February 2012 Niche Site Income Report

I’m happy to say that last month I managed to achieve one of my aims for 2012 by earning £500 in one month, and to be exact I can report that I earned £501.29 in February from my online niche sites which is just under US$800. When I wrote my aims at the beginning of January I was just about recovering from a Google slap and had earned just over £200 in December and so £500 seemed a long way away but just a couple of months into the year and I’ve done it.

How did I do this?

This month I earned £490.67 from AdSense and only £10.62 from Amazon and that was a result of me deciding where best to spend my time. Whilst the majority of my earnings are from AdSense then it makes business sense to keep my focus on that and try and build on it rather than using my time trying to force a new income stream whilst I haven’t reached my potential with AdSense.

I’ve found it harder to rank for Amazon affiliate sites and even have one site that Google just doesn’t want to index so in a way my hand was forced and I decided to work on my current sites and see what I could do to improve a couple of them. I did also create a new AdSense site and also purchased around 10 new domains to work on in the next few months.

A nice £6,000 pay rise

£500 is a great amount to be earning ‘on the side’ and if this were a regular income then it would effectively mean a £6,000 payrise for me! You wouldn’t turn that down would you? Of course there is tax to come from that but I’m lucky in that my only expenses are my hosting (£16 a month) and buying domains (£7 for 2 years). I write the majority of my own content and spend perhaps £10 a month on content writing and create any backlinks myself or using Fiverr ($10 a month).

I’m only looking up now and fingers crossed I can make further improvements to my income reports.

Can a theme improve ranking?

As I mentioned earlier I looked at ways to improve some of my sites and one of these is a 6 month old site which was earning around £2 a month and using the CTR Theme. I know this site has a bit more potential so I thought I would experiment and give it a new theme. This meant a refresh and also sorting out the menu structure slightly, but didn’t involve any new content. This was simply about site design and structure which is something not always taken into consideration with SEO. Here’s what happened over the month:

This led to the site earning £11.23 last month. The above graph is from Google Webmaster Tools and shows search queries on Google for keywords to my site. As you can see from the graph, visits aren’t amazing (about 16 a day) but my site is ranking higher and with a bit more work and improving the content I am hoping to see further improvements.

Of course this could be down to a Google algorithm change but I doubt it as I installed the new theme on 13th February and the change was almost instant. Take from this what you will but I will certainly be focusing a little more on site design and menu structure from now on rather than just content and links and perhaps this could rejuvenate some of your older sites?

The Future

I am constantly being told that AdSense is unstable and shouldn’t be taken for granted and whilst I agree with this I think it can apply to any income, even your 9-5 salaried job, and so whilst I’m looking to branch out I mustn’t neglect what is providing the majority of my offline income. The future then is more AdSense sites but perhaps it’s time to start working on something ‘bigger’, perhaps a community site, which is something that Google is favouring. What are your tips on this? What do I need to do?

October Income Report

I’ll start off with saying that I haven’t been very productive during October and it’s been my poorest month so far on my niche website journey. This was partly due the fact that Site P felt the full brunt of last month’s Google -60 Penalty and the site is basically dead in the water now. I put in a reconsideration request but that was turned down, and then to make matters worse Google have banned AdSense on that site so it is making no money now.

What did I do wrong?

The site I created wasn’t scraped or copied and did provide a lot of useful content, but as my first ever niche site I now know I went about making it the wrong way. My main error was focusing on one target keyword and that was my downfall. I optimised my content for this one term, most of my backlinks used this main term, and basically Google didn’t like it. It worked fine in the short term but then they got me and the site is worthless with virtually zero chance of getting it anywhere useful in the rankings.

I have not given up totally on the niche though and have decided to create a new site on the same topic but go about it the right way. I’ve chosen a new domain as I didn’t want to risk any negative backlinks to the site, and I’ve started to write the content from scratch. I did an amazing amount of research into the topic so it seems a waste to let it go completely especially as I know its potential but annoyingly someone else has also spotted this niche and created a similar site with similar content. It’s not a clone but a lot of the articles,wording, and structure is very similar to my site so I’m a little peeved but alas it’s all fair game and I can’t really say anything.

The Numbers

September Income October Income Difference
Niche Site P £127.27  £25.30 (£101.97)
Niche Site F £50.98  £51.42 £0.46
ademdjemil.co.uk/blog £1.98  £2.93 £0.95
Niche Site C
£1.54  £7.60 £6.06
Niche Site P2
N/A  £0.01 £0.01
Niche Site E
N/A  N/A N/A
TOTAL £181.77 £87.26 ($139.05) (£94.51)

I added Site P2 and Site E to the table last month but I haven’t done much with them and already have the feeling that they perhaps aren’t the best niches to be in and that I was maybe a bit hasty in getting the domains without doing as much research as I could. I’ll still do some work on them though and see what happens.

The Positives

From the above table you can see that all my other sites made increases, and I’m especially happy with Site F as last months figure included a £16.85 click which artificially boosted the figures. If I get another good month like this then I will see about optimising the site and seeing if there is further room for improvement.

Site C is in the same boat too, and took a big jump in profits. Not massive but enough to show that there is scope for improving that site too and that it’s worth sticking to.

Affiliate Income – an alternative to AdSense?

I did have a surprise last week when I looked at an old Clickbank account I had and found I’d earned over $30 from a long forgotten site I made at the beginning of the year which shows there is money to be made from affiliate sites and perhaps I should investigate further into affiliate schemes which would help diversify my income streams.

I have started work on a new site though that will be based around affiliate products and I will primarily be using the Amazon Affiliates scheme for this as opposed to Clickbank.  I’m quite looking forward to this as I will be learning more and be approaching things in a different way as I will be relying on my content to sell the products rather than adverts.

Next Month?

As Site P will be registering a big fat ZERO in earnings in then I fully expect November to be my worst month of earnings and hopefully that should signal rock bottom with the only way up from there and to be honest that’s quite a good thing as I am able to start from scratch. Fingers crossed that’s the case

September Income Report

A good start but then…

At the start of the month I thought I was heading for a bumper niche site payday with my main site bringing in almost £100 in the first 3 5 days. ‘Woo Hoo’ I thought but then something bad happened and I was punished by Google with the site getting a ‘minus 60 penalty’. I wasn’t sure what had happened but after doing some research it looks like my backlinking and site structure had come under scrutiny from Google and I had contravened their website guidelines policy. At the end of the day it’s pretty hard to pinpoint it to one specific thing but I believe it was because I built up too many backlinks too quickly, used the same keyword for most of my links, and also commented on some poor quality blogs.

The majority of my backlinks came from commenting on blogs, some of which were just a bit spammy, I’ll admit to that, so I know that was wrong but it’s interesting how Google works this out. If I were a competitor then I could spend some time spamming comments with my competitors details and hopefully see if Google would apply a penalty to them.

Tricky times but it’s all a learning curve and has influenced my link-building policy for the future. I am only commenting on blogs that are relevant to the niche I’m in, and yet again only useful comments that add some quality. The other thing is not to focus too much on keywords for backlinks and instead think about how a novice would write. They wouldn’t jam in keywords and instead it would all be a lot looser and more organic. Lessons learnt then and as usual I’m taking this a month at a time.

So now onto the numbers:

August Income September Income Difference
Niche Site P £384.83 £127.27 (£257.56)
Niche Site F £11.24 £50.98 £39.74
ademdjemil.co.uk/blog £2.86 £1.98 (£0.88)
Niche Site C
£0.00 £1.54 £1.54
Niche Site P2
N/A N/A N/A
Niche Site E
N/A N/A N/A
TOTAL £398.93 £181.77 ($282.65) (£217.16)

As you can see my overall income has taken quite a knock but that was always the risk with having one major earner so I’m not going to focus on that and instead focus on the positives of getting my other nice sites rolling.

Site F has seen a big jump in earnings which was partially helped by a £16.85 click late in the month (someone clearly isn’t using AdWords that effieciently) but even without that it was a good rise and I’m very happy with that.

Site C also saw a few clicks and started bringing in revenue and the aim as always is to increase this amount much like I have done with Site F. This means I now have 3 niche sites earning me money and we’re on the way to spreading the revenue and leaving me at less risk of suffering the same fate as this month.

I have submitted Site P for a reconsideration request from Google but I have read stories of it taking years to get back up the rankings so I fully expect my earnings to drop next month too.

Aims for the future

So I’ve got three sites earning revenue and as you can see from the above table I’m creating Site P2 and Site E, which if you’re good at maths, will bring me up to five sites  (excluding my blog). The route I will be going down is to create many sites each earning a small percentage of my overall revenue, and ideally I would like to have ten sites up and running and earning money by the New Year.

The thing to remember is that all this revenue is extra to my usual 9-5 job and for the moment if I make no money or suffer a drop in my AdSense income then I am not greatly effected (apart from my pride) but if I can succeed and keep building more sites then this could be something that would require more of my time in exchange for the income it brings.

July 2011 Income Report

July was a very busy month for me, but unfortunately for my niche sites it wasn’t spent on them! I had a 3 day Stag weekend in Scotland, followed by a 4 day stag weekend in Wales, a wedding, and then finally the whole business of selling my house. Add this to my full-time job and that doesn’t leave much time for my niche sites, but I guess that’s one of the ideas of passive income in that the money still trickles in with minimal day to day effort.

I did a lot of work on my main niche site ‘P’ in May and I’ve been reaping the rewards since. I’ve also dabbled in my second niche site ‘F’ but done very little on it which is a pity as I know it’s got potential but I need to spend some quality time on it.

The Numbers

June Income July Income Difference
Niche Site P £237.74 £340.36 £102.62
Niche Site F £0.79 £8.22 £7.42
ademdjemil.co.uk/blog £3.03 £3.27 £0.24
TOTAL £241.56 £351.85 £110.29

A massive £110.29 increase in my passive income from June’s AdSense revenue put my monthly income up to £351.85 in July or $576 for those who deal in US dollars. That is massive and it’s great to have that added to my normal monthly income from my day job.

What have I learned this month?

The main thing I’ve learned that you cannot control your AdSense earnings as there are too many factors that account for your earning. Just because you are getting traffic it doesn’t always mean that visitors will click on your adverts, and the average amount of daily clicks you get will never be constant. The other factor is that the CPC (Cost per Click) can vary greatly and there is nothing you can do about it. Choosing a good niche will help you get high paying advertisers but they will also have a budget and sometimes advertisors just aren’t in the mood to pay too well. I’ve had clicks worth £5 and I’ve had clicks worth 15p, all on the same content but it just depended on who was advertising.

The chart to the right shows how much I currently depend on niche site P and so I definitely need to expand niche site F and hopefully that will be a bigger chunk next month. Of course you can never depend on your passive income but it’s certainly a nice bonus at the end of the month!

August 2011 Income Report

I only started working with ‘niche sites’ in mid-May so this is only my 4th income report (see May, June, July) so it’s still early days and there is still a lot of experimenting to do to see what success I can make from this. What has dawned on me is that I’ve been very lucky with my first niche site I made and the money it has brought in (ranking #1 in Google for it’s keyphrase), and conversely with other sites I’m working on it shows that it’s not as easy replicating that success.

The Numbers

July Income August Income Difference
Niche Site P £340.36 £384.83 £44.47
Niche Site F £8.22 £11.24 £3.02
ademdjemil.co.uk/blog £3.27 £2.86 (£0.41)
Niche Site C
NA £0.00 £0.00
TOTAL £351.85 £398.93 ($645.29) £47.08

Almost £400 income for August! It didn’t look like that was going to happen based on figures for the first half of  the month and I posted ‘Niche Site Update‘ on 14th August explaining just as much. Look at the graph below and you will see what I mean:

I got back to creating some new backlinks, installed a couple of new plugins and that was it really. Were these contributing factors or just a fluke? I’m not too sure but something happened and I’m happy it did because I’m able to post another great income report here. The plugins I installed were:

  • Strictly Auto Tags – This automatically adds relevant tags to your post when you publish it.
  • SEO SearchTerms Tagging 2 – This can add incoming search terms to your sidebar or specific pages which helps with SEO and longtail keywords.

Another Good Month

The £398.93 ($645.29) earned this month has made me very happy but I’m going to be incredibly busy with my actual job this month so it will be a real test of the sites as to whether I can keep that up and post an increase for the September Income Report. The way I look at it is that I’ve earnt over £1000 from my sites in less than 4 months and if I didn’t earn anymore then it was great fun whilst it lasted.

The Future

Site ‘P’ is doing as good as ever and I’m sure there is scope for improvement, but I’m happy site ‘F’ has shown a small improvement and broken the £10 barrier. It can do better but it is in a competitive niche and I will have to do something special to stick out but it has already paid for its domain purchase so everything else onwards is profit. If I can make 10 sites like it then that’s another £100 extra income a month, and I have heard of some people having hundreds of smaller sites each earning a small percentage of a big profit. I’ve added site ‘C’ to my ‘portfolio’ now and the aim for this month is to get some income from it even if that’s just pennies. It will be a start and give me something to improve on.

A Word of Warning

I had a bit of a frightful moment last weekend when I got an email regarding site ‘P’ and thought I may have to take it offline for trademark infringement which not only got me crapping my pants but also wondering what I would do without my main income stream. The email was fairly vague but was from an official person involved with the subject of my niche and said they had a few points to discuss.

Old readers of this blog will know that I was threatened with legal action in 2009 for an anonymous comment on this blog and was on the end of some heavy-handed emails which have left me a little cautious and pessimistic about the Internet and the law. I replied to the email and I’m happy to say all I had to do was remove a logo and the situation was resolved. The person even gave me some advice on the site and pointed me towards someone within the company who could give me more information. Bonus!

The lesson learnt is not to think the worse, but to also be careful of copyright and trademark infringement when creating sites. If you get big then someone will come knocking. Some will be nice like the people I dealt with this week but others with dish out legal threats and get you to close your site down. I know @payt had some letters last week and had to remove his main earner so be careful out there.

How did you do this month?

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