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Friday, May 1, 2015

Life :: Blog Tips / Doubling My Impact in 2015 (April Traffic Report + Free Printable Checklists)



My blog has changed because my life has changed -- very fast, in a lot of big ways.

But more about that in a sec. A few months ago, I announced my goal to double my traffic, income, and social media followings this year. I thought it would be helpful if I shared a regular report and what has been working for me so that maybe you can garner some inspiration for your own blog or business.

To give you a bit of background if you're new here: I have a college degree, but I have never taken a class on business or finance. I've made a lot of mistakes and I've learned everything the hard way. You're welcome to check out this page later if you want to read more about my blog and what I can do for you.

By the way, this is a really long post (over 2,700 words) but I hope you find it useful.


BEHIND THE BLOG

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day who said that she misses my older, more personal posts.

And I totally get it. I remember when A Beautiful Mess became a business blog. It was a quick shift from random pictures of Elsie scrapbooking in her kitchen, to gorgeously lit photographs of recipes and DIY projects. The site became a lot more focused and polished and informative -- and I hated it.

At first.

It only took me about a month to get used to the new ABM. And even though I couldn't relate to it as much anymore, I still liked it. I continue to visit it now, even though I've never made any of their projects and I've only tried two recipes. TWO. It was guacamole and a hot toddy, if you're curious (not together, duh).

So, why do I still say hi to Elsie and Emma, even though we have nothing in common?

Because they're FUN. Because they're bright and positive and inviting. Because sometimes they have good ideas that I could possibly apply to my own life, even though it's a different world. Because sometimes I enjoy looking at something that has nothing to do with what I do (especially when it's pretty). Because even though they no longer run a personal blog, it still has personality. In my opinion, of course.

I know that choosing what to share or not to share, and why or why not, is a controversial topic. I've written about it before. But I want you guys to know that, even though I focus more on business and blogging now, I'm totally still the same person. I'm still goofy, I still swear, I still talk about poop.

And that person is NOT going to fade away or get all serious on you just because I'm blogging about somewhat serious shit. I'm not trying to hide who I am. Promise.

Blogging is supposed to be fun... and if this blog ever becomes a not-fun place to be, please, PLEASE tell me. And, you wanna know a secret? I miss my old posts, too! But it's kinda like missing an old friend that you no longer click with. You had a GREAT relationship and you love them a lot, but you just don't feel the need to be close anymore. (Does anyone else have friends like this? Am I just a horrible person? No?)

Another not-so-secret secret: I seriously have NOTHING interesting to write about my personal life. I would definitely add more personal stuff if I thought you guys cared about it, but if you REALLY wanna see me in the same ol' sweatpants, you can head over to my Instagram. And if you wanna hear about how Trey's doing, you can read his monthly updates. Or contact us! And if you wanna know about my super exciting trips to Target, I might start tweeting the details more often (they're pretty racy).

And the point of this blog is to inspire and motivate and empower and encourage. I'm trying to stay in line with my mission here, people. This space is supposed to be FOR YOU, not ABOUT ME. You know?

But it's nice to hear that y'all care about me and wanna know what I'm up to. I like to be reminded that I'm loved (who doesn't) so, thank you. The truth is, I haven't done a recent reads post in almost a year because I haven't been finishing books. I'd love to continue my advice column, but I stopped doing it because I stopped getting questions. I miss writing personal essays, but I simply don't have anything to say.

To be honest, I don't do much anymore besides blog/biz/baby stuff. And now beauty, since I got a sweet gig with Mary Kay. And sometimes boyfriend, if we decide to muster up the energy to leave the house.

I could blame it on the fact that I'm a mom now who moved 30 miles away from her friends and needs to save money, but really... it's laziness, y'all. I do know that I need to get out more. And maybe then, I can post about that stuff. But my blog is a reflection of my life, and for now... this is all there is.

I'm sorry if that disappoints you, but to be honest, I like it. (And I love your feedback!!! Thank you.)


APRIL TRAFFIC

Okay, so according to Google Analytics, I received 4,623 pageviews in April. I published 6 posts.



These were my top 10 blog posts...



I'm always interested to see what you guys liked best. Does anything surprise you here?

PS: Full disclosure... I did purchase $10 worth of adspace on Facebook, but it didn't do anything to my traffic anyway. I even have proof. This is my second or third time advertising on there, and every time I wonder why I tried it again. But I guess I just keep hoping that it'll work out differently? Eh?



Nearly 3,500 people saw the post and only 13 clicked through. Total waste of two lattes.


SOCIAL MEDIA PROGRESS

Here's where I'm at now (changes in bold):

11,013 Twitter ^83
2,352 Pinterest ^37
1,869 Instagram (personal) ^34
621 Facebook (business) ^66
561 Facebook (personal) ^191
459 Bloglovin' ^4
153 Google+ ^13
210 Instagram (business) ^120
57 YouTube -3

I've been using Regina's Grow Your Blog Traffic With Social Media (175pg e-book + 125pg workbook + tons of value for only $29) which has completely changed the way I see my followings. She says you don't need a lot of followers, you just need to know how to use the ones you already have: connect with them more, figure out what they need, and come up with content that they'll like. I mean, no duh, right? So simple!

Sometimes I wonder where my head's at, srsly. The #mombrain struggle is real, ladies.

Anyway, it's not really about growing the numbers anymore, but about cultivating growth within the community I've already developed around TLL, and inviting new babes to join in on the fun. Speaking of which, we'd LOVE to invite you to our bi-monthly Twitter parties, every other Wednesday at 11am PST, under the hashtag #liveloudly! Please please please come so I don't feel like a loser talking to myself.


NEWSLETTER GROWTH

I've only had my newsletter for a few months now, and it's up to 25 subscribers. That may not sound like a lot to you, but I'm honored that this many people would allow me into their inbox because I know there is a TON of shit out there that you want to make time to read. Here's the official report.



I'm going to be honest with you -- I subscribe to a lot of newsletters myself. Like, an obscene amount. I'd guess around 50. And to be REALLY honest with you, I don't open the majority of them. There are only a few that I find really helpful or interesting. I'm to the point in my life where if you can't offer me something that I can relate to my own world, I really can't sacrifice the time for it. That may sound selfish (#sorrynotsorry), but it's the truth. And I think that's the truth for most of us!

But that's why I'm ready to put some REAL effort into my newsletter. Mine has been, admittedly, pretty boring thus far. And I don't want to be another unopened email in your 'box, so from now on I'm going to be sending out EXCLUSIVE material (not published on this blog) in my newsletters.

They might not be super long or involved, but I want them to be special. Because YOU'RE special. And don't let no one tell you otherwise, girl. (Okay, that was weird. Too much coffee. Or maybe not enough.)

Anyway, you can subscribe here and don't forget that you'll get a free 20min session with yours truly soon after. (Yeah, I was only going to run that special through May 1st but it's my blog and I'll do what I want.) By the way, I use MailChimp for all mailing lists. I'm still learning but I'm enjoying it so far.


INCOME, EXPENSES, & DEBT

Today I'm going to tell you exactly where my earnings come from under The Loudmouth Lifestyle (or TLL for short). I consider TLL to be the umbrella that encompasses all of my internet "stuff" including blog posts, coaching programs, e-books and e-courses, and anything else that stems from this business.

These are the multiple streams of income that I use:

If you're looking to make money from your blog, I'd recommend these affiliates + media groups:

Bon wrote a really great post about how these things work here. However, ABOVE ALL, I urge you to create your own offerings. Start your own coaching programs or consulting services. Write your own e-books and e-courses. Do something that's unique to you, because that's what your readers really care about. Seriously, guys, about 75% of my blog income comes from stuff I've made, and the other 25% comes from stuff that companies pay me to promote. (I really wish I had figured this out sooner, FYI.)

I started Loudmouth Life Coaching with no formal training and nothing but faith, and yet it's working. If you consistently offer value through your blog, your readers will want to work with you more intimately no matter what your credentials are. Don't ever underestimate yourself and your abilities!

And now, onto expenses. You may be wondering how much it costs to keep a blog functioning well.

(Or not, in which case, feel free to skip this part...)

From looking at other bloggers' income reports, it seems to me like I don't invest a lot into my business at all. Lindsay spent nearly $7k in March, but she also made over $32k (that's a food blog, so totally not in my niche, and I only visit her for the reports every month -- that shows how helpful they are though). Anyway, those are still really good margins; she only had to put about 21% back into her business.

Okay, enough with the technical Shark Tank-speak.

Here's what I normally spend:
  • Photobucket: $4.99
  • Hootsuite: $7.50
  • Dropbox: $9.99

I also sometimes pay for:
  • E-books, e-courses and other resources
  • Office supplies
  • Advertising
  • Graphic design

Just FYI -- I have started keeping track of transportation expenses as well (for photoshoots, meetings, and in-person coaching sessions); my photographer and I currently have an agreement in which we trade services; I split the cost of Hootsuite with my boss for Serenity since I use it for both businesses.

I'm probably forgetting something, but I normally don't throw down more than $100/month for blog and biz stuff. That much I know. And that's a reasonable number for me.

I've also thought about taking a monthly hotel excursion by myself to work on things, like Natalie and Sarah and Regina do. However, I have something they don't... a kid. Unless one of them has a secret child, in which case, I'm even more impressed than I was before. Maybe Brandon will let me have a night alone with Airbnb and my laptop if I get him a case of beer beforehand. Bribery, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Oh wait, I was going to talk about debt now, wasn't I? Shit. I was hoping you forgot.

If you've been reading for awhile, you know that I've tried budgeting a few different ways. I've accumulated a lot of debt since entering the real world (AKA graduating college and moving across the country) back in 2009. Total transparency here: I consistently had $25,000-30,000 of debt to my name FOR YEARS.

Until now. I've gotten it down to almost $20k, y'all.

Seriously, that's a huge accomplishment for me. Because before, every time I would make a payment, an emergency would come up -- with my car or my health or my housing -- and I'd have to take two steps back. And then because I was so pissed about the whole thing, I'd say fuck it and buy myself something to feel better. But, [knock on every wood surface around me] I seem to be chipping away at the mountain a bit faster than before. And it's the best feeling in the whole wide world. Almost.

PS: If anyone wants to get me this fun and functional financial planner from Etsy as a belated birthday present, I won't be opposed. Thanks in advance.

PPS: I'll be changing my pricing and packages soon, and totally redoing my shop -- but I'll keep you posted on all of that. According to a Harvard study, coaching can cost as much as $3,500 an hour, though I promise I won't charge that much (and probably never will). I think you'll like what I have to offer.

TIPS & TOOLS THAT WORKED FOR ME

First, let's talk about what DIDN'T work.

What didn't work was announcing a bunch of new stuff months in advance. And then by the time it came around, I wasn't as excited about it and decided to shift my focus to a different project instead.

What I'm talking about is the Mini Mouth book set.



These were to be bite-sized e-books for only $3. And each one was to cover different areas of life: relationships and sex, money and budgeting, business and blogging, friendship and faith. I still think it's a good idea, but I have even better ideas that I know you'll like more. So, I've switched their status from "pre-order" to "coming soon" with no regrets. I want to continue the project someday, but not right now. I have some big stuff coming up that I want to focus on and I promise you won't be disappointed.

One thing I've been LOVING lately though is the Type Mail app. It's free and basically like Hootsuite for email on your phone. I have 5 email addresses between my different businesses, and this is a convenient way to keep all your inboxes in one spot. (Remind me to thank Brandon for discovering this one. He may know nothing about blogging, but he's 100x better at technology than me. Thanks boo.)

I'm also part of lots of Facebook groups and Google+ communities now. Seriously, participating in them has completely enhanced my internet experience. I have met SO many amazing women and I wish I would have thought of doing this sooner. I know I keep saying that, but it's true. I've learned a TON in just a short time and I hope that my revelations help you learn something as well. That's what I'm here for.

Speaking of which, I created checklists for myself last week in order to help organize my future plans and then realized you could probably use them too. Download them right here or pin the preview below as a reminder. Oh, and I left out Saturday on purpose. Mama needs at least one day off.



As you'll soon see, I created these to-dos with the following schedule in mind: Mon/Thurs/Sun = blog posts, Tues = newsletter, Weds = Twitter party, Fri = video. But of course, you can use them however you want!


MINI BLOG & BIZ GOALS FOR MAY

1. Move all photos from Photobucket to Flickr + all e-books from Storenvy to Gumroad
2. Complete Jenn's FREE guide, 26 Ways To Increase Your Visibility and Thrive Online
3. Start using Calendly to schedule clients instead of the whole back-and-forth bullshit (#excited!)

This post contains affiliate links, but was not created in partnership with anyone. I have not been compensated and/or given product in exchange for a review. I just love the things mentioned and wanted to share them with you. Let me know if you find them helpful and you can see my last report here.


*Header photo found here. Text added by me.
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