How to earn nine cents in a month doing product reviews: Progress and Income Report 01

Reviews of Cool Stuff – Progress and Income Report 01 – for December 2016

I’m actually pretty excited to write up and publish this first progress report, because to be honest I’m not sure if my first month was a success or not.  I know I was able to create my site and social media channels, and that I was able to review quite a few things… but I had to pay for several of those things and while I have some social following, I don’t have much engagement yet.

So, here’s what I did last month…

I created the website www.reviewsofcoolstuff.com and set up social media channels (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) to support the site.  I spent the first two weeks of the month attracting a social following and the last two weeks of the month doing reviews and posting them to my various channels.  Although I didn’t set any explicit goals I had hoped to get 10 things for free (or super cheap) in my first month so that I could use them for Christmas presents.  I ended pretty close to that.  I also had the goal to spend no more than 1 hour a day and 5 hours per week working on the site.  I kept pretty close to that, maybe going a little over as I followed people at night when I was relaxing.

Here are some of my relevant stats in social media for the month:

December 2016 Ave. Engagement Total
Total Reach 8038 32 8038
Facebook likes 1 0 1
YouTube subscribers 11 11 11
Twitter followers 4484 3 4484
Instagram 3542 114 3542

And here is how it converted to offers/deals on Tomoson:

Dec. Review Retail Value Price Paid
Freebies
Oak Leaf Christmas Lights X $13.89 $0.00
Deals
Cel-lab Activity Tracker Band X $29.99 $9.00
Alisten Bike Cell phone holder X $19.99 $0.20
AquaDance shower head X $17.99 $9.00
5-in-1 Ultrasonic Pest Repeller X $39.95 $1.00
Techno Triple Torch lighter X $9.99 $0.10
Cozia Ski Goggles and Balaclava X $59.84 $0.60
Total offers (all campaigns) 7 $191.64 $19.90

I actually applied for 455 total offers on Tomoson and was awarded 11 for a conversion rate of just 2.4%.  I also had one person contact me via Instagram so I was awarded 12 total items in my first month and completed reviews for seven of them.  I will do the review for the headphones in the next day or two… so I should have had eight total reviews done in my first month, pretty good I think.  All of the “deals” I received were “deals”—meaning that I had to fork over some money for them.  The one freebie I got also required me to pay, they put the money in escrow and I assume it’ll be refunded now that I’ve done the reviews.  Of the five deals I’m waiting to arrive three of those I didn’t have to pay a cent for, and I didn’t have to pay for the Instagram headphones.  Oh yeah, I also applied for a necklace on Tomoson, they emailed me a coupon code and it looks like the reviews won’t show up in Tomoson… so I actually received 13 offers in the first month.

Christmas is now over so things should calm down considerably.  I can focus for the next few months on slowly growing my social, being more picky about what offers I apply for, and in doing higher quality reviews.  Of course the biggest priority moving forward will be marketing my site so that I can gain subscribers and regular readers/watchers.

In December I had 86 page views to my site (probably half of those were me) and ? unique visitors.  I had zero ad clicks and the total revenue was $0.03.

In total for the month I spent $19.90 for products and $12.99 for a domain name for a total expense line of $32.89.  While I got nearly $200 worth of product, none of that made me any money (no paid reviews), so my total income for the month was three cents from the website and six cents from YouTube = $0.09 total for the month.

Balance for December 2017: -$32.80

The following are the specific numbers and goals for my website and for each of my social media channels.

www.ReviewsOfCoolStuff.com

Monthly summary: This first month was all about simply setting up the site and social media channels without spending too much time and money.

I purchased the domain name for $12.99 on GoDaddy and used my pre-existing shared hosting account to host the site (saving my considerable money by not having to purchase).

I designed a very simply and clean logo and banner and plastered them across my site and social media accounts.  I applied a theme that I had already purchased for some of my other sites (again, saving me money) and added a few Google Adsense ads.

My first few posts were about the site and getting started and then my last several posts have been actual reviews.  Moving forward I hope to follow a similar pattern and start the month with an income report.  The next week I’ll post an article about growing a social media channel (it’ll be Instagram next week).  After that I’ll do a post about a reviewing site (e.g. Tomoson), and the final week will be as many reviews as I can post.  I expect I’ll have to do a few other reviews during the month, so I’m probably looking at 6-8 posts per month.

In December the site had 194 total pageviews and with my first review post being the most viewed with 19 pageviews.  There were 48 total readers from 19 different countries, but with the vast majority coming from the U.S.  57% of traffic came from social media, 38% were direct views, and 5% were referred (almost all of those were referred through social media). Of the social traffic 42% came through Facebook (despite only one like), 33% came through Twitter, and 25% came through Instagram.  So while Instagram was great for getting me new offers, it didn’t work so well for moving traffic to the website.

Goals for January 2017:

  • Publish income report
  • Publish article about growing an Instagram following
  • Publish an article about using Tomoson
  • Post five reviews
  • Market the site and generate 500 pageviews and $0.25 ad revenue
  • Start an info-product that I’ll eventually be able to sale on the site
  • Start a valuable lead magnet that will get people on my newsletter list

YouTube

December 2016 Total
New Videos 8 8
Views 74 74
Watch time 92 minutes 92 minutes
Average view duration 1:14 1:14
Likes 3 3
Dislikes 0 0
Comments 2 2
Shares 10 10
Subscribers 11 11
Estimated revenue $0.06 $0.06

So I created a YouTube channel, threw up some channel art, and posted my first seven reviews.  I also created one video about the reviewing process.

I spent one day trying to get subscribers by going to a video called something like “subscribe for subscribe” and subscribed to a bunch of people in the comment section.  Apparently that works because I got 10 followers, so maybe I’ll do more of that until my channel starts to generate its own traffic.

Goals for January 2017:

  • Improve the branding for the channel (banner and logo)
  • Add 25 subscribers (35 total)
  • Get 150 more views (225 total)
  • Earn $0.10

Instagram

December 2016 Total
New posts 7 7
New Followers 3540 3540
Most liked 145 145
Average engagement 107 107

I created a new Instagram channel, threw up the same basic logo and banner as I have on my other social channels, and started posting pictures.  I spent a few days “following” as many people as I could search for “f4f” or “l4l” (follow for follow, like for like).  I probably spent 4-5 hours total and added 7500 people, about half of which followed back.  I was surprised how easy it was to get Instagram followers, quite a bit easier than twitter. I also installed an “unfollow all” app for my phone which allows me to delete about 250 unfollowers per day in about 5 minutes.  My goal moving forward is to add 1-2k new followers each Monday (it’ll probably take an hour) and delete 250 each day for the rest of the week.

I also put up seven pictures this month and was surprised how “liked” they were.  I found that adding to followers right after posting a new pictures is a good idea as many of those that “follow back” will also like your most recent picture or two.  I also downloaded the desktop app Gramblr which pretty much gives you 75 free likes per new post (at least it did for the 2-3 that I uploaded using that service).  I like the app because it allows me to upload from my computer instead of my phone so I can use pictures I took with an actual camera.

The coolest thing about Instagram is that I actually got messaged this month by the owner of a company who requested I do a review in exchange for Instagram and other social mentions (similar to Tomoson, but without Tomoson).  I got my coolest product of the month—bluetooth sports headphones—with a retail value of $180 for free.  I’m posting the pictures and reviews for the headphones today.  So Instagram didn’t earn me any money but it helped me land one awesome product and probably was the biggest reason for offers for several others in Tomoson.

Goals for January 2017:

  • Post 5 new pictures
  • Have one picture get 200+ likes
  • Add another 2500 followers (6000 total)

Twitter

December 2016 Total
New tweets 32 32
New Followers 4484 4484
Most liked 7 7
Average engagement 3 3

So this month I created a Twitter account and threw up the same boring banner and logo.  Early in the month I followed as many people as I could using the same strategy as I utilized for Twitter (e.g. f4f).  Twitter got more followers faster than Instagram, but the engagement level isn’t nearly as high (most posts only get 2-3 likes and almost no shares).  And Twitter has a cap at 5k followers so now that I’m close to that I have to regularly delete my unfollowers in order to add more.  I think it will be much slower growth this month.

I think that getting up to 10k followers will be good to show I have a social following, but it won’t be until my YouTube and other channels pick up, and when I have enough quality content to entice genuine followers that this social channel will be beneficial for me.  Twitter is the ultimate vanity metric and I do hope to eventually get a lot of followers, but it’s a pretty low priority now that I’ve already got things started.

Goals for January 2017:

  • Add 1500 more followers (up to 6000 total).
  • Have one post get 10 likes
  • Increase average engagement to 4

And that’s it.  I didn’t include Facebook and a few other things… mostly because I’m trying to stick to my “one hour per day” rule and I ran out of time.  The formatting on this post is pretty crappy, so I’ll link a PDF of the word document I created.

If you have any feedback about this progress/income report I would love to hear it.  What did you like or find interesting?  What do you wish I hadn’t included?  Any and all comments and questions are welcome in the comment section below.  Cheers.

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