It’s not you. It’s the industry.
Your precious site hasn’t been singled out to suffer an ad revenue collapse.
January is Ramen Noodle and single-ply month for all publishers. Yes, even those precious few who have millions of visitors. While they make millions, they spend it all on blow and jets just as any reasonable person would.
I’ve been on the receiving end of several emails from various ad networks letting me know that it’s normal for ad revenue CPMs to collapse in early January.
They’re smart to do this because their many publishers upon watching ad revenue plummet freak out, rip out the ad codes and replace it with what they hope will earn them more.
Little do these virgin January bloggers realize is that the glory weeks of November and December are over. The start of a new year and quarter is a major reboot of advertising budgets.
It’ll take a few weeks for all the CEOs to return from St. Thomas on their G650 to sign off on new ad budgets so that their corpulent corporations can bloat up the ad CPMs again. I should say all CEOs except for Carlos Ghosn, who ain’t returning.
Consider this an opportunity to lose all those pounds put on in December.
If you just signed a 12-month contract at your local fancy-schmancy Equinox gym and are now worried you can’t pay for it, relax. Ad rates will improve before the next over-sized payment is extracted from your already stretched credit card.
Here’s a tip for dealing with reduced ad revenue
Don’t look at any revenue numbers until the third week of January. Longer if you can hold out.
I didn’t take a peek for the last two weeks of December because while CPM rates are decent, traffic sucked. Actually, I took a bunch of time off which made it easy to avoid.
I cheated when I returned to my desk on January 2 just to make sure I still had a business to tend to, but I’m vaulting it for another couple of weeks.
I don’t need that grief. Ignorance is bliss.
Those three words can help you cope in this business. Ignorance. Is. Bliss.
Which begs the question. Why the hell am I in this business when I prefer not facing the music? It’s a volatile, stressful line of work always at the mercy of a merciless algo.
Truth be told I’m a recovering Analytics and AdSense refresher. I kid you not, I used to refresh the screen 30 times a day. It’s amazing I got anything else done.
Eventually, it occurred to me the emotional toll was not worth it, not to mention that it was a huge time suck.
I’ve swung the pendulum the other way, probably too far.
I avoid checking numbers for days and sometimes weeks.
But I do sleep soundly at night.
In fact, I’ll next take a peek in the third week of January when traffic should be flying high and ad rates rocketing upwards. I jest. I have yet to publish the December income report which requires digging into all the numbers. That’s on my plate for next week (next to the Ramen).
Generally, I’m strategic about when I look at my numbers. For example, when I check, I do so on Monday because Sunday is the best day of the week.
If you’re freaking out, shutter your accounts for a few weeks, focus on work and sleep soundly at night.
Traffic vs. Ad Rates
If your site traffic is growing, that is good. I’ll take more traffic over higher ad RPMs any day of the week.
If you’ve been in this biz for a couple of years, the January RPM drop is no surprise to you. This post is for those of you who are worried about lower revenue and that as long as your traffic is performing as expected, you have nada to worry about.
Do you have a plan for 2020?
It helps to have a growth plan for the next year. I’m not talking about a 100-step detailed blueprint but instead an overall approach to how you hope to grow.
Me? You bet I do. I published it here. Essentially, it’s the same strategy I’ve deployed for a couple of years.
The ultimate insurance
This line of work, just like any business, can be stressful. We live and die by Google. It’s not really an ideal situation to be in, but that’s the reality.
While I’m all about reinvesting in my online business, IMO it’s good to sock money away in other investments at the same time.
The ultimate insurance is having piles and piles and piles of savings, stocks, bonds and other liquid assets.
In other words, save and invest your pennies.
I call it Fuck Google money.
You have to appreciate the irony since the source of the money is Google in the first place.
Not that Google cares. Google sits at the top of the internet food chain magnanamously sprinkling both traffic and ad revenue among us mere rodents.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.