Note: This post originally appeared on BreakingTheOnePercent.com in 2018, before we merged DollarSprout and BTOP together.
Ben and I haven’t done an income report in a while (the last one was in January), so I figured it might be a good time to write an update.
It was another record month for our blogging business.
In April, our blogs had a combined revenue of $17,640.
Before April, our best month had been just over $12,000, so this was a crazy jump for us. And if you think it was a big fancy course launch that accounted for the jump, it wasn’t. More on that later.
I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to blog full time and have it pay off in such a big way, but, at the same time, I know Ben and I are only getting started with this business. It feels like we are really onto something good with DollarSprout.
Blog Income Breakdown
As our blogs have grown, we’ve added quite a few affiliate and ad networks. Sharing screenshots from all of them isn’t exactly practical or helpful, but for the skeptics in the room, here are a few screenshots from April:
No point in sharing 15+ screenshots, so hopefully this will suffice.
If you aren’t familiar with Ben and me, we run 2 blogs: Breaking the One Percent and DollarSprout (formerly VTXCapital.com).
Note: We’ve since merged all three into one website, DollarSprout.com.
A lot of folks are curious what our revenue breakdown is for each month (sort of a polite way of asking “Do you only make money by talking about blogging on BTOP?”). Here’s how things looked for April:
For the purposes of making this income report useful and not overwhelming, I’m going to focus the rest of this post on what happened behind the scenes with DollarSprout only.
So what made April so good?
Our traffic for DollarSprout went up. A lot.
As most readers of this blog know, Ben and I are total Pinterest fanatics.
Over the past several months, though, we’ve been having a tougher time getting the huge traffic results from there that we’d grown accustomed to. Not that things are terrible now, but the platform has definitely gotten a lot harder.
As bloggers, we are always told to not depend solely on one traffic source — especially one that you don’t control (like Pinterest). Ben and I decided to take that to heart and began making a concerted effort to improve the SEO of DollarSprout in hopes that we can start getting some consistent Google traffic to supplement our Pinterest and Facebook traffic.
In March, our Google traffic was 12,236.
In April: 41,748.
Related: 50 Smart Ways to Promote Your Blog (And Get Free Traffic)
How are we getting our content to rank so quickly?
We’ve been getting asked this a lot recently. For a blog that is only 7 months old and in a very competitive niche (personal finance), we have been very fortunate to get as much traffic as we have.
Here’s our process, in a nutshell:
Nothing super unique about our approach versus anyone else’s. But consistent effort pays off:
Of course, each step of this puzzle takes a lot of effort. SEO is definitely a long-term game. You can’t just “do SEO” in a day and expect traffic to appear.
How We Do Keyword Research
This post isn’t going to be a comprehensive SEO course (I definitely don’t consider myself an expert). In this income report, I’m just going to focus on keyword research — the first step of our SEO strategy/process.
Turns out, there are a ton of tools out there to help with keyword research (and any other SEO-related task you can think of). The problem, of course, is that they all cost money. And they’re not cheap.
Ben and I have been using a tool called KWFinder, and so far it’s been worth the investment. The monthly plan is $49, but the yearly plan comes out to just $29 a month, which is what Ben and I ended up buying.
There are lots of different tools out there, but we have NOT tried them all. In fact, KWFinder is the only tool we’ve bought so far because it’s the only one in our budget. Tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush are like $100+ per month, which we can’t justify quite yet.
Here’s a basic rundown of our process for choosing keywords for DollarSprout:
Search volume and difficulty scores can both be found via KWFinder.
Here’s a walkthrough of how I found the keyword for an article DollarSprout now has on page 1 of Google for a 90,000 search term:
Keyword research is just the first piece of the SEO puzzle, of course, and there are many nuances that I didn’t go into in the video above, but this should give you a start.
I will say this: If you want Google traffic to your blog and you aren’t doing keyword research, you are wasting your time.
Again, other, more expensive tools have more functionality, but KWFinder is a strong bang for your buck if you aren’t ready to shell out over $1K a year on SEO tools.
What We are Focusing on Now
Making another course.
We are working on another product for BTOP that hopefully should launch this summer. In April, course sales accounted for <2.5% of our revenue, which is something we would really like to improve.
Scaling our efforts in SEO.
This month has kind of been an eye opener for us in terms of understanding the true power of SEO. And even though we have worked so hard to get to where are now in terms of Google traffic, I feel like we have only just scratched the surface of our potential there. We are working on hiring more help with 1) regular on-page SEO audits, 2) creating content, and 3) off-page SEO.
Building more relationships in our niche.
This is one of those things that Ben and I took way too long to figure out. Relationships are important. We want DollarSprout.com to be a leader in the personal finance space, but we can’t do that if we operate in a vacuum. We’ve got to get our name out there more.
Maybe. I’ll get back to you on that.
Our Income Progression
We’ve come a long way in just 3 years. It almost feels surreal to think that we actually made $17,640 this month (minus about $3.5k in expenses).
I recently made this post in our Facebook group:
My goal right now is to have our first $30,000 month by the end of 2018. It feels crazy to say that, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable.
Do you want to start a blog?
If you somehow made it through my dry SEO videos above and you don’t have a blog, what in the world are you doing here? (Just kidding).
But for real, there is infinite opportunity out there on the internet. It takes an absurd amount of work in the beginning, but starting an online business (whether it’s a blog or something else) truly has the potential to change your life.
If these reports inspire you to actually start your blog, we would be super grateful if you used our Hostgator affiliate link. Here’s a full blog setup tutorial to guide you along.