Like all online marketers, I post my monthly income so you can see my Method™ is working.
Last month I whinged about not getting a house that we had our hearts set on. That took a bit of a mental toll and stressed us out. My girlfriend bounced right back though, and started looking for the next target.
Lo and behold, she found one right away. It came on the market on Wednesday night, we visited it on Thursday morning, and we made an offer 15 minutes after seeing it. The bank agreed to give us a mortgage and it's all looking good!
It's huge news financially because the buying price is frankly insane (remember that I live in Switzerland, one of the biggest property bubbles of all time). But if nothing goes wrong we'll move in early next year and at that point I will quit teaching English and work full-time on websites.
Talking of which, let's see how my niche sites did this month.
If this is your first visit here, I split my income reports according to sites 1) I bought 2) I made 3) I made with a partner.
Income approaching 7,000 and profit almost 5,000. Acceptable!
In general 'digital marketing' news, I was very interested in one of the Authority Hacker podcasts. They had a discussion of how they were audited by Amazon and one of their students was banned. Among other things, the podcast taught me you aren't allowed to use Amazon's product images on your site [you can if it's shown dynamically via an API, but you can't host it yourself] and you certainly can't say 'find best price here' on your links.
With 12 niche sites in my portfolio, there's a high risk I've got some pages that aren't 100% compliant...
Bought: Tech Site
This month I did a tiny bit of research about how to move from Joomla to Wordpress, and also looked at some Joomla developers who could maybe fix its faults and give me a modern design without all the hassle of moving.
But I think the most realistic options are either 1) just leave it as it is and accept that it will never make 1,000 dollars a month again or 2) do a huge stressful and expensive migration that - with tons of further effort - could make some good money.
Or just wait till Christmas is over then sell it. Hmm.
Anyway, this month's income was distorted somewhat because the Chinese affiliate program gave me a payout which includes the last several months. This site is so far into profit that it's funny how underwhelmed I am by THE BEST INVESTMENT ANY HUMAN HAS EVER MADE.
Bought: Lead Generation Site
Another epic fail of a month. Sigh. I blame Trump. Or Obama. Or both.
There were some signs of life late in September, including a little bump in the rankings, but I need more than that to start to hope for a break-even.
It's all a shame really, because the site is really, really nice now, and definitely the best resource for people interested in the topic. Will quality win out in the end?
(Just before publishing this I checked the latest rankings and the keyword that had improved one place... dropped two places. Jesus Fucking Christ.)
Bought: Garden Site
After last month's 4-dollar income I redesigned the homepage and it's very sexy now.
The best thing about this site is the weird and terrifying things people buy through its Amazon links. Things you didn't know existed. Things you wished didn't exist.
I wanted to double the income and sell it on in quick time, but I guess my methods are too long-term for that. Ah, well.
Bought: Home Site
Like with the garden site, I refreshed the look and feel of the homepage and also added 1,000 words of content. It has been sliding down the rankings so it's good that the site can make money without ranking for its main friggin keyword.
The big push of new articles is over for now, and I just hope that all the work I put in will pay off. It has the potential to do much better than it is.
Built: Review Site
Slight drop in income but not in rankings. It's very well positioned for Black Friday etc. OMG Black Friday is going to be incredible this year. OMGOMGOMGOMGOGMGOM
Built: Education Sites
These are just ticking along. I did tinker with the adverts, deleted some of the oldest pages (which were pointless and didn't add anything), and added a rare new article. But until I create my own products to sell I can only expect 2-300 a month.
There are little green shoots on a couple of these sites, and one is really doing well. It has made more than 200 a month for 4 months, so I spent a couple of hours today doing keyword research to reinvest in it a bit.
But there's one site that sucked up most of my attention and energy in September. In last month's report I said that I was pissed that it wasn't doing better (it's a year old now so there's no excuse), and when I started added high-quality articles and doing some link building it REALLY triggered something inside me.
Long story short, I went MENTAL ordering articles and splashing out cash. I ended up spending over 1,100 dollars. (It made a paltry 24 dollars in return. This isn't how I normally do this!) When I'm not being insane I can create 3 small niches sites for that.
The good news is that one of the long-tail articles I wrote (a 1,500 word beast with great graphical elements) jumped into the top 5 within days, so it's not that Google doesn't like the site.
It WILL be a success, even if I have to spend a BILLION dollars on it. Just for the record, I am deeply uncertain about this site and whether it will ever pay off. There's very little for me to be optimistic about except that I've had good results on other sites before.
(Side note - as much as this is a record month for me, it does feel like SEO in general is getting harder and more random.)
Joint Venture: Authority Site
3k in profit and we're starting to run it like a business. My partner will get a budget to pay writers and she'll be able to keyword research an article and get it written and published without my involvement. I was starting to become a bottleneck so that's a good thing.
A few days ago I decided it was time to move the site from its cheap-o-rama shared hosting to 'business SSD' hosting, and after a little hiccup (there's always something) it's all up and running, and running fast. This premium hosting is only 20 dollars a month, which is easy to justify when you're making 3,000.
It also has Cloudflare Argo because why the hell not. Does it make any difference? You tell me. But for ten bucks a month I'm willing to take a punt. Speed is money!
Joint Venture: John Shea
When I took over the day-to-day management of this site there were a few good pages but most of its articles needed to be updated and many needed a total rewrite. I updated the last of those pages this week, so there aren't any weak pages left. I think the overall improvement in the site quality is why it's creeping up in the rankings. (There's a theory that Google considers overall site quality in its algorithm.)
Many keywords are improving from #20 to #11, that type of thing, so it's great and positive, but not really something that makes you see a financial gain.
I've doubled the traffic since March, but there's still only one page that's really profitable.
A work in progress.
Belgian: We had our first sale! Awesome. The first of many to come! Traffic is rising month on month. I don't have the figures lying around but something like 50 visitors in the first month, then 200, then 400, then 800. It's happening! On current trends we'll soon be bigger than Instagram!
Indian: The writer I asked to do the first article just didn't show up. Very annoying, but it happens. The mentee ended up being sick for half the month. Sadly no progress here.
Swiss: Only fractional progress, but we're still in the very early stages so I'm not too stressed about it. She will work on the sites when she can. Not everyone has 10 hours a day free like I do and I've been too busy to pressure her.
Girlfriend: After the shock news last month that Jen wanted to build a niche site of her own, she surprised me by managing to do HALF AN ARTICLE in one month. At this rate we should have a basic website ready in only 3 years.
Last Month's Goals
- I did replace quite a lot of Tablepress tables with sexier AAWP ones, but replacing however many comparison tables I've got is going to be a long process.
- I did end the month with a much better overview of which writers were working on which articles.
- The link building process has been a qualified success. It has cost a fair chunk of money - more than I'm really comfortable with - but in theory it should be worth it.
This Month's Goals
- Give some love to my overachieving 'other' site.
- Make an infographic and try to promote it.
- Make a plan to ensure my sites are Amazon compliant.
- Finish setting up a limited company here in Switzerland and get a business bank account (to help me keep track of all the payments etc).
One interesting development in recent weeks has been that I started using Textbroker quite heavily. I tried them in the distant past and wasn't super impressed. It seemed a bit expensive. But now that I've started paying more for quality articles (that I don't have to edit) it's started to look cheap. And the articles get written really fast! It's actually becoming a big part of my toolkit.
I also got sucked into buying more Appsumo offers. It's becoming a bit of a sickness. A few of the deals I've picked up have been SUPER useful - a Twitter bot and graphics services in particular. I lean on them very heavily. Those deals are so damn tempting! (When you start making decent money online, you start buying tools that save you TIME. You don't need these things to get going.)
Looking at the raw numbers for September, it was an amazing month. But I spent that month working really hard on this wannabe authority site, which continues to bring in pitiful amounts of visitors. Basically, the sites I've put the most work into in recent times are ones that are 'failing'. So emotionally it's a weird place to be in! A strange kind of success.