From $0 to $100K: A Year in Review – 2017 (Working Parent Side Hustle Challenge)

It’s been a long time since we shared our last update, but as 2017 comes to an end and we embark on a new year, we thought it was time to write another update.

Most importantly,  we want to look back on the goals from 2017 and set new goals for 2018.

In many ways, 2017 was a highly successful year.  In other ways…well, we failed. Somewhat.

But it’s okay. With a new year comes a new opportunity to set goals and accomplish them. I’d much prefer we set 10 goals and only accomplish 6 of them than not set any and not accomplish as much. 🙂

So, without further ado, let’s get right into the 2017 recap.

Reflecting on 2017

When we first started this challenge, we set the super ambitious goal of earning $100,000+ per year from “side hustles.” This really evolved into focusing on one primary side hustle: building the Cynical Parent brand, which right now is a mix of blogging and social media (Instagram, primarily).

We had some secondary side hustles planned, like doing online surveys, freelance writing, and other things, but quickly realized that we weren’t going to get anywhere if we didn’t narrow our focus.

It’s not to say that we won’t eventually get to some other things.  In fact, we’d love to nothing more than to have multiple side hustle income streams in case one or more of them disappear.  But the reality is, we need to stay focused on one thing until we see some significant accomplishments.

Goal #1: Income

Let’s just start with the big one.  While our overall goal is $100K/year, our goal for 2017 was something much more achievable: get to a pace of $1,000 per month.

This was a pretty ambitious goal given that we didn’t even crack $100 in April.

Unfortunately, we fell short of this goal, but there were bright spots that gave us reason to be optimistic.  Halfway through November, we added display ads to our blog, which resulted in a huge increase in revenue.

This happened to be at a time when our traffic was spiking (we’ll talk more about this below) and ad revenue was at its peak due to the holiday shopping season.

In about half a month we earned $433 in ad revenue, along with $297 in revenue from Amazon affiliate links.   This was a total of $730, but had we implemented ads at the start of November, I’m pretty confident we would have cracked the $1,000 mark for the month.

So, in some ways, I feel like we accomplished our $1,000/month pace, but we can’t actually say we did it, since we didn’t earn $1,000 in any single month.

Unfortunately, December saw a dip in traffic along with the quietest time of year for this type of blog (right around Christmas and immediately after, people stop buying), leaving us with a December income total of about $675.

All in all, we made some great strides over the course of the year.  Even if we technically failed on this goal, we still feel pretty accomplished.

Goal #2: Traffic

Our traffic goal was pretty straightforward: get to an average of 1,000 pageviews per day (or 30,000/month).

We crushed this goal, thanks to a couple of high performing pins on Pinterest.

Here’s a look at our monthly pageviews for the year:

Here are the daily pageviews across November and December:

We had a few big spikes, along with some pretty large dips around the holidays, but overall we easily achieved 1,000 page views per day.

Goal #3: Social Media 

Our big focus here was building our Instagram following, with a goal of 10,000 followers by the end of the year.

We crushed this goal as well, hitting over 13,000 followers by the end of the year.

One thing we didn’t experiment too much with yet is sponsored posts, but we hope to get into this a bit more in 2018 as our following continues to grow.

Although we didn’t set goals or focus much on other social media platforms, we saw some decent gains on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest:

Facebook: 560 likes

Pinterest: 580 followers

Twitter: 1,500 followers

Our Bold (and Scary) Goals for 2018

Setting new goals is exciting but also a little bit daunting and scary. We want to make some big jumps in 2018, so here goes nothing…

Goal #1: $3,000/month income pace

We didn’t quite get to $1,000/month in 2017, so a goal of three times that amount is ambitious.

However, I tend to find that income jumps are not linear.  The jump from $0 to $1,000 is a lot harder than the jump from $1,000 to $2,000, and likewise, the jump from $2,000 to $3,000 should be even easier.

With that said, this won’t be easy.  It’s going to require a structured plan and a lot of hard work, helped along by the remaining goals below.

Goal #2a: Traffic of 6,000 pageviews per day (or 180,000 per month)

To get to $3,000/month in income, I expect we’ll need around 5,000-6,000 pageviews per day, so I’m picking the higher number as our goal.

In addition to just having a lot more traffic, I think we need to do a better job with our organic traffic (i.e. traffic from Google), which brings me to goal 2b:

Goal #2b: Organic traffic of 1,000 visits per day (or 30,000 per month)

Right now, traffic from Google averages around 100 visits per day, or just below 10% of our overall traffic.  We’d like to grow that to around 15-20% at least, so we’re setting the goal of 1,000 visits per day, which should get us to 15-20% of our page view goal.

To hit our overall traffic goal, however, we’re going to need a lot more content and a lot more social media sharing to get there, which brings us to our next two goals…

Goal #3: Publish 100 new blog posts

We didn’t have a strict goal for this in 2017, but our pace was around 4 blog posts a month, or 50 for the year.  We’re looking to double that.

To do this, we will probably need to outsource some of the writing. We’ve already started doing this with a great writer who is a mother of a toddler and soon-to-be mother of two; she has a lot of great perspectives on parenting that are a perfect fit with ours.

We may be looking for another writer who has similar parenting experience, so feel free to contact us if that’s you or you know of someone.

Goal #4: Continue growing social media (see below for specifics)

Pinterest has been a tremendous traffic source for us thus far, so we want to continue growing our following there while adding some additional focus on Facebook.

Twitter is OK – we’ll continue using it but it won’t be a focus.

Instagram hasn’t been a big source of traffic, but as we grow our following, we plan to use linked stories to drive additional traffic to the blog.

Here are our social media goals for 2018:

  • Instagram: 30,000 followers (we added around 13,000 followers in 2017, so this is a stretch goal to more than double our current followers)
  • Facebook: 2,000 likes (we currently have a little over 500, so we’re looking to 4x the amount in 2018)
  • Pinterest: 5,000 followers (following is currently around 600, so we are looking for a big jump here)

How we’ll execute on these goals

It’s one thing to set goals, but it’s another to actually plan out how you’re going to accomplish them.

We don’t have this completely worked out yet, but here are some bite-sized ideas:

1) Publish 2-3 posts per week – This is essentially what needs to happen to hit 100 blog posts for the year.  It’s not going to be easy when it currently takes us about a week to do one post.  This will very likely involve hiring another writer.

2) Spend 10 minutes per day interacting on Instagram – The best way to grow an Instagram following is to interact with other people so that they find your profile and follow you.  This involves commenting and liking other people’s photos as well as following people.

If we make an effort to spend at least 10 minutes per day on this (something we only do sparingly right now), it will go a long way toward accomplishing our Instagram goal.

3) Start a “Like” campaign on Facebook – Yes, this is essentially buying likes because it requires us to spend money, but I think it can be a good way to quickly get exposure in your niche and gain followers.  Once you have a base following, your posts are shared by more people which results in more followers.

4) Spend 10 minutes per day re-pinning other people’s pins – This seems to be one good way to increase your following, so it’s something we want to focus more on doing. We do it now, but it’s random and definitely not daily.  This will be a mix of manual pinning and scheduling pins on Tailwind.

5) Complete one SEO-related activity per month – This is pretty open-ended right now, but might include things like guest posts, round-ups, or other strategies for building links to this site.

If we can execute the above activities, they should naturally lead to more traffic and higher earnings.  We may do a more detailed post on these items in the future, but for now, that’s our bite-sized plan. 🙂

That’s it for our 2017 recap and 2018 goals! How was your 2017? What are some of your 2018 goals? Leave a comment below!

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