Hey everyone, it’s Dustin again. It’s already time for another income report. You guys can see and read about why we are trying what we try and how it works, etc. No guess work involved.
So far, the reports have done a good job of holding us accountable, which is something Lacey and I really like. Plus, we have had lots of positive feedback about these reports. This is the third Income Post. You can find the more of them over here: Income Reports.
A few quick notes before we dive into the good stuff…
FYI, we are an affiliate for some of the below links. However, all these suggestions are based on our experience and extensive research.
Defining Your Audience
One of the most important things when creating a blog is to define your target audience. It really helps if you can figure out what problem(s) your audience is having and help them solve their issues. Over the last few weeks, we have been asking people to let us know what they like and don’t like here at ASPC as well as what things they want help solving. We have gotten some really good feedback and, hopefully, we will be able to put this into action with more simple meal plans, cooking tips and the like.
We have recently joined two membership sites. We did this to (1) help strengthen our online presence at ASPC and (2) to help us with our long-term goals of having a sustainable online business. The first site is Food Blogger Pro. This is a very specific niche site for food bloggers. It is a community put together by Bjork and Lindsay over at Pinch Of Yum to help people at different stages of their food blogs figure out how to grow and expand their businesses. If you’re a beginner, there is tons of useful stuff over there, and, if you’re not a beginner, there is a helpful community for figuring out some of the trickier issues like improving your CPM or RPM. Plus, Bjork drops by and gives good insights into how Pinch of Yum does stuff which is always interesting. Food Blogger Pro is only a dollar the first month so that made trying it out super easy.
The second membership site is Fizzle. This is more of an online business site. They have lots of classes, videos, etc. on how to grow an online business. I find it invaluable for techniques on how to improve ASPC. Whether it is help with figuring out the audience we have created here and how to better serve you guys, how to use email effectively, or any number of things, it is super handy. Plus, the first month was only a buck so I got to check it out for dirt cheap to see if it was useful to me. And it was!
We are super amped to announce that we have added a new channel here at ASPC. So, if you haven’t checked it out yet, go to our new Youtube channel here and subscribe. The first video is up — it’s a Pork Butt Rub recipe. Our second recipe video is in the works and will be Lacey’s Pan-Roasted Salmon. We will also be sharing some food blogging tutorials. We are shooting for a new video every 1-2 weeks so stay tuned.
I thought it might be interesting to talk a little about RPM this month. RPM is basically page revenue per thousand impressions. Essentially, it is total revenue divided by number of page views times a thousand. I knew about this metric but never really thought about its value in determining the success of the business side of our blog until Pinch of Yum’s recent income report. I have been trying to figure out and compare our RPM to other sites’ RPM. I knew ours was low in comparison but wasn’t sure why. The great thing about RPM is that it is an equalizer, meaning it doesn’t matter that Pinch Of Yum gets more page views than us. Instead, what matters is seeing where their RPM is better and trying to figure out why (this can be done with any site you have inside info on. Thanks, Bjork, for making this public!).
My goal was to break the RPM up into a few different sections: ad CPM, affiliate CPM and product CPM. There are probably other ways to do it, but this seemed the most intuitive to me. One thing I would note is that this probably only applies to sites in the same niche with similar audiences. If they are too different, you won’t get a good breakdown. For the sake of this article, I will take a look at Pinch of Yum’s March income report since it’s a good idea to compare month-to-month so you aren’t looking at seasonal differences.
So, for March, Pinch of Yum’s breakdown looks like this:
Total Page Views : 2,444,699
March RPM: $9.99
Ad Revenue: $10,934.37
Ad RPM: $4.47
Affiliate Revenue: $6,764
Affiliate RPM: $2.76
Product Revenue: $4,596.25
Product RPM: $1.88
Swoop RPM: $.42
Ziplist Revenue: $1,111.97
Ziplist RPM: $.45
So, with this, you can see the breakdown of each section from where they made money. I broke out Swoop and Ziplist because they have a barrier to entry that makes it hard to compare. We are working on adding Ziplist to the site and Swoop is only available to BlogHer network (for which we are currently on a waiting list). I also broke out the same thing for ASPC so we could see what’s up.
Total Page Views : 109,529
March RPM: $2.273
Ad Revenue: $165.80
Ad RPM: $1.51
Affiliate Revenue: $80.21
Affiliate RPM: $.73
Product Revenue: $2.99
Product RPM: $.03
After looking at this, a few things stood out. First, our products (Cooking Can Be Easy and Easy Weeknight Dinners) aren’t selling much — $.03 RPM is just not going to cut it. We are looking to revamp both of these and haven’t been promoting them as much lately because of that. So stay tuned there, definitely room for improvement. Second, the affiliate RPM is lower. We used to rank very highly on Google for “starting your own food blog,” but that has dropped like a rock lately. Over the last year, we have gone from 4th on Google to the 4th page. Not good. We are adding some more content and videos to try and improve this. Finally, looking at the ad RPM, I was disappointed so I broke it down more.
Pinch of Yum:
Google Adsense Revenue: $848.09
Google Adsense RPM: $.35
Lijit Revenue: $3127.05
Lijit RPM: $1.27
BlogHer Revenue: $6959.23
BlogHer RPM: $2.84
Wow! You can see right off the bat how much better BlogHer performs than Adsense (what we primarily use) does. This isn’t perfect since fill rates make a big difference here but it gives you an idea. Needless to say, we are looking into BlogHer.
Google Adsense Revenue: $152.34
Google Adsense RPM: $1.39
Lijit Revenue: $3.11
Lijit RPM: N/A (really tiny)
ContextWeb Revenue: $10.35
ContextWeb RPM: $.09
You can see the majority of ours still comes from Google Adsense which obviously won’t help with the growth of our RPM for ads. When I take a look at Lijit, I see that our fill rate is real low, like 3%, which is a bummer. The RPM based off the actual ads they show, not the pageviews of our site, is $1.12 which is a little better, but not great. Lots of room to improve here.
Quick traffic report this month. First, let’s look at the totals:
Over 100,000 page views again so that’s good. Almost 75,000 uniques — getting very close. I would love to get over 100,000 uniques in a month other than November which is always our best month traffic-wise.
Top Traffic Sources
You can see we still get most of our traffic from Google and Pinterest, although our newsletter is starting to creep into the top 10. Also, the top 10 pages we have on the site are still dominated by the Shredded Chicken Enchiladas recipe.
March 2014 Income
- Google Adsense: $152.34
- ContextWeb (now PulsePoint): $10.35
- Lijit: 3.11
- Easy Weeknight Dinner eBook: $2.99
- Amazon Affiliate: $5.21
- Bluehost Affiliate: $75.00
- Total: $249.00
Our main source of income still comes from AdSense. We are looking to branch out by adding our affiliates to the Resources page. In that same vein, we restarted our How To Start A Food Blog series. Hopefully, all these numbers will help you improve your own revenue streams on your food blog or even start one yourself. Every time I write one of these posts, I feel like I could just write forever. There is so much that happens in a month and so much we have planned, it is hard to figure out when to stop.
Thanks so much for making this blog possible. Without everyone checking us out and sharing everywhere, I don’t know where we would be. We really appreciate everyone.