I know a lot of you have been eagerly awaiting for the May income report to come out so thank you for being patient!

After an amazing April, I wish I could’ve followed it up with another stellar finish but as it goes with blogging, there are always a lot of up and downs.  Consistency is what we’re all trying to strive for but the nature of the business is that it’s constantly a lot of hustle to keep opportunities coming in.  That’s why I keep on saying that ambassadorships and longer term contracts are the golden egg in our space.

I’m not even going to try to sugar coat it.  May absolutely sucked from a money perspective but I know why and I’m totally okay with it.  Let’s dig right into it.

INCOME

So how bad/good did Going Awesome Places and Travel Blog Breakthrough do in May?

Note that I’ve converted all numbers into USD just to make it easy.  For each line also note the figures in parentheses which represent the change from this month to the previous.  Keep in mind that even though something might show up as *NEW*, it may be an income stream I’ve had in the past.

The Breakdown

Income

Detail

  • Neo @ Ogilvy – $236.81
  • Spoutable – $85.82 (+31.49)
  • BlueHost – $75 (*NEW*)
  • The Blogger Network – $67.63 (+$0.02) – Listen to the podcast where I chat with the founder
  • Seeding Up – $48 (+$24)
  • Google AdSense – $36.98 (-$18.98)
  • Udemy – $31.73 (+$26.73)
  • Sovrn – $20.25 (+$0.13)
  • AudioJungle – $10.20 (*NEW*)
  • Amazon Associate US – $2.84 (-$4.87)
  • YouTube – $5.73 (-$0.50)

Summarized by category

  • Sponsored Post – $236.81 (+$11.81)
  • Advertising – $216.88 (+$12.15)
  • Affiliate – $88.04 (-$2.40)
  • Sponsored Link – $48 (+$24)
  • Course – $31.73 (+$26.73)

Total income:  $621.46 (-$1940.57)

Expenses

Total expenses: $47.66 (-$108.37

Total profit: $573.80 (-$1832.20)

THOUGHTS ON INCOME

You’ll remember that I went on a crazy trip to China in April and when I came back in May, I worked my ass off trying to get the video, photos and blog posts done.   While I wasn’t really doing a whole lot of revenue generating work, it was nice to be able to work on my own content for once.

The big lesson I wanted to impart on you guys here is just the volatile nature of the work we do as bloggers.  Some months are going to be good if you can line it all up and other months its going to be bad.  In this case, I just wanted to work on my own thing for the month and that was OK for me.

If I think about April, that month was killer because I was able to combine income from the freelance video gig I did for Tours4Fun, freelance writing and sponsored work all into one.

Now what about the constants?  There was one sponsored gig that I spun out really quickly but besides that, it was all affiliate and ads that brought income in.

While I have sights set to break $3000 at some point, I think this was an unexpected and accidental experiment on what would happen if I went off-grid for a month.

AD NETWORKS

The part I’m really happy about this month was that my advertising income stayed more or less consistent this month.  Being able to maintain $200 on advertising alone is pretty sweet.

The following are my current ad networks ordered by the income they drove in.

#1 Spoutable

Damn guys you really killed it.  The great team at Spoutable tinkered something in May and I saw a massive spike like I’ve never seen before.  The eCPM’s were off the charts.

May-15-Spoutable

Pro:  Made a lot of money

Cons:  The pervasiveness and annoyingness of the popups was something that was raised by some of my readers and so that was definitely something I brought to Spoutable.  The good thing is that they listened to my request and for June they have been a lot less aggressive.

#2 The Blogger Network

The Blogger Network (TBN) is that horse that continues to performs rock solid.

If I compare my numbers to last month, there was a slight dip in filled impressions (from 93,241) but the surprising thing is that I still ended up making more, growing my eCPM from $0.65 to $0.67.

Okay so what is eCPM (effective cost per thousand impressions) you ask?  Plainly put, we care about this number because instead of taking CPM (cost per thousand impressions), this takes the revenue earned and divides it by CPM.  Effectively this tells you how much are you making per thousand impressions.  In Google speak, eCPM is the same as their RPM (as if this was confusing enough right??)

May-15-TBN

#3 Google AdSense

BIG drop in AdSense this month.  Let’s look at why.

Interestingly enough, almost all of my numbers went up this month but my Impression RPM (same as eCPM above) went down from $1.40 to $0.97.  The comforting part about this is that my blog’s is bringing in more page views and traffic but the bids for ads this month for clicks was just a lot lower.

May-15-AdSense-Dashboard

When I look at this, I understand why I didn’t do a well this month.  In May I got 25 clicks on the Above Article which generated $22.28 this month but in the previous month I got 50 clicks  and made $44.60.

May-15-AdSense-AdUnit

From a media type perspective, the big surprise this month was just how much rich media grew for me.  It wasn’t that it had more impressions but they generated more clicks.  More of an interesting fact than anything as it’s hard to drive any action to take advantage of this since Google does manage everything.

May-15-AdSense-MediaType copy

With Google announcing that starting at the end of April they were going to be rolling out an update where they’ll be boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results, I knew I had to make some changes.

This month (June now), I finally got The Blogger Network‘s Flight set up with Going Awesome Places so now I can start capitalizing on the growing amount of mobile traffic I do get to my site.  It’s going to be interesting to see how my TBN ads perform on mobile.

If you haven’t evaluated you mobile strategy, it’s probably time to do so now.  The chart below just further reminded me that I was losing an entire channel of revenue because the mobile “responsive” version of my theme for Going Awesome Places simply cuts out all the ads.

May-15-AdSense-Device

#4 Sovrn

It’s been a busy couple of months and I still haven’t done anything about Sovrn.  The plan is to cut it at some point but for now it continues to drive in consistent revenue to buy a fancy lunch once a month.

Conclusion about Ad Networks
Continue to test, measure and tweak.  Does having an ad block right above the start of your blog work for you or do sidebar ads work for you?  Try it out and see the results.  Keep doing what performs well and adjust the others.

AFFILIATES

Honestly not a whole not new in this department.  I sorely need to spend some time to rework affiliates into site but at this point I don’t think I’ll get to it until my site redesign is done for Going Awesome Plaes.

FREELANCE WRITING

Like I mentioned last month, CopyPress totally forgot about me and after a quick nudge, I’m back in the fold baby!  No income for May but it’s nice to know that the next few months will bring my freelance income back up.

SPONSORED WORK

The one sponsored post opportunity that did come up in April was really the result of doing good work for a brand several months ago.  The lady that worked at this agency remembered me and presented a new opportunity for me.  This goes back to the idea that you should always maintain good relationships with the past, present, and future.  You never know when someone will come knocking on your door again.

Lesson:  Never do shitty work.

TRAFFIC

Here’s a look at my traffic numbers from May.

TRAFFIC OVERVIEW

Going Awesome Places

I seem to be hovering around the same areas month to month.  That’s nice and all but this really gives me the drive to think about ways double traffic.

  • Sessions (-509)
  • Users (+135)
  • Pageviews (-1765)
  • Bounce rate (+1.19%)

May-15-Analytics-GAP-Dashboard

Travel Blog Breakthrough

The good news for TBB fans is that things are definitely picking up.  I actually hit 200 sessions a day at one point.  I love that some of you have really been big advocates for the site and sharing it with your own readers.  The best part about all of this is that I continuously hear stories about people finding everything here super helpful and transformative.  Thats really what it’s all about for me at the end of the day.

  • Sessions (+773)
  • Users (+689)
  • Pageviews (+1229)
  • Bounce rate (+6.78%)

May-15-Analytics-TBB-Dashboard

TOP 10 TRAFFIC SOURCES

This is a part of the analytics that I always keep a close eye on because diversifying traffic away from just relying on Google is so important in order to grow.

  • Pinterest doubled yet again where now it’s double what Twitter and ReviveOldPost are referring COMBINED.  Insane!  Yep, I’m a believer now.
  • I did notice a drop off in Twitter and ReviveOldPost referrals this month so I’m not sure if I should be concerned or not.  Part of it could be that I’m participating in less of the reciprocal sharing threads on the Facebook groups.
  • I somehow got linked to by Korean blog Naver talking about Hilton HHonors Instant Gold and that drove in unexpected traffic.

May-15-Analytics-GAP-Sources

TOP 10 KEYWORDS

Some observations about search queries for May:

  • I still love that “airbnb copenhagen” has become such a hit.  Again, this was something I wrote for Hipmunk via CopyPress and while it was intended as an organic sponsored piece, it’s ended up driving in traffic.
  • “Bali Itinerary” continues to lead the way in terms of Clicks and CTR.  Ideas for your own site?

May-15-Analytics-GAP-Queries

THE TBB PODCAST

I’m actively looking for interview guests for the podcast so if you’d like to be on the show let me know!

I have a HUGE ask of you guys.  If you haven’t yet, could you head over to iTunes and leave a review on the Travel Blog Breakthrough podcast?  Still don’t quite have enough for reviews to show up but I am oh so close!

UDEMY COURSETBB Udemy Course

About the course:  I go in depth into the 10 tools that all of you bloggers need to know about.  I introduce the tool, talk about why it’s awesome and then show you how to set it up and use it as I would.

For a limited time, I’m offering the course for ONLY $5 to all of you super fans.  Use code MAYTBB5.  There are only 5 codes and it expires July 10, 2015.

I’m also giving away this course for FREE for the first 5 readers that e-mail me….and GO!

WHAT’S NEXT

It’s pretty much the end of June right now and I’ll say right off the bat that it was way more productive from both a revenue perspective but also getting my China trip content all done.  Next up is Competitours and I’m friggin excited.  I’m going to be trying something completely new for Going Awesome Places and I hope you’ll follow along.

BOTTOM LINE

4 key takeaways from May

  1. Time to get on Pinterest.  Want to learn how I do it?  Just head over to my post about BoardBooster.
  2. Nobody said blogging is easy work.  As you saw from this month, if you stop hustling and actively pursuing opportunities, the income will dry up.  Blogging is volatile as hell.
  3. I loved being able to work on my own stuff for awhile.  It gave me a break from all the brand/sponsor work and allowed me to generate some amazing content
  4. Passive and automated income is great because even if you let go of the gas pedal, these channels will still add coin into your wallet.
Will's Wisdom
Work on the paid work that makes you happy, makes sense for your audience and is worth your time.  
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Will Tang

I'm the writer behind Going Awesome Places and through its growth, I've learned a heck of a lot from trial and error. I have a passion for helping others succeed and through TBB my hope is to empower you with what works (and what doesn't) so you know exactly how you can take your blog to the next level.

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