Traffic and Income Report – January 2016 - Skillful Cook
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Traffic and Income Report – January 2016

January Traffic and Income Report collage images.


Bjork here checking in for the monthly traffic and income report here on Skillful Cook.

We’ve done these reports for quite some time now. Our first one was almost four years ago when we were just starting to figure out this “blog as a business” thing.

We’ve continued publishing these reports every month, regardless of if we’re on vacation, working on a big project, or 32,000 ft in the air (like we are right now! we’re on our way to Cebu City , Philippines).

Every month we take a moment to pause, gather up the stats for the previous month, jot down a few things that we learned, and then publish it here on the blog.

Our hope is that these reports (1) help you and (2) encourage you.

Know that it takes a long time and a lot of work to bootstrap a content-based website like a food blog, especially if you’re doing it on your own.

Do your best to enjoy the process, stick with it, learn from others, and avoid the comparison trap as much as possible.

Let’s take a look at the numbers for January…

Income Report Numbers


Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. All of the products listed below are products and services we’ve used before. If you have any questions about any of the income or expenses you can leave a comment and we’ll do my best to reply.


If you're interested in learning more about some of the ways that you can monetize a food blog, we encourage you to download this free ebook, “16 Ways to Monetize Your Food Blog,” from our sister site, Food Blogger Pro!

a picture of the 16 Ways to Monetize Your Food Blog ebook from Food Blogger Pro and a note that says, 'free download from our friends at Food Blogger Pro'

Traffic Totals

Below are some Google Analytics screenshots from the month of January 2016.

Traffic Overview

Traffic Overview January 2016.

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Top Ten Traffic Sources January 2016.

Mobile vs. Desktop vs. Tablet

Mobile vs. Desktop vs. Tablet.
Income Report Takeaways

Page Speed

Ads are a drag when it comes to page load speed, which is a drag when it comes to SEO because Google loves fast sites.

Skillful Cook has never been a fast site.

It’s kind of like me.

If you see me running by myself I don’t seem slow, but if you see me running next to someone fast you start to wonder if I have sloth legs (I don’t).

Same idea with Skillful Cook.

It gets along fine with load speed, but if you put it next to a fast site you realize how slow it actually is. There are a few reasons for this (lots of big images, for one), but the biggest issue is ads.

We work with AdThrive to do our ad management and they recently implemented some new ad tech (they call it LightningLoad) that has really helped speed up the page load speed on POY.

Take a look:

Average Page Load Time.

We pushed out this new ad technology at the same time we pushed out the new theme, so it’s impossible to completely separate the two when it comes to performance. That being said I think the major impact is the new ad technology, not the theme.


What is that Justworks line item at the top the expense list?

If you’ve followed along with Skillful Cook (or Food Blogger Pro for that matter) you know that we’ve been slowly hiring and building a team for each business.

Grateful is an understatement to describe how we feel about working with FBP and POY team members.

As we started to hire, we quickly realized that building a team comes with a lot of paperwork and compliance stuff. Keeping up with it became a part-time job, even though we have just a few team members. Medicare and Social Security and Workers Comp and Federal Income Taxes and State Income Taxes and lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Justworks handles all of that stuff for us and helps to make sure we’re compliant with all of the federal and state regulations.

When you see this line item in the expenses, it’s covering a few things:

  • employee/contractor salaries
  • taxes
  • fees for Skillful Cook in a given month, including Lindsay’s salary

Lindsay’s salary, you ask?

Skillful Cook is set up as an S-Corp LLC. If you’re just getting started with your blog biz then a plain ole’ LLC probably works fine, but once you build it up to a certain point it makes sense to switch it an S-Corp, at which point you're required to pay yourself a salary as an employee of the business.

I’ll save you the boring-ness of explaining why an S-Corp LLC might be a good fit for business (and when), but you can check out this article for a more thorough explanation. Then check in with your tax professional. 🙂

*Note: I’m (definitely) not a tax expert, so be sure to double-check with your accountant before making any changes to your business setup.

Hotjar Polls

We’ve started to use Hotjar polls quite a bit throughout Skillful Cook and Food Blogger Pro.

Have you seen the one on this post?

It looks like this:

Hotjar poll example.

These polls have been a huge help in getting feedback from readers (on Skillful Cook) and from members (on Food Blogger Pro).

Note #1: FBP members can take the Hotjar course here. If you’re not an FBP member you can join the waiting list here. 😉

Note #2: Be sure to check out the FBP podcast interview with the found of Hotjar, Dr. David Darmanin.

The purpose for these polls is simple: We’re looking for ways that we can improve.

In this case, we’re looking for ways that we can improve these income reports.

Here are two responses that stood out to me as I was recently looking through the results:

Hotjar Poll Screenshot #46.
Hotjar Poll Screenshot #50.

Of course!

Actionable, easy-to-understand tips for improving your blog. Thanks for the great idea #46 and #50. 🙂

Action Items

Here are three action items that you can apply to your blog this month.

Action Item #1: Start tracking your page load speed.

Here’s where that’s located in Google Analytics:

Site Speed in Google Analytics.

You can find ways to improve your blog’s page load speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Action Item #2: Treat your biz as a biz

If you're building your blog as a business you need to treat it that way.

If you haven’t opened a separate bank account start by doing that. Make all your business purchases from that account and have business income deposited into it.

If you already have a separate bank account setup then your goal is to ask your tax professional what type of business structure you should have (it shouldn’t be too complicated).

Action Item #3: Setup a Hotjar poll and get feedback from your readers

Feedback is valuable because it helps you improve quickly.

You get feedback. You implement it. You see how people respond. You ask for more feedback. You implement it. You see how people respond. (repeat)

Want an example?

The reason I’m doing these three actionable tips is because of feedback that we received from readers (see Hotjar Polls section above).

There are lots of poll type software services available, but Hotjar is free (and really easy to use).

Because Of You

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post Lindsay and I are (literally right now… as I type this) over the ocean on a flight to Cebu City, Philippines to spend some time at an orphanage called the Children’s Shelter of Cebu.

While we’re there we’ll be taking photos, shooting video, planning with the staff, and playing endless rounds of very sweaty tag with the 80+ kiddos that call this orphanage their home. Lindsay has set aside time to share bits and pieces of the story of CSC with you next week via some cute-kid-overload pictures and posts, so stay tuned.

Young boys smiling.

Please know - we’re deeply aware of and humbled by the fact that one of the reasons we can make a trip like this in terms of time, flexibility, and finances is because of you - the reader, sharer, commenter, or silent follower of Skillful Cook. Your support and participation in the POY community reaches beyond just this website.

We’re so incredibly grateful for you!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Bjork! Glad you and Lindsey are doing well and on your way to Cebu! Have you heard that Veggie Tales song…..Song of the Cebu? It’s catchy =) Anyhow, another spot on report, the non technology-gifted-type-of-person that I’m am will have to read this a few times to shift through, but as always I glean tons of useful info from you so thanks for sharing. Get a tan for me okay? I’m no white right now living in Buffalo right now that most people have to wear sunglasses to take the pain.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    You guys rock! I’m incredibly inspired by everything you do. We are fortunate to have you as teachers and virtual mentors. Have a great time in Cebu.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks so much for doing these posts. I am three weeks into my blog and am just figuring everything out. It’s so nice to have access to this sort of information. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve read a lot of income reports, but most of the time they skip over the actual $$$. I 100% value and appreciate y’all being so transparent about your finances. It gives hope for those of us still making the transition into a profitable blog, or reminds us there is always light at the end of the tunnel when there’s a slow month. THANK YOU!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks so much for this!

    As someone who just decided to start a side blogging job this sort of information is immensely valuable!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Nice to see this
    Please let me know how to use multiple(7-8) ad networks in single ad block to reach maximum fill rate? Are there any software?
    Waiting your response

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love your site and have followed for years! For the monthly income report, it would be much more helpful to total the income and expense columns. You did in past months…what happened?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      We felt like the totals started to become the main focus instead of the concepts within the posts. We also want to encourage people that are interested in starting a blog to not do it just to make money. Removing the focus on the totals helped us do this.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you so much for all of the advice that you share. I was about to give up on the idea of earning money through my blog. I am making a lot changes to my blog because of your advice. You have given me renewed hope. You guys are the best!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your blog is really well as I am following you from last few months. Finally motivated enough to launch my first blog. These income reports are amazing to read and feel the potential of blogging career. Thanks for motivating many newbie like me. 🙂

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve ben following your blog since 2011 (which makes me one of your silent followers) and I first stumbled on your post about your Cebu adventure. You and lindsey are such a blessing to those kids!! Thank you thank you for helping and spending time with my fellow Filipinos, for the effort on traveling (and living for a year) to the other side of the world. I hope you guys have enjoyed your trip and perhaps tasted the humba again?

    P.S. I am envious that you guys were sipping fresh mango juice/shakes! How I wish there were Philippine mangoes sold here in Toronto!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Bjork,

    Hope you are doing great 🙂

    The report which you have shared is awesome. I need your help, actually I would like to start my own blog on food recipe here in India only. Me and my wife are interested to do so. So can i earn some money as well from that particular blog.

    If you can give me some time from your busy schedule then please send me an email with step by step guide about how to earn money from a blog. I am waiting for your email and after that I will buy a domain and hosting things.

    Thanks in Advance !!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for this. I recently removed gourmet ads, was giving users grief and slowing things down, distracting. I launched my 2nd ebook recently and made $3500 over the weekend. Before that it was $1600 per month. Things are growing slowly but surely.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    I so look forward to your income reports! My blog is 1.5 yrs old and slowly but surely I am climbing the ladder to success 🙂 I firmly believe your blog has to be your passion/lifestyle and for me it’s just that.. I really appreciate the hard work you guys put into these reports for us all to see…Plus I love your blog 🙂