Hey, Dustin here!
Last month I covered our July revenue and traffic numbers. August starts to pick back up as everyone returns how and gets ready for school and the fall. This August was no different as everything was a little bit higher compared to July. Another exciting point is I am almost all caught up on income reports. How did that happen? Just one more to go and we are back on track.
In general the food blog niche seems to suffer a little during the summer and doesn’t quite have the weekend peaks that it usually has during the Fall and Winter.
If it’s your first time seeing one of these let me walk you through real quick. Lacey and I run a healthy food blog called A Sweet Pea Chef. It use to be more of a hobby and we almost walked away twice before making a pivot a few years ago. Now, over the last 3 years we have converted it into a business. It fully employs both Lacey and my brother Sean :).
Basically, the idea is to give you an inside look into how to create a blog that also functions as a business. Income Reports helped show us that it was possible and guided us in the areas that were a little trickier to figure out.
The point of these posts is to dive into the lessons we learned while growing ASPC and turned it from a hobby side project into a business that supports our family. My hope is that you will learn from our trials and tribulations and be able to figure out something that works for you too.
Our goal is to inspire you to create your own online business or side hustle and provide you with insight into what we find is working and in some embarrassing cases not working lol.
So, with that said …
FYI, we are an affiliate for some of the below links. All these suggestions are based on our experience and extensive research.
Important Things In August
August was a month of introspection and planning. I wanted to figure out what steps we needed to take to really improve our business. Start to focus on the pieces that made the most sense and added the highest ROI.
We started some of this in late July like making the decision to stop contributing to other blogs even though we generated revenue this way. It just wasn’t the best use of Lacey’s time. She needs to be focusing on the stuff that really grows the business.
This is where we needed to start figuring out good ways to determine what to work on and in what order. Rather than just trying to do everything and more importantly stressing Lacey out needing lots of her attention. The first steps where removing some low hanging fruit. We started by doing an activity inventory. Lacey, Sean and I all wrote down what tasks we were doing and for how many hours roughly a week.
We also marked them as Profit generating, special skill-set or non special skill-set. The idea being you want to see how many tasks you are doing that actually generate revenue vs tasks that just “need” to be done or could be done by someone else. By doing this we were able to eliminate some tasks and/or outsource other tasks. The next step was to calculate the value of priorities.
Calculating A Priorities Value
So how do we calculate the value of something and decide what things to work on next? Our business coach had us perform a task that is very similar to this post by Baremetrics on how they determine what features to work on.
It really breaks down into 3 pieces that Baremetrics calls DIE which is a way better acronym than my naming convention so lets go with it. DIE stands for Demand, Impact and Effort. Basically, demand is interest. How much interest is there for this from your current audience, community or customer base (the higher the better). Impact is the ROI, how much value will the business see from this activity (the higher the better). Finally, effort or resources involved in doing this the easier it is the higher the score.
Here is an example of one we did recently. We listed out a bunch of ideas we could do and ranked the. This is how we decided to start coming up with a better sponsorship plan as well as doing the free intro challenge.
We have already started crossing some of these off like moving videos over to AdThrive and making more social cut videos. I will use this as a guideline for a month or two and then redo it in order to make sure we are staying on track and picking the right things.
Last month I mentioned that we started porting some of our videos over to AdThrive rather than monetizing them through Youtube.
This will slow our Youtube growth but increase our revenue. The in image ads revenue dropped a lot which is disconcerting but we will investigate why that happened. However, you can start to see the benefit of this when looking at the revenue driven by the video player ($369.83). This was the first month we generated over $4k in ad revenue which was a huge milestone.
August 2016 Traffic Report
Last month I introduced a new chart like the one above. This shows our growth year over year. I think its a good thing to look back and see the progress that you are making.
When compared to last August which was 187k visitors, we saw 62% growth. This is slightly less growth than we had been seeing month over month. Most of this can be attributed to August being a big month for us traffic wise last year so while the month numbers are good and similar to July last years July and August where vastly different.
September goals for traffic will be planning out the new FREE challenge in October as well as working on starting the 3 posts a week idea we have been planning.
Top Traffic Sources
Like I mentioned last month we have been focusing more on growing other traffic sources besides Google lately. While they are still in the early stages and thus we haven’t fully seen the benefit yet from that growth we are starting to see social counts and engagement go up on Pinterest. I think this is a good sign for long term traffic growth there also.
Baked Squash and Zucchini is starting to die down a little but still is at #1. This fall will be interesting to see what new fall recipes we can get into the top 10. This month 9 of the 10 where also over 10k pageviews so thats a cool milestone as well.
August 2016 Income Report
Finally, onto the income report.
- Meal Planning Service: $547.20
- AdThrive: $3729.78
- Amazon Affiliate: $84.18(this mostly comes from a post on the best kitchen tools Lacey recommends)
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $50.75 (I did a post on Food Blogger Pro and how we used it to grow ASPC )
- Market Samurai Affiliate: $0 (I did a post on Food Blogging SEO and how we use it to grow ASPC)
- Video Ads (AOL/Youtube) : $56.50
- Swoop :$319.09
- Sponsored Videos/Posts/Freelance Videos: $6,850 (these are all lumped together for contract reasons)
- Clean Eating Course: $891.00
- Take Back Your Health Academy: $1,164.00
- Gross Total August 2016: $13,692.50
- Last Month July 2016: $11,983.74
- Difference: -$1,708.76
- Last Year August 2015: $3,009.15
- Difference: +$10,683.35
August 2016 Expense Report
I started including expenses in these income reports in an effort to show profitability and specifically to help answer people’s questions about what we use behind the scenes and how much it costs.
I don’t recommend getting all of these right away when you get started. Instead just get what you need and work your way up.
As the business has grown we have seen this grow for sure. I highly recommend reading a book like profit first before adding in expenses. Make sure you “need” something or can afford it we have been done the path of thinking this new thing will make the difference and it usually just doesn’t matter.
- Convertkit: $199.00 (I wrote a post on why we switched)
- Food Blogger Pro: $0 (Lacey went to one of their workshops which came with a free year)
- Adobe Creative Cloud: $10.81
- Podbean: $25.00
- Baremetrics: $25.00
- WpEngine: $265.43
- Market Samurai: $25.00
- Scribe: $47.00
- Github: $7.00
- Facebook Ads: $318.16
- Kraken: $9.00
- Fb Ads Training: $97.00
- Crashplan (Backup Software): $14.78
- ClickFunnels: $97.00
- Samcart: $99.00
- Canva: $12.95
- Gusto: $41.00 (payroll software)
- Slack: $24.00
- SumoMe: $50.00
- Google Drive: $1.99
- Groceries: $770/93 (this has increased lately and goes with larger video deals we have made)
- Speechpad (transcriptions): $21
- AWS: $41.15
- HostGator: $30.34
- Route53: $12
- Kitchen Equipment: $330.94
- Business Lunches: $39.35
- Production Day Supplies: $15.13
- Computer: $1,832.91
- Tailwind: $119.88
- Pinterest Help: $375.00
- VA service: $121.60
- Business Coaching: $1,024.50
- Total Expenses: $6,035.85
Net Total: $13,692.50 – $6,035.85 = $7,656.65
Lessons Learned From August
August was a bit of a high mark expense wise between bringing on a VA and Pinterest help and needing to buy a new computer we had expenses in the $6k range before even getting to salaries. We had money in the bank from earlier when we ran the business with no payroll but I don’t like having the profit margin being so razor thin even if you include salaries. The last two months pointed out how close we are to barely breaking even.
I am going to focus back more on increasing revenue and lowering costs where I can in an effort to stabilize this a bit more.
Goals For September
My main goal for September is to grow profit after payroll back over $1k a month that way we can beef the business savings back up and start to plan out future growth a little better. The companies main goal is to plan out the Q4 content. This is everything from what recipes we are going to be working on, making sure we can do 3 a week as well as starting the FREE challenge we mentioned.
Another Big goal for September (can’t believe I almost forgot to mention it) is to prep for me leaving my 9-5. Yes September will be my last month at my 9-5 so I need to make sure everything is in order so we can hit the ground running. I’ll dive a lot into how I prepped for this in the September post 🙂
Thanks So Much
Hopefully, all these numbers will help you to improve your own revenue streams on your blog or even start one yourself. We know this wouldn’t exist without everyone supporting A Sweet Pea Chef. Thanks so much for sharing, commenting, and supporting us and this blog. We really appreciate everyone.
Also feel free to ask any questions you want I will do my best to answer them for you 🙂 I want to encourage as many people as I can to get started generating at least a little side income it can really help with your mindset just to get started.