Progress and Income Report 3: Simplifying and batching reviews

Reviews of Cool Stuff  (February 2017), Getting paid $13.23 to get $552.82 worth of cool stuff

Download a PDF version of this report

February was a break-out month for me as it was the first month I got paid to review stuff, instead of having to pay.  While I got a ton more stuff than in previous months I also spent less time reviewing, less time building my social following, and less time blogging about the process.  This is starting to really feel like a good idea.

  Goal TOT 2017
YouTube $1.23 $1.23 $200
Website Ads $0.50 $2.02 $100
Reviews $0.00 $30.00 $200
Costs $0.00 -$20.02 $500
Total $13.23 $1000

2017 Goals

My goals are two-fold with this site and experiment: 1) get free stuff that we can use, and 2) make money advertising and talking about being a social influencer.

  • Get $1000 worth of stuff (Tomoson products) – I’ve already accomplished this goal
  • Earn $1000 talking about the process
  • Have a social reach of 25,000 (15k Twitter, 10k Instagram, 500 YouTube, 200 Facebook)

I’m still not exactly sure what I’ll do to make money but expect some of it will come through ad venue for the website ($100) and YouTube ($200).  The rest will have to come from getting paid to review products and/or some kind of information product (e.g. ebook, influencer guide).

February Goals (and results)

I want to continue slowing things down on the Tomoson side (do less reviews) so that I can focus on doing things that make money (paid reviews, YouTube marketing, quality blog posts).  I still want to grow the social media channels but now that I’m well past 10k I feel I can be more discriminate and seek to add targeted followers instead of just the low-hanging fruit.  Other goals include:

  • Complete five product reviews and posts across social media – I did 12
  • Write January 2017 Progress and Income report – Yes
  • Create “How to get 5k followers on Twitter” blog post and YouTube video – Did video but haven’t written and posted on blog
  • Create “Getting Started with Tomoson” blog post and YouTube video – Nope
  • 500 website pageviews or $0.50 in ad revenue – 332 pageviews and $2.02 in ad revenue
  • 400 YouTube views or $1.00 in ad revenue – 425 views and $1.23 in revenue
  • Repurpose “How to get 5k” Instagram and Twitter blog posts as a PDF to use as a lead magnet for the email newsletter – Nope
  • Write table of contents for “How to become a social influencer” book – Nope

Tomoson Results

Summary. In February I realized I could ask for more time to complete reviews (I was doing them all in 10 days prior), and that I didn’t always have to do blog posts and YouTube videos.  So I applied for a ton of campaigns but only a handful that would require full reviews.  I also forgot that I could actually get paid to review, but I got my first paid review this month.  Wahoo! So I completed 25 campaigns but only did full reviews on half of them and got paid for one.  In total I got $552.82 worth of goods and had to pay $20.02 for them, but got paid $30.00 for a review and made $3.25 in ad revenue so I was actually cash flow positive with the first time, netting $13.23. The following are the numbers recorded on the Tomoson site and social media channels after month three.

Feb Goal Result Mar Goal 2017 Goal
Campaigns completed 5 25 5 50
Total Reach 12500 13,306 15,000 25,000
Average engagement 100 97 105 200
Facebook Followers 3 2 4 200
Twitter followers 7500 7616 9000 15000
Twitter engagement 4 2 4 25
Instagram followers 5500 5650 6250 10000
Instagram engagement 350 337 375 500
YouTube subscribers 40 36 42 500
YouTube engagement 25 23 27 100
YouTube views 400 425 500 10,000
Websites pageviews 500 332 500 10,000

Completed Campaigns (25)

Campaign Date reviewed Pic Only Retail value Price Paid
Beanie Women’s Knit Cap February 23 X $9.99 $1.00
Stainless Steel Mandolin Slicer February 23 $30.00 +$30.00
Window Cleaner Spray February 23 X $9.95 FREE
SafeBest Bike Lock, Combination February 23 X $12.99 $0.13
fUS Daily Supplement drink February 16 X $62.00 FREE
iTechor Portable bicycle pump February 16 X $17.99 $1.79
Fitness Tracker February 16 $59.99 $0.60
Ancord Mini Bluetooth Speaker February 16 $29.99 $0.30
Lumintrail U-lock bicycle lock February 16 $19.99 FREE
VT Mini Pumper Fire Truck February 15 $13.19 $2.64
Aiyabrush Electric Toothbrush February 15 X $39.98 FREE
Garcinia Cambogia Extract February 14 X $19.50 $0.75
Crossfit Jump Rope February 14 $18.36 $1.84
Supreme Play Fruits February 13 $6.95 $1.99
Mini Bluetooth Speaker February 12 X $17.99 $0.18
Small Bluetooth Speaker February 12 $17.99 $0.18
Gel Hot and Cold pack February 12 X $16.99 $0.16
Brieftons 5 Blade spiralizer February 12 X $27.99 FREE
Millionaire Training e-book February 10 $9.99 FREE
Plephartis Eye Mask February 10 X $9.99 $0.09
Beanie Grey Hat February 10 $11.99 $1.20
Coach Equipment February 9 X $16.50 $4.12
Fish Oil Supplement February 6 $19.97 FREE
Solaray Pro ZX-1 Flashlight February 5 $55.59 FREE
Garcinia Cambogia Supplement February 3 X $16.95 $3.05
TOTAL 13 Reviews     $552.82 $20.02
      +$30.00 $9.98

February 2017 (Month 3) Payment Results

Summary: After three months of negative cash flow, I finally made money in February (albeit only $13.23).  But I also got over $500 worth of free product and spent much less time working on reviews and the website this month.  I also reached most of my social goals and the brand is definitely growing.  Indeed, I need to shift gears and stop reviewing so much but start writing about the process and marketing my site and YouTube channel.

Revenue Source Payment
Payment for Tomoson products $22.02
Tomoson payments $30.00
Ad Revenue from website $1.23
Ad Revenue from YouTube $2.02
Information products NONE
Total $13.23

What Worked

Taking Pictures instead of doing full reviews.  I did so many review in January that I didn’t think I could keep up the pace in February.  I also had already done reviews for tons of the popular small stuff (e.g. bike supplies, kitchenware, random stuff) so I could stand to be more picky.  So I tried experimenting with the application for campaigns.  My regular process of applying for campaigns previously consisted of completing reviews and social posts across all mediums: my blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.  Taking and editing pictures and videos, writing blog posts, and posting the pictures and reviews across all channels would take me 1-2 hours per product.  However, by eliminating the blog and video I could simply take and post pictures, which would only take me 10-20 minutes per product.  So I tried applying for products with just Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  To my surprise and delight I continued to get accepted for many campaigns.  Indeed, with my growing social following I was accepted for 13 picture only reviews this month, nearly as many as the full reviews I got in months previous.

Batch Reviewing.  I also learned that I could set my completion date to more than 10 days (what I was doing previously).  I found that with a 10 day deadline sometimes the products wouldn’t arrive for 5-7 days forcing me to review products quickly once they arrived. With 13 picture only and 12 full reviews completed during the month I knew I’d need to have more time, so I set the completion deadline to 14-16 days.  This didn’t seem to be a problem (I kept getting offers accepted), which was great because it meant I didn’t need to review products right when they arrived.  Instead, I tried to batch the products together—taking pictures and videos of 5-7 products in one “session” (which would take less than an hour) on one day, and then editing, writing, and posting all the reviews on another day.  This further saved me time… I’ll estimate that I was spending about two hours per product in December, 1 ½ hours per product in January, and less than 30 minutes per product (averaged) in February.

What didn’t Work

YouTube and Facebook growth and engagement.  While I only spent about 30 minutes per product in February, with 25 products to review I spent a lot of time reviewing (about 2-3 hours per week).  While 3-5 hours is how much time I plan to dedicate to this site each week, if I’m spending most of that time reviewing then I have less time for gaining social followers, writing content about being a social influencer, and marketing whatever I create.  I believe the most important social media channels for getting paid reviews and building a quality audience is YouTube and Facebook, and I didn’t even try to grow those channels in February.  Hopefully by continuing to improve the reviewing process and being more picky about what I review, will free up time to grow these channels.    

New Goals (March 2017)

I want to continue slowing things down on the Tomoson side (do less reviews) so that I can focus on doing things that make money (paid reviews, YouTube marketing, quality blog posts).  Here are my March goals:

  • Complete five campaigns of pictures only products (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
  • Complete two campaigns with full reviews for PAID products
  • Write February 2017 Progress and Income report
  • Create “How to get 5k followers on Twitter” blog post
  • Create “Getting Started with Tomoson” blog post and YouTube video
  • Website: 500 page view or $2.50 in ad revenue, 1 newsletter subscriber
  • YouTube: 500 views or $1.50 in ad revenue, 42 subscribers
  • Repurpose “How to get 5k” Instagram and Twitter blog posts as a PDF to use as a lead magnet for the email newsletter
  • Write table of contents for “How to become a social influencer” book

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