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October was a great month for the blog! Since this was only my second month of blogging, I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn. However, I’m finally starting to feel like I have some idea of what I’m doing and where I want to take my blog. It’s the first time where I actually made money blogging!
This is my first monthly blog report to recap how everything went, what I learned and my goals for the blog moving forward. One of the reasons I wanted to do a recap was to keep track of where I’m with the blog, look back and see how I’m growing and tweak as necessary. There is so much to do and to learn when starting a blog, sometimes I lose sight of the end-goal as I get caught up in the weeds.
So without further ado…
October Monthly Recap Numbers
October views: 3,168
October income: $25.75
- Affiliate income from Pinteresting Strategies: $12.80
- Ad income from Google Adsense: $12.95
October expenses: $293 (Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing and the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit)
October email subscribers: 4
A few notes: For the sake of simplicity, I’m sharing income in the month it was earned rather than in the month for which I received the payout. For some affiliate programs, it can take some time before getting paid and I believe income and traffic are closely related.
This was a good month for me and I felt like I was finally making some headway. After scrambling to learn what I could and trying different things in September, I finally settled down and starting taking a more strategic approach to blogging.
I think it’s pretty normal to panic when you first start a blog and be all over the place. While I do marketing in my day job, blogging is an entirely different game. Between my full-time job, my family (and two small kids), and volunteering, I have little time left to actually work on my blog.
Also, learning WordPress was a challenge for me since it was a completely different interface than the one I’m used to using in my day job. After a couple of months of tinkering on the back end, I’m finally getting a handle on things.
Even with all of that, I spent about 25-30 hours a week on my blog. I’m really enjoying blogging and learning different ways to make my blog better and to reach more people with my content. Since I learn best by doing, being able to dive in and just try different tactics has been very fun.
Pinterest was by far my biggest source of traffic, accounting for about 90% or more of my blog views. When I started my blog, I knew that I wanted to focus on Pinterest exclusively as a way to gain traffic quickly. This is why I single-mindedly dedicated myself to figuring out Pinterest and I’m finally starting to see some results. It did help that I was already a Pinterest user so I knew my way around the platform and understood it from a user perspective.
In addition, partway through the month, I applied for Google Adsense and got approved. I added some ads in a few places on my blog and have already made some money. However, since the payout threshold is $100, I still have a while to go before I can see any actual money from the ads. For now, I plan to watch the money grow in my account as I continue driving traffic to my blog with Pinterest.
I also met up with some fabulous bloggers at a meet-up hosted by Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation fame. Since FinCon took place this year in my neck of the woods, it was a great opportunity to make a face-to-face connection with other bloggers. I absolutely loved having some similarly minded people to talk to about blogging and blog marketing.
Blogging Courses That Made a Difference
I took several Pinterest courses but the best one by far was Pinteresting Strategies. I plan on writing a review about it at some point because I think it’s a great ebook. One of the things I loved best about it is that it helps you better understand how Pinterest sees your pins and how it decides what is shown to whom in the smart feed. It’s honestly a great investment and by far the cheapest Pinterest course I’ve seen at only $32. The strategy outlined in it also does not require you to sign up for Tailwind or BoardBooster, which is a great way to save money while still getting excellent results.
Another great Pinterest course was Group Board Master. This course helped me understand Pinterest group boards better. It also gave some great actionable steps and advice on how to find good group boards and join them. It’s a great compliment to Pinteresting Strategies.
The final course I’d highly recommend is Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I’m still making my way through this course since I want to make sure I implement what I’m learning and not just reading it. This course is the reason I made my very first affiliate commission so I’m very excited to continue implementing what I’m learning. This course is by a six-figure blogger (Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of MakingSenseofCents.com) who makes more than $50,000/month from affiliate marketing so she knows her stuff. At $197, the course is a pretty steep investment for a new blogger but I truly believe that it’s absolutely the best course on affiliate marketing.
What Didn’t Work
Midway through the month, I downloaded a plugin called WP Smush, which is designed to compress your images so your site can load faster. Well, I’m not sure what I did wrong, but it was causing all sorts of issues with the images on my blog. Some of my images ended up being broken (as in the image would just be a plain box with text) and some were just too small so I ended up uninstalling it. It was a great experiment but overall it did not work out for me.
I also do not have enough time to do everything I want to do. I have a long list of ideas of what I’d like to do with the blog, what articles I’d love to write and how to grow my readers but I don’t have the time. I don’t foresee this changing anytime soon as I still have a full-time job and a family but I’m going to push forward and do what I can. Baby steps…
Blogging as a Business
I’m going to be honest and tell you that I did not start my blog as a hobby. Many people start their blog as a hobby then monetize it later as they gain more traction. While I think that’s a great path to take, it takes a really long time to make any money when that is not your focus.
I started my blog as a business and I treat it as a business. That’s not to say that I’m not genuine in the content and posts that I write for my readers. Quite the opposite: I strive to write genuinely interesting, well-researched and informative content that will hopefully help and inspire.
However, my main focus has been earning money from my blog, which means that I can’t just sit back, create good content and hope for the best. I’ve made it a point to invest in my business and get relevant training and information so I can grow my readership and, ultimately, make money.
I invested in a number of courses so far to help me grow my blog. As a quick recap, below are the resources I found truly helpful and would recommend to others:
- Bluehost – I started my blog through Bluehost and couldn’t be happier. They are a great hosting company and I’ve had no issues with downtime so far. They also made my switch from HTTP to HTTPS a breeze and I’ve had no broken links or other problems. I signed up for hosting for three years for a little over $100. Why? Because that way I have some skin in the game and I’m committed to sticking with blogging.
- Pinteresting Strategies – the BEST course/ebook on understanding Pinterest and using it to drive massive traffic to your blog. It’s a manual pinning strategy that does not require signing up for Tailwind or BoardBooster. And I can’t believe it costs about the same as a two-month subscription to Tailwind!
- Group Board Master – this course teaches you how to find and join Pinterest Group Boards, which, in turn, can help drive traffic to your blog when combined with the strategy outlined in Pinteresting Strategies. It’s a very well laid-out course with actionable steps to help you get on some great group boards. This course is one of the reasons I’ve been able to join several group boards with more than 50,000 followers each while I still only have less than 200 Pinterest followers.
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – if you want to make money with affiliate marketing, then you absolutely need this course. Blogging is a business and by taking this course, you will be learning from the best. It also provides access to a private Facebook group, which has been an invaluable way to promote my blog and get access to some other well-established bloggers who are happy to help answer questions from newbies like me.
What has worked for you in your first few months of blogging? What are some of the courses and tools you would recommend to new bloggers? Share in the comments.