Website Income

One Year Income Report – 10k in Net Income and my Growth Plan

The headline for this month is that I have purchased my first website! My website over the first 11 months of it’s existence had generated a little over $8k in net profit. I took about ½ that and reinvested it to continue to accelerate my income growth. More on that later…

My income was back up but there are a few concerning stats from August and we will have to see if the change I made at the start of the month will be enough to turn those stats around.

In this income report I will continue to move away from focusing on just my case study site and share the significant positives and negatives from my online business as a whole.

It was another record traffic month! But my nothing but good news story had to stop at some point and here it is a post where I don’t get to report record income numbers for my case study website.

Key Successes:

Website Purchase – One of my favorite people to read and listen to is Warren Buffet. Even though my investment strategy is a boring balanced index fund portfolio strategy I like to read what Warren Buffet has to say. When I think about my online business a few of his key quotes come to mind…


  • “Never invest in a business you can’t understand.”
  • “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”
  • “Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”
  • I couldn’t find the last one but paraphrasing ~ the perfect business is when you can re-invest each additional dollar of profit at the same or growing rate of return. (if someone can find this quote I would be grateful!)

The last one I see as the downside to online business. (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden) website has been able to generate up to $3,000/month in revenue while only having a monthly expense of $50! Investing $100 the next month would not result in a $6,000/month income.

However, purchasing the right website can provide the opportunity to re-invest the profit back into my business to continue to grow my monthly income numbers.

The Warren Buffet Website Buying Checklist

  • Did I understand the business? Yes, it is very similar to my student loan site monetized through CPA offers with room for improvement.
  • Did I buy a wonderful website at a fair price or a fair website at a wonderful price? Based on all calculations of income times monthly earnings (12x, 15x, 20x) I overpaid. However, it is a website with growing traffic, great articles and slow turnaround on the CPA conversions (click then 2-4 weeks later conversion and payout) so time will tell but I believe I did buy a wonderful site at a fair price.
  • Would I be happy holding this site in 10 years? It is extremely tough to have a 10 year time horizon in the online world. But the short answer is yes, the site provides valuable information and I am happy to be able to continue to share it.

I will have more details next month with how it is doing.

Ultimate Expired Domain Guide – This project took a lot of hours but I have already said that. The success of the guide has been great. Here are the results of the monster post by the numbers…

  • Email Opt Ins = Jumped from 5-10 email opt ins per day to 50 opt ins per day for 2 weeks and settled back to around 15 per day.
  • Traffic Increase = 100% increase for 2 weeks followed by settling back to a 25%-50% increase in traffic
  • Comments = 88 vs. the usual 20-30
  • Shares = 102 likes, 89 tweets, 77 +1
  • Income = Over $1,000 so far

Mention = Serious plug from the guys at Empire Flippers…
EmpireFlippers-Icon2 Minute Segment from Justin and Joe talking about this guide
Listen to the full episode here

So far I am happy with the success of the guide. My goal is for the site to be an evergreen resource and the “go to” expired domain guide. If you haven’t had a chance to read it you can see it here – expired domain guide


Key Failures:

There are always challenges and in August I had a few…

Top Level Lead Generation Failure – Although my clicks were up I saw a drop in traffic to leads. This drop hurt my income this month and will hurt my income for at least the start of next month. 4

Time Management – I mentioned it before but the amount of time and effort I put into the ultimate expired domain guide had me focusing on that and not other areas of my business for 60 work hours. I am proud of the quality piece of content created and the results but it may not have been the best use of my time!

AdSense Disabled – I got kicked off AdSense which I use on my lower quality sites – why? – for having low quality sites on the network (can’t argue with that). This network generated around $500 per month in income which is too bad to loose but I have gone through all the sites and created a document for my VA’s to execute to install different ads/affiliate offers/CPA offers to hopefully generate more than the $500/month I lost. These sites are carry overs from my smaller niche site building days and are a reliable source of some income so I keep them around but I have no plans to grow or spend the time to package together and sell. I am working to stay focused on my business model and key metrics I defined following Jim Collins strategy from his books Good to Great and Built to last several months ago and these sites do not fit into that model.

Replicate the success of (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden) by focusing on my strengths (strategy and systematizing the process) while monitoring the key metric of profit/website until I reach $15k/month profit.

I will not spend more time dwelling on this… It is a minor temporary set back which I am resolving by changing the monetization strategy on the sites and re-applying once the lower quality sites have had AdSense removed.


Authority Website (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden) Stats for August


 Income = $2,383.41 (+843.41) Big increase but not all good news!

  • CPA #1 (loan consolidation) = $441.00 (+3)
  • CPA #2 (load consolidation) = $1,889.42 (+839)
  • CPA #3 (credit check) = $52.99 (-)
  • CPA #4 (debt monitoring) = $0

CPA Offer #1  = $441

There was a very small increase over last month which is good. I will likely be moving away from this offer and testing out other offers over the next couple months.

August Income from CPA Offer #1

August Income from CPA Offer #1

CPA Offer #2  = $1,889.42

There was a sizable increase in earnings from this affiliate but I am concerned! There was a substantial drop off in conversions of visitors to leads over the last 2 months! I have seen at least a 25%-35% drop in leads across all my CPA offers with the same traffic.

There is no question that something is happening and I need to take action to correct! There are a few options that I am going to test through in the coming month. Below is my analysis to determine the root cause of why I have had a drop in leads. This deep dive analysis is surprisingly fun…

  1. The visitors are coming from lower quality sources or are less targeted and therefore they are converting less?
    1. Answer – (Yes 28% drop) – By looking at my analytics and the % of high value keywords(not a perfect measure) I can see a drop in the high value keywords with an uptick in lower value high-level keywords driving more of the traffic (ie traffic for the keyword “teacher” wont convert as well).
      1. ~2,701 high value visitors with 38,548 visitors = 7%
      2. ~719 high value visitors with 14,336 visitors = 5%
  2. I am getting a worse click through rate?
    1. Answer – Yes (27% Drop) this is likely a result of the lower quality traffic since the drop of quality traffic is the exact same size as the drop in click through rate.
      1. May – July = 4,660 clicks with 38,548 visitors = 12.10% CTR
      2. Aug = 1,253 clicks with 14,336 visitors = 8.74% CTR (27% decrease)
  3. The landing page(s) are converting worse?
    1. Answer – Yes (10% drop) – For every visitor I sent to the CPA offer they converted 10% worse in August then they had the average of the 3 previous months.
      1. May – July = 1112 leads started with 4660 clicks = 23.86% conversion
      2. August = 271 leads started with 1253 clicks = 21.63% conversion (10% drop)

This three month analysis included the month of July which was also a poor performer from a conversion standpoint.
Based on this analysis I have 2 conclusions of the problem and an action plan to address each…

  1. Lower quality traffic has resulted in worse conversions (70% to blame)
    1. Corrective Action – Do keyword research targeting higher value keywords and get articles created targeting those along with promoting the key pages to increase their search position.
  2. The landing page is converting worse (30% to blame)
    1. Corrective Action – Test a different landing page with the same CPA offer and test a different offer. It will be important to remember to optimize for income and not just focus on increasing the number of leads.

The numbers above can be tough to follow but here is my main affiliate offer showing clearly the outcome of the cumulative problems listed above along with another problem I had in August with more traffic being driven to lower value affiliate offers. This third problem has been addressed using Pretty Links and editing my most popular pages.

  • February = 54 Leads w 4,373 visitors = 1.23% Conversion
  • March = 98 Leads w 5,652 visitors = 1.73% Conversion
  • April = 151 Leads w 9,022 visitors = 1.67% Conversion
  • May = 194 Leads w 12,745 visitors = 1.52% Conversion
  • June = 178 Leads w 11,671 visitors = 1.53% Conversion
  • July = 152 Leads w 14,537 visitors = 1.05% Conversion
  • August = 95 Leads w 14,336 visitors = 0.66% Conversion (drop of 50% from previous 3 month average for my main high value affiliate offer!)

CPA Offer #3 = $52.99

This item is promoted in an email I send when people opt-in. One conversion occurred in August.

Costs = 114.95 (basically on auto-pilot this month)

The VA’s typically 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.

All my team members are hired through ODesk

  • VA #1 – Content Publisher = $0 @  (posting/scheduling of created articles per my content calendar)
  • VA # 2 – Backlink/General = $10 (web 2.0 creation, Link Authority, blog carnival submission, Friday post creation)
  • VA #3 – Website Manager = $5 (he takes care of security/speed on all my sites – no work this month)
  • VA #4 – Social Media Manager = $0 (not going to use on this project)
  • VA #5 – Outreach – $0 (moved onto another assignment)
  • Content Creation = $0.00 (all already created and scheduled)
  • Hosting = $80/month @ WPEngine (can host 10 sites)
  • LeadPages = $0 one time fee already paid
  • AWeber = $19.95 (for the size of list my student loan site has)

Running Net Income/Loss

I broke the $10k net income mark with my first year of the site!

Over $10k in Earnings From the First Year

Over $10k in Earnings From the First Year

Traffic =14,336 Unique Visitors

Another great month for traffic, which is good but without the conversions to go with the traffic it isn’t all good news!

Traffic to My Case Study Site Within the First Year

Traffic to My Case Study Site Within the First Year

Traffic Stats For Aug

Traffic Stats For Aug

Email Opt Ins – Working Very Well (35% List Growth)

After a lot of thought over the last month and peoples input I have decided to keep the email list and work on growing it. When I first started monetizing my website it took several iterations to create a well monetized site. So, I am taking the same approach and planning on testing testing and testing to see what email marketing strategy will continue to add value but also be profitable.

Subscriber growthSubscriber growth was 122 on one list and 185 on the other – 35% subscriber base growth.

Content, Promotion and Backlinks

In this section I will show exactly what I have done over the last month to continue to grow my site…

On Page Content = 17 New Posts

All these posts were pre-scheduled a couple months ago and the site is continuing to run on autopilot.

Outreach – Blog Commenting & Social Media

None this month

Guest Posts

None this month

Backlink Stats

I use majestic SEO (free) to track my link profile and help estimate how my link building efforts are being viewed by Google.

  • Referring Domains = 448 (+40)
  • Backlinks = 26,530 (-8,120)
  • Citation Flow 35 (-1)
  • Trust Flow 17 (-4)

Based on my link profile starting to stagnate and my traffic to higher value keywords starting to decline it is clearly time to get back into the higher touch promotional effort!

Last Month’s Goals

  • Keep on Autopilot – Minimal Promotion (SUCCESS)
  • Set up for several tests to start Sep 1 (SUCCESS)
  • Costs Maintain at $50 (FAILURE – Hosting Costs Result in $100 costs)
  • Monetize –Earn over $2,500 per month (ALMOST – $2.3k net profit)

Next Month’s Goals

  • Integrate purchased site into my promotion strategies
  • Kick Off Several High Touch Promotion Strategies (2 epic posts + outreach)
  • Automate Guest Posting Process (key contractor working – 2 guest posts)
  • Automate Social Media (VA working and growing audience’s at both sites social media accounts)
  • Monetize –Earn over $4,000 per month between current site and purchased site

2013 Website Goal Progress: (33% of the way there!)

My website case study (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden) will earn more per month than Pat Flynn’s case study site for at least 3 months of the year

  • January (-$2,796.18)
    • $452.13 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $3248.31 for – Report
  • February (-$1,675.35)
    • $1126.55 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $2,801.90 for – Report
  • March (-$2,076.94)
    • 759.63 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $2,836.57 for – Report
  • April (-$1,581.86)
    • $1,127.1 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $2,708.96 for – Report
  • May (-$367.55)
    • $2,341.41 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $2,610.62 for – Report
  • June (+1,622.01)
    • $3,114.90 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $1,492.89 for – Report
  • July (-1,013.61)
    • $1,540 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $2,553.61 for – Report
  • July (tbd – I have a shot!)
    • $2,383.41 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • Tbd for – Report
Me vs. Pat Case Study Site

Me vs. Pat Case Study Site

My Overall Online Income Goal Progress

As discussed in my long post about my online income history and my overall business strategy post here my goal is to be making $15k/month securely by my 35th birthday and move my family back to our hometown to raise our kids(currently only kid) there.

I am going to add a section to my monthly reports showing my overall online income and progress towards $15k/month.

This Month:

  • Actual = $4,064 net income
  • Planned = $3,225 net income

With a good month on AuthorityWebsiteIncome and (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden) it overcame the $500 hit I suffered from a chunk of my other sites. A couple other higher earning sites also continued to be steady.

The overall trend is continuing in the right direction and I am still very confident my current plan will get me there. I am excited to see what next month will bring with the website purchase. I think purchasing sites could be a great strategy moving forward to accelerate growth.

GOAL = $15k/Month Online Income by Age 35

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

Donnie Law says September 9, 2013

I like your attitude about adsense. You have bigger and better goals! Don’t let it bother you.

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Thanks Donnie, I agree!

Tung says September 9, 2013

This is amazingly impressive Jon !!!
It’s so good to see you’re killing it with your blog and your nice websites my friend.
The ultimate guide to expired domain is really a great piece of content so it’s no doubt that it will generate lots of traffic for your blog. I’m just impressed by the earning 😀
Keep up your good work mate!

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Thanks Tung. In terms of being worth the time I am at about $15/hr for my effort on the expired domains project so may not do a monster resource for awhile.

Ryan Cote says September 9, 2013

Jon, maybe you could sell your small adsense sites on the Empire Flippers network? They take a cut of course, but they help you full-service and help you get a good price. Or you could just do it yourself on Flippa. Maybe someone with an adsense background could take the sites and enhance them so Google doesn’t have a problem with them. And then you could take your earnings and invest in another site! Just a thought that came to mind when I was reading your income report. Great job by the way.

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Hi Ryan, it definitely crossed my mind to potentially sell them. However, it will take a lot of effort and won’t result in future income. I could sell them for 15x = $7,500 but the entire sales process I don’t have systematized so I would have to be involved and it would probably take a 1/2hr per site to move so even if I end up recovering $300/month of that income with only a few hrs of my work I think I am coming out ahead…but I could definitely be wrong and selling may be the right answer. Thanks for the suggestion! If another site came up where I needed the cash to pull the trigger I would re-consider.

Eddie Gear says September 9, 2013

Hi Jon,

Congrats! Its good to see that your on track to success. I’ve published my income report for Aug as well, actually the first time I’m publishing my income report. I’ve been reading about purchasing expired domains quite a bit and there is a lot of potential there if your making the right purchases. Its good to see that your income increasing on a regular basis.


    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Thank Eddie, best of luck with your online income!

Thomas says September 9, 2013

The ups and downs of internet life but hey its that test and try and test some more we really like though right? I really enjoyed the guide but it did take me a few days to finish it. I like that its all in one place but I had to break up the reading. Keep pushing looking forward to seeing the process as you reach your goal of 15k per month.

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Thomas, you are absolutely right….the test and iterate part is a lot of fun!

Miki Vicioso says September 9, 2013

Another stunning detailed post. Love how much information you give about what is working and what is not on your website. Keep it up bud.

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Thanks Miki, glad you find value – hope your new project is going well!

Ian says September 9, 2013

John – You ROCK man!
I love reading your new posts and I really appreciate how much value your openness adds to the information.

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Glad you like the openness…definitely don’t plan on changing that!

Josh @ Form Your Future says September 9, 2013

What an awesome report! Glad to hear that your site is back up in earnings. I started reading your site not too long ago and I absolutely love it. I’m actually utilizing a lot of the methods that you use and incorporating it into my own authority site project.

Sorry to hear about the adsense ban. I actually also had one of my two accounts dropped due to similar reasons. I haven’t abandoned adsense completely but I am looking to diversify.

Hope next month is even better for you! So how long are you going to keep the day job? 🙂

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Interesting about your AdSense…being solely exposed to Google on one front is bad enough but I don’t want to rely on them on both the traffic and money side. Day Job timing – tbd – I do like my job so I am not in a life/death struggle to get out but more time with friends/family is definitely the goal I am shooting for!

      Josh @ says September 10, 2013

      I agree with you there. I actually like my day job as well, however, I enjoy having time with my family more. I’d really like to do more traveling while I’m still young!

        Jon says September 10, 2013

        Right on Josh – best of luck with your goals!

Nick LeRoy says September 9, 2013

Nice work Jon. Even if the income dropped a bit I imagine its gotta be a little bit seasonal and most students (if already enrolled) have their finances in control. I don’t know a lot about the this industry but have you considered playing with your design / CPA locations to see if you can increase that conversion rate?

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Hi Nick – You are right the student loan niche is definitely seasonal. The student loan consolidation niche is also seasonal but not as cut and dry. So I do expect the traffic to be down a little (if my SERP stayed the same) over the next 4 months and then jump back up in January. Hopefully I will improve my traffic month over month and then be ready for an even bigger busy season.

Tyler Herman says September 9, 2013

Interesting to hear what happens with your new site. Been thinking of buying some sites to move things along faster for me, but everything on Flippa seems like total garbage or out of my price range.

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    I have bid on a couple on Flippa in the past and sold one small site on Flippa. Both times I didn’t have a great experience – not bad just not great. I agree about the low quality sites or the $20k+ sites cost. Very tough to find quality $500 – $1,000/month sites which I am looking for…at least that’s my experience.

Josh says September 9, 2013

Awesome that you have been able to grow the site this big in a year. Great inspiration.

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Thanks Josh!…those guns you are flashing are an inspiration 😉

      Josh says September 10, 2013

      Lol thanks. And thanks for sharing the domains.

Jason says September 9, 2013

Grats on your success!
It should be cool to see how you expand on a purchased website.

I’m curious about your VAs and outsourcing process. This month you paid $10 to VA #2. Do you pay that VA based on hours worked or is it a fixed price based on a specific task?
And what tasks did he do this month that cost $10?

I’m very close to the point of outsourcing more of my niche building process outside of content, so I’m just trying to get a feel for costs.

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Hi Jason, those numbers are not exact since I don’t track my VA’s time by website they work on…I have tried to get there but the data isn’t very accurate and isn’t really actionable. I do pay my VA’s based on hrs worked via ODesk time tracking (makes it super easy). The work they do is upload content, update plugins, fix any problems, test the key affiliate links weekly on my main money sites, submit to carnivals, do some promotion/research.
    A lot of people have been asking for more information about how I manage my team so I plan on sharing that shortly. Anything in particular you want to know more about?

Nick says September 9, 2013

Hi John,

Where did you purchase the website from, if you don’t mind me asking? Flippa, private broker, friend, etc..?
Best of luck with your goals.

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Hi Nick, I reached out to a site and made contact then through some discussions agreed on a sale arrangement that everyone was happy with. Went through and everything went smoothly. I have contacted a few sites in the past ~ maybe 5 and never gotten very far so I was happy this website owner turned out to be responsive and know what he was doing.

Peter says September 9, 2013

I’m interested in your metrics for your expired domains Jon. I’ve been looking using your method and haven’t had much luck yet.

I reject domains that have most or all of their links from links pages even if the other figures look good. I looked at and see only links pages.

Would you register a domain with links only from links pages?

Cheers Jon

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Hi Peter, it depends on the links pages. If they are industry related resource pages that were clearly put together by a human trying to add value to someone and not a link page for SEO purposes then I am good with it. I would not register a domain with good link metrics if all the links were from directories and SEO link pages. In your example there are some great industry resource page links like this one ( so I think that domain is solid! It would be better if it has more domains linking to it but you can put some decent content on it and promote it a little to increase the citation flow. Good find!

      Peter says September 9, 2013

      Thanks for that Jon I took another look but still a little leery, links pages like these ones (chinese anchor text) make me a little nervous.
      and some others.

      I might take a look at some I’d rejected before though. I’ve looked a lot in one particular niche but always rejected domains with links from links pages, but hadn’t really differentiated between the types of pages enough.

      Taking another look at the sites I have on adsense too, given your experience. I’ve got some very old (and very old looking) sites on adsense which have been collecting money slowly each month. I might take it off given those sites what happened to you, as I’ve got more good sites there too.

      I thought of yahoo ads ( but i doubt they’d ok the sites and they manually review them. I’ve also tried their ads on a site and the earnings were way below adsense earnings.

      What are you using in place of the adsense, or is it too early to say?

      Cheers again Jon

        Jon says September 10, 2013

        Sites will occasionally attract some strange links that I can’t explain. It doesn’t mean those links were built for SEO purposes. I wouldn’t 301 redirect the site if you have any concerns and you can always check to see if it has been penalized by simply creating some content on the site and seeing if it starts to get indexed/ranked. If it doesn’t then it has been penalized.

        On my new sites I am using a combination of Amazon/AdSense/CPA offers from mostly

Chris Desatoff says September 9, 2013

Hey Jon, congrats on breaking $10k in your site’s first year! That’s awesome, man.

And I love your response to losing Adsense. Most guys totally freak out when that happens, but you’ve obviously got the whole diversification thing down, so it’s not such a big deal.

It always makes me chuckle when IMers talk about how “diversified” they are because they have websites in 100 different niches — yet all their sites are monetized with Adsense! DOH!

You, Sir, are doing it right!

Aloha, Chris

    Jon says September 9, 2013

    Thanks Chris, I definitely still have my sources of risk – traffic from Google namely! But yes I agree number of sites does not equal diversification…true online diversification comes from having multiple sites built differently and monetized differently with different sources of traffic…I am a long way from that! Right now I am not exactly chasing it either…diversification will become a bigger deal for me later but now I am focused on growing what is already working.

Lucian says September 10, 2013

Pretty awesome that you managed to make so much with your blog in one year. And the true lesson that I learned here: “Never invest in a business you can’t understand.” It’s 100% true, and this comes from a guy who tried to create websites about tattoos and interior design – things other are successful with but I wasn’t because I knew nothing about any of these niches!

    Jon says September 10, 2013

    Thanks Lucian…everything Warren Buffett says is worth listening too for sure!

Omoscowonder says September 12, 2013

Sir John, i must call you sir, wow!
This is really awesome and great, you are sharing your website which is earning you money here and you’re so free with it.
love your blog John, and it’s really wonderful!

Joe says September 12, 2013

” I have seen at least a 25%-35% drop in leads across all my CPA offers with the same traffic.”

Maybe they are shaving your leads?

Joe says September 12, 2013

So your overall income for the month was $4064? That’s total income including this blog?

Winston says September 16, 2013

Jon, I’ve got a couple of questions
1. When you have your articles written for you, how do you check if they are unique and not duplicate or spun copies?

2. You mentioned in an earlier comment: “On my new sites I am using a combination of Amazon/AdSense/CPA offers from mostly”… is it okay to mix amazon with other types of affiliate programs like those from individual companies and those found in, etc. Or is this against amazon’s policy?

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