Happy New Year! It’s time for another monthly revenue report! Each month, we reveal the “behind the scenes” economics of our ongoing quest to turn our food blog, FromAway.com, into our full-time job. We’ll share with you what worked and didn’t work from the previous month, with the idea that the things we learn will save you a few steps on your own path to profitability. As always, please let us know if there are any particular stats or pieces of data you would like to have, and we’ll do our best to answer everyone’s questions.
Here’s the breakdown of the income generated by FromAway.com for the month of December, 2012:
- BlogHer: $1,185.73
- Google Adsense: $162.54
- Local Ad Sales: $80.00
- Bluehost (Affiliate): $260.00
- Elegant Themes(Affiliate): $64.00
- Studio Press(Affiliate): $27.98
- Pinch of Yum (Affiliate): $19.00
- VigLink: $10.00
Total Earnings in December: $1,809.25
Were you wondering what this data would look like in pie chart form? I’ve got you covered:
Here are a few notes and explanations of the above:
BlogHer and Google Adsense
The end of the year is always a good time for anyone serving banner ads, and this December was no exception. The ad sales team at Blog Her must have been kicked into overdrive, serving up tons of banner inventory with fairly high-paying CPMs, or cost per 1,000 impressions. We also raked in an extra $50 for a small campaign we did for The Art of Shaving, which required us to “tout” a predefined advertising message eight times before the end of the year. Unfortunately, we came just short of our goal of generating one million banner impressions for the month.
We managed to generate 902,859 banner impressions for BlogHer in December. To get to a million, we’re choosing not to add any more ad units to the site; instead, we are focusing on building more traffic.
Google ads were shown instead of BlogHer’s house ads, when there were no campaigns available, generating approximately the same amount of revenue as usual.
It was a good month for affiliate sales; nearly across-the-board, sales were up for the month of December. I’m not sure why, as we didn’t do any additional marketing. For now, we’ll call it a fluke and see what happens next month.
And now, here’s a quick look at From Away’s stats for the month of December:
Notice our average pages/visit? It’s low. This means that people are hitting the site, either through a referral or from a search engine, reading one page, and then leaving the site. We’re simply not doing a good enough job of engaging users and convincing them to browse the rest of the site, which is a design issue that I will be working on in January.
What else will we be working on in January, to drive revenue higher? It’s a bit of a scary month; now that the holidays are over, major national advertisers will be scaling back their advertising budgets, meaning we can probably expect our BlogHer numbers to go down next month, as advertisers are less willing to buy banners. In an effort to mitigate this drop in income, we are going to make a few big moves.
First, we are going to test replacing From Away’s search functionality with a Google custom search. I have mixed feelings about this. I’d hate to alienate users with even more Google ads, and I don’t think that Google’s search is any more robust than WordPress’ built-in search function. On the other hand, some of the biggest food blogs on the planet use it (Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes springs to mind), so there has to be a reason. In January, we’ll test replacing our regular search function with Google’s, to see if the results it delivers are better, or if it brings in any extra money.
More significantly, though, January 1st saw the launch of a big new experiment on our website: A retail, mail-order branch of the blog, selling a collection of our favorite items from the world of food and drink. This may not be a revenue stream appropriate for every food blogger, since it will be rather expensive in terms of time and the initial inventory purchase for each item we add to the shop. But it could be a way to convert casual visitors into customers. We’re keeping an open mind, and trying to approach the new portion of the business slowly, sanely, and with a minimal initial investment. Of course, we’ll report back on its relative success (or failure) at this time next month.
I hope you found something in this month’s report that was useful! Check back next month, when we’ll talk about the changes we’ve made, as well as what worked and what didn’t for January. Of course, if you have any questions or comments, or if there is any more specific information you would like, please let me know in the comments.
Please note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you use them to make a purchase. I have used each and every one of the products or services listed above, and recommend them based on my positive experience with them, not because of the commissions that I may earn from your purchases.