So you came for the numbers…
This post won’t disappoint! I’m guarded with our net worth and spending, but I’ll happily spill the beans with my blog stats. Why, you ask?
It’s because I haven’t found much in the way of stats for very new, very small blogs. While there are exceptions, most bloggers who share stats tend to be much father along.
Reading gargantuan numbers like theirs can feel unrelatable and defeating to those of us who are still new to blogging. My hope is that by sharing my challenges and stats (even when they’re ugly) others might be encouraged to push through the hard patches and keep blogging.
So get ready for lots of tables, charts, and numbers—here are all the stats from my first year of blogging!
Part 1: All the stats
In this section, I’ll outline all the metrics I use to monitor my blog growth. If there’s a metric that I haven’t included, but that you use and find helpful, let me know! I’ll see about including it in my next blogiversary post.
While I covered the stats for January to June in my six-month post, I decided to include them here again—along with some of the same commentary. This makes it easier to see my progress over a full year (and saves you from having to jump back and forth between two posts!)
Metric 1: Email subscribers
My list is still small (really small) but I’m grateful for each and every subscriber! I’ve been admittedly lazy about growing my email list, so I’m not surprised by the slow growth. Here are the stats:
- January 2019: 3
- February 2019: 19 (+533%)
- March 2019: 33 (+74%)
- April 2019: 47 (+42%)
- May 2019: 50 (+6%)
- June 2019: 71 (+42%)
- July 2019: 82 (+16%)
- August 2019: 84 (+2%)
- September 2019: 91 (+8%)
- October 2019: 91 (0%)
- November 2019: 93 (+2%)
- December 2019: 97 (+4%)
Additional e-mail stats
- Average open rate: 56.9%
- Average click rate: 20.4%
- Average subscribe rate: 800%
- Average unsubscribe rate: 0.7%
Unlike followers on social platforms, no one can take away our email followers. Email followers are also not affected by algorithms that’ll only show our content to some users. If someone’s on your list, and your email reaches their inbox (and not their Promotions tab) they’ll see your content.
This is why blogging experts advise us to grow our email lists—they’re one of the few platforms (along with our blogs) that we own and control 100%.
Given all this, I’d like to do better in this area. One day, I’d like to create an intro email series to entice readers to subscribe. (Afford Anything and Do You Even Blog do an amazing job with their introductory emails.)
But I say ‘one day’ because I want to make my series really good—and that’ll require a lot of time to create. Since I’m still focused on building out content for my blog, I’ll have to put email list growth on the back burner.
For now, I’m okay with allowing my list to grow organically.
Metric 2: Month-to-month pageviews
My traffic levels aren’t all that high, but given that I post infrequently and inconsistently, it’s expected. As I’ve admitted before, this bothers me! I realize that posting frequency has a big affect on traffic.
I’d like to post more frequently, but it’s just not possible for me right now… so I’ll try to be at peace with my inconsistent traffic growth!
- January 2019: 2,482
- February 2019: 7,406 (+199%)
- March 2019: 2,961 (-60%)
- April 2019: 3,255 (+10%)
- May 2019: 3,577 (+10%)
- June 2019: 3,011 (-16%)
- July 2019: 3,395 (+13%)
- August 2019: 3,241 (-5%)
- September 2019: 3,602 (+11%)
- October 2019: 4,631 (+29%)
- November 2019: 3,670 (-21%)
- December 2019: 2,720 (-26%)
In February, I experienced ‘The Rockstar Effect’—a huge spike in traffic from being featured on Rockstar Finance. (That was pretty unreal for me, given how new I was to blogging at the time.)
In March, I pre-posted a month’s worth of posts (The Homestay Series) to cover my absence while we were away in Korea. I was worried that blog traffic would drop to nothing, but somehow the blog did okay!
In June there was a decrease in pageviews. My best guesses for the reasons behind the drop: one article was Canadian-focused (fewer US readers) and blog traffic generally slows in the summer. July and August were also slow.
September saw a bump—mostly from my Coast Capital Savings and Flashfood review posts. A lot of that traffic came organically, through Google searches. This was something new for me, and proof of the power of being found by Google.
My biggest month
I don’t count February as a ‘real’ high-traffic month since it’s a one-time anomaly (the Rockstar Effect). Setting February aside, my biggest ‘real’ month of traffic this year was October. The spike in traffic was a result of all my posts for that month doing exceptionally well:
I also continued to receive a decent amount of traffic from my Coast Capital Savings and Flashfood review posts. It was a magical, rewarding month of good traffic!
The slide back down
Unfortunately, the traffic high in October was short-lived. My traffic dropped in November and dropped even more in December. I blame this mostly on the lack of new content (life got too busy). Also: the holidays are a slow time for blogs.
This drop in traffic was disappointing and humbling (my December traffic was almost the same as January—my very first month!) But I’ll take it as motivation to keep working hard and putting out helpful content.
Metric 3: Total pageviews
I don’t know if this is useful, but I’ve seen this metric on other blog reports:
- January–December 2019: 45,848
It’ll be really interesting to compare this number year-to-year. (Even more motivation to keep on blogging!)
Metric 4: Month-to-month users
These numbers are a lot lower than my pageviews, which (I think) means my readers come back often and/or visit more than one page per session. So I guess it’s a good thing!
- January 2019: 802
- February 2019: 3,449 (+330%)
- March 2019: 1,028 (-30%)
- April 2019: 1,049 (+2%)
- May 2019: 943 (-10%)
- June 2019: 856 (-9%)
- July 2019: 1,178 (+38%)
- August 2019: 939 (-20%)
- September 2019: 1,145 (+22%)
- October 2019: 1,599 (+40%)
- November 2019: 1,385 (-13%)
- December 2019: 1,024 (-26%)
Metric 5: Total users
I also don’t know if this is useful, but I’ve seen this metric on other blog reports:
- January–December 2019: 13,835
Metric 6: Traffic sources
Note that the numbers below reflect users, not pageviews:
- Direct: 5,258
- Referral: 3,468
- Social: 3,204
- Twitter: 1,596
- Facebook: 1,455
- Instagram: 131
- Other: 22
- Organic search: 2,336
Direct traffic is tricky to analyze. Apparently, it comes from a variety of hard-to-track sources (mobile apps, messaging apps, directly typing in the URL, etc.)
I’ve learned that UTM tags can help to categorize some of this direct traffic (Google’s Campaign URL Builder is useful for this). But I’ve yet to find the time to implement them. Hopefully I’ll be able to tackle this in the near future.
Referrals are my second-biggest source of users and they come from:
- Features on curation sites like Apex Money, Camp FIRE Finance, Collecting Wisdom, and Personal Finance Blogs.
- Round-up posts on other blogs.
- Commenting on other blogs.
- Guest posting on other blogs.
- Being listed in blog directories, like Camp FIRE Finance’s Global FIRE Blog Directory, The Rockstar Directory (the directory’s still up, even though the site is defunct) and the Personal Finance Blogs Directory.
I know we shouldn’t rely on social networks for traffic, but it’s a good way for new bloggers to gain some momentum. Twitter and Facebook are my biggest sources of social traffic because I spend a lot of time on those platforms!
I love sharing and conversing with other bloggers on Twitter and I’m in several FI and blogging Facebook groups. The Eat Sleep Breathe FI Facebook page still doesn’t have a large following, so I’m pretty sure most of my Facebook traffic comes from the sharing threads in the groups I’m in: Choose FI, ChooseFI Canada, ChooseFI Vancouver, Women’s Personal Finance, and Slow FI Enthusiasts.
My Instagram referral traffic is miniscule compared to Twitter and Facebook, but it’s not nothing! I recently added a cool feature called Smart.Bio which allows me to link from Instagram to multiple pages on my site. It’s more flexible than the single URL that Instagram normally allows (and it’s free!) I hope it’ll help bring in more traffic in 2020.
This is an area I plan to work on in 2020 (as mentioned in my one-year blogiversary post). I think it’ll be good for long-term, sustainable blog growth, and allows my older but still-useful content to continue bringing in traffic.
It’s fun, interesting, and educational to see which search terms people have used to find my site. Surprisingly, I get a decent amount of traffic to my Korea trip report posts. I was debating whether or not to do trip report posts for our upcoming trip to Japan—and now I have my answer!
Based on the info I’ve gained from Google Search Console and Keyword Hero, I think it’ll be worth doing. (Plus—we know lots of people who are interested in travelling to Japan. It’ll be handy to be able to refer them to my posts.)
Metric 7: Audience location
Amazingly, my readers came from 88 countries around the world! I still find that so cool and mind-blowing! Here’s the breakdown:
- Canada: 52%
- United States: 28%
- UK: 2%
- Australia: 1%
- South Korea: 1%
- Other: 16%
In my six-month post, my US traffic was higher than Canada, but that was mostly a result of the Rockstar Finance feature I had in February.
Over the course of the year, that traffic anomaly got averaged out. I think these final numbers for the year are likely closer to my normal geographical breakdown.
Metric 8: Twitter followers
I don’t know if Twitter followers are meaningful to track, but I do it anyway just for fun:
- May 2018: 0
- February 2019: 832
- March 2019: 891 (+7%)
- April 2019: 915 (+3%)
- May 2019: 1,013 (+11%)
- June 2019: 1,050 (+4%)
- July 2019: 1,116 (+6%)
- August 2019: 1,163 (+4%)
- September 2019: 1,195 (+3%)
- October 2019: 1,235 (+3%)
- November 2019: 1,289 (+4%)
- December 2019: 1,323 (+3%)
Unfortunately, I only have data from February, when I started tracking my followers manually. (I don’t know of a free way to look up long-term historical Twitter data. If there is, please let me know!)
I should also mention: I did not build up to 832 followers between January and February! I actually started my Twitter account in May 2018, long before I launched.1
I track my Twitter followers manually—by recording in an Evernote the total number of followers on the last day of each month. If you know of a better way to track Twitter followers, I’m all ears!
Metric 9: Top ten posts
Here are my top ten posts for 2019 (starting with the most-visited):
- My Detailed Flashfood Review (Groceries for 50-70% Off)
- Review: Coast Capital Free Chequing Account
- FI Progress Update: September 2019 (A Tough Month)
- Why We Adopted a Dog (Even Though It’s a Terrible FI Choice)
- How Much Does It Cost to Be a Stay-at-Home Parent? (Guest Post for Bob at Tawcan)
- FI Progress Update: October 2019 (When it Rains, It Pours)
- FI School: The Ultimate Guide to FI
- The Saga of Mika the Shiba Inu
- FI Progress Update: July 2019 (We Got a Dog!)
- Korea Trip Report Part 2: What to Eat
- Organic search helps a lot (most of the traffic for the top two posts came from Google).
- My update posts are way more popular than I realized.
- People enjoy posts about dogs!
- FI School (something I poured a ton of blood, sweat and tears into) is getting good traction.
- It’ll definitely be worth doing some trip reports for Japan (especially food-related posts).
Metric 10: Comments
Comments are a huge part of blogging for me. It’s so rewarding to receive feedback from regular readers and newcomers. I love being able to regularly connect with and learn from all of you!
Total comments for 2019
- Eat Sleep Breathe FI logged a total of 301 comments in 2019.
Top five commenters for 2019
Not that it’s a competition or anything…
Whether you’re a frequent or one-time commenter, I appreciate that you took the time to engage and connect. If you haven’t left a comment before, please jump in and introduce yourself—I don’t bite, and I’d love to get to know you!
Part 2: Income and expenses
I saved the juiciest for last! This is what everyone wants to know… right? Well, don’t get too excited—there’s not a lot to report here!
However, even though I didn’t earn much in my first year of blogging, I’m still sharing my numbers. Why? Well, I like knowing what other bloggers earn and how they earned their income. It’s interesting, educational, and satiates my curiosity.
And really—who doesn’t like a peek behind the curtain? With that, I present the numbers:
2019 Income sources and totals
- Web hosting: $85 ($66 USD)
- Domain registration: $25 ($19 USD)
- WP Rocket renewal (2 years): $50 ($39 USD)
- Solo Pine theme support renewal: $44 ($34 USD)
- Site speed optimization (Fiverr): $40 ($29 + $2 Fiverr fee = $31 USD)
- GRAND TOTAL: $244 ($189 USD)
Related: Read my blog and podcast update for October. In it, I detailed my experience working with a WordPress developer on Fiverr2. For only $29, he helped me to optimize and speed up my site—and I found it was well worth the price!
For 2019, the net income for Eat Sleep Breathe FI came to a whopping $261 ($202 USD). It’s nothing to write home about, ha ha! But hey—I’m not in the red. That’s something, right?
While $261 isn’t much, it’s more than I expected to make in my first year of blogging. I’d actually expected to be in the hole for the first two years, so this is great news!
For those who are curious, I’ve broken out and provided more commentary for each income source below.
1. Coast Capital Savings Refer-a-Friend
I’d estimated that only 60–75% of my 18 Coast Capital referrals would go through, but the successful referrals fell far short of that! Only 7 referrals went through, which is a 39% success rate!
Unfortunately, I believe the issue was on Coast Capital’s end. The $500 sign-up offer was so popular that they got swamped and weren’t able to process the applications in time.
Additionally, my husband and brother-in-law were declined for no apparent reason. I think some of my reader referrals were probably lost for the same reason—unexplained rejections!
(Note: I didn’t count family referrals—the 18 I’m mentioning here were all referrals from readers.)
Though it didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped, I’m incredibly grateful for the referrals I did receive. This is the perfect type of income that I’d like to earn through this blog: my readers get a benefit from my referrals too. (Successful referees also received $50 from Coast Capital.)
2. Google Adsense
I finally hit the minimum payout threshold for Google Adsense in September, and the $119 payment arrived in October. This was a hard-won payment. It takes a lot of impressions and clicks to get to $119!
I earned another $31 in ad revenue in October, but I’ll have to wait for it to reach $100 again before I receive another payout. It’s not looking good so far—I only earned $4 in November and $3 in December!
Unfortunately, Flashfood doesn’t show me where my referrals came from. I received around $42 in credits, and my best guess is half of them came from family and the other half came from readers.
This one’s a bit puzzling, to be honest. My Flashfood review post was the top post on my site for 2019, but I’ve received very few referral credits. Either no one’s using my link, or something’s wrong and Flashfood isn’t recognizing the referrals.
Whatever the case, there doesn’t seem to be a way to find out more or fix the issue. Oh well—I’m happy as long as more people are discovering Flashfood and helping to save the planet.
4. Amazon Associates
As you can see, I’m not having much luck with Amazon! I did have one huge success though—I was formally accepted into the Amazon.com store. However, I was kicked out of the Amazon.ca store again! This time, it was due to not enough commissions. (And not improper wording—like the first time I got kicked out!)
I’ve applied again for the Amazon.ca store, and will try to think of more ways to increase my earnings so I’ll finally qualify.
Why I monetize
You’re probably wondering why I bother to monetize if it earns me so little. Good question! To answer this and to further explain how and why I monetize this blog, I wrote this Monetization Manifesto.
In a nutshell: my main priority for ESBFI isn’t to earn money—it’s to connect with and help others. Any money I earn helps to cover my costs and motivates me to keep going. (It also makes it a little less painful when I think of the countless hours I’ve poured into this blog!)
Part 3: Closing thoughts
2019 was an amazing first year for Eat Sleep Breathe FI. When I launched, I had no idea what to expect. I’d hoped that more than a few people would discover my blog and leave a comment or two—and that definitely happened!
As far as income, I knew to keep my expectations low, and predicted that I’d earn $0 until the end of year two. It was a lovely surprise to have stumbled into the income I did earn. Still, my hourly wage of almost-nothing-per-hour proved to me how hard it is to earn a few bucks online!
Fortunately, growing traffic and earning blog income aren’t my main goals. I want to help, learn from, and connect with my readers and other bloggers—and I accomplished all of that (and more) this year.
Thanks again to all of you, my amazing readers, for coming back again and again. Your comments, emails, likes and shares mean more to me than any income I might earn. Connecting with you is truly what rewards me and keeps me blogging for the long term.
Any feedback or questions?
Do you have thoughts to share? Did I miss anything? Got questions you’d like me to answer? Feel free to ask below—I read and reply to all comments!
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