June flew by so fast.
It was a hectic month for me. Yet, I don’t think I was busy with efforts that directly helps to grow kuaby.
In fact, it wasn’t until before I started writing this report that I realized I didn’t do much. The realization might have been trying to fight its way up to my head when I was in Barcelona, but clearly, it has no match against my excitement of being in a new environment.
Welcome to kuaby’s monthly report for June 2017.
For first-timers, a monthly report like this is how I document kuaby’s performance, the things I did to grow it, as well as the lessons I learned along the way.
Let’s get started with what happened in June.
- 1 What Happened in June?
- 2 Upcoming Highlights for July
- 3 Profit and Loss Statement
- 4 Traffic Update
- 5 Revenue per 1,000 Impressions (RPM)
- 6 Community Update
- 7 Let’s Have a Productive July
What Happened in June?
May 2017’s monthly report was only published when June was just about to end. As a result, it revealed a lot of what was going on in June as well.
Publishing a monthly report that late said a lot about the efforts I was putting into kuaby last month.
What caused the drop in productivity? What was the impact? Even though I briefly wrote about it last month, let’s dive deeper into it in this report.
A Summary of My Barcelona Trip and How It Happened
I never traveled out of Asia until last month, when the opportunity to go to Barcelona with my team landed on my laps.
The company I’m working with was hosting a huge personal growth event in the beautiful city in Spain. As a team, we decided to participate and work out of Barcelona.
The event was announced around the beginning of the year. My initial hunch was to skip it. The reason was simple. I simply didn’t have enough savings to afford a typical trip to Europe where people visit several major cities while they are in that part of the world.
Can I Afford It?
It’s so expensive! I think it will not be worth it if I only get to spend time in Barcelona.
That was the exact words I told my teammates.
Of course, they had a million reasons for me to go. Deep down in my heart, I wanted to go, even if Barcelona is the only city I can afford to put on my itinerary.
I tried to place the whole thing aside by focusing on kuaby and other things. It wasn’t easy when the whole company is so excited the event.
Everybody was talking about it. There were conversations about Barcelona everywhere. I would hear about it over lunches, while I was getting water at the water cooler, in the kitchen, and even during meetings.
Want a perfect definition of peer pressure? This is it! Almost the entire company is preparing to go to Barcelona for a month, or at least for a few weeks.
Then, March, and the defining moment came. I got a raise! At the same time, the company also announced a bonus for everybody because we had a very good performance to end 2016.
All these came as a surprise for me. As I read through the emails, I knew I was on my way to Spain.
Spending 2.5 Weeks in Barcelona
Fast forward to June, I was on a long-haul flight to Barcelona, stopping by Istanbul in between. Everything that happens after boarding the Turkish Airlines flight was an eye-opening experience.
It was my first long-haul flight. I had my first layover. I had my first airport lounge experience. Walking to the coworking space where I was working is actually fun. I packed food and ate in a park. Getting pick-pocketed taught me a lesson. I went to a nude beach. I sat on the edge of a cliff for the first time. Having olives as appetizers are superb.
Everything was so amazing!
Traveling to the other side of the world also means encountering a lot of things that I am not used to. For example, the room doors, and sometimes even bathroom doors, in the apartments we stayed at don’t come with a lock.
The funniest part of the trip has to be when I couldn’t find the elevator at the apartment where my girlfriend and I were supposed to stay at. Unlike elevators or lifts in Asia, those in Barcelona or maybe even across Spain usually have doors that you have to manually open before you can enter. The fact that elevators may have doors that are not in boring metallic silver wasn’t intuitive to us.
Looking back, it was also a pretty haphazard trip even though I had at least one month to plan for it. I thought that since most of the time I will be working anyway, I should just go with the flow and not plan for anything.
Of course, not having a plan has its pros and cons.
On one hand, I can be very open to suggestions for places to visit and things to do. In the first week, I was just building up a list of all the must-dos in my head as they were recommended to me by colleagues and my Airbnb hosts.
On the flip-side, I had to endure a few surprises that disrupted my intended schedule. For example, I didn’t know that buying tickets on the Internet for all the popular attractions is a must. Else, they will be sold out on the day of my visit.
Also, I underestimated how much Barcelona has to offer. The list that I was building quickly outgrew the number of days we have.
It was partly due to my slow travel pace, but I know how speeding things up will hurt my overall experience of exploring a city. With that, I decided to give up on a few attractions completely instead of spending less time at each.
Despite giving up on some attractions, I still believe we covered Barcelona pretty thoroughly. We even had time to explore Montserrat and Sitges, which are both incredibly beautiful attractions not too far away from the city center.
Why Barcelona Impressed Us?
- Charming streets
- Walkability of the city
- Friendly people
- Chilled vibes
The above is pretty much the summary of why I fell in love with Barcelona.
This section could stand as an article on its own, so I’ll just share the most significant elements that wowed me.
The walkability of Barcelona is why I love the city so much. Just look at this aerial view of the city that I took from Google Maps.
As you can see, it is a very organized city. Every single block that you see in the screenshot above has a wide walkway for pedestrians. At every junction, there are traffic lights and motorists always put pedestrians first.
Even though I had to walk for 30 to 40 minutes to my coworking space, I looked forward to it every morning.
In fact, since a train ride or walking to a destination usually takes about the same time as walking, I default to walking when I want to go to a restaurant or an attraction. Over here in Malaysia, I would dread walking the same, or even a shorter distance.
The chilled vibe of the locals, also known as Catalans, is also something that intrigued me. On Sundays, most shops, even those inside shopping malls, stay closed. They do it just so the staffs can take a day off to spend time on themselves or their loved ones.
Locals over there take time and try to have quality conversations over meals. All over the city, you can see them taking at least a couple of hours to finish their meals, and there will always be conversations.
Speaking about conversations, the locals here can even hit them off with complete strangers. A young man walking his dog can just strike up a conversation with an elderly woman who is sipping her coffee at a cafe.
Heck, we were even approached a few times for conversations.
We were given advice on which mineral water brand to go for while shopping for groceries. My girlfriend was cautioned by an elderly man about walking and looking down on her phone at the same time. We also lost count on the number of conversations we started with locals when they found out we are from Malaysia.
I can go on and on about why I love Barcelona. It’s a beautiful city, but it is also one that broadens my perspectives on so many things. I learned so much, and I can’t wait to be back for more.
Terminated My Grammarly Premium Subscription
My Grammarly Premium subscription ended last month.
The thought of not renewing it came because paying upfront for the year ahead seems too expensive for me, especially now when I am also paying for Facebook ads.
I love the service. I used it as the default editor for all my writing.
However, it became a bottleneck when I was traveling because the service, including its Mac app, doesn’t work offline. Even when I don’t need its suggestions on where my writings can be improved, I can’t get it to work.
Another consideration I had was how using a professional grammar editor is slowing down my content production speed. Having to correct every mistake or reword sentences that Grammarly highlighted takes about an extra hour per guide.
I am not a native English speaker or writer, and I definitely do not write with perfect grammar. The question to ask, though, is whether I need to write in perfect grammar to bring kuaby where I want it to be.
As long as the content that I publish is useful, I think my readers will not nitpick on grammar.
Of course, over the past one year of using the service, I learned a ton about grammar and writing in general that will be useful moving forward.
For example, I learned how to refrain from using long sentences. The more commas I add to a sentence, the more likely I am going to make a grammar mistake.
Also, I am now aware as I am writing that I should introduce more vocabulary to my sentences. Grammarly was really good at suggesting alternatives for words, but for now, I’ll rely on Thesaurus.com.
Will I consider subscribing for Grammarly Premium again? Yes, of course! But only when kuaby’s revenue can make up for the cost.
Upcoming Highlights for July
In July, I will be trying out a few things to improve my overall productivity.
They may or may not work out, but I feel it is a good time to experiment because I am spotting some repetitions in the things I do for kuaby.
Creation of Commercial Content
I mentioned this thoroughly in my last monthly report. Since it was released in the last few days left in June, I didn’t make much progress.
Instead of publishing a content piece that will help kuaby generate some affiliate commissions, I put out a guide on Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and started working on this monthly report.
With around 13 more days left, I am aiming to publish at least two commercial content pieces this month.
In the coming months, commercial content will remain the core focus of my editorial calendar as I continue my search for a more sustainable revenue channel.
Revisit My Side Hustle Schedule
I was suffering from jet lag when I got back from Barcelona.
As a result, I started writing for kuaby and editing my daily videos before I go to bed. Since I get sucked into a flow easily when I’m working on these tasks, I always ended up working past midnight.
It’s good when things get done. The downside of this is me not getting enough sleep and not being able to go through the morning routine I had in order to start my day right.
Your first ritual that you do during the day is the highest leveraged ritual, by far, because it has the effect of setting your mind, and setting the context, for the rest of your day. – Eben Pagan
Thus, I will be revisiting my daily schedule to see the best times to slot in my side hustle tasks. Concurrently, I will also be looking at how to utilize down times such as my commute to work for kuaby-related tasks.
Snapchat and Personal Branding Activities
I’m on Snapchat, and I am proud to say that I am VERY ACTIVE there! Yes, at a time when Instagram Stories seems to have more users, and when publishers and probably, marketers are slowly moving away from it.
Here’s what I noticed. Many friends of mine who are Snapchat users are not moving to Instagram at all! The underlying meaning here could be that Instagram is merely successful in introducing the Snapchat way of posting updates, instead of acquiring users from Snapchat.
Also, as marketers move away from Snapchat, it presents an opportunity because Snapchat users now have lesser marketers to pay attention to.
Keep in mind that the battle is still ongoing as well. If I keep investing effort into Snapchat now when everybody else is shifting their focus to Instagram, I will have a more solid platform if Snapchat ends up winning.
Add me on Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/kuabywayne
If you read my last monthly report, you know that I am documenting my days with daily videos created by stitching Instagram Stories together.
Since the content format is pretty similar to Instagram Stories and Snapchat, I decided to post them across both of the platforms because of the reasons I stated above.
Of course, I started with zero following.
What I did to build that up is to follow some of my Instagram followers who listed their Snapchat usernames on their profile. Many of them added me back because they are already familiar with me and my content.
When this happens, Snapchat starts recommending users who share mutual friends with you. Add them. Some will add you back, and if they also like your snaps, they will keep you as a friend. Keep repeating the whole process, and you’ll slowly build up a following on the platform.
Here’s a screenshot of the views I get on my snaps after being active on the platform for two weeks. Not too shabby, right?
Email Templates for Blogger Outreach
I always have a section in my travel guides to feature travel bloggers who have written about the attraction.
There are two reasons why I do this.
“Your network is your net worth.”
First of all, it allows me to kickstart conversations with travel bloggers.
Not only that getting connected with like-minded people makes me happy, doing so also allows me to capture the best practices of growing a blog from the people who have more experience doing it than me.
Secondly, I am interested to find out if these bloggers that I featured are interested in linking back to my guide or if they are willing to accept a guest post from me. Since I gave a link before asking for one back, my ask tends to be successful.
However, writing emails from scratch takes time. It adds up to even more time when you take into account all the follow-up emails that you need to send when a blogger missed your initial emails.
In the last few months, I’ve sent out enough emails and follow-ups that I can somehow put everything into a template that I can copy and paste from whenever I do blogger outreach.
Here’s an example.
Let’s see how much time I can save once the template is ready.
Profit and Loss Statement
kuaby made a loss of $95.12 in June 2017.
Revenue stood at $14.98, which is a lower figure from $16.47 in May.
- Google AdSense: $14.98 (+15%)
- Agoda Affiliate Program: $- (-100%)
- Grammarly Affiliate Program: $- (-100%)
TOTAL: $14.98 (-9%)
The drop is due to one-off affiliate commissions generated from Grammarly Affiliate Program and Agoda Affiliate Program in May. Revenue from Google AdSense continues to increase, thanks to the higher month-on-month traffic that kuaby is getting.
Here are the expenditures of the site in May:
- Digital Ocean: $12.00
- Adobe Creative Cloud: $9.99
- Grammarly: $- (-100%)
- Google Apps: $5.00
- ActiveCampaign: $9.00
- Developer (my brother): $46.55
- Facebook Ads: $27.56 (+53%)
TOTAL EXPENSES: $110.10 (+3%)
As mentioned earlier, I’ve decided to discontinue my subscription for Grammarly Premium.
Advertising expenses on Facebook should stay around $20 in the coming months. I am using the money to promote my daily videos to people who are interesting in blogging, building an online business, and entrepreneurship in general on Facebook.
In June 2017, 6,353 unique visitors came to kuaby. This resembled a 5% month-on-month increase from the 6,071 unique visitors that kuaby received in May 2017.
Here are the top traffic sources for kuaby in June:
Not many movements to observe from the screenshot above, but it’s assuring to know that both organic traffic from Google and referral traffic from Facebook are slowly growing over time.
These are the most visited content on the site last month:
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport broke into the top 10 list, which is interesting because it is the only attraction outside of Malaysia that kuaby covered.
Also, I am monitoring the amount of traffic that KL Sentral is receiving. It seems like it is gradually decreasing over time.
Click on the links below if you want to check out the top 5 travel guides:
- KTM ETS Train in Malaysia: The Ultimate Guide
- Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary
- KL Sentral
- KLCC to Bukit Bintang Pedestrian Walkway
- KL Bird Park
Revenue per 1,000 Impressions (RPM)
Revenue per 1,000 pageviews or RPM is a metric to measure a website’s efficiency in monetizing its page views.
kuaby’s RPM for June is $1.60, down by 15% month-on-month.
I do not 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: 73 (+11%)
Let’s Have a Productive July
By the time I publish this monthly report, the first half of July is over.
Putting out two more commercial content pieces will be challenging, but I am going to aim for that.
What is the goal you have for your side hustle in July? Share them with me in the comment section below.