Hey, Dustin here!
Welcome to our December 2016 Traffic and Income Report!
Last month I covered our November 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 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 December
December was are largest revenue month ever again.
Earlier in the year we thought we might be able to crack a $20k month this year but with November and December falling just short it obviously won’t quite happen. Still very happy with this progress and it sets us up nicely for next year.
Last month I mentioned how excited we were for November and that December wouldn’t match it and we shouldn’t get down on ourselves for that.
However, it also provided us with some motivation. How could we try and beat November. What tactics could we use to try and still get to that $20k goal we had back in January.
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.
We cam up with a few key things that we could try and do: 1) Generate more content, 2) Try and work with more sponsors and 3) Try and improve some of our systems in our business in order to generate higher conversion rates.
The main things that went down this month:
- How to Create a Viral Video Workshop
- A Team Member Leaves
- AdThrive Increase
- Sponsored Posts Picking Up
- December 2016 Income Totals
- December 2016 Traffic Totals
- December 2016 Key Takeaways
We hosted our first ever video workshop in December (for that matter our first workshop video or otherwise). We had a blast. It was a ton of fun teaching other foodies how to make viral food videos.
We covered all the essentials, lighting, setup, equipment and editing. Plus, we dove into the business side of making a food blog work and how we use video to do that.
Despite all the positive there was one negative.
We had planned on doing these every quarter or so but there was a slight hiccup in our plans. Sean, my brother, decided to leave the company. The timing of this caught us a little by surprise, but I knew at some point he would want to go do his own thing.
So, the end result is the workshops are taking a little hiatus while we figure things out.
With Sean leaving we had to switch into business mode a little bit. We had definitely been super reliant on him over the last couple of years and so we had to figure out what pieces we needed to replace. Obviously we needed another video editor, a videographer, someone to do creative stuff etc…
At first this was a little daunting but we realized that we could list of each piece of the business he worked on and then figure out a solution.
So we decided to outsource the editing for now along with the creative work. We don’t have enough of it to bring someone on full time so we found a few great contractors on Upwork to pick up some hours there as needed.
As for the videography we decided to keep that in house and purchased a bunch of new camera equipment that was recommended by Sean and I took over the roll along with a ton of help from Lacey and a crash course from Sean.
Part of this whole process also made us have to slow down the amount of content creation we did. We used to do 7 videos a week or so. Instead we trimmed that down to 1-2 videos a week at least for the time being while I get up to speed. We also needed to make sure we were being as efficient as possible and not just doing stuff without a plan.
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. We didn’t see a huge increase in anything for this but it seems to work a little bit better so we will leave it for now.
December was our largest ad revenue month ever. This is a good sign. We are starting to come up with a content game plan for the next year that will target more traffic growth and ideally we can see this number increase further.
December saw a big increase in interest in sponsored posts. We did some reach outs and had some people reach out to us that worked well for December and into January and February. we also lined up some deals that will extend into the rest of the year so this is super good news. We are definitely on track for the $150k plan I mentioned in the year recap post and will look to expand this so that we can hopefully start to project out to the $200k plan.
We have started going through all the different brands that Lacey has used over the last year and reaching out in an effort to work with them this year. Since Lacey has already used these brands it also makes the process a little easier as she doesn’t have to test it out as much ahead of time and already has ideas for how to create recipe concepts around them.
When compared to last December which was 288k visitors, we saw 6.93% growth. Pretty good growth year over year. A lot less than in November but still better than last year. This year should be interesting to see if we continue the same growth or stagnate a little bit.
Traffic Month vs Month Comparison
Top Traffic Sources
Top Pages for December 2016
Finally, onto the income report.
- Meal Planning Service: $894.97
- 30 Day Healthy: $98.00 (we usually run this live twice a year)
- Thrive Market Affiliate: $100.00
- AdThrive: $6,808.40
- Amazon Affiliate: $112.93 (this mostly comes from a post on the best kitchen tools Lacey recommends)
- 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
- Sponsored Videos/Posts/Freelance Videos: $9,650.00 (these are all lumped together for contract reasons)
- Clean Eating Course: $570.00
- Recipe Card Kit: $68.00
- Take Back Your Health Academy: $436.00
- Gross Total December 2016: $19,086.99
- Last Month November 2016: $18,684.76
- Difference: +$402.23
- Last Year December 2015: $11,559.55
- Difference: +$7,527.44
December 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: $175.13 (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: $64.92
- Baremetrics: $0
- WpEngine: $305.93
- Scribe: $47.00
- Github: $7.00
- Facebook Ads: $0
- 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: $623.52
- Speechpad (transcriptions): $19.00
- AWS: $41.68
- Production Snacks/Drinks: $43.77
- Pinterest Help: $375.00
- Domains: $12.00
- Shipping: $18.99
- Bank Fees: $10.00
- Video Equipment: $3,723.15
- Software: $5.40
- Workshop Expenses: $820.40
- Parking: $39.00
- Business Coaching: $1,024.50
- Jarvis: $35.30
- Contractor/VA Work: $1,438.30
- Kajabi: $129.00
- Synthesis & Fantastic: $373.17
- Total Expenses: $9,625.84
Net Total: $19,086.99 – $9,625.84 = $9,461.15
This month was interesting we accomplished a lot of things we set out to do and we tried to get to that elusive $20k a month marker but came up a little short. In doing that we wound up adding a bunch of expenses. Some of them related to the growth like hosting and some of them related to my brother leaving to do other stuff like getting a new camera, lenses etc…
This made for a little bit of a bittersweet moment. On the one hand I’m super happy with how everything is moving forward and we handled the transition about as well as we could have. On the other I’m sad since it is a little bit of an end of an era. I never handle massive change real well and there has been a lot of it lately both personally, professionally and globally.
It has been a little bit of struggle lately to keep focused on business with so much of this change going on. We have had to allow ourselves some time to deal with some of this stuff as well as try to really schedule time to focus on the next thing for the business and try our best not to allow distractions to creep into this space.
We realized we really needed to start scheduling our life a little bit better so we can bring a little structure back into our lives. Trying to run a business and not having a standard 9-5 makes a lot of things easier but it also started creating some weird dynamics.
We would work when we shouldn’t.
We found ourselves working all the time but never fully focused. This is a huge goal for January.
Goals For January
The primary goal for January is to get back on track. With our vacation in California and Sean leaving we have a lot of stuff to figure out. We need to get a new schedule and update our game plan.
We are trying to create a few schedules to go off of both business related and personal.
Our goal here is to have more dedicated time for both the family and the business. We have found that both tend to creep into the other if we don’t allow time for each to be more structured.
We are also moving to a shorter goals list that we figure out the night and week before. The main point here is to say what is our theme for the week and then break it down into days.
We are also shortening our weekend workdays. We work way to often on the weekends and don’t take enough time to hang out with the kids or friends. Our goal is to just get one small thing done each day and forgive ourselves for not working all day and night.
After all whats the point of a lifestyle business if we don’t enjoy it from time to time.
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.