Episode 3 – This Mama Learns Growth Project


blog growth project 3

Hello, and welcome to the September blog traffic and income report! It’s the third in the This Mama Learns Growth Project series.

My name is Cath and I’m a freelancing, mom blogging, Pinterest loving gal from Oz. I started This Mama Learns as a way to make some money, keep me sane and simply, because I love blogging.

I should mention that the last time I blogged (and I use the word rather loosely) was in 2011, and oh boy, have things changed!

I’m now seven-ish months into my blogging journey, and it hasn’t been without it’s hiccups. I made a lot of blog-crippling mistakes at the start that could’ve stopped my blog in its tracks (mainly from operating on old info).

But, I’m turning it around as of July 2016 and I’m now on the path to success! Want to follow along?

Here’s where I’m coming from:

Let’s talk about September

Tough month. That’s all I can say about September.

It’s pretty normal in blogging for the motivation to ebb and flow.

Not sure about you guys, but when I started blogging I was on fire with crazy energy.

Daily post? No problems!

Got a new idea for a post after publishing one? Nothing wrong with two posts in a day, amirite?!?!

(Ok those posts were crap, but still. I was ENERGIZED.)

One of the biggest barriers to blogging success is that people stop too soon. They run out of steam and quit. I’ve heard it described as the 3-month wall, because it often happens around then, if you haven’t seen much success.

I spent a couple of weeks in September in a bit of a funk. There’s a few reasons:

  • my boy started deciding he didn’t want to do afternoon naps, which really threw my schedule out of whack
  • my last blog report was kinda depressing because I missed most of my goals
  • September seems to be the month when everyone starts to webinar with a vengeance. Nothing against webinars but I allowed myself to get distracted and unfocused by going to too many.
  • Oh and I also had the WORST cold for about two weeks there. Boo!

Anyway. I’m trying to stay positive about September because I also picked up a new client who has LOTS of work for me. Which means I’m going to be even busier than ever. But I expect I’m going to be more productive because of it.

I’m changing focus on the blog.

I’m getting right back to basics this month and focusing on content and promotion. I’ll be looking at:

  • Increasing blog traffic
  • Converting visitors to email subscribers
  • Growing Income

Yes, I’m going to cut income out of my blog focus for the next little while. Why? Well, there’s nothing wrong with monetizing your blog straight off the bat, but I feel like I need to spend my energy on building up my foundation. That’s not to say that I won’t be using affiliate links or anything, it’s just not my priority or my focus.

1. Blog Traffic

Let’s talk traffic. Here’s the five types again:

  • Organic traffic (from Google)
  • Referral traffic (from other sites)
  • Direct traffic (traffic from people typing in your URL)
  • Social Media Traffic (from Facebook, Pinterest, G+, Instagram, etc.)
  • Paid Traffic (from Ads)

I didn’t mention last month, but I’m starting to see an increase in my organic traffic from Google. I seem to be ranking (somewhere at least) for my girly stock photos post and a couple of other posts.

I’m also ranking for a review I did on Moms Making Six Figures, which I actually redirected to my homepage this month. Why? Well, I got a comment from a member of Moms Making Six Figures which, while polite, made me evaluate if the post was actually serving any purpose being part of my site. And no. I decided it didn’t, and I didn’t want to spend the time or energy fielding comments on a post that isn’t relevant to THE MISSION.

Last month, I barely did anything to increase or even maintain my traffic. Promotion efforts were sporadic at best.

September Goals:

  • Create a promotion checklist that all my posts go through, including a Twitter schedule and a Facebook Group promo schedule. NOPE

growth project 3 ga

The numbers:

  • Page views 5000 (3,056)
  • Pinterest 3,500 (3.1K) – I came close, but for some reason every time I top 3000, I lose hundreds of followers overnight. What gives??
  • Instagram 1,000 (225)
  • Twitter 1,000 (669)

 

A couple of things I’m working on to save time:

  • Blog post formatting in WordPress takes me forever – I’m going to cut down on fancy formatting in Divi and just use a minimum of modules (and save my layout so I can reuse it over and over)
  • Blog post image creation takes a little while – I’m going to give up on my square featured image and use the landscape image as my featured image. It works quite well. I mean why have three images when two would suffice?

Ok, so this is probably not going to save oodles of time. But every little bit counts.

Goals for October:

  • Create a promotion schedule/checklist and stick to it
  • Post once a week

 

2. Converting visitors to subscribers

How do you convert people to subscribers?

  • Amazing blog posts.
  • ‘I’d crawl through the mud to get this’ freebies (content upgrades)
  • Events – challenges, webinars etc.
  • ‘Shouldn’t I be paying you for this?’ e-courses (lead magnet)

I actually switched to ConvertKit towards the end of the month because I realized I was having automation accidents. I had my MailChimp set up to put people in separate lists based on what freebie they signed up for, and then I’d manually tag and move them into my “Main” list once a week. Turns out that each time I moved someone (if they’d signed up for multiple freebies), they’d get a “Welcome” email. Kinda embarrassing. Lots of extra effort. Hello ConvertKit, my new love.

Except that, of course, it doesn’t play nice with Bloom (my opt in plugin). You’ll notice my opt in forms look a little wonky… Honestly the tech struggle is endless.

Here’s what I was going to do:

  • Launching an e-course lead magnet. (NOPE)
  • Setting aside time to work on new freebies and improve the current ones. (NOPE)
  • Planning for a webinar. I’m doing the Visibility Vixens Comfy on Camera 5 day challenge to get ready – I did my first Facebook Live today! (NOPE)

Goals:

  • Create an e-course workflow and launch plan that can be tweaked for later launches. (NOPE)
  • Hold a webinar. (NOPE)

OUCH.

Numbers:

Subscribers – 250 (225) – came very close. I would’ve probably made it if I’d promoted a bit heavier during the month.

October Goals:

  • Launch free e-course.

 

3. Income

I’m not going to focus on income for the next little while (apart from my freelance writing.)

September 2016 Income

$22.50 – Wealthy Affiliate

$3.50 – Tailwind

>$1000 Freelancing

September 2016 Expenses

MailChimp – $10 (I just moved to ConvertKit!)

Screen-Cast-O-Matic $15

No income goals here. I’ll still report next month though.

Highlights of September

I was delighted to notice in my Analytics that I was getting traffic from a few lovely people who had linked to me!

Thanks for the mention Kecia in her post on Online Income Mom!

I’ve also had some really lovely comments and emails that really made my day from readers who’ve really enjoyed my blog and found it helpful. Love it 🙂 And knowing that people are finding my blog helpful makes it all worthwhile!

So that was my month (and I’m planning to make October even better). How was yours?

 

10 thoughts on “Episode 3 – This Mama Learns Growth Project”

  1. I love seeing your growth reports, Cath! They are so raw and inspiring. I’m glad that you have decided to take a different direction. That can be VERY hard for bloggers to do…I’m struggling with it myself. I want to expand on more than just blogging topics, but I feel like I’ve done so much blogging already that I need to keep with it. Decisions, decisions!

    Thank you for the shoutout too. I am still loving your Facebook promo list! 🙂

    1. Aww thanks Kecia 🙂 I like to try and keep them valuable for other bloggers, rather than just a way for me to toot my own horn, so I’m really glad you’re finding them helpful. I’ve been thinking deeply about my niche too – should I get more nichey? Should I broaden up a little? How can I be even more helpful to my audience?

      You could always try a post on a different topic and see how it does. Then if it does well – great! And if it doesn’t, well just go back to what does.

    1. Hey Francesca, thanks for commenting! I love seeing how bloggers who started around the same time are doing too 🙂 Looks like you’re doing amazing things over on your blog 🙂 Nice one!

  2. Cath, I know what you’re going through! And it’s so true…people do give up too soon, heck even I’ve had those thoughts. And it’s hard blogging especially with little ones. You have so many ideas but so little time to implement.

    I think it’s courageous of you to not focus on income and rather on content and promotion for now. It gives you so much more time to grow without that extra pressure. And I didn’t know bloom doesn’t gel with convertkit. I wanted to get it myself to do some tech tutorials. Yikes, I’m wondering if I should now.

    1. Aww thanks Meera! I think we all have doubts sometimes. It’s hard work, and it’s hard to keep going when you aren’t seeing the results yet. And let’s be honest, if you aren’t seeing results it’s hard to justify the time.

      I’m actually feeling a bit of a weight off by NOT focusing on income from the blog. It’s just one less thing to have on my mind.

      I didn’t know Bloom and CK didn’t talk either… I mean EVERYTHING should integrate with CK, it’s just that awesome. I have to paste in the embed code from CK (a naked form) into Bloom, but it changes the styling of the Bloom opt-in. So it’s not as pretty. Ugh. I’m considering OptinMonster or Thrive Leads…

  3. Cath!

    Ugh! I so know where you’re coming from. I’m half in and half out of my funkalicious thang!

    For me it’s having all these awesome ideas and then nothing..nothing freakin’ happens because I’m already busy as it is.

    For example, I want to update my freelance writing course, but in the midst of this I decided to create a new lead magnet for my Elna Cain site. Now I want to update my sales page. The list can go on and on. Oh and then of course there’s Twins Mommy! The giveaway. OUR webinar (when will that be? Still wanna do one about what we decided?)

    So much and my twins are getting crazier and crazier by the day (and they don’t go to school until NEXT year. They’ll almost be five by then.) Tonight we have skating lessons and boy oh boy…will that be a fiasco. Twin three and half year old’s falling and crying. Big fun here. 🙂 Love your posts. Keep em’ coming!

    1. Hey Elna 🙂 I understand exactly what you mean. There’s so ridiculous much I want to be doing too! Lead magnets, free courses, more content upgrades, webinars, training videos, completely re-jigging all my posts and my site and my writer’s site. Not to mention guest posts and pitching for more freelance work (can’t forget current client work either)… Ahh! I need an extra dozen or so hours in my day to even think about it all.
      For OUR webinar, well we’ll need to sort out a day. And a time. The time zone difference might get interesting. Most webinars seem to happen at 4am my time… which kinda works for me because my little one will be asleep. And I’m totally open to doing a different topic if you’d rather, I haven’t really talked about the topic we chose for AGES.

      Haha, I don’t know how you manage with twins. My little one drives me crazy and takes up all my time as it is 🙂 I hope skating lessons go well 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing your report. It seems that you’ve had a lot of great reaches and some great ones on the way.

    As for me. I just really want to understand how this building your email list works as well as making my website a little bit more attractive. I guess it’s just not clicking with me yet but am still at it trying to learn more.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Lorin 🙂 Hey your website looks nice! With the email thing, you should look into content upgrades – they’re the best for growing your email list! Blogging is a learning journey, no shame in not knowing it all immediately. I’m still learning too.

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