A couple days ago, my book blog turned a year old! Can you believe that? 12 whole months – a whole year as a book blogger! I’m going to tell you everything I learnt over the last 12 months – what worked, what didn’t work. I’m even going to share my stats and income with you all.
I’ve seen other bloggers write traffic/ income/ reflection posts on a monthly or annual basis and to be honest, I read those every chance I get. I’ll admit it, I’m curious about how much traffic everyone else is getting, what’s working for them, what isn’t…
The thing is, most of those reports come from bloggers in other niches. Stats in the book blogging world tends to be a bad word. We constantly remind each other not to think about them and so few people ever share their numbers, it’s hard to know whether our expectations are reasonable or not.
I completely get how comparison could lead to negative feelings for some people. If you’re one of them, please stop reading now, that’s not why I’m writing this.
I’m writing this post with to goal of answering all the uber embarrassing questions I had about book blogging in the beginning. Because it’s something I wish I would have been able to find when I was first starting out. Secondly, I think there’s a need for more transparency and conversation regarding our stats and the money we may or may not make from our blog.
Obviously book blogging is a labor of love. We do this because we love books. But that doesn’t mean we’re immune to the lure of extra money and the ego boost that comes with likes and lots of likes views.
Book Blogging Goals
One of the first things I did when I started this blog was set some goals. I don’t do much without setting goals and blogging is no exception. However, after more Google searches than I could count, I had no idea what my blogging goals should be! I set some anyway, because I needed something to work toward.
There was an unhealthy amount of time spent trying to google “book blogger traffic” “book blogger stats” “how many monthly views does a book blogger get” and learning exactly nothing. It was frustrating. I spent the last year assuming my numbers were pretty average and most bloggers are getting more than me.
As a group book bloggers are pretty tight lipped about their stats. I totally get why, this is probably one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written. It’s been sitting in my drafts folder for
days nearly a month, and as I sit here for probably the thirty-first time thinking about hitting the publish button, I’m feeling pretty vulnerable.
So, I’ll take a deep breath, close my eyes, hit publish (or delete, who knows) and hope for the best because I’m sure I’m not the only book blogger who has found themselves curious enough to Google those things.
Anyway, I pretty much went into this goal setting thing blind.
Book Blog Traffic Goals
I should probably admit, I had another book blog for about 3 months before starting this one. I made EVERY mistake imaginable and didn’t have any sort of analytics hooked up so I have no idea how much traffic I was or, more likely, wasn’t getting or where it was coming from.
This is all to say I thought 10,000 page views/ month sounded realistic. It’s okay to laugh.
Like I said, I went into this blogging thing pretty much blind. I couldn’t find much information about book blogger traffic. 2 weeks and about 500 page views later, I was second guessing myself.
But, I’m not one to back down from a goal. After all, I wrote it down in my goal setting notebook and that pretty much means I have to do it. So when it became clear I wasn’t going to get 10,000 views my first month blogging, I compromised.
120,000 page views/ year
I found that setting longer term goals gave me a bit of flexibility. Some months had less page views than I would have liked some had more.
So, without further ado, here are the traffic stats for my book blog. I find Google Analytics less confusing than the WordPress stats for most things. Since I started my blog in the middle of the month, it helps that can I customize the date range. That’s where my numbers are coming from.
Book Blog Monthly Page Views
118,561 is obviously not quite 120,000 but it’s close enough that I’ll still count it as a success.
Where did the traffic come from?
The short answer is Pinterest and Search Engines. Most of the people I reach seem to be casual readers looking for specific book recommendations like Gay Hockey Players, Romance Novels featuring Transgender Characters, or Heroes with PTSD.
Unlike many book bloggers, my audience isn’t other bloggers. It’s something I’m working on. I really admire the bloggers who can not only start but carry on a conversation in the comments section. It’s an incredible skill and while I can talk to pretty much everyone in real life, online seems so much harder.
Let’s Take a Look at What Worked Each Month
Month 1 and 2
Facebook was my main traffic source and I relied on Facebook blogger groups to send people to my blog. It was a lot of work, for little return. Nothing about it was organic but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Don’t get me wrong these groups aren’t all bad and they are an incredible way to meet other bloggers, ask questions and learn things. There’s even a group or two that I still go on from time to time when I want to interact with other bloggers and boost my engagement.
Looking back, however, most of those hours could have been better spent working on SEO and finding other ways to get organic traffic.
As you can see, Facebook was by far my biggest traffic source in August 2018. (I find WordPress is much more user friendly when looking at referral sources, so we’re using that.)
This month started off with my worst blogging day (hopefully) ever. In one day, I found myself with a grand total of 6 page views. 4 were probably me making sure my site was still up…
That was the day I decided Facebook groups weren’t a sustainable traffic source and started working on my Pinterest game.
This month ended with a day where I got 800 page views, which felt absolutely amazing and Pinterest has been my favorite social media traffic source since.
Months 4 – 7
Nothing super interesting happened during this time. My non-blogging life was starting to require more my attention so I did pretty much nothing in terms of engagement or interacting with other bloggers. I tried my best to keep creating new content and managed stay relevant on Pinterest by pinning a little bit every day.
My traffic was pretty much entirely from Pinterest averaging 300 – 400 page views a day.
Months 8 – 10
This is when my real life fell apart. I didn’t really care what happened to my blog and had absolutely no interest in engaging with anyone. I posted so infrequently (1 to 3 times a month) those months can probably be considered a hiatus.
Pinterest continued to be responsible for most of my traffic which was higher than I expected considering how little I did, and averaged 200 – 300 page views a day. I rarely pinned during this time, so it’s nice to know the old pins will keep showing up and directing traffic to my site even if I’m not actively promoting it.
Real life started looking up a bit. I decided to return to the book blogging world because at one point my blog made me happy. I started engaging with some other bloggers again, just a bit. But it’s been awesome to be back in the game.
My goal was to post twice a week with a focus on quality over quantity and get back into the Pinterest game. For the most part I managed to do that.
Traffic wise things started picking up, I averaged 400 – 500 page views a day.
By far my best traffic month of the whole year. It seems there’s some truth to the whispers that search engines prefer sites that have been around for a while because my search engine traffic has nearly tripled in the last month.
Pinterest on the other hand, although it’s still by far my biggest traffic source, has been pretty volatile, some days I get 600 views, some days I get 1200 – there doesn’t seem to be much in between.
I’m posting new content 1 – 2 times a week and sometimes making an effort to engage with other bloggers. I’m trying to be smart about where I’m directing my time and energy, trying to balance a real life and blogging isn’t exactly easy.
Like I said earlier, I still occasionally go on Facebook groups. Although the goal now is to interact and engage with other bloggers, not so much as a traffic source like it was in the beginning. So those 40 referrals from Facebook equal quality interaction from like-minded people who I hope are actually interested in my content.
Since it took me forever to muster the courage to post this, I can tell you Month 13 is looking even better!
Who is Viewing my Blog?
Here is my Google Analytics information. I’ve never really been good at math and charts and graphs so hopefully I’m reading this right. I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of 25 – 34 year old females. It also looks like about 70% of my audience is from the United States and Canada.
Which makes sense because I’m a 31 year old female from Canada! I assume I’m interesting to people who are similar to me.
Oddly enough I thought social media would be the easy part of this whole blogging thing. Turns out I’m even more of an introvert online than I am in real life. Commenting and interacting with people on the internet is exhausting.
My goal was 1000 followers/ platform
I had big plans, I was going to do it all – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Not the greatest. Mostly due to a lack of understanding and effort on my part. I really want to figure out how to use Instagram and when I actually focus on Mix, it’s a surprising good traffic source. But I can honestly say I haven’t put the time or effort into properly figuring out how to utilize most social platforms to build my blog. That will likely be a goal for the next year.
I can’t say I accomplished my social media goal. If you read my little traffic analysis, you know I focused a lot of my time on Pinterest because that seems to be where my efforts lead to results. As much as I probably shouldn’t admit it, I am one of those bloggers who does it for the stats. You can judge me if you want, it’s okay.
Book Blogging Income
Ok, let’s talk about money. How many social norms am I breaking right now? Oh my goodness, this is an intimidating discussion. But, I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason some of you are still here. It’s alright, I’m actually super curious to know if/ how other book bloggers are making money too.
Like many bloggers, I monetize my site. Firstly, because I like money. Secondly because, I can’t think of a good reason not to.
This part is tricky. I think it’s important to share this information because book blogging isn’t a high value niche and I think people need to realize that, especially people who may be thinking about starting a book blog for the money.
One of the first things I did when I set up my blog was apply for AdSense. I did this first because having other ad networks and affiliate links can sometimes cause problems with approval. It took about a month for me to get approved and about 6 months before I got my first payment.
After getting that approval, I added Amazon affiliate links to my posts. Once you sign up for Amazon’s affiliate program, you have 6 months to make three referrals that lead to sales. It took me about four months to do this, and then I received a friendly email telling me that while I reached the quota, my account was being closed as my disclosure wasn’t good enough. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy, I worked darn hard to get those three sales (and the tens of cents they earned me).
I reapplied a couple days later once I’d calmed down a bit. This time it took about two weeks to get the required sales and I made sure my disclosure was exactly in line with their requirements so my account was approved with no further drama.
The only complaint I have is that since I’m Canadian, my payment threshold is $100 USD which I receive via check in the old fashioned mail and I have to physically go to the bank to cash to cash it. It’s like traveling back in time 20 or so years every time that happens!
Over the last year from all sources I’ve made just over $500 USD. It doesn’t sound terribly impressive. But given that most of it is the result of people purchasing books priced at $.99 – $4.99 and I get about 4% of that, it works out to a lot of books.
Book Blogging Expenses
I feel weird talking about income without expenses. So here we go!
By far the biggest expense my book blog incurs is the wine I drink while reading and writing my posts. Although, if I’m being honest with myself, I’d probably still drink it if I didn’t have a blog so it’s not really a blogging expense.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links from Amazon and other networks including Bluehost which means I earn from qualifying purchases.
I built my first website in 2012 and hosted it with $50/ year plan from A Small Orange. I haven’t had any complaints and while the websites I’ve hosted with them have come and gone over the years, I’ve kept the same hosting plan. Prices have since increased, so I’m pretty sure I’ll never change it!
If you’re looking for a budget friendly hosting company to get started with a lot of bloggers recommend BlueHost. It’s probably where I would go if I were starting my blog today.
I spent $40/ year for this from my hosting company. There are much cheaper options if you look around, but they were complicated and confusing and it was worth it for me to pay and let someone else deal with the headache.
Initially, I had intended to figure out how to do it the cheap way. But, as of June I moved my ads over to a premium ad network which provides SSL certificates for free, as long as things continue to go well, I won’t have to pay for that again.
I pay my hosting company $20/ year to renew my domain name. This is another one where I know there are cheaper options, but I’m happy to pay for the convenience of not having to figure it out myself.
As a book blogger, books are a pretty expected expense. It’s something I expected to be a much bigger cost than it ended up being. As it turns out, free books are one of the many perks that come with running a book blog.
When I stumble upon a book I can’t get through those sources, the library is a great resource and I occasionally sign up for Kindle Unlimited when my TBR starts looking small. Although that is usually only for a month at a time and mostly for personal reading more so than for my blog.
What I Don’t Pay For
As much as possible, I try to do things myself. Over the year I’ve taken the approach that while I don’t expect to make money from this blog, I also don’t want to lose money from it. Now that I’m starting to see a bit of money from my blog, I may look into investing in things to make blogging easier and more efficient although I haven’t put much thought into it.
I don’t use Tailwind or any scheduling programs. I’ve never paid for ads or promoted posts on Google or social media. One of the biggest benefits of a self hosted WordPress is that I can customize the theme myself when necessary. I make my own graphics using the free plan on Canva.
Future Book Blogging Goals
I feel much more prepared to set goals for the next year so this should be easy, right? Spoiler: it’s not. It’s almost harder than it was last year.
I still want to get all my social media accounts to 1000 followers. FOLLOW ME, I’ll bore you to tears on a regular basis and sometimes tell dirty jokes 😉
Since I have 2700 followers on Pinterest, I guess my goal will be 5000. We’ll see how that goes.
Go big or go home, I want 1000 page views/ day! To be realistic and keep me from giving up the first time I don’t hit that daily target, I’ll say I want to average 1000 page views/ day and aim for 365,000 page views/ year.
Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!
There you have it my year one traffic and income report. If you’re still reading this, you deserve a drink!
My goal with this post was to answer all the questions I had but was too embarrassed to ask when I started my book blog. So if there’s anything I left out, let me know.
Have you ever written a Traffic and/ or Income Report for your blog or book blog? If so, share your link in the comments, I love reading those!
If not, how do you feel about your stats, the pressure to have good stats and the lack of information about what good stats even are?