The internet is full of success stories and my 6-figures language-learning blog French Together could be considered one of them
But things don’t always go as planned and every business experiences ups and downs.
April was definitely in the down category for me and that’s great because it means the first blog income report I ever published will be full of valuable lessons about blogging.
Grow With Less
The story of Grow With Less (and why I switched niches 3 times)
Grow With Less had an interesting start and changed a lot over the last few months.
When it started, it was called BlogoSEO and the goal was to help bloggers with SEO. The first month went well and one of the articles I published even got shared by Tim Soulo from Ahrefs.
Unfortunately, I quickly realized that, while I enjoy SEO, it’s not a topic I love.
So Grow With Less turned into a copywriting blog called Copy Puzzle.
Copy Puzzle was fun. I ran a headline experiment, published a few articles about headlines and realized writing about copywriting is something I truly enjoy.
Then something weird happened…
I started missing SEO.
That’s how Grow With Less was born.
The funny thing is that I actually considered just starting a blog about growing an online business at the beginning and didn’t because everyone on the internet was telling me to go more niche. Looking back, I do think going more niche makes things easier but it doesn’t mean it’s the right choice. Sometimes, the easiest path is not the right path.
You may look at this story and think I really don’t know what I’m doing, and you would be entirely right.
And here is another thing I have learned over the years, nobody does.
The best way to find your niche as a blogger isn’t to think for weeks, it’s to get to work, write a few articles and see how you feel.
Because you won’t know whether something is right for you unless you actually do it.
So, if you are not sure what to blog about, consider trying to write a few articles on different topics and seeing what works and what you like.
Grow With Less’ growth and income report
I’m not trying to monetize Grow With Less at the moment so the income was quite precisely 0.
I considered adding affiliate links to blog post but decided not to do it for a few reasons:
- I want to focus on growing Grow With Less’ audience and don’t want to end up trying to do too much at once.
- I have earned over 20,000 USD from affiliate marketing in the last 12 months and kind of hate it (more on that in the French Together blog income report below.)
Grow With Less has 306 sessions over the last 30 days. Most of these came from my language-learning blog French Together (I mention Grow With Less in my author bio and on the about page.)
In my experience, this slow growth is pretty normal for a new blog. Growth takes time and the few backlinks I have earned are not enough to convince Google that Grow With Less is worth ranking.
Still, I was quite happy to see that:
- Grow With Less now ranks 17 for the keyword “journorequest”
- I started ranking for other keywords such as “backlink strategy” or “headline analyzer” or the very fun “SEO will die.”
- Building backlinks with #journorequest is working well and I earned backlinks from Go-Mash Marketing (DR 4) and UnderPinned (DR 26.)
- I now have 11 subscribers (none of which are my mom.)
French Together’s growth and income report
The income report
French Together is a language-learning blog I started 5 years ago while I was still studying German at the University. I have always wanted to earn a full-time income online and this sounded like a fun way to share my passion for languages.
French Together attracted 238,771 visitors in the last 30 days, a drop of 9.31% compared to the previous month.
1,978 new subscribers signed up for the newsletter. That’s roughly 1,000 people less than usual, mostly because this number is the net number of people who joined and I deleted a lot of inactive subscribers this month.
In term of income, I earned:
- 4,758.12 USD from the sales of the French Together course.
- 1,230 USD from affiliate marketing
So a total of 5,988 USD.
This is actually a pretty disappointing number considering I earned 7,495.36 USD from the French Together course alone in March.
It’s not the first time such a dramatic decrease happens and I honestly don’t know what caused it. I suspect that a lot of factors I have no control over influence how much money people spend on learning French and I have learned to just accept changes like that as part of running a business.
It’s also important to mention that the sales of the French Together course mostly come from 2 places:
- 80% of sales come from the evergreen email course all new subscribers to the email list receive.
- 20% of sales come from an ad at the end of all pages on the blog.
The fact I mostly earn money with an evergreen email course means that my income is more regular than most bloggers’ income. I don’t have one month when I earn a ton of money because of a launch followed by a month with no sales since there was no launch.
Why April made me hate affiliate marketing
April was a pretty good month in term of affiliate earnings so why did I write earlier that it made me hate affiliate marketing?
That’s because a succession of things happened:
- A company I have been working with for years as an affiliate, promised to double my affiliate commission if I updated my old review of their product. I did and let them know about it. They didn’t answer at first so I emailed them again after a few days. That’s when they told me that my review is too negative and won’t rank in Google. I admitted that the review could indeed seem overly negative and made a few changes. No answer. I emailed them again and eventually got an answer saying that my commissions will still be doubled despite it all but that I would need to wait for other affiliates to update their reviews first..
- I had to chase down a company for the third time to ask them to pay me. They apologized but I know they will most likely keep doing it so I stopped working with them.
- Another company moved to a different affiliate platform and deleted my account in the process. They never informed me of this and I had to call them out publicly on Twitter for them to apologize and recreate my affiliate account. They never paid me for the likely hundreds of dollars in commissions I lost.
So yeah. April was a bittersweet month in term of affiliate marketing.
I don’t believe afffiliate marketing is necessarily bad but you have to realize that many nice and respectable companies will suddenly act very differently if you dare write that their products, while useful, aren’t perfect.
Companies are used to affiliate marketers who embellish the truth and hide the flaws, if you are not one of those, they will at best ignore you, at worst try to silence you.
That’s a shame because my experience shows that negative remarks about a product don’t hurt sales, they show the reader that this is a genuine review and encourage trust which ultimately leads to sales.
What I plan to do to grow my blogs in May
April was a pretty bad month due to the income drop, lack of energy and affiliate marketing problems but this didn’t hurt my motivation.
Blogging for over 10 years has taught me that there are months when nothing seems to work and months when all the stars suddenly aligned.
While I obviously prefer the latter, I know that the most important is to focus on the process, not the results.
So in May, I plan to:
Keep publishing articles regularly
Quality is the cornerstone of a blog and the best way to attract more readers so I plan to keep publishing regularly in May.
This means 4 articles on French Together and 4 articles on Grow With Less.
I don’t write articles on French Together myself anymore because learning French is not a topic I feel passionate about anymore but I definitely plan to write the Grow With Less articles myself.
Helping fellow business owners grow their blog is something I truly enjoy and I recently discovered that having an accountability partner (something I always thought was useless) is actually extremely powerful (thanks Anna.)
If you have a hard time publishing regularly and working on your business, I highly recommend finding another business owner to hold you accountable. 5000BC is a great place for that.
Keep building links
French Together earns backlinks naturally just because it ranks well and lots of people quote it in articles but Grow With Less requires a lot of link building effort.
One tactic that has been working well for me is using the #journorequest hashtag on Twitter so I plan to keep doing that
I also just signed up for a premium HARO account and will use it to try to get featured in newspapers and blogs as well. This hasn’t worked as well as journorequest for me in the past but I’m hoping that premium functionalities such as a notification as soon as a journalist publishes a query will help me get more backlinks.
I also plan to contact several websites to try to get mentioned in their resource pages.
Creating the third level of the French Together course
The French Together course currently has 2 levels (complete beginner and beginner) and people have been asking me to create a more advanced level for months so this is something I plan to do in May.
I actually did 80% of the work in term of content and will mostly need to hire voice actors to record the audio part of the course.
I know publishing another course is a great way to earn more money by offering more value and I am excited to work on this.