Month 3 Update – My Website Is Profitable
With my first full month of monetization under my belt I have been happy to see a full month of earnings. For my site to be only 3 months old and generating the income it is I am very thankful. There is still a lot of work to do before it really achieves what I know it can but it is off to a great start. This month had set backs as well.
In this income report I will share in a TON of detail about what I have done to my site both on page and off page that has resulted in the income it has generated to date.
3 Key Successes:
- Blog Commenting – I know, everyone says blog commenting is dead and there is no benefit in doing it however I received over 100 visitors from blog commenting and more importantly helped establish opportunities which resulted in guest posts and natural links.
- Feeder Sites / Private Blog Network – I am continuing to build a network of 5 feeder sites using a combination of expired domains and new ones, these give me the opportunity to use link building tools that I do not want to use directly on my main site. The other benefit of having high quality relevant feeder sites (small private blog network) is when I am contacting other webmasters in this niche I have the ability add additional value to them with links from my network of valuable sites.
- I Am Profitable! – My website was started on Sep 8 and in the month of November it was profitable – I am very happy with this!
3 Key Mistakes/Failures:
- Affiliate Link Not Working – On my website there was an affiliate link which continued to not work until recently, I estimate I lost about 20% of the potential CPA clicks.
- Missed Opportunities – There was a 3 day period where I did no work at all on my website, this meant no replying to blog comments or emails. As a result there were a couple opportunities that I missed. I was busy at my “real” job but I could have made time.
- Social Media – I have been spending a 1/2hr several times per week setting up my social media presence sharing valuable related content(not my content), reaching out to similar website owners and sharing some of my best content. However, I feel like I have received no benefit from it to date and with the amount of noise out there it is difficult to cut through. I will continue to see if I can’t make it a successful tool to grow my website but as of now it seems to be a waste of time! My focus is on first listening and then trying to be heard. Hopefully this effort won’t continue to simply be a time sink.
Authority Website Stats for November
Income = $240.20 (+127.9%)
A great month for my monetization efforts! I am still working through my monetization strategy and have now gone through a couple versions of my strategy…
- Monetization Strategy Rev 0
- Monetization Strategy Rev 1
- Rev 2 monetization strategy has also been implemented but I haven’t written about it yet.
Overall AdSense has continued to under-perform while the tight match of my sites message to the affiliate offer of student loan consolidation has continued to be a success.
Adsense = $24.26
My CPC and CTR are both below what I would like to see but I have been split testing several ad blocks and seeing some changes. The flat section in the image you see above is when I used the default ad block as part of Monetization Test Rev1 and clearly did not perform well.
I will continue to test AdSense in the months to come.
CPA Offer = $216.00
One of my changes over the last week was to move up the value chain and closer to the actual loan consolidation offering. I have done this with a switch of my primary affiliate at the very end of November. I will continue to test both offers and see which one performs better and provides more value to my visitors.
Interesting Side Story – I was approached by a company who does a large volume of leads for debt consolidation counselling and discussed the opportunity to sell leads to them. Although they were an established business I was unable to get a clear understanding of exactly what the benefit to my visitors was and decided against going with them. But what I did realize is the fun of getting involved in talking about potential business partnerships not simply the routine of split testing AdSense. What I am realizing is there is a whole other level out there I will continue to work my way into!
Costs = $154.00
Again the majority of my costs associated with my website was content creation using my method I talk about here. In addition to that strategy I have moved someone from a batch of 10 article writing contract to a one/week article that gets uploaded directly to my site, I pay more for this article but the quality is awesome and well worth it!
The VA’s do a lot of things for me such as research post material, identify potential guest posting opportunities, publish content, modify graphics, upload and syndicate videos I make and other assignments as they come up.
- VA’s = $50.28 @ ODesk
- Content Creation (16 on page articles) = $44.00 @ ODesk
- Content Creation (10 guest post articles) = $22.00 @ ODesk
- Dedicated 1 Article/Wk Writer (4 articles) = $24.00 @ODesk
- Content Creation Management = $6.56 @ ODesk
- Hosting = $7.16 @ HostGator
Running Net Income/Loss
In my third month my website is now profitable! My cumulative net profit/loss is still in the red at -$100 but hopefully with another good month I will get into the black!
Traffic = 1,247 (+37.6%) Unique Visitors
Although the % increased month over month is great it wasn’t until the last few days of the month that a really substantial change in traffic was apparent. I would have like to see a more steady increase in traffic throughout the month.
Interesting Learning – The plugin upPrev which shows related posts once you scroll to the bottom is supposed to increase pages read by each visitor resulted in no measurable increase once installed. I have left it installed because I believe it does provide value to the visitor.
Email Opt Ins
I don’t even want to talk about this anymore – mark this one down as a resounding failure!
Total sign ups = 4!
One of the 1,247 visitors signed up which means I have a conversion of 0.08% – this is what perfection looks like!
I now no longer believe email opt ins are the right way to engage with this audience, which means I know need to find another call to action on my homepage…
Content, Promotion and Backlinks
In this section I will talk about the work I am doing to drive the results I talked about above. If you are looking to achieve the same results than there will hopefully be some actionable information shown below…
On Page Content = 16 Posts
In the month of November there were 16 posts published at (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden), I hope to continue this publishing schedule into the future as well.
My method of creating articles has been slightly modified when I hired a contributor to upload articles directly to the website for $5/article. She is a great writer and is happy to be writing on a topic she is passionate about.
Blog Commenting = 30 Blog Comments
“Blog commenting is dead and has no seo benefit” – Ok, I am sure if you are outsourcing it and having someone leave comments like “great post”, leave a deep link in their signature and have a name like “Pay Day Loan” than I bet it doesn’t and shouldn’t work. However, when done right, blog commenting is a great way to reach other bloggers in your niche. The key is to follow one of my 4 cornerstone IM rules
“Always Add Value”
If you are adding value than blog comments are a great way to introduce yourself to other bloggers. I enjoy reading all posts on this site and try to visit the website of anyone that leaves one in their signature.
Guest Posts = 6 Posts on Quality Sites
Blog commenting and guest posting has been the backbone for my backlinking and website promotion efforts. In the month of November I had 6 quality posts be published on other real websites all in the finance niche.
- Guest Post 1 – Nov 8 – PR1 – Alexa 1,449k
- Guest Post 2 – Nov 2 – PR1 – Alexa 698k
- Guest Post 3 – Nov 16 – PR3 – Alexa 82k
- Guest Post 4 – Nov 10 – PR2 – Alexa 633k
- Guest Post 5 – Nov 15 – PR3 – Alexa 490k
- Guest Post 6 – Nov 22 – PR3 – Alexa 112k
All of these guest posts where achieved using the method I talk about here.
Feeder Sites aka Private Blog Network with Expired Domains
I will talk more about this in the future. But I don’t want to scare people now I am yet to realize a significant benefit from this strategy. So the success I have achieved to date can be achieved without any of this extra work I am doing.
However, if I am going to go up against banks, universities and governments for the extremely competitive keywords in the student loan nicheI need to lay the foundation of a strong backlink profile now.
These strategies I am using are for the long term benefit not short term!
Web 2.0 Properties
With some of my lower quality content I inevidably get from ODesk writers I have had my VA’s create some web 2.0 properties like wordpress.com blogs and then build links to those web 2.0 properties with Link Authority.
An example of one of these sites is http://studentloanconsolidationcompany.wordpress.com/
In November there were 3 of these sites built. In December I will go through and improve these sites for conversions of visitor on the web 2.0 site coming over to my money site.
I use majestic SEO to track my link profile and help estimate how my link building efforts are being viewed by Google.
- Referring Domains = 56 (+24)
- Backlinks = 684 (+560)
- Citation Flow 30 (+2)
- Trust Flow 20 (+5)
I am happy with the increase in trust flow when I am building a site I like to make sure that the trust flow does not lag more than 10-15 behind citation flow.
Image From – MajesticSEO.com
Last Month’s Goals
- Continue Guest Posting – (guest post on 5 high quality sites) – Achieved
- On Page Content – (20 posts with editorial calendar in place) – Failed – only 16
- Monetize – (Rev 1 monetization strategy created and implemented) – Achieved
- Income – Be profitable in month 3 – Achieved
Last Month’s 7 Favourite Articles & Podcasts
- Dumb Passive Income – Niche Blog Curated Content Strategy
- Financial Samurai – What Should I Do Before Quitting My Job?
- The Financial Blogger – Is my online Gig a Company or a Sideline?
- Spencer Haws / Niche Pursuits – 2 New Niche Sites Showing Positive Results
- Smart Passive Income – The Sad Truth About Your Half Finished Projects
- Cubicle Free – The Useful Niche Authority Website Case Study
- Mike From Maine – How To Make $5000 Per Month Selling Guest Posts
Next Month’s Goals
- Continue Guest Posting – (guest post on 5 high quality sites)
- Continue Content Creation at 15 posts/month
- Monetize – Test higher value CPA offers and earn 2 high value affiliate commissions
- Social – See measureable traffic/outreach with traffic efforts
Thanks for the link. I’m glad you liked my interview 🙂
Thanks for the comment, yah some of your interviews when they get into the details of what they are doing to have success online are valuable.
Impressive results for a new site! Many of my sites never see even close to $200 per month. So even though the month of November was profitable the website has still technically lost money according to your cumulative proft/loss graph (which I think is a great way of showing it!). So my question is are you concerned that Google will roll out an update and the net profit of the site will remain negative?
Duncan, thanks for the question. I cant say I am not concerned but it has no value for me to worry about a potential Google slap. The site itself should be pretty protected from a significant Google penalty because it has good quality content and the majority of my links are coming from a combination of blog comments and guest posts. Some of the grey hat work I am doing including 301 redirects of highly highly relevant expired domains are reasons for concern but so far so good.
Congrats on your profitability! I don’t think I crossed your $250 threshold until six months after launch, but I don’t remember.
Is it possible to write the content yourself to save on costs?
Thanks for the comment and to hear that it took you 6 months. I am sure you are well well beyond that now! Congrats on that!
Regarding the content and saving money by writing it myself. I believe my time is better spent on creating the connections that lead to opportunities such as guest posting. All the guest posts that I submit have been written or at least edited in detail by me to make sure they match up to the site.
Have you ever outsourced content for any of your sites?
I’ve never outsourced content on my sites or had a ghost writer. I just love to write, so there’s no need. It would also feel strange to me.
Now I remember… I didn’t make more than $250 a month for the first six months b/c I didn’t have money on the mind. I wrote for the fun of it, and traffic just started coming. When I decided to retire, I flipped the switch, and revenue really started coming in.
Hope you can stick with it for the long run!
Good for you, writing all that content must take a lot of time! But if you enjoy it and have the time than that’s perfect!
A $250 website income per month website could be worth as much as $5000 which is very impressive to have been able to build that kind of wealth in 3 months!
Hi James, yes it is fun to think about the “value” of the website as a multiple of the monthly earnings. I am definitely not interested in the short term selling this site but potentially in the future it could be an option. If that time comes I hope the website is at a point where it is a real business and the reason for the sale is because the buyer would be able to get more value out of the site than me. Selling it simply as a stand alone asset to be held doesn’t have much appeal to me.
Congrats Jon on another good month, this really has me thinking after making a bunch of niche sites over the years where I simply automated the backlinks to and never really earned much money from them. Clearly this strategy is working better than what I was doing. Keep up the good work, I enjoy reading.
Kristy, thanks for the comment. Best of luck with your efforts and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.
Good work, been watching your site since day 1. keep it up.
Thanks for following, best of luck with your site as well!
Great post and I am glad you liked my post too! Really good to see you doing well. I smell opportunity on the monetization side of things – looking forward to Rev 2. As you have indicated, I too think you can go well beyond Adsense in terms of value adding value and income.
Hopefully I will have the Rev2 monetization post out soon to talk about what I have done, I am just waiting for some results to make the post more valuable to people. The part about AdSense that bothers me is because by definition you are giving some of the value of your visitors click to Google…I want to keep that by moving up the value chain. The benefit of AdSense is its easy and if your site isn’t narrowly targeted it can be your best option for earnings.
Well done on making over $200 so early on.
My new ‘authority’ style site only made $15 in amazon sales in November which is more than the previous month but still not good!
I’m writing all the content myself which takes ages too. I tried your Odesk approach but only got rubbish from the writers.
I need to try something new though.
Good luck for December!
Hi Joe, sorry my approach didn’t work out for you, as long as the articles are ok they can be great for creating a web 2.0 property to build backlinks to and pass the juice to your website.
$15 isn’t bad for a start especially with Amazon, I have used Amazon affiliates a little bit but never really managed to make much from the sites. I know some people do but they seem to focus a lot on copy-writing and selling than I usually do.
Best of luck with your site!
I’m really happy for your success so far, if your stat continue like this, then in a year time you will be getting 6 figures from your new blog.
Whatever you’re doing to get this results is working, please keep it up.
Hi Theodore, thanks. Yah if my stats were to continue that would be pretty awesome, however, because my return visitor #’s are not really high I expect the numbers to plateau at some point. If I were getting a lot of return visitors the sites growth can continue exponentially but since so many of my visitors are one time visitors it will be tough sustain the growth rate!
Just try as much as you can to make them subscribe to your RSS feed so as to be getting notifications whenever there is a new post.
I just visited the site now and its not bad at all.
Keep it up
Congratulations on the profitability! And thanks for putting my link up there at #1. I would love to hear if you use my curated content strategy and how it works out for you. I’m already getting some great links by doing nothing more than creating content for my own site.
Without actually visiting your site, I wonder why your email opt-ins are so low. Do you offer some type of incentive? This interests me because I plan to eventually use an email list as my main form of monetization on my niche blog.
I will definitely let you know how it goes if/when I use it….I guess I used part of your strategy when I shared some of the best articles I read this month and then reached out to you(irony?)
I do not strongly incentivize my opt ins and it could definitely be one of the main reasons I don’t get a very good opt in rate. But even if the offer was better I don’t think it would change the opt in percentage by a couple orders of magnitude.
Very impressive results for only three months! I started my blog in October but haven’t had that much success quite yet. I need to start tracking some of the components you are.
David, just starting in October is very recent so its tough to get results right away. Thanks for visiting and your comment.
I definitely agree that tracking is a vital part to improving your monetization. If you aren’t tracking and understanding what offers are converting and providing your visitors the most value you end up with a website that has 20 different ads on it that overwhelms your visitors and results in fewer not more revenue!
Happy to see your site making some cake. Keep up the good work.
It’s just what I wanted. A great contribution. I subscribe to the blog, if all these posts are worth it and receive email updates.
Very good post, I’ve been fighting with the google a while to find something.
Appreciate it for helping out, wonderful info .
I have taken some notes from your activities. For me blogging has not made me a dime because I do all the work myself. I learn as I go and your article has been an eye opener. Thanks