Like all online marketers, I post my monthly income so you can see my Method™ is working.
Bottom line for March is that my 'profit' was $1,715, subject to all kinds of caveats. Lots of news and events this month, including one of my sites being slapped in the nutsack by the Almighty Google. More on that below.
I've decided to change how I present this info. At the top of the following table you'll see web properties (you might know them as websites) that I bought. Then there's a section for sites that I made myself, and then a joint venture section.
The Tech Site
Amazon changed their commission structure last month and one of the areas hit hardest was electronics. So I expected a drop in income, and that's what happened. It's still ridiculously profitable though. I did maybe 2 hours of work and 1 hour of tinkering.
Lead Generation Site: Disaster
There was an unannounced Google update lovingly known as 'Fred'. It didn't hit me at all - until it did. This site had ranked number 1 for pretty much every relevant keyword since I bought it, then after Fred it suddenly fell to #3 or 4 across the board.
I was already struggling to make my money back while ranking #1, and being out of the top 3 is brutal.
Anyway, the drop spurred me to action.
I had put off making a bunch of changes to the site that in my heart I knew were necessary, so this kerfuffle was the shot in the arm I needed. One example is it was still using the Wordpress default theme from 2013. I revamped the theme, logo, layout, content and data on every single page of the site.
Since no-one knows what Fred was angry about, I changed everything on the site based on my understanding of what a good website should be. Now it has a clean, shiny, user-friendly theme, the lead gen button integrates nicely on mobile, all the data has been updated, and I started hustling for guest posts on relevant industry sites.
I also used SEO tools to find what links my competitor has and replicate them. I made a new animated explainer video. Finally, I made a cool new page analysing all the latest industry data and made a press release about it.
It was TONS of work.
The site itself is now RIDICULOUSLY good and hopefully Google will recognise that and I'll ease back up to number 1. Otherwise a site I paid a lot of money for will be worth a big fat zero.
This edged up a couple of places in the rankings and had its best month ever. I don't think I even logged in to the site to change so much as a comma. The last real change I can remember making was just after my New Year's holiday so it's genuinely passive at this point. It's crazy that it made over 600 dollars. Wow.
Just had to reply to comments and emails and ask about one of the affiliate offers which seems to be broken.
One of the sites had more than 40,000 visitors in the last 30 days. It's really an amazing resource. Is it wrong to high-five oneself?
The Authority Site
This is starting to come into its own. After a long, long struggle my partner and I are starting to see the light at the end of the funnel. We rank top 10 (or close) for a bunch of keywords and sell something almost every day. There's a world of potential here, if only we could find the time to unlock it.
We sold two big-ticket items and want to reinvest that money, but I barely have time to do keyword research or plan articles.
Joint Venture: John Shea
I've decided to call this a joint venture because it sounds grandiose, but in fact it's John's site and I'm just revamping the content and helping him grow it while he focuses on other things.
I did a whole burst of work early in March and not so much near the end (because I was trying to recover the lead gen site). Some of the tweaks I made in the last couple of months seem to be paying off already (in terms of rankings anyway).
At the end of March I added what I think is a killer article that will be number 1 in SERPs fairly quickly.
John also introduced me to a Pinterest strategy that has delivered great results for some people. I started to study it and took the first steps towards making it happen. Sadly a guy I hired on Fiverr to do some graphics kept me waiting for a week then canceled the order.
I have 3 micro-sites in the same stupid niche. I'm a bit paranoid at Amazon banning my whole account because of one tiny mistake on one of these godawful micro-sites, and even though I spent a little bit of money on them maybe it's better to just bin them all and focus on the good-looking sites that no human could think badly of.
Just now in the shower I had a better idea - I realised I should merge them into one site with a slightly broader brand name. I haven't thought of a name yet, but having one okay site is much more appealing than 3 shit ones. And it would be one I could grow over time and possibly have value one day. With the right branding I'm sure I'd find an hour a month to prod it forward.
That would also be an interesting experiment in 301 redirects from the current URLs to the new one. I haven't done much of that sort of thing. This is last on my list of To Dos though. Just an idea I had.
Accidentally Made a New Site
I have so many sites on the go now that I told myself I needed to unload some of them and really invest time and energy in the ones that have the potential to be winners. That resolution lasted all of 6 minutes until I came across a keyword that literally gave me goosebumps.
Honestly - and this might be the most tragic thing I've ever written - I was so hot under the collar for this keyword that I couldn't sleep. That was two weeks ago and now I've got half a website about that topic and there's NO WAY my site won't be number 1 for a bunch of low-volume, high-value phrases by the end of the year. I'll just add one article a week or something. There's a very limited number of topics anyway, which is good.
Talking about the end of the year, I've got it in my head that I want to be able to stop teaching this year. I think I will still do one day a week next year - maybe two - just for the social contact and to get out of the house. But I want to be able to focus on websites and writing. Teaching's been good to me, but I've been doing it long enough.
In terms of trying to 'beat' Google there are 3 ways - black hat (where all kinds of dubious acts are performed), grey hat (a bit naughty), and white hat (as clean as is realistic).
I suppose I've been a bit grey hat on some of my projects, though only a very light grey. Anyone visiting one of my sites is going to find better writing and more useful content than on most of the net.
But of course I'd like to be pure white hat, since then the risk of Google punishing my sites would be much lower. (Note that I did nothing grey hat to the lead gen site because my girlfriend owns half and I wouldn't risk her money - I legitimately don't know why it lost rankings.)
This month I started down the White Hat link building route with systematised link-building. For example, for the JV site I hired a VA to find broken links on blogs and write to the blogger informing them and suggesting they replace the broken links with links to my sites. And I tried to find guest posting opportunities - especially for the lead gen site.
It's a process and it's work and it's not free, but with the right system it SHOULD be possible to get good clean links on a regular basis. But I've really only taken baby steps in this direction - there will be more to come. (It'd help if I didn't have so many sites to look after.)
Bought A Little Site
Mid-way through March I saw a post on a Facebook group asking if anyone wanted to sell a profitable website. It was Michael from DomainMagnate.com. who among other things is a website broker. His site doesn't look super good but I wrote asking about a few of the ones he was selling. 'Oh, that page isn't updated', he said, 'but I've got this one for sale.'
Long story short, I bought the one he told me about, and it was pretty easy working with him. I guess he normally does big deals, but he took the time to do this little one and I appreciate that.
Regarding the site itself, I spent a day and a half making some changes I thought were necessary and started to add new content. In the past I would have waited a bit and made tiny incremental changes, but these days I'm all-in. I can absorb some short-term pain for a long-term payoff.
Can I double this new site's monthly income from 120 to 240? You bet I can! Probably. Eventually.
By the way, it's another insane niche that you would NEVER think about until you saw it. I'll call it The Garden Site here.
Bought A BIG Site
I still had a bunch of money stored at Empire Flippers from sites I'd tried to buy in the past year (I was beaten to the punch on every occasion). My contact there told me there was a new site in the Home Stuff niche that I'd like and he was right.
The site was absolutely nailing the rankings for all kinds of money keywords, but the site itself was a bit grotesque. Not mocking the creator - far from it - he built a super niche site. But in various ways I felt I could come in and improve it and make some quick wins.
For example, various sections look awful on a mobile phone, and there's international traffic that isn't monetised. I thought I could instantly add 10% to the revenue.
Still, it's a HUGE investment for me - far more than I wanted to make at this point. But looking at the data and the competition makes me think this is as good a use for my investment money as anything that's likely to come up.
If all goes to plan, I'll get my money back in 27 months. Maybe Google or Amazon will screw me over in the meantime, or maybe a new competitor will emerge and crush the rankings. Or maybe things will work out fine and this will prove to be one of the best investments I've ever made...
Wish me luck!
As you might have noticed, I have more projects than time. That's something to work on for April.