Hey, Dustin here!
Welcome to our January 2017 Traffic and Income Report!
It’s been awhile. We have been super busy.
Both ASPC stuff and over here. As you probably noticed we have moved our site to a new domain Food Blog Engine we think it better shows what we are teaching and resonates with our audience more. While most of the content and advice here isn’t specific to food blogs it definitely slants this way and has tons of examples.
Last month I covered our December revenue and traffic numbers plus how the business did in 2016 with an eye on 2017.
This month we will dive into how January did and more about our goals and expectations for 2017.
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 that fully employs both of us.
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 January
January was a little bit of a weird month.
We had to settle into running the business with 2 people again instead of three and that was taking some getting used to. There was a lot of sadness from having to figure out what to do with Sean leaving.
I had to start filming the videos, we looked wanted to outsource our video editing so we had to onboard a new person for this. Lacey and I had to get adjusted filming and working together in a new way and it created some friction at first.
However, as January rolled into February we were able to get everything humming along again smoothly. We also made the decision to get an office downtown at the local WeWork location so we had a good spot to focus on non-video related stuff. This ultimately was what really got us refocused and motivated.
Having something to look forward to that was new and different allowed us to get our entrepreneur juices flowing again.
The main things that went down this month:
- Book Keeping and Xero
- Breakfast Challenge 2.0
- 30 Day Healthy 3.0
- AdThrive Update
- Planning Out 2017
- January 2017 Income Totals
- January 2017 Traffic Totals
- January 2017 Key Takeaways
One of the pain points of these income reports has been collecting all the data that needs to be included. There have been a few problems with this.
A big one was time we have all of our accounting data spread out in different locations and then I have to go and grab it everywhere and stick it into a spreadsheet. This takes to much time and can lead to me making mistakes and having to correct everything.
We wanted to start bringing this all into one central location so we can see and categorize everything easier.
Another issue was grouping everything we have different locations that we have sold products out of over the years and so we wanted the ability to pull it all in and look in the same category easier. For instance if we want to see each month product sales or contract work and compare those numbers.
So, we decided to hire a book keeper and port everything into Xero.
Finally, the last issue we had was trying to figure out the best way to report data in these income reports. We have a lot of revenue that is created in one month but then we don’t receive until later. There are payment plans and there are 30 and 45 day contracts etc…
A good example of this is ad revenue November and December are our best months of ad revenue but we don’t receive those until January and February.
We decided the best way to deal with these is to just report on what is received every month rather than what is earned.
In January we ran the breakfast challenge again and updated all the recipes to reflect the season. We have always wanted to do a January Challenge and after the successful October one we decided to give it a go.
People tend to be really amped to focus on their health during January and it is normally a time of the year that does real well for us.
This one wasn’t quite as successful as we had hoped. While it still did really well and people seemed to really enjoy the recipes we thought January would be larger than the October.
Instead it had around the same participation maybe even a little bit less. Nonetheless we both thought it was a success and would like to continue to do the challenges and figure out how to make them even more engaging.
During and at the end of our Challenges we like to promote our 30 Day Program which dives into clean eating in more detail. It provides more recipes, guidance and goes on for longer. This time was the first time that we didn’t need to do a complete revamp of the program. In the past we have been experimenting with how we are presenting the program content and as such it required a lot more work.
This time the thing we tried was not to promote it as a live event and instead leave it open ended.
The end result was not that great. It sold a little bit but overall the feedback we got was that people prefer a live event and/or need some urgency to make the decision to purchase.
Another issue we ran into is that the Breakfast Challenge goes on for so long that it makes it very hard for people to stay motivated and interested for the 21 days and then reinvest in a 30 day program.
We have some ideas on how to improve this and will try to work on that over the upcoming months.
January is normally a dip for us every year. Ad revenue resets and we spend the year chasing the Q4 numbers. This is pretty normal in the ad industry. The weird part for us and a lot of food blogs is with the colder weather people are inside and cooking more. So a lot of times we will see really good traffic numbers but much lower ad revenue.
This was pretty much in line for us this January we saw slightly lower impressions than we expected but overall nothing out of the ordinary.
Our goal for January had been to plan out all of 2017 and what we wanted to accomplish. However, our trip to California really put a dampener on all of that. Instead we had to focus on starting to lay the groundwork and make sure we covered everything we wanted to. I covered a lot of this in the 2016 recap post here.
The next step for all of this will be to start mapping out each of these pieces we planned out. One of our goals for February will be to layout timelines for everything at least at a high level so we can better understand what we can and can’t get done.
When compared to last January which was 291k visitors, we saw a -1.73% drop. This is our first month in a long time where there wasn’t growth. We will have to keep an eye on February and see where this takes us.
Traffic Month vs Month Comparison
Top Traffic Sources
Top Pages for January 2017
Finally, onto the income report.
*Special note the values being reflected are actual revenue received now not revenue billed. So take note when comparing to previous months.
- Products: $1,977.92 ( This isn’t broken up as easy anymore into the sections we want yet)
- AdThrive: $5,581.22
- Thrive Market: $100.00
- Amazon Affiliate: $82.10 (this mostly comes from a post on the best kitchen tools Lacey recommends)
- Other Affiliates: $303.30
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $303.30 (I did a post on Food Blogger Pro and how we used it to grow ASPC )
- Video Ads (AOL/Youtube) : $45.39
- Contract Work (i.e. freelance videos, sponsored content, recipe creation, licensing etc..): $8,309.25
- Gross Total January 2017: $16,353.79
- Last Month December 2016: $20,438.25
- Difference: -$4084.46
- Last Year January 2016: $8,419.93
- Difference: +$7,933.86
January 2017 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: $179.00 (I updated the 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: $54.11
- Baremetrics: $50.00
- Legal: $179.00
- WpEngine: $277.16
- Scribe: $47.00
- VidIQ: $10.00
- Github: $7.00
- Marketing (Fb Ads etc…): $78.85
- Kraken: $9.00
- Crashplan (Backup Software): $14.78
- ClickFunnels: $97.00
- Canva: $12.95
- Gusto: $63.00 (payroll software)
- SumoMe: $50.00
- Box: $63.96
- Google Drive: $1.99
- Groceries: $409.00
- Speechpad (transcriptions): $10.00
- AWS: $41.97
- Bluehost: $44.97
- Production Snacks/Drinks/Lunches: $82.21
- Merchant Processing Fees: $96.59
- Pinterest Help: $375.00
- Domains: $12.00
- Business Coaching: $24.50
- Jarvis: $29.95
- Buffer: $10.00
- Contractor/VA Work: $576.26
- Kajabi: $129.00
- Synthesis & Fantastic: $201.00
- Total Expenses: $3,083.43
Net Total: $16,353.79 – $3,083.43 = $13,270.36
January was crazy. We came back from California and had to hit the ground running. Lots of content to make and a Breakfast Challenge to run. Looking at the income and expense report I realize that we had a good month but there are also some hiccups on the horizon.
We are so dependent on the contract/sponsorship income that when/if it dips we will see issues. January was also a light month for us expense wise so we will see how February looks.
I also want to break out the product pieces of the income better so we can see what products perform the best for us.
Goals For February
February will be a month for trying to get back into the swing of things. We also decided to get an office away from our apartment so we will be doing that in February and it will take some time to get settled etc…
We also want to start really honing in on that 2017 plan and making sure we lay all the ground work to get there. Over the month of February we will layout timelines to get where we need to.
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.