Hey, Dustin here!
Welcome to our November 2016 Traffic and Income Report!
Last month I covered our October revenue and traffic numbers plus how I recently quit. Still super excited about that.
This is the first month in a long time where I am doing the report in a realistic timeframe. It makes covering everything that is going on a whole lot easier since the months don’t really blend together as much.
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 November
November was are largest revenue month ever. Earlier in the year we thought we might be able to crack a $20k month this year but with November falling just short it doesn’t look like that will happen.
It’s exciting to have your best month ever. But, I also wanted to talk a little about how it can affect you when things swing in the other direction. December income will be lower than November was. This sometimes has a tendency to frustrate us as we build our businesses.
Being a competitor and an entrepreneur means you want to keep stacking successes on top of each other. Sometimes, you can get frustrated when you don’t grow as fast as you want or you feel like you are taking steps backwards.
I think to better grasp where you are and be happy with that while still trying to move the business forward you have to take a higher level view of everything. For me that is looking at larger trends. But, more specifically make sure those trends actually matter to your business.
At A Sweet Pea Chef we struggle a little finding our true identity. Are we a food blog? Do we focus on more and more free recipes and try to grow our traffic more and more? Or are we more of a health site that also has recipes? Which means focusing more on specific solutions to specific types of problems. This something we have been discussing a lot lately and trying to really hone in on for 2017.
The main things that went down this month:
- 30-Day Healthy Launch
- AdThrive Increase
- Sponsored Posts Picking Up
- November 2016 Income Totals
- November 2016 Traffic Totals
- November 2016 Key Takeaways
Last month I talked about our 21-Day Breakfast Challenge and how that went. I also briefly mentioned that we went from the free challenge into our paid product called 30-Day Healthy.
One of our goals for a long time was to update 30-Day Healthy make it better and also be able to lower the price to get more people to come in an join. After the 21-Day Breakfast Challenge was completed we started promoting our 30-Day Healthy program. The Breakfast Challenge was a natural lead into a more in depth 30 day program where every meal was planned out.
The launch started a little slow which made us really nervous. Normally, when we have launched something we start strong then it gets weaker and then finally it ends strong again. So the fact that this one started slow made us very nervous.
After talking around it seemed like most people where seeing a lull also around the election. So we stuck with our plans and kept moving forward hoping that we could have a strong email sequence and that once urgency played a bigger factor the sales would pick up.
Lacey made an email sequence that focused on all the main pain points we were trying to solve for our audience and how this program would help them with that.
We updated our checkout page to accept Paypal and off we went.
The tide turned and we had our biggest product launch yet. Which for us was a total of $3,263.00 worth of sales of 30-Day Healthy plus a few extra sales of our Academy.
We hit our target of over 50 purchases but we only hit around $63 dollars average cart value which was lower than the $80-$100 average cart value we were shooting for. Still though nothing to sneeze at and it felt good to put together a product that many people were interested in.
This was also our first time working on some retargeting ads. These went real well. We spent a total of $19.61 on ads and saw 9 purchases for a total of $537.00 which was an awesome return.
Next time we run this we are hoping to improve everything in each area. Get more people into the challenge and convert at higher rates across the board thus leading to more people participating in 30-Day Healthy towards the end of January.
Last month I mentioned that with the increased AdThrive revenue we decided to make some more changes. We updated our sidebar video widget to include 16×9 top down videos now instead of our normal show. Our hope is these will perform slightly better and get people excited to watch the show as more of a teaser. Plus, since they move a little faster we might see more views as well. Hopefully, we will see the video player revenue pick up a bit. Overall this hasn’t performed any better or worse really the difference is pretty neglible.
Swapping out our Swoop ad for an adThrive ad though has made a big difference. We went from around $300.00 a month for that ad to $700.00 a month. As you can see the RPM also rose significantly from $11.85 all the way up to $14.54. This will obviously stop going up once we get to January but we might as well take advantage of it now while we can.
We had a few things change in the sponsored posts area in the last few months. First, we started to see more people interested both in our reach out emails as well as just reaching out themselves by email and through Instagram.
Secondly, we increased our rates again. As we have improved our videos they take longer as well as we have a larger reach than we used to so we have decided to increase our prices for the second time this year and so far its going well.
Our plan is to do another batch of reach-outs here in December for the 2017 year.
When compared to last November which was 240k visitors, we saw 17% growth. Pretty good growth year over year. Next year will be interesting to see if we can keep growing at a similar rate. Here are the Google Analytics screen-grabs from the month of November 2016.
Traffic Month vs Month Comparison
Top Traffic Sources
Top Pages for November 2016
Finally, onto the income report.
- Meal Planning Service: $326.00
- 30 Day Healthy: $3,214.00
- AdThrive: $5,521.57
- Amazon Affiliate: $82.10 (this mostly comes from a post on the best kitchen tools Lacey recommends)
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $184.75 (I did a post on Food Blogger Pro and how we used it to grow ASPC )
- Video Ads (AOL/Youtube) : $52.24
- Swoop :$35.01 (We moved off swoop this month)
- Sponsored Videos/Posts/Freelance Videos: $7,050.00 (these are all lumped together for contract reasons)
- Clean Eating Course: $554.00
- Recipe Card Kit: $153.00
- Take Back Your Health Academy: $1,086.00
- Bluehost: $75.00
- How to Make A Viral Food Video Workshop: $539.10
- Holiday Survival Guide: $57.00
- Gross Total November 2016: $18,684.76
- Last Month October 2016: $13,787.42
- Difference: +$4,897.34
- Last Year November 2015: $5,125.85
- Difference: +$13,558.91
November 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: $259.00 (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: $10.81
- Baremetrics: $25.00
- WpEngine: $337.91
- Scribe: $47.00
- Github: $7.00
- Facebook Ads: $135.06
- Kraken: $9.00
- Crashplan (Backup Software): $14.78
- ClickFunnels: $97.00
- Canva: $12.95
- Gusto: $57.00 (payroll software)
- SumoMe: $50.00
- Google Drive: $1.99
- Groceries: $943.91
- Speechpad (transcriptions): $22.00
- AWS: $42.20
- Kitchen Equipment: $137.07
- Business Lunches: $35.13
- Pinterest Help: $375.00
- Domains: $48.00
- Insurance: $589.00
- Shipping: $44.32
- Bank Fees: $10.00
- Video Equipment: $637.87
- Yoast Renewal: $103.50
- Parking: $39.00
- Business Coaching: $1,024.50
- Jarvis: $19.95
- Contractor/VA Work: $815.82
- Kajabi: $129.00
- Total Expenses: $6,091.77
Net Total: $18,591.27 – $6,091.77 = $12,499.50
One thing that was a little weird about November this year was that both traffic and sales didn’t increase year over year like we have been seeing lately. It was a little disappointing since we had been looking forward to crossing the $20k in a month marker and though we would get there in this month.
That being said we have to be happy with setting a new record and things have been going real well so its always a little bit of a give and take when you don’t reach your goals it can be frustrating despite the outcome still being very good and something we are ultimately happy with.
Running the breakfast challenge followed by 30-Day healthy followed by holding a video workshop was very tiring. I think it burned all of us out a little.
As we start game planning for 2017 we are looking into ways to create more automation, better processes and ultimately focus specifically on the work that reaps the biggest reward for us and our audience.
Goals For December
To start December we are holding held our Workshop on How to Make A Viral Food Video.
We are also going to be diving into our 2017 planning and figuring out what the core parts of the business will be going forward. I want us to make sure we have enough time to really focus on the things we enjoying doing along with the things that are going to benefit the business the most.
This year was a lot of work and we seemed to almost always have our heads down. Ideally, we would have more time to iterate and improve and reflect on what is and isn’t working.
Last month I mentioned that our reach goal for Q4 was an extra $15k in Q4. Right now we are on track for an extra $7.5k so we closed the gap a little further but it still looks like we will miss our goal by quite a large margin. The main reason for this is slightly less traffic growth in Q4 than expected and less people in the workshop than we thought. It seems based off the feedback we got that December was a bad time to hold the workshop.
We are also working on two courses around getting sponsorships and Instagram that we promised as bonuses for the workshop attendees and will make them available to everyone once we get them finished in December and January respectively.
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.