2016 started off with a bang but it has definitely been a roller coaster. Let me just start off by saying that entrepreneurship is definitely not for the faint at heart.
There are good months, not so good months and even downright troubling months.
January started off on a high note and I was definitely expecting that to set the stage for what was to come.
However, February was just an odd month I can’t say it was a horrible month because I still met my goals, paid all of my bills, paid off a credit card and even started and funded my 401 (k).
It was short month (but this is a really long post) with more than one hiccup and entirely too many expenses. Going into March there is a lot of clean up to do but I will save that for the March income report.
February 2016 Highlights
- Redesigned the site (yet again). I think am finally happy with the layout and overall theme
- Accidentally deleted all of my product images (DISASTER!!!)
- Added Stripe as an additional payment option (saw a higher conversion rate)
- Pinterest changed their algorithm and started seeing a slow decrease in traffic toward the end of the month.
- Begin implementing upsells at check out using Sendowl (what a game changer)
- Owed taxes for the first time EVER!!! Big wake up call!
- Opened my Small Business 401 (k) (that tax bill got the ball rolling)
- Paying myself a consistent weekly salary, sometimes very small salary
- Started seriously contemplating minimums instead of maximums (I’ll explain below)
Is Enough EVER Really Enough
This could probably be a stand alone post but I am going to try to briefly talk about it here. In February as the end of the month drew near and I was clearly going to make less than I had made the month prior I began to question myself.
I sat down and had a bit of a come to Jesus moment where I had to ask myself will enough ever really be enough.
Although I didn’t do as well as the month before I had still brought in more than enough income but I still felt down and out because I hadn’t exceeded the month before.
The single question that kept coming up was “when will I be happy with where I am?” or will I be continually chasing the next higher number.
I understand in business you want to grow and do better each year but does there come a time where you are truly just content or is it a continuous paper chase.
I came to the conclusion I don’t want to be on the paper chase hamster wheel. I do want to be successful but it was clear I hadn’t truly defined what success looked like for me. Success for me isn’t million dollar launches and fancy cars.
Success was being able to comfortably enjoy my life, my son and to encourage and touch the lives of others. After that revelation I sat down with my budget and came up with my minimum number.
This was the number that I needed to live comfortably, invest in our futures and truly just enjoy life. Anything over that number would be a blessing but if I don’t get that I will still be happy and content.
Do you have a minimum number that you would make you content?
February Income Report
February is the shortest month of the year and proved to also be a bit of a month of hiccups for me. The month started off with promise but then I got the wild idea that I was going to redesign the site and work on speeding things up.
My first order of business was to delete some old post that literally had nothing to do with anything and delete pictures that were not attached to any posts. Well let me tell you that proved to be a major disaster.
I deleted all of my product images by mistake because wordpress said that they were unattached to anything and I didn’t realize that they were missing until a full day later.
February 13th was my first ever day with 0 sales.
I was in a panic because on my end all the images still showed up but I didn’t realize that I was looking at a cached version of my site and what others were seeing was massively different.
How can you sell a product with no image?!?
I discovered the issue after uploading the new theme and rushed to add the image back. Sales picked up almost immediately. But I couldn’t help but thing how many people came to my site for the first time that day and never returned because of that…UGH it made me a bit sick.
Once I got the images back up I made 3 very important changes.
- I added Stripe as an additional payment option after talking with numerous customers that wanted to use a credit card and not go through Paypal. Almost all order are now being processed via Stripe.
- The second thing I added was the Upsell feature that is offered on SendOwl. When customers add certain items to their cart right before check out it asks if they would like to upgrade to one of my bundles. It has worked amazingly well to increase the purchase of bundles. I definitely suggest this if your cart system offers an upsell feature.
- Then added a site wide ad below every post for my most popular product. If you scroll to the bottom of this post you will see it.
Now lets dive into the numbers.
|Printable Sales (website)||$3,289.89|
|Printable Sales (Etsy)||$228.74|
This was a $236.10 decrease from the month before. So like I said before although it got me down it wasn’t a significant enough decrease to affect my ability to pay my bills or pay myself.
Clearly products are still #1 with sponsored content coming in second.
I was also happy that I have been steadily increasing my ad revenue. February ad revenue comes from Sovurn, BlogHer and Google Adsense. I was also using Amazon CPM but wasn’t paid for that in this month.
Ads are a truly passive stream of income and my goal is to generate at least $500 extra dollars a month from ads. I didn’t make goal but I got close. I made $464.80 total from ads.
In February, I started researching ads and how to increase revenue. That is when I learned more about passback tags and how to stack ads a certain way to increase the amount paid.
Although income was pretty good expenses were out of this world this month. I am currently working on reducing my overhead going forward.
|Total Net Income||$2,908.79|
Let me try to put it a bit into perspective. February I took on a lot of new expenses many of them one time expenses as I have been working on new products and projects. I also had quite a bit of overhead because I have 3 people working for me.
As mentioned in my January report I had ran quite a few ads in the month of January that I had to pay for in the month of February. So I knew that this month would have really high expenses and I was prepared for it but I am definitely looking into leaning things out and getting regular operating expenses well under $1000.
Below the table you will find a breakdown of business services as there are a mix of services in this category.
Business Services Breakdown
Dollar Photo Club – ($10) stock photography
Dropbox – ($9.99) storage for photos and some printables
Microsoft ( $7.99 ) Microsoft Office subscription
Mailchimp ($75) email service still pending cancellation wrapping up an email series that people are still currently in the middle of completeing
ConvertKit ($99) email service lower plans start at $29.99 but still have full features
CoSchedule ($10) social media scheduling
Virtual Assistants ($530)
Adobe Creative Cloud ($29.95) full access to the Adobe line of products
Synthesis ($47) hosting
Meet Edgar ($49) social media scheduling cancelling to move to a different service
Post Planner ($19) facebook and twitter scheduling
Tailwind ($14.99) pinterest scheduling
Kraken ($19) compresses images uploaded to wordpress
Once or Infrequent
Bluehost ($23.87) new domain purchase
Elance ($60) design work had mockups of some of the products created elance is now upwork
Blurb ($71.33) inventory order
Upwork ($125) hired someone to do site customizations
Envato ($61) new theme purchase
Shutterstock ($38) stock video for a facebook ad
H & R Block ($86.98) taxes
You may have noticed that I have a number of schedulers but routinely try different things out to find something that really sticks. So far I think the CoSchedule, Tailwind and PostPlanner combo is going to be the best yet.
The 3 of them cover all the bases and are very easy to use and reasonably priced.
Update on ConvertKit
Last month I explained that I was in the process of moving over to ConvertKit. Now I am fully moved over and I am really loving it. I noticed one big immediate change….a higher open rate. On mailchimp my open rate was hovering around 18-19% on average since using ConvertKit I am up to a 38% open rate.
I think the reason for the higher open rate is that more of my emails are getting delivered to my subscribers inboxes and not getting sent straight to spam. So far I am very happy with ConvertKit and would fully recommend them.
Traffic and Referrals
Traffic definitely took a dip in the month of February but I feel like that should be expected since the excitement of the new year begins to wane. People are either sticking to their goals or have fallen off and won’t think about getting things back on track until a little later in the year.
Since I have been owning this blog since 2013 I have come to realize that most people get excited about health and fitness from September – January. This is around the time that I do the best in terms of traffic.
Another big thing happened in February Pinterest begin changing their algorithm and so pinterest traffic took a bit of a dip as well. I am currently experimenting with a few things to pick it back up. I will be ramping up the ads for Pinterest because it is still an amazing resource for traffic.
Traffic also took a hit because I added a new theme so I had to pull the site down while I got the site customized.
Below are my top referrals for the month of February. You can see that Pinterest is still #1 but is quite a big dip from January. However, I figure this is due to the fact that I didn’t run as big of an ad campaign in the month of February as I did in January.
Tips and Recommendations
1. Clear Your Cache
The biggest reason I went an entire day without knowing that I had deleted those pictures from post was because I did not clear my cache and then look at my page. So whenever you make changes to your site please take a moment to clear the cache and then look to make sure that everything on your site is showing correctly.
2. Give People Options
If you are selling any products on your site be sure to give people multiple ways to pay. I didn’t realize just how many people wanted to use something other than Paypal. If at all possible allow people a couple of different payment options.
3. Pay Yourself and Put Your Money to Work
My mom always told me to pay myself first. No matter if you can only pay yourself $5 or $1000 pay yourself first. When I first started making money from my blog I would off the top take 5-10% and put it away.
When you are working for yourself you want to have a cushion for those not so great months. Not only do you want to have a cushion but I highly encourage you to invest your money and let it work for you.
I started my 401k and put a portion of my sales into that account. That is money that I don’t have to pay taxes on until I pull it out when I retire. I refuse to have a tax bill like I did this year.
4. Define What Success Means To You
Sit down and figure out what your idea of success actually is because we can sometimes get so caught up with what everyone else is doing that we are just spinning our wheels.
Your success will probably look nothing like someone elses. It is important to remember why you are doing what you are doing and creating a plan to get there.
5. Go to Where Your Readers Are
I have been talking with my friend Tiffany from Single Mommy Warrior for the last few weeks about leaving many of the facebook groups that I am in. Why? Because those aren’t my ideal readers.
Although facebook groups can be a great way to connect with other bloggers if those other bloggers aren’t your ideal reader you are spending a lot of time in the wrong place. Based on the topics that I cover in my blog decided to join groups pertaining to those topics and really jump in and start engaging with people.
I have found this to be one of the most helpful ways to grow readership as well as email subscribers. Now I am not telling you to go in to other peoples groups and try to steal people. I am talking about creating genuine relationships, adding value and engaging with people outside of the blogging world.
You will learn so much more about what your readers want by going to where they hang out. Advice from other bloggers can be helpful but if they aren’t your target audience the advice may still fall short of what you need to really reach your ideal reader/customer.
Well this post was definitely a long one. I hope that you all were able to find some of it helpful as you continue on your journey to build up your blogs. If you have a question or comment please feel free to leave it below.
PIN IT FOR LATER