In my monthly income reports, I will take you behind the scenes of my online businesses and show you how much I made last month, as well as how I focused my time and what I worked on in growing my blogs.
I‘ll start off by saying that September was not quite as big of a month as August was. And, I know from previous years that my sales always tend to slow down a bit in September, October, and the first half of November.
That’s fairly understandable as a lot of my websites are in niches that have a good chunk of high school and college students as their audience, which means that since they’re fully involved in school now, they have less time to spend using the products I sell.
However, September was still a really good month and after it was all said and done, it still ended up being one of my best months to date.
So, I am really excited that even in what has historically been a downward trending month, I was still able to put together a solid month of sales.
And, with the holiday season looming, a bunch of new guides in the works, and traffic and sales for my main sites remaining at all-time highs, I’m expecting to have a really big end to the year.
Aside from my earnings, September wasn’t what I would call a very productive month in terms of getting new content published, or in promoting my sites. I took two trips at the beginning of the month and wasn’t able to work as much as I typically do.
But I had a ton of fun on my trips and it was nice to spend time with my family and my friends.
Now, with my wife set to have our second child within the next month, this will be the last month where I can put in full days of work for a whole week. And, so I will be spending the majority of that time finishing up the course I’ve been working on…
But before I talk more about the state of my course, let me give you a little more insight into what I was able to accomplish in September.
An Overview of September
In my last income report I talked about a handful of things I was focusing on for September. They were:
- Doubling-down on creating more buyer’s guides.
- Promoting my new and existing buyer’s guides.
- Finishing up & launching my free course.
As I mentioned above, I spent a lot of the month on vacation and so I didn’t have as much time as I normally do to work on my projects. However, I was able to make some progress on the three main areas I set out to focus on in September.
1. Doubling-down on creating more buyer’s guides.
If you read my income report from last month, you’ll know that through using SEMRush to analyze some of my competitors, I was able to find 44 new keywords that I could create buyer’s guides around. And, so, a big part of my focus the last couple of months has been creating those guides.
In September I had knocked out (published) three of those guides and I had another two waiting to be published. In September I published those two that were pending, as well as a third new guide. And, as of right now, I have two more ready to be published.
So, in total, I have published 5 out of the 44 guides I set out to finish and I have two more ready to go. And, this month I will look to get 2-3 more guides ready to be published (on top of the two that are already ready to go.)
For those of you that are new to my content, essentially my buyer’s guides are big lists of related products, where each product has a 200-300 word overview.
As an example, a buyer’s guide would be a post titled something like “The Best Dog Houses” and the post would consist of a large list of dog houses that are for sale on Amazon.
Then for each dog house I would provide an overview of the features and highlights of that dog house, with a link to the product listing on Amazon.
The idea is that, if you can get 10-20 products on a big buyer’s guide, each with 200-300 word long overviews, that is a really long post. And, from my experience, the longer the post, the easier it is to rank high in the SERPS, and thus the more money you can make from it.
To give you an idea of the potential for this strategy, the first guide I published (out of the 44 new guides I’m looking to create), I spent ~$150 to get the content written, and it took about 4-5 hours to get it all setup and published.
From there I spent another 2-3 hours getting some quick links for it and pushing it out on my social media channels.
In that guide’s first full month, it made me ~$250. That means for ~$150 and roughly 6-8 hours of work, I was able to nearly double my investment in just a month’s time. However, the first month’s profit from the guide is just the beginning.
The guide will continue to make me money as long as it ranks high in the SERPS. And, so the initial $150 investment to create it will pay off over and over.
This month the guide has continued to climb in the rankings, which means more traffic and, thus, more sales. Currently it is on pace to make me nearly $500 this month, which means that in just two months it will have provided a 5x return on my initial $150 investment.
And, again, it will keep earning with minimal effort. (I’ll just need to update the guide one every few months.)
In the course that is set to launch I go into more detail into my buyer’s guide strategy, how I find the right keywords to target, and how to set them up. You can sign up for the course here.
But, I will say that if you have been struggling with different online passive income strategies and you haven’t tried creating niche/authority sites filled with buyer’s guides, you might want to give this strategy a go.
To get started you can check out our guide: How to Start A Blog (That Actually Makes You Money). And, of course, the course that I’m launching will also go over the step-by-step process in much more detail.
2. Promoting my new and existing buyer’s guides.
Creating a buyer’s guide is really only a part of what it takes to make them profitable. The other part of producing profitable buyer’s guides is in how well you promote them.
And for me, I focus on promoting my guides in the search engines by getting them to rank high on the first page.
I will admit, though, that traditionally I have been much more vigilant in creating guides than I have been in promoting them. The crazy part is that even though I haven’t put a big effort into promoting my guides, I have still been able to rank a lot of them well, which has resulted in bringing me a sizable monthly income.
If I could shore up my content promotion strategy and go after it with much more consistency, I could see my traffic and sales reach even higher levels.
So, one of the things I’ve been focusing on is coming up with a simple and effective content promotion strategy that I can scale. The strategy—as of now—consists of…
- Pushing out my new guide to my social media platforms.
- Creating infographics specific to my new guides.
- Conducting email outreach to try and score a few editorial/resource backlinks to the guide.
- Finding guest post opportunities where I can link back to my new guide.
- Searching HARO daily for relevant queries that pertain to my guide.
Obviously, to get your guide to rank higher in the SERPS, you need to get quality backlinks to point to it. One of the best ways to do that (at least in terms of white hat strategies) is through email outreach.
Not coincidentally, doing email outreach is the most time-consuming of the options outlined above. And, because of that, sometimes I don’t always get around to doing it.
So, late in September I decided to outsource my email outreach campaigns, in an effort to ensure that I wouldn’t neglect doing it in the future. I found an outreach specialist through a marketing group I am apart of and have had him setup a trial run so that I can test out his service.
I’m hoping that the service proves fruitful, because if it does, it will provide me with a more consistent form of promotion, so that I can focus more on creating new niche sites and guides.
Of course, I will need to go through a testing period to ensure that the service I’m using is effective for the amount I’m paying. And, so if this outreach service doesn’t pan out, I will have to keep looking until something makes sense for my budget and the return it provides for what I am paying.
On top of outsourcing my email outreach, in the coming months I will also look to outsource a few other aspects of my promotion strategy, including social media.
3. Finishing up the free course I’ve been working on.
As many of you know I’ve been working on a free course that goes over the step-by-step process I use to build profitable niche sties. And, my plan was to have it ready to be launched at the end of September/beginning of October.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and it probably won’t be ready to be launched for at least another couple of weeks.
The good news, though, is that I was able to finish the rough draft of the course and so the content is pretty much all done.
So, now I need to go through and edit the course, organize it, and make sure that the information is consistent from the start to the finish. And, I really want to make sure that everything is clear, and that anyone can jump into it and have a practical step-by-step process to follow all the way until the end.
Ultimately, I’m going to be focusing a lot on finishing the course in the coming weeks and I fully expect the course to be finished by the end of the month. Although, if my wife delivers our baby early, that could change.
My September 2016 Income Report
September didn’t end up being quite as good as August was, but it was still one of my best months to date.
Traditionally, my sites dip a bit in September and October. I believe that’s because the majority of my income comes from sites that are heavily influenced by students. And, since school is in full swing and there isn’t as much free time to use the products my main sites promote, the sales and traffic are a bit down.
But, even with that being said, I was still able to easily break $20,000, which I am extremely grateful for.
- Amazon.uk: £641.10
- Amazon.de: €255.73
- Amazon.fr: €98.58
- Amazon.it: €365.01
- Amazon.es: €62.21
- Total foreign: ~$1,659.78 (really depends on current exchange rates)
*NOTE: It wouldn’t be possible for me to make commission from foreign Amazon sites without a plugin like EasyAzon. I paid ~$49 for the plugin, and, as you can see, I have easily made the back and a lot more. I definitely recommend EasyAzon if you are running an Amazon-affiliate-based site.
- Amazon Private Label Products: $845.64
- Amazon Associates: $20,211.53
Total Net Profit: $22,716.95 (-$5,439.57)
A Look at October
With my second child due at the beginning of November, I’m going to give most of my attention to finishing the free course I’ve been working on. It’s not that I won’t be able to work when the little one gets here, but I am going to cut back on my hours quite a bit.
And, so getting the course launched before then will definitely be a priority, as I will likely want to spend the shortened work days on answer questions, comments, and emails for those of you who join the course.
Aside from the course, though, I also have a few of buyer’s guides that I want to throw up. I currently have two of the guides written… they just need to be setup. And I will likely order another 2-3 guides to be written as well.
Although, whether or not those extra guides get published this month will depend on if I can get the course launched or not.
And, finally, in preparation for cutting back on work to help my wife with my son and our new baby, I’ve started outsourcing some of the promotion of my buyer’s guides.
Since I have a firm promotion strategy in place for my new guides, I really want to see if I can completely outsource the process. Not only do I want to do that to save time, but if I’m going to scale my business model in the future, it’s going to be imperative that I outsource some of the more time-consuming tasks (like email outreach).
So, while in the past I have enjoyed having full control of my niche sites, I realize now that if I want to reach new heights, I’m going to have to take a step back and look for ways to automate the process a bit more.
Ultimately, my main focus will be on finishing the course and if I can get that accomplished, it will have been a successful month.