Holy Moly — what a couple of months it's been around here.

It seems it's been a struggle to maintain a high level of productivity for a while — dating back to the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 really. It knocked me off course, and I've had up months and down months since, really depending on how much the kids have been home. When they're in school? Great! When they're not? Not so great!

But despite all of that, the hard work I have been able to put in is really paying off. The past couple of months have seen record setting revenue almost every month.

And August 2021 was by far, hands down, my best month ever in online publishing.

Let's take a look.

First, if you don't know about me and my publishing my business, here's the scoop:

I run a couple of niche blogs or websites where I publish (what I think is) really good content. Most of it is discovered by people searching on Google. I monetize that traffic primarily with ads, so the more traffic I get, the more money I make – although I also recommend products here and there and earn affiliate commissions for those sales.

(The split on most of my sites is somewhere around 60% ads and 40% affiliate, with the ad share growing over time.)

I started my first site in April of 2017 and went full-time running it in February of 2018 – way too soon! It was making a little money but not much. I hustled my ass off and picked up freelance work for a while until I could scale the business up.

Here's where it all stands as of August 2021:

  • Site 1 - $10,526.36
  • Site 2 - $6,923.99
  • Amazon Int'l (all sites combined) - $411.82
  • Total - $17,862.17 (July $14,585.01, June $14,131.69, May $10,556.30)

That's three months straight of over $14k, and an all-time personal record — just shy of $18k.

Last August (2020) I made around $10,500. That was exciting at the time! I believe it was my first month over $10k. But I've done a lot of work since then, even if it doesn't always feel like it. But 18? That's a number I couldn't even dream of when I first got started in this business in 2017.

Note that not all of this is profit: So how much does it cost to run my blogging business every month? I won't bore you with a ton of line items, but basically (outside of what I pay myself):

  • Recurring expenses (tools, hosting, etc) $1000
  • Content (articles & video) $2500
  • Total - Around $3500

Here's a recap of what I'm working on, plus some wins and losses from this month.

Site 1 - Fitness & Health

Live articles - 474(+14)

Total pageviews- 264,136 (+4.04%)

Total revenue - $10,526.36

YouTube Views - August, 30,981, +44 subs

What happened & what I'm working on:

Two things are happening here, on this site (and really on both).

Traffic continues to hold really strong since seeing a big uptick this summer.

I came out the other end of a big Google update as a winner and that trend seems to be the new norm, at least for now. 264k pageviews is definitely the most this site has ever seen in a month, and it's performing extremely well on a per article basis — the "average" article on this site is bringing nearly 600 pageviews per month. And that's not taking into account the articles that are <6 months old.

The second thing is that ad RPMs through Mediavine are ABSURD right now. By mid-August, I was seeing $40+ RPMs (revenue per thousand visitors), which led to $300-350 per day in JUST ads. Not including any affiliate stuff.

So the basic idea is: If traffic can hold strong going into the insane Q4 ad season, this site could put up really crazy numbers.

As for YouTube: It's still experiencing a bit of a plateau but I'm getting a better idea of what works and what doesn't. However, I'm still not quite going "all in" on what works — still experimenting and finding different types of videos that I can do.

One day we'll monetize. One day!

Site 2 - Parenting & Family

Live articles - 296 (+15)

Total pageviews - 180,821 (+9.44%)

Total revenue - $6923.99

What happened & what I'm working on:

Same story as my fitness blog.

Traffic remains excellent on this site (the average article here brings in a whopping 643 pageviews, again not even discounting newer ones), and Mediavine is absolutely crushing it.

I attribute the big traffic growth this month to a couple of topics I've zoned in on the past few months that are performing really well, really quickly. It's nice to see that tangible impact right away, which gives me the confidence to keep investing in those article types.

I have 2 extremely good writers for this site and I'm really happy with what it's doing right now!

Odds & Ends

Now that I'm back to working "full-time" — by which I mean, about 2-3 hours per day — I really want to up my content production.

I had that big push to publish 50 posts in one month a little while back (I didn't quite get there but it was a cool challenge), but otherwise I seem to crap out around 30 or so.

That's not bad! I've obviously built a great business and seen excellent growth at that pace, or slower.

And I'd like to think I've been able to keep the quality pretty high while outsourcing. I think my content is better than most of the competitors I see popping up, even if it's got some flaws.

But I just did a round of tests with some editors I found through my network and ProBlogger. Looking for people who can do what I do to the content, honestly. Not just quick spelling and formatting checks, but hands-on fixes.

I found some great candidates and am moving forward with one of them who has specific experience and interest in fitness, in particular — so hopefully I can spend more time doing keyword research and sending out assignments, and less time editing!

I'm also trying out WriterAccess, a content writing service, for some simple posts. Content services kind of gross me out, like ordering "writing" from a factory? It feels weird. But I've heard good things and if I can create a good "Love List" of writers there who I know can do a good job, it'll save me a lot of back and forth.

Finally, I'm always trying to think about how to grow this business, how to do more, or even feeling bored by it. I sometimes forget to celebrate. So to take a minute and enjoy my nearly $18k month, I went out and bought the most expensive bottle I've wine I've ever personally purchased (about $60) and split it with the wife.

Was it worth it? Eh, not sure. But taking the time to be grateful and proud was!

Wrapping Up

So what's next?

Hopefully cracking the $20k mark.

For that to happen, I just need to stay the course and not suffer any big setbacks as we launch into Q4. The ad revenue should do the rest.

Of course, as always, that's not a given!

But here's hoping.

Before you go, check out my blogging tools page for everything I use to run my sites or my how to start a blog guide for my basic strategy.