It’s time for me to unveil December 2017’s monthly report.
If this is the first time you are reading my monthly report, just know that this is how I document the work I did to grow this travel website that you are reading right now.
I would like to invite you to come along and join my journey.
In these reports, which I started doing since August 2016, you will find the amount of money this site generates, how much I am spending to build it up, as well as the lessons I learned along the way.
From the title, you already know this month is a very good month for kuaby, so I won’t keep the suspense any longer.
Let’s dive straight into what happened in December.
- 1 What Happened in December?
- 2 Upcoming Highlights
- 3 Content Production Update
- 4 Profit and Loss Statement
- 5 Traffic Update
- 6 Revenue per 1,000 Impressions (RPM)
- 7 Community Update
- 8 2018 Will be Epic
What Happened in December?
If you read the entire November 2017 monthly report, you will know that it was well within my expectation that December will be a good month.
However, unlike last year, I didn’t rest my laurels this time.
I continued to write, put up content, and plan for ways that will help kuaby grow even faster next year. As a result, a lot of actions took place.
Holiday Seasons are Good for Travel Sites
It’s only about two years ago since I started kuaby, but it is long enough for me to know that all the numbers will shoot up towards the end of the year.
All over the world, people will start to plan their vacations for the holiday season.
The same is with Malaysia. Schools over here have a year-end holiday of slightly more than a month, so parents usually take this opportunity to bring their children for a trip somewhere.
As a result, travel sites like kuaby will experience a spike in traffic and revenue this time of the year.
I want to highlight this, so you are well aware of the nature of this niche before I go into the numbers much later.
Progress Update on Instagram Experiment
Last month, I mentioned I will start experimenting with Instagram as part of my effort to diversify kuaby’s traffic sources.
The following is the process I use for this experiment:
- Scour location tag of attractions covered on kuaby.
- Reach out to Instagram profiles with beautiful photos of the attractions.
- Get permission from the profiles to reshare their photos.
- Reshare the photos with credits and appropriate hashtags.
- Rinse and repeat.
Out of the 10,733 unique visitors that came to kuaby, 15 came directly through Instagram or through the link shortening service that I am using, Linktree.
At the same time, kuaby’s Instagram account now has 721 followers versus 500 followers that it had before the start of the December.
I will keep running the experiment because it is showing promising follower count growth.
As for traffic, I doubt I will get any significant number of visitors from Instagram until I’ve built a sizable amount of followers.
Production of Pocket Travel Guides
After I kickstarted the Instagram experiment, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I need to share photos of attractions from around the world, not just those from Kuala Lumpur, in order to speed up the follower growth of the account.
On top of that, writing long content pieces with more than 3,000 words is creating a bottleneck in my content production queue, because they take me weeks to edit.
As such, starting from January, I will only have one article with more than 3,000 words in my content production queue at any point in time.
Until the completion of the long article, I will only be producing shorter travel guides for attractions around the world.
These shorter guides, which I will be referring to as pocket travel guides, will cover any attraction that I think will get high engagement on Instagram.
People use Instagram to get inspiration on where to travel next. My assumption is that people will want to learn more about attractions that they discovered on the platform.
Thus, when I am sharing photos of attractions from all over the world, I can then point my followers to the relevant pocket travel guide that will tell them more about the place.
For example, if I am sharing a photo of Taipei 101 on kuaby’s Instagram account, I will have a link in the Instagram bio pointing to the corresponding pocket travel guide of the iconic tower on the website.
Let’s see if this will speed up the growth of kuaby’s follower count on Instagram.
As usual, I try not to plan too much because I am operating at a capacity that is close to my maximum.
There is nothing bad about that because I will then be able to work on things that truly matter for kuaby’s growth.
Clearing My Content Production Pipeline
As you will find out from the Content Production Update section later in this report, I was able to put out three completed content pieces in December.
There are still 9 of them in the pipeline, though.
In January, I will be exploring ways to clear up my content production pipeline. Ideally, I shouldn’t just be producing new drafts.
A content piece is not complete when it is just a draft. Editing, formatting and image insertion deserve my attention too. Else, kuaby will turn into a website with more drafts than usable travel guides.
Slight Improvements for My Daily Vlogs
In December, I bought the lifetime license to use Wondershare Filmora, a video software that offers slightly more features than Apple’s iMovie.
You can read about how the purchase took place under the Expenses section.
After learning about what I can do with the software, I am also changing how I produce my daily vlogs.
Instead of repurposing low-quality footages from my Instagram profile and stitching them together to make a vlog, I will be shooting raw footages using my phone.
The following is a simple comparison of my daily vlogs in the old and new format.
Watch them. It is very obvious that the new format is much better.
Creating these vlogs and documenting my life have grown into something so much bigger than a way to keep myself accountable.
It has become my creative outlet, and it has also changed my lifestyle completely, for the better.
I am trying new hairstyles, looking for new activities to do, and sniffing out remarkable story arcs in my daily life just to make the videos interesting.
It might feel like I am going down the wrong path since I am doing the things above just to gain attention and eyeballs for my videos. But trust me, the activities above are helping me.
I am a very conservative person, partly due to my upbringing or possibly the character I inherited from my parents. Since young, I often talk myself out of trying new things, taking risks, or voicing my opinion.
Producing a daily vlog opened my eyes to the life I am living. And man, it was boring as hell!
Since I need to audit and watch my life every single day, I might as well push myself to be more interesting, and do things that I could never imagine myself doing, just to keep myself interested.
Without a doubt, vlogging daily has been very beneficial to my personal growth. And do you know why I am able to do it for more than 200+ days in a row? Because it’s something that I actually enjoy doing.
I’m not kidding. Producing daily vlogs is probably the best hobby I ever had.
Content Production Update
- Average Word Count in November 2017: 555
- Average Word Count in December 2017: 521
% Difference: -6%
There is a small drop in the number of words I produced, but I’m not concerned because the focus now is to make sure content pieces are completed.
I have more than enough drafts stuck in the pipeline, so I am good as long as I am able to put down at least 500 words a day.
In January, I will stop reporting average word count. The focus will be more on the lists below, which indicate the number of content pieces that are in my content production pipeline.
- Camera Promotions in Malaysia
- Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Pocket Travel Guide
- Shilin Night Market Travel Guide
- Taipei 101 Facts
Work in Progress:
- Cuti-Cuti Malaysia Promotion
- KLIA Travel Guide
- Luxury Hotels in Kuala Lumpur
- [Guest Post] Must-Try Foods in Kuala Lumpur
- [Guest Post] Digital Marketers, The One Thing You Need to Stand Out Today
Profit and Loss Statement
kuaby made a loss of $44.55 in December.
In December, kuaby made a total of $106.49 in revenue, the highest since I started this project.
The following list is a breakdown of the revenue by source:
- Booking.com Affiliate Program: $3.80 (-26%)
- Involve Asia Affiliate Network: $29.08 (+388%)
- Google AdSense: $34.83 (+57%)
- HotelsCombined.com Affiliate Program: $0.33 (-58%)
- Trivago Affiliate Program: $38.45 (+380%)
TOTAL REVENUE: $106.49 (+153%)
The steep increase is mostly due to the year-end holiday season.
The higher number of visitors this month is probably the reason behind high earnings from Google AdSense.
During this time of the year, people are also looking for hotel deals and travel gear to buy in anticipation of their upcoming trip, so it is not that surprising to see way more affiliate commissions coming in.
In December, kuaby incurred the following expenses:
- ActiveCampaign: $9.00
- Adobe Creative Cloud: $9.99
- Developer: $50.81 (+4%)
- Digital Ocean: $12.00
- Google Apps: $5.00
- Grum: $- (-100%)
- KeyCDN: $4.25 (+32%)
- Wondershare Filmora: $59.99
TOTAL EXPENSES: $151.04 (+33%)
This month, I purchased the lifetime license for Wondershare Filmora.
kuaby could have achieved breakeven if I didn’t make the purchase, so let me explain why I bought the license for the software.
If you watch my daily vlog below, you will understand why it happened and how desperate I was.
In a nutshell, iMovie encountered a bug when I was producing my daily vlog. I tried every solution online, but none of them worked. Long story short, I ended up buying Wondershare Filmora, which was a life-saver.
Not only that it allowed me to edit my vlogs without any issue, I was also able to introduce new and cool elements into my videos. I am like that happy child in a candy store whenever I use it to edit videos.
There you go! Five additional paragraphs to justify the extra money I spent on a video editing software.
In December, 10,733 unique visitors came to kuaby, marking a month-on-month increase of 14%. This number is also the highest that kuaby ever had.
The following are the top traffic sources for kuaby in December:
Asana is my go-to project management tool for kuaby, and I started using it more in December. I think that’s how it became one of my top sources of traffic.
The screenshot below is a list of the most visited content on this site.
If you are interested, you can check out the Top 5 by clicking on these links:
- KTM ETS Train in Malaysia: The Ultimate Guide
- Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary
- Luggage Sales in Malaysia
- KLCC to Bukit Bintang Pedestrian Walkway
- Kuala Lumpur Hotels with a View of PETRONAS Twin Towers
Revenue per 1,000 Impressions (RPM)
Revenue per 1,000 page views or RPM is a metric to measure a website’s efficiency in monetizing its page views.
kuaby’s RPM for December is $6.99, up by 121% month-on-month.
I don’t know what the industry average is for this metric, and it is also not a metric that I am focusing on right now. Please share your RPM of your site with me if you are tracking this metric.
- Email Subscribers: 130 (+6%)
- Instagram: 721 (+44%)
Instagram followers are growing steadily thanks to the mini strategy that I have for the platform.
2018 Will be Epic
As I wrap up 2017 and look ahead, I cannot help but feel grateful for how much kuaby has grown since the start of the year.
In 2018, I will be looking more at the big picture of things now that the site is so close to achieving profitability.
Watch this space, because I can assure you that more things will be happening to make 2018 an epic year of growth for the site.