic from this month:
I talked about Pinterest plateauing last month, but now it looks like my Google traffic is starting to do the same thing 🙁 Organic search traffic is a funny thing. My theory now after analyzing some traffic spikes is that it had gone up significantly in the fall because I had a great inventory of fall recipes. My top performing posts were my Bibimbap recipe (which is the top year round), along with my Kale Buddha Bowls, Butternut Squash Ravioli, Butternut Squash and Lentil Dahl, and Chili Cheese Fries.
Traffic for these recipes has gone down as the squash and kale trends are quieting down for Christmas, so all I can really do is work to build stronger editorial calendars for the future to anticipate where the traffic will go each month. To be fair, I have little to no Christmas/holiday recipes besides my Peppermint Mochas and Candy Cane Mimosas so my organic search traffic has fallen a bit this month.
Direct traffic is holding steady, which is good news, and my Pinterest traffic has started to go up in December for whatever reason. I have never been able to figure Pinterest out. It has definitely increased 10x since last February when I started using Tailwind and its Tribes feature, but I am still waiting on getting that viral pin to help boost my traffic.
All you can really do in these situations is just try and research your competition, take the best photo, and create recipes that you have a feeling people are searching for and in high volumes. It's all a guessing game!
This is honestly why I need a little breather for the holidays coming up – I just need to step away from the stats and take time to get back to what I really love, and that is the recipe creation. Now let's talk about some of my upcoming goals and what I accomplished this month.
What I Accomplished in November:
- Continued to build strong editorial calendars by season with recipes that have been well-researched for SEO
- Changed ad networks to Mediavine (and BOY has it ever increased my ad revenue!!!)
- Continued to create weekly recipe videos
- Bought a Teachable plan so I can start making more money off passive income; they had a Black Friday deal where they also threw in a bunch of marketing e-courses to learn how to build an email list and a profitable course, sales funnels, etc.
- Booked OVER my goal in paid jobs for December
- Started making a list of equipment I need to upgrade in 2017 and developed a savings strategy
- Organized my food styling props drawer to help me get better in my styling and photography
My Goals for December:
- Continue to chip away at my Teachable courses
- Start to develop my blogger crash course for 2017 as a passive income stream
- Collect market research to better understand what kind of recipes my audience wants; could also use this kind of info for e-books and e-courses I want to put out in the future
- Continue to increase my web traffic by creating more Google-friendly recipes
- Read more inspirational books for entrepreneurs
- Start pitching my Master's thesis to magazines! (unrelated to the blog I know, but I could probably fetch $3000-4000 if it gets published in a big magazine)
And there we are, the end of Income Report #9. Thanks so much for reading! I can't believe next month will round out to TEN WHOLE INCOME REPORTS. Any topics you would like me to discuss next month?
And finally, is there anything you believe I missed this month? If you have questions or comments I would LOVE to hear from you in the comment section and talk all things blogging!
*There are no direct affiliate links in this post, but there may be some located in other pages I have linked to in this post