Yaaas. Another month where I earned a livable wage from my online business!

If you've been following along in this journey, you know it has been a long and winding road to success.

No overnight “winning” stories here… Just slow and steady 1% improvement each and every day. Add that up over 5 years, and you're finally getting somewhere!

So let's dive into my income sources (and expenses) for July 2018:

Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. This means that I will earn a percentage of any sales made through those links, at no extra cost to you. Affiliate links are identified with an asterisk (*).


July 2018 Income Sources

1. Recurring Revenue ($3,265.07)

2. Virtual Services ($3,200)

    • Freelance writing ($3,200)

3. Products ($94.74)

4. Advertising ($19.39)

    • Google Adsense ($19.39)

5. Affiliate Income ($2.76)

Total Income: $6,581.96


July 2018 EXPENSES

  1. Payments to Research Assistants: $675
  2. FNL Affiliate Payouts: $120.55
  3. ConvertKit*: $78
  4. PDF Embedder: $50
  5. Thinkific*: $49
  6. Business Banking Fees: $37
  7. Hiscox Professional Liability Insurance: $33.33
  8. Ana Reisdorf's Freelance Writing Guide: $27
  9. Business Email with G-Suite*$20
  10. Website Hosting with WPopt*: $19.99
  11. Tailwind*: $14.99
  12. Website Hosting with Cloudways*: $12.80
  13. Vimeo*: $12
  14. Adobe Creative Cloud: $9.99
  15. Dropbox*: $9.99

Total Expenses: $1,169.64

Net income: $5,412.32


Income Overview

This was actually a REALLY significant month for me in business. 

One year after launching the “MVP” (minimum viable product) version of the Functional Nutrition Library on ericajulson.com, it was time to move the entire endeavor over to its own independent website.

Because let's be honest – why would anyone subscribe to an educational membership site hosted on ericajulson.com unless they already knew me, liked me, and trusted me as a resource on functional nutrition?

Plus, it was lightweight confusing to have both a functional nutrition membership site AND a recipe blog hosted on the same website… They were designed for 2 entirely different audiences!

After making roughly $11k in my 1st year of running my membership site, I was ready to upgrade.

So, I spent all my free time in June/July 2018 building out the new website (you can check it out here).

I used Divi* (a what-you-see-is-what-you-get website builder) to build the homepage (with major help from their premade template library), Memberpress* to protect the content and collect payment (via Stripe and PayPal), and LearnDash* to create courses within the membership site.

It was A LOT of work, and honestly, transferring the accounts of my active paying members over to a new website was lightweight terrifying (and not without some flubs), but I MADE IT THROUGH.

When I officially opened the new website for enrollment on July 17th, I got TWENTY-NINE new members in the first 24 hours & made over $600 in sales in just that initial day.

I was used to getting just a handful of new sign-ups each month, so to get 29 in one day was UNREAL.

By the end of July, I had 143 active paying members (compared to just 109 at the end of June). Wow! All that from a freaking website redesign and promotion 🙂

And you know what was even cooler? 

Sheila Dean, one of the co-founders of Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy, saw my new site and reached out to see if we could possibly collaborate (more on that in future income reports). That was SUCH a pinch-me moment!!

And on top of that… for the 1st time EVER, my membership site brought in more money than freelance writing!

Yesss. My passive income dreams were coming trueeee. <3

Nothing else super exciting happened (income wise) in July.

Some of my old private practice clients purchased supplements through my Fullscript account* & I earned a few bucks…

And I made a whopping $2.76 from Amazon Associates (someone bought a blow dryer after clicking on one of my links – LOL).


Expenses Overview

Most of my expenses were same-old same-old this month, with a few exceptions.

1. I purchased Ana Reisdorf's freelance writing guide

To be quite honest, I didn't really NEED this guide. I had no plans to actually go out and pitch myself for more freelance writing work.

BUT, I just freaking love Ana and wanted to support her entrepreneurial endeavors. She started her Facebook group, RDs Who Write, around the same time that I launched The Unconventional RD group, so we've been online friends for a while!

I know how hard Ana has worked to grow and serve her community, so I wanted to show my appreciation with my $$!

Plus, if I bought the e-book & loved it (which I did), then I could confidently recommend it to my audience if they ever had questions about freelance writing. Win-win, really.

So if any of you are interested in learning more about freelance writing, check out Ana's guide

She shows you where to find freelance writing gigs, how to successfully apply & pitch yourself, and how to set your rates.

This is NOT an affiliate link (meaning, I don't earn any money by recommending her guide), I just love to support other RDs doing big things online!

2. I signed up for a paid Vimeo account*

Prior to redesigning the FNL website, I had all of my nutrition notes on ericajulson.com and all my mini e-courses on Thinkific* (a done for you course platform).

Honestly, I did it this way simply because it was cheaper to pay a monthly fee to Thinkific than to purchase a course plugin like LearnDash*. (I was very low on funds in the early stages of starting my membership site.)

But, I quickly discovered that it was an admin nightmare…

Since the membership site & courses were on totally different websites, every time someone signed up for a new membership, I had to MANUALLY add them to my Thinkific course. It was a mess.

Thankfully, I wasn't getting THAT many new members every month (maybe 5 or 6 at the most), so it was generally manageable. But it was clear that this was not a scalable setup.

So, when it came time to move the Functional Nutrition Library to its own website, I knew it was time to invest in LearnDash*.

LearnDash allows you to create courses on your website. Often times these courses include video!

However, you DON'T want to be uploading gigantic video files directly onto your website (that's a recipe for ultra-slow page load speeds).

Instead, you want to host your videos elsewhere and embed them on your website using HTML code.

That way, the videos technically live elsewhere & you're simply streaming them on your website. Much faster & a better user experience!

I choose to host my videos on Vimeo*. With a Vimeo Pro account ($20/month), you can upload private videos and embed them anywhere you want. It's perfect for course creators!


Other July Happenings

What else happened in July 2018?

1) I submitted my talk for the Fall 2018 RD Entrepreneur Symposium*

In case you haven't attended the symposium yet, it's a wonderful virtual event put on twice a year by dietitian Heather Neal.

She invites 15 or so successful RD business owners to give talks on various aspects of entrepreneurship.

Anything from creating packages in your business, to email marketing, to Instagram, to the art of pre-selling a product before you build it.

The topics and speakers are different every single time and I always learn so much!

Yes, I know July may seem early to be planning a Fall event, but there is A LOT that goes on behind the scenes setting an event like this up!

2) I started learning about SEO. 

Now that the FNL website was redone, the next mega-project on my list was creating a FREE blog to go alongside it.

While creating the new membership site was an awesome achievement, I quickly realized that I had created an entire website behind a paywall.

There was no free content to attract new people and get them to know me or the quality of my work.

I knew that if I created a blog to go alongside the membership site, it would help bring new readers to the site & boost membership enrollment.

HOWEVER, I was NOT about to repeat the same mistakes I had made with my food blog on ericajulson.com

With my food blog, I did pretty much everything incorrectly:

  • I created content for ME, not my ideal reader (i.e. I just shared pictures of recipes I made for myself).
  • I didn't have a niche.
  • I wasn't providing true value to anyone.
  • I wasn't using a recipe card plugin or properly formatting my blog posts.
  • I didn't understand the 1st thing about keyword research or how to craft content strategically.

In sum, it was a mess.

Over two and a half years, I created 170 blog posts. Yes. 170.

And in my best month ever, I only ever got 10,000 sessions (14,000 pageviews).

(For reference, you need at least 25,000 monthly sessions to apply for well-paying ad networks like Mediavine).

Yikes.

This time, I wanted to do things right.

I kept seeing people talk about how SEO was the #1 key to their blogging success & the thing they wished they had learned/understood earlier in their blogging journey.

So, I dove in. I read a bazillion blogs. Here are some of my faves:

I listened to many many podcasts:

I also hung out in some super helpful Facebook groups:

And after ALL of that, I eventually developed an SEO strategy to implement on my new blog. 

It included:

How to do keyword research (to make sure I was writing about topics lots of people were searching for AND that I actually had a realistic chance to rank for (high-volume, low difficulty).

How to create content worthy of being on page 1. From outlining my article, doing high-quality research, and evaluating my competition, to formatting properly with schema, headings, images, etc. to boost my rankings.

How to get that content out into the world. Social sharing, online networking, and strategy for getting backlinks and mentions on the internet.

How to establish expertise, authority, and trust with the content on my website to rank higher for “Your Money Your Life” topics (which includes nutrition).

How to create a fast, secure, well-structured website that provides an awesome user experience. Yep, the tech stuff, like website speed, security, layout, and structure.

If it sounds like a lot, it is!

But it's also CRITICALLY important.

You can't half-ass it and expect great results. There is REAL strategy involved in blogging as a business.

So much of the time, we THINK we're doing everything right, but the truth is, sometimes we just don't know what we don't know.

Following the guidance of those who have been there before us can really really help (whether you work with a coach, take courses, or learn from the massive amounts of free content available).

But anyways, once I finally figured this SEO stuff out, things started WORKING.

Flash forward to May 2019 (the date I'm actually writing this) –

My new blog is 9 months old and is getting 19k sessions per month with just NINE BLOG POSTS.

That's right. I only publish ONE new piece of content each month and I should be eligible for Mediavine next month (month 10 of blogging) and start earning $$$ every month in ad revenue. BOOM!

SEO works, guys. 

PS – If you want to learn and implement these strategies on your own website, my SEO course is available for self-study right now! 🙂 Highly recommend checking it out!

All the best,
Erica


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