Hey, Dustin here!
Last month I covered our June revenue and traffic numbers. June is historically a bad month for us, but this year it wasn’t. July is usually pretty good and this year was no exception. We tend to have a few ice cream recipes and grilling recipes that do real well during July.
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 July
July was an interesting month for us. Personally, we wrapped up a vacation and enjoyed some much needed time off in Vegas before celebrating the 4th of July.
Then when we got back we had to ramp production back up to make up for time lost at the end of June and first week of July. We can usually go for a week or two without shooting video but anymore than that and we run out of content to use.
We started to flesh out some more ideas on how to improve the Academy as well as A/B tested a lot of things around optins and intro offers.
July is the start of a new quarter so ad revenue took a little bit of a dip but not too bad. Adthrive continues to impress. One of the things I do on a monthly basis is to assess areas where we can improve.
I look at anyways we might be able to generate more revenue or maybe even do the same task more efficiently or save money somewhere. I decided to use July as a good time to reflect on the revenue streams of the business and what we have done right and wrong. Then use this information to make some critical decisions about where to invest the time and resources that we have.
July was our second full month off Blogher and fully on AdThrive. The improvements in ad revenue from making this switch continue to impress me. while July had a slight dip compared to June over $8 RPM is very good for us. We also 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.
July 2016 Traffic Report
This is the first time I have used the comparison year over year chart in these reports. Not sure why I haven’t used this in a report before. I love this view.
It’s great for making you feel good. I highly recommend taking the time to look back and see just how far you have come in the last year, 6 months or in our case 6+ years
When compared to last July which was 134k visitors, we saw 110% growth continually seeing over 100% growth every month so far this year so that’s a really good sign. I didn’t think this would keep up all summer but apparently I was wrong. August is usually when we start to see a little bit of a traffic spike after the summer lull so hopefully that continues.
Like I mentioned last month I really want to see 1 million pageview in December. We decided to start doing 3 posts a week during Q4 to take advantage of that added traffic and hopefully explode our growth.
We also decided to put together a FREE challenge in October to try and grow our list and get people engaged in everything healthy.
Top Traffic Sources
Most of our traffic was from Google again. I expect this to continue for a long time. One of the changes we made this month was to look to outsource our Pinterest game. We haven’t been able to really focus on it ourselves and we know that it is important for a food blog. So we made the decision to start using a company to help us with this and their first month was July. So far everything looks real good and they have really taken control of that situation and created a much better system and we have started to see some good Pinterest growth. I’ll update more on how all of this went in the August report :).
Baked Squash and Zucchini is still “King of the Hill”. I am really enjoying how much more we variation we have at the top of the pile this year. I am super proud of the team and the content we have generated the last 2 years to put ourselves in this position. We had 6 posts over 10k and 2 more that were super close.
For August the plan is to create more summer food and tie them into our other posts that do well. This strategy seems to do well for us so we will continue to use it and iterate on it trying to really find the sweet spot as far as types of content are concerned.
July 2016 Income Report
Finally, onto the income report.
- Meal Planning Service: $251.40
- AdThrive: $2925.62
- Amazon Affiliate: $111.38(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) : $75.65
- Swoop :$215.37
- Sponsored Videos/Posts/Freelance Videos: $6,600 (these are all lumped together for contract reasons)
- Contributor: $341.70 (Lacey and I started contributing to other sites in our marketing push and some of them generate extra revenue)
- Clean Eating Course: $824.00
- Take Back Your Health Academy: $552.00
- Gross Total July 2016: $11,983.74
- Last Month June 2016: $12,489.36
- Difference: -$505.62
- Last Year July 2015: $839.05
- Difference: +$11,936.62
July 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: $179.00 (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: $199.93
- 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)
- SumoMe: $50.00
- Google Drive: $1.99
- Groceries: $489.63 (this has increased lately and goes with larger video deals we have made)
- Speechpad (transcriptions): $20
- AWS: $41.28
- Kitchen Equipment: $29.50
- Business Lunches: $39.00 ( I try to get lunch once a week for the team when they are shooting videos)
- Production Day Supplies: $55.73
- Airfare: $25.00
- Travel Meals $479.41
- Travel Gas $75.00
- Travel Cabs/Tolls: $34.75
- Hotel $2,535.70
- Pinterest Help: $320.00
- Total Expenses: $5,133.35
Net Total: $12,489.36 – $5,133.35 = $7,356.02
Lessons Learned From July
One of the areas it feels like we have struggled lately is sponsored posts. We have been spending so much time and energy in other areas that we haven’t given networking or reach out emails the attention they needed in order to improve this. So, I am going to use the strategies I talked about in the How to Get Your First Sponsored Post to improve this for Q4 this year.
Another area we can improve is generating more content. I feel like most food blogs have quite a few posts in an effort to generate more search traffic and social shares and thus more traffic and growth. For us that has always been difficult since we do tons of video 2 for us every week at least and then even more for our partners. Being able to ramp up to 3 a week will be awesome.
In this vein we are also trying to use the steps we have learned to redo old social videos on posts that do well so we can grow those also.
Goals For August
Every month I tend to write goals down. Usually I do this for myself and the business overall, but lately I have started getting a little more granular with the team as well. Last month I mentioned that July’s goals really boiled down to a catch up month. Coming back from Vidcon and then our vacation made us a little behind. We had to squeeze in extra video shoots in order to get caught back up and Lacey needed to test and photograph more recipe in order to have a queue ready again.
I think we did a good job of catching up in July and August goals will be about focusing in on higher ROI and removing things that aren’t as useful to us.
We made the decision for Lacey to stop contributing. This should free up more time for Lacey to work on that extra post a week.
We decided to outsource our Pinterest strategy and work which frees up some of Lacey and my time. We also decided to bring on a VA to work on some of the admin behind the scenes work Lacey and I do. The hope is to use this time to work on some hire ROI tasks. I’ll dive into some of the strategies we implemented in the August report.
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.