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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…

warren-buffet-website-pre-purchase-checklist

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

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