During a blogger conference back in 2011 I asked a panel of bloggers a pretty innocent question. I simply asked, “As a panel of bloggers I look up to and respect, can you give us a sense of your pageviews and how they correlate to your years of blogging?”. Honest to God, you could have heard a pin drop in that room. I sat there, 4 months out from starting my blog, feeling like an absolute fool for asking what I thought was an appropriate question.
You see, little did I know, asking about pageviews is like opening Pandora’s box. We all have pageviews, but I didn’t realize we “weren’t” suppose to talk about them. Tisk, tisk Ashley!
Well here I am 4 years later and I think it’s a good time to start talking about pageviews and the business of blogging. It’s a fast growing field, with a steep learning curve, but I think it’s incredibly helpful to hear what other bloggers have done, are doing, and plan to do in order to grow their blog, brand, and/or business. While I’m far from an expert, the past 4 years have taught me a lot and I’d love to pass along what I’ve experienced and learned. While I’m still sorting through how much detail to go into, today I wanted to share the history of Coffee Cake and Cardio and my business of blogging.
In early 2011, after stumbling upon a couple of healthy living blogs, I decided to start my own. I had no idea what I was doing, how to start, and/or what my goals were, but I dove right in. All I knew is that I was searching for a creative outlet in the midst of being a working professional/graduate student/soon-to-be newlywed and figured it was a great way to share aspects of my life. Creating a business and making money were the furthest from my mind. I simply wanted to write. So on April 5, 2011 I launched Coffee Cake and Cardio.
If you look back on my first few months of blogging you’ll see just how different my blog is compared to now. CCC was more of a place to organize my to-dos and to share the previous day’s happenings. It really took me a good 3 months before I figured out my voice, what I wanted to write about, and the best way to go about that. Even then, if you look back into the archives you’ll see just how different my blog is 4 years later.
Realizing There Was a Greater Opportunity
After attending a blogging conference in August 2011 my eyes were opened to the business opportunities that existed through blogging. While I didn’t start CCC in order to make a little extra income on the side, I was excited by the thought of doing something I loved and seeing a profit from it. In October 2011 I made the jump to self-hosting in order to add advertisements to my blog. I also began inquiring about paid blog posts (sponsored posts).
In January 2012 I join my first ad network, Foodbuzz, and made a whopping $7.09 my first month. While I don’t remember what my pageviews were at the time, I remember being thrilled when I reached 500 pageviews a day. Heck, I’ll never forget when I reached 100 pageviews a day. It was crazy to think that people were coming to read what I had written or wanted to share.
The ad networks I was a part of changed a lot in 2012, moving from Foodbuzz to Federated Media and then to BlogHer in December 2012. I also join the FitFluential community in 2012, which opened doors to a number of sponsored post opportunities. In 2012 I made $2,216.09, $516.09 from ads and $1,700 from sponsored posts.
Now despite making a couple thousand dollars on CCC that year, blogging was still a true hobby. I had advertisements on my blog and applied for and accepted sponsored posts for products I used and loved, but beyond that, I didn’t put a lot of thought into the business of blogging.
Years 2 and 3
2012 and 2013 were a lot of fun! I got married, completed my masters degree, played football for the DC Divas. worked during the day, and blogged at night. My weight loss was all over the place, which was evident on CCC, but I continued to shared the highs and lows of my experiences. I continued working with BlogHer and FitFluential and was in the groove of blogging about what I had done the day before; sharing my food journal, workouts, and experiences around the Washington, DC area.
I saw the most growth those two years. As my pageviews increased each month, so did my ad revenue and sponsored post income. It was at this point that I really started to think about my life goals and how CCC fit into them. I was spending a lot of time and money on CCC (web hosting, redesigns, post materials) and realized that I had to start treating my blog as a business on the back-end while staying true to who I was on the front end.
I ended 2012 with roughly 76,000 pageviews a month and a year-end revenue of $2,200 and ended 2013 with roughly 130,000 pageviews a month and a year-end revenue of $6,300 (this is not net revenue as I did have expenses each year). The graphic below shows September 2012-December 2013 as I wasn’t using Google Analytics prior to September 2012.
In December 2013 I created a 2014 business plan for CCC. I was working closely with a designer, developer, and my website host on a blog redesign and had a laundry list of ideas and plans for the upcoming year … and then I found out I was pregnant with Magnolia! Instantly everything changed. As a weight loss focused blogger, how was I going to blog about weight loss and fitness? Quickly my plans changed, as did my readership.
It was a tough transition for me as a blogger. 2014 made me realize that focusing solely on one subject can negatively affect business growth as life changes, especially as a blogger. Instead of connecting with young professionals, newlyweds, and/or those looking to lose weight, I was starting to hear more from soon-to-be moms, new moms, and seasoned moms, which I loved. Hiding my pregnancy the first few months of 2014 was really tough, but after announcing my pregnancy and transitioning my blog topics I started to find my voice again.
What I quickly realized in 2014 was that I didn’t want to blog about my daughter specifically and/or parenting . I wanted to share my experiences in different formats, but didn’t want to become a mommy blogger per se. I started out posting pictures of my daughter on CCC but realized after a few weeks that I didn’t want her featured any longer. She had not chosen to be on my blog and I realized that I don’t want to regret my decisions when she turns 18 and is applying to colleges and/or jobs. I want her and any other kids we may have to be able to create their own digital footprint when the time is appropriate.
In 2014 I also added two new ad networks to my blog: Sovrn (formally Lijit) and Google Adsense and began working with a few new networks: One to One Network, Popsugar, and Tap Influence. Though it was a transitional year for me and I didn’t see the growth I was hoping for, I learned a lot. Working with new business and networks was rejuvenating but opened my eyes to how little I knew about the industry and the business of blogging. I started reading more books about blogging and started to think more about my professional goals and what I hope CCC to become. I ended 2014 with a monthly pageview average of roughly 140,000 and a year-end revenue of $8,400 (this is not net revenue as I did have expenses each year).
What I realized in 2014 is that I absolutely love blogging and how blogging is shifting. Blogging has become a primary source of income for many and its becoming less and less about chance and more and more about hard work and dedication to one’s blog. While blogging is not my primary income source, I can not begin to tell you how grateful I am for what it has afforded our family. Whether it’s traveling, buying new things for our townhouse, or saving to buy our first home, the income I have made from blogging has made some of Neal’s and my goals realities.
As I move further into 2015, my ultimate goal is to become more professional in everything I do with and on Coffee Cake and Cardio. I want to invest more time and money into my photography, to be ok with not blogging every day in an effort to always publish posts I am proud of, and to find a balance in everything I do.
Though I have invested a lot of myself into Coffee Cake and Cardio, my blog would not be what it is today without you, the reader! Whether you’re catching up on blog posts, following me on social media, using affiliate links, or sharing your thoughts through comments, you are incredibly appreciated! It’s so humbling to know that so many people read my blog and I’m forever thankful!
Moving forward my goal is to be transparent about the business of blogging. As Coffee Cake and Cardio’s success is dependent on you, I think you deserve to see what’s going on behind the scenes and to understand more of why I make various changes to my blog. I don’t know exactly the format my transparency will take or if I’ll begin publishing monthly income reports, but do expect to hear more about the business of blogging and my experience as a blogger.
Again, thank you for reading Coffee Cake and Cardio, for sharing my blog with your friends, family, and co-workers, and for essentially helping me to achieve personal and professional goals.