As much as I like to talk about saving and investing, the most lucrative way I’ve found to improve your overall financial situation is to simply earn more money. While making a side income might be an impossible task for some, I’m here to show you that it is in fact possible if you put your mind to it.
Especially if you’re a blogger (like me) or even thinking about starting your own website, then you’ve got a wealth of opportunity sitting right in front of you. You just have to be willing to be an entrepreneur and work your way at it.
This month my collection of niche websites took me by surprise in terms of earnings. I had a huge bump in revenue – and from a place I never expected (but warmly welcome)!
Here’s what I’ve been up to in September with my portfolio of websites and what I’ll be working on next.
Niche Website Income – September 2014:
Here is my stats and online income report for my website collection for September 2014:
Overall – not a bad haul for September!
I’m proud to say that pretty much all of this income came from affiliate sources this time – which is EXACTLY the direction I’ve been trying to steer this ship. Don’t get me wrong! Getting paid for direct private advertising is nice and all. But I’m starting to realize just how awesome and lucrative affiliate income really can be. If you don’t think so or haven’t had much luck with it, check out how a big portion of my income this month came from a very unlikely source.
NS2 and Clickbank – Who Knew They Were Perfect Together?
Last month when I talked about how I was going to give affiliate marketing a try with Personal Capital, I also mentioned that I was going to test out a few other affiliate products.
One of the places where I tried this was with an old standby – Clickbank. I’ve had a Clickbank account for about as long as I’ve owned My Money Design. It was one of the first affiliate sites I read about in the book Problogger and it seemed like a really good way to passively earn an income.
The problem however was that I never had much luck with it. And that was all my fault. I had no traffic, no audience, so I’m not really sure how I was ever really supposed to expect any sales or income. So for a long time I simply gave up on using it.
Man, how that changed this month.
Right around the same time I had mentioned that I was going to start digging deeper into affiliate advertising, my friend Matt from Dumb Passive Income sent me some friendly advice on how I could better monetize one of my niche sites (NS2). One of his suggestions to add a few products from Clickbank validated something I had long been considering for the website. You see when I had originally built NS2, one of the things I had planned to do with it was use it as a platform to promote and test lots of different products. But for whatever reason (probably too preoccupied with other niche website projects) I had never gotten around to it.
Well, last month that finally changed. I put 3 links to affiliate products, and out of that group one of them caught on fire! With nothing more than a simple text link that says “click here”, visitors were enticed enough to click-through and purchase the product that was being offered. I receive a base commission of around $25 for each purchase. Plus the product has a few up-sells so there is some potential to earn even more. I’ve got to say I’ve never seen anything on any of my sites convert so well!
As you can guess, this is just more fuel for the fire. I’m now even further encouraged to test and explore other affiliate products – whether they are from Clickbank or other sources. Currently I’m in the approval process phase with another affiliate agency and should shortly have more targeted options to promote.
What Happened to Promoting the Personal Capital?
In my last post I got on this whole affiliate income tangent by signing up for a publisher account with Personal Capital (you can sign up for one too here if you’d like to promote them).
So how did that all work out for me in my first month?
In a word – slow. Here are the results thus far:
Do you want to know what’s sad? That one conversion was from me.
So does this mean I give up on the product? Hell no! Not at all.
What it means is that I need to modify my strategy. All through September all I did to promote this product was simply put a banner ad in the right sidebar. Since that didn’t seem to produce the result I was looking for, I’m going to have to up the ante.
Therefore throughout October I’m going to change this up by adding a little bit of promotional content to specific, targeted posts that are already receiving a decent amount of traffic. We’ll see if using in-content advertising works any better or worse.
Turning NS1 Into an Authority Site:
In case you don’t follow SEO news, a lot of other website owners saw their earnings go down HARD due to Google’s new attack on private blog networks (PBN’s).was making $9,000 for the month before he got hit. For a lot of webmasters, PBN’s were the primary way to quickly get links to their sites and building up their rankings fast.
Fortunately for me this isn’t really a practice I’ve ever messed around with or invested too much time or money in. So my websites (and more importantly my income) was spared from this latest Google update.
What does this mean for the future of niche website building and money making? Probably the most notable person to take a stance on this issue is Spencer from Niche Pursuits. In his wildly controversial post where he takes a stance against no longer using private blog networks, the new strategy he promotes is actually a very old strategy – to simply create large, high quality authority sites that naturally garner links and respects from readers – period.
I’ll be very eager to follow along with that strategy and see how it does it since that is exactly the direction I’ve been trying to go with my biggest niche site NS1.
NS1 has all potential in the world to turn into a true authority site. It already has over 80 pages of content on it. My goal is to get it over 100. I’ve got a short list of targeted keywords I found using Long Tail Pro and I’m working with and for this go-around I’m writing the content myself to ensure that it gets written to my standards of quality. Even though that slows things up a bit, I feel good about it because I’m drafting the posts exactly in the way that I want them to be (keyword density, use of keyword synonyms, choice of external links, etc).
What do I hope to get out of this? Hopefully 1) more traffic and 2) more affiliate income. Its simple math that the more pages you have the more opportunity you have to rank within the Google search results. And if I can double my traffic, then perhaps I’ll also be able to better promote some of my advertising.
We’ll have to see how this goes over the next few months. But I’m optimistic that the more good content I pour into the site can only result in good things.
Finally – Trying Something New for NS3:
If you remember, last month I decided to dust off NS3 and try to revive the site with some new and fresh content. But I ran into some trouble – the writer I hired decided not to write anything – I received no content.
Fortunately that didn’t last long. I found a new writer within my budget, and she has been sending me a few new posts to review and post to the site. So slowly I plan to double the amount of content on this site and hopefully give it a second chance at making some sustainable income.
More Content for NS4:
In between everything that I’ve mentioned here, one other thing I’m working on is adding new content to NS4, my music site. Again, similar to NS1, I’m writing everything myself as of lately so the process is going very, very slowly.
However, that might change. My priority for this one might increase very quickly since I’d really like to make sure this website is in good standing in time for Christmas. After all – it is an Amazon monetized site and you’re going to want to make sure that people find it as easily as possible. Folks like to spend like mad when shopping online during Christmas time!
Whether I write about them or not, I do a lot of experimenting with my sites. So one new thing I wanted to try out here in these niche website updates was to talk about what’s been working for me and what hasn’t.
Here are just a few of the things I tried in September and their results:
Write better meta descriptions – MIXED. This strategy was simply common sense. How many times do you search for something in Google and skip right over it because it had a poor title or boring description underneath it? Me too.
What I tried to do here was take my top 10 posts on NS1 and re-write the meta description so they were more “actionable” and catchy. Unfortunately however when I compare those posts month to month, I find that their popularity actually went down.
Rather than call this a complete failure, I do believe there is some merit in paying attention to your meta descriptions and making them more catchy than simply coping and pasting the first two lines of your article content into them. So even though there were no dramatic improvements, I’m still going to be conscious of doing this going forward.
Target 2 keywords in a single post – FAIL. I had read about this strategy on NoHatDigital and thought it would be a neat trick. Realistically when you write a blog post you almost always rank for more than just your intended keyword. So I thought “why not try to rank for two that I really want”!
Unfortunately the one post where I intentionally tried this failed. One of the keywords made it as far as page 5 in the Google search results while the other one was lost in the Goolge abyss to never be found. I’m totally willing to accept that perhaps this is more of a function of my on-page SEO.
Link silo-ing – FAIL. Another trick I’ve read about more than once now (and was suggested to me from Glen at Monster Piggy Bank) was to try silo-ing my links. As I’ve read, there are many theories on how to properly do this. To give this a fair shake, I went back to my smallest website NS3 and rearranged all the internal links so they were category specific and waited to see if it made any change in the Google rank results. Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be any improvement for the site. However I will probably continue to mind this strategy going forward when I do internal linking on any of my sites. The idea just seems like good common sense.
Readers – What was your September income like? Did anyone get hit by the private blog network penalty?
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