August Recap and Charity Contribution Recipient

Life After Quitting: One Month Recap

Per my blog post about taking a summer vacation from blogging, I promised to share how much I made in the month of August and would donate $100 for every $1,000 made.  Read July's recap at this link.

Site Traffic Results

Traffic (which is the number of people who come and visit Wardrobe Oxygen) was up 16% to last August and up 0.45% to last month.  But August 2018 was up 18% to August 2017 and up 10% to July 2018 so I'm not thrilled with how August did.  But I brought it upon myself for a couple of reasons.

  • I didn't focus on fall. Lots of people joke about how bloggers jump the gun with fall.  It's the 4th of July and they're wrapped up in blanket scarves and wool hats.  But the way affiliate sales go, it makes sense to be early.  First of all, it usually takes at least three views or mentions of an item before someone makes a purchase.  If we get early on the fall looks, we're more likely to have time to get it ingrained in your head so you'll make a purchase just in time for you to wear it in the appropriate season.  Secondly, things sell out fast and you know it.  If you see a fabulous sweater, even in July, you will buy it and hold on to it to wear in October because of FOMO (fear of missing out).  Thing is, I feel inauthentic wearing wool in August.  I just can't show true fall clothes until September, it feels wrong to me (and feels miserable when shooting in the bright sun on a 115-degree day).  At the end of the month, I shared how to fall-ize a summer look; I should do more of this in August to balance the coming season with it still being hot as heck outside.
  • I didn't write enough content this August.  This year I had 20 posts in the month, last year I had 26.  That doesn't seem like a major change but that's more than one post a week lost.  The more often I post, the more often people visit the site.   Sure, I traveled a lot but I should have had more content in the queue ready to go.
  • I didn't have enough outfit posts.  Last August I had 10 outfit posts, this year I had only four.  I love taking pictures while on vacation but hate having to be photographed.  I like Karl shooting me, he goes click click click and I randomly move around and from the 500+ photos I'll find 5-10 I like.  But when I'm on travel, I often have to ask a stranger or someone who doesn't know me or “get” my job to take my outfit photo on my phone and it suuuuucks.  It's so awkward, they don't know what I'm looking for and to be honest I don't either because I don't usually shoot with my phone so it's either me thanking them for a photo that cuts off my feet and my eyes are closed or me being a control freak and making them do it over ten times.  So I usually just pass and wait to take a mirror selfie or find a place to set up my phone with a timer and no helpful stranger will interrupt and offer to take it for me.  I need to get over myself, work harder on having set poses and knowing my angles with a phone so I can get strangers to take my photo and have more content.

I saw August 20th to have the biggest change between 2018 and 2019 with that day this year being the highest traffic of the whole month.  I wanted to know what in the world I posted this year and last year that would cause such a spike.  I must say I wasn't surprised to find it was my post about the Amazon Nightgown.  As you'll see below, it was one of my top sellers for the month and I won't be surprised if it is also a top seller for September. Another thing that is lucrative but just doesn't feel right to me – regularly selling cheap fast fashion and viral trends.  Made in China fast fashion is regularly created by people, sometimes children, who are treated horrifically, paid terribly, and often are slaves.  The clothing is inconsistent with sizing and quality, the fit is usually so wacky that you need to size up and that also means it's not available to plus size women, it regularly falls apart before the end of a season, and often times cannot be returned.  Oh, and it's usually a blatant copy of an equally trendy piece from a designer. So yeah… I don't even know what to do with this kind of data.  

I'm writing this paragraph the next day mulling over that data and I do have an idea – each month I'll review a size-inclusive piece that is reasonably priced and useful.  A dress you could wear to work or to church, a pair of pants or jeans, flats or loafers… something that is relatively universal and under $100 and if I can find it, under $50. I'll buy it, style it, and provide an honest review.  I'll strive to find quality pieces that can last more than a season, pieces I think worth the money no matter the price.  I ordered a couple of things this morning to see if any will be a good choice.  I think this will be a good balance – no crappy clothing that will go into the landfill or are blatant copies from designers but still a good price for your wallet.  We'll see how it goes.

Affiliate Revenue Recap

Traffic was up 16% this year, but affiliate revenue was down to last year.  This is the first month all year where revenue was down to last year.  As I mentioned above, I did fewer outfit posts and I think that's a big reason.  Outfit posts bring in the second most affiliate revenue of any kind of post I do, capsules being #1.  However, capsule wardrobes are a “slow burn” where they do well the month they're published but continue to bring in revenue for months and oftentimes years later.  Outfit posts go hard and then fizzle out after a few weeks.  This month I had four outfit posts and one semi-capsule (my travel wardrobe). If I had the same amount of outfit posts as last August or added in another capsule I would have had a financially successful month.

I also had a lot of content not focusing on sales.  A lot of my Weekend Reads went without a single affiliate link in them.  I wrote about this summer vacation, I wrote about our trip to Philly, I wrote a whole post about a 10-year-old t-shirt.  Fun to write, but not good for the bottom line.  I need to balance each fun post with a selling post.  

Top Selling Items in August

I figured this would be helpful for such a recap post, plus it's also fun to see what other people are purchasing. This also gives insight into my affiliate revenue for the month.  Click this link to learn how blogs make money and more about affiliate revenue.  

  1. Soma Vanishing Back Full Coverage Bra – This is thanks to the $15 bra sale that Soma had at the end of the month; this is the post where I shared my favorite bras and the sale.
  2. Japanese Skin Towel  – This is from my beauty ride or die post, but it's also from this post which still gets a lot of traffic.
  3. Soma Cooling Full Coverage Bra – This was quite the month for Soma, even though I know several of you experienced issues with completing your order due to website issues from the traffic.
  4. Kut from the Kloth ‘Gidget' Shorts – Proof that people read my Weekend Reads, it was only mentioned there as a bullet about how I accidentally packed two pairs of these for my two-week road trip!
  5. Tinkle Eyebrow Razor – Again, this is from this post and this post. They're awesome, seriously. Tuck one in your purse for on the go touch ups, have one in your medicine cabinet and it's such a quick swipe swipe and hair will NOT grow back thicker or darker!
  6. The “Amazon Nightgown” – Well this is based on this post, and my photo on Instagram using the hashtag #amazonnightgown has helped my photo be in The Daily Mail and Hello Giggles, on Inside Edition, and much more. Granted few of these features featured my name or Instagram handle but it is still cool to be seen on national TV.
  7. Neutrogena Body Oil – Definitely my ride or die body moisturizer and mentioned in this blog post.
  8. Soma Stunning Support Strapless Bra – This is my favorite strapless bra, I stripped down to it on Instagram to share my love for it.
  9. ADA Collection Obi Wrap Belt – I mentioned this belt in this blog post; it truly is a great belt.
  10. Universal Standard ‘Geneva' Dress – I wear one of these dresses every week (I have three). They're amazing, even being thrown in the washer and dryer, being splattered with salad dressing, getting wet and being left in the bottom of a beach bag. Every time I wear one, a stranger compliments me or asks me where I got it. I figure this was top 10 because of the mention in my travel capsule wardrobe.

Sponsored Content Recap

I didn't do any paid content on my blog or social.  I did attend a trip with the intimates brand Soma; I will do a recap very soon.  The trip was mentioned in this article on CNBC and you can see me in the back row of the feature photo! 

I was paid to do this mini capsule wardrobe and blog post for cabi. I wasn't paid to do any promotion for it, all promotion was done because I was proud of my work.  I wasn't paid for it, but I was interviewed for an article at Prevention about the best jeans; you can read it at this link.

August Ad and Affiliate Income Recap

Ad revenue is based upon traffic, but also how long people stick around on the site reading posts and clicking to other pages. Since traffic was up from last month, there was more ad revenue.  However, it wasn't a huge spike in traffic and therefore not a huge spike in revenue. This month wasn't as low as July for total income, but August is usually a bigger month than July when it comes to affiliate income.  All in all, it was a pretty disappointing month, but as I said above, it's all on me and I know better. 

Please understand I am sharing the gross profit from the month of August from ad revenue and affiliate links.  This is before taxes, business expenses, and insurance. With the gross income made from affiliate and ad revenue, I was able to donate $900, 10% off what I made, to the charity of your choice.

August Charitable Donation

I opened this survey at 6 am ET on Saturday, July 31st.  By 10:15 pm last night I received 1,239 votes.  This month was a much closer competition with the ultimate winner The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  I am not surprised considering all the horrific domestic terrorist shootings this year.  As an FYI, based on feedback from the past charitable survey, I only went with 4-star charities per Charity Navigator and there aren't any for gun safety or regulation.  I am thrilled to be able to give NAMI this donation which will help support millions who face mental illness on a daily basis.

The second-place charity is the ACLU so it will be included in the possible winners for September.  While I won't share actual numbers after this month, I will continue to let you vote on the recipient of the charity for each month.  I donated to charities each month before this “summer vacation” but never before thought to involve you.  This will change.  And please continue to share your suggestions on which charities I should consider.

This “summer vacation” was not at all good for my wallet, but it was good for my soul.  I didn't spent my entire vacation focused on work, I gave myself some breathing room to be able to see the whole business more clearly.  I loved being able to include all of you into the business and the charitable donations.  I feel refreshed and ready to bring out some amazing content for the last quarter of 2019.  Thank you so much for your support!

 

44 Comments

  1. Amy Seigle
    September 7, 2019 / 12:57 pm

    I somehow found your blog a couple of moths ago and I just love your voice. I’ve always struggled to feel put together and I’m not one to discard anything useful. Thank you for your encouraging and engaging posts, plus the transparency of this post about your blog! I hadn’t even realized you give an income percentage to a non-profit. That’s a lovely gesture and shows us who you are!

  2. Lauren
    September 5, 2019 / 6:28 pm

    Congratulations. Making $9K in one month, while on “vacation” sounds like cause for celebration—I say it in quotes because you were still working not entirely checked out. Plus it is so generous of you to give some of that to others and let us have a influence in where it goes. You are a class act.

  3. Beth
    September 5, 2019 / 3:54 pm

    It’s funny, a couple of days after you shared the “Amazon nightgown” post, a co-worker came to work in one! I asked her if she had bought it at Amazon, and she laughed and said, “yes, it is the Amazon nightgown.” And frankly it did look kind of like a nightgown, and she is a tall, attractive, thin woman who could pull it off. I would look like Mrs. Roper in it. I liked the way you styled it better with the belt. But – I felt very current from having read your blog post about it.

  4. Sierra Delta
    September 4, 2019 / 3:12 pm

    One of the things I always wonder about fashion bloggers is where and how they store their clothes! I live in a house that’s a little over 20 years old, but my closets feel like they’re from the early 1900s — small, narrow, and dark. I know your house isn’t bursting with abundant storage space either, so how do you deal with that? You present us with a wide variety of outfits and accessories, and they always look clean, fresh, and photo-shoot ready! You clearly have superior skills in using the same items in your wardrobe multiple ways — which probably means you do more with less than I seem able to do — but I’d really like to know how you organize and store your things. Inquiring minds and all that. . .

    I may be in a minority here, but my favorite posts are your thoughtful reflections on moral issues; your advice on what to wear when you’re part of a protest; and your advice on a woman’s wardrobe when she’s running for office. I follow you because you THINK, and you express your opinions with grace and compassion. You’ve introduced me to new ideas, as well as new brands, and I’m grateful for the education I get from reading you.

    • September 5, 2019 / 9:41 am

      Thank you so much!

      I should do a closet etc. review soon but right now my bedroom is a bit chaotic thanks to traveling so much this summer. I don’t really have a lot of clothes, I rewear a lot, use velvet hangers to save space. I have two chests of drawers, one for activewear, sleepwear, and loungewear; the other is for jeans, knits, and intimates. Then there’s a rolling rack in my office for outerwear since I don’t have a coat closet on the main floor. Bags and shoes are in the closet on shelves and hooks. In the attic I do store a contractor bag with out of season clothing.

  5. Julia
    September 4, 2019 / 2:31 pm

    Alison,

    Like many of your readers have already stated, it is nice to have peek once in a while! I appreciate and admire you. Keep it up!

  6. Lee
    September 4, 2019 / 1:54 pm

    These posts are always fascinating to me; thanks for sharing this with us. Your taking time for yourself and being with your family is priceless–but I certainly also understand that you are making a living and need that revenue. You’re figuring out the best way to balance it all, no doubt. And, your giving to a charity; that’s incredibly generous of you and I feel like we can all clearly see how big your heart is for others!

    I personally would love to see you do a top-10 purchased-items- recap at the end of every month, as you did today. It’s helpful because I realized there were some posts/items, etc. that I missed. I read every post you send our way, but life gets crazy and, sometimes, I miss things that I want to check out later. It’s also fun to see what others are buying! Also, the idea of featuring a size inclusive item each month is a good one. That should be useful to many of us; plus I just love seeing how you style things.

    I’m writing a book here–sorry! 🙂 One more thing…someone else mentioned this and I second it. I feel like I “know” you personally because of the way you share with us. It never comes across as fake or as a money grab, and that’s much appreciated. Thanks for all you do through this blog!

    • September 5, 2019 / 9:45 am

      Thank you! And I’ll continue to share the top 10, likely in Weekend Reads where I’ll be sharing the charity stuff too. 🙂

      • Lauren
        September 5, 2019 / 6:24 pm

        I like that idea too. It is interesting to see what people buy.

  7. Gina
    September 4, 2019 / 1:49 pm

    So interesting. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. KT
    September 4, 2019 / 12:16 pm

    Thanks for showing us behind the curtain! And is my math wrong or does this mean that you grossed $9000 for the month? That’s a huge paycheck for writing and getting to be your own boss. Kudos!!! My husband is a doctor and I’m a lawyer—we don’t gross much more than that each month.

    • September 4, 2019 / 12:27 pm

      Yes, I made $9K this month. It seems like a good amount, but about 40% I have to save for tax time. I have two virtual assistants I pay, they work about 20 hours a month, it costs over $1K/month just to keep this site live on the Internet with hosting etc. and then there are so many other expenses to run this business. My husband doesn’t have a full-time job so I cover all the family expenses, and I live in a high COL area. One house and one car are paid off and we have very little debt which is how we make this work, it looks at first glance like a lot but after everything, there’s little left over!

      • September 4, 2019 / 12:28 pm

        Oh, and insurance! $1,100 a month just for health, doesn’t cover dental. Aaahhhh! But I’m likely preaching to the choir 🙂

        • September 4, 2019 / 9:26 pm

          I have been self employed for nearly 40 years in the interior design industry. I have had to bite my tounge so many times when someone says “you are so lucky to own your own business with all the freedom you have and $ you make”. That is parphrased but the same thing has been relayed over and over. 40-60% of every dollar a business owner drags in goes right back out in taxes/ins and bare minimum expenses. But the thing is…a true small business owner wouldnt trade this for more income for anything….the price is too high!
          GREAT post!
          https://littleblackdomicile.com

  9. Paula Morton
    September 4, 2019 / 11:50 am

    You are the “primo” example of a blogger. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Sara
    September 4, 2019 / 11:47 am

    I believe the reason there aren’t more gun safety charities is because lobbying is such a huge part of solving that problem (so, contributions aren’t tax deductible). You might consider this organization: https://giffords.org – started by Gabby Giffords. Donations are not tax deductible, but they seem to be doing good work!

    I love the outfits and styles on this blog! But often when I click through I find that the fabric is something synthetic and non-breathable (I guess I have a really low tolerance for non-breathability). Sustainable fashion and quality fabrics are, unfortunately, more expensive, but would you consider featuring more pieces like that?

    • September 4, 2019 / 12:24 pm

      Not only are sustainable brands more expensive, they are rarely size inclusive. 67% of the female population is a size 14 and larger and 65% of my audience is a size 12 or larger. I strive to predominately feature brands that the majority of my audience can wear, and I just can’t find a lot of sustainable brands that have style appropriate to my audience (they desire more workwear than casual) and offering their size. Also, I know I don’t sell anything over $200 unless it’s a coat, tall boots, or a bag. But if you know any brands that fit all three I would love to know and would happily promote them! For now, I just complain to these ethical brands that they’re leaving money on the table by not offering more sizes. I know that’s the first hurdle, price is hard to change when you’re small and have ethics. And style is a personal preference. But keep mentioning this kind of stuff, it is important and needs to be more accessible!

  11. Grace
    September 4, 2019 / 10:33 am

    This has been such a great series to read–very informative and I love the way you outline your thought process.

    Plus? This leads me to believe there will be more capsule wardrobe posts in the future, since they are income-producers, and those are my favorite! 😉

  12. Linda D.
    September 4, 2019 / 10:02 am

    As always, I love your honesty. I expect that many of your readers feel as though they know you personally but we don’t. Even though you put so much of yourself on social media – by choice – you also get to choose your privacy and your downtime. Don’t forget to take it. We all need it, and I expect that those who are more and more frequently in the public eye need it more. Enjoy rest when it comes, and the energy boost that will hopefully follow!

  13. Lindy
    September 4, 2019 / 9:33 am

    I too am tired of blogs who sole goal is to promote brands for income. You obviously choose items that suit your style and are critical when the clothes don’t meet your standard. This is honest and helpful. That’s why, even though I am petite, but not curvy, I read your blog every morning and will keep doing so.

  14. Tippy
    September 4, 2019 / 9:29 am

    I like your solution to the Amazon nightgown. I look forward to seeing what you share going forward. I keep clicking on that Geneva dress, I like it, but I’m worried it will look to young for me? I’m 48, maybe I’m overthinking and should just give it a try.

    • September 4, 2019 / 9:41 am

      This weekend I saw a woman… I hate to gauge a woman’s age but she looked to be around my mom’s age and I’m pretty sure she was in the marine blue Geneva. She was wearing it with brown comfort sandals and a straw hat and straw tote and looked fabulous. They have free returns, I say try it. I think it’s a pretty universal (heh heh) piece!

      • Tippy
        September 4, 2019 / 9:48 am

        I jumped! 🙂

        • Allison
          September 4, 2019 / 5:46 pm

          48 years old here and I wear that dress ALL the time! Glad you jumped!

  15. Krista
    September 4, 2019 / 9:06 am

    So you skip a lunch out. Maybe pass up a movie. What you lost in revenue you will gain back. Feeling better and having a better outlook on the last quarter of the year will make impacts you can’t see. I appreciate that you “feel weird” doing certain kinds of posts when it’s 115 degrees outside. I love that you are trying to keep the blog true to yourself; that you don’t pitch something just because you got paid to do it. I’ve stopped following bloggers that are obviously promoting things you know doesn’t match their aesthetic. It makes me feel better to be “influenced” by someone I see as a “real person” not just another influencer.

    • September 4, 2019 / 9:45 am

      You’re right, and it’s what we’re doing. I feel so much healthier after this semi-vacation, more connected with my family, and more excited to create content for the blog. It’s hard not to see what I could have improved on since this is my business, but I need to see the personal benefits outweigh the financial! Thank you!

  16. Allison
    September 4, 2019 / 8:51 am

    This is off-topic, but I would love to see a post where you share the bloggers that you actually follow and read. I am particularly interested in over 40 female bloggers. I love your blog and would appreciate recommendations!

  17. Susan L
    September 4, 2019 / 8:41 am

    Thanks for the recap!

  18. Gillian Whitcombe
    September 4, 2019 / 8:19 am

    I feel like the last paragraph was the most important! You needed this slower month for yourself, and that’s important. You will make more $ long term by looking after yourself!

      • Gillian Whitcombe
        September 4, 2019 / 8:34 am

        (Take it from someone who loves her job but can’t work full time for physical and mental reasons! Pacing is key.)

  19. Ann Marie
    September 4, 2019 / 7:08 am

    With regard to donations, how about donations to local charities in your area, like an animal shelter? They probably would benefit more than a large national organization, will be extremely grateful, and you will be helping your community. Just a thought.

    • September 4, 2019 / 8:32 am

      I do with personal donations, but felt with the business since the money for it comes across the country it should be an organization everyone can connect with. I may try it and see how it goes with the vote, thanks!

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