Some of you may have noticed we have made some changes to our grocery match-ups. Specifically we have removed QFC coverage and unadvertised deals for Fred Meyer, Safeway and Target.
I’m going to be completely honest and transparent with you – and explain why this had to happen.
Couponing has changed so much since I started this site in October 2009. . . for a long time couponing was a popular trend and people were saving some serious cash by printing coupons and matching them up with sales. We were all getting multiple Sunday papers and the coupons inside provided REAL VALUE for savings – we were saving so much every time we hit the grocery store.
Then Extreme Couponing came around and excessive abuse of the couponing “system” caused manufacturers to rethink coupons as a marketing tool. Coupon values dropped, the fine print increased, store coupon policies became stricter, store promotions decreased and the couponing community found ourselves really struggling to save with coupons in late 2014 and 2015.
As couponing got harder and less worthwhile people dropped off the couponing bandwagon – the savings didn’t justify all the effort we were putting in. I saw a strong trend in my traffic – with less interest in grocery match-ups and more people wanting online sales – an easy way to save BIG with minimal effort.
I’m so good at finding online deals that I was drawn to posting these more as well – I enjoy them! Traffic swelled every time I posted an Amazon deal – and people raved about the savings they were getting from shopping online. But I knew I still had a loyal following of Northwest grocery store couponers who wanted that local coverage – so I continued to provide it.
For a LONG time the commission I earned from the online deals FUNDED the unadvertised grocery deals that I was paying to provide. I had an amazing team of ladies who went into the stores every week at QFC, Target, Fred Meyer and Safeway and I paid them well for finding those deals. I believe we had the BEST unadvertised deals for Northwest stores.
But then in 2015 I had some MAJOR changes happen. . . .
Amazon dropped my commission rates in February 2015. Like big time. I haven’t talked about this but while most Amazon affiliates make 8.5% on a sale, they dropped my commission rates to 1-3% on an Amazon sale. That means if I post a deal for a $10 item, I was now making 10 cents per sale instead of the previous 85 cents. They did this because they said I wasn’t profitable. I was posting too many “good” deals. If I wanted my commission rates restored back to normal rates, I’d have to post more full-price items (not deals) to offset the savings I was delivering to my readers. I couldn’t in good conscience do this and my rates have stayed at this lower rate for the last 15 months. I still post Amazon deals because I know how much my readers love them, but this drop in commission has been a major game changer for me.
My traffic became more national. Because I was posting so many online deals – my readership went from being very Northwest-based to nationwide. Readers from Florida to New York to California were coming to my site, not for grocery deals, but because I was finding the best online deals. The demand for Northwest grocery content dropped substantially and my traffic on these posts did as well.
People stopped printing coupons. A big part of my revenue used to be from printable coupons. But people seem to be printing fewer and fewer coupons every month. And companies like Coupons.com are paying pennies per print (it used to be more like 10-15 cents!). This also caused a major drop in revenue.
Facebook decreased my reach. The final blow was in November 2015 when Facebook dropped my reach. With 188,000 Facebook “likes” I could post an online deal and reach thousands. So even though I was earning a 1% on the sale, I was still earning enough to cover the costs of the unadvertised grocery deals. But in November when Facebook dropped my reach to 1,000 – 2,000 people . . . my traffic dropped considerably and so did my affiliate sales. . . . which means my INCOME dropped significantly.
I had to make a choice. The income I earn from the blog is our ONLY family income. And the unadvertised Northwest grocery match-ups were costing a lot – money I wasn’t earning from coupon prints or affiliate sales. My ole “business model” of using affiliate sales to cover the cost of grocery deals (which don’t bring in revenue) wasn’t working anymore. Many of the last months I couldn’t even break even, let alone provide a sustainable income for my family. I know I have a small group of loyal readers who LOVE those match-ups and I used money from savings to supplement them, hoping something would change. But it didn’t and I had to make the difficult choice to drop them. 🙁 I hope you understand why I can’t provide them at this time.
I’m not complaining. These trends have happened to nearly ALL “coupon bloggers” nationwide and I’ve been so blessed that I’ve been able to make a living from this blog as long as I have. Other bloggers haven’t been so lucky and have had to completely shut their sites down. But I wanted to be completely transparent with you – so you know there are lots of factors involved in my decision to remove the unadvertised deal coverage.
We still have Northwest grocery store coverage! Every store but QFC will still be covered with our full coupon and ad match-ups. The VERY BEST deals are starred already for you – so this is essentially the highlights post that we were hand-typing and publishing before. Previously we had physically typed out the BEST deals (which cost money) but they are still there, just look for the starred deals in the match-ups ::
Plus we have weekly match-ups for these stores :
I know some of you think I’ve “checked out: since I started traveling. I get comments about how my content isn’t as good now that I’m living in an Airstream and traveling with my family. You are 100% right. Before we made the leap to traveling I used to work 60-80 hours a week and I was a ball of stress. I worried every minute about the status of my site – if it hadn’t been updated in the last hour I seriously would WORRY that I was losing readers and I wasn’t doing my best. I was a workaholic, I really was. While my blog was spot on and over-the-top-awesome for the first 5-6 years that I was blogging, my personal life, family and my well-being suffered. I was pouring my heart and soul into a website instead of my family and my kids. They suffered, I suffered. I needed balance and I needed to work less. That’s why traveling has been such a blessing for me – it has forced me to seek balance and invest more in my family. Although I wish my site could be as awesome as it was before I traveled – I know I can’t do it all – and so my focus right now is to take a balanced approach with both family and work.
Queen Bee Coupons is still a priority for me. I love helping people save money, I love sharing our lives with you, I love finding online deals and I love YOU – the community that we have built here. This website is not only my passion but it’s my livelihood and I am COMMITTED to delivering real deals and content that I believe are truthful, helpful and genuine. That has never changed and even if companies like Amazon cut my commissions because I’m not posting full-priced “deals” – I’ll always put the needs of my readers first and follow my heart when creating content.
Moving FORWARD I have BIG PLANS for this site, my friends. We are going to be changing things up this summer and I’m working fervently on bringing this to fruition. My goal is still to save you money but it will also focus on a more well-rounded lifestyle. I’m working on a way to better deliver online deals (simplify things) but still also write more about downsizing, meal planning, traveling and things that make me HAPPY. Because life is more than busting our butts to save 10% on your grocery bill – it’s about the big picture of a happy life and I’m seeing that now more than ever.
Please stick with me. The next couple months I’ll be working on creating a platform that I believe serves us all better. We’ve come a long way together and I see great things for this community moving forward.
Thank you for reading this lengthy post. I welcome your feedback and thoughts about site content and what you’d like to see in the future.