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.