The second quarter of 2021 was a pretty uneventful month here on Swift Salary. Revenue is down 35% vs. Q2 😧. Traffic is up though.
I fell behind on my content creation goals due to a special project I'm working on and the combo of spending time working on updating old articles and trying to improve my site speed for the Google Core Web Vitals update.
Overall, I think I could've optimized in certain areas more this quarter, but hey, no ragrets. I'm excited for what Q3 has in store.
Other 2021 income reports:
- Q1 2021 Blog Income Report: How I Made $13,242.05
- To see my past income reports (from my first year blogging up to now), go here.
Highlights from Q1 2021
- UserTesting Review and Earning Guide (In-Depth Look)
- GoTranscript Review and Earning Guide (In-Depth Look)
- The Richest Man in Babylon Summary and Review – First book summary! Also published my first Twitter thread around this article.
- Toluna Review and Earning Guide (In-Depth)
- Proofreading Academy Review (In-Depth Look + Pro Insight) – First course review on Swift Salary! Will be doing more of these in the future for different types of online courses, though they are a lot of work. (What courses would you like to see reviewed?)
This is quite a sad amount of new content for a full quarter, not going to lie. I still have a lot of work to do toward getting content out more consistently while also updating older content regularly.
- Sweatcoin Review and Earning Guide (In-Depth)
- Qmee Review and Earning Guide (In-Depth Look)
- Paidverts Review: Is This PTC Site Worth Your Time?
- Checkout 51 Review and Guide (In-Depth) (2021)
- Ultimate Swagbucks Review and Earning Guide (2021)
- 13 Free Apps That Pay You to Walk (actually) (2021)
- 20 Best Survey Sites & Apps (Ultimate Paid Surveys Guide 2021) – Did a big update to this article with new sites, better data, and a new comparison table. Going to be running a similar layout/system for future and updated roundup articles.
Other Small Updates
- Made some changes to the Swift Salary footer – Includes a search box, social icons, and logo now.
- Ran another Pinterest ad, this time for receipt scanning cashback apps – I thought this one would be a hit on Pinterest but the performance wasn't anything crazy.
- Worked on site speed – Optimized my Mailerlite forms, deleted my table of contents plugin (after removing it from all posts), added OMGF plugin to host Google fonts locally, and more. Still have room for improvement here. I've been putting off implementing Cloudflare but it's on the list.
- Crunchbase – I made Swift Salary a Crunchbase profile.
Random things I wrote during the quarter:
- Dwelling on ideas. I can spend hours just thinking about an idea and how I'm going to execute it. At a point, you've got to just do it.
- Getting attached to writing. Sometimes I'll write something and try to tweak it a million times to make it perfect, when the better alternative is to erase it completely and write something brand new.
- Avoiding things. When I face a difficult problem or decision, my brain tries to get out of it completely by going on my phone or doing something else. That's the easy way out but it gets nothing done.
- Urgency. Just a fun thought experiment: what would you be working on right now if you needed to grow your income by 100% in 3 months? Why aren't you only focusing on those things? (This is a tough one because some tasks feel productive and good when really, they're not the best option to be working on.)
- I live off an algorithm – Another weird/scary thought I had recently. Because nearly all of my traffic comes from Google, I literally live off an algorithm. Not ideal.
Blog Income and Expenses for Q2 2021
All income and expenses are recorded in Canadian dollars. Income is based on money that has actually hit my bank account.
Income Breakdown: $9,294.53 Gross Profit
Here's a monthly breakdown:
- April: $4,076.66
- May: $1,969.40
- June: $3,248.47
As you can see, my revenue dipped a lot in May vs. April. And weirdly enough, traffic was only down 10.92%, so this revenue dip is pretty strange at first glance. After inspecting it further, here's what I found out:
- The drop was essentially all due to my affiliate income. Affiliate income went from $2,755.74 in April to only $940.10 in May. That's a 98% drop 😬
- The reason affiliate income fell so much even though traffic only fell ~10% was because traffic fell specifically on articles that were generating good affiliate income (e.g. top survey sites).
Here's the full earning summary:
- Affiliate Income ($5,503.99):
- Impact Radius – $85.99
- MaxBounty – $2,665.26
- Panthera – $1,617.79
- Proofreading Academy – $132.81
- Rakuten – $54.49
- Transcribe Anywhere – $713.29
- Advertising ($3,788.59):
- Mediavine – $3,788.59
- Other income ($1.95):
- PayPal – $1.95 (They sent me this as part of a class-action lawsuit that I guess I was part of?)
So, as I predicted in my Q1 2021 income report, revenue took a hit this quarter. My ad revenue was way down vs. Q1 due to lower traffic, and that caused a hit to my affiliate income as well.
Expense Breakdown: $1,662.16 Spent
- Zoho Books – $120
- Pinterest Ads – $100
- MailerLite – $141.24
- Tailwind – $112.21
- Deposit Photos (AppSumo) – $224.38
- Freepik – $110.74
- Bank Fees – $205.46
- Writers – $500.65
- GSuite – $24.50
- Copyscape – $12.52
- Slack – $9.90
- Keywords Everywhere – $13.91
- Courses – $165.30
- Domain – $16.94
- Content Views Pro Plugin – $24.41
In last quarter's income report, I said I expected my expenses to be higher this quarter due to more outsourcing. Problem is, I couldn't keep up with the level of outsourcing I was already doing, so I actually had to slow things down. Right now I'm the big bottleneck in running this blog.
* Total Net Profit: $7,632.37 *
Traffic Breakdown: 216,697 Pageviews
Traffic increased in Q2 vs. Q1 — I had 59,805 more pageviews (a 26.55% increase) and 37,751 more users.
The reasons this increased traffic still resulted in a drop in revenue? Well, that's almost entirely due to my advertising revenue.
My ad network (Mediavine) pays on a NET 65 basis. That means in April, I got paid for revenue earned in January. And, since my traffic was down in the first quarter, ad revenue was down. In fact, the difference in ad revenue in Q1 vs. Q2 is a huge 61% ($7,137.59 vs. $3,788.59).
This big difference is also due to the fact that Q1 ad RPMs are typically the lowest out of the entire year, while Q4 (which I would be getting paid for in Q1 2021 due to the NET 65 payments) typically has the highest RPMs.
All in all, this is only giving me more motivation to up my affiliate income, as ad revenue can fluctuate a lot.
Email List: 4,720 Subscribers
Started April with 4,880 subscribers and ended June with 4,720 subscribers. That's a 3% decline.
How could this happen?
Well, I started really pruning my list and getting rid of inactive subscribers. I still have 661 subscribers who haven't opened an email in the last 6 months, so I might be deleting them soon too.
Still, that doesn't mean I didn't get any new subscribers. Here's my growth chart and averages:
The reason for the big difference in the “List growth” chart and “Avg. subscribe rate” is because unfortunately, many people who sign up for my list or email courses never confirm their email. I'm not exactly sure what I can do about this.
Open rates for the newsletter this quarter sat at an average of 14.325%, which is a tiny improvement over last quarter. Unfortunately, some letters with super low open rates (under 10%) brought this average down quite a bit. Still not exactly sure what happened with those, but I think they landed in the promotions filter.
I had some really nice responses from readers of the newsletter this quarter, and that's what really keeps me going. Even with lower open rates, if I'm helping just one person, it's worth it.
Goals for Q2 of 2021
- Update my Start Here page – Still need to do this! (Update: First part of update is done)
- More reviews and guides – Last quarter I had the goal to get out 12 more reviews and at least 8 more guides. Still don't quite have the outsourcing systems in place, so I fell behind. Optimizing this is still one of my top priorities atm.
- More interviews – I had some interviews lined up last quarter but they haven't worked out yet. Not a huge priority right now.
- Update my Make Money Online course – Still need to update this.
- Continue working on site speed – I'd like to get Cloudflare set up this quarter, at the least.
- Release the Hustle Finder (the name is a work in progress) – This is something I've been working on a lot recently, trying to figure out exactly how to make it work. Stay tuned for more details.
- Experiment with Tik Tok some more – This isn't high on the priority list, but it's something I've been thinking about for a while. I uploaded 2 Tik Toks a long time ago and then ended up deleting the app due to security concerns and the fact it was mad addicting. Now that they allow you to upload via the web, I'm ready to hop back in.
- Update more old reviews – I still have some that haven't been updated in ages.
- Update old articles – Same as above.
Hope you enjoyed this income report and got something useful out of it. I always find it helpful to reflect on the past in these reports…highly recommend doing the same for your own business!
In the course, I cover the technical stuff along with how to pick a topic/niche for your blog, how to come up with content ideas, how to get readers, and most importantly, how to make money blogging.
Have any questions about this quarter's blog income report? Leave a comment below!