January 2012 Income Report

It’s that time of the month when I reveal how I’m doing with my niche sites and how much money I’ve made. These figures are gross and so don’t include any expenditures such as domains, hosting, etc, and most importantly tax, and I thought it was important to let you know that. I haven’t had to fill in a tax return yet as I’ve only been creating these sites since May and so haven’t completed a full tax year yet, but come January 2013 I will be filing my returns and so I’ve got to remember to save about a third of my earnings for that.

Why do I share my earnings?

I personally enjoy finding out how others are doing with their niche sites, and so why not share how I’m doing? Perhaps if this was my full-time income and a full-time business then I may be a bit more reserved about sharing these details but for the moment there’s no harm. I also like to think that visitors to this site enjoy reading about those who earn a very modest income as well as those who are earning tens of thousands each month.

How much did I earn?

This month has been a great month and I’ve been able to diversify my income with earnings from Amazon Associates, the affiliate scheme run by Amazon. AdSense has yet again been my main earner and it’s great to see those sites I created 9 months ago coming january2012incomepie-2517475into their own with very little work from myself for the past couple of months. I have seen some of the smaller sites tail off though and I will need to put more work into them if I want to get them earning again.

As you can see I’m almost back to my August peak for AdSense income and I think the Panda update in September did me a favour by clarifying my way of creating sites. I’ve been focusing on producing good content and have also done minimal backlinking, so my sites are very much focusing on organic SEO. Perhaps this has effected some of my smaller sites, but I’m happy with it that way.

When you add the Amazon income of £42.92 to the £387.32 from AdSense then my grand total for the month is £430.24 ($676.77) which is my highest total yet! Looking at the graph below you can see that I’ve gradually emerged from my massive dip and hopefully this will continue, but I know I’ve still got more work to do and really need to get some more profitable sites up and running to up this income as I’m probably at income saturation for several sites. I’m too well aware though that another Google update could come along and hurt my earnings and so don’t take anything for granted. So the name of the game is diversifying my income streams.

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Focusing on affiliates over AdSense

I’ve enjoyed making AdSense sites but have been focusing on affiliate sites using Amazon Associates and Affiliate Window. I’ve mentioned previously how the sites I make for these are slightly different from AdSense monetised ones and so it took a little effort to get my head around that, but I think I’m on the right track. People who get onto my affiliate sites are already in the mood to buy so if I can get them onto Amazon via my affiliate links then I can earn a 5% cut of whatever they buy which if done right is much more than I would’ve got for an AdSense click. I am well aware that the bulk of my earnings are still from AdSense and there are still sites that work better with AdSense so perhaps I should shift some of my focus back.

One thing I did learn is that there is always smallprint, and Amazon.co.uk referral fees are capped at £7 per item and so it’s not worth marketing products over £140. A friend of mine bought 4 expensive speakers for a total of £1100 through one of my sites I’d been showing him, and instead of getting £55 commission I got £28, which is still good but not as great as I was expecting but perhaps I’m just being picky. Obviously I won’t be having this ‘extra income’ again and so I will be pushing to get more organic Amazon income next month.

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The good thing I’ve noticed about affiliate sites is that even with less traffic I can still get sales as visitors are in the ‘buying mood’, where as if the sites were using AdSense I would expect far less clicks and income, so think about how you monetise your sites and what would work best. Some of my sites have solely AdSense, some have solely Amazon, and I’ve even been able to put some Amazon affiliate links on my sites that were already doing well with AdSense. Just because you’re doing well with AdSense doesn’t mean you can’t do even better by shifting some focus onto affiliate marketing.

Is this passive income?

‘Passive Income’ is used a lot for those who run PPC/Affiliate websites and after 9 months of this I can definitely confirm that it is not passive, and to say so takes away a lot of the hard work we do. It definitely takes work to do the following:

  • Keyword Research
  • Creating websites
  • Creating content
  • Ranking
  • Selling

All these take time and effort and for someone like me who has a day job too this means working on evenings, weekends, etc.

The only thing remotely passive is getting clicks and sales. I love waking up in the morning and seeing that people have been clicking away or buying through my affiliate links and seeing that money come in doesn’t seem to equate with the work I’ve previously put in. Obviously if I wasn’t making anything then I would be a bit narked but money is trickling through and I suppose I can see that some of my sites are moving towards that ‘passive’ status where all the hard work has been done and they are on auto pilot. They are still getting good clicks and as the domains age that will hopefully get better. OK, so I do need to keep and eye on the sites but I have a couple that I can leave alone now so I can focus on newer sites.

I guess that means that some of my income in passively earned but only after lots of hard work if that makes any sense.

How have you done this month? Please leave a comment and let me know as I love hearing how others are getting on.

Authority Site Ideas – What have I gone for?

affiliate-question-300x300-5069064It was probably 6 months ago when I decided to start an authority site and to be honest I haven’t got very far so I’m looking at a new subject.

What is an authority site?

My idea of an authority site is one that is focused on quality rather than quality, isn’t motivated simply to make money, is useful, shares knowledge, brings in repeat visitors, and most importantly is a site that I won’t be embarrassed about and which I would happily share to family and friends.

I wouldn’t want to share my niche sites as they aren’t unique, they are focused on making me money, and to be honest they wouldn’t be of any interest to family and friends.

I thought I’d hit upon an idea for my true authority site but here we are months down the line and I have done very little on it and when I do try I find my mind blank which probably means I’ve chosen the wrong subject.

Authority site ideas

This is the tricky part as the topic needs to be something you are interested in and something that other people are interested in reading. Here are a few ways of getting some inspiration for your authority site.

Amazon – There are books about everything so go check out the non-fiction books and have a look at the bestsellers. You may find something that really interests you and which you can write extensively about.

Magazines – People pay for these on a monthly/weekly basis and will also subscribe to them so it shows the demand is there. Can you offer an alternative? If you don’t want to pop down the newsagent then go to magazines.co.uk and magazines.com to get some ideas.

Hobbies – This is an easy one. If you already take part in something, or starting a new hobby then why not document it and provide resources?

How many articles?

I’ve found that with some topics there is a set amount of articles I can write before I run out of ideas and so make sure you pick a topic which has a long lifespan to it and make it something you enjoy.

So what topic will my authority site be about?

This has just come to me but having a look at the bestselling books and the most popular magazines it seems that a website about food could be an option. I’m not thinking about the possibility of making money from it, I’m just thinking about what interests me and what I like, and food seems to be the winner.

I’m half Turkish and I love Turkish and Middle-Eastern food so what better excuse to get to try out and make some delicious food? I know there are plenty of recipe sites out there and that I’m limiting myself with the subject but I think I can do well and as most Turkish recipe sites are on blogger style sites I hope I can do something better. I might have to play with the idea so it’s not just a blog but let’s see how this goes.

So what do you think? Even if it bombs at worse I’ll have had the chance to try out some new recipes.

I’ve sold my first niche website

I first delved into the world of niche sites and internet marketing in May 2011 and since then it’s been a great way of getting some extra income. I used to produce income reports detailing how much I earn and a ballpark would probably be around £400 (US$650) a month at a guess ever since although some months were down and some months were up.

I’ve sold a website

sold-stampYesterday I sold my first every niche site. That’s the first niche site I ever created and also the first time I’ve sold one too. It has been my one constant, full of great content, plenty of visitors, a a constant income stream earning me around £200 (US$325) a month on average but in the end I decided to cash out and get some money up front. If I’ve spoken to you about this website before then you’ll know it as the ‘minicab one’.

How much did I sell it for?

It’s a tough one putting a price on a website that earns through AdSense and in the past people were getting 24-36 times their monthly income for a site, but now it’s generally 12-18 times, and in the end I actually settled for x11 my monthly income which netted me £2,250 (US$3,656). Obviously I would’ve liked more money but that’s what it ended as for a quick deal.

A sure thing

The fact is that my money through AdSense was never guaranteed and although I could reasonably predict that I would’ve got £200 each month from the website I’ve just sold, the fact is it could also suddenly loose all it’s revenue should it lose its rank in Google. The fact is that it’s survived through all the Google updates so far (Panda/Penguin/EMD, etc) so I don’t expect that will happen but I’ve insured myself against that happening but selling up with a lump sum in my bank. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing in a years time so it’s far better to get the money now and I feel happy with the sale.

What next?

Seeing that my best earning website has just been sold I will now definitely have to concentrate on my other sites which cumulatively earn around £150 (US$240) a month and try and get a couple of those to earn bigger. Most of my sites have been on autopilot since the Summer so I’m hoping that it won’t take too much work to get them ranking higher with a spring clean and some new fresh content. I usually write all the content myself but now that I have some extra cash I am going to look at outsourcing some of it as long as I can keep to a high quality.

Who knows, I may even get started on that ‘authority site’ that I’ve been banging on about for the past year!