Personal Finance Blog Income Report - June and July 2022
How Much Money Did My Personal Finance Blog Make This Summer?
Welcome to my first income report in the last few months! Since I last left you, I've had quite a few improvements to the site, as well as some losses to improve upon. Let's dive in!
The Newest Posts in June and July
Big Blog Wins
Extreme Interest and Press About the LIV Golf Tour
One question I was extremely interested in this summer was: What the hell is the LIV Golf Tour? I'm a casual fan of professional golf, but I didn't know what this new, upstart tour was or who was backing it. I didn't even know where to watch it, so I did some digging.
It turns out that I wasn't the only one with this question. The press mentions for the LIV Tour exploded almost overnight as piece after piece came out about the tour commissioned by golf legend Greg Norman. However, none of those pieces, I thought, answered the question "who was backing this, and what's the issue?" Turns out, a lot!
This question led me down the path of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, as well as their history of sportswashing their human rights record by purchasing things like 5% of Uber, Jared Kushner's private equity fund, Newcastle United and now the LIV Tour.
Press attention for the Tour gave my site a pretty dramatic inflow of traffic, leading to accelerating page numbers across the board. If you want to read the full piece on the LIV Tour, you can check that out here.
One New Article Gained Front Page Exposure Immediately and Quality Posts Are Aging
Typically, SEO is a fickle bitch. According to my bois over at Income School, it generally takes 8 months for a post to reach peak ranking on the search engine results page. This means that, theoretically, posts I wrote in December 2021 and January 2022 should be reaching their maximum search traffic, and I'm actually seeing that in the numbers! Some posts I wrote after I actually figured out how to do proper keyword research are starting to hit some decent numbers, achieving north of 1,000 page views per month per article.
However, some posts attract more immediate attention than others. For one reason or another, the great Google god in the sky will bless a particular article and you'll shoot to the top of the front page. Well, that happened to me in June and I could not be happier with the article. Can I tell you which article that is? Actually, no, because as I'll touch on in my next section, it's actually pretty easy to get sniped on search ranking position when you're only a one year old blog. However, I all of a sudden ranked in the third position for a keyword that has over 5,000 searches per month and climbing. I'm going to keep a close eye on this one and see how fast it climbs for other keywords.
I Found a Paid Media Winner!
This one I can actually go into a bit more detail about since it's harder to hijack my paid media campaigns. I discovered that my site is classified as a personal finance blog with Google (obviously). This means that advertisers on my site are typically more finance and credit-oriented. This is important in the conversation when it comes to revenue, or "RPM" in the industry.
RPM stands for "revenue per mille" and is content creator speak for how much money I make when the ads on my website receive 1,000 views. This number varies WILDLY from industry to industry. Here are some popular niches and their typical RPM's that I see in my day job as a digital marketer:
General content creation (no firm niche): $1-$2 per 1,000 views
Makeup and beauty: $3-$6
Food/travel/sports content: $7-$11
Housing and architecture: $11-$13
Cars/high-end easily sold goods: $13-$18
Personal finance and investing: $19-$25
Credit products: $25-$35
Of course, these are not set in stone. They vary wildly, from traffic source to your audience's location (with the U.S being the most valuable media market to advertisers) to product to ad provider. These numbers are based on typical Google Adsense revenue, which is the advertising provider that I currently work with. I average around a $12 RPM after Google takes their cut, which is normal. However, I found a loophole.
I have been experimenting with social media advertising, specifically on the LIV Golf piece. The LIV piece (go read it) deals not only with golf, but also with politics, religion, oil trade and investing. So while the overall article has a sports bent, it reads as "finance" to advertisers. This creates a disparity between how much it costs me to advertise it to readers, versus what advertisers pay me to show ads in that article. In marketing, we refer to that as "ROAS," or "return on ad spend." Right now, I'm showing a strong-ass ROAS, and I'm going to be experimenting with more articles like this as I progress!
Opportunities to Improve
Featured Snippets Come and Go
In May, Google released something called a "core update." They release between 3-5 of these in any given year, and to the general public, it means basically nothing. However, to content creators, the phrase "core update" will make them shit their pants faster than Freddy Krueger jumping into a wet dream.
May's core update was a particularly harsh one for many bloggers as it fundamentally adjusted a treasured feature of the SERP: the featured snippet. I've written in-depth about featured snippets in the past, but basically these are shortcuts to ranking #1 on Google as Google puts the most relevant answer to a question right at the top.
The May core update obliterated featured snippets on blog sites like this one. It essentially penalized users that aimed their content towards featured snippets (see: everyone), and instead replaced those existing snippets with answers from forum sites like Reddit and Quora.
Personally, according to my Ahrefs data, I lost about half of my featured snippets, all driving to the same page, meaning I went from about 45 to closer to 28. I got off easy. Blogging-oriented subreddits were filled with posts following the update that some content creators lost up to 80% of their total traffic, with many losing their livelihoods almost overnight. For a full explanation of the devastation a core update can do, beauty blogger Jasper Pieterse documented his experience with a 2020 core update that nearly took down his entire website in one day:
I'm Still Really Bad at Affiliate Marketing
OK, I'm cheating a little bit with this one, but hear me out: I still suck at affiliate marketing. It's my main shortcoming as a blogger, and something I have to improve soon. Why? Because this is the secret. It's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It's how Brian Kelly, a.k.a "The Points Guy," sold a website generating 50,000 views per month for "mid-eight digits" because he made $100,000 in one day via affiliate marketing. But I have a hangup: I don't see many products that are genuinely helpful enough for me to put my name on and try to sell to you guys. Until now.
Finally, I found a product that I like and I think makes a lot of sense. It's called Nexo,
Nexo is the best exchange I've found to buy, sell, earn and borrow crypto. It's where I hold my personal company investments in crypto (more on that in a later post), and they offer crazy competitive earn rates that blow other exchanges out of the water.
How Much Money Did My Blog Make?
Here we go! For the first time in 60 days, here is my blog income for the period, as well as the running total for the year:
Adsense - $428.07
Medium - $164.70
Affiliate - $0 (use my Nexo link for the best way to buy and sell cryptocurrency!)
Freelancing - $100
Wix Site Renewal - $340
Facebook Advertising - $40
2022 Total: $1,692.84
OUCH. What was set to be my best period in the brief history of this blog got absolutely fucking crushed by my annual Wix renewal. However, July served as an excellent proof of concept that I've found a marketing technique that returns not just an even return on ad spend, but a return many multiples of what I'm spending. I'm going to look to continue building on this marketing technique throughout the rest of the year to see how far I can scale it while still returning positive dollar amounts.
My next income report will likely be at the beginning of September to close out the third quarter of the year. What comes next, Q4 ad spending on digital advertising, will hopefully drive a huge number at the end of the year for this blog. Fingers crossed!