tRPM: The Most Valuable Blogging Metric You’re Not Tracking
In the world of blogging and running websites, there are so many metrics to keep track of. Traffic numbers and follower counts. CTRs and ROIs. Engagement rates, view rates, ad rates, oh my! At the end of the day, there’s only one metric I really care about for my websites (and their associated social media accounts): tRPM.
You may have seen this metric on some of my income reports – for Valerie & Valise and London On My Mind – and wondered what it means. In this post, I’m defining tRPM, a metric I made up… but which I think is the most valuable metric I track for every site, and one you should be tracking to.
If you’re ready for a little bit a math and a whole lot of knowledge gained from doing that math, read on to learn about my favorite little metric and the power it holds for your blog.
What is tRPM? A New Metric, Defined
Now RPM is probably familiar to you – it’s something all ad networks use to show you how well you’re earning for every 1,000 ad impressions you get. RPM stands for “Revenue per mille” where mille means 1,000; what it means is “revenue per thousand impressions.”
tRPM, or “total RPM” is a modification of that same metric. In my definition tRPM stands for “total revenue per thousand pageviews.”
It’s a metric you can use to asses the “earning power” of your site, as it shows you how much you earn for each 1,000 pageviews – whether you only get 1,000 pageviews or you get 1,000,000 pageviews.
I’m sure other people have metrics like this or something similar, and maybe they have the same metric but don’t call it “tRPM” or “total RPM.” What’s important here is that you should have some metric that gives you the overall “earning power” of your site at any traffic level so that you can compare the metric over time – and work to grow that metric over time too.
How to Calculate Your tRPM
So here’s how I calculate tRPM for my sites:
tRPM = total earnings / (traffic / 1000)
So if, for example:
- Total earnings in a given time period = $1000
- Traffic in a given time period = 100,000 pageviews
(Just to keep it simple!)
tRPM = $1,000 / (100,0000 / 1000) = $1,000 / 100 = $10
As you can see, it’s pretty easy to calculate, but it allows you to compare the earning power of your traffir in this time period to any other time period you want to compare to.
I usually calculate my tRPM monthly, and compare month over month, but I also find it can be very helpful to compare year over year. For example, my tRPM for 2021 on Valerie & Valise was about $80 – pretty good! However, my tRPM for 2020 was actually $85. So as bad as 2020 was for travel sites like Valerie & Valise, I actually managed to have solid earning power that year. (2022 is only at $67 right now, which explains why I feel like “I’m not doing as well this year compared with past years.)
For another example, I recently listened to a podcast episode about a niche site owner who’s getting some impressive numbers: $20k earned and about 500,000 pageviews per month. Those are big impressive stats – and I’m not lying, I’d love to have them. However, doing the tRPM calculation
tRPM = $20,000 / (500,0000 / 1000) = $20,000 / 500 = $40
That’s certainly a healthy tRPM, but I wouldn’t trade that site for mine, even if I got all that traffic! I’d rather keep my smaller sites and work to grow the traffic on them – since I earn more when I do.
“Good” vs “Bad” tRPMs
Speaking of comparing tRPM, it’s helpful to take a quick sidebar to discuss what a “good” and “bad” tRPM value might be.
The interesting thing I’ve discovered about this metric is that it depends a lot on several factors:
- The age of your site – newer sites always have wild tRPMs, some months really high if you make like one good sale and other months that are incredibly low due to the volatility of traffic and earnings
- The ad network you’re on – since most sites earn at least 50% of their income (and usually a lot more) from ad networks, better ad networks automatically give you a higher tRPM
- The site niche – every niche has different ad revenue and affiliate opportunities and these will both play a huge role in your ability to get a large tRPM
For a site that is 12+ months old and which is on an ad network (i.e. 10,000+ monthly sessions) and which has a strong affiliate strategy, here are the benchmarks I’d be using:
- tRPM < $10 – There’s room to improve here. I’d look at improving your affiliate strategy even more, and working to create new content so you can get to a better ad network ASAP.
- $10 < tRPM < $50 – This is a healthy tRPM, but there’s room to improve still.
- $50 < tRPM < $100 – This is very good. I’m happy when I’m in this window, though I’m always pushing myself harder.
- tRPM ≥ $100 – Hot damn! This is always what I’m aiming for, and have hit only a few times.
So which one are you in? Are you willing to share in the comments? Here are some of my sites’ recent tRPMs and other important info:
|Valerie & Valise||8+ years||Mediavine||$69|
|Space Tourism Guide||4+ years||Mediavine||$31|
|Follow the Butterflies||24 months||SHE Media||$17|
|London On My Mind||15 months||Mediavine||$25|
Unfortunately, I don’t have any other sites that have been on ad networks long enough to have meaningful data (Jordan Traveler, Great Plains Travel Guide, and Eat Like Bourdain are all brand new on SHE Media as of last month). In the past, tRPM for V&V has been as high as $228 – that was a gooooood month, my friends.
In any case, you can see that the niche, age, and ad network play a huge role – LOMM jumped from tRPM $19 to $25 just by switching from SHE Media to Mediavine. (This is why I always get in arguments when ad networks claim they have the best rates – I’m comparing them, people!)
Using tRPM to Inform Your Blog Strategy
So once you know your site’s tRPM for last month or last year, what can you do with that information? Here are some of the decisions I make using my tRPM:
I use tRPM as benchmark to compare my site’s performance overall to its past performance. I can see if what I’ve been doing has at least been as effective at earning money as it was before. This could include:
- Evaluating a recent content strategy change. For example, if I start writing a bunch of affiliate-focused product review posts, my tRPM should improve; whether it does or doesn’t gives me feedback on my strategy.
- Changing my content strategy going forward. If what I’m writing is losing effectiveness at earning over time, I might add new types of content or new topics to my strategy.
- Increasing my content production schedule. While adding more content might not improve my tRPM, it increases my overall income, which I also am a big fan of. Also, increasing content that increases traffic can help me earn a better ad network, which definitely improves tRPM.
- Improving my affiliate implementation. We all know it’s true: there’s literally always more you can do to earn better affiliate income. Using tRPM is a great way to kick yourself into gear on finally putting in the work, adding the links, fixing the broken links, etc.
- Brainstorming other income streams. One great way to increase tRPM is by adding more income streams beyond just ads and your existing affiliates. This could mean joining new affiliate networks and adding those merchants, coming up with products or services to sell, or working on sponsored content through your site or social media.
I use tRPM as a benchmark against other sites. Not many people share their traffic and income numbers, but when they do, that’s a great opportunity to get a sense for how I’m doing in the overall blogging industry. That’s how I was able to compare the other niche site owner I mentioned before.
I use tRPM to challenge myself. As I mentioned, I’m always aiming for that $100 tRPM; tRPM was one of my goals in both 2020 ($50+) and 2021 ($110+). By focusing on this one metric, I can use many different tactics to try and achieve my goals.
There you have it: the main metric I pay attention to on my sites, and how I compare them to their past selves and to each other. Have any questions about how to calculate tRPM or what to do with the number once you get it? Let me know in the comments!