Every month I like to review what’s going on with my online business and put it all in print for you to see. Not only does this help you out, but it also keeps me accountable and in tune with what works / what doesn’t.
Whether you’re a blogger or not, I really do hope that when you read through this post that you see how it is in fact POSSIBLE to earn a decent amount of money on the side. Whether you want to call it passive income or not is up to you. I’m just very pleased to even be earning anything at all and excited by the prospect of what this online business has become.
Though it was a short, VERY-cold February here in the Midwest, that gave me a lot of time to try a few new things and get some work done. And there will be even more as we rush straight into March. So with that, let’s see how everything played out and what we plan to do about it from there.
Niche Website Income Report – February 2015:
Here is my income and expense report for the month:
Here’s a closer look at my income sources for the month:
- Amazon = $120.16
- Clickbank = $451.74
- Google Adsense = $483.60
- iPage = $0.00
- Personal Capital = $0.00 (If you’d like to make money yourself by being an affiliate, you can sign up here).
- Private Advertising = $225.00
My only expense this month was from Elance. More on this below.
The Site With the Least Attention Earns the Most Money!
Ironically the niche website I worked on the least (… read – not at all) earned the most amount of revenue this month. Now that’s what I call passive income!
Niche site 2 (NS2) earned $452 from Clickbank alone this month in addition to other revenue it received from other places like Google Adsense and a little bit of private advertising. That’s pretty amazing considering I haven’t really added any new content to the site since December or made any other major changes.
As I’ve said before, YES these websites do take some time to create and build-up. But once the wheel starts turning all by itself, it’s a pretty beautiful thing to sit back, do nothing, and then check your Clickbank account and find you’re $452 richer than you used to be!
So can I capitalize on this even further?
… I’ve got a few ideas. One thing I have been doing (and will need to continue to do by trial and error) is to watch which Clickbank products I’m promoting and see what is actually converting. Last month I had links to 3 different products and unfortunately one of them hadn’t had any sales at all. So I let that one go and found a new affiliate product to promote. I plan to keep making the same sort of evaluation regularly each month. Each time I find something that sticks it could potentially add an extra $50 to $500 to my bottom line!
The other thing that would help would be to increase targeted traffic, but we’ll come back to that at a later time. That’s a whole other discussion.
Did the New Adsense Responsive Ads Earn More Money?
One of the format changes I talked about making in my last Niche Site Income Report was how we moved from the regular-ole Adsense ads to the newer “responsive” ads that Google had generically emailed me about.
To quickly re-cap, the responsive ads are supposed to be better at formatting themselves for whatever device your reader is using. Think of a desktop computer versus a smart phone. Your regular, fixed-size ads might look great on the desktop computer screen but really awkward on the smart-phone. Awkward is not good for sales!
The responsive ones re-format themselves for whatever type of device the user is on. So they might see one shape ad on the desktop computer and another on their smart phone. But that’s okay because Google can then better match the ad to that ad shape, and (as they claimed) this will have a great increase on my earnings!
So the million dollar question – did it help? See for yourself after one month of trying them out:
(Dark Green is February with the new ads, Light Green is January with the old ads)
In most cases (except on My Money Design), it did in fact help … somewhat. Notice how the RPM (revenue per thousand impressions) was better in February over last month. I find that looking at RPM is useful because it is one metric that takes everything into consideration: Number of visitors, number of conversions, the value of each conversion, etc.
While it’s not a monumental change, it was a pretty simple move that helped increase the overall revenue. Considering that and the fact that the ads do look better, if I were you I’d give a try.
A Change of Plans … Moving Ahead with New Content for NS4!
I know last month I said I was going to wait until the end of this month to make a decision about whether or not to move forward with adding more content to NS4 (niche site 4, my music-product website) … but I just couldn’t wait!
After seeing such promising progress for the last two months in a row and a decent start-off to February, I said to myself: Why not?
From a business perspective, if I made over $250 from January alone, then I certainly I have the capital to re-invest $100 or more back into the business (remember: this is a business) in hiring a quality writer that is potentially going to raise revenue level for each month hereafter.
And besides – I had already done a decent amount of keyword research on Long Tail Pro Platinum for new low competition, decent-sized volume search terms that I’m pretty certain will be some really good winners!
Fresh in mind with the advice of Nate Tsang from No Hat Digital and his epic SEO Content Creation post, I decided to go about hiring a freelance writer a little bit differently this time.
In the past when I hired writers I always tried to get them for around $5-$6 per article as a way to keep my overall costs as low as possible. Go figure when I’d receive the second or third draft from the writers and I still wasn’t anywhere close to being 100% satisfied, right?
So this time around I doubled my budget and found a freelancer to produce content for me at $12 per article. I believe at one time Spencer Haws from Niche Pursuits had mentioned that this is about the average price he also pays his freelance writers.
One thing to point out about this freelancer (in case you do any freelancing writing yourself) that really helped them to stand out from the 20 or so other applications I received was that they provided me articles that were somehow already EXACTLY what I was looking for: Quality, informative, well-researched, great in length, etc. Honestly after seeing their example articles, my decision was made in seconds!
So going forward, here’s the plan:
- Drip the new posts on to NS4 at a rate of 1-2 new articles per week.
- Each new post will target one specific keyword and somewhere between 1-4 products from Amazon.
- Link to 1-3 older posts within NS4 within each new article from the same topic category. From an SEO perspective this is called “Link Siloing” and as far as I can tell it seems to have worked pretty well to maintain at producing an overall site-structure that Google seems to be rewarding in the search ranks.
One other important thing to point out – this one from a “human perspective”. The way I went about going after my latest batch of keywords and Amazon products started FIRST by me visiting my own site and asking the question:
“What’s wrong here? If I found this site in Google, what’s missing?”
And so the self-audit began. Right away I noticed is that some of the categories were more top-heavy than others. Some had 10-15 articles whereas one of them only had 2. That’s not a very good balance at all!
Tying in with that issue, I was doing a really good job promoting a number of wonderful musical instruments. But I was not doing enough to promote some of the gear and accessories that often get purchased along with those instruments. Again, another missed opportunity.
The takeaway: I bring this up because I want you to think about and emphasize the importance of the user experience as you build your own websites, no matter what your niche is! Always remember your readers are humans; people! Your blog posts should be more than just a bunch of nice, random low competition keywords you found in Long Tail Pro. They should have a deeper purpose of rounding out the overall big-picture experience of your site and what it offers to the reader.
Do yourself a favor and look at the next 3-6 blog posts you’ve got planned to write about / publish. Are they going to accomplish what we’re talking about here?
What About NS1?
I’m slacking on this project pretty bad. But not to worry – I’ve got really good reasons!
- Moving ahead the NS4, even with the assistance of the freelance writer, has taken my attention from NS1 to NS4. That’s because I still need to proof-read the articles, communicate changes if I need them with the freelancer, upload the text and photos, link back to Amazon, and then also link back to other posts on NS4.
- I’m working on another BIG project – more to come on that one in a later post!
The other thing that’s somewhat making me hesitate is the fact that the latest posts I’ve written and published to the site are NOT ranking well organically. This poses a problem …
Remember my goal is to write quality content and attempt to have it rank naturally without any link-building effort. As I mentioned in the last Update, I’m writing all the content myself so its definitely meeting my writing standards. Understandably the posts are fairly new so I may just have to be patient and wait for their rankings to improve.
Readers – How are your website earning efforts going. Out of curiosity, what do you pay your freelance writers and why? Do you feel you’re getting what you’re pay for?
Featured Image courtesy of Owen Brown | Flickr