September went by in a blur.
I woke up one morning this week absolutely shocked that it was already October 1.
My 3 sites did well, but not amazing, throughout the month. Day in and day out it didn't seem like anything had changed — overall traffic and revenue numbers looked good every time I checked.
(*Well, except for one minor blip.)
Now that I can look back at the complete picture I can see that September was a bit of a ho-hum month where I experienced something of a plateau.
This is an interesting time of year when summer starts to wind down and you begin to see shifts in seasonality which can greatly affect traffic and affiliate sales on certain sites (or even some articles on a site). Ad RPMs are fantastic, however, which can make up for less traffic in some areas.
Overall, September vs August blogging revenue was kind of a wash.
- Site 1 - $6,845.35
- Site 2 - $3,601.59
- Site 3 - $90.36
- Amazon Int'l $414.69 (all sites combined)
- Total - $10,951.99 (August 10,982.71)
I was down just a smidge from August but I still think it's pretty cool that my portfolio is cracking the $10k mark on the reg these days.
Again, I find extremely detailed expense reports boring. But overall, here's roughly what it cost to run my business in September:
- Recurring expenses (tools, hosting, etc.): $500
- Content (articles & video): $1900
- I also purchased lifetime access to ConvertBox to test out affiliate offers across my sites, which I'll touch on below: $490
- Total: $2090
Here's what happened with each site this month and what I'm working on.
Site 1 - Fitness & health
Live articles - 294 (+11)
Total pageviews - 161,324 (August 161,141, +.11%)
Total revenue - $6845.34 (August $7136.42)
Youtube views - 389 (August 499), +2 subscribers
What happened & what I'm working on:
Traffic was up slightly here (EVER so slightly), which is good. I've been adding a lot of content and the site seems to be ranking fairly well these days within its wheelhouse.
Ad RPMs were up big time (about $4 more per thousand sessions vs August) which led to a killer month for ad revenue with Mediavine ($3,522.46).
Affiliate revenue was down a few hundred bucks.
That doesn't surprise me. Fitness is a highly seasonal niche that has relatively strong interest year round, but goes through peaks and valleys.
Summer is big for fitness. People are going to the pool, going on vacation, spending time outside, etc.
Interest in workouts and gyms dies down a bit during the holidays and then explodes in January.
So at this point I'm happy for things to hold relatively steady.
My goal is to really get this site in good shape going into January when the traffic could jump 1.5-2x almost overnight.
As for YouTube, growth is agonizingly slow.
I'm continuing to put out original videos once every two weeks, but they're not gaining a ton of traction organically. I'm playing around a lot with tag optimization, thumbnails, and other tricks to try to get a foot hold.
(Know any good tricks other than "create compelling content?" I'd love to hear them.)
At this point YouTube essentially does nothing for me, but it's important to consider that I also use these videos in the Mediavine player to run highly lucrative video ads.
The videos I have created for YouTube so far earned about $116 on Mediavine this month (I have other videos in the player, too, that are simple slideshows...the $116 doesn't include those).
So, overall, I am getting some level of return on them and for now I can afford to keep publishing for a few more months and see if YT picks up steam at all.
*I mentioned a blip above and it's worth pointing out. I had an SSL issue with my host on Site 1 and Site 2 that was throwing a "Not Secure" error to users for, I don't know, something like 8-12 hours. That probably cost me somewhere between $50-150 dollars this month.
Site 2 - Parenting & family
Live articles - 172 (+8)
Total pageviews - 125.734 (August 133,962, -6.14%)
Total revenue - $3601.59 (August $3294.26)
What happened & what I'm working on:
I would say this site is kind of on cruise control right now.
I'm steering and paying attention, but not making any major changes to speed or direction at the time being.
Simply put, I'm going through my keyword list and adding content at a regular clip.
To be honest, there's not a whole lot that's exciting me about this site right now.
I need to figure out some new keyword angles and subtopics to explore that aren't saturated or boring — it should be doable, the site is broad and can cover a lot. There's not a ton on my list right now that's getting me super jazzed.
Don't get me wrong — the site makes $3k+ per month, which is great, and it has the backlinks and potential to be a huge earner one day.
(I clean up doing HARO outreach for this site.)
I have no plans to do YouTube videos for this site anytime soon, though that could change.
I would like to hand this site over to a Pinterest expert and let them run wild, because it's a perfect niche for it. It's on my To-Do list but not a high priority.
What do you do when you get bored or feel uninspired by one of your blogs?
Site 3 - Obscure hobby
Live articles - 25 (+2)
Total pageviews - 4,927 (-19%)
Total revenue - $90.36 (August $81.02)
This site refuses to bring in the organic traffic I think it should.
A site this young going down almost 20% in month over month traffic is kind of concerning.
Every time I think it's about to break through a new plateau it starts declining again.**
Of course, the velocity of content here is really slow. It's almost a year old and has fewer than 30 articles (plus a handful of short pages that are kind of like articles, but I don't count them at this point). But I still think it should be doing better.
A lot of the competition is ANCIENT – sites and articles that have been around since the early 2000s, which I think plays a role. I may just need to be patient.
In the meantime, I decided I am going to invest in YouTube content for this site. I will keep the written content slow (maybe even drop it down to just one new post per month soon) to free up some funds.
It's a visual niche where many SERPs are dominated by YouTube videos, so I'm going to go for it. I have tons of ideas and a good video editor, so why wait?
**There may be a correlation between enabling Ezoic ads on this site and some traffic loss, though it's hard to pinpoint a cause. Either way, the site earns more with ads than without so I'm not sure I care.
Hiring & working with an editor
This month I also brought on an editor to help me:
- Upload, format & get content ready for publishing
- Prepare content briefs for writers
- Up the quality of my content & improve processes
It hasn't been long but so far it has been great having an extra set of eyes on everything.
I intentionally went with someone who has good editorial judgement and experience and not just cheap labor to do Wordpress formatting.
I think if you're not pushing the quality of your content forward you're eventually going to be left behind.
Experimenting with affiliate offers & ConvertBox
After Jon Dykstra from Fat Stacks talked about instantly improving revenue with affiliate pop ups/pop overs, I decided to try ConvertBox for myself.
It was about $500 for lifetime access to the top-level package (most pageviews and support).
I've started playing with different offers on different types of posts (I used to go in manually to do this... wow is this WAY faster and easier).
No amazing winners so far but I did eek out a few extra sales this past month.
I should have more data at the end of October.
Overall I'm pretty happy with September.
I would have liked to see more traffic growth (especially on the newer site #3), but earnings were well over $10k again which gives me plenty of room to keep investing.
I'll be really busy in October getting my editor up to speed and working a lot on YouTube stuff.
That's all for now.
Hit me up with questions below or find me on Twitter @esporter