Last month, I decided to start doing monthly transparency reports, where I share EXACTLY how my blogs are growing.

Since this blog is all about helping people start blogs that can change the world, and make some money, I decided that it was a good thing to do. You get to see EXACTLY what I'm doing – both my successes and failures, and you get to learn from them in a way that you can apply them to your blog and your online business.

And no, it's not about some make money online blog that I started. It's about my Biology Blog and Natural Hair Blog that I'm helping a friend to build.

Well, the response was overwhelming, and I'm not just saying that because it sounds cool. There are 66 comments on that blog post, with all positive things to say.

This is month #2, and I decided that I've been looking forward to doing this report, because it has been a very fascinating month, to say the least.

Why is it so fascinating Leslie? I'm glad you asked. That's exactly what I'm going to answer in this post.

The Action Report

Interactive Biology

I'm so proud of the work I did in September on my Biology Blog. I was on a roll and made 25 videos. 25 VIDEOS! Can you imagine that? Impressive isn't it.

Well, October . . . lets just say it didn't go as well. My video-making high took a nose dive and I made 0 Videos. That's not very impressive is it? Actually, I'm lying. I did make 1 video, but it wasn't something I had to actually come up with content for.

As you may or may not know, I'm a University Professor who teaches Anatomy (among other things). Well, one day I walked into my class getting ready to do a lecture and my Anatomy students were humming a tune they made up to help them remember some of the concepts I taught them the class period before.

I was so excited about it that I pulled out my handy dandy iPhone, recorded it, and posted it to my blog.

Yeah, I know you wanna see it. So I'm including it right here for you to watch:

I know, I know – it's not the kind of teaching you'd expect in a Doctoral Level Program, but hey – we learn a lot and have a ton of fun doing so 😉

So that was the ONLY thing I posted for the entire month. What do you think the result of that was? You'd think that traffic and income went down. However, I'm here to report the opposite. Traffic and Income went up SIGNIFICANTLY. In fact, it was the best month ever. But wait . . . I'm getting ahead of myself there. We'll get to that.

Cassandre Beccai

As you may or may not know, I decided to work on helping a friend get started with her Natural Hair Blog. I was so impressed by her passion for the topic and what she was already doing, that I decided to help her take her online presence to the next level.

You may also remember that one of the main strategies we decided to employ is getting her featured on other popular blogs in her niche. The idea is simple – instead of trying to build up all your traffic from scratch, one person at a time (which is not a terrible way to go), we wanted to get a jump start.

In last month's report, I showed how she was able to get featured on 5 different blogs, which ended up sending a considerable amount of traffic to her relatively new blog.

This month however, she was only featured on one new blog, but it was one that goes beyond just Afro-textured hair and more into mainstream hair styles.

That guest post was entitled The Trendy Long Side Twist, and although it didn't send a ton of traffic to her blog, it did get her noticed by seven-time Emmy Award winner and personal stylist to Oprah, Andre Walker, who tweeted about it saying loved what she did and that she was absolutely gorgeous. Click here to check out the twitter discussion.

In terms of the number of posts to her blog, she only was able to post 2 videos. As I mentioned in last month's post, Cassandre ended up moving to the West Coast, so we weren't able to continue making videos in my little studio, and we're still working out some equipment issues (i.e. getting her good lighting), so her post count has been affected by that.

The Traffic Report

Interactive Biology

As I mentioned earlier on, this month was my absolute best month when it comes to traffic, which is exactly what I said last month. Last month, I had 35,389 unique visitors come to the blog. This month, that number increased to 50,619.

WOW! That's a whole lot of people. Last month, I said that it looks like that number would continue to climb. I was right. Even though I probably spent an hour maximum working on the blog for the ENTIRE MONTH, my traffic is MUCH higher than ever.

Here's a Screenshot of my Google Analytics Report

Man, it's a beautiful thing!

What's even more interesting is to look at the sources of my traffic. Check out the following figure:

As you can see, 55.77% of my traffic comes from the Search Engines. That's the BIGGEST BULK of my traffic. Many bloggers and internet marketers have been complaining about the Google Panda and Penguin updates because of the reduction in traffic they have seen.

If you've listened to my podcast, you'd know that a big focus of mine is not building a blog “that will fall by the wayside when Google has a mood swing”. While others are fearing the Google Updates, I anticipate them. Why?

Because the Google Updates are meant to let quality content rise to the top and everyone else fall by the wayside.

So, my focus has been QUALITY CONTENT.

If you're concerned about the Google Updates, you should be MORE concerned about the Quality of your Content. (Click here to Tweet That)

I do have one concern with this concept though. I never like to see one traffic source having so much influence on my overall traffic. What happens if something were to go wrong with Google (although, I doubt that is going to happen)? The great thing is that even if Google were to disappear, I would've still gotten 16,032 visits from referring sites and 12,836 Visits from people coming directly to the blog.

So, I wouldn't be struggling with Google, but I do want to step up my game in terms of getting more sites to link to my blog (especially high-traffic sites) and in getting people to frequent my site more often. In my perfect world, it would be more of an equal distribution.

How do I plan on improving that? 2 things:

  • Reaching out to other sites in my niche. This will increase my referral traffic.
  • Posting more content regularly, so that people can come to expect new content on my blog, and start coming directly to the blog.
However, these two things won't start until next year. Why? Because MY BABY NOAH IS COMING AND HE HAS MY FOCUS. YAYYYYYY!
Sorry – got sidetracked there 😉

Cassandre Beccai

The traffic to this blog was a little lower than last month, with 4,016 unique visitors as opposed to 4,516 in September. Also, if you look at the screenshot below, you will notice that the traffic started off higher at the beginning of the month, but then continued decreasing through the remainder of the month.

For a relatively new blog (4 months), I think the traffic stats look pretty great. Sure, it didn't increase like Interactive Biology did. However, Interactive Biology is a very well-established blog that is now an authority blog in my niche. Google trusts my site and sends me a ton of traffic.

If you have a relatively new blog, you will need to prove yourself first, and that's exactly what we plan to continue doing for Cassandre's Blog.

One important thing to note is that although the Unique Visitors went down from 4,516 to 4,016, the number of visits increased from 5,968 to 6,551. What this mean is that the people who visited the site, revisited the site more often than in the previous month, which is always a good thing.

That's a good indication that people are finding value in the site.

Now, when we look at the traffic sources, we something VERY interesting. Check it out:

Did you notice it? 55.7% of her traffic is coming from Referring sites. This is EXACTLY what you would expect if you're doing your job the right way.

When your blog is relatively new, your focus should be to get others to refer traffic to you? How do you do that? Put great stuff out there and let people know about it. They will start linking to you and sending you traffic.

Then, as more and more people start linking to you because of your SUPER AWESOME CONTENT, Google will start paying more attention to you, and sending you much more traffic like they are doing with my Biology Blog.

The List Report

Interactive Biology

As of right now, my list is at 10,674 subscribers. Last month, I reported 10,406 subscribers. So my list has grown by 272 subscribers. I'll be honest, I don't like those numbers. For having over 50,000 people visiting my site, that number should be significantly higher.

However, I know the reason. My opt in form is not in a very obvious place. I removed the Popup domination plugin a while back when I changed the design of my site and my opt ins have decreased significantly. Since then, I planned on putting it back up, but just haven't, since I've been pretty much dormant on my biology blog.

Well, that has just changed. While writing this post, I decided to add it back to my blog, and I will be reporting back on the results in next month's report. As I mentioned in the last transparency report, when I first installed Popup Domination, it increased my opt ins by 568% overnight.

So I think we'll have a very interesting Case Study on that soon. Stay tuned 😉

Cassandre Beccai

Last month, I reported that we built her list to 272 . Well, I'm happy to say that her list has grown to 516 subscribers – an increase of 244 subscribers. I know what you're thinking – that's almost as many as my Interactive Biology Blog with its over 50,000 unique visitors.

Why in the world would that be?

Well, one thing for sure is that we're using Popup Domination on her site. That automatically increases the percentage of people who will opt in to your site.

Secondly, I don't know if you know anything about women's hair care, but from the little I've seen, women REALLY get into their hair. I think it's one of those niches where if you can really get into it, you can build an EXTREMELY passionate fan base, even more so than biology 😉

All in all, I'm VERY pleased with how Cassandre's list building efforts are going.

The Income Report

Interactive Biology

This is the most exciting part for me right now. Why? Because it's great to see that it's VERY possible to make money online without having to constantly work. It's great to get paid over and over for work you already did in the past. It's as close to passive income as I've ever experienced.

Like Pat Flynn says, “it's all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later”. Well – it really works. Last month, I made $1,723.23 in Adsense and $279.60 from my Study guide, for a total of $2,002.83. I was pretty happy about that.

Well, this month ended up laughing at last month, with a whopping $2,563.90 in Adsense and $594.15 from the study for a Grand Total of $3,158.05. Yes, that's a 58% increase in income from one month to the next. Am I excited? YOU BET I AM!

Now, make no mistake – I worked like CRAZY to build the blog to where it is now. I don't want you to get confused and think – Oh ok, I can put a blog up, do a little work and then sit back relax and rake in the dough. It DOES take hard work. But unlike your job (or my job), if you do it smart, you CAN continue to get paid from the work you did last year 🙂

Ok, I need to break this down even further, especially when it comes to Adsense. If you were to ask me last year what I think about Adsense, I would've told you to stay away. However, I'm pretty much in love with Adsense now.

 What is interesting is to look at How I'm making my money with Adsense. Of the $2,563.87, here is the distribution among the Ad Types:
  • Video – $1,768.55
  • Text – $434.44
  • Image – $145.03
  • Rich Media – $118.67
  • Flash – $65.95
  • Animated Image – $31.24
Notice anything interesting? Just look how much was made from Video Ads. That's 69% of all my Ad Revenue. What's the take home lesson? Video is POWERFUL, and makes a significant amount of money via advertising.
Now, just to give a good understanding of how many views resulted in that much money, I had 272,382 views, 207,065 of which were Monetizable according to my Youtube Statistics. This means that since my blog received 172,877 pageviews according to Google Analytics, a significant amount of those views were directly from people watching those videos on Youtube itself and not on my blog.


Seriously, if you're into online video, you have to be on youtube. Ok, you don't have to, but they are making it very attractive for content producers on Youtube. Trust me on that one.

Side note: Analysing my Adsense stats this month has shown me A LOT in terms of what works well for Adsense and what doesn't work as well – so much that I'm going to be doing a more detailed breakdown of my Adsense Report soon. I've learnt so many valuable lessons from it that I just HAVE TO share with you. I think I'll post that article next week.

Cassandre Beccai

As I mentioned in last month's report, we haven't started monetizing Cassandre's Blog as yet. We want to get it more established first and then we will add a monetization component. The plan is to create digital products and sell them from the blog. Stay tuned for more about this.

Interesting Opportunity

Speaking about video, I was approached by one of the Communications Managers from Youtube's Education team who informed me that they reviewed my videos and found that they were strong enough to add to their new Youtube EDU Collection of videos. If you haven't heard of Youtube EDU, it's youtube new attempt to bring together educators and learners to build a Global Video Classroom.

So they are taking a select number of education video producers and trying to help them build their education channels to reach a wider audience. In her own words – “We look forward to watching your channel grow, and working with you in future programs”.

Initially, I thought it was just some automated email that I received. However, when I replied to the email, I was responded to within minutes by the same individual. I can see that they are really trying to support us Education Video Producers.

As you can imagine, after getting that email, I had to do a little Leslie dance in my mind. Yes, I'm excited, but I always seem to be excited these days.

I'm looking forward to being involved in this effort, and can't wait to see the results of this new collaboration.

Key Performance Indicators

When I posted my last Monthly Transparency Report, I got an interesting comment from Debbie Burgermeister which went like this:

Great work Leslie,  it is a long detailed report which is nice. I suppose what I would be looking for as a business analyst is something like a KPI scorecard report all on the one table.

I was not sure what she meant, so I asked her to clarify. The result was a great suggestion, which I decided to implement from now on. In each of my Monthly transparency reports, I will be showing you tables that highlight the key aspects of my business so that you can easily glance at the table and get a good idea of where I am and how we're progressing.

Thank you for the suggestion Debbie, and here are my tables . . .

[table id=1 /]

[table id=2 /]

KPI Instructions:

  • You can click on the months in the table to go directly to the detailed transparency report for that month.
  • As I update these on a monthly basis, they will automatically update in each of the reports so that you can easily navigate through the reports.
  • If you'd like to sort the table by “Total Income” for example, you can click on the title of that column, and it will automatically sort it for you (this will come in handy in the future)
Hopefully you will find that arrangement valuable.

Plans For November

Ok, lets be real (not like I'm not always real). This month is a HUGE month for me. My wife and I are expecting our first child – little Noah. My life is about to get pretty interesting. To add to that, I'm coming down to the end of my teaching semester, and final exams are right around the corner.

Not only that – I'm also working on a FREE Video Training Series on Setting up your email Marketing Campaign. In fact, I recorded the first 4 of 10 videos this weekend (p.s. it's Gonna Be AWESOME).

That being said – I predict that November will be another month of Inaction when it comes to Interactive Biology. I just don't have the time to do anything with it this month. So, it's going to be interesting to see what will happen with my traffic during the month of November.

One thing's for sure – I will be sharing it with you. That's what I do, and that's how we both learn 🙂

My Concerns

Things are going great, but I'm interested to see how my traffic goes during the month of December. The reality is that MOST people come to my site because they have a specific pain point – they are trying to pass their classes.

That being said, my traffic goes down significantly during extended vacations, like Christmas, Spring and Summer breaks. It will be interesting to see how this affects my traffic during the Christmas season, now that my blog is pretty well established. I guess time will tell.

Your Comments

So how do you think I'm doing? What would you like to see me do better? I'd love to hear your feedback. Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Lastly, from the bottom of my heart – THANK YOU so much for all you do. You have no idea how much it means to me that you are reading this post right now, and that you are a part of this Become A Blogger community. You inspire me to keep going, because I believe that by doing what I'm doing, I can inspire you to create content that will inspire others, and that will result in positive change in this world we live in.


But WAIT, There's More 😉

Ok, this has nothing to do with the post, but I wanted to let you know that my wife and I are expecting our first child in 3 weeks. You probably already know that because of how excited I've been.

In celebration of little Noah's arrival, I'm doing a VERY SPECIAL promo where you can get 50% off all of my premium courses. If you're interested in taking advantage of that special offer, check out my announcement post.

About the Author Leslie Samuel

Leslie Samuel a business coach for high-performing entrepreneurs. As the host of the Leslie Samuel Show, he teaches how to build an online business. "Changing the world one post at a time” is the mission he strives towards. As a former university professor, he has a passion for education. He's the founder of Interactive Biology, a blog and YouTube channel dedicated to making biology fun for students and teachers. As the head of training for the Social Media Marketing Society, he helps social media marketers get the training they need to stay on the leading edge of social media.

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