Personal Finance Blog Income Report - March 2022
How Much Money My Personal Finance Blog Made in March 2022
Wow, what a month. This month had some ups, some downs, and some cold, hard cash. This month, let's walk through what worked, what didn't, and how I plan on improving over the next couple of months to make this blog even bigger and better for my readers that find themselves here!
The Top Performing Posts for March
The Blog's Wins
Keyword Research Continues to Pay Off
If you're a long-time reader of this site, then you'll know that I was TERRIBLE at keyword research when I started. I adhered to what I like to call "The Rooster Teeth Model," which is essentially "if I like it, then others probably will too, right?" Turns out, that doesn't necessarily apply to blogging, and my site showed it. Up through Month 7, I was really struggling for views from Organic Search. I was competing in a high competition niche with extremely difficult keywords and little credibility with Google.
Enter December, and I begin using Neil Patel's Ubersuggest tool. I LOVE this thing. Ubersuggest helps me greatly on getting ideas for content based on potential search volume for the keywords I'm looking to target, and then I can validate via Google's own search tool. From there, it's all about writing good content, which I hope I'm doing on a regular basis.
Since regularly integrating Ubersuggest research into my writing, my organic search rankings have shot through the roof (relatively). Organic search is now my second biggest acquisition method, and I couldn't be happier about how it's accelerating as I continue to emerge from the dreaded "Google Sandbox." For more on that, check out my last income report!
I'm Back On Reddit!
In previous income reports, I mentioned that I liberally spammed the r/WallStreetBets subreddit daily discussion forum in order to get cheap clicks and drive traffic up. Well, I stopped this strategy in January for two reasons:
I was becoming "that guy" that contributed nothing to the conversation and started clout chasing, and
I got banned from various subreddits for spam
Well, I dove back into Reddit last month, but in a much different way. I subscribed to relevant subreddits, like r/WaltDisneyWorld and r/AntiWork, and linked my pieces in the comments of posts where applicable. One post in r/Delta showed that this strategy was working.
One r/Delta user posted about getting Delta Diamond Medallion status, which is only outclassed by Delta's elusive "Delta 360" Medallion tier. I wrote a piece on this last year, and linked to it with the text "link." I forgot about it, and went on with my day.
The next day, I checked my analytics and saw that this link had generated over 500 unique visits and 3 new subscribers to my email list, just for posting "link." I was stunned, so I tried it again. Lo and behold, it worked! This process repeated with my piece on Golden Oak, as well as my piece on how I doubled my income in 12 months (which I really did by the way).
My Google Adsense Clicks Skyrocketed
Nearly every new blogger will have two methods of monetization: Amazon Affiliates and Google Adsense. Both of these pay pennies. I'm not kidding. Even according to my guys over at Income School (more on them in a minute), new bloggers should only expect to make about $5 in their first few months of blogging, thanks to the small payouts from these programs.
The reason for these meager payouts is because new bloggers don't typically get a lot of traffic, so there are fewer eyes on the ads. Fewer eyes means that your site is less valuable to advertisers, which means less competition to buy ads on your site, which means less money for you, the content creator. This was definitely true of my site in the first few months, but something interesting happened last month.
Commensurate with my organic search traffic increase I spoke about earlier, I saw an increase in clicks on my Adsense ads! This is incredibly valuable for a blogger, as the CPC (cost per click) for advertisers is much higher than the CPM (cost per thousand impressions), which directly translates into higher earnings for the content creator after Google takes their cut. The rise in clicks this month was...pretty dramatic, because it also brought with it a rise in my RPM (revenue per thousand impressions). That will be reflected in the final number when we get to the revenue section.
In December of 2021, Medium made the controversial decision to limit who could be in their monetized "Partner Program." Only those content creators with over 100 followers could be included in their partner program, starting March 1, 2022. Since I was sitting at 85 followers going into March, I had some work to do. Medium is my biggest income stream, so losing that would have been a disaster.
I ended up batch publishing the content from this site onto Medium, essentially in a one week span. This strategy, while not fun to execute, was effective. I ended up getting over the 100 follower mark and temporarily inflating my view count for the month thanks to the deluge of content. Do I expect my Medium earnings to continue to rise from here? Not necessarily, but more on that later.
My most popular article on Medium this month?: Stop Paying Your Mortgage Early
The Blog's Lessons
I Misread My Income School Timeline
I mentioned earlier my guys from Income School, essentially the foremost authority on blogging. Several years ago, they released their "Project 24" program, which is a roadmap to how to replace your full-time income through blogging in 24 months. While I have not yet purchased the program, I am following along with their companion timeline that provides a good measure of your progression through your first 24 months.
In last month's income report, I bemoaned the fact that I was behind. Not just a little behind, but like WAY behind. I looked at the Month 8 timeline and was extremely intimidated by the 1,250 page views. Why? Because I definitely read "page views" as "sessions" and I had about half of that.
Looking at Month 9 to measure against my March performance, I noticed my mistake and reset my expectations.
What I saw was pretty damn good:
It's official: I beat the estimate! Of my 2,020 readers in the month of March, I had a total of 3,432 page views. Time to celebrate.
I Tried TikTok Advertising
I hate TikTok. Seriously, I really do. I don't understand it. It's the "Shitty Comedian" corollary where one great comedian will spawn a million bad ones. For every good video on the platform, it's nine hours of boredom and bullshit. However, I'm in the minority on that one by a vast margin, and it shows in TikTok's user and and engagement numbers.
TikTok basically single-handedly tanked Meta Platform's share price 30% in January because it's stealing all of Zuckerberg's users. Engagement time is through the roof, and they have the most finely tuned algorithm in the social media game. This got me thinking: I wonder if their advertising platform got any better?
This came to a head in late March, when YouTuber Biaheza made a video about dropshipping and advertising on TikTok. He essentially built a $1,000 per day dropshipping business on the back of TikTok ads, so I decided to try it out.
I was honestly astonished by the results. As a social media marketer in my 9-5, the effectiveness of the ads, efficiency of the clicks and mass engagement was something to behold. "This is it," I thought, looking at the dashboard. "I've figured out the infinite money loop." However, when I dug into the numbers, my fears were born out:
I ran the ads at a $5 per day budget for two days, and got 35 new users. However, the engagement metrics weren't just through the floor - they were through Satan's wine cellar and careening towards the Earth's core.
I have two theories here. The first is that TikTok users have the attention span of a lemon, which is entirely possible. The platform breeds attention deficit in its users, and preys on the ones that are already afflicted. The other theory I have is that Tik Tok has a HUGE bot problem. Either way, these clicks seem to be as illegitimate as they come. Lesson...learned?
Blogging Plans Moving Forward
Unlocking New Ad Types
All ads are not created equal, and that applies to Adsense. Last month I mentioned that I had unlocked video advertising on my site. This month, I've officially unlocked shopping ads that should hopefully raise my overall RPM's.
Migrating to Ezoic
I'm not sure I'll have enough page viewership for this one this month, but Ezoic is the next stepping stone on the way to blogging millions. With a general 10,000 page views per month barrier, Ezoic unlocks quite a bit more revenue per impression than Adsense. Generally, bloggers find that they make between 2-3x on Ezoic what they do on Adsense, so this is a short-term goal of mine.
Finding New Avenues for Growth
As much as I enjoy Medium, the site is getting pretty clickbait heavy. A friend of mine who reads all of my Medium articles mentioned to me that he doesn't want to keep paying for the site because it's just "get rich quick" articles, so I've also been looking to branch out.
After some extensive research, the site that I landed on is Vocal. Vocal is a Medium-style site that requires manual article review and submission to the site, so it's less annoying that Medium, at least in the near-term. It's too early to tell if I like it so far, but hopefully I'll have more to report next month.
Personal Finance Blog Revenue - March 2022
Alright, here we go! As a reward for making it this far in the piece, here is the full breakdown of revenue and expenses for my blog in March:
Adsense - $107.99
Affiliate - $0
TikTok Advertising - $34.90
2022 Total: $727.53
I'm extremely proud of this. March has been a month of growth in pretty much every department. My organic search is up 44% from February, my advertising clicks are up 14%, my RPM is up 48% and now my revenue is up 21% month over month. March has been a great month, and hopefully the SEO snowball continues to roll into April and beyond!
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!