January is a bit of a cruddy time for most bloggers and publishers.

In Q4 (October, November, December) advertises are blowing through the end of their budget and making a big push for the holidays.

That means ad revenue goes way up for publishers.

In January, it comes crashing down. It's completely normal and happens every year, but it's always a bit of a bummer.

For reference, my sites on Mediavine did about $18-19 RPM (revenue per thousand visitors) in January vs around $30 in December – that's a really big difference!

The good news it that January traffic is usually strong for me which helps offset the difference.

Before we get into the January numbers...

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 in monthly revenue as of December 2020:

  • Site 1 - $6,579.69
  • Site 2 - $3538.08
  • Site 3 - $44.92
  • Amazon Int'l (all sites combined) - $523.77
  • Total - $10,686.46 (December $12,209.11, November $12,480.80, October $11,800.08)

January was my worst month in a little while, but expected. Overall it's not bad considering my biggest site got hit with the December 2020 Google core algorithm update, right before the niche was set to explode in popularity in January.

The lights are on, the wheels are turning, and the sites are still getting new content. That means the business is in good shape going forward.

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) $500
  • Content (articles & video) $2500
  • Total - Around $3000

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

Site 1 - Fitness & Health

Live articles - 356(+15)

Total pageviews- 171,412 (+33.08%)

Total revenue - $6,579.69 (Dec $7,359.64, Nov $7,632.08, Oct $7,164.37 )

YouTube Views - 895 (December 585, November 329), +2 subscribers

What happened & what I'm working on:

I'm trying my damndest to get back to working full-time or close to it, but the world doesn't seem to want to cooperate.

My baby daughter and older daughter were both finally in their respective daycares/schools for about 4 days in January before older daughter's school had a COVID scare, so she was sent home for 2 weeks.

Then as soon as she went back, daycare shut down for a similar COVID scare leaving me on baby duty for over a week.

As of this writing, we're starting to get back to normal, but my God has it been a slog to get anything done.

Now that I have more time (fingers crossed), I'm looking to write and edit more myself to:

A) Get more done

B) Save money on contractor costs

The big win of the month here was YouTube. A few videos I published 1-3 months ago are starting to get a solid daily stream of traffic.

We're not talking thousands of views but everything is trending up and that's really encouraging, because producing videos is quite expensive!

Fitness explodes in January for New Years Resolutions, so it's really a shame this site got hit by the algo update — it could have easily done well over 200,000 pageviews for the first time ever.

Site 2 - Parenting & Family

Live articles - 215 (+10)

Total pageviews - 147,945 (+19.44%)

Total revenue - $3538.08 (Dec $4342.16, Nov $4,212.66, Oct $4,106.50)

What happened & what I'm working on:

I've been somewhat reinvigorated when it comes to keyword research for this site.

For a while there I really felt like I was mining the depths of my keyword list and settling for stuff I wasn't excited about or that I didn't think had that much potential.

But I've finally come up with a few interesting new topic areas to explore and I've come up with a couple interesting "article types" that I think I can mine extensively.

This site took a revenue hit as well, due to the Mediavine RPMs, but traffic is looking fantastic.

Site 3 - Obscure Hobby

Live articles - 30 (+0)

Total pageviews - 5,385 (+4.64%)

Total revenue - $44.92 (Dec $64.21, Nov $111.53, Oct $86.19,)

YouTube views - 174, +3 subscribers

What happened & what I'm working on:

Keeping mostly quiet about this one for now.

My plan is to start adding some written content to the site again, slowly, probably written by me.

The traffic is remarkably consistent but has obviously plateaued without content.

It's still very early in the YouTube journey for this site and I'm unsure if I want to continue paying for video production.

Odds & Ends

It's kind of cool to see how things stack over time when writing these reports.

It sometimes feels like each individual month is uneventful and similar to the last one.

Send briefs to writers, get content back, edit, publish. Produce a couple of YouTube videos.

There are few big explosive wins that change the business (luckily no explosive losses that destroy it, either).

But when you look at the big picture, the content keeps piling up, the traffic keeps growing, and when that happens the revenue follows.

January was a slow month revenue wise, but if I can sustain or build on this level of traffic going into Q4 of 2021 – that will be when all the hard work really pays off.

For a fun reference, in January 2020 my business made about $6800 – so I've really come a long way!

Wrapping Up

With the house quiet (for once) I had better get back to work — because who knows how long it will last.

So that's all for now!

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.

See ya