Hey, Dustin here!
Last month I covered our HUUUGE April revenue numbers (at least for us) and this month I’ll cover how we followed that up by prepping for our first conference and staying on track while on vacation.
If it’s your first time seeing one of these let me walk you through real quick. Lacey & I run a healthy food blog called A Sweet Pea Chef. On and off I have created these income reports as a way to give insight into how to run an online business. Basically, the idea is to give you an inside look into how to create a blog that also functions as a business.
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 …
May 2016 was a good month for us. While it pailed in comparison to April it was an awesome step we stayed over the $10k mark which as you know is my goal for every month this year and moves us a lot closer to the $200k year (right now we are on track $146k). In order to hit the 200k revenue marker I am planning on more webinars, improved fb ads, a how to quit sugar online course and holding our first workshop on how to make viral food videos.
In order to pay Sean and Lacey the salaries they need to replace their 9-5 and cover our expenses we need to generate $10k per month. So, this is really our benchmark for success (and nervousness lol). Last month was our first month with Lacey and Sean on payroll so that was another huge step. We realized we needed to start networking better this year and getting outside our comfort zone so we booked tickets to Vidcon and May was all about prepping for this.
As you can see we lined up some contract work and sponsored posts so the revenue was much better.
All in all May was a solid month revenue wise plus there was some nice traffic numbers too you’ll see in a little bit.
If you want to check out the old reports, you can here.
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 May
May was really just a hustle month. We were prepping for Vidcon and our vacation all month which meant a ton of videos, photos, recipes and scheduling. We have started to realize how much everything depends on Lacey. She is the final say for a lot of things and involved in all the day to day operations of the business. This is something we are starting to address by offloading her time onto me, Sean or a contractor.
We basically filmed 3 days a week for the whole month. When Sean wasn’t filming he was editing and when Lacey wasn’t in front of the camera she was taking pictures of even more food. Lots of food cooked, filmed and eaten this month.
We also have been seeing tons of Instagram and Facebook growth over the past few months and we have plans to remake a bunch of older healthy recipes in our new style that does well on social media. This really has been tied to our video work and making custom cuts for each social channel we use. I am working on a How To Make Viral Food Video post for ASPC and Lacey is going to write one on how to grow your Instagram over 90k in a year.
The growth from these two channels has been a giant contributor to our traffic growth and revenue increases we have seen this year. Without this we wouldn’t have grown so fast.
It’s interesting how each thing leads to another and you kind of need to just follow the path that opens up as you see more opportunities from growing. For us it was starting video and then using that to grow social channels which allowed us to make brand deals as well as sell our ability to make videos. The improved social reach allowed us to promise video views that we wouldn’t have been able to deliver otherwise.
May 2016 Traffic Report
May broke April’s traffic. We weren’t really expecting that but it was another good sign for the upcoming fall season. Another month over 300k sessions and 400k pageviews so seeing a lot of growth this year which has been really good for our ad revenue.
When compared to last May which was 112k uniques, we saw 189% growth continually seeing over 100% growth every month so far this year so thats a really good sign. I know this probably won’t continue especially into the summer which usually slows down for us. Nonetheless it’s a good sign for traffic and growth in the fall.
I really want to see 1 million pageview in December which seems to be possible but a really difficult goal for us. We have some ideas on how to jumpstart this later on in the year when we start seeing more traffic for the fall season.
Top Traffic Sources
For April, most of our traffic was from Google again. I expect this to continue for a long time.
In May our how to quit sugar post moved to the top of the list. This post has done well for us on almost all our channels. Lacey dives into the 7 ways she quit sugar and tries to help others do the same. we are moving closer and closer to getting all of the top 10 in 5 figures for pageviews.
We also have some plans on similar type posts around healthy topics for the rest of the year that will hopefully have similar results.
May 2016 Income Report
Finally, onto the income report.
- Meal Planning Service: $223.00
- No-Fail Cookbook: $23.00 (we are moving away from this cookbook and hopefully coming out with a new one)
- Healthy Kid’s Lunch Makeover: $0.00
- Blogher: $197.81
- AdThrive: $2,956.18
- Amazon Affiliate: $80.12 (this mostly comes from a post on the best kitchen tools Lacey recommends)
- Food Blogger Pro Affiliate: $36.25 (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) : $78.04
- Swoop :$112.52
- Sponsored Videos/Posts/Freelance Videos: $6,100 (these are all lumped together for contract reasons)
- Contributor: $414.18 (Lacey and I started contributing to other sites in our marketing push and some of them generate extra revenue)
- Clean Eating Course: $1,044.00
- Take Back Your Health Academy: $699.00
- Gross Total May 2016: $11,964.18
- Last Month April 2016: $17,075.49
- Difference: -$5,111.31
- Last Year May 2015: $1,701.87
- Difference: +$10,262.31
AdThrive continues to impress me with how much better it performs than our other ad revenue sources. This is the last month for blogher so we were able to completely move off it and get onto AdThrive. Stoked to see where it goes from here, especially for the fall. Again it was huge growth from last year so thats good to see. Makes me wonder what we might be able to accomplish over the next year again.
The main thing that made this month so successful compared to last month was the sponsored posts and video contracts we locked down. That combined with the Adthrive and traffic growth has really stuck us in a nice position.
May 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.
- Wistia: $240.00 (we upgraded to yearly to save some money)
- Convertkit: $181.09 (I wrote a post on why we switched)
- Food Blogger Pro: $29.00
- 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: $454.38
- Kraken: $9.00
- Fb Ads Training: $97.00
- Crashplan (Backup Software): $14.78
- ClickFunnels: $97.00
- Samcart: $99.00
- Canva: $25.90
- SumoMe: $50.00
- Google Drive: $1.99
- Groceries: $548.40 (this has increased lately and goes with larger video deals we have made)
- Speechpad (transcriptions): $37
- AWS: $39.17
- Kitchen Equipment: $141.59
- Business Lunches: $154.44 ( I try to get lunch once a week for the team when they are shooting videos)
- Production Day Supplies: $69.22
- Office Space: $1,376.00
- Airfare: $467.20
- Photography Conference: $495.00
- Post Office: $6.45
- Bank Fees: $10.00
- Total Expenses: $5,223.35
Net Total: $11,964.18 – $5,223.35 = $6,740.83
Lessons Learned From May
Ramping up that many videos in a month is hard. We basically crammed 2 months worth of content and production into one month. In the future I think I would space the ramp up out more. It also leads to some problems along the way were we are cramming to get stuff out in hotel rooms with crappy internet. Lacey had to go down to the business center the wireless was so crappy and if we had been able to get everything done ahead of time that could have been avoided.
I also wouldn’t have started my challenge during the middle of this. This was a really bad idea that I’ll dive into in the next post. Just not sure what I was thinking here trying to do this at the same time we needed to prep for this trip and then the kids were coming home for the summer rather than school.
All in all a bad idea lol.
I do feel like in general we have gotten better with our planning but its always a work in progress and it’s better to recognize when you made a mistake and then pivot rather than just continue to do something that won’t work or won’t work right then.
Goals For June
Ok. So for June we are in travel mode. This usually means that it’s a scramble just to get everything out there and kind of maintained. So our goal is usually to enjoy ourselves not do to much work but make sure everything still goes out. This almost never happens lol. in fact future Dustin is on a short vacay right now and he is writing this post in a hotel room in the JW Marriott.
Let’s check in real quick on the Yearly goals:
- Grow MRR to $5k a month by the end of the year (stretch goal of $10k) (This was an epic failure I timed this goal really poorly and have a post coming out to dive into why)
- Create 2 new introductory offers that lead into our membership site (We are behind on this but we are actively working on a how to quit sugar course)
- Create 100+ videos and/or new pieces of content that’s over 2 a week for the whole year. (On track will get there easy)
- Hold 1-2 webinars every month on health related topics (started holding a webinar a month again)
- Launch the sister site Maried To Your Business (woohoo! one down already)
- Grow Traffic to over 400k visitors per month by the end of the year (about 40% growth here stretch goal of one month with 1 million pageviews) (On Track)
The MRR goal was really poorly timed stay tuned for the pivot we made with this and how we learned from my mistakes. Taking on too much in the wrong times can really provide unneeded stress and set you up for failure.
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.