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What happens if you coast? 2016 Q1 Income & Traffic Report

What happens if you coast? 2016 Q1 Income & Traffic Report

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Q1 2016 Blog Income Report

I looked at my entire year back in January and honestly, I was a little embarrassed. I was surprised at how little money I “cleared” – and that wasn’t even taking taxes into account. I drug my feet a little. I thought about stopping income reports. But that’s silly, right? I share all my failures and successes creatively, and will continue to be transparent on the business side too. Furthermore, after writing this post and rereading it, “make more money” has never been one of my goals and maybe it should be. Funny how obvious things like that slip by, sometimes.

So, here is my first quarter! I really have taken a laidback approach to posting the past few months, ramping down from two posts minimum to just one. I’ve continued my newsletter and really enjoy finding creative inspiration and posts to share in it, I’m so glad I started it (sign up here!).

This covers January, February, and March of 2016. As I’ve said previously, I really enjoy reading similar reports and figured sharing my own would entertain someone and also keep me accountable to keep track of these things. You can read my previous income reports all here. I am looking at average daily visits, income/expenses, subscriber & follower counts, traffic in/out, & goals. If you’re a creative blogger yourself, be sure to check out my list of links for affiliate programs, networking opportunities, and places to submit your work!

{This post contains affiliate links, indicated by an asterisk*. Please refer to ‘legal stuff’ in the top menu for more info.}

Despite all of that, as you’ll see, my traffic has stayed pretty steady and my other numbers have continued to grow.

Average Daily Visit Count

(September: 1276)

January: 1648

February: 1516

March: 1619

Subscribers

I thought it’d be interesting to keep one more chunk of time in there – it makes sense to see that the platforms I enjoy using the most have the most growth. I’ve stopped spending time promoting my posts in G+ communities without any noticeable dip in traffic.

[September 2015 vs. December 2015 vs March 2016]

Instagram [647 /825 / 1030 ]

Facebook [772 /961 / 1150]

Twitter [618 /648 /730]

G+ [341 / 374 / 393]

Pinterest [ 2929/ 3608 / 4150]

Newsletter [747 / 1201 / 1580 ]

Money

Income

income q1 2016

Another pretty balanced quarter, I feel good about where all my money is coming from! Most of the pattern income is from my patterns that were published in magazines, as opposed to direct sales from my site, which is a little misleading. I’d like to focus some thought on boosting pattern sales from my site in q2- I admit that I pretty much only buy patterns when a sale catches my eye so maybe I need to run a sale!

My affiliate money is primarily from Amazon – hundreds of people bought this* when it was over 90% off and I shared the deal in my newsletter! I was excited to publish my Lark Tee as a Craftsy affiliate because the kit was awesome, but then after one sale processed, it went mysteriously out of stock in all 3 colors? I am a little puzzled and disappointed. I only found one sponsored post that felt like a good fit – I shared a free embroidery pattern for it.

Expenses

q1 expense

Something I am SO excited about paying for was my Tailwind subscription. You can try a free month through my referral link* – it allows you to repin something to several different board spread out, with one click. This has saved me SO MUCH time in promoting my posts, I can’t even begin to tell you. It also lets you queue up other pins so they space out throughout the door, and their new ‘tribes’ feature make it easy to find content. I am a big fan!

Other expenses weren’t particularly notable; lots of smaller purchases for posts and recurring expenses like my domain renewal, etc. I did buy these photography backdrops* which seemed like a great deal, so far I’ve only used one for flat lay photos like in this book review post.

Total in: $1218.1 Total out: = $513.99 Quarter Overall: $704.11

Year to date=$704.11 Life to date= $3104.67

Traffic In/ Out

This section seems silly to keep writing, because for the third report in a row it is all pretty much the same!

Out

1. imaginegnats. People love my beanie hat post; lots of clicks over to her free pattern!

2. Pinterest, my favorite. People have checked out this free hat & my refashion board most often.

3. 2. Delia Creates, with links from my free beanie hat post and free headband post.

4. Another headband hit, the twisted headband from this post.

5. A new link into the mix, this beautiful butterfly paper piecing pattern*, from my free foundation paper piecing pattern post.

In (Referrers)

1. Pinterest —  my tips for thrift shopping has really taken off this quarter, with the log slice pouf gaining traction.

2. Search Engines

3. Facebook

4. So Sew Easy — I switched over to writing more round-ups for the site and including some of my own posts garnered lots of traffic. The top two were ‘things easy to sew and sell for a profit‘ & ‘free floor pillow tutorials

5. All Free Sewing – this quarter my free dump truck pillow & jogger pant refashion were popular.

Top 5 posts

1. Five Tips for Sewing to Upcycle or Refashion

2. Free Knit Beanie Sewing Patterns Tested

3. 4 Free Headband Sewing Patterns Tested

4. First Birthday Party Prep – Giant Photo Display

5. Log Slice Pouf for Birch Fabrics

Search Terms

Nothing funny this quarter – several people found my simple tutorial looking for ‘pattern for brother serger dust cover’. I had lots of options for a ‘diy babywearing coat’ in this round up post and hit the very specific query for ‘Ottobre 3/2016’.

A little vague, but at least one person Googled to ‘join something new’ so hopefully they are jumping in to Try Something New Every Month with us!

Goals

Here is how I did for my 2016 Blog Goals:

I decided to switch from the actionabe, specific goals to some broader hopes for the year. You can see my 2015 in review for the business side & for the creative side, respectively.

Take Better Photographs

I think this is going well! Only pushing for one post a week is giving me more freedom and time to wait for better light or add staging that results in a better photo.

Work Smarter

As I stated at the end of last year, I made several significant changes to how I work. I’ve been uploading pictures directly to WordPress instead of hosting them on Flickr, using Tailwind to pin, and stopping promoting on G+. This has all dramatically cut down on the time it takes me to write and promote a post.

One other thing I’ve been doing ‘smarter’ instead of ‘harder’ is only sorting my photos once – I create a folder of ‘no’ pictures, leave out the ones I need to edit, save all the edits and make sure I didn’t need any of the ‘no’s before deleting them. Less digital file space used and it’s much easier to look back through later.

Promote Old Content Better

Every week, I’ve included 1 or 2 old posts ‘from the archives’ in my newsletter and it’s been going great! I am so glad I started doing this. I’ve kept track of everything in a spreadsheet but still need to finish adding the rest of 2015’s posts. I could definitely use a few days to schedule out pins of old content, and need to make that happen.

Work Smarter on Freelance Posts

The more I think about freelance posts, the fewer I am signing up for. I am going to finish out my commitments and then probably solely write for this site in 2017. I will say that this post about tips to refashion was very easy to write and has been very popular. It was prompted by another article I wrote for So Sew Easy, so food for thought!

Make More Money

New goal! Adding this one in after writing this post. I am going to schedule out some sales on my own patterns and try to be more diligent about sharing affiliate links regularly.

I made a BIG change in this quarter that won’t be reflected until my q2 report – I signed up with Mediavine. They are an ad network – so they handle all the pricing and availability as opposed to me trying to “waterfall” things myself between different companies. I’m currently in the third month of earnings (which won’t actually pay out until q3) and making almost three times a month what I had been, which is great!

I’m feeling a little less dejected about the financial state of things – I know what the general Internet would say. Create more products! Promote what you have more! But honestly, at the end of the day, I’m still spread pretty thin time-wise with the kids and want to make sure I’m enjoying what I’m doing. We hired a bi-weekly housekeeper, which has been amazing, but I’m still working in the margins of the day. I literally can’t remember the last time I slept longer than 4 consecutive hours! So, I’m cutting myself some slack and continuing to try and do what I enjoy, make a little money, and stay true to what feels ‘right’ for my site and my readers.

Lastly, I got another project accepted for publication in q1! I won’t be able to share it until the end of the year, but I’m excited about it. I look at it as a resume builder more than anything, and it is always nice to see my name in print and on the stands. Maybe I will be able to make time to work on my book proposal by the end of the year (but wow, how is it May already!).

If you’ve made any creative or blogging goals, I’d love to hear how they are going! Are you surprised at how little money I made? Have you experienced similar, slow growth this quarter?

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Domenica

Thursday 9th of June 2016

Thanks for your honestly! I just read an income report where they had earned $70000 for last month. It deflates me. I don't know why I read them! Thanks for posting your honest income report. It keeps things real and shows that it's not as easy as people may think to make a side hustle out of blogging. I also have two children under five and work on my side hustle early morning and after bed time at night as well as try to create for the fun of it! It's not easy and not always fun but I love the fact that I can create an income from doing something that I love in the hours that suit me and my family.

Thanks again and I look forward to seeing what you bring out in the future!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 10th of June 2016

I hear you, Domenica, I feel the same way when I read those income reports! I think it's so hard when some people have way more time than we do! I will keep on keeping on - and so far, it seems like things are looking up so there's that :)

linda

Monday 16th of May 2016

Thanks for sharing. I've always been intrigued by income reports, but often they are from big name folks who seem to be playing a different game. I appreciate your honestly and transparency and I love how you do quarterly. It seems more approachable for sure. I think I should start because it helps to direct one's efforts... even if the beginning is all red and negative numbers ;P

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Thursday 19th of May 2016

You should start! It really forces me to take the time to break it all down - and double checking my income/expense numbers is a lot easier every 3 months over once a year. Thanks for reading!

Lodi

Sunday 15th of May 2016

My husband and I got a half a day bi-weekly housekeeper. (My husband and I are handicapped.) It is a total life changer! You actually have to pick up so the housekeeper can actually clean. That in itself would probably help everyone without a housekeeper!

More time for making!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Thursday 19th of May 2016

It is SO true, the forced picking up has been a real motivator. Ironically, after I posted this, my housekeeper had some family changes and stopped - so now I have to decide if I want to spend more time looking for a new one (I am picky about products used, I hate chemical scents!) or go back to doing it myself :P Thanks for reading, Lodi!

Shelly

Friday 13th of May 2016

Girl, thanks for keeping it real. I actually read your reports religiously! Haha. You are definitely an analytical person and always in the know! I'm always like, Stephanie's doing it, I need to check that out. Haha. And I totally need to get some of affiliate know how! Bummer on the craftsy post. I thought that one was brilliant! I've been working on being more consistent, and with kids it is HARD! So go you, for doing it with a baby!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Thursday 19th of May 2016

Thanks Shelly! It seriously is hard. My "baby" is almost 15 months but still wakes up 2-3 times a night sooo it's like she is a baby haha :) I might email you about Lightroom one of these days, I have heard good things. I'm still slogging away with Picmonkey and don't have the mental capacity to learn anything new, but maybe some day! Glad to hear you like it.

Shelly

Friday 13th of May 2016

Ps Lightroom is my biggest photo editing time saver!

RLC

Wednesday 11th of May 2016

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your income reports. I think it is quite brave of you to share such private information. As a someone trying to sort out how to make money from my six year old blog, I really value the honesty with which you share this information. So, thank you. :)

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Thursday 19th of May 2016

Thanks! It is always nice to hear that someone is actually reading them - and of course a bonus that you find them helpful :)

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