Q1 2016 Blog Traffic and Online Income - 136,784 Users / $2,467.48

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For the past two years I was doing online income reports each month, at start I even had separate versions for traffic and income reports, as time went, and in last September I decided to combine them in one post, latter at the end of the year I got a feeling that monthly reports are probably a bit overdose -  today I'm representing first quarterly report covering early months of 2016 - January, February and March.

In a long run - I believe quarterly reviews can give a better understanding of what actually happens, also it gives more time to observe effects of new implementations.

For a complete list of tools and resources I use to power my blog, check out resources page.

Right, if you had red until this place, you already know my results for website traffic and pure online income from it at Q1 of 2016. If you would love to learn more what' s behind scenes and see some comparison with past quarters, please continue reading. 

Blog traffic Q1 2016

Blog traffic for the past six month had been very stable - about 45,000 monthly users. First quarter of 2016 if compared with last (Q4) quarter of 2015 shows a small 0.65% traffic gain, which is great, and frankly speaking asked me a lot of effort to beat previous quarter (more on that bellow)

Blog traffic Q1 2016

Blog traffic Q1 2016

Feeling after getting more than 130,000 users to blog in three months is just great, thus it's a little bit bellow my overall goals for 2016. In my 2015 yearly review I did set a goal to attract in total 650,000 users to my blog. Which would be about 162,000 users quarterly. Thus the gap is not huge, it still makes me concerned-  will I be able to manage my goal. On average it will ask about 170,000 quarterly users for the next three quarters. Of course, there might be larger traffic gains in following quarters (What I'm looking to have), but a much worst scenario could happen and traffic might drop. Because of that - I wouldn't say - 136,000 users are a lot. It' s decent. 

The super good news - Q1 2016 vs Q1 2015 shows more than 150% traffic growth:

Blog traffic Q1 2016 vs Q1 2015

Blog traffic Q1 2016 vs Q1 2015

From 54,000 users at first quarter of 2015 to 136,000 users in 2016. I would say that's a fascinating growth. But as I said already, traffic seems stable for past six months. I doubt it will surge anytime soon - what I'm looking for the future quarters - stable around 10% growth. Time will, of course, show.

Income Q1 2016

I believe most of my readers are more interested in actual income rather traffic stats, but let me remind you, in online business (If we can call it so) income is dependent on traffic. It might differ niche from niche - there are niches where a lot more money is made from traffic I have. And this is another interesting thing I would love to talk about.

Q1 made me a nice revenue of $2,576.33, which might seem a lot for some, but ... a year ago I made just $200 less with traffic almost three times less. On other words - traffic coming to my site is not monetized as good as it was a year ago. And here comes in RPM.

RPM - stands for earnings for 1000 page views/impression - Reach per Mile. My combined RPM from different revenue channels stands at $13.01 for Q1 2016

Q1 2016 RPM

Q1 2016 RPM

On average I received $13.01 per every 1000 page views my blog had. In total, as you can see from first screenshot above, blog got almost 200,000 page views, which in result generated a nice amount of money - $2,500.

Now, a year ago, overall RPM for blog at Q1 of 2015 was more than double - $27.96. If I had manage to keep the same RPM for this quarter my earnings would be double, more than $5,000. Now this is a huge. It' s hard to explain why RPM dropped by half - I noticed this pattern starting last quarter of 2015 (with December as exception) - my RPM rates just started drop month after month, the more traffic I got, the less RPM in return. Basically it means I'm attracting a lot of users who are not making me any money at all. Is it a bad thing? No, I don't think so. There are a lot of informal articles on blog where no affiliate marketing is involved at all. My articles about minimum and average salaries in EU are among the most red. 

I would love to increase RPM rate close to $20 per 1000 page views, but speaking of next quarter - I will be happy with anything above $10

Right, but where does the money actually come in?

Q1 I had affiliate marketing (Amazon Associates, Booking.com) and display ads (Google AdSense). The most money is made with Amazon Associates, then Google AdSense and then Booking.com

Affiliate Marketing:

  • Amazon Associates: $2,372.24
  • Booking: $75.99

Display ads:

  • Google AdSense: $128.1

Total: $2,576.33

My top performing channel is Amazon Associates, and it has been ever since I started promoting Amazon products back in August 2014. Recently I implemented Amazon Recommended ADS, and they perform pretty good - generates already about 5% of total income. Pretty much of the earnings come from older posts back from 2015 and even 2014. I'm using separate tracking ID's for each year. At Q1 of 2016 I stopped a bit promoting Amazon products, just to be less spammy. For future I'm planing to do about bi-weekly Amazon promotion and work out with older articles, by updating and fine tuning them.

Booking  - it's the toughest affiliate I ever have done - 75 dollars are not much, I know, but it' s decent.

Google AdSense performs pretty good, again 128 dollars are not much either, but I call it a free money - which comes pretty easy (slowly but easy)


This quarter I spent money on hosting, Facebook Ads, CDN and bought a new domain name

Total: $108.85

My monthly payments to Linode actually is $62.50 - two VPS and backup services for both of them. In total I would be asked to pay $187.5 for hosting, but Linode does have great referral program, which got me a free ride in January and February and got me half price in March. Just love it.

KeyCDN is a new thing on my blog - I'm using it to speed up my Drupal site, read: How to speed up your Drupal site: cdn integration using KeyCDN. By now it looks like I need to spend about five dollars a month to serve content over CDN and deliver it to more than 40,000 monthly users - amazingly cheap. KeyCDN is among my best finds this year. This quarter I installed secure (https) pages for my site as well, I got a free SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt. Here is a tutorial on how to install Let's Encrypt SSL certificate on Ubuntu Machine: Linode: How to secure Nginx with Let's Encrypt on Ubuntu 12.04

Answering on potential question - did I get boost from Google after implementing https - nope, after two month of observation, I have noticed quite opposite, traffic have dipped a little bit. But I'm optimistic and probably in future it will pay out better.

Facebook Ads - this is a love/hate relations - I love Facebook ads and how easy is to set them up, but I pretty much always hate the results. For now I have seen a super high engagement on promoted posts on Facebook, but little to no traffic back to blog (which was main goal). I'm not planing to spend a dime next quarter on Facebook ads.

.COM Domain name for $1.17? Is it even possible? Yup it is, but you need to be really lucky...A new domain name is a part of my online strategy to offload a large part of advertorials from my personal blog to a new- niche website, I already have some plans about monetizing there. Hopefully, I will be able to include some details from it in my second quarter review of 2016.

Other Stats:

  • Twitter: 6989 followers
  • Facebook: 1441 likes
  • Flickr: 117 followers
  • Email subscriptions: 51
  • Alexa global rank: 195,755

Goals for Q2 2016

Goals are my favorite part of such reports. My goals for second quarter (April, May, June) of 2016 - Traffic combined should be at least 120,000, thus to reach m yearly goal 650,000 users I should attract about 178,000 users. Second quarter of year is in Spring, and from the point of view of traffic - it doesn't seems the best, so modest 120,000 goal. 

Income - aggressive goal is to crack $3,000 at the end of second quarter, I hope my second project will generate me some additional side income, also I'm planing to take some of my online money and put them in offline mode - for now I have decided to try my luck with Peer to Peer lending in Georgia. Additional activities should be able to help me reach $3,000 in the next quarter. But, anything above $2,000 and I will be satisfied