December 2020 Blog Income Report

What I learned in my first year blogging – mistakes and strategies that worked

1st year Blog Income Report

I made it through my first year blogging! Most people quit by 6 months but I am happy to say that I made it through the first year.

Did I meet my goals? No

Was it worth it? 1000% yes

Looking back I never could have imagined that I would know what I know now. I really had no idea what would happen during my first year. I made many mistakes and had to redo things A LOT but I also had several wins along the way.

Here is what I learned my first year blogging.

1st year income report for my 2020 blog

Let’s start from the beginning.

Why did I start my blog?

I just had a baby (my second) and I was searching for a side hustle that had the potential to replace my full time income. I also wanted something that I could call mine because as a stay at home mom once before I knew the feeling of not being fulfilled.

So I looked at network marketing, starting an Etsy shop and even those websites where you can take survey’s for money.

I knew these were not for me and I started to get discouraged that there really was not anything out there that I was looking for.

Until one day I was searching on Pinterest and I came across a pin that mentioned how they make 10k blogging per month.

Yeah okay that seems logical but as I kept reading about blogging I realized that it wasn’t really the “blogging” I was thinking of it.

Blogging is not an online journal it is a monetized website that can generate thousands of pageviews and even thousands of dollars if you implement the right strategies.

I officially was “in” on the whole blogging thing and realized that I LOVE to read mom blogs and knew it would be the perfect fit for me.

Therefore, on January 1st, 2020 I launched my blog!

If you are wondering the steps I took to start my blog you can check that out here.

This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase a product through my link I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information you can read my disclosure here.

Top lessons I learned from first year blogging

1. Research a Niche

A lot of blogging guru’s will tell you to find something you are passionate about. Well this might make writing more enjoyable but you need to make sure that 1. you CAN write a lot about this topic 2. it is something people are looking for (aka answers their questions) and 3. it has the potential to be profitable.

Think about the potential topics you could write about and the questions you could help solve. Are there products you could recommend or a product you could create and sell that is related to the niche? Think of a clear monetization strategy from the get go.

If you are looking to create a niche site that monetizes solely on ads and affiliate links your to go course would be Mike Pearson’s Niche Site Academy which you can find here.

Also be mindful that for certain topics like healthcare you will need to establish credibility. Google, Pinterest and other social media platforms will not rank your content if you are giving advice that requires credibility.

2. Don’t worry about your blog name but make sure it is not similar to anyone else

I cannot tell you how much I obsessed over a blog name. Then I finally decided on one and made the mistake of selecting a domain name that was very similar to someone else’s.

This not only inhibited my growth because I was behind someone else in regard to blog age but since I purchased my domain name after the first one was already established I could have a trademark issue on my hands.

Therefore, I ended up rebranding to a name that no one had. It was a lot of work to rebrand but I knew the longer I waited the more work it would be. In order to successfully rebrand, I followed this guide.

When choosing a blog name less is more. Keep it short and simple. You can utilize a main keyword you are targeting but it will not make a huge difference in regards to seo. Also users will not be concered with your name as much as they will be with your content.

So do not spend too much time deciding on a name!

Namecheap is the best place to purchase a domain name. You can do so here.

3. Choose the right host

It is best not to keep all your eggs in one basket which is why it is recommended to purchase your domain name separate from your web host. When deciding on web hosting you need to figure out what your goals are (ex. lots of traffic, ecommerce, need for storage (photography), etc.)

There are two types of hosting: shared hosting and managed hosting

Shared hosting is when a lot of websites share a server which can lead to slower site speed and less storage.

Managed hosting is when your website is on its own server resulting in faster site speeds and more storage.

As you can imagine shared hosting is more affordable and a good place to start for beginners.

Here is a great resource that details why the best host for you may be different for someone else.

Here is the low down on hosts.

Bluehost

This is what I personally use and I do recommend for beginners because it is very user friendly and I haven’t had any issues so far. However, you will run into many bloggers telling you that Bluehost is THE BEST ever and that is because they have a high paying affiliate program not because they really are “the best ever”.

If you choose Bluehost because of it’s low prices and ease of use go into it knowing that you will need to switch once your blog grows (and that is if you are serious about making money blogging).

Siteground

Siteground is similar to Bluehost with their low entry prices but have a better rep for customer service. Siteground recently increased their renewal fees, however, which has upset many bloggers. Siteground is a safe choice when choosing hosting.

Namehero

Namehero is a well respected host and are known for their top speed. It is not as beginner friendly but don’t let that scare you away if you are wanting to start with a great host right away. They are a little more expensive with their entry fee but not as steep of an increase at renewal like Bluehost and Siteground.

Namehero can handle big sites so this is one you could stick with.

I am planning to move to Namehero in the near future and I cannot wait!

BigScoots

BigScoots is one of the most recommended webhosts due to their excellent customer service and ability to handle large traffic websites. I recommend switching to BigScoots when you near 100k pageviews per month.

Now there is one host that pretty much everyone agrees to stay away from and that is Godaddy. Do not even purchase a domain name from them because they purposely increase the prices of domains that you have been looking into.

Here are some other hosts that I have heard of but do not know anything about:

  • Lyrical host
  • DreamHost
  • Cloudways

4. Choose the right theme

Here is another item that I worried way to much about. I wanted my blog to be beautiful, clean and modern. So I scoured the internet for the prettiest and most affordable theme I could find.

Now my theme isn’t bad. It made setting up my blog a lot easier and fortunately I picked a mobile responsive and seo friendly theme.

However, it could be better.

I have not switched themes yet but as I mentioned earlier I am planning to switch hosts so when I do that I will be switching to one of the following themes:

  1. Astra
  2. Kadence
  3. GeneratePress

All three are highly recommend by the blogging community. They are very fast, mobile responsive and optimized for seo.

Now you can get all of these themes in their free version which will work just as good as the premium version. The only difference is you will have limited customization.

Now it is recommend to use a page builder such as Elementor to make your pages beautifully designed in addition to a good theme. FYI page builders are meant to build pages and not to be used for blog posts so keep that in mind.

Please note that there is a popular theme called Divi and they include their own Divi page builder. However, I have heard horror stories about Divi being outdated and very slow.

Then when people switch themes from Divi it is a nightmare because the Divi theme will leave short codes everywhere and you have to clean this up manually.

Therefore, stay away from Divi.

5. Set up your legal pages

Get these in place right away so that you do not have to worry about them down the road. It is also good to be covered right away.

Here are the pages you will need:

  1. Privacy Policy
  2. Disclosure

You can find free templates but I recommend purchasing Mariam Tsaturyan’s Legal Bundle here.

6. Utilize the right plugins

Less is more with plugins since they tend to slow down your site. You will find blogger’s telling people that you should not have more than 10, 15, etc. but in reality all the matters is what the plugin is actually doing for you.

Therefore, keep it to a minimum but it is okay to add plugins that are providing value to your blog.

Here are my must have plugins:

  1. Yoast SEO (For creating a Meta Description)
  2. Insert Headers and Footers (For adding script into the header tag)
  3. Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg (For customizing blog posts)
  4. UpdraftPlus (for Backing up and Restoring)
  5. Wordfence Security (Protecting your site)
  6. Contact Form 7 (Form that let’s readers contact you)
  7. Email Service Provider Plugin (For adding Opt-In Forms. I use Mailerlite)
  8. WP Rocket (Paid – For Caching to speed up your site)
  9. Grow Social Pro by Mediavine (Social Share Buttons & Paid version for Pinterest customization)
  10. ShortPixel (Paid – Image Optimizer to increase site speed)

7. Launch with one post

I made the mistake of waiting to launch till I had 10 posts on my site.

Instead launch with one post published because you want to get your site aging with google as soon as possible. It takes at least 6 months to start getting any sort of traction on google so launch as soon as possible to begin the google clock.

Now although your site is published for the world to see, you don’t have to advertise it until you have more content. Trust me no one will be coming to your site until you start marketing.

So you may set a “launch” date to the public after you’ve built up some content.

8. Create social media accounts to save your blog handle but do not focus on it

After you purchase your domain name go ahead and reserve your handles on any social media platforms you might use.

Do not worry about them though because the ROI on social media is very low. Focus on monetizing your blog first and then later down the road you can decide to implement social media.

Facebook is great if you plan to eventually sell products as you can utilize their ads.

Instagram is great for getting collaborations or sponsorships.

You can monetize a YouTube channel through ads, affiliate links, sponsorships or even promoting your own products. Embedding videos into your blog posts is a booster for SEO so keep that in mind.

I don’t use Twitter or any other social media platform.

9. Learn about SEO by month 3

Now that you are up and running and have learned a ton about blogging it is time to dive into learning SEO.

Optimizing your site and your posts are essential for organic growth with search engines. Organic traffic has high conversation rates and ultimatley is passive traffic so if you are serious about making money as a blogger you need to invest in learning SEO.

Start with purchasing Debbie Gartner’s SEO Ebooks. They are affordable and provide A TON of value.

You can check them out here:

Or you can buy both books here for a discounted price which is what I did.

Then you can move into taking Stupid Simple SEO by Mike Pearson. You can check out his course here which begins with a free starter pack.

10. Monetize from the start

One thing that I did do was monetize from the start. I signed up with Amazon Associates and began linking to products within my post. I made the 3 required sales within the first month!

See more details on that here!

Other affiliate programs I use are:

11. Content is king

This is probably the number one thing everyone can agree on. Content is king!

If you don’t have good content then nothing else matters. You need to build trust with your readers and truly solve THEIR problems. Find there pain points and deliver solutions!

12. Seek advice from people you trust

Lastly, seek advice from people you trust. Although the internet is filled with amazing resources there are still some bad apples in there. Don’t believe everything you read and find a few mentors to learn from instead.

I’d be happy to answer any of your questions. Comment below or send me an email!

Well it took me over a year to learn all of that so I hope I am able to save you some time and prevent you from making some of the mistakes that I did.

However, every person will have a different journey so you will definitely run into different challenges and find unique strategies that work for you.

Alright so now that you know my top lessons learned from my first year blogging, let’s jump into my stats for month 12 and for the year!

Month number 12 blog results

Goals

Month 12 goals:

  • 5,000 page views
  • Publish 2 posts
  • Update 2 old posts for SEO

I based these goals off my eleventh month results which you can read here.

So how did I do?

GoalActualMet (Y/N)?
5,000 Monthly Page Views3,918 (3,291)N
Publish 2 posts1N
Update 2 old posts for SEO0N

Well once again time was NOT on my side. However, my pageviews increased and my Virtual Assistant Business is doing so well and I am loving every minute of it!

Plus this month was filled with family time for the holidays so I really did not expect to do much this month with my blog.

Here is what my 12th month blogging looked like:

Google Analytics Audience for Mommy Explained December 2020

December was more all over the place but I am assuming it was because of the holidays.

Where am I getting my Traffic from?

96.2% of my traffic came from social media with Pinterest accounting for 94.84%.

Google Analytics Acquisition for Mommy Explained December 2020

How did I make money this month?

Amazon – $19.78

Rewardstyle – $0.83

Finally in the double digits again!

I know I have so much potential with affiliate marketing and although these numbers are small it is a huge motivator.

Expenses

Alright now let’s find out how my first year went!

1st year Blog Income Report: a review of 2020

Traffic

Google Analytics for Mommy Explained 1st year 2020

It is so fun to look at my analytics for the year. You can clearly tell my story and indicate what happened each month.

My first month was small but then I grew the next two months on Pinterest. I had a viral pin at the end of March and beginning of April. Then I had a second viral pin later in June.

Now you can see how I have developed steady traffic from July on.

Now I know some people get 43k pageviews a day but for me it is crazy to think my blog was viewed that many times.

I’ve been slowly growing and can’t wait to see what next year holds!

Income

Amazon – $374.61

Awin – $1.71

Rewardstyle – $3.30

Total: $379.62

In the grand scheme of things this is not a lot. However, a mentor of mine once said you should only consider giving up if you have not made $10 in your first year.

Clearly I have surpassed the 10 dollar mark and I am very satisfied with what I have accomplished thus far. Blogging really is a long game and I’ve seen many bloggers begin to really see success around 18 months to 2 years.

99% of my affiliate links are from amazon so next year I plan on adding more from my other affiliate programs. Plus they have MUCH better commission rates than Amazon.

Expenses

The cost of running my blog for one year:

Total: $667.54

Now this does not include all of the courses I purchased. I think I spent around $200 in courses so far. The digital world is contently changing and therefore requires ongoing learning so I know I will need to spend some money in education each year.

I have a ton of courses in mind for 2021!

Well if you do the math my expenses outweighed my profit. I fully understand that it takes money to make money and the fact that I was able to start a business for less than 1k is amazing.

I am so excited to continue on my blogging journey and ultimately continue being a great resource for moms.

Last but not least…

How is my Virtual Assistant business going?

If you read my last blog income report you’d know that I started a Virtual Assistant business to help other mom entrepreneurs manage the details so they can focus on doing what they love and ultimately scale their business.

My business is growing and growing fast. I have learned an incredible amount so far and I am truly excited and passionate about this new journey.

I know that together my blog and my VA business will allow me to reach beyond my goals and will create the work life balance I’ve always dreamed of.

If you are interested in becoming a Virtual Assistant I highly recommend checking out this program. It will walk you through everything you need to know about freelancing and getting your business up and running.

The hardest part is starting and this course enabled me to press go.

If you are not quite ready to jump in and want to know more you can check out the FREE Workshop here.

Goals for next year 2021:

  • Switch web hosting to Namehero
  • Switch to the Astra theme & update about me copy & Home page
  • Hit 50,000 sessions per month and apply for Mediavine
  • Publish 26+ posts
  • Update the remaining 15 posts for SEO
  • Create and launch a digital product
  • Continue to grow my Virtual Assistant Business

I’ve got big goals this year and I am so excited!

Now this will be my last Blog Income Report that I will share publicly. If you would like to receive my future income reports as well as many tips and tricks that I have learned you can sign up for my email list below!

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1st year Blog Income Report

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