Welcome to my December 2011 Monthly Income Report!
Each month I write a detailed report about the money I’ve earned online. It’s not all about the numbers though—it’s more about what I’ve done to earn that money and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
I’ve been keeping this up for over 3 years now, and every month brings along something different as I’m constantly building my passive income portfolio with new projects and new forms of (virtually) automated businesses each and every month.
So why share this with you?
There are a couple of reasons:
First and foremost, it keeps me headed in the right direction. Seeing the numbers and writing down both my wins and my failures help me stay the course and always try to outdo myself, and publicly displaying these things holds me accountable.
Secondly, and more importantly, I do this to be transparent.
If you’re just starting out online, please understand that making money via the Internet is definitely not an overnight thing, and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to pull it off.
A lot of people attempt it and a lot of people fail—but I absolutely know that it’s possible. I struggle through trial and error every single day, but as long as you have a goal and constantly work towards it (and fall down towards it too), you’ll give yourself a chance.
Thanks again for your support, and let's get right to it.
Important Goings-On in December
December is always an interesting month in terms of my income. With the holidays and much of the population in vacation-mode and away from the office, it does reflect in my earnings report, both in good and bad ways.
Another thing that seems to happen at the end of the year for a lot of people is: getting sick.
During the later half of the month my son got sick, and as most parents know that means that inevitably the rest of the family will get sick too, and this time it was no exception for us.
My wife and I soon picked up whatever bug my son picked up from who knows where, and it didn't help that we were also hosting a party for my son's birthday on Christmas Eve, and then celebrating Christmas by house-hopping on Christmas day, and then attending the Holiday Bowl a couple days later, and then an annual Christmas party with some of our closest friends, and then hosting a small New Year's Eve get-together for our immediate family, and then…I pass out.
Okay, I didn't really pass out, but I felt like it sometimes—and I still have yet to fully recover.
As a result of all this activity, both in my schedule and my immune system, my ability to get some good work done at the end of the year was not there. But, thanks to the power of passive income my income levels were still maintained.
Typically, the end of the year is a terrible time for sales on GreenExamAcademy.com. November's monthly income report reflected that, and I was expecting similar, if not smaller numbers in December.
So, it was definitely a surprise when I noticed that the December earnings from this site for December more than doubled. 🙂
Less than an hour of work was done on the site the entire month (just a few replies to some emails that came in), so it was definitely time to do some investigation.
There are a couple of factors that probably helped me out here:
Part of the duty of those who pass the LEED exam is maintaining your accreditation by meeting continuing education requirements. I recently put up an affiliate link to some education classes that would satisfy some of the requirements, and they seem to have converted very well in December.
My thoughts are that since people are off from work, they are taking advantage of this extra time to get their requirements in while they can.
A New Version of the Exam
Late next year, they'll be rolling out a new version of the exam, which means there's always a huge scramble to pass the current version so people don't have to learn all of the new stuff—they can more easily pass the older exam and just maintain their accreditation.
Although there's still a lot of time, there's been more recent talk in the industry about the new version of the exam, which probably got a few extra people to become interested in passing the exam now.
On the flip side, and as expected, the earnings from this career-based niche site was down compared to previous months.
Nothing to worry about though…
- The site is still ranking #1 in Google for its primary keyword.
- It's still getting hits from over 4000+ long-tail keywords.
- And it still earned over $1,500.00 (as opposed to over $2k last month).
If you're interested in learning how I created this site from scratch—all the way from coming up with the idea, to ranking #1 in Google and earning money, you can read more about it here on the niche site duel hub. All free content and you don't even need to opt-in to get it.
Traffic was down a bit during the month, and CPCs (cost-per-clicks) were down as well—and again, this is expected.
This is just speculation, but the holidays probably had a little bit to do with it. People aren't searching for as much information about security guard training, and security guard training companies are paying less for advertising at the end of the year, which has a direct effect on my income (since through Adsense, I earn a percentage of the total cost per click that advertisers pay).
I suspect things will pick up in January, and already on the 3rd and 4th of the month I've had two consecutive $100+ days.
In 2012 you're going to see a lot more information about this site—primarily what I do to diversify the income coming from it, as per my 2012 Goal Post.
December is always a good month for iPhone apps—especially if you have some exposure in the app store (top lists, features, etc.).
Because a lot of people open up their presents and see a brand new iPhone, iPod Touch or iPads.
We also timed an updated version of our top performing application, Baby Maker, with the holidays and it seemed to pay off, as you can see below:
It also cracked the top 100 Photo & Video category, and we're still working on updating it again, since we found a couple of bugs since the latest release.
After that's done, we're going to start working on some new apps, and actually begin some marketing to promote the apps we already have in place. Should be fun, and I'll keep you posted on what's going on as it happens.
Still, we're no Benny Hsu 😉
Other Niche Sites
With the other (smaller) niche sites that I own, some were up, and some were down.
One in particular that did really well in December is a fairly new site that targets a specific type of electronic product type (not a brand).
After a 2 month backlinking campaign, the site rose to the top 4 in Google and began ranking for long tail keywords as well.
In December, which is always a good month for electronics and other type of retail niche sites (i.e. gifts), it earned $190.05 from Amazon.com, pushing over $3,873.74 in sales, which is pretty cool.
I'm sure the numbers will be down at the beginning of the new year simply because less people are shopping on Amazon.com. Chris Guthrie always notes that most of his sales for his Amazon affiliate sites come at the end of the year too.
Again, I'm sorry I'm reluctant to reveal any new additional niches to you—at least at this moment in time. I'm still seeing new copycat sites popup as a result of my revealing my security guard training niche site—and unfortunately people are still copying my content, taking what I've researched and written and slightly changing the words without any credit back to me or my site. It's sort of obviously when all of the bullet points and charts within their posts are the exact same as my own.
I usually reserve a spot here in my income reports to talk about what's been happening with SPI, but there's too much good stuff to talk about (like reaching a million YouTube video views, 1 million podcast downloads, etc.), and I'd like to talk more about each of those in a blog post later on in the month. For now, let's just get to the numbers.
Full Disclosure: Some of the items in the list below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase through that link, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
Note: Items with an empty difference percentage were not present on the previous month's income report. (Click here to read a typical monthly expense report which breaks down how my time and money is spent)
The numbers are a bit skewed because last month I included a substantial non-recurring payment from a client, which isn't typical—but even so I'm very happy to finish off the year above $35k.
What's encouraging here is that the portion of my income NOT related to the SPI blog is much bigger than last month, which aligns with my goal for 2012 to expand and diversify more of my outside-of-SPI-income.
That said, as I always make sure to mention in my income reports, I’ll be the first to admit that a significant portion of my income comes directly from this blog, mostly from the products that I recommend as an affiliate, which are products I’ve used and have helped me in one way, shape or form.
I’m very fortunate to have a community that is willing to support me by making purchases through my affiliate links—a responsibility that I will never take lightly and always take seriously—and as such I never promote just for the potential income that can come from an offer.
I am extremely grateful for everything, and I will continue to give back with valuable content and my experience in return.
Lessons Learned in December
In December I had a run-in with a very determined troll, a person who leaves off-color remarks and takes disrespectful actions to attract attention and stir up a discussion.
Now, I always welcome the critics and skeptics, as long as people are being respectful to me and to each other. I wish there were more of this because it's healthy, and in an industry like internet marketing and making money online all sides of the story need to be addressed, and questions and criticisms are, at least for me, are a very welcome way to make sure everything is addresses as it should.
My issue is with some people's approach.
In this instance, it's unfortunate because this troll actually brings up some good questions and concerns (among some not-so-good ones) that I would have been happy to discuss, even publicly—but the off-putting nature of the approach just didn't sit well with me and as a result, respect was obviously thrown out the window.
I won't get into too much detail, but this person emailed me a very long email with a number of questions and concerns. As I was formatting a reply, a number of my blogger colleagues messaged me saying that this same person posted the same exact email (verbatim) in the comment section on their blogs on posts where I was mentioned or featured.
It was also posted in a number of popular forums and other places online—all within just a few hours before I even had a chance to respond to the initial email. Now there are 20 to 30 different spots online addressing me and asking me questions (the same questions—one making fun of the shirts I wore in my videos, but that's a separate story), and now what am I supposed to do—respond to each and every one of them? Monitor each and address them all?
I was happy to answer the questions and reply to him criticisms and concerns. It's easy, because it's all truth and backed up by real numbers and reports.
But, his intentions were obvious.
There's a right way and a wrong way to do things, and the thing is this—no matter what this person does, even if he apologizes and whatever (I don't expect one), I will never ever be able to get rid of the bad taste of that initial impression.
You never have a second chance to make a first impression, so be wise about what you do and how you approach things.
When all this was going down, I couldn't believe it. It took almost every ounce of my energy NOT to immediately respond and react to this right away. In the heat of the moment, you've got to let things cool down before reacting because you can get into big trouble sometimes, even when you're not the first one to start something.
In sports, do ever notice how often the person who reacts is always the one to get penalized?
I was glad to wait it out because now I can address it here respectfully in a calm and cool manner, instead of creating some monster of a post that probably would have been very entertaining to read, but it most-likely would have made me look bad too.
Thanks for letting me share that here with you.
On a lighter, but more disappointing note—I just wanted to congratulate to Adam Baker from ManvsDebt (who now has an amazing podcast, by the way!) for getting first place in our Blogger Fantasy Football league.
I'm a HUGE Fantasy Football junkie and took first place the last 3 years in a row in another league.
It was me and Adam in the finals, and he won by a total of 2.54 points.
That's one field goal. One touch down, a 26 yard run, a 22 yard reception and about a billion of other possibilities that could have happened differently to put me into first place.
Why is this important?
Because there will always be the “what ifs.”
There will always be this or that which could have happened instead—stuff you wish you had done differently—and yeah, you can learn from those experiences—but don't dwell on them.
Don't get upset because there's nothing that you can do to change the past.
You can only change the future (as cliche as that sounds).
And I'll end my report on that note. 🙂
Thanks for your time, as always, and if you're interested in what I'm up to in 2012, check out my 2012 Goal Post.
Happy New Year, and Cheers!