After over 4 years of blogging, I decided last month to get back to my blogging roots.
This whole blog is dedicated to sharing my personal experience with making money online, and I apply a very strict no fluff & no BS policy.
The keyword here is: PERSONAL. No more rehashed post about blogging or social media that you have already seen over 9000 times on other blogs.
If you want to learn how to get rich overnight, you shouldn’t read this blog: I’m all about hard-work and dedication.
With that out of the way, here comes my monthly report detailing how my various online projects are doing.
What happened last month?
Nothing went as expected last month!
When working on online projects, you always have to be ready for adversity. That can come up in the shape of technical issues, miscommunication, deals not going through, and so on.
As I was explaining last month, I decided to put this project on auto-pilot for the time being because Ive been unable to find ways to monetize my viral sites properly and scale them at the same time.
I still did 2 things:
- Resizing hosting: A few months ago, I was receiving a LOT of traffic to some of my websites and I had to upgrade my hosting plans. When the traffic went down, I didn’t pay much attention and kept paying for expensive hosting that I didn’t really need anymore. I downgraded my hosting plans and regrouped my projects on common servers to reduce my costs.
- Affiliate offers: Based on an article that I read on another blog (sorry for the author but I don’t remember where it was exactly), I have decided to start promoting some affiliate products as well as lead generation offers alongside Adsense.
I didn’t make any affiliate sale so far because I just found time to upgrade my sites a few days ago. The good thing is that I’m using these offers on pages where I can’t use Adsense, so it shouldn’t reduce my earnings there.
The biggest challenge is finding a way to associate the right affiliate offers with the right pages on my viral sites.
When I created these sites, I didn’t “niche down”, it makes it hard to decide what product/website to promote.
Instead of targeting products based on topics, I am selecting products that my website demographics might be interested in.
We’ll see in the next Income Report how this thing will go.
Last month, I decided to focus on a new niche site project.
I’m already seeing encouraging results: One of my new niche sites made its first sale within 5 days of being indexed in Google!
Instead of starting a single niche site, my plan was to start a new niche site every 3 days during the month.
Did I make it?
Niche Sites Goal
Well, no, I didn’t reach my goal.
I wasn’t able to get 10 new niche sites started, but I was still able to get 8 of them up and running.
The content production flow from my Elance, Odesk and Freelancer writers has been disrupted a couple times during the month, and it did put me behind schedule.
The whole process has been a very interesting learning experience, and I think we will be able to avoid these hiccups during the coming month.
The first part of this niche site project was to get the sites running with a “basic content package” in order to get indexed in Google and start climbing the rankings ladder for my primary keywords.
The second part (which is starting this month) is all about creating high-quality content that will target secondary keywords while making these sites more relevant for their primary keywords.
These new articles will be published with a rate of 1 (or 2) per week to keep the sites alive and have a steady natural-looking growth.
Niche Sites Analytics
Last month, I was explaining why using Google Analytics might not be the best idea ever if you’re focusing mainly on SEO to drive traffic to your sites.
I know that Google is claiming that the data from Google Analytics is not used to influence rankings, but with Google, you really never know.
And it’s hard to believe they would just sit on all the data they’re collecting from the websites where Google Analytics is installed, without using it in any way for their own profit. (Never forget that Google is a FOR PROFIT company).
After testing a few Analytics solutions, I decided to use Clicky: the data is a lot more accessible and actionable that Google Analytics.
Clicky is just easier to navigate through the various reports, and I find the information that is really useful to me faster.
Being so satisfied with the trial period for their premium service, it was only natural that I upgraded to a premium account to keep track of all my SEO-based websites.
If you decide to use them, take a look at the yearly plans: they offer some interesting discounts.
Niche Sites Click-Through
If you check the graph above, you will notice a nice increase in the click-through rate for my niche sites. I have edited many articles on my oldest niche site to get more clicks to Amazon.
So far it didn’t translate into high profits per visitor, but as the new sites rankings improve, I expect my bottom line to keep getting bigger.
Here is where things didn’t go as expected at all.
After investing about $4,500 in this project for development and building a small list of prospects before the launch, the project ended up being a total bust.
I mean, not a single sale! (duh).
I busted my ass off for this project because I believed in it, and the engagement/signup data was looking good.
But it just wasn’t enough to get people to take out their credit card to pay for this product.
Since I already lost this amount of money on this project, I will not be using paid traffic to try to get more sales and grow an audience for this project. I am just going to let it grow at a slower pace with natural traffic.
There are 3 key take-aways from this project:
- Project management: Even though this project failed, I learned a LOT when it comes to handling a team to develop a product. I already knew from other projects that there is ALWAYS something going wrong with EVERY project. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be so rewarding when it works. That was a good reminder.
- Money talks: Your initial data might be extremely encouraging, but as long as you’re not trying to get people to pay for a product/service, you can’t know if it will work or not. This is why lead-generation is such a hot topic online: getting someone to pay adds a LOT of friction.
- Keep moving forward: When I hit rock bottom several months ago, failing on a project like this would have crushed me. My state of mind is completely different now: this project didn’t work, and it’s no big deal.
I still have some articles scheduled to promote this product, but I won’t be spending another cent for this project at the moment.
The positive side is that I will have a lot more time to dedicate for my niche site project.
If you’ve visited the blog regularly, you probably noticed that there wasn’t much change in here… but a lot actually happened behind the scenes.
Dukeo & Beginners
People email me on a regular basis because they want to get started with a blog/website, and they find it very difficult to take the first steps.
I usually send individual replies to each person, but I felt there was a need for a solution that would help everyone at the same time.
This took the shape of a step-by-step guide with screenshots and annotations that will help people get their own website in less than a minute.
You can check this detailed guide here.
Thanks to this guide, people can get their own site for $0.01 and test this “blogging thing” for 30 days. If they’re not satisfied, they can simply cancel at any time. No questions asked.
If you know anyone who want to start a blog but doesn’t know where to start, simply share this link with them. I’m sure they will be thanking you.
Dukeo & Branding
To make Dukeo stand out, I have decided to use my caricature in various strategic spots on the blog. Hopefully, it will increase the stickiness of my brand.
Dukeo & SEO
In terms of SEO, I have revisited every single post on this blog (that’s about 2000 articles), and edited most of the permalinks and titles: I made the URLs shorter, and the titles clearer.
The URLs shortening was a very risky move because I decided to NOT redirect all old URLs to the new ones. Instead, I am redirecting a lot of the old URLs to the blog homepage.
This is risky but it was necessary.
As a popular blog in the MMO/Blogging niche, I receive a TON of link spam. While I don’t fully understand the motivation behind this, I still have to deal with the situation.
Since I edited my permalinks, most of the spam is now directed to my homepage instead of inner-pages. This is an attempt to dilute these bad links with the good ones that are pointing there, and reduce the negative impact on this blog.
As you can see, the traffic decreased compared to previous month. I think it’s mostly due to all the modified URLs.
I’ve always used this blog as a testing ground for various SEO theories and it will be interesting to see how my rankings will evolve after this “link reset”.
What about the money?
Here is a breakdown of the money flow for my various projects.
Please keep in mind that these figures may not be 100% accurate due to various factors such as refund requests and network adjustments. The terms for each payment may also vary. As a result these numbers may differ from the actual payments issued and received.
- Adsense: $60.26
- Display Advertising: $33.15
- Promotion: -$27.68
- Hosting: -$53.19
- Net: $12.55 (Difference: +$181.10)
- Active Sites: 10 (Difference: +8)
- Amazon: $216.17
- Content: -$1,265.00
- Hosting: -$53.19
- Clicky: -$159.99
- Net: -$1,262.01 (Difference: -$1,156.38)
- Promotion: -$624.03
- Development: -$379.40
- Hosting: -$53.19
- Net: -$1,056.62 (Difference: +$1,531.85)
- HostGator: $50.00 (How to start a blog in less than 5 minutes)
- Aweber: $8.70 (List Building: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need)
- Adsense: $31.14
- Hosting: -$53.19
- Net: $36.66 (Difference: +$20.67)
- Aweber: -$69.00
- Net: -$69.00 (Difference: +$245.05)
Net: -$2,287.76 (Difference: +$822.29)
This is another month with a loss.
Good news is that I lost less money than last month, and this number should decrease again next month since I won’t waste any more money on my product launch.
As I explained before, this month I am going to focus on my new niche sites.
I have a lot of keyword-research, writing and formatting to do in order to grow the traffic to these sites.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress next month. Stay tuned.
Best of luck with your own online ventures!
PS: share this article on your favorite social network and I will be forever grateful if you. I’m sure some other people can use it as inspiration.