2021 January Writing Report

By Kimberly


Long term projects are both a blessing and a curse – a blessing because of all of the rewards. A curse because they can feel like no forward momentum is happening… unless you periodically take a look back to see how far you’ve come in the meantime.

Even so, January was a rough month. So let’s take a look back and see what progress was made – so we can keep moving forward in February and beyond.

An image of waves washing away 2020 but leaving 2021 for the new year
So long, 2020. Welcome, 2021!

January’s Statistics

Here is a list of what got done during January. Spoiler: it’s not as pretty as I’d have hoped it would be. After several months of super-focused, super-writing-intense months, I needed some serious time off to recover mentally and emotionally. Thankfully, most of that recovery time lent itself to some extra creativity.

  • Articles: 3
  • Videos filmed, edited, and published: 0
  • Stories written this month: 1
  • Stories submitted to publications: 0
  • Stories edited: 1
  • New stories outlined and plotted: 1
  • Total word count this month: 8,866
  • Total Page Views: 31,594 (up from 24,489)
  • Total on-hand cash received this month (earned in previous months): $477.48 (up from $355.54)
  • Overall EPMP: $15.11 (down from a Q4 of $15.35)

Just as an FYI, I count videos as standard 2,000 words each, no matter the length. Because they’ve got at least two pictures, and a picture is worth more than a thousand words, right?

Even so, no videos were made this month. It’s been quite cold – and my gumption to make a video in snowy, sub-freezing weather was less than zero.

Month 18 of Project 24 Update

January marked my 18th month with the Income School Project 24 – a 24-month project to reach a full-time, online income.

First, some quick caveats (aka excuses). With four websites and just as many YouTube channels, I’d like to think that it’s not surprising that I’ve fallen a little bit behind on the expected schedule. Even so, I’m okay with that.

And, for the record, one site is done with a partner. Having a partner for that site is a huge blessing, because she’s the subject matter expert. I just add some fun words to her research material. Even so, a project that has a partner means that there are some hitches in the giddyup.

Now that we’re past the caveats, let’s look at the facts and my ROI (return on investment) related to Project 24.

  • Investment fees to date (the yearly membership dues are paid through August 2021): $648
  • Cash earned and on-hand solely attributable to Project 24: $4,332.44
  • ROI: $4332.44/648 = 6.685

I’m a fan of rounding, so long as it’s not going too crazy. Even so, I think it’s safe to round that to a 6.69 – I can’t remember the rule about rounding when it’s an even number versus an odd number offhand. Or if maybe I don’t remember my college level statistics class as well as I thought I did.

In any case, the 6.69 ROI is up from last month’s 6 – and that’s up from the previous month’s 5.4. Looking at the past ROI increase trends, it’s continuing to grow at an increasing rate each month. It’s not as big of an increase this month (only up by 0.69 compared to last month’s 0.6) but it’s still an increased rate of ROI.

Why Report Cash-on-Hand Rather than Cash Earned?

There are three main reasons that I buck the blogging trend of reporting cash I received this month rather than the cash I earned this month.

  1. I do cash-on-hand accounting. Sure, I might have earned $400-ish this month in ads. But I won’t get it until next month. So rather than mix cash-on-hand accounting practices with cash-I-earned-but-don’t-have-yet numbers, I just stick with what I’m used to.
  2. This method lets me analyze things faster. If I waited for all of January’s income data to become available, it would be another week (or longer) before I’d have all of the data I needed to make this report.
  3. I want transparent reporting. I know a lot of bloggers who report what they earned that month – and not all of them point out that they won’t receive that money for another 30-90 days. Many do, and I appreciate their transparency. However, by reporting a cash-on-hand, I feel like I can make my reports as transparent as possible.

Now, please keep in mind that this month’s ad income was what I earned in December of last year – so it was nice and high, thanks to those Q4 ad rates.

In-Depth Analysis for January 2021

All right – are you ready to see what got done for each site? Let’s do this. Full disclosure: it’s a little bit painful admitting how much I didn’t do this month.

Even so, it’s important to note that all of my previous months of hard work are paying off. So just because I took one month easy, it was okay. All the previous work was able to carry my slack.

  • BackyardHomesteadHQ.com – This site only had one new article published. It was less than 2,000 words long, but it was a great article in my probably-very-biased opinion.
  • GenealogyPals.com – My partner, Breanne, made a lot of significant progress on research for this site. Then I dropped the ball and didn’t write a darn thing. Sorry, Breanne! With Roots Tech this month, hopefully, I’ll get my act together. 🙂
  • KimberlyCStarr.com – One new article published this month. It’s my report in December 2020. This article was just shy of 2500 words long.
  • SleepTrainingKids.com – I got one new article published this month for STK. Again, it was just shy of 2,000 words. But it was another great topic if you ask me!
  • YouTube Channels – This month was an unplanned filming break.
    • Backyard Homestead HQ – I did, however, have fun answering a few awesome comments.
    • Genealogy Pals – this one went on a break while Breanne and I rethink a few key things.
    • Kimberly C Starr – I have no excuse on this one, other than I needed a break to maintain my sanity. Which, now that I think about it, is a pretty dang good excuse. So long as I don’t overuse it, anyway.

In case you’re wondering what I did do with my time (other than take a few days completely off and sleep in, especially after I hurt my back), here’s what I did get done in January.

  • Took a break. Seriously. Sometimes you need to pull an Elsa and let it go for a few days. I did injure my back. In fact, I’m still wearing a brace for it. But after taking a few days off to sleep in, it’s feeling a lot better.
  • I worked with Ezoic to fix a few more things on my site. My goal is always to have ads be an out-of-the-way thing that doesn’t annoy you while allowing me to earn some money. I’d noticed a few issues, so I was working on getting those fixed. They ended up being pretty technical, so I had to get some help from my husband and Ezoic’s technical team. They are on their way to getting resolved. On a side note, if the ads ever do become intrusive or overly annoying, please don’t hesitate to contact me and let me know.
  • Image optimization and accessibility. I’ve continued to work at optimizing images and making them more accessible. Some of that is through coding, while some of it is through some basic things like alt tag descriptions. It’s a process, and I’m working on it.
  • Upped my social sharing game. I’m not a huge fan of social media. In fact, I’d rather not be on it at all. However, it’s the best way to connect with family and friends, especially during a pandemic. So I’ve started working with a graphic designer to do the Pinterest thing without wanting to throw anything too much. If you want to check out my Pinterest accounts, you’re welcome to. But if I have to choose between sending you there and my newsletter, I’d say pick the newsletter.

Phew. So while I did take a few days off, I did still do a lot of important, behind-the-scenes stuff while I recharged.

Now let’s look at income breakdown by percentages.

SitePercentage of IncomeIncome Sources
BackyardHomesteadHQ29% (down from 34.7%)Ad revenue
GenealogyPals1.2% (down from 2.4%)Ad revenue
KimberlyCStarr10.9% (down from 13.4%)Ad revenue
SleepTrainingKids58.9% (up from 48.9%)1. Ad revenue
2. Royalties

I love using percentages so I can see the breakdown and diversification. Of course, a quick look at income sources would have you thinking that I’m not all that diversified – most of my income this month was from a single source: ads. And that’s technically true.

However, affiliate sales did happen this month. I just didn’t hit the required thresholds for a payout. So I’ll get those in the next few months. But it was fun to get some royalties from my sleep training planner and journal.

Updates on Plans, Teams, and Niche Sites

In November and December, I mentioned that I’m working on expansion by adding a few key team members. Here’s the update on that.

  • Writing team. This is a process. As I mentioned in last month’s analysis, it’s a much slower process than I realized it would be. However, I have found a few ghostwriters that I’ll be working with on a few topics on some websites.
  • Graphic designer for Pinterest. I’ve hired a designer who’s actively making pins for each of my sites. The graphic design of pin images just isn’t my wheelhouse, so it’s nice to be able to hire some help in that department. I think they’re doing a pretty dang good job – and I’m evaluating the traffic to see if the data agrees with my assessment.
  • My family still wants to help. What they want to do has changed since trying a few things. So we’re still working on finding where their talents and interests lie – and how that intersects with the needs of the websites and videos. My 8-year-old in particular wants to help me write articles. 🙂

Updates on Fiction and Stories

You’ll notice that I did sit down and write one fiction story this month. I was struggling with writer’s block really badly. So here’s what I did: I finished reading Save the Cat!

Then, I sat down and wrote a purposely, painfully bad story. It’s so bad it’s almost hilarious. And once I had that out of my system? I finally hit a breakthrough on my outlining and made a ton of progress.

I also attended my second-ever meeting with the Writer’s Hi – a local writing group. Of course, we’re meeting virtually to be safe. But it was the first time I’d ever shared one of my stories in a critical setting. I shared a retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, although they didn’t recognize it as such. Mostly because we hadn’t gotten to that part of the story yet.

In any case, I was surprised at the honesty and helpful feedback I got. This was another catalyst of great ideas – some from my fellow writers, others of it from ideas that their feedback sparked.

So if you don’t have a writing group, go find one. You may end up needing several. So far, this one fits both my needs of having a cheerleading section and a group who can give me feedback on thematic and other writing-related details.

Final Thoughts on January 2021

All in all, January’s been an amazing month. I spent a good bit of it trying a new thing with my kids – my oldest took the Mark Rober engineering class. HOLY COW I learned a ton about engineering – and also his storytelling process. It was really cool.

From there, here’s a quick recap on some of the most valuable resources and things I recommend you check out. They’ve helped me in my journey and I think they’ll be valuable in yours.

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