Progress and Income Report 2: How to build a brand quickly and get free stuff

January 2017, Social influence does not necessarily equal quality followers

Download the PDF version of this report

My second month as a “social influencer” should probably be considered a success because I spent far less time on the site and reviewing products, yet the review requests kept coming in, so I got a lot of free (or heavily discounted) stuff.  I’m also getting better (e.g. more efficient) as a reviewer, starting to write about becoming a social influencer, and growing the brand.

  Revenue
  Goal TOT 2017
YouTube $0.10 ($0.16) $0.41 ($0.47) $200
Website Ads $0.25 ($0.28) $0.35 ($0.38) $100
Website products $0.00 $0.00 $200
External products $0.00 $0.00 $500
Total $1000

January 2017 Goals

In month two my primary objective was to continue growing and improving the brand in half the time/effort expended during my first month (Dec ’16). I focused on improving the site and adding additional content to the various social channels, while also seeking to grow my reach, albeit at a much slower pace. … Other goals included:

  • Complete five additional product reviews and post across social media – Check
  • Create additional blog posts and YouTube videos for three topics (income report, Instagram followers, Getting Started with Tomoson) – Partial (did first two)
  • 300 pageviews, $0.25 in ad revenue – Check (375 and $0.38)
  • Start an info-product that I’ll eventually be able to sale on the site – Nope
  • Start a valuable lead magnet that will get people on my newsletter list – Nope
  • Update/revise site logo and banner (and across all social media) – Check
  • Have one Instagram picture get 200+ likes- Check (discovered app that makes this easy)
  • Have one Twitter post get 10 likes- Nope

2017 Goals

I should note that in December I still hadn’t set any long-term (2017) goals, so I’ll explain a few of those here now that I’ve had some time to think about it.  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)
  • 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).

January Results (Tomoson)

Summary. In January I applied for only about one fourth the number of campaigns I applied for in my first month (103 vs. 400+), but was accepted for nearly double the offers (17 vs. 9).  So my acceptance rate shot up from about 2% to nearly 20%.  I am not exactly sure what contributed to this huge jump, but would guess it is a combination of 1) now having a track record on Tomoson of doing quality reviews, and 2) having a much better social reach (11k total followers).  Indeed, I’m guessing that getting over the 10k follower hump results in more offers awarded. The following are the numbers recorded on the Tomoson site and social media channels after month two (with totals in parenthesis).

Dec Jan Goal Result Feb Goal 2017 Goal
Tomoson campaigns accepted 9/410 (2.4%) 5% 17/103 (16.5%) 20% 50%
Campaigns completed 7 5 (12) 13 (20) 5 50
Total Reach 8038 10000 11236 12500 25,000
Average engagement 32 50 78 100 200
Facebook Likes/Followers 1 3 (4) 0 (1) 4 (5) 200
Twitter followers 4484 5500 6085 7500 15000
Twitter engagement 1 3 3 4 25
Instagram followers 3542 5000 5119 5500 10000
Instagram engagement 114 150 289 350 500
YouTube subscribers 11 35 31 40 500
YouTube engagement 11 15 22 25 100
YouTube views 75 150 (225) 299 (374) 400 (774) 10,000
Websites pageviews 194 300 (494) 291 (485) 500 (1000) 10,000

New Reviews (13)

Campaign Date reviewed Retail value Price Paid
WaterInJoy Swimming Goggles January 30 $24.95 $0.25
Microfiber Towel set January 29 $22.99 $3.99
SunShack 2L Sports Hydration backpack January 28 $16.99 $1.00
Stainless Steel Fishing Pliers January 28 $17.99 $0.18
Camping Sleeping Bag January 23 $39.99 $0.40
Night Provision BX-550 Bicycle Headlight January 23 $39.99 $0.40
Pokemon Go manual eBook January 23 $4.99 FREE
Night Provision BX-960 Bicycle headlight January 22 $49.95 FREE
EatSmart Precision Scale January 10 $39.95 FREE
Photoshop for Photgraphers ebook January 9 $4.99 FREE
Oak Leaf Christmas lights January 6 $13.89 FREE*
Squissors January 7 $24.99 $0.25
Summates Hiking Walking sticks January 4 $54.98 $0.55
TOTAL 13 Reviews   $356.64 $7.02

January 2017 (Month 2) Results

Revenue Source Payment
Payment for Tomoson products $7.02
Tomoson payments NONE
Ad Revenue from website $0.35
Ad Revenue from YouTube $0.41
Information products NONE
Total -$6.26

Summary: I’m still not making money, but I didn’t lose as much in my second month (only $6.26 after losing $32.80 in month one).  I also got nearly $400 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, even if it isn’t profitable yet.

What Worked

Improving look of website and social channels.  This only took an hour or two of my time, and updating the ROCS logo, banners, and backgrounds was well worth it.  I believe the site looks much more professional now (as do the social channels) and while that might not be directly responsible for more campaign offers, pageviews, and clicks… I believe that indirectly it is definitely making an impact.  I still need to fix the ad banner on the website, create a footer, and make a few other design tweaks, but there’s not too much more to do now.

Increasing followings on Twitter and Instagram.  After quite a bit of tinkering I think I came up with a pretty good way of getting social followers quickly.  I already posted “3 Ways to get Started with Tomoson while Building a Following in Twitter and Instagram: What I learned in my first week as a “social influencer” (December) and “How I got my first 5,000 Instagram followers in about a month (gaining 500-1k followers/week)”, and I plan to post a similar article and YouTube video for Twitter this month.  I believe that having 10k total followers is the biggest reason that my acceptance rate on campaigns jumped from 2% to 17%.  I’m now getting more offers than I can handle, but not the awesome (e.g. we’ll pay you to review) offers.  Now that I’m well past 10k total followers I will be shifting gears and looking to get “targeted followers.”

Becoming more picky on Tomoson.  With the massive increase in accepted campaigns (and with Christmas long gone) I feel I can afford to be more picky with which and how many offers I apply for.  One thing I didn’t realize early on is that when you click on the offers you can actually edit which social media channels you’re willing to post to (I previously thought you had to post to all).  So I’ve started unselecting blog posts and YouTube videos (the two most time intensive posts) for all of the things that would be cool to have but I don’t really need.  As a result I’m getting free stuff that I can shoot a few pictures of and post to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in five minutes, instead of taking an hour plus to write a blog post and post to YouTube.

What didn’t Work

Posting a tutorial on how to get Instagram Followers.  I created a pretty killer post on “How I got my first 5,000 Instagram followers in about a month (gaining 500-1k followers/week)”, but that post resulted in only one penny in YouTube revenue and 50 or so pageviews.  Because I don’t have engaged followers my best stuff isn’t getting read, so obviously I need to change tactics in sharing my brand.  I did post the article to Reddit which resulted in about half the traffic to the site and YouTube channel.  I’ll continue to post there in the future but should also probably look for a few good forums where I can post these types of articles.  I also believe that once the YouTube channel has at least 3-4 good articles on growing your social media channels that viewers will start to view multiple videos, subscribe, and watch the new ones I create.  So I need to create more and better content and then market it.  Lesson learned: it’s not enough just to create good content.

Getting paid to play (write reviews).  Part of the reason I started doing reviews is because of the potential of getting paid to write reviews for high end products and/or for working as an affiliate.  In January I did have three different companies invite me into their affiliate programs, and I posted affiliate links on my video and blog reviews.  But because I get virtually no traffic no one is clicking on those links.  Indeed, I’ve even stopped posting Amazon affiliate links for that same reason—no use in taking an extra few minutes per post to set up affiliate links if there is no one to click on those links. Lesson learned: Create good content and then drive traffic to the site, THEN look into affiliate programs.

New Goals (February 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).  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
  • Write January 2017 Progress and Income report
  • Create “How to get 5k followers on Twitter” blog post and YouTube video
  • Create “Getting Started with Tomoson” blog post and YouTube video
  • 500 website pageviews or $0.50 in ad revenue
  • 400 YouTube views or $1.00 in ad revenue
  • 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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