Edit: I realized the old title was ‘March’ but the income report was actually for ‘April’ — so I put the wrong month in the title. I’ve corrected that
It’s been years and years since I last posted online earning income reports. I used to do this way back in 2011 and 2012 (read my first post in 2009 about a make money online experiment that launched my new career) on my now old defunct blog (make money online with seo), but I stopped back in late 2012 when I stopped regularly posting on the blog (I was too busy writing content for like hundreds of mini sites).
So why I am posting my online earnings as a monthly income report now, after all this time?
Well, I figure, since most people LOVE reading about income reports for inspiration and it gives the author (me) some sort of credibility to readers that the so called expert actually knows what the fuck he’s talking about, I’ve decided to start posting my earnings every month.
It also provides a nice way for me to keep track of my personal progression. I’m hoping that over the next year or two, there will be some huge increases in earnings — and if you guys follow along with me, you can see exactly how I go about getting there.
Now, I wish I could post crazy income reports like Pat Flynn or some of these other guys with 40k, 50k, or 100k income reports. But alas, I’m not there just yet (but I intend to be in a couple years!).
Past Income Setbacks
Now a few years ago, when I first started out in 2011 and 2012, I was making more money than I do now, pulling in about $12,000 to $14,000 a month on average, with a few months that top near $17,000 or $18,000.
However, since then I had some serious setbacks. Note that I currently live in Thailand and I have been living in Thailand since 2011. So despite the up’s and downs of online income, I’ve still managed to quit my job back in 2009 and remain completely self employed by making money online for seven years now while living and travelling in Thailand since 2011 — 5 years.
So I haven’t been doing too bad, despite the losses I suffered to my sites.
Penguin Update and EDM update which pretty much destroyed most of my best earning sites (which were mini sites, and a lot of them). This knocked my income back by 50 or 60 percent at least.
Having both google adsense accounts banned.
I Was in a Stupor
From late 2011 to about the end of 2013, I also put very little time into my online business to be honest. During this time, I only created a couple half-hearted websites during this time, I did NO link outreach for my sites, I did not add any new content to most of the sites (remember, they were hit by penguin so I wasn’t sure if it was worth trying to save them) and I generally mostly did not work at the time.
I hung out in Thailand, I went to the beach, I chilled with people I met. But I did not have a focused plan on what to do online at this point
There were a few (lucky) things I did that paid off years later, such as buy a couple expired domains and put some content on them (which I’m now reaping the rewards from), added some custom coding and new custom layouts to the one authority site (my very first site I owned) and expanded the content on it.
But besides this, I really didn’t do anything new or revamp my strategy. I just sort of existed. I did not progress.
Enter a New Strategy
Now up until about the middle of 2014, I kind of lost direction. Having been hammered from every direction by various google updates, website losses, and google bans, it finally occurred to me that I needed to change up my strategy.
Before I had focused on owning hundreds of small mini sites built on keyword descriptive (or exact) long tail domains with a maybe 10 pages of content that were shoddy at best.
I was not focusing on building authority or providing any real help or value to the reader.
It took me about 3 years of watching my income get slashed every which way before I FINALLY wizened up and realized that…
I had been wrong.
Creating dozens to hundreds of small sites was NOT the way to go. There was no fucking way you can manage that many sites and create quality. This is something I talked about years ago, but I never really fully pursued because I had so many low quality mini sites that were churning out money, that I was lazy and complacent.
But when went from $12,000 to $14,000 a month to a measly $2000 a month, I realized I had enough and had to focus on building a real business based on providing value to people.
Give first, get back later.
So I refocused my efforts on rebuilding a handful of brand new domains, but with the goal of making these sites the best I possible could. I would spend a 3 days writing a single article, determined to make that article the best one ever written about the subject.
And somewhere along the line, doing this started to pay off. It wasn’t overnight, or even after a few months, but slowly, but surely, my new website projects started to see some success.
And now, nearly three years later, that strategy is now paying off.
I’m not back where I was when I started just yet, but the potential is far better now with my sites. Rather than own hundreds of mini sites with shallow content, I now own a handful of high quality, authority sites in different niches. Sites that have a strong social presence (thousands of Facebook likes, shares, thousands of twitter followers) with hundreds of pages of deep content, with regular, high quality, deep content being added. These are sites that I work on consistently.
It’s taken a few years of hard work on my part, a lot of head banging and tears, but all that work is starting to pay me back and there’s a lot of future potential for growth and different income opportunities I now have.
develop a real world product some of the websites and sell it via my website distribution
Anyways, with that biography and speel out of the way, let’s start this thing.
The Income Breakdown
I’m going to divide my income into a few different sections. Note that these are all earnings made online and almost entirely made from PASSIVE INCOME ONLINE. That means money is made whether I do something or not.
Passive income is the best sort of income because it’s not directly a put in work and get paid for work trade. I’d rather $2000 from a passive income stream than $6000 a month from a job that requires me to put in 10 hours a day, six days a week at an office.
My income, such as it is, all comes from passive income sources (short of one exception). I don’t freelance or do any sort of ‘job’ where I get paid to do something by someone else. All of my earnings come from websites, via various monetization strategies.
Here is the online income sources that generate my income
Amazon Affiliates (commissions made from the amazon network)
Affiliate Offers & Leads (click bank, share a sale, CJ, and others…programs where you get paid per sale made on a digital product or offer)
Adsense (I don’t have an adsense account yet, having been banned twice. But, I’m applying for a new one, so stay tuned)
Direct Ad sales
Selling Services Income (selling my time and expertise on one certain website for money once in a while — this is not passive income, though it’s ‘online income’ that comes from a website)
There are some other areas I will be working on over the next few years to further increase income, maybe by a lot
Creating my own product and selling it via my website/s and Amazon (Amazon FBA)
Buying Facebook & Adwords Traffic to specific articles to try and make more money than I spend on advertising
Here’s my affiliate sales from various programs I have signed up for over the years.
Clickbank Earnings: $93.19
I haven’t focused at all on Clickbank affiliates. I used to, way back in 2011 and 2012. I used to promote some clickbank offers years, and regularly pulled in $300 to $500 a month. However, as of now, I really have not put up any clickbank offers on my sites. As such, I’m earning under $100 per month.
There is a lot of room to grow here, if I’m willing to find some appropriate offers for some of my site niches. However, many of the clickbank programs suitable for my niches are low quality offers or, at best, offers I would not feel good about promoting to my readers.
I suppose I could really bring double or triple these earnings if I made a go at it, but for now, I am not focusing on clickbank as a real income stream. I don’t expect this income to grow very much over the next year.
CJ Earnings: $6
CJ has better offer for some of my niches than Clickbank, but I really have not made any effort to promote the offers. I have a couple links scattered about on some posts, somewhere, but that’s about it. I’d like to bring up these earnings though. I used to make roughly 900-1200 a month through a handful of CJ offers. And there are some offers that do match up with my niches pretty closely. So, we’ll see what I can do over this year. $6 is pretty much just a coffee.
Other Random Affiliates:
$15 — some leads with PeerFly.com
$100 – more leads with another company
Affiliate Offer Earnings for April: $214
Affiliate Offer Summary and Plans
There’s a lot of room to grow here, especially when it comes to CJ.com . I need to make a point to find some suitable affiliate offers on CJ, apply for them, and start adding links to some of my key sites. Right now, I pretty much have ZEO CJ links on any of my sites, so I could likely significantly bring up my affiliate offer earnings if I work on adding in the links to the right offers on the right pages on the right sites. This will take some time, but I’m going to see what I can do for the month of May.
Direct Advertising Income for April
I also have a two sites that I sell custom ad-space on. One of these sites is my oldest site, and I’ve had it for over 10 years. It was my first website ever, way back in 2005 about. I only started trying to make money with it back in 2009 and it was the site I first make a few dollars with via the amazon affiliate program, the site that showed me it was possible to actually make money online.This site has now grown to be THE authority site in it’s niche and regularly gets something like 5000-7000 visitors a day.
I’ve also expanded into a number of very similar niches (but different enough to have a new site just about that topic). I have 5 of these sites. One of these sites pulls in about 3000-4000 visits a day now which I now sell direct adspace on. Another site pulls in 2200-3000 visitors a day. Another site 600-700 visitors a day. Another site 300 visitors and the newest one, 200 visitors a day. I mention all 6 of these sites because they are a cluster of sites that are all highly related yet different. I’ve spent years developing these sites and I use them to support new sites I create. I will probably be creating 2 or so more new such similar sites, and that will be that.
I make some decent money selling ad space on site #1 — I’ve been doing so for a few years, but advertising requests really picked up the past 2 years and I’ve been regularly selling out multiple ad spots on this site each month, with some ads so busy it’s booked out 3 or 4 months in advance. Site #2 has started to sell out ad space as well the past year and I’ve really started to ramp up the ad sales now.
The ad prices vary, but I sell the premium ad spots on site #1 for about $500 per 1 month of advertising. Some of the other spots sell for $325, $350, $200, and such. It’s a bit hard to figure out how much this earns from month to month since a lot of the spots are booked out months in advance that start and stop at different dates. So one month, I might book out an ad that will show in 3 months, for 2 months up front payment. So it’s a bit difficult to show the month to month earnings. But I’ll try here, counting ONLY what payments were actually collected last month (this ignore the payments people sent in months before to cover ads shown that month).
Note that if I break down exactly the ads sold for the month, divided by 12 months, both sites bring me in anywhere from 1000 to 2000 USD a month.
$375 — took an ad booking for 2 months
(note: I actually have about $1000 of other ads currently running that were prebooked months before running on the site. However, the money was collected previously, so I’m not counting it as part of this earning report, though technically, it is part of the money the site earned for the month)
0 — no money taken in for April, though the site is running ads paid for and booked in Feb and March which would total up to about $400)
Total Direct Advertising Earnings: $375 (if we count for ads booked with money collected months before that were showing on the site, then about $1500 actually)
Summary & Plans
Direct advertising has worked out surprisingly well. I’ll write a post about how to do this at some point. For me, it sort of grew organically out of one of my niches and there proved to be a solid market for it, based on my site niche and the level of traffic it receives. I would say that I earn anywhere from $1000 to $2000 a month just selling ad spots on my sites to direct advertisers. I have 3 to 4 new sites I’m building just for this. The sites are still new, but I expect in a year, maybe two, I may be able to do the same sort of thing on these new sites. Overall, there could be the potential for a solid $3,000 to $4,000 a month in earnings if I can get the other 4 sites decent traffic and find a market for the direct advertising.
Selling Services Income
I also have a service I offer on one of my websites to the public where I sell my time directly. It’s a niche where I use my expert opinion about a topic, do some reading, then write something for the client — with no deadlines involved. It usually takes me anywhere from four or five hours to complete this. But I usually spread the work out over a couple weeks or a month, though I could do it in 3 to 6 hours if I went at it straight. I charge $400 for this service, and I usually get one, sometimes 2 per month. I sell this service from website #1.
I can probably make about $1000 a month just doing this, but this is not a passive income — I am directly trading my time here for this money. And the process can be labor intensive and a boring, so I don’t like doing it. Money is money and for $400 a pop, I do it with a grimace. I can make this more of a passive income process if I try to outsource this work to other people.
Here’s what I’ve been doing to increase Amazon Earnings over the past six months
Created two new product oriented authority sites (one of which is the expired domain case study site, and the other, a new sites I created on new domain about the same time). I have monetized one of them a few months ago (the expired domain site) and the other site, I just started to monetize about 2 weeks ago. It’s earning big, so the new site should significantly bump up amazon earnings for next month, if my prediction and current earnings for the new amazon site holds true.
Worked on optimizing earnings with position of ad links and buy it now call to actions on 1 of the sites
Been working to write ‘best of’ product articles on the big authority site I share with my brother. I only started to pursue an amazon affiliate strategy about 6 or 7 months ago, writing a best of product list, then steadily adding more best of lists and product reviews. Over the next 6 months, I’ll ramping this up significantly, with about 15 to 20 more best lists, and about 30 more reviews. Currently, we have about 9 best of lists and 7 or 8 reviews. So the content strategy here is pretty simple: add more product lists and reviews. I’ve come up with a list and there are at least 20 to 30 more ‘best of’ lists I could write and 30 to 50 more product reviews. All these articles rank first page, near the top, after only a couple months due to the site’s very strong domain authority. So I fully expect this site to be earning a LOT more money over the next year, which will bring amazon earnings up quite a bit. Stay tuned.
Added Amazon Native Product Ads to a couple sites
Added Amazon CMP Ads to a couple sites (I will be adding to more soon)
Created new content on one of the sites promoting an Amazon Bounty product that pays me per lead.
Amazon Affiliate Earnings for April: $3,645.41
Most of which comes from affiliate sales on products, but with $441 of that coming from CMP and bounties.
And just to show you the progress, the past few months too to compare. Keep in mind Amazon’s earnings are always paid 3 months AFTER them month you earn as well.
Now, here’s a comparison of my amazon earnings for Aprils each year, as far back as I can get my amazon stats for proof. You should be able to see that my earnings dropped substantially, starting from 2011, in which that year was my high point for Amazon.
And here was my highest ever Amazon earnings (I had to go back to the payments from Amazon) back in 2011, just to put things into perspective.
Amazon Affiliate Summary & Plans
I won’t be posting all these previous comparison images in future reports for amazon earnings. But since this is the FIRST report I’ve done on this site and the first I’ve done in years, I want you guys to have some context.
My Amazon back in 2011 was pulling in about an average of $4000 for that year about. Various search engine updates in 2011 and 2012, killed off the best earning amazon sites I had, which cut my amazon income by 60% for several years straight. I’ve managed to build it up by expanding out a couple authority sites, but honestly, I mostly just maintained and did not break any new ground. From 2013 to 2015, I mostly stayed around 1800-2000 a month with Amazon, with a decline in 2014 down to about $1200 or $1500 a month for 2013.
However, the past year and specifically, the past six months, I’ve been working on earning a lot more with Amazon, which as you see from the newest report for last month April, pulled me in $3600 — the most money I’ve made in Amazon in years (actually, December 2015 made me $3900, but Christmas is always the best month in a year and you see DOUBLE earnings, so I’m not counting that), I’m close to where I was in earnings back in 2011. I think by next month, I should be around where I was at my peak with Amazon. After that, it’s new ground, if I can keep the momentum.
Media.net Earnings for April
Media.net is my other big earner, along with Amazon and direct advertising. I’ve been slowly working on Media.net since about the middle of 2014. I have not had Adsense since September 2013, when two of my accounts were banned. I will be applying for a NEW adsense account and put it up a couple new sites that now get traffic. If this works out, it should dramatically increase my income.
If you want an idea about how I make my money with media.net, read my post How I Made $90,000 with Media.net — I outline what strategies are effective to earn with media.net
Now, I have not used Adsense in about 2.5 years. But based on the same sites with the same traffic, Media.net seems to earn anywhere from 40 to 60% of what Adsense earns. Now, there may be some niches where Media.net earns the SAME or better, but I can’t test that just yet. I do know comparing the same sites that had adsense, that now have media.net — with those same sites having MORE traffic now than they had back when I had adsense, Adsense was earning more — about 40 percent more. So likely, had I had adsense on these sites, I would be earning DOUBLE the money that I do with Media.net.
However, Media.net is a completely viable alternative to Adsense. And in some cases, it’s even a better earner than Adsense. And it’s a lot safer to use. You don’t necessary throw open the keys to your kingdom by giving google full disclosure about all your sites in one go by having adsense on all of them. And, Media.net does not ban you at the drop of a hat like Google does for, often, dubious reasons. Google stole $3000 from me by banning my account years ago right before I was paid out for that.
So I highly suggest you apply and get a working account and test it out as BACKUP (or in addition to) your Adsense just to hedge your bets against getting an Adsense ban, which happened to me, twice.
Media.net Earnings for April: $4,804.29
Media.net Summary and Plans
There’s a lot of potential with Media.net. I could be earning more with Adsense, but regrettably, the sites that I had adsense on, were banned. Even if / when I get a new adsense account, I can’t put adsense back on them. So I have to monetize with Media.net or another program.
But, I’ve been working on optimizing Media.net earnings for existing sites. And I have a couple brand new sites I’ll be putting Media.net on over this month or next that may shoot up my media.net earnings significantly. So, expect to see large increases here with Media.net over the coming months.
Total Online Earnings for April
Here’s the summary…
Affiliate Offers income:$214
Direct Advertising income: $375 (though actually it’s about $1500 for ads bought already)
Note: I have not listed anything such as my expenses such as hosting, which I pay several hundred for, plugin purchases, theme purchases, or money paid for outsourced content, facebook advertising for page likes, or any sort of living expenses. Since I am not directly spending money to make money (on say paid advertising), it’s not that relevant since I don’t need to spend money each month to make that money. I may start adding these to the next income report, however
The Final Word
There you guys have it, my first income report — and for the month of April 2016 with the month’s earnings of about $9,4380 USD.
I didn’t quite reach the $10,000 a month (the five figures per month objective that every online ‘guru’ loves to boast about) — I haven’t in a while to be honest.
However, if I take into account some of the direct advertisements I sold a few months ago to show ads for this month on one of my sites, which I did not count in my Direct Advertising, then I technically did make more than $10,000.
The Future Plans to Increase Earnings
I’ve had some big breakthroughs with a site, earnings wise, about 2 weeks ago. Additionally, another authority site I have is getting a lot of new content that targets amazon products written up, so I expect quite an increase in earnings for the next couple income reports as these increases start to kick in and show.
I can also increase Affiliate Offer earnings quite a bit by actually trying to put on affiliate offers on some of my key, trafficked sites. I have not bothered to do this, being busy with projects, but considering I’m probably leaving a lot of money on the table, I should make a point of it.
Then there are some methods of doing optimization of offer layouts, Media.net ads, and such which might be able to optimize existing earnings — I’m going to run some tests to see what I can do and write about the results
I’m also getting ready to deploy a couple brand new sites to Media.net, sites that are getting thousands of visitors a day in some very money making niches. So, once I put those sites up, you may see my Media.net earnings jump quite a bit. This depends if I can get this done and the site approved by Media.net this month.
SO, expect good things to happen next month and over the next few months. Follow along to see how I do it.
BenK has been around blogging in the SEO/Internet Marketing sphere since 2010 when he quit his job to pursue a self employed career of making a crazy online income with the dream of doing absolutely nothing to make good money.However, he soon found that dream was a lie; making an online living took a lot of hard work -- more work than he spent at his 9 to 5.In the 5 years he's been an Internet Marketer, he's:*made a full time income at nearly 20k a month, lost it, then work his way back up
*been banned from adsense twice, regained it, then banned again
*had hundreds of sites deindexed
*rebuilt everything from scratch in two years
*moved to Thailand where he now lives on a beach, living off of websites and blogging about internet marketing the RIGHT way.AuthorityIncome.com is his new blog where he shares his strategies, thoughts, and opinions on making a LONG TERM income through websites.