2017 was our 5th full year of early retirement, world travel, and blogging. Most of the content I’ve written comes from trying to figure things out for myself and our family, and then sharing the outcome. It’s helped create an exciting community of early retirees, tax geeks, expats, world travelers, nomadic families, and adventurers.

Although the blog became a profitable side business back in 2014, any financial benefit was mostly accidental. I typed some words, talked to some reporters, added some links, and (occasionally) cashed some checks.

In 2017 I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should actually try to do some businessy stuff with this thing.”

I think the results were positive.

Big Thanks

First, let me say thank you! This was the biggest year yet for Go Curry Cracker, and none of it would be possible without you. I love the questions and comments that we get with every post, and the personal emails about your advances and successes. Thank you for being part of the Go Curry Cracker Community!

Numbers

Now, let’s talk numbers.

Blog

The following table shows raw blog traffic and profit, with estimates for hours of my time invested based on number of posts. I’ve never tracked hours per se, but this seems about right. (Due to guest posts, hours may actually be estimated high.)

YearPage ViewsProfitPPM (Profit/1k view)Posts writtenHours "worked"/week$/hour
2013108,451$008012$0
2014289,908$1.987$6.85447$6
20152,481,852$36,419$14.67538$86
20161,706,533$28,271$16.57284$126
20171,384,909$52,000 +/-$37.55294$260
Total5,971,653$118,677$19.872347$64

PPM and work hours have been trending in the right direction, while page views have not. I like that hourly rate though. PPM (Profit / 1k page views) isn’t a typical performance metric (more so R(evenue)PM), but it’s easier for me to just pull Line 12 of the 1040 than to dig through Schedule C. RPM is maybe 15-20% higher.

2015 was by far our biggest traffic year, which was a stroke of luck with media exposure. We were simultaneously on the front page of Forbes and Yahoo (250k page views in one day!), and had major exposure all around the globe throughout the year.

In 2016, our mainstream press activity declined. (It’s hard to do better than 2015.) Combined with a reduction in new blog posts (aka work), total page views and revenue declined. There is direct correlation between new content and page views, although it is a lesser factor than media exposure.

2017 page views were on track to surpass 2016 through the first part of the year, but then I took about 2.5 months off. Total page views ended the year down. I was hoping for some big boosts from media exposure (“can we send a camera crew to follow you around for a week?”) but that has been slow going. Oh well, you win some you lose some. However, due to the aforementioned businessy efforts, total revenue increased significantly.

Social Media

Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook followers have all jumped in the last year by double digit percentages, which is nice. I post more regularly there, so if you want to turn your GCC experience up to 11 please follow on those platforms. (pretty please.)

Email list growth was also double digit percentage wise, but I trimmed 3,000+ subscribers as I didn’t feel like paying to send emails to people who don’t read them.

As of January 7, 2018, we have:

The really cool thing with Social Media is that sharing cool and interesting content generates a ton of page views. On a couple press pieces on mid-sized media sites, I’ve actually been able to send more traffic to their sites than they have to GCC. It’s fascinating how that works.

Btw, if you aren’t on our mailing list, you can signup right here:


$$$

I spent a few hours this year diversifying income sources, and also overhauling the ad system.

Just being able to have other ad companies bid against Adsense means less money for Google and more for me with no other changes.

One great option is media.net. Sign up now for an extra 10% income boost for 3 months.

This is what revenue looked like in 2017 from each source:

Advertising – $13,963 (context based ads)
Personal Capital – $11,800 (great cash flow and investment tracking tool. And it is free. Read my review.)
Credit cards – $8,604 (FREE travel! See how we saved $10,000 on flights & hotels)
Blog hosting – $7,760 (our web hosting company. Read my post on how to start a blog.)
Shopping Portals – $2,205 (see how to Never Pay Retail Again via sites like Ebates and Befrugal)
myFinance – $1,962 (content sharing)
Amazon.com – $1,600 (books and stuff)
Email ads – $1,331
Convertkit – $757 (our mailing list host. It’s great!)
Traveling Mailbox – $732 (our digital mailbox, read my review)
World Nomads – $455 (travel insurance)
Elegant Themes – $237 (our blog Theme provider)
FlexOffers & CJ – $197 (hotels, Turbotax, etc…)
Betterment – $135 (this still surprises me)
Other – $4,933 (income from other blogs)
Total – $56,671 (A 60% increase over last year – full 2016 revenue details at that link.)

Not shown in the numbers above are cost savings we get through AirBnB and Uber referrals. This is money we didn’t have to spend thanks to readers signing up and using their services.

AirBnB: $1,247 (some examples from Europe.)
Uber: $146 (check out my review.)
Total: $1,393

Most interesting to me (and maybe other bloggers) is the Other category. This is income from other people’s sites and blogs. Both Personal Capital and FlexOffers share revenue when you refer new affiliates.

So… if you aren’t already, sign up to become a Personal Capital affiliate or a FlexOffers affiliate. It is the gift that keeps on giving, with ~10% of GCC total revenue.

Our expenses run <10% of revenue, which reduces total profit to ~$52,000. I’ll know more accurately once I do this year’s taxes. About half of our expenses are for free rent and the replacement of my 5 year old MacBook Air. The remainder is primarily hosting and email. I also pay GCC Jr modeling fees.

2018 Focus

It’s pretty easy to look at the list of revenue sources and know where to focus efforts (80/20 rule.)

However, I’m not going to do this. Instead, I want to take a 3 step approach to GCC18:

  • Drive more page views (aka Growth)
    This will be through writing more content, improving user experience, and pursuing a paid advertising campaign. I’m ok to pay for advertising if it helps new people discover new opportunities or to venture off into the great unknown. (Please, tell your friends!) Obviously this will increase 2018 expenses, on a credit card that pays bonus points for advertising.
  • Create and Grow a Forum.
    It has become increasingly difficult to reply to every email we get. A forum for early retirees, tax geeks, expats, world travelers, nomadic families, and adventurers will allow me to better scale. (You can try out the new forum here, still in beta. I’ll formally release it soon. There is also a link in the main menu.)
  • Become a better member of the personal finance community.
    Help me help you grow your site. If you have the expertise to expand upon GCC, I am open to guest posts. (Just a small note: previous guest post authors (and my wife) will tell you I am difficult.) Contact page is here.

Already this year I’ve moved GCC to a faster server and improved caching for a 66% performance improvement. This will improve the experience for everyone, while also reducing bounce rate for new readers. (Next on the to do list: move to PHP7 for additional performance gains.)

Help Wanted

The growth efforts mean I’ll be working more hours, mostly because we will be in one place for the year and Jr is in school. For the first time in 5 years of blogging, I actually have multiple blog posts written in advance. Amazing.

However, I want this to be more of a throwback to my hectic schedule of 2014 or 2015 (e.g. 8 hours / week) not a return to my hardcore 60 – 80 hour weeks. This is a side hustle, not a life. In all likelihood, I publish as many as 52 posts this year (although my working list is much longer…)

So, if you are the person, animal, vegetable, or mineral who can massively improve SEO, orchestrate wildly successful advertising campaigns, grow a popular forum, or make GCC wicked fast and secure, please… let’s talk. I’ll get back to you asap, when I’m not riding my bike, spending quality time with the fam, or on vacation. Next stop: Vietnam!

Thanks for reading! Here’s to 2018 being the best year yet!


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