Looking back, the past year has been marked by great change in my life. I’m now living down by the beach in Los Angeles (Santa Monica), enjoying a winter that looks & feels a whole lot more like summer… it’s sunny and 80ºF outside as I’m writing these words—and the beach is calling my name this afternoon. Here’s a quick glimpse of my sunrise run from the other day:
The last six months in particular have been a time of intense, meaningful personal growth and a deepening of relationships with good friends & family that I’m extremely grateful for. Much more on that self-discovery journey to come soon, but we’re here today to talk a little more about the numbers 😉
This income report is (once again) coming a bit later than usual, but I’ve continued to enjoy a lot of offline time focused on non-work activities, being outdoors and carefully seeing a few family members during the holidays. December saw another pretty consistent drop across the board with numbers for my blog—with the exception of revenue increasing—but with a dip in traffic and drop in email subscriber growth. Income came in at $36,257.04 and I brought in 142,137 readers—with 198,986 unique sessions.
Examining the numbers for December… blog income increased a pretty sizable amount over last month (due largely to a delayed affiliate payout coming through), though I’m still seeing consistent commissions from my guide about how to start a blog and ramping up longer-term oriented gains with other monetized articles. I had another great month of enrollments in my comprehensive blogging course, Built to Blog: How to Get Your First 10,000 Readers and Earn Six-Figures Blogging (enrollments are still open, so come join us 👋).
Overall, I generated $36,257.04 in blog income during December of 2020—while spending very little time at my keyboard, which reinforces that my blog has been one of the most rewarding payoffs of a time investment in my entire life… and something I’m incredibly grateful for.
Expenses stayed pretty low for the month, and profit for December came in at $32,760.70.
The Forecast ☀️: For January, I’m expecting my blog income to go down quite a bit, landing revenue somewhere between $20,000 – $26,000. I’m expecting to stay in that general range over the coming months, while I continue spending more time away from traditional “work” and keep focusing more on my own personal growth. That being said, I’m still updating my most important content, implementing SEO improvements and keeping a cadence of new content coming out with the goal of rebounding traffic over the next few months. I’ll keep my business expenses pretty light for the months to come while I invest more of my time into ramping traffic back up.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and stand behind. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me, which helps me run this blog and keep all of my in-depth content free of charge for readers (like you).
Now, on to the details of my December blog income report…
Blog Income in December 2020: $36,257.04
In these monthly reports, I track my total income every month, including each individual source of that income, and associated expenses with running my business. This is the good and the bad.
Next, I break down the traffic to my blog which heavily impacts my income, including what’s performing best and how I’m working to drive in more readers. I also cover how many email subscribers I’m at, the number of new subscribers acquired during the month, and what that growth trajectory looks like.
Finally, I cover updates on any other side projects I’m working on for the month.
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Blog Income Breakdown for December 2020
Freelance Clients & Sponsorships
Web Services: Hosting & Storage
Rev (YouTube Transcriptions)
Travel, Office Supplies & Misc
AT&T Service Plan (iPhone)
iPhone 12 Payment Plan
Amazon (Office Supplies)
Transaction and Processing Fees
Net Profit Breakdown
Now, on to my blog and email-related statistics for December.
2. Blog Stats for December 2020: 198,986 Sessions and 153,275 Total Email Subscribers
December saw another drop in traffic from the previous month, bringing me to some of the lowest readership numbers I’ve seen on my site in at least a couple of years. While I’ve mentioned a few times recently that this is due largely to increased volatility in my key organic search rankings (fueled by several major Google algorithm updates over the past 6 months), I’m now spending most of my limited work time on experimenting with technical SEO tweaks and exhaustive content updates to halt the decline I’ve been seeing.
I mentioned in last month’s report that I’m certainly concerned & monitoring this activity as best as I can, it’s also important for me to hold the context that short-term volatility has always been the norm within my extremely competitive niche, and I know exactly what works best for maintaining high-ranking content over the long-term.
While occasional thoughts of doom & gloom can still enter the picture, I’m grateful that I can zoom out to see a clear pattern (with 8+ years of traffic history) that peaks and valleys are truly the norm. With that in mind though, it requires a healthy dose of proactivity and willingness to experiment in order to rebound from the low points. I’m continuing to implement some key technical SEO improvements that I can identify—of which I rely primarily on Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool for actionable insights and specific fixes—while regularly updating my key articles to make sure they stay fresh and helpful for readers.
As we’ve talked a lot about in these reports, I’m the first to tell you that blogging is a very long game… and short-term hits can’t discourage you from investing in creating resources that’ll lead to a brighter future. One of my takeaways from this sustained decline I’ve seen, is that I need to more thoughtfully diversify traffic sources (away from primarily just Google search) and revenue sources (away from affiliates as my top channel). You can expect to see a renewed focus on updating & promoting my Built to Blog course as we head further into the new year.
I was down 23.40% in Sessions from November as my traffic decline continued last month. Pageviews fell by 24.22%. The good news is that my decline appears to be leveling off.
Here are my top 15 most trafficked posts from December, ranked in descending order of which drove the most readers:
Most of the short-term volatility I’m seeing right now is from major search algorithm updates, and that isn’t fully in my control—but I’m adapting to interpret what the search engines are suggesting they’re trying to reward most… so you may notice some small layout changes to my blog already (like colors, fonts and more technical tweaks under the hood).
Throughout this all though, readers to my 25,000+ word guide, How to Start a Blog and Make Money have remained pretty steady—which still holds rankings in organic search for competitive terms like how to start a blog, how to blog and such. As usual, when more readers land on that guide… more are joining my free course, How to Build a Blog in 7 Days and they’re offered an opportunity to join my more comprehensive paid Built to Blog course that’ll help level up their blogging skills even more.
Also in December, I published one new long-form article for my growing audience of bloggers:
I’m continuing to find that the majority of my time spent on content goes toward maintaining my existing library of 300+ articles. It’s a lot of work updating and expanding these guides on an ongoing basis, so new long-form content will come a lot slower this time of year as I focus mostly on 2021 content updates for the next couple of months.
This is all with the continued mission of signaling to Google (and other search engines) that my blog’s niche is clearly focused around the topic of blogging and I’m expecting that intense focus to keep delivering more readers looking for tactical blogging advice over the long-term… this is an investment for the long game!
2. Email Subscribers
I’ve used ConvertKit to manage my email subscriber community and deliver my emails for several years now and I absolutely love the product.
December saw the addition of 1,450 subscribers to my community with my total email list growing to 153,275 subscribers.
This was another drop in email subscriber growth from November’s figures, which isn’t a surprise after seeing another down month in traffic, too. Email list growth is directly impacted by a few of my key articles getting less traffic than than they’d received in previous months (due to the many Google algorithm updates, which sent fluctuations in organic traffic).
As with previous months though, most of my new email subscribers came from the influx of blogging-related content and free downloads I have across my site (like my blog business plan, blogging books, outreach email templates and blog post templates)—which is my ultimate goal to remain focused on, as that’s the niche I’m all in on serving for the years to come.
A significant chunk of my new subscriber growth continues to be fueled by my free course, Build a Blog in 7 Days which is well-optimized for both affiliate revenue—and for offering my more advanced paid course (Built to Blog) for those looking to get more hands on help in growing their blogs.
That’s it for my December blog income report
As we touched on toward the beginning of this report, I’m predicting blog income to dip back down next month (and likely remain a bit suppressed for the next few months), landing somewhere between $20,000 – $26,000 in January as I experience continued fluctuations in traffic and corresponding affiliate commissioned that are directly related to the volatility in traffic I’ve been seeing for the past several months. My main focus still remains on updating in-depth blogging content that’ll pay off over the course of the months and years to come.
If you’re looking for some additional reading to help grow your own blog, I’m always updating my ultimate guide to building and scaling a profitable blog right here that I’d love for you to read 😊