December 2022 Writing Report

By Kimberly


‘Tis the season for another writing report! Okay, mostly, I feel like a broken record every month beginning, where I lament that yet another month has slipped by. So starting with a season-appropriate pseudo greeting seemed more apropos.

Plus, I got to use the word apropos, a highly underutilized word in regular writing vernacular. Because let’s be honest – I can’t use these vocabulary words on 90% of my writing websites because they need to be written in conversational English, and this one doesn’t have to be. At least not in the introduction. So let’s get past the pretentious intro and into the reports, shall we?

an image of a cabin decorated for Christmas with lots of festive decorations and lights
Another moment of honesty: with 4 kids and 2 cats, I can’t decorate my house like this. It’s gorgeous, but most definitely a stock photo.

November 2022 Recap

November fell short of my goal of 20-25+ articles; we managed 13, though that was all on me rather than my team. They continue to move ahead at a great pace. Between the holiday, a few off days (sickness), and some unexpected things that popped up, I still feel good about getting 13 articles published.

One of the things that distracted me was Anne Yeys’ new spreadsheet. I debated getting it for a few days, but I got it to see a glimpse of her process, systems, and how she thinks. I was blown away. I ended up seeing the beautiful simplicity and loving parts of it. So I spent some time incorporating that new information into my systems.

So it slowed me down in the short term, but it also cut out a lot of pointless work I’d been doing. So, in the long run, I think it’ll save me a good bit of time – while giving me a new avenue to improve on the things that matter.

Here’s what it showed me I didn’t need.

  • Most of the reports I ran monthly – and checked weekly. They’re now gone.
  • Complex spreadsheets. This was primarily related to the now-deleted reports, but it sure is nice to simplify those and pare back to fewer, more straightforward spreadsheets.
  • I realized I’m double-tracking a good deal of information in 3+ places. Having a backup is good – but having 3-4 backups? That’s too much. Simplifying is excellent, thanks.

And here are some things that her spreadsheet made me realize I was missing.

  • Vital reports on team performance, article performance, and how to evaluate various article aspects (category, length, etc.). I now have those reports set up.
  • Simple spreadsheets.
    • I now have one primary Google spreadsheet per site for planning and running the site. This replaces the 9 complicated Excel spreadsheets that I didn’t even use.
    • I have one Excel spreadsheet to track the portfolio.
    • Another Excel spreadsheet to support the individual site spreadsheets and provide a template for article evaluation.
  • A reliable way to track categories, silos, and articles. This does it in a method that’s so simple that I’m embarrassed I didn’t see it before.

Would I recommend anyone go buy it? It could be worth it if you’re struggling with your current organizational process. However, if you’re already in a groove that works for you, I’d only say consider it if you want to see how someone else scaled things up by a factor of like 100.

So while the spreadsheet derailed me, I think it’s worth it in the long run. And it’s already helped me find a few holes I’d missed. They’re now getting plugged in.

Site Reports on December 1st

Month to month

  • Traffic: -20%
  • Revenue: -19%
  • Publishing: -41%

Year over year

  • Traffic: -22%
  • Revenue: +16%
  • Publishing: +8%

Year to Date

  • Traffic: +70%
  • Revenue: +157%
  • Publishing: +29%

TLDR: Things look down compared to last month but are up from last year (except traffic). Most traffic is down either due to seasonality or lost adjacent keywords (that weren’t even the focus of the article).

So while that means less traffic for me, it does mean that Google is doing its job better and that people find their answers faster. Net loss in the short term, but it should be a win in the long run.

Obligatory data recap:

  • Going from $0 to $1000 monthly took me 24 months 26 months from when I first implemented this Income School style website strategy. I’ve been blogging since 2013 and had never hit the $1,000/month mark until this point.
  • Going from $1000 to $2000 for the first time took 4 months.
  • Getting to above $2000 monthly consistently took another few 3 months.
  • Months since I first hit $2,000/month: 11

I decided not to do a forecast this month because I don’t think I’ll like what it says. KIDDING! Of course, I ran a forecast. The $3k club could be as close as April or as far away as never.

That’s longer than last month’s projection of 3-12 months, but given the seasonality of some of my sites, I think it’s more realistic. I think this spring will be a big jump forward for my portfolio.

Speaking of the portfolio, here’s the progress.

Site A

  • Gardening
  • New posts: 5
  • Total posts: 296
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site B

  • Parenting
  • New posts: 0
  • Total posts: 131
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site C

  • Genealogy
  • New posts: 1
  • Total posts: 67
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site D

  • Writing
  • New posts: 1
  • Total posts: 33
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site E

  • Sports
  • New posts: 3
  • Total posts: 48
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site F

  • Entertainment
  • New posts: 1
  • Total posts: 6
  • Monetization: none

Site G

  • Home
  • New posts: 1
  • Total posts: 14
  • Monetization: AdSense

Site H

  • Educational
  • New posts: 1
  • Total posts: 9
  • Monetization: none

How Do You Know What Changes Traffic?

The best way to dig into traffic changes is by going into the analytics. Track seasonality and changes over time. Combine that data with information from the search console (keyword trackers) to see why the traffic changes.

Google Analytics and/or whatever analytics you use. Google Analytics is pretty much the gold standard. So if you aren’t using that, fix it.

Then, track your changes. If you compare traffic patterns to Google Trends, you can usually see if the traffic change is due to seasonality pretty quickly. However, you’ll also want to track your best-performing articles to see if it’s losing traffic for other reasons.

Other reasons can include any mix of the following.

  • Change in rank on main article points
  • Change in rank on tangential points (or keywords)
  • Technical issues
  • There be spam issues
  • Whole lotta other reasons

I’m simplifying some, but here are the quick fixes.

  • Check Google’s Search Console and compare various periods to find your answers. Write a better article – and stay on point. Use quick answers when and where it makes sense to give readers quick wins.
  • Use Google’s Search Console again. Look at the keywords. Either add a section to the main article that covers the tangential information or write a new article if there’s too much to cover in a paragraph or two. Or do a quick summary in a paragraph, and then write a new article, too! Use the links.
  • Google will tell you when there are problems – they’ll even tell you what they are! Fix technical issues on your site. Make the site easy and quick to use. Plugins may be fancy, but a good user experience trumps fancy.
  • Don’t write spam. Don’t use spam ads. Don’t get hacked.
  • Other issues happen, but they tend to be outside the first few standard deviations of routine, so I won’t cover them now. They’d be great in a separate article, but plenty are already out there.

Search Console is amazing. If you don’t already have it set up, FIX THAT. Connect it to your Google Analytics to make your GA better.

image of website pageviews
Get actual data to make informed decisions. It’s shockingly simple and effective.

Financial Report

November is midway through the beautiful ad season known as Q4. So while ad revenue is at its peak performance for a few more weeks, it’s also the season to remember that lean times are a known, expected quantity in this business.

And it’s coming with the end of the holiday shopping season.

Translation: don’t go crazy spending just yet. Keep track of the expenses, and keep them reigned in. Save some of that cash for the leaner months!

Sure, I splurged on Anne’s spreadsheet. And I think it was worth it. But am I buying every deal out there or testing every new software? Nope. I buy the ones that suit my needs and skip the others.

Did I want to buy some of the AI writer software? I wanted to try it, sure! But testing expensive software isn’t in my budget yet, and recognizing that fact sure saves me a lot of money!

My business isn’t struggling financially – I’ve earned 5+ figures this year. But when we adjust for the costs associated with running and reinvesting into the business (writers, editors, software, a VA, stock images, and more), trust me when I say that this isn’t the year to be jealous! In other words, the vast majority goes right back into the business.

And that’s okay. Because next year should be amazing. Here are the things I use and recommend that should pass the expense cuts at any time.

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