October 2021 — SYDE Road — Blogging Behind the Scenes
Hello! Howdy! Hi! It’s that time of the month again! SYDE Road — Behind the Scenes. In this monthly series, I’ll be providing updates on what happened the previous month behind the scenes:
Why did I start ‘Blogging Behind the Scenes’?
My absolute favourite posts from blogs (food blogs, financial independence blogs, other travel blogs, and even lifestyle blogs) have always been reading the behind-the-scenes or day-to-day life behind their niche.
I loved learning about how they’ve been feeling for the last month, celebrating their wins, and learning about some of the bloggers’ personal lives that just don’t quite fit with their blogging niche on these types of posts.
But most of all, I am 100% an unashamed voyeur addict when it comes to reading up on a blogger’s analytics and income statements. If I could, I’d binge-read everyone’s updates and analytics.
Whenever I read a new blog and I find out they publish these kinds of posts, you bet your butt I’ll be going through their series like the nosy person I am. I’ll stay on their site for several hours starting from their first post and binge-reading up everything they have.
I LOVE seeing progress and nothing is more satisfying than reading about someone’s growth over months of hard work.
Now that I’ve been posting weekly since May 2021, I figured why not give back to the community and indulge others who have a similar addiction as I do?
So without further ado, let’s dive into the contents of this series. Happy reading!
What I’ve Worked on Behind the Scenes?
1. Experimenting with Additional Ad Networks: Propeller Ads — I do NOT recommend this
If anyone was reading my blog near the end of October, you may have noticed some AWFUL ad pop-ups. They were only up for a couple of days but wow — talk about accidentally incorporating predatory ads onto my site!
A lot of Youtube videos and some bloggers mentioned Propeller Ads as a secondary ad network to add to your blogging website if you’re looking to increase display ads revenue. All I can say is… wow I cannot recommend this approach.
This is really rare for me, but I don’t think I have many positive things to say about this product. After adding this network to my site, I started noticing the exact same ‘malvertisements’ on my site that Let Your Money Grow mentioned in their article:
PropellerAds delivers Bullshit and Malware - avoid it!
By letYourMoneyGrow.com we also want to grow our own money, thus we tried to put Propeller Ads on our pages. But we…
This review accurately describes how I feel about PropellerAds as well. It’s a nope for me.
As you can see in the screencap on the right, they’re not the most pleasant type of ads. I immediately removed Propeller Ads from my website. I’d rather lose out on marginal few cents than have my website display these types of clickbait, spam ware/malware type ads.
I really wish I had positive things to say about this experience, but even the onboarding experience (verifying the website, adding Propeller Ads to my theme header, etc.) was neutral at best.
2. Migrated to Google Tag Manager
I spent a good part of a day migrating most of my tracking pixels to Google Tag Manager. Why? Honestly… I was sold after visiting their landing page. Seriously.
I didn’t do any further research beyond that. I know that as my website continues to expand, I’m going to need to add cookie consent decision behaviour and I just wanted a central location to manage all the behaviour once I implement it.
It wasn’t until fairly recently that I learned that I needed to include these types of pages on my blog in the first place.
For anyone who’s curious — here’s a quick summary as to why you need these pages as a blogger and the items highlighted in green are reasons why I’ve chosen to include these types of pages.
- if you want readers to comment on your blog with a name or an email
- If you use tracking services like Google Analytics
- If you serve ads (e.g. Google Adsense)
- Terms and Conditions — Beneficial to have to set down the rules are on your page including:
- The ability for users to create accounts
- Users creating or uploading content to your website
- Purchasing goods, items, or services (to be honest I’m not sure if affiliate links apply but just in case)
- If the website offers subscription plans
- Disclaimers — Disclaimers can help limit liabilities. The ones that we are most familiar with are the affiliate disclaimers, but can also include medical, health, and copyright disclaimers too
Since there’s a bunch of legalese needed in these pages and I am not a lawyer, I used an online service like Termsfeed to generate several generic and free versions of these types of pages as a stand-in when I wasn’t using anything beyond Analytics, Adsense, and Convertkit.
Now that I’m adding in affiliate networking, I need to upgrade the legalese, which of course, requires $$$. Termsfeed offers premium services to upgrade each document, but after exploring their template generator I realized I’d likely be spending upwards of $150 to tack on the additional wording.
After a quick comparison to see what other policy generators are available, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase the premium policy generator on WebsitePolicies instead since they offered a discounted bundle for opting in for multiple services and documents.
Achievements and Struggles of the month
- I’m getting faster at writing! In the past writing 1,000 words used to take me an agonizingly long time to write. Now it can take me 2 days to write at least 2,000 words! Do I consider myself a prolific writer yet? No — definitely not! I don’t think I can pump out multiple well-written blog posts as many other writers can, but I’m making progress and I feel like I’m getting better at developing my own writing style and voice!
- My Pinterest Pins are *finally* bringing in *some* engagement to my blog. I’ve been creating what I think are ‘pretty and engaging’ pins for several months now without much pinning or engagement, but they’re slowly starting to trickle in. Like many social media managers have mentioned, you’re playing a long game with social media, things often take upwards of 3–8 months before you can see their results.
- Email subscribers! Thank you so much for signing up for my monthly newsletter! This month I’ve gained a few email subscribers and this warms my soul — there *are* people out there who like what I’m writing about and want to follow along. Welcome, welcome, I love you all and I can’t wait to continue sharing and growing SYDE Road with you!
- Credit Card Woes — My credit card wasn’t mailed to me until close to the end of October and I’ve been ITCHING to purchase a number of services to help my blog further along. I’ve been really holding back on purchasing a few things because I wanted to start tracking everyone on a single business credit card. But finally, in the last week of October I was finally able to take the plunge and make several purchases 🙂
Personal Life Updates
October has been another busy month for us. Here’s a quick overview of what we’ve been up to:
- I’ve been regularly attending the blogging course that I purchased last month — nothing to show for it yet but I’m learning quite a bit!
- We’ve gone on several mini fall road trips with some friends this month
- I finally met
- My best friend is almost done playing Persona 5!!!! I’m still very much in the middle of the game and I’m really hoping that I can finish this game before the end of the year so that we can go ahead and try some other games.
- We celebrated another birthday!
- Limone turned 2 this month and we made a little video montage of all the shenanigans she’s been up to! Feel free to check out the reel here
- I’m an avid manga, manhwa, manhua, webtoon reader so I have about 10–15 series that I follow regularly. This month I finally finished American Ghost Jack — I loved the first season, and finally got around to finishing the finale as well. Still think the first season was the best though!
- I watched DUNE (yes I am linking to Cineplex because if you haven’t watched any movies in theatres, please make this the one you watch as your return). Has anyone else watched it? I cried literal tears of happiness at how well made it was. I am ecstatic that the second part has been green-lit for October 2023 and I literally cannot wait.
- I’m still avidly following the weekly release of the Foundation TV Series. At this point, it’s gone completely off the rails and doesn’t follow the sci-fi books, but I still very much enjoy it!
- It’s been raining a lot here in Toronto for the last few days of October. I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect raincoat for corgis. We’ve been making do with Zippy Dynamic’s raincoat that I unskillfully ‘tailored’ to fit Limone’s short legs. I ended up buying a corgi-specific rainjacket on Etsy. It won’t arrive until December, but I’m already looking forward to testing it out on Limone!
SYDE Road — Analytics and Income Update
In October, SYDE Road earned me CAD 6.66 or about USD 5.38.
- Advertising: CAD 6.66
- Affiliate: CAD 0.00
First off — 666!?!? FOR OCTOBER!?!? I’m not superstitious but that’s a spooky coincidence that I’ll just try and laugh off. Does anyone else find that number a bit spoopy too? In any case, I am SO GRATEFUL that Haute Goat featured our alpaca sleepover on their Facebook website. Thanks to that feature, I received a lot more viewers on my site, which in turn boosted my monthly income by a couple of dollars.
I’m yet again, slooooooowwwwllly soooo very slowwwwwly increasing my viewership month over month with consistent blogging effort.
As for affiliate links, I’m not surprised that I have yet again made zero progress. Almost every single one of my most visited posts this month does not have any affiliate links.
Here are the current tools that I am experimenting with to help generate income:
- Google Adsense — a single ad network — serves as a broker between a group of publishers (like me!) and a group of advertisers. Google Adsense consolidates available AdSense between publishers like me and sells this space to advertisers, where they can then push display ads. According to Sortable, I earn 68% of the revenue whenever someone clicks on an ad displayed on my site
Green Geeks Hosting Affiliate — You might have noticed that I started adding the ‘Eco-Friendly Website’ badge to various places on my website. There’s a reason why I decided to renew with them for another 3 years and not move to other popular web hosts like Bluehost, Host Gator, etc,:
- They’re a Canadian Web Host
- They’re eco-friendly. I love knowing that they are actively putting 3x the green energy back into the grid to offset the power used to host this website.
- Great Enterprise-level CDN and caching included.
- You get Cloudflare CDN included as part of your plan
- Your servers are built on Litespeed servers — if you add Litespeed’s Caching plugin you get ultra-fast load times PLUS Litespeed’s CDN service — Quic.Cloud is provided.
- Great customer support — my questions and open tickets are always answered in half a day or less
- Every hosting account = 1 new tree planted
Skimlinks — Skimlinks is an affiliate marketing platform that helps publishers convert their current outbound URLs into possible affiliate links. I’m currently using this platform to auto-convert things like AirBnb links and other vendor-related URLs into affiliate links.
Amazon Associates — I have an Amazon Associates account that I use to link any products that I mention that can be bought on Amazon. If a product is purchased with any of the used links, I’ll earn up to 8.5% in referral fees.
This month’s SYDE Road expenses cost me CAD 482.53 or USD 390.93
- Google Domain: CAD 1.42
- GreenGeeks Hosting: CAD 2.95
- Blogging Course: CAD 349.07
- One-time Expense: CAD 129.09 (Website Policies)
So how much traffic did I receive in October 2021? 1,850 page views.
Here are some stats for the voyeuristic folks out there and how it compared to last month:
- September Page Views: 1,662 page views (+11%)
- Unique Sessions: 1,189 (+10%)
- Sessions: 1,332 (+10%)
- Social Media Followers: 229 (+41.7%) followers = 36 (5%) (TikTok) + 114 (+23%) (Instagram) + 48 (+12%) (Twitter) + 31 (+182%) (Pinterest)
- Email Subscribers: 3 (300%)
Despite the blog view drop, my social media and email subscriptions have increased. Wow! That’s actually happy news for me — does this mean that my social media efforts are bearing fruit?!?!
Let’s look at how my stats compared to last September. In October 2020 (when my blog was still dead) I had 222 page views. So year over year, my traffic increased by 733%.
In terms of social media followers increasing — I’m thrilled! I was so excited about our alpaca pen sleepover that I actually ended up working incredibly hard on my social media this month. The media growth is promising 🙂
This month I created 8 TikToks, 20+ Instagram posts/reels, started auto-tweeting my older posts regularly. I continue to use Pinterest regularly and create about 6 news pins every week. I’m ecstatic that every social media saw some growth this month AND extra happy that some of the growth is also converting into blog post views too!
What Worked Last Month
Dedicated Social Media Day. I started dedicating a day to batch creating and planning Instagram posts and filming TIkToks to be distributed and scheduled at a later date. It’s made the whole workflow a lot easier and since it’s just one day, it has really helped me focus on other activities for the rest of the week.
Pinterest Canva Templates. I have a list of what I think are aesthetically pleasing Pinterest templates that I re-use again and again with different text and images to make creating new pins for my blog post a snap. It’s really helped speed up the social media promotion process.
Drip Campaigns — I started automating a lot of my social media and republishing work thanks to trying out MissingLettr. Most of Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and tweets are now pre-planned with hashtags, quotes, appropriate images etc. so that I have content going for the month even if I’m not publishing anything. It’s pretty great! This is also part of my dedicated social media day workflow too so it’s really helped reduce the overall ‘social media management’ workload.
Misses Last Month
Blog Course — I’m not going to lie, I’ve been having an exceptionally difficult time trying to hone in on what I want SYDE Road to be. The blogging course is really putting me through the wringer and making me really dig deep to figure out what I want to start putting out more often. It’s gotten to the point where I feel like analysis paralysis has taken over many of my nights.
We don’t have any trips planned for November so I’m excited to finally start focusing on more research-based articles that will help answer potential readers’ questions. While I have really enjoyed writing in-depth accommodation reviews, I am also looking forward to creating more generalized ‘informative’ content that will help a wider audience too.
I’m planning on re-reading Dune if I ever get the chance! After watching the movie and falling in love with the entire storyline, I really want a refresher on the second half of the book.
… and this concludes October 2021’s Behind the Scenes post!
As I’m posting this, I can’t imagine there being much present interest given how everything about my blog statistics and earnings is minuscule compared to other bloggers. But honestly, I do wish more bloggers who have Behind the Scenes posts shared more about their journey to their first $1000 more. I’m here to showcase it all from our very very early beginnings to however far this travel blogging journey takes me!
If you made it all the way down here, thanks so much for giving this post a read!
Want to read more Behind the Scenes posts? You can binge them from the beginning here.
Have a question about what goes on while blogging behind the scenes? Let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them in the next post!