Personal Finance Blog Income Report - December 2021 and January 2022
The last few months have been a whirlwind! Since starting this blog basically seven months ago, this little website has made some serious headway. Today, I'm going to catch you up on the progress we've made since my last income report, which covered essentially mid-June through November of 2021. I've learned quite a bit, lost a few times and made a little bit of cash along the way. Let's get into the top performing posts of the month first, and then get into some wins:
The Top Performing Posts for January
The Blog's Wins
Some Seriously Good Timing on Peloton and SoFi
Each week, I publish one finance-related article on Wednesday's and one company deep dive on Friday's. Several months ago, I wrote an article on SoFi that gained some traction in the Reddit community for pointing out the strengths of the company from a fundamental perspective, mostly focusing on how much a bank charter would benefit the company. This wasn't fortune-telling; SoFi had already applied for the charter at time of writing, so this was more a "here's what that will do for them" analysis.
Well, after the Los Angeles Rams NFL team beat Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, SoFi Stadium was squarely in the news as it was now hosting massive football games on subsequent weekends. Hoping to capitalize on this bump, I resurfaced my SoFi article on Twitter and Reddit, to some success. What I didn't see coming was that same day I resurface those articles, SoFi's bank charter was approved, sending the stock soaring 33% in two days following. My article ended up getting shared around social media circles, and directly attributed to a 75% month-over-month growth to my email subscriber list. Welcome all you new people!
The other bit of luck I struck in January was around my analysis of Peloton. The company had been on my radar for awhile because I'm a millennial and enjoy avocados and staying at home, which is squarely in Peloton's demographic. Well, turns out that I hated the business, despite a solid product, and made my feelings clear in my article. This caught a lot of shit on Twitter from those that were clearly holding the bag on Peloton shares. Their argument, quite rightly I might add, is that month-over-month churn is low for the company, indicating that consumers who purchase the product aren't cancelling. My argument is that people are going back outside, and gyms are back to 2019 levels.
Fast forward to five days after I publish my article and Peloton hires an independent auditor to examine why the business is losing so much money. The stock tanks. Two days after that, a leaked internal memo from Peloton reveals that the company has halted all manufacturing of their physical products due to "a lack of demand." Stock continues to tank. Then activist fund Blackwells Capital LLC publicly calls for the CEO, John Foley, to step down. Busy week for Peloton, and what a week for this blog telling the immediate future like Nick Cage in that movie no one watched.
Breaking Into Google Discover
The holy grail for any blog is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is effectively the best method of gaining views on your website because it's free and passive; it just takes FOREVER. SEO doesn't typically happen for a new site until around the 12 month mark, and only then will you see some trickling in of traffic thanks to the almighty Google Sandbox. Well, Google has added a little quicker, albeit less predictable, way to gain some visibility on the platform, and that's via Google Discover.
Google Discover is effectively a "quick hit" type platform from Google that serves as a tailored news and entertainment section of your Google homepage, depending on your search history. Well my article on Solana as the best cryptocurrency investment of 2022 was blessed by the Google Discover algorithm and clocked 29 clicks in one day, a record for this site so far.
Another way to get clicks to your site is with paid media, a.k.a "advertising." My 9-5 is as a social media manager, so this was my first stop on the paid media train. I decided to revive an old Facebook page and put $50 as a quick clicks-to-website test with a few different audiences and a few different ads. I tested a variety of articles of mine to an investing audience, from Peloton to Walt Disney to Tesla. It turns out that this audience is hyper-engaged with Tesla, and that $50 is really stretching as far as it can go. So far, a click to my site is only costing about $0.09, which is about 80% south of where I thought it would be. The performance has been pretty phenomenal, and it serves as a proof of concept for the work I hope to do in the future once I'm able to expand this site out a bit.
Medium's Random Acceleration
OK, this one is weird. So I started my blogging journey at the beginning of the pandemic, but not on this site. I actually dipped my toe into the space on Medium, the world's biggest blogging site. Essentially, you write on any topic you want and can "meter" the article, which means to put it behind a paywall. Medium will pay you for the amount of time readers spend on your article each month, but only for those they deem as "internal," meaning currently paying users of the Medium Premium subscription.
I've written over 50 articles for Medium, most of which also appear on this site. Medium was my cheap monetization tool while this site had no readers, and would generally net me between $15-$30 a month. However, one article has exploded in popularity, and that's my write up about the American Express Centurion Card. The article randomly gained a bit of traction on the site, and crossed the 1,000 view mark for January alone. This, coupled with a few more popular articles, made me WAY more money than usual on Medium just for the month of January. I'll cover that in a minute.
The SEO Snowball
It's SEO time again! The best way to track a site's SEO is through the Google Search Console, which shows you the pages and searches getting the most clicks, and how your site ranks over time. Like I said earlier, it usually takes sites like mine about a year to start ranking, so I'm pretty pleased with the performance so far, especially with one article in particular.
Back in July 2021, I wrote an article in my Millionaire Lifestyle series about the Delta 360 Club. It's an invite-only tier of Delta's Medallion rewards program, and is limited to Delta's top flyers. For whatever reason, this article has played extremely well in the SEO world and now has a top five ranking on Google for search terms centered around "Delta 360" (including above the Seattle Seahawks who have a Delta 360 section of their stadium, apparently!). I hope to see this type of performance from all of my articles as they reach the eight-month Google ranking barrier, but this is a great start.
The Blog's Lessons
I Got Banned From Reddit Again!
I mentioned in my last income report that I really like leveraging Reddit as a way to get a massive amount of organic views very quickly, thanks to some huge audiences that tend to be pretty engaged. I also brought up how I was permanently banned from the NFL subreddit thanks to promoting my article about Tom Brady. Well, it happened again, but not forever this time.
I love the WallStreetBets subreddit. Those are the guys that nearly single-handedly brought the United States economic system to its knees last year with a little can-do spirit, some options trading know-how and GameStop apparently being the keystone that holds the entire stock market together. Well, I like to throw my articles in their Daily Discussion threads as a way to get visibility. However, I thought I would test the waters on making an actual post with my research around some of the more popular companies on the forum.
After some "Jesus man my senior thesis wasn't this long" comments, I was subsequently banned for 21 days from participating in the subreddit. The crime? Shilling. That's fair. Now I know to stay in the Daily Discussions.
Indexing Issues Abound
I've espoused the benefits of the Google Search Console platform, and all of those are still true. However, I'm now running into the issue that every other blogger starts to run into after a while: indexing issues.
"Indexing" is the act of adding a link to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Essentially, when you Google something, indexing is what allows a site like this to appear. Well, I've had pretty good success with most of my pages getting indexed, and some I intentionally leave out of the index because they're just clutter (things like blog tag pages and category home pages). There are three posts, however, that Google just refuses to index:
Of all of these, Tattooed Chef is the only post in my "Stocks To Invest In" series that hasn't yet been indexed, and it's been months! If any other blogger is reading this and has figured out how to get these indexed, even after GSC forced indexing, please let me know in the comments below!
I'm Still Bad At Affiliate Marketing
When you read other sites that do similar types of income reports, they generally have some top-line of "I made $7,500 in month 8 of my blog" or some shit like that. You dig into the numbers and they usually say something like "ads made me $30 this month and then my affiliate relationship with Bluehost made me the rest!" and you realize how much potential there is for affiliate marketing. And I'm very bad at it.
There's a reason for this: trust. I created this site to help people learn. The goal wasn't to fire this blog up and then start shilling crap to readers in my first moment. That's why I really don't include sponsorships or anything on my site yet either; I'd rather spend the time early on teaching and helping.
Now, that's not to say I don't include products I think are helpful, because I very much do. You'll notice that my cryptocurrency centered articles contain affiliate links to Coinbase or Gemini, because they're products that I use and like and I want my readers to be able to get free money while taking advantage of reputable products. This is also the case with Robinhood on anything that involves traditional investing. Speaking of which...
Alright, so here are my bottom-line revenue numbers from December 2021 and January 2022:
Ads - $161.75
Medium - $283.79
Affiliate Marketing - $10
Facebook Ads - $50
Comparing this to my last income report that covered June through November where I made exactly $300, I've officially beaten that number in half the time. And that's the goal, right?
2022 Moving Forward
Now that I have consistent revenue coming into the blog, I'm going to start writing these at the beginning of each month to cover the month previous. I'm also not writing these as some sort of weird flex, especially since $400 definitely doesn't qualify as a "flex." Really I'm writing these for two reasons: because I found other peoples' income reports as inspirational as I was working towards my goals, and to come back to these in a year to see where I've come.
As for the future revenue for this site, I have some big plans:
Upgrade the Ad Network to Ezoic - I am currently a happy Google Adsense customer, but I know that it gets better from here. Adsense pays pennies compared to networks like Ezoic or Mediavine, but the barrier to entry for those is much higher. As traffic continues to snowball, I'll be applying to these networks at a later date in order to increase revenue and serve more relevant ads to my audience.
Fire up some Sponsorships - For someone in the personal finance niche, sponsorships can be incredible. While no one that works with a company directly will share exact numbers, sponsorship pay can be an excellent symbiotic relationship for the blogger and the audience: the blogger works with a brand that the really believe in in order to help their audience get a leg up, and the blogger is paid for that work. I'm certainly looking to begin sponsorship work in 2022, so if you're a brand that wants to work with me, reach out!
Work on an eBook - I've had many questions following each of my Friday deep dives as to how I find companies and how I value them. Well, rather than answer every single person individually, I would like to package that info into an eBook and release that to my audience! I'm undecided on a cost at the moment, or if I should just fire it out for free. This one might be closer to the end of the year.
Well that's it for the first income report of the year! Did anything surprise you? Let me know in the comments below, and don't forget to check back Friday for another company deep dive!