Income Reports

March 2015 Valerie & Valise Income Report

So passes March! We’re already a quarter of the way through 2015… are you freaking out yet? I kind of am! While I love April, it’s also my birthday month, which brings into sharp focus the inevitable reality of passing time as marked by aging… but let’s not get too existential!

Last Month’s Goals

I am quite pleased with my performance in March, actually!

  1. I had 2,133 unique pageviews last month — I’m pretty sure that’s the number of visitors who came to the site, so I surpassed my goal!
  2. I had 18 new comments on my 18 posts in the month of March… so I surpassed my goal, and have a great average. Thanks very much to: Katie from Feathery Travels, Penny from One Penny Tourist, Sabeel from Rent a Car Bahrain, Maaike from Travellous World, Cancinda from Points & TravelR.J., Liz from Sweden Dreaming, Holly from Brave Little Cheesehead, Drew from Trail to Peak, and Norman from annees-de-pelerinage.com. Loving back-links for everybody!
  3. I have 19 new email subscribers — I reworked my subscription options so that you’re hopefully seeing a more interesting, useful signup box, and not getting lost in the ether. Thanks to all my new subscribers for joining me!

Honestly, I couldn’t be happier — those of you who have joined me in this past month are part of why I keep working so hard to make this site valuable. My travel rate will be changing in coming months, but I hope you’ll stick around for the adventure!

Something weird is going on — I had my second-best month in terms of page visits and views, yet my posts are getting really low hit rates. If my bounce rate had gone up, that might explain this drastic change, but that doesn’t seem to be the case — people are coming to the blog and hanging out on the home page. Click around, peeps! There’s tons to read!

Blogging Lessons I Learned Last Month

  1. YOU decide which performance metrics matter to you: I’ve noticed that there are lots of guides out there to “what to measure” and “how to tell you’re succeeding” and “the only list you should care about growing”… but these are all baloney if they don’t match up with your personal and professional goals for your blog. If it’s your passion project, put your passion where it matters to you. As for me, I’m starting to think about how to focus on comments and my mailing list, in addition to Twitter.
  2. It’s better to create great, infrequent content than frequent, less-than-great content: Unfortunately, I’m seeing this a lot: bloggers are trying to up their content rate at the expense of creating valuable content. Frankly, I hate when I go to a travel blog only to find that the past 90% of posts were listicles of affiliate links of items to buy and packing tips, with very little of the two most valuable types of travel blog content out there (at least from my perspective): blogs about traveling, and blogs about travel blogging. Just because my travel rate is going down over time doesn’t mean I’m going to keep posting at the same rate. I’m going to say things when I actually have things to say!
  3. Make a commitment to your blog: I know, it’s hard. Life happens. Work calls. Family, friends, socializing, other passions — they all want to stand in the way of your blog. But you’ve got to cut out time. Put it on the calendar. Commit. Don’t let it slip. I’ve been less-than-stellar about my commitment lately, and I’m going to learn from my own lack of commitment and try to be better in the coming months (and in perpetuity, really!).

Blogging Costs Last Month

It’s hard to believe we’re already through “Q1″ in the business world — as the last day of March, the first quarter of business in 2015 is winding down, companies are balancing their books and making various income statements, and other things I learned in my accounting class. Yep, I really do have an MBA (to be fair, Accounting & Finance was literally the hardest class I took!).

I’m not doing a quarterly roundup, but here’s a look at my expenses from March. You’ll notice I backed off in a lot of areas — this wasn’t necessarily on purpose, but I haven’t had a good chance to strategize my ad spending, so I haven’t been doing as much. I hope to get back to it in April!

March Expenses

ItemRaw Amount% of Total
Administration$0.000.0%
Facebook Ads$6.2914.1%
Google Ads$0.000.0%
Pinterest Ads$0.000.0%
Twitter Ads$0.000.0%
Giveaways$0.000.0%
Store$1.784.0%
Travel$0.000.0%
Other$36.5581.9%
Total Spent in Month$44.62

Line Item: Administration

No expenses here, as usual. I thought about buying “valerie-valise.com” or “valerie-valise.travel” and starting to own multiple domains all pointing to this site, but haven’t really made the commitment yet.

Line Item: Facebook Ads

I think this was a little bit of residual spending from March — I didn’t really run any Facebook ads in the past month. That’s sad! I was having success with them and have let them slide. Definitely committed to getting these up and running again in April.

Line Item(s): Google, Pinterest, Twitter Ads

As I mentioned in February, I wasn’t totally happy with Pinterest ads, and I meant to keep working to optimize them. I didn’t get around to it, so I didn’t really run any advertising on my social channels in March. Definitely need to shape up — I’m always telling clients it’s “pay to play,” and I’m not playing (or paying!)!

Line Item: Giveaways

While the #100TravelQuotes giveaway is still going (through April 11th!), I have no expenses left for this giveaway, and haven’t started any others recently. What do you think… is it time for another giveaway in April? Maybe a “It’s Valerie’s Birthday!” one?

Line Item: Store

I added this one, because I realized the “Other” category was getting too full of stuff, and the costs of running my Etsy shop are consistent enough to be considered a separate expense (especially if I ever run advertising there). I had to renew a few items, and I think there are some outstanding expenses that haven’t been charged yet (again, for renewing items so that you all could consider purchasing them!), so I’ll expect another charge in April.

Line Item: Travel

NO travel expenses for a travel blogger? Cue the sobbing. I had originally intended to be buying a big international ticket, but that got pushed out until at least April — who knows when it will happen, but I’ll be sure to report it when I do commit the funds!

Line Item: Other

There are several expenses here: I am still using Buffer’s “Awesome” plan for $10/month, and still loving it. I’m also using Tweepi still, but have actually turned off the paid features starting in April. Finally, I spent $18 to buy a license for the cool Social Media Fans plugin you see over in the sidebar. It was long overdue for an update and I considered the cost worth it (even more so now that I see how little I spent in other categories this month!).

Takeaways

Given the small spending this month, these takeaways are a bit different than months past:

  1. You don’t have to spend a lot to see growth. I’ve been saying this all along — you need just enough spending to create momentum, and then you keep the cost as low as possible while still maintaining that momentum. If you’re making good content, the snowball will start!
  2. That said, you gotta spend something! Social media can eventually have a mind of its own, but when you’re starting out, it’s important to be willing to treat your blog as a business and spend reasonably, responsible, but accordingly.

Predictions for April

  1. Increasing my ad spend on Facebook again, to $30/month. Pinterest spend of $10/month. Potentially looking at print ads… that’s a weird thing on my list of things to try!
  2. Maybe a giveaway! Who knows.
  3. Travel expenses for sure — Portland is already planned but not booked, San Francisco is on my list, potentially Indianapolis, or somewhere exotic… or everywhere! (I wish…)

See you next month!

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