Like all online marketers, I post my monthly income so you can see my Methodâ„¢ is working. These report cards tell the story of how my niche websites are performing (in a way that doesn't get me in hot water with the taxman).

It finally happened! The moment I was dreading! I got a Google penalty. On the site that was providing 80% of my income!

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I'll write an article detailing the whole thing one day, but as you can expect, it's been stressful and annoying.

The good news is that my move went well and I'm now living in the middle of nowhere in my gigantic house. Every piece of paperwork related to life in general, plus the move, plus all my taxes, plus 8 random other things has to be done in March so I don't really have time to go deep into this report. Let's get it over with!

I split these report cards according to sites 1) I bought 2) I made 3) I made with a partner.

Bought: Tech Site (D)

It's all free money at this point but income this month was a bit on the low side and the developer I hired to migrate it to Wordpress has done a runner. Whatevs. I can't see a way to really kickstart it that doesn't involve a ton of time/energy that I don't have.

Bought: Lead Generation Site (F)

Another month as barren as Bruce Willis's later career. My plan to re-brand the site is going to need a couple of days free. I have a big translation project to finish soon, and that takes priority. (Translation is hard, but it's doubly hard for me because I only know one language. Weirdly, the final fruit of my translation labour is incredible.)

Bought: Garden Site (A)

Boom! Tis the season to buy this garden equipment! I had a pretty good month of sales (relatively) so I reinvested in a couple of long-form articles that I hope will do well. I can't imagine ever needing to spend any more money on this site, so let's hope we can get to break-even by the end of the year.

Bought: Home Site (C)

Strangely subdued month. I thought things were on track after last month's strong showing but this was fairly grim. Could be seasonal - it was clear that people were buying a lot of these products after Christmas and maybe that surge just fizzled out.

Made some minor improvements and cut costs.

Built: Review Site 1 (A)

Pretty much identical to last month. The difference being that a MAJOR retailer in the USA wrote to me, interesting in a partnership. Might not lead anywhere, but the fact that I've built a site so good that one of the biggest companies in the world would be even vaguely interested in working with me... was good to hear.

Built: Review Site 2 (B)

Just a standard month. Normally I'd just nod at it and go 'yeah cool' but the money was more welcome this month than usual. It's not cheap heating a house built in 1830.

Built: Education Sites (C)

Almost identical to January. The tweaks I made to the Squarespace SEO haven't really kicked in, but I'm pretty sure they were the right thing to do.

Oh, and I plan to try the new Adsense ad units. It's just some code you add to a page and Google decides what the best ads would be. Maybe I can tweak some extra cash out of it. Anything that means I don't have to create my own courses or ebooks or apps! They'd do great but I don't have the motivation.

Built: Others (C)

This is my basket of deplorables - sites too new, small, or shit to warrant their own section. The site that made over 400 dollars last month made over 500 this time round. Very handy income! The rest I barely touched. No time. Stupid to have this many sites. Don't do it! I wish I had 3 that I could really work on.

Joint Venture: Authority Site (E)

This should be an F, except there's every chance next month will be worse. Partway through February the Google penalty was applied and every page went from number 1 in the rankings to number 40 or 50. There's still some people coming from Pinterest and whatnot, but basically it's lost 95% or more of its traffic and income.

Huge disaster. Fixing it has been educational but not successful. Google is so opaque that I have no idea what the exact problem is. I paid for some links back in 2016 but have cleaned them up since. There's a ton of spam links that appear every day, which I do my best to disavow but Google just keeps mindlessly rejecting my appeals, with longer and longer intervals in between.

Maddening, and a reminder that this whole income stream relies on monopolies who can do whatever the fuck they want because no politician understands what they do. Maybe the Bitcoiners have been right all along!

Joint Venture: John Shea

With my time needed elsewhere and my complete lack of success in turning the site around, I suggested to John that I step down from the project. The niche is one of the most saturated, but I still thought I'd make some inroads with it. Disappointing.

Mentoring

Belgian: We got paid for our Christmas sales, but the next chance of making some decent coin is the summer. Till then it's just a case of slowly adding content to our new silo, and trying to start linkbuilding. It's hard to focus on it when my 5-figure site is offline. The mentee was in hospital - a reminder if I needed it (which I totally don't) that there are more important things than websites.

Swiss:  More linkbuilding is needed - I came up with a good article concept that could attract some nice links, but it's all in the hands of my mentee really.

Girlfriend: This isn't going to happen. I probably won't mention it next month! She has to take care of her horses every day now. They live about 20 metres away, but they poop once per hour. It's a lot of work. Also, horses are really stupid and you have to design every aspect of their life to the nth degree or they hurt themselves.

Last Month's Goals

  • The move was a success. Couple of minor breakages, but the movers worked like Trojans on the coldest day of the year and we gave them a nice tip. We'd paid for a 1Gb internet connection but the most the local nodes can handle is 100Mb so I have to suffer that! Apart from that it's just been a weird dreamlike state. Living on 3 floors, having a huge garden, checking on the horses, playing Fallout 4 with the sound turned up and the subwoofer on. Sounds I've never heard before! It's like a great holiday, except this is my life now. Will take time to sink in.
  • Didn't do much on the content side - almost nothing, in fact. Google penalty sucked up all my energy. I think I posted 2 articles across all my sites in the whole month. That's feeble.
  • Didn't get obnoxiously drunk. One or two mild hangovers. DID get a bad case of Manflu 2 days before the move, though, and had to lie in bed while my girlfriend did all the work. Sounds like a scam, I know, but I'd done a lot of packing myself in the week before and would have preferred to fall ill after the move! She was a trooper. Impressive work ethic for a foreigner. Deserves a nice packet of biscuits for her birthday. Remind me.
  • Did some of the paperwork that was needed, but nowhere near enough. There are papers all over the place. Problem is I need Jen to help me with most of them and she's even more underwater than me.

This Month's Goals

  • Get the Google penalty lifted.
  • Try to make sure no other sites can get penalised. (Would help to know what the problem was in the first place!)
  • Stop being sick.
  • Explore the local area. (I might get on a bicycle for the first time since my near-fatal crash in Hong Kong, which was... 2005? There are places nearby where it seems safe enough even for a scaredy cat like me.)

Last Words

One day I'll have to work out how to make a living without relying on Google or Amazon, but for now I'm stuck with them! It's time to make sure I abide by all their rules.

Oh wait - they don't tell you all their rules. I'm living in a Kafka story! What fun!

(I exaggerate. From what I can tell they are mostly fair. A year from now I hope to look back on this time and think 'gosh that was a good lesson to learn.)