Monthly Income, Growth & Traffic Report – September 2016

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This is the 48th income report as part of the zero backlink experiment.

Every month I will publish a post like this one that shows you how this blog is progressing and everything I have done across the month to get it there.

These reports will help me track my own progress while teaching you what to do and more importantly what not to do.

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What I Have Done In September

Although I spent 2 weeks with my friend in Costa Rica this month, I managed to achieve quite a lot of things.

Not just from a work perspective, but also from a personal perspective as well as I continue to train for Ironman next year.

I have still got an awful lot to do until I am happy with the current state of the blog, but I have made huge leaps forward towards that.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at what I got upto this month!

Fast & Furious

Over the past 6 months or so, I have noticed that the blog was getting slower and slower.

It’s being a long time since I addressed site speed and the home page load time had more than tripled.

Some blog posts were taking more than 30 seconds to load fully which is unacceptable!

That happened for a number of reasons-

  1. Plugins: The blog is very plugin heavy, running around 60 plugins at any one time.
  2. Comments: Some posts have over 1,000 comments which really hurts load time, especially with so many Gravatar requests.
  3. Redundant Scripts: I had some scripts installed that I no longer use, like CrazyEgg for example.
  4. Bad Management: Quite simply, I wasn’t proactive in protecting/improving site speed.

We all know that site speed not only damages conversions, but also has a big impact on search engine rankings as well.

So when I ran a speed test and saw this result-

old site speed results

I decided enough was enough!

Granted that test represents the heaviest page on the entire blog, but 29.7 seconds is ridiculous to say the very least.

So I put together a plan of attack and executed it which increased the load time of that particular post by 67%-

new site speed results

That also trickled down across the entire blog with similar improvements across the board like my Long Tail Pro review for example.

That went from 16.7 seconds to 3.8 seconds – a 77% improvement-

site speed comparison

But how did I do that?

Well I will put together a much more detailed tutorial in the future, but in summary-

  • New Host: I moved hosting from TrafficPlanetHosting to Kinsta. Not because TrafficPlanet are a bad host (they are still awesome) but because the blog had outgrown their environment. Kinsta is considerably more expensive but also takes advantage of new technologies like HTTP2, MariaDB & HHVM. That accounted for a 30-50% decrease in load time.
  • Cleaned House: I removed unnecessary plugins/scripts, updated WordPress core/plugins & installed things like FV Gravatar Cache. That gave another 20% ish indecrease in load time.
  • CloudFlare: Last but not least, I setup CloudFlare on the blog which shaved another 30-50% off load times

I still have more to do but hopefully you guys have already noticed a huge improvement in the performance of the site and that will continue to improve this month.

Search Traffic Gains

In last months report I talked about how I ran a scan with DeepCrawl and cleaned up the blog from an on site SEO perspective by fixing things like broken links, missing alt tags, duplicate content and so forth.

That started to have an impact on search traffic rising from around 7,500 visitors per week to 9,500.

Throughout September that continued to grow to over 12,000 visitor per week from Google-

seo monitor report

Now that the site is loading faster than ever before, I expect that to grow further this month.

And for those that weren’t paying attention last month, all I did was run a scan with DeepCrawl and fix everything it told me to fix.

Simples!

Split Testing New Post Layouts

As I continue to work on improving the overall user experience of the blog, I decided to start split testing some new post layouts.

To do that, I took 3 existing posts and applied different layouts to each of them-

  1. The standard layout that you see on this post with a sidebar
  2. The same layout but with the sidebar removed
  3. A new layout built with Thrive Content Builder

Click on the image below to see how they differ-

post layouts

So far the split tests are producing promising results and I’m mainly focused on increasing time on page while reducing bounce rate at the same time.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the results so far-

split test results

As soon as the tests finish, I will make a decision to update every post on the blog to the winning layout.

See You In Thailand?

On the 5th of December I will heading out to Affiliate World Asia in Bangkok to deliver a keynote speech.

That will be backed with a live fire Q&A session and of course I will be hanging out for a while to answer questions 1 on 1 with you before heading out to explore the rest of Thailand.

You can learn more about the conference here and it would be great to see you there!

Content Creation

I only published 4 new blog posts this month compared to 6 last month, but that was because I launched a huge new section on the blog dedicated to all of my favorite marketing tools.

I broke it all down into the following sections-

That made for over 15,000 words of content alone!

On top of that I published a collection of the best SEO tutorials.

I also published my income report along with the regular income report roundup feature and this months edition of the very best of internet marketing.

Crunching The Numbers

So let’s get our hands dirty and see what all of those changes to the blog has done to the important metrics.

Visitor Statistics

Last month traffic increased to 58,775 (1,896/day) which has increased further this month to 62,587 (2,086/day).

That also means that I have broken through my traffic goal barrier of 60,000 per month – now all I need to do is keep it steady!

analytics overview

Most Popular Content

The how to create a profitable membership site tutorial stole the top spot this month with my how to start a successful blog tutorial not far behind.

We also saw the new SEO tools page break into the top 10.

top content

Top Traffic Sources

The top traffic sources have remained steady this month.

The only really difference is that Google is now sending more traffic than it was previously which is always a nice bonus!

top traffic sources

Search Engine Traffic

As I explained at the top of this post, search engine traffic has increased nicely this month!

It has grown from 47,541 (1,533/day) to 51,122 (1,704/day).

analytics-keywords-sept

YouTube Views

I lost all of my historical YouTube views because of changes I made to the branding – so I keep track of them separately.

YouTube views showed a small but welcomed increase this month from 16,799 to 17,954.

That also had an impact on total minutes watched which increased from 78,154 to 80,283 respectively.

youtube september views

Social Shares

This month the total social shares across Facebook and Google+ increased from 60,584 to 63,528.

  • Google+ – 22,739 (21,655 last month)
  • Facebook – 38,929 (40,789 last month)

Subscribers

The most important metric on the entire blog – earning a subscription from someone is the ultimate form of commitment and conversion.

This month brought 1,906 new subscribers which is a gentle increase from last months 1,755 new subscribers.

There are now a total of 148,846 subscribers across all of the various channels!

  • E-mail – 2,853 (1,255 last month) / Total: 82,233
  • Twitter – 312 (322 last month) / Total: 13,909
  • YouTube – 182 (164 last month) / Total: 12,505
  • Facebook – 170 (169 last month) / Total: 21,678
  • Google+ – 7 (-5 last month) / Total: 17,884
  • RSS – 197 (-150 last month) / Total: 637

Unable to post graphs at the moment – will update asap

Income Report

Here are the numbers you really want to see-

Affiliate Earnings

ATTENTION: Learn My Secrets With Instant Access To The Income Report Archive

Expenses

Consultation Earnings

I separate out the consultation earnings from the affiliate earnings. The blog drives affiliate sales directly and whilst it does generate consultation leads these are separate projects in their own right.

This month I took on one consultation job that resulted in a payment of $1,972.73

Other Income

I’m working on another project right now that is part of the blog but not something I’m ready to talk about publicly yet or maybe ever.

I will declare the income here though as it wouldn’t be possible without the blog and ‘technically’ it is affiliate income.

Last month showed a huge increase in income but that has dropped heavily from $11,267.91 to $8,511.57 this month which was not expected.

Earnings Total

  • Affiliate Income – $10,481.41
  • Consultation Income – $1,972.73
  • Other Income – $8,511.57
  • Expenses – $576.88

Grand Total: $20,388.83 / £15,860.44 ($21,686.09 / £16,336.65 last month)

Unable to post graphs at the moment – will update asap

Signing Off

Even though I took 2 weeks off to spend time with my friend, I feel like progress has come along leaps and bounds.

The blog is faster than ever before and traffic levels have showed steady increases to break through my 60k/month goal.

On top of that I have also planted a number of seeds to increase user experience further such as the split tests I mentioned above which I believe will have a huge impact once I implement the results.

There is still an awful lot to do though – I want to give the branding/graphics a complete overhaul and make serious improvements to my email marketing strategy.

Although income dropped this month, it’s not something I am worried about – right now I am purely focused on delivering the best user experience possible on the front and back end of the blog.

If you have any suggestions on how I can improve that for you – I’m all ears!

Thank you to everyone that has helped me reach my goals – I couldn’t do it without you, the reader!

42 Responses

  1. 10.4.2016

    Hey man, it’s always great to read these and get some motivation!

  2. 10.4.2016

    Congratulations! Sounds to me like you did a lot of work on the blog this month, so I wouldn’t call this “lack of attention to the blog”. I’m glad to see you’re reaping the well-deserved rewards!

    • October 4th, 2016 at 10:15 am

      ooops my bad that was left in from last month haha

  3. 10.4.2016

    Congratulations the blog is steady going up, how do you keep track of that many affiliate?. Just check checked up Kinsta, yep they are expensive.

    • October 4th, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Thanks! Yeah they are but hopefully you grow to the point you need hosting like that as well :)

  4. 10.4.2016

    It was great reading everything about the changes you made, the benefits it gave to you and I must say your blog seriously took a lot of time to load, as per the images you have attached, I am coming here first time and it loaded blazing fast.
    Cheers to success.

    • October 4th, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Awesome glad to hear you are noticing the difference!

  5. 10.4.2016

    Those are some fantastic speed improvements, congratulations. I look forward to the more detailed post, but by the 80/20 rule (ish) I think I’ll check CloudFlare out. IIRC, they can help with https, is that something you’re considering?
    p.s. I slightly miss “bowel watch” ;)

    • October 4th, 2016 at 10:09 am

      Haha thanks, I’ll provide ample updates next month :P

      HTTPS isn’t on my radar at the moment but there is no doubt in my mind it will be at some point

  6. 10.4.2016

    Hi Matthew,

    You might also consider a CDN for images and possibly scripts/styles… I’m with Kinsta too, and use KeyCDN (as recommended by Kinsta) which is HTTP2 ready… super cheap, hasn’t missed a beat and took minutes to set up!

    If you want to get super nerdy, you could consider using Async JavaScript and Autoptimize WP plugins for improving load times further (but they can get fiddly occasionally)

    Otherwise great job! :-)

    • October 4th, 2016 at 10:08 am

      Hey Doug,

      Thanks for the extra advice, which plugin are you using for KeyCDN and are you using CloudFlare?

      • October 4th, 2016 at 10:18 am

        No probs.

        “CDN Enabler” – check out this article for instructions: https://www.keycdn.com/support/wordpress-cdn-integration-with-cdn-enabler/

        Not using Cloudflare currently – Previously it actually slowed the time to first byte (TTFB) time which negated what the front end load balancers were working so hard to improve, but I heard they improved this recently but can’t find a source currently.

        I don’t have a need for it for SSL-based sites (having SSL allows you to use HTTP2, which will make it even faster) but I might test it to be double sure. I think Kinsta is pretty rock-solid on the security/DDoS front too.

        Another client of mine was very nervous of moving from non-SSL to SSL… is this something you’ve considered & researched? Must be a risk for you, right? (Although I’m sure will be fine)

        Cheers,
        Doug

  7. 10.4.2016

    Excellent article and good earnings. I have been a follower of your blog form the early days. Keep up the good work.

  8. 10.4.2016

    Excellent work Matthew looks like SERPed is a tool I have not noticed as of yet and seems to be your Affiliate leader this month. Great transparency, hopefully, one day we may learn about this other Affiliate project which makes up almost 50% of the income. However, it’s a super positive 48-month track record that will surely grow. Much continued success to you!

  9. 10.4.2016

    I feel like the layouts you are split testing might have a lower bounce rate and encourage people to spend more time on the site but will also lead to less people signing up to your mailing list since you won’t have that sidebar. You should consider testing this as well.

    • October 7th, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Yes I will look at all of that date as well as Analytics also provides that, but first and foremost I am interested in getting more people engaged for longer – then I can figure out how to convert that engagement into goals like email signups.

      In my previous testing the sidebar doesn’t really offer much value

  10. 10.5.2016

    Great job as always :) Interesting to see moving hosts helped improved page speed since that’s definitely something to consider.

  11. David Bowman
    10.5.2016

    Hi could you be a bit more specific about breakdown of what ‘other income’ includes. Not amounts, just what it is. As it relates to almost half your monthly income.

    • October 7th, 2016 at 10:22 am

      If I did that, it would likely cost me a huge part of that income as other people would likely copy it like everything else I reveal.

      Once it dries up, I will reveal what it was. In the mean time I am enjoying the fruits of my competition free strategy :)

  12. Sarah
    10.5.2016

    No Ungagged Vegas? ;) Haha. I won’t be there either. I do have a conference in Hawaii though early December just before your summit!

    Since you’re in the same boat as me when it comes to needing to do international travel to conference hop – do you have a favourite airline/loyalty program?

    • October 7th, 2016 at 10:18 am

      No I stopped doing conferences for a while because honestly, I hate the travelling bit of travelling especially when I have to leave paradise for a city which weighs me down and I find it very tedious, lots of people just talking s***, name dropping, measuring dicks, endless pitching, general pretentiousness and that’s just not my world.

      But out of all the conferences I have been too, the UnGagged ones are by far my favorite so far! We had a nice little group there!

      I haven’t looked at airline loyalty programs in detail, all I do is use the loyalty program that is run by the airline I’m flying with directly although there is probably a better solution to that instead of spreading my miles all over the place!

      Are you speaking in Hawaii?

      • Sarah
        October 11th, 2016 at 2:49 pm

        I understand about hating traveling. It’s pretty stressful. And doing small talk grows old very, very fast. And I agree with hating having to talk yourself up. It’s so frustrating. It’s an American cultural quirk. If you did that here you’d get skinned alive ;) do you find affiliate summit’s to be much like that?

        If you put your travel under one airline and invested in some nice things like airport lounge passes it makes it way nicer. So if you ever have to become a road warrior again maybe consider that.

        But no Ungagged was very nice, I’ll always have super fond memories of it.

        And no, not this time – just attending. The next time I’ll be in Hawaii I’ll be speaking though, haha, but that’s half a year away!

        • October 12th, 2016 at 10:31 am

          It happens at a lot of British conferences as well, just a big ole circle j***!

          At Affiliate Summit I usually hang out with a specific few people and we just have fun/play pranks/cause general mischief so I enjoy them for those reasons, oh and the awesome parties with Cypress Hill people, Snoop Dogg, Gary Veynerchuk etc etc

          I never stay under one airline because sometimes I’m based out of Costa Rica, sometimes the UK and sometimes the a*** end of nowhere so it’s hard to stick with 1 airline over another – plus I’m cheap, I usually get the cheapest/shortest duration regardless of airline :P

  13. 10.8.2016

    Hi Matthew,
    It’s a Good amount. You are making money from various sources. This new layout is a lot more better than the previous one.

  14. 10.9.2016

    Good article write-up.Am happy with the composition.The earning are coming up and the figures are achieved. Lesson learned is the fact that a man’s journey starts with a step.I know when 60k monthly traffic is your target,now it’s achieved.More greese to your elbow bro.

  15. 10.10.2016

    If only I could get 1% of what you are getting in your blog, I would be the happiest in the whole world at that moment.

    Encouraging reports you publishing Matt! Keep them coming.

    • October 12th, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Keep up the hard work, remain consistent and you will make it!

  16. 10.12.2016

    Wow, great post. I suppose it’s nice in a way to read that even the top guys out there aren’t perfect at every aspect of their business all the time!

    Amazing how much load time can be saved.

  17. 10.14.2016

    Hi Matt! I’m glad that you addressed the loading time problem of your blog and congratulations on the progress of your blog.

  18. 10.14.2016

    First class report as usual Mathew, yes i agree that a simple thing such as changing your Web Hosting service can speed up the loading of your website or blog. Also if you are using too much WordPress Plugins can have a significant impact too.

    • October 15th, 2016 at 9:36 am

      Well I did a lot more than just changing the host, but yes that had an impact for sure!

  19. Anes Amrani
    10.15.2016

    hi matt thanks for the report just wanted to ask you how did you do those A/B tests with your blog, is it a WordPress plugin, or its a feature in Thrive themes, or how exactly?? I can see you are analysing with Google Analytics as well, I would really appreciate knowing how you did it :)

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