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Happy blogiversary to me!
That’s right—on January 1st Eat Sleep Breathe FI turned two! It was a busy, successful year and I have lots to share. Just like last year, I’m sharing all the stats from my second year of blogging. Get ready for lots of tables, charts, and numbers!
Why I reveal my blog stats
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 new, small blogs. While there are exceptions, most bloggers who share stats tend to be much farther 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.
Table of Contents
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.
Note: Since some of my commentary from my one-year blogiversary stats post still applies, I’ve reused some of it here.
Metric 1: Email subscribers
As mentioned in my one-year blogiversary post, my e-mail list is still small (really small) but I’m grateful for each and every subscriber. I’ve continued to be lazy about growing my email list, so I’m not surprised that it was another year of slow growth. Here are the stats:
- January: 97 (+4%)
- February: 107 (+10%)
- March: 119 (+11%)
- April: 120 (+1%)
- May: 128 (+7%)
- June: 142 (+11%)
- July: 148 (+4%)
- August: 160 (+8%)
- September: 176 (+10%)
- October: 176 (0%)
- November: 176 (0%)
- December: 177 (+0.6%)
Additional e-mail stats
Here are some additional stats from Mailchimp. (I don’t know if these rates are good or not—there isn’t much info for small niche blogs.)
- Average open rate: 53.7%
- Average click rate: 18.2%
- Average subscribe rate: 800%
- Average unsubscribe rate: 0.6%
I have a strong suspicion that my email list will be one of those areas I may never get around to improving! I don’t know—I just never feel motivated to deal with it properly. It just seems I can help more people by focusing on new content to share the FI message.
If I’m wrong, please tell me why and help motivate me to do better! (Maybe that’s what I need to improve my email list growth—a good reason, and a good kick in the butt.)
Metric 2: Month-to-month pageviews
I have good news and bad news about my pageviews. The good news: the numbers were HUGE compared to 2019! The bad news: it was totally inconsistent, and my baseline traffic improved only slightly from last year.
However, given that I post infrequently and inconsistently, this was expected. I’d love to post more often, but it’s not possible for me right now. While my kids are still living at home and needing a mom to do mom things for them, my blog will have to take a backseat sometimes!
- January: 4,255 (+71%)
- February: 5,294 (+24%)
- March: 10,017 (+89%)
- April: 6,027 (-39%)
- May: 12,042 (+100%)
- June: 5,009 (-58%)
- July: 6,780 (+35%)
- August: 11,204 (+65%)
- September: 3,920 (-65%)
- October: 4,483 (+14%)
- November: 3,768 (-16%)
- December: 3,371* (-10.5%)
*I mentioned in my December update that I had some major website issues last month. My Google Analytics disconnected and collected no data for a whole week! Therefore, my actual pageviews should be higher than what’s shown. Based on my average weekly pageviews in December, I estimate my total for December should be 4,194—823 pageviews more than what was captured in Google Analytics.
I hit three big pageview peaks in 2020: 10,017 in March, 12,042 in May and 11,204 in August. Here’s more insight into each of those peaks:
In March, three of my COVID-related posts turned out to be hot-button topics that brought a lot of traffic to the blog:
I don’t think my success with these COVID posts is likely to be repeated. (I just happened to write about a topic that a lot of people were interested in.) However, I learned that it’s possible (even for a small, new-ish blog) to attract a lot of traffic with relevant, helpful content.
In May, I was completely surprised by how popular my coming out post was. The new readers also visited a wide variety of other posts and pages on my site, which boosted my pageviews to the highest level ever.
In August, my participation in an AMA on the Blind forum brought another big boost in traffic. Most of those visitors visited my homepage and my Ultimate Guide to ESPPs and RSUs. This bump was also unexpected, but I suppose I should have expected that as a natural side-effect of the AMA.
September to December: The slide back down
Unfortunately, just like in 2019, I saw a big decline in traffic in the fall and winter. From September to December, traffic tapered off drastically and didn’t come back up. Like last year, I think it was due to my inconsistency and it being a slower time of year for blog traffic.
To be honest, it’s not fun seeing my traffic go back down to my 2019 levels. But I try to see setbacks constructively. For me, I’ll take the drop in traffic as motivation to continue learning and working hard to grow my blog. 👍
Metric 3: Total pageviews
I like to track this number just for fun:
- January–December 2019: 45,848
- January–December 2020: 76,170 (+66%)
- LIFETIME TOTAL: 122,018
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: 1,572 (+53%)
- February: 1,462 (-7%)
- March: 2,615 (+79%)
- April: 1,471 (-43%)
- May: 2,854 (+94%)
- June: 2,027(+29%)
- July: 2,808 (+39%)
- August: 4,298 (+53%)
- September: 1,484 (-65%)
- October: 1,832 (+23%)
- November: 1,603 (-13%)
- December: 1,480* (-8%)
*I mentioned in my December update that I had some major website issues last month. My Google Analytics disconnected and collected no data for a whole week! Therefore, my actual users should be higher than what’s shown. Based on my average weekly users in December, I estimate my total for December should be 1,887—407 users more than what was captured in Google Analytics.
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
- January–December 2020: 23,753 (+72%)
- LIFETIME TOTAL: 37,588
Metric 6: Traffic sources
Note that the numbers below reflect users, not pageviews:
- Direct: 11,851
- Social: 5,120
- Twitter: 2,564
- Facebook: 1,573
- Instagram: 272
- Other: 22
- Organic search: 4,688
- Referral: 1,713
- Other: 404
- Email: 308
Direct traffic is my biggest traffic source and it’s unfortunately very 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! I keep thinking I will, but I just never have the time.
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.
I brought in a lot more traffic from Twitter in 2020 when I started using the Revive Old Posts plugin from Revive Social. (Thanks for the tip, Bob!) This free plugin makes it very quick and easy to auto-schedule and tweet out my old posts. If you’re not using it yet, you definitely should!
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: ChooseFI Canada and Women’s Personal Finance.
My Instagram referral traffic is minuscule compared to Twitter and Facebook, but it’s better than nothing. I use Smart.Bio in my Instagram profile to link to multiple pages on my site. It’s more flexible than the single URL that Instagram normally allows (and it’s free).
In my one-year blogiversary post, I mentioned that this was an area I planned to work on in 2020. Happily, I managed to make some progress in this area—organic search accounted for 16.4% of my traffic in 2019 and increased to 19.5% in 2020.
What worked for organic search
I’m still not knowledgeable enough to know conclusively what worked (or didn’t) as far as my SEO tactics, but this is what I tried to focus on:
- Updating old posts that are already ranking well in Google.
- Researching keywords before writing a post, then naturally writing around those keywords.
- Aiming for long-tail keywords (that is, a phrase instead of a single term).
- Aiming for keywords that have decent monthly search volume, but not too much competition.
I’ll continue to learn about SEO and how to do better with it. Hopefully, I’ll see more improvements in 2021.
My most unexpected search term
It seems all bloggers have weird or unexpected search terms that bring traffic to their site. (You can see these terms in Google Search Console). I always find it amusing and thought it would be fun to share mine: it’s “brandon walsh mustang” (or some combo of those words).
I featured a GIF of Brandon Walsh from Beverly Hills 90210 in my post about my husband M’s classic Mustang and it continually brings a teeny tiny trickle of clicks to my site!
Referrals were a much smaller percentage of my traffic in 2020—7.1% versus 24.3% in 2019. Still, it continues to be a good source of traffic for my blog as well as a great way to connect with other bloggers. In 2020, my referrals came from:
- Commenting on other blogs.
- Getting featured in round-up posts on other blogs*.
- Being quoted on other blogs*.
- Guest posting on other blogs*.
- Getting listed in blog directories such as: Meet The Women Of The Financial Independence Movement and the Personal Finance Blogs Directory.
‘Other’ traffic mostly came from RSS. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure how this works—is it people feeding my RSS directly to their email? If you have any insight to share, I’d love to learn more.
These are the click-throughs from the emails I send to my subscribers. I only started using the Google Analytics tracking option in Mailchimp in June, so this number only captures half of my stats for 2020.
Metric 7: Audience location
In 2020, my readers came from 114 countries around the world! (In 2019 it was 88 countries.) I find it so cool and mind-blowing! Here’s the breakdown:
- United States: 45%
- Canada: 40%
- UK: 2%
- Australia: 2%
- France: 2%
- India: 1%
- Other: 8%
Metric 8: Twitter followers
I don’t know if Twitter followers are meaningful to track, but I do it anyway just for fun:
- January: 1,394 (+5%)
- February: 1,436 (+3%)
- March: 1,515 (+6%)
- April: 1,542 (+2%)
- May: 1,650 (+7%)
- June: 1,692 (+3%)
- July: 1,803 (+7%)
- August: 1,892 (+5%)
- September: 1,914 (+1%)
- October: 1,939 (+1%)
- November: 1,975 (+2%)
- December: 1,999 (+1%)
I don’t do anything in particular to grow my Twitter followers, so I don’t have much to say about it. However, I do have a request: if you know of an automated way to track and analyze Twitter followers (I track mine manually) let me know!
Metric 9: Top ten posts
Here are my top ten posts for 2020 (starting with the most-visited):
- I’m Coming Out!
- My Detailed Flashfood Review (Groceries for 50-70% Off)
- How We Got 100% of Our Trip Refunded During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Should We Cancel Our Trip to Japan Because of the Coronavirus?
- The Ultimate Guide to ESPPs and RSUs
- Actually, I’m Not Okay
- FI School: The Ultimate Guide to FI
- The Coronavirus is a Bigger Deal Than I Thought
- The Family In Case of Emergency Binder: My Detailed Review
- One Year of Blogging: All the Stats
- People are very curious about the identity of anonymous bloggers.
- Organic search helps a lot (most of the traffic for many posts came from Google).
- We were all obsessed with the coronavirus in March.
- FI School (something I poured a ton of blood, sweat and tears into) is still getting good traction.
- Blog stats are a popular topic that’s helpful to other bloggers—especially those who are new and/or have a very small blog, like mine.
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!
- January–December 2019: 301
- January–December 2020: 486 (+61%)
- LIFETIME TOTAL: 787
Thanks for your comments
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! I said it last year and I’ll say it again: there’s not a lot to report here!
However, even though I didn’t earn much in my first or second 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:
2020 income sources and totals
- Affiliate sales: $1,415 ($1,088 USD)
- Advertising: $159 ($122 USD)
- GRAND TOTAL: $1,574 ($1,211 USD)
- 2020: $1,323 ($1,018 USD)
- 2019: $261 ($201 USD)
$1,323 still isn’t much, but it’s more than 5X the $261 ($201 USD) I earned in 2019. I can’t help but be thrilled with that! (Even if earning income from my blog isn’t my main motivating driver.)
For those who are curious, I’ve broken out and provided more commentary for each income source in the section below.
I’m a member of a handful of affiliate programs but didn’t earn commissions from all of them (or I didn’t reach the minimum thresholds to receive a payout). These are the programs which I received commissions from in 2020:
Fintel Connect is an affiliate network that connects content creators with a variety of affiliate programs (many are Canadian financial services and products).
In 2020, I received commissions through Fintel Connect for Scotiabank and PolicyMe products. Fintel Connect also helped to connect me with advertisers for my podcast, Explore FI Canada. (Note: podcast income or stats are not included in this post.)
I couldn’t be happier with Fintel Connect—everyone is always so friendly, helpful, and supportive. I look forward to continuing to work with them in 2021.
Smart Money Mamas
Chelsea Brennan at Smart Money Mamas is the creator of one of my favourite estate planning products—the Family In Case of Emergency Binder. (I absolutely love this done-for-you binder and would promote it even if I wasn’t an affiliate.)
SALE ALERT: Until January 15th, 2020, the Family In Case of Emergency Binder is on sale for 25% off!
Web Hosting Canada
My web host, Web Hosting Canada, has its own affiliate program which pays $20–$300 per sign-up. In 2020, I was thrilled to receive three web hosting sign-ups from some blogging friends. Thank you, friends!
If you’re looking for a reliable, affordable web host, I highly recommend Web Hosting Canada. After my month of dreadful tech issues in December, I’m even more convinced of how amazing of a host they are—they handled and fixed all my tech issues with patience and efficiency. They’re fantastic!
Passiv is a service that helps DIY investors automatically rebalance their portfolios with one-click trades. Even better—Passiv Elite is completely free for Questrade clients (a $99 value)! Once you register for Passiv, you can also join their referral program and earn $20 for every signup.
The team at Passiv is a joy to work with. Their passion shows in everything they do. (And they’re also a Canadian start-up—I’d love to see them continue to grow!)
It wasn’t easy, but I was officially accepted into the Amazon.ca Associates store in early 2020. (I was accepted into the .com store in 2019.) So far, I haven’t earned a lot from either store but I’ll continue to link to Amazon for now.
I find it very easy to link to their products—even if only to give my readers an example of a product I’m referring to. I also really like that I can use their OneLink code to auto-redirect US readers to matching products in the US store.
I lamented in a previous blog update that my Google Adsense earnings were frustratingly low. Despite hitting multiple traffic highs, I was still earning the same paltry sums—about $4 per month ($3 USD).
Note: When I applied in March 2020, Monumetric’s minimum pageview requirement was 10,000 per month. They’ve since had to raise their minimum to 35,000 pageviews per month.
My experience with Monumetric
I have nothing but the highest of praise for the team at Monumetric—it’s been an absolute pleasure working with them. I’ve also been thrilled with my earnings (even though they’re still low compared to what bigger bloggers earn).
Compared with my average $4/month from Adsense, my average of $47/month ($36 USD) from Monumetric is nearly 12X the income! I’m really happy about that.
I hope to eventually write a detailed review of my experience with Monumetric. (It’ll basically be all about how much I love working with them.) If you receive 35,000+ pageviews per month, I’d highly recommend applying to join Monumetric!
Part 3: Closing thoughts
2020 was another amazing year for me and Eat Sleep Breathe FI. I hit unexpected highs, continued to learn a lot, and made even more friends and connections. It was an incredibly rewarding year in so many ways.
My biggest source of validation continues to be the feedback I receive from you—my readers. Obviously, without you, there’d be no point in blogging. Every day, I’m honoured that so many of you continue to follow me and my FI and blogging journey.
Thank you for your support, encouragement, questions and comments. All of it keeps me going even when things get tough. I look forward to another year of blogging and connecting with you.
As always, if you want to drop me a line and say hi, I’d love to hear from you. (It may take me a while to reply, but I promise I will—I reply to every non-spam comment and message I receive!)
Got feedback or questions?
Do you have thoughts to share? Did I miss anything? Do you have any blogging or podcasting questions you’d like me to answer? Feel free to ask below!
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