Website Income

The 5 Minute Check You Can Do Now Which Would Have Saved Me $1,800 per Month

You know that feeling when you really screw up? The one where you get that feeling in your gut and taste in your mouth…like when you bump into a parked car with your parents new car or drop your friends new phone in the lake. No one got really hurt but you know you screwed up!

Well today I am going to share what I did online that resulted in a similar feeling.

More importantly than the story is what you can do right now to make sure you don’t make the same mistake.


Traffic has bounced back and is going great at my case study Student Loan website. The monetization had been a little disappointing due to an affiliate change out and I was trying to be patient to wait out the change over(or at least so I thought).

However, with me trying to be patient and blaming the low monetization on the affiliate changover and the time it would take for the leads to payout other potential problems were overlooked.

About 10 days ago I decided to check my stats and affiliate links for my student loan site.

Here are the sequence of events that followed…

Step 1 – Identify Top Performing Links

First I looked into my analytics for the top performing affiliate links.

Having set up my website using this link tracking system this step is easy.

number of affiliate clicks

Google Analytics Showing Number of Affiliate Link Clicks and Destination of Clicks

The graph above shows the number of times each affiliate link was clicked.

Step 2 – Test Each Affiliate Link

Here is where the screw up got identified! I have my most popular affiliate link that was getting clicked on over 1,200 times per month and it is NOT WORKING! Plus several other popular links going to dead pages.

This is a highly competitive, highly monetized niche…1,200 targeted clicks is worth a lot of money. I would find out one week later just how much!

Step 3 – Change the Affiliate Link

Now that I have found out I have a problem…I simply got the correct affiliate link and inserted it into the Pretty Link plugin I use.

IMPORTANT NOTE – Although this screw up is large…it was easily identified and fixed. In order to be able to easily identify and fix this problem affiliate links on your website must be set up to both be easily tracked and easily redirected ( See free tutorial on how to set up affiliate link tracking).

Step 4 – Wait 1 Week…realize how much money has been lost…write a post about being a dumb-A**

So when I detected the problem I knew I had screwed up and was losing money as a result.

After I put the links in place here were the income results…

Date Income from Link

  • Jul-16 $ 62.45
  • Jul-17 $ 83.30
  • Jul-18 $ 41.74
  • Jul-19 $ 20.84
  • Jul-20 $ –
  • Jul-21 $ 62.46
  • Jul-22 $ 62.46
  • Jul-23 $ 62.50
  • Jul-24 $ 83.34
  • Jul-25 $ 83.27

The best I can tell is that the link has not been working for 3 months.

Based on that here is what this mistake has cost me…

  • Daily Average = $56.24
  • Monthly = $1,687.08
  • Total Losses to Date = $5,061.24

When the number looks even worse is the fact that I had been throwing around the idea of selling the site and putting my niche site energy into growing another few sites. Since the site is a multiple of the last 3 months of earnings if I were to sell now I would not get the 17x multiple of the monthly income.

  • If Sold Total Losses = $28,680.36

Another way to look at this mistake is to imagine taking out a bunch of money at the start of the week and then every day burning a $20 at breakfast lunch and dinner.


Is there a Silver Lining? – The more money I have lost only means the more money the site will make in the future…if the mistake had only cost me $100 total well then my future earnings would be much less. So I guess I wish I had lost more money. (at least that is what I am telling myself)

Step 5 – Put Process In Place to Ensure it Doesn’t Happen Again

“it is only a failure if you don’t learn anything” I don’t have an issue with making mistakes but I don’t like the belief that failures should be worn as a badge of honor…successes should be.

Still, this is a great opportunity to take this mistake, make some process changes and ensure as my business continues to grow it does not happen again!

Effective now I have my niche site VA with a weekly task for my top 10 websites checking affiliate links.

Weekly Task: (Average 10 minutes/site/week)

  1. Log into Google Document
  2. Log into Google Analytics
  3. Check affiliate link clicks for all links with over 10 clicks in the last 30 days
  4. Mark complete and date on the Google Document
  5. Send email to me confirming the weekly checks are complete and notify me if any errors exist

Monthly Task: (Average 1 hour/site/month)

  1. Log into Google Document
  2. Log into Google Analytics
  3. Check ALL affiliate link URL clicks over the last 30 days to ensure they are working
  4. Check all pages for affiliate links that are not working on sites that get traffic starting with the highest traffic and working down to pages that get 10 or more visits in a month. (you could use a plugin for this but it would return some false results since they only detect broken links and not pages that no longer offer the product or similar)

How to track – set up a Google Calendar reminder both for weekly and monthly tasks.

One alternative to this problem is to simply use an add network like AdSense…but the kind of sites I find myself building that is not the most lucrative option.


About the Author Jon

I am a 36 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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