Hey, Dustin here!
Last month I covered our August revenue and traffic numbers. September usually has a small dip in numbers compared to August traffic and revenue wise but this year we saw a little less traffic and a jump in revenue.
Fall is rapidly approaching and I can’t wait to see how the numbers grow the rest of this year.
On a side note I am finally caught up on all these income reports :). Woot! I also have an exciting announcement later on that is the primary reason for me catching up lol.
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 September
September was about rushing forward into our brand new 21-Day Breakfast Challenge.
Pretty much at the last minute we decided we wanted to do a challenge this year. The idea was to practice for a January challenge as well as try to grow our list 1k extra and get used to running a challenge.
After asking our Facebook group what they were interested in we settled on the idea of a breakfast challenge. There was a ton of work to do we needed to build out at least the first week, the optin pages and plan out promotions etc…
We settled on a start date of October 10th which meant 21 days was going to be October 30th.
It was super tiring but seeing how we wound up getting over 2,500 people to join in on our challenge was super exciting. The huge spike for a week was when we started to promote the Challenge 🙂 super excited to see everyone be interested. We are really looking forward to creating a really cool experience for everyone with a bunch of healthy breakfasts.
This chart is pulled from Converkit you can read about it more here if your interested.
And Now for the Official Announcement ….
I’m My Own Boss 🙂
I was planning on writing a whole post on this (and still might) but I would be remiss (am I the only one that uses that word anymore?) if I didn’t mention that September was my last month working for someone else. After a lot of thought, setbacks, savings and finally just making the jump I decided to make September my last month and dive head first into the business with Lacey and Sean.
This has been a long time coming.
Like a long time.
I can remember back to Lacey and I living in San Diego and driving late at night in order to get our infant Jordan to sleep (yea that Jordan the one that’s 7 years old now). We would go to the local Starbucks and get a latte and game plan for the business. This was the only way to get Jordan to go to sleep and it gave us something fun to do before we could get started working.
We would work into the wee hours of the morning like 2am and then I would roll out of bed around 6am and get ready for work.
6 years, 4 jobs and 4 moves later we are here.
As this journey been everything I thought it would be? Nope.
But I honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything and now I am finally able to work full time on our stuff :).
The Escape Plan
We planned this out pretty thoroughly.
We decided to sell the our house and move our family of five into an apartment. Yup. Thats right.
This was a big sacrifice. One I really struggled with. Making a good living has always been something that I was proud of and felt like I had accomplished through hard work and dedication and to give that up was a big step.
I knew I wanted a nice safety net and to pay some stuff off before we got started on this so we sold the house, saved up, paid stuff off and I kept working for as long as I could.
Lacey and I talked a lot about what we needed in order to be comfortable with me focusing on the online business. The problem for us was always a moving target.
We would say 3 months saved plus $5k a month coming in from the business then that became 6 months etc…
We even sabotaged ourselves over the years by continuing to improve our living situation every time I got a raise or a promotion. We should have been focusing on saving and/or paying off old debt and we would have gotten to this point sooner.
We finally settled on 10 months of buffer with another 3 months moved into savings somewhere not easily reached. This way if I run out of the 10 month leeway then I know I have 3 months to do something about it.
It’s weird I usually liked my job and enjoyed working with people and creating cool things, but I always had this desire to run a business and being able to spend more time with my family.
Then I finally got tired of traveling for work and the kids wanted me home so here we are :).
You can see how AdThrive Revenue keeps growing and every month we have been gaining almost a dollar RPM which when you look at it in total dollars is about $400 a month in ad revenue depending on the pageviews we have that month.
September 2016 Traffic Report
When compared to last September which was 161k visitors, we saw 75% growth. Pretty good growth year over year. Next year will be interesting to see if we can keep growing at a similar rate.
Top Traffic Sources
It’s crazy now that squash isn’t as in season the traffic has died down a lot for Baked Squash and Zucchini. Roast beef is picking up a bunch and we are seeing a little drop in the bottom half of the top 10 posts.
September 2016 Income Report
Finally, onto the income report.
- Meal Planning Service: $420.20
- AdThrive: $3967.34
- Amazon Affiliate: $72.51 (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) : $54.01
- Swoop :$297.87
- Sponsored Videos/Posts/Freelance Videos: $9,650 (these are all lumped together for contract reasons)
- Clean Eating Course: $860.00
- Take Back Your Health Academy: $737.00
- Gross Total September 2016: $16,109.68
- Last Month August 2016: $13,692.50
- Difference: +$2,417.18
- Last Year September 2015: $3,186.54
- Difference: +$12,923.32
September 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: $623.25
- Kraken: $9.00
- 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: $763.29
- Speechpad (transcriptions): $21
- AWS: $41.38
- HostGator: $30.34
- Route53: $12
- Kitchen Equipment: $330.94
- Business Lunches: $85.09
- Production Day Supplies: $0
- Pinterest Help: $375.00
- VA service: $597.67
- Domains: $24.00
- Research/Books/Courses: $79.91
- Parking: $1.80
- Business Coaching: $1,024.50
- Website Themes: $33.71
- Total Expenses: $4,550.69
Net Total: $16,109.68 – $4,550.69 = $11,558.99
Lessons Learned From September
We had a really good revenue month but that mostly came from contract work. We want to focus on creating new products that are little bit easier for people to jump into and get started on. The goal for Q4 is to generate an extra 15k or so over the normal revenue that we normally make and part of how we are doing this is to create a better funnel for people to participate in eating healthy and learning how.
We really want to move away from contract work being something we are so dependent on. It’s nice to have but it definitely dominates our income streams and makes it hard to spend as much time as we would like on our own projects.
We also learned what it’s like for me to jump full time into this business. Lacey has been full time on this for the last 2-3 years and before that she had another 1-2 year stint before we really figured everything out.
We learned from these past mistakes and made sure we had a really good business model understand where we can generate more revenue as well as a good savings account so I wouldn’t have to go get a job for awhile unless I wanted to.
Goals For October
October is going to be all about the Free Breakfast Challenge I mentioned and prepping for a follow up launch of 30 Day Healthy which will have all the meals planned instead of just the Breakfasts. We are hoping to be able to run through this sequence a few times a year with custom recipes for the different seasons.
We will have to design and create a new set of meal plans for 30 days, a few other bonus pieces and additional Holiday Survival Guide we will offer as a bump to the initial purchase.
I would love to see 25-40 people decide to take the next challenge that would be a 1-2% conversion rate for people in the free challenge and a good starting point towards using this process to iterate on.
I will also be working on creating a game plan for my side of the business. What are the business/marketing/technical things we have been neglecting since I used to juggle a lot of things with work. Now that I’m free I can start crossing some of this stuff off. I can keep Sean and Lacey a little more on task since I’m usually the default project manager as well as the person that does the SEO/Social research on what content we need to create.
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.