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As I build my business by learning from other bloggers’ income reports, I will be documenting my progress with my own income and traffic reports. You can see the full list of my personal income reports on my income reports page.
What Happened in January 2016
After grabbing the domain OnlineIncomeReport.com on December 30, 2015, I had a very busy first month in January.
My goal in January was not to generate any income but to take the first steps in developing the site. I knew that the income and expense data from other sites would be the keystone to this whole brand, so my focus was around finding, collecting and displaying that data.
Here’s how I did it.
I found (a bunch of) income reports.
I already had a short list of sites that I followed, including Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn (Pat’s numbers here), Entrepreneurs on Fire by John Lee Dumas (JLD’s numbers here) and Pinch of Yum by Lindsay and Bjork Ostrom (their numbers here). I knew that there were many other bloggers who were publishing income reports, I had even read through several. But I had no idea how much info has been published in the last decade.
A quick Google search for “online income report” revealed several sites that publish income reports. One of them in particular is Cash Flow Diaries by a man named Alexander which has the popular page The Ultimate List of Monthly Blog Income Reports. Bingo! I knew as soon as I saw this page that my idea was validated: there are dozens of sites with income and traffic reports. More importantly than that, there is an active audience of folks who want to discover them (based on the comments on Alexander’s page).
I bet you can guess what happened next.
I collected their data.
My first step in data collection was to make a Google Sheet spreadsheet and put all down all of the names and URLs of sites from Cash Flow Diaries’ Ultimate List. Then I visited each of those sites and read their income reports.
All of them.
OMG there were so many.
And it was awesome!
As I read each and every month of income and traffic, I would add that data into my spreadsheet. What started as something with 2 columns and 30 rows quickly became a 40+ column monster that includes things like site info, primary niche, income, expenses, social media followers and hours worked.
Here’s what I learned:
There is no standard format for income reports. Every blogger has her own style.
Even within a blog, the format tends to change month-to-month as the blogger becomes more comfortable with opening up the curtain and their audience starts asking for details. This evolution process so common, I would say that is the only consistency between each of the sites.
Some have just the numbers. Some have a lot of background information (like this story you are reading). Some itemize the income by revenue stream and others just give the totals. Some included expenses, some do not. Some report quarterly or even annually.
At some point, many bloggers stop publishing income reports.
Did the newness / excitement wear off? The burden of publishing the reports become too great? Did the blogger give up on their business completely? Life get in the way? Disgusted with their lack of progress? Are they afraid of publishing financial numbers over a certain goal?
People find income reports inspiring.
Even though much of the blogs’ target audience has no intention of starting an online business, the income report section of many sites gather more social interaction via comments and trackbacks than other sections of the blog.
Comments like this:
I love seeing what you and other bloggers make from their blog. I’m not yet at the point where I’m making money, and don’t know if I will ever be, but I think it’s a great way to make some extra $$ or even earn a living. It helps me look at my stats in more/different ways. I am looking forward to your 2015 recap!
Okay-this is so inspiring-you are killing it with all that affiliate and advertising income. I want to be you when I grow up
Visitors want to know how the sausage is made.
Comments like this:
Great post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
I’d love to know more about how you grew your Instagram followers! Do you have a post on it, yet?
Then I found more sites and collected their data.
After documenting each of the months from each of the sites on Cash Flow Diaries’ Ultimate List of Monthly Blog Income Reports (which took me about 30 hours of data entry), I went back to Google to find more.
I found a bunch more.
And I entered all their data.
I started getting a lot better at Google Sheets.
I mean after 40-60 hours over the course of 2 weeks (nights and weekends were completely overwhelmed this month) in a tool, you start learning some tricks. Nothing terribly earth shattering, just formatting columns, counting the instances of a value and how to concatenate two columns together.
Google started emailing me.
Well, Google Alerts started emailing me. I created an alert that started sending me daily emails whenever a page with the keywords “December income report” was indexed. About 50% of the results were not relevant, but a lot of awesome sites were found.
More come rolling in daily.
I check to see if I already have them in my spreadsheet. If not, it’s usually a quick add.
I wanted to graph the report numbers.
The early vision I had for OnlineIncomeReport.com was to fill it with graphs. Each month would feature a pie graph that broke out the income from every report filed that month.
I choose Google Charts.
Because of the price (free), the fact that my data was already in Google Sheets and wouldn’t need to be imported / converted to another source, the number of charts available, the ability to build controls and dashboards and the annotation feature, I chose Google Charts for the minimum viable product (MVP) of this site.
Here is a screenshot of the pie for December, 2015.
In the real chart you can click each of the pie slices to go into a detail page about that blog. The detail page has my favorite, the annotation graph.
What I love about this graph is the interactivity. It’s a lot like the Google Finance graphs (ex NASDAQ: AAPL). You can use the miniature graph at the bottom to zoom into a certain part of the chart, and I can create annotations within the data that can highlight important milestones or anomalies within a report.
Thoughts? Lee a comment and let me know what you like and what you don’t like.
Blog Posts in January
The majority of my time was spent finding the income reports, collecting the data and figuring out how to graph it on my WordPress site. This didn’t leave me much time to write quality blog posts, but I got a few quickies out.
Dealing with Motivation Issues (and my first comment, YAH!)
Blogging Goals for February
Writing this on Feb 8 means I’ve already burned up 25-30% of the month, so not many blog posts will be written. My mail goal is to continue to build up the biggest list of online income reports ever and start networking with the bloggers that I am following.
Okay so here are the numbers.
Total Income – $0.00
Like I said before, I was not trying to generate revenue this month. I did not want to start with a bunch of ads taking up valuable real estate on a site that has little to no valuable content.
I did sign up for a few affiliate programs, which I’ll be testing over the next few months. The first is BlueHost which is an awesome website host for newbie bloggers. Another is GoDaddy which currently hosts my sites and domains (through their sister / affiliate company Wild West Domains).
You can read about both in my article Start a Website in 15 Minutes.
ConvertKit – $29.00
In the middle of January my Aweber account had expired (purchased in January 2015). Since learning a lot about email marketing over the last year, I decided to make the switch to ConvertKit this year.
The main reason is ConvertKit’s ability to easily segment your list so that you can send information and market products to only the people on the list that care about that sub-niche. Super super powerful.
If you haven’t yet selected an email marketing tool (the money, as they say, is in the list!) or you are ready for an upgrade, I can recommend ConvertKit.
It was super easy to import my old list from Aweber and set up my campaign. I’m still getting used to the terminology differences, but I think I’m going to be a lot happier with ConvertKit in the long run.
Total Expenses – $29.00
Here are the numbers from Google Analytics.
Sessions - 118
Users - 85
Pageviews - 292
Pages / Session - 2.47
Average Session Duration - 2:41
Bounce Rate - 72.88%
% New Sessions - 72.03%
So looking into the acquisition types and referrers, I’d say 80% of these numbers are from a combination of me and spam bots.
I did get a few hits from fellow entrepreneurs in Jill and Josh Stanton’s Screw Community on Facebook. Incredible folks there. I highly recommend joining their community and getting in on the conversation (it’s free). I’ve learned tons and met many awesome entrepreneurs there in the few short weeks I’ve been a member.
Want to know more?
I will publish these reports monthly. The link below will graph my progress and link to each of the reports.
If this has been helpful, please leave a comment in the area below.
Have some constructive feedback? I want to know that too!
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Take care, and see you next month.