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September was a crazy month, to say the least! Here are just a few things that happened last month:
1.) Labor Day.
I took a few days at the start of last month to assess my current state. I took a long hard look at where I was at – spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically, etc.
2.) My Birthday.
I turned 29 this month! As I get older, my birthday has become less of a public celebration, and more of an introspective gut-check. Realizing that I had just one year of my 20’s left made me more determined than ever to accomplish my goals.
3.) Hurricane Irma.
I live in Florida, and most of the state was without power for September. (Some of my friends were without power for over 2 weeks!) Luckily, I only had some minor damage to my rental property, and my primary house came out unscathed – but Irma was, at the very least, a reminder of the unpredictability of life.
4.) Friends In Town.
I also had some close friends come into town for half the month, so to say my schedule really got thrown for a loop would be an understatement.
How did all this affect the blog? Let’s take a look.
- Blog income more than doubled.
I had a huge milestone last month when this blog earned its first dollars. ($80.21) This month, the income more than doubled to $196! (More on the income, down below) And while you cant live off of 200 bucks a month, I was beyond ecstatic to see revenue growth for my new blog. 🙂
- Traffic remained nearly constant despite low post volume.
This one was a real pleasant surprise. At about the midway point of September, I knew it was going to be an ‘off-month’ in terms of post volume. I was worried that the traffic was going to tank, but luckily it didn’t! And that’s probably due to the next point…
- The site is slowly gaining more traction with search engines.
Even though I posted less, and marketed less overall, my traffic was able to remain overall steady because Google boosted a few of my posts to 1st-2nd page ranks. Mainly, it was my review for Trim that gained a solid amount of traction.
- Low post volume. 🙁
Because of all the reasons listed above, my post volume was below my minimum goal of 10 posts per month. In September, I had 5 new posts and added 1 new page of navigation content, for a total of 6 posts. On the plus side here, I’m very proud of the content that I did create for September!
- Continually testing/tweaking design.
In contrast to some, I am actually a firm believer in the importance of design. That’s why I’m always tweaking the design for Mr. Smart Money – I’m trying to figure out how to best increase conversions while maintaining an overall unobtrusive user experience. It’s good and bad at the same time. Good for the obvious reasons, and bad because it can be time intensive.
September 2017 Traffic Breakdown
- Pageviews: 2,061
- Unique Users: 683
- Bounce Rate: 70.72%
- Avg. Session Duration: 2:36
So nothing too crazy or different here. Pageviews were down a tad from last month, but I was expecting way worse with my off-month of post volume.
Bounce rate and session durations were near identical to last month, and we had more returning users in September. So while, there were less new users, the ones that did come tended to return instead of never coming back, which is a good thing!
How My Readers Found Me
As you can see, organic search and referral traffic continues to be my two most highly engaged audiences. Readers who come from these two channels are tending to stay longer and read more content than those coming from Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and other social media.
Sidenote: The ‘direct’ sessions data is a little skewed, as Google Analytics were recording a ton of Reddit referrals as direct sessions this month. In reality, the social + direct sessions should probably be swapped around for September.
I don’t know how realistic this is, but one day I’d love to see this pie chart break down into even quarters. I don’t want to overly rely on one traffic source, so I’m glad to see that my traffic for the blog continues to come in form multiple channels.
The Importance of SEO
If you’re thinking about starting your own blog, or you already have one you’re working on, I can’t stress enough how important SEO is.
Google is king for good reason. If you’re neglecting this part of your blog, I would highly recommend you reconsider. It’s not just purely for number’s sake, but time and time again, I find the traffic I receive from search engines like Google and Bing to be of higher quality than other sources. Just take a look. (These numbers are from the last 3 months)
The ‘average’ person who finds my site through search engines spends ~8 minutes reading and looks at 4 different pages of content. Compare that to my least engaged traffic source – social media:
And you’ll begin to see why I stress SEO’s importance. Now, in some sense, something is better than nothing, and less engaged traffic is still way better than zero traffic – but if I could choose, I’d always pick quality over quantity.
It’s part of the reason why I’m slightly less engaged on social media than other bloggers. And while I’m not saying Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit are unimportant, I’m okay for now letting that grow more slowly and focusing more effort on SEO, than vice versa.
I want to provide strong value to people who have real needs, and it seems like most of those people are turning to Google to get their personal finance questions answered.
That being said, gaining traction here is a marathon, not a sprint. Here’s a look at what my traffic graph looks like for the past 3 months on Google.
As you can see, it’s been a slow climb, not a rocket-like curve. From what I’ve read, the gains here tend to compound, so I wonder how long it’ll take for things to really start to snowball!
September 2017 Income
Now for the good stuff. September was the best month for the blog in regards to income. I honestly wasn’t expecting to make any money off the site for the entire first year – so to see that I made nearly $200 in just my 3rd month, was a huge surprise! Here’s the income breakdown:
1.) My recent review of RotoQL really took off on Reddit – which led to a bunch of conversions for the software. RotoQL is my favorite tool to use when playing daily fantasy sports to gain an edge vs. my competition. I’ve been playing on FanDuel for years, and it’s been a great source of side hustle money for me thus far. Sidenote: I can’t wait for the NBA to start back up!
2.) This site is actually run on both a premium StudioPress theme and their managed WordPress hosting service. And I’ve had nothing but great experiences with them so far! Someone in September read my blog and decided to get a premium theme for themselves, which is where the $35 came from.
3.) I have a small portion of my net worth currently invested into Bitcoin. I’m very bullish on the future of cryptocurrencies, and I personally use Coinbase to buy/sell all my Bitcoin. I’m sure by now you’ve at least heard of Bitcoin – if you’re thinking about buying some for the first time, I highly recommend you check out my review of Coinbase. If you use my link, we’ll both get $10 – not too shabby!
4.) I was surprised this month when I received $100 worth of swag for free. I shot a quick email to one of the founders of a company whose software I wanted to use (they currently don’t offer a trial, and they charge $100/month) – and to my surprise, he answered back the next day. After a quick back and forth, he agreed to give me one month of the software at no charge! Goes to show, if you want something, it never hurts to ask.
September 2017 Expenses
Once again, the great thing about blogging is it has very low overhead costs. Most of the cost is in the startup with hosting, etc. – but even that is usually just a couple hundred bucks.
Happy to say there were no blog-related expenses incurred for the month of September.
A Few Important Closing Thoughts
September was the first month that I actually turned down money for this blog. A couple different people reached out to me offering money in exchange for either sponsored content or advertisements on this site – but I immediately rejected.
After reviewing their product/content, it was actually an easy decision.
And even though I could have made a quick $200+, doing so would go against the two most important goals I have for this blog: Sustainability & Authenticity.
Suffice it to say, I’m okay with taking the slow road to growth for this site.
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Hope everyone has a great October. 🙂