blog report

How I Lost $108 Hosting A Spectacular Event

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Since we started the blog, we knew that we wanted to keep a monthly report a huge part of the process. Thrive Lounge is all about setting big goals and reaching towards them so from the first blog post we knew that we'd create monthly reports. It would be both  a great way to stay consistent with our goal-focused brand and also keep track of how we’re growing our blog over time.

In reading other blog reports, I am always excited about the different ways other people are able to make money with blogging and I always learn more from what others are doing. I hope this blog report helps others in the same way by showing  a detailed break down of the blog income, expenses and traffic. Where we can, we'll also let you know how much time (blood, sweat and tears) went into it all. :) 

So let's get started...

 

September 2017
(11 Months of Blogging)

 

At the end of this month, we hosted an event Visualize Your Victory in Washington, DC. (This is my hometown so I love connecting with my audience in person here.)

Every month we host an event is like drinking water from a fire hose. The entire month, I felt like I was drowning in social media marketing, strategy, coordinating with speakers, sponsors, food and endless emails to my event planner. My brain felt completely underwater and I could only hope that this event was going to be as amazing as it was in my head.

So, how did we do on our September goals?

 

THE RECAP - SEPTEMBER GOALS:

  • Make Visualize Your Victory a huge success!

 

MAKE VISUALIZE YOUR VICTORY A HUGE SUCCESS

The first step in  creating a huge success is to define what success will look like. That way you have a benchmark for whether or not you hit that goal. For this event, the goal was to have a full house of women impecably dressed like the person they want to become in 5 years, great speakers that would inspire women to reach for more in their personal and professional life and create an elite + supportive environment that owuld give women a VIP experience, but still allow them to feel comfortable sharing their stories.

On this measure, we definitely accomplished that goal. Women walked in wearing some of the most fab dresses and heels for days looking like they could give A-List celebs a run for their money. (Seriously, women were SLAYING the red carpet - check out the images here.) I learned so much about what people really wanted, whether it was to become an author, reach more women, gain a wider reach for their story, women are making a huge impact on the world around them and had big goals to do more. At the end of the event, we received great feedback in how people loved the intimate conversions and the keynote speaker. The event turned out better than I thought it would've in my head... and I couldn't have been more proud.

Expenses

  • Event Planner - $500
  • Venue Fees - $400
  • Drinks - $50
  • Team Gifts- $100
  • Marketing  - $35
  • Event Signage and Decor - $175

Total Expenses: $1,260

 

The Breakdown:

Event planner: I wanted to work with an event planner because this was my first solo large event and I wanted to make sure I had a professional on my side. In hindsight, I should’ve hired someone just for consultation when I am proving a concept. I had no idea whether this layout for the event was something people would pay for so I started off in a hole before I even got started.

Venue fees & Drinks: Well, you need a venue if you’re going to host an event. And you can’t have thirsty guests.

Team Gifts: I didn’t intend on spending this, but when a member of your team comes through, you should always show your appreciation. These are concrete #BossRules because #LeadersEatLast (period).

Marketing: I tried my hand at some Facebook marketing.

Event Signage & Decor: We really wanted to create an elegant experience for guests and the cost in this area was completely necessary. This covered the red carpet, stallions and the gorgeous sign that greeted people on their way in.
 

 

Income

  • Ticket Sales - $772
  • Sponsorships - $380

The Breakdown

Ticket Sales: This is self explanatory, but encompasses our super-early-bird, early bird pricing, a few email-only discounts and our regular priced tickets.

Sponsorships: We had several sponsors that helped to cover food costs or provide giveaways to attendees.
 

Total Income: $1,152

 

Total Event Net Revenue: -$108

 

Yes, you totally read that right. This month, I’m sharing how I worked over 100 hours to put an event together, created a banging marketing plan, got together amazing speakers and hosted a fab event - and paid money to do it.

My friends and I always talk about how down right annoying it is when you see a packed event or when you see someone with millions of followers they never talk about how they got there and definitely don't share the numbers behind it. I want to start the trend in being totally clear about my wins and fails.

 

Blog Traffic + Email List
 

PAGE VIEWS:

  • Last Month: 3,147
  • This Month: 2,979 (5% drop from last month)


 

EMAIL LIST:

  • Last Month: 748
  • This Month: 986 (32% gain from last month)

 

TOP TRAFFIC SOURCES:

64% SOCIAL MEDIA

  • 87% Pinterest
  • 7% Instagram
  • 6% Facebook
  • <1% Twitter

29% DIRECT LINK
6% ORGANIC SEARCH
1% CAME FROM RANDOM PLACES ON THE INTERWEBS


 

TOP PAGES VISITED THIS MONTH:

 

Now that we've been working on the site for almost a year (and tracking our progress the entire time), it's easy to see the clear winner in where our site traffic is coming from. Even though I have a Master's in Analytics, you don't really need it to see that Pinterest is straight dominating our other social media platforms! The best thing about it is that we don't have to invest a ton of time into marketing on Pinterest to get this traffic! A few months ago, we decided to stop working on our other social media accounts all together, only using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for connecting with people, but doing the majority of our social media activity on Pinterest.
 

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EMAIL LIST:

In April 2017, we made the switch from Mailchimp to ConvertKit for our email service and this completely skyrocketed our email list. Convertkit makes it incredibly easy to send freebies to your audience and create automations like the one I use for the 5-day vision challenge.

On top of that, the web forms are completely customizable so it matches the rest of my site. I place a popup form and another form at the bottom of the page to give away a freebie that is an add-on to the content. This makes it easy for people that enjoy my content to get an upgrade and it helps me easily keep in contact with them over time.

Here's a look into how our email collection has grown since switching over to ConvertKit:

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We expected our email list growth to slow a bit in September because we were focused on sending traffic to the ticket sales landing page instead of creating a lot of new blog content. 

Another huge contributor to our email list growth has been our two meetup groups, located in Washington, DC. We host two meetup groups that service content creators, My IG is LIT and District Content Creator Collective. These groups allow up to connect with our target audience on a personal level to understand what their goals are - this gives us the insider scoop to be able to product things and create content that best fits their needs.


 

SOCIAL MEDIA

We were originally tracking our Facebook following, but after blogging + social media sharing for the past few months, we've realized that our target audience (at least locally) is on Instagram. This is where we meet local people who are movers + shakers and that's where we've chosen to have our fun conversations with friends and connect. So, it's no surprise we've stopped tracking our Facebook following (a platform we don't really use to connect) and started tracking our Instagram following. :)

This month, we saw a nice bump in followers on Instagram because of the event. With all of the DC local influencers showing up and being highly engaged on social media, we had a large group of people follow us on the day of the event and afterwards as people started sharing their fab rooftop pics.

 

GOALS FOR NEXT MONTH:

  • Take personal time off. (After hosting that event, I moved to NY! I'm pooped! I'm planning on a little me-time.)

  • Write first book to launch on Nov 1st. (Update: The book is launched! Check it out here.)

 

WHAT I LEARNED:

Quite simply, I learned to follow my crazy ideas. While I didn’t break even on this event, I was able to build better relationships with some of the influencers in the city and connect one-on-one with some of the people that I only chat with online. This is invaluable in-person connection and learning. (Meeting with all of those people one on one for dinner would’ve cost me much more than 100 bucks!) I also created new fans and followers for the brand.

Most important for my growth, I learned that this type of event is something that people will pay for (aka. I validated the concept) and got some great feedback on how to create it differently in the future. You can only get these things when you venture to try something new.

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May 2017 Blog Goals + Traffic Report: Defining My Version Of Success

May was a month of celebration with family and friends graduating from various high schools and colleges and my first Ruth B concert with my daughter (seriously guys, if you haven't checked this girl out, you're missing out on life). I even made it out to Preakness for the first time in life - for the experience of a lifetime (like, open bar unlimited steak and crabcakes... I wasn't ready.) Summertime brings out the sun, the good weather, the cookouts and the celebrations and in the midst of all that, I had a difficult time reaching my goals. #obvi

In my defense, I spent a lot of time community building (at least that's my rationalization for taking all this time off :). Here's the goals I set for this month - and once I get into how I did on these goals, don't judge me. 

THE RECAP - May GOALS:

- Start LIVE Interview Series
- Create Sponsorship Materials
- Reach Out To Potential Conference Sponsors

Start LIVE Interview Series

This month, I created a LIVE show called Office Hours, where I interview successful women who are building profitable blogs + businesses and thriving in their careers. I want Thrive Lounge to be a success accelerator for women with drive like you. :-) Last month, I did some interesting interviews including: How To Take The Leap Into Entrepreneurship Full Time and How To Monetize Your Passion With Affiliate Marketing. (Follow Thrive Lounge here to make sure you get weekly updates on our latest Office Hours interviews.)

Create Sponsorship Materials

OK. I'm going to be honest with you ladies (and the few brave men that read this pink-covered website with confidence), I have EVERY TOOL THAT I NEED to create my sponsorship materials, but I haven't done it yet. I am getting comfortable with the idea that there's no way I will always accomplish all of my goals all the time, but that doesn't mean this goal goes away all together. I'll be putting this goal back on the table for next month and by the end of the month, I'll have a link to the finalized deck share with you all. (I promise :)

Reach Out To Potential Conference Sponsors

This was one goal that we did not reach at all.... like no where close. While I do have a nice list queued up and ready to go, I realized after taking Stacey's Sponsorship course last month that there were a lot of things I didn't have in place before reaching out to the big brands.  I'll need to make sure I come correct from a legal standpoint before I move forward on that, but I'm making progress towards those goals as well. 

Page Views:

Last Month: 436 Total Page Views
Goal: none set
Actual: 633 (45% growth)

Email List:

Last Month: 315 Total Email List Subscribers
Goal: none set
Actual: 348 (10% growth)

633 Page views, 326 Facebook Likes, 348 Email List

TOP TRAFFIC SOURCES:

42% Social media

- 58% comes from Facebook
- 36% Pinterest
- 5% Twitter
- 2% Instagram

39% Direct link
16% ORGANIC SEARCH
7% CAME FROM RANDOM PLACES ON THE INTERWEBS

TOP PAGES VISITED THIS MONTH:

- So, You've Created A Vision Board, Now What? (This post has been getting some good press on Pinterest! woot woot!)
- 5 Day Vision Challenge
- Events
- Mid-Year Check-In Brunch

EMAIL LIST:

The meetup group is still serving the email list growth very well (so well that we're thinking about starting a second meetup group). In the past month, we've been able to meet millennial women creators in person and have great conversations about their goals throughout the year. It's also a great way to help you put a face and personality to your brand's personas.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Believe it or not, social media is not one of our goals this year. Instead, we're focusing on building our email list. The thinking behind this is that we do not own our followers on social media (ie. Facebook can change their algorithm whenever they want and they decide what followers see each post), but we do own our email list.  While we continue to track our following here, it's just to have full transparency. However, rest assured, if we have a random jump, we'll be sure to let you know why!

If you want to know how we got to our first 200 followers, take a look at our first month of blogging recap post.

WHAT ELSE HAPPENED THIS MONTH:

I'm teaming up with the Branding Boss Masterclass in collaboration with Starlight Social and Cristy Batta Designs. (If you want to learn how to create amazing brand visuals, build your brand online and create systems to put your branding on autopilot, register here.)

I was selected as a speaker for Blogger Week UnConference in Washington, DC this August. I'm super excited to be giving a talk on how to create a BHAV (Big Hairy Audacious Vision) for your blog. I was a panelist at this conference two years ago and they do an amazing job at selecting premium speakers so I'm honored to be selected to join the amazing speaker lineup.

- Fill the branding boss masterclass and have a successful event!   
- Create Sponsorship Deck (like, for real this time)
- Research Speakers for VisionCon 2017 (We won't be doing a call for speakers, but if you want to make my research easier, shoot me a note and let me know you're interested. #TIA) 

WHAT WE LEARNED:

I'm quickly learning the summer time is going to be a struggle to stay focused on Thrive Lounge. I'm not going to lie, ya'll. I LOVE building Thrive Lounge, but I seriously love being outside in the summer sun. (Last week, I even took my computer down to to the Washington Harbor just so I can work and be on the water at the same time. #TheStruggle) I'm learning that my business will have seasons - because I'm not willing to give up living life to it's fullest. #TradeOffs

But now that I know that, I can make sure I'm laser focused on producing amazing things in the winter because that's when I want to be in the house and I have no interest in being social (I love ya'll but I really do hate the cold #SorryNotSorry). 

This month, I learned that I get to define what success looks like for me - and that's building a community - on my own terms and on my own time. In my mind, I'm already successful. #Winning

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