Personal Finance Blog Income Report - February 2022
As I mentioned in my last income report, blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time, effort and even more time apparently if you're in my nice. Let's cover today my top performing posts for the month, what I've learned this month about my particular niche and then jump into how much I've made.
The Top Performing Posts for February
The Blog's Wins
Much Better Keyword Research
Blogging is a tricky business. You have to balance what you enjoy versus what you want to write about versus what other people care about. Once you've done all of that, then you have to find that magic term or question that doesn't have too much competition and hope that your piece of content is better than all of the other ones on the internet in the same category.
Early on, I wasn't very good at this (more on that in a minute). However, using tools like Google Autocomplete Search Analysis and Ubersuggest, I was able to hone in on much better terms and topics to write about in order to increase my exposure in Google Search. This is essentially the flywheel that is SEO: you have to do a shitload of work on the front end and then...wait and hope. Well it didn't take too long for one of my posts from January, The 5 Best Investing Podcasts for 2022, to take flight (relatively). This started to bring in a bit more traffic than most of my articles early on, so I definitely have high hopes for this one.
Google Discover Strikes Again
I wrote about this in my previous income report, but for any of you who are too lazy to scroll back a bit, Google Discover is a new(ish) tool from Google that serves as a tailored news feed on your Google home screen. It functions pretty differently than SEO because this is an instant, quick hit-type tactic that flies in and out of the algorithm. What it does do, however, is spike traffic.
As you can see from my Google Search Console screenshot, Google Discover gave me a booster shot of clicks on February 19, which is when my piece on Bill Ackman got picked up. A click-through-rate of 4.4% is absolutely insane, and if that translated to all of my searches then I'd be writing this from the Maldives by now.
Adsense Is Beginning to Trust Me
Early on, revenue made from Google Adsense can be extremely slow going. If you look around the internet at blog "experts," they recommend diving out of Adsense as soon as you qualify for another advertising network like Ezoic or Mediavine. The reason why? Adsense pays pennies compared to the other networks.
This month was a big month for me because I've unlocked video advertising on my site through Adsense. Traditionally, video advertising pays higher CPM's because they are more effective at driving traffic and engagement, meaning the advertiser pays more for the privilege. I'm hopeful that this will drive higher RPM's on my website in the coming months.
The Blog's Lessons
My Content Volume Has Slowed Down
This is a direct apology to you, reader, for this one. As you know, I also work a 9-5 while writing on this site in my spare time. Well, my 9-5 recently changed and I've taken on quite a bit more responsibility. That is eating away at my free time, which means I don't have as much time to really dig into companies the way that I think it requires in order to be readable and useful. I hope to get back to this soon!
SEO Is A Problem
So the number one way for a blog to drive traffic to itself is SEO. It doesn't require active advertising dollars - just a ton of work and some luck. However, when I was a new blogger back in June of 2021, I didn't really understand SEO.
This lack of understanding led me to write about...whatever I wanted! It was a pretty freeing feeling to be honest, but it was also something that has come back to bite me this month. Why? Because I am up against both measures of success and YMYL/E-A-T. Let me explain.
The online authority for new bloggers is Income School. They have written the book (basically literally) on starting a new site and have their lessons in their "Project 24" product. While I have not yet purchased the program itself, they do have some free info online about milestones you should be at in terms of income and organic traffic. And while my income has surpassed their milestones for the moment (whoop whoop), their organic search volume goal is somewhat of an issue.
That's their timeline for the first 12 months of a new blog. For reference, I just crossed Month 8. Here is my Google Search Console making another appearance for February:
Right. So I'm about 25% of the way to their goal. So what went wrong? Well, in addition to what I spoke about earlier regarding proper keyword research, I also went on a quest to find out. What I found is the concept of YMYL and E-A-T.
YMYL and E-A-T
Google, in constantly tweaking its SEO rankings, is always on the search for the correct answer. It would look pretty terrible if Google were promoting a site in their #1 spot if the answer was wrong, so it takes time, energy and effort to gain trust with Google. Specifically, it takes around 6-8 months for a new blog to gain that trust and get out of the "Google Sandbox." That's traditionally when new blogs begin to see that hockey stick-shaped growth pattern in their search traffic.
This is where the concept of YMYL comes in. YMYL stands for "Your Money, Your Life," and is a categorization created by Google to bucket everything that could have a dramatic effect on your life if the answer you receive is wrong. For example, if you look up "what to do when someone gets a heart attack," you're not going to get some guy's blog. You're going to get The Mayo Clinic or Johns' Hopkins because they are authorities.
For finance, it's the same thing. Now, I'm fortunate enough to have a background in banking and coursework around investing and finance, so Google should eventually figure out that I'm an "authority" on this topic. In the case of YMYL sites, "eventually" usually means between 12-18 months.
Personal Finance Blog Revenue - February 2022
Now it's time for the fun stuff! Here's my revenue for February 2022:
Adsense - $84.10
Medium - $103.39
Affiliate Income - $5.45 (Robinhood)
2022 Total: $494.71
Not too bad! Compared to last month's income statement, this month made about $110 less thanks to none of my articles going viral on Medium. I won't sweat that since Medium is a fickle platform, but I'm really happy with this! My adsense revenue improved by 60 cents, so I have pretty consistent month-over-month revenue and good CPM's. What I need now is for those video ads to really get rolling and for the SEO snowball to continue to trickle in.
If you're interested in future income reports, don't forget to sign up for my email list so you never miss a post! And don't forget to sign up for Robinhood using my link so you can get a FREE stock valued all the way up to $200. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time!