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Woohoo! It's time for another monthly income report. I love writing these posts, not because I get to publish all of the details about my online income, but because I get to share exactly what I've been doing to earn that income—what I've learned, what I did well, what I didn't do well, and where I'm headed. My goal here is not to boast about what I do—if you know anything about me you know that's not what I'm about. This is about inspiration and education.
I'm here for you.
Let's get right to it…
Important Going-Ons in July
July was a fantastic month, on many levels.
Before I get into my businesses, I just wanted to mention how much more energy and focus I've had lately. I'm now on day 62 of 90 in my P90X extreme home fitness journey, and since starting I've lost 15 lbs., 6% bodyfat, and have never, ever felt better. I can go through an entire day with no naps and no coffee, which is huge for me because back when I had a 9 to 5 job, I drank coffee at least twice a day and took a nap in my car during lunch.
For those of you interested in my physical changes (I've had requests for these pictures, which is a little weird to be honest…lol), here's a picture that compares how I looked on day 0 and on day 60.
I've heard that the best results come between day 60 and day 90, so I'm pretty stoked to see what happens. I'll keep you posted.
If you have yet to read my post entitled What P90X Can Teach Us About Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur, I definitely recommend you check it out. Everything I mentioned in that post is absolutely true.
Ok—enough of that.
On to business!
The Smart Passive Income Podcast
In July, I launched the Smart Passive Income Podcast…finally! I had been talking about doing the show for almost 2 years now, and to see it finally come to life is pretty amazing. It's a whole new type of media that I'm really falling in love with, and I now understand why people like Dave Ramsey and Leo Laporte use podcasting as one of their primary mediums to broadcast to their audience.
Although I only have two shows published so far (4 more are already pre-recorded and ready to go), I was fortunate enough to get picked up on iTunes and featured in their New and Noteworthy Section for the Business Category, right next to Steve Jobs and my good friend Maren Kate:
Thanks to those of you who have left reviews for me in iTunes. I appreciate it, even if a few of them are a bit harsh only two episodes in. I appreciate your honesty.
Lastly, I purchased the domain: http://www.ebooksthesmartway.com, which forwards to my opt-in page for my eBook guide and newsletter. It makes it a lot easier to say and memorize, which is perfect for the show.
My LEED Study Guide blog at GreenExamAcademy.com has been seeing steady sales, both of my own products and affiliate products. In an attempt to increase sales and conversions, I had mentioned how I was going to insert a free mini-assessment quiz on the site to hopefully take people through some sample questions, and then hit them with an offer at the end.
I spent a majority of the month working with a plugin developer to reconfigure an existing WordPress quiz plugin so it worked the way I wanted it to, and so it was stylized appropriately for my site. The plugin is complete and I'm about ready to launch the campaign, so hopefully I'll be able to grab some data for you by next month. August is the last month of Summer before professionals get back into their usual routine (kids back to school, people back from vacation, etc.), so sales in August are suspect to drop a little.
In addition to that, I'm exploring other options for shopping carts. I currently use an E-Junkie & Paypal Payment Pro Combo (as outlined in my guide, eBooks the $mart Way) to automate the sales and distribution of my material, but I'm currently communicating with 1ShoppingCart to see how that goes. They have some more options that I could use, such as an “after sale” upsell offer method.
This means that instead of selling upsells (i.e. selling the audio version of my guide to those who only purchase the eBook version) before they pay, the shopping cart promotes the upsells after the purchase has been made. That way, if the customer doesn't want the upsell, they've at least already made the initial purchase.
We'll see how it goes.
I'll never know if it works better unless I give it a shot.
The Smart Passive Income Blog
SPI has continued to grow each and every month, thanks to you. I surpassed 8000 RSS subscribers (although Feedburner has been wacky the past month, so it may show significantly less for now). My goal for 2010 was to reach 6000, so to see it at 8000 in July is pretty amazing. I'm hoping for 10k by the end of the year.
Around mid-July, I had noticed how slow the blog was loading. People were actually emailing and tweeting me about how slow it was, which is not good. A slow loading site not only annoys your current readers, but it can also drastically increase your bounce rate, as new visitors are usually impatient and will not wait 13 seconds for a site to load.
Well, thanks to everyone and their suggestions on Twitter, I implemented WordPress plugin called W3 Total Cache, and integrated it with Amazon S3 and Amazon Cloudfront. I honestly don't even know exactly how it works, but my understanding is that now that I've done this, everything you see on my site—the pictures, my CSS, background, header, etc. now comes from Amazon's servers, which means it's lightning fast to load.
Many people have told me how much faster the site is now, so that's a relief. I'll write a blog post about how to set that up later in August.
That being said, I plan to make it even faster. I think SPI has grown to a point where it makes sense for me to stop using shared hosting, and now move on to the next level.
Don't get me wrong, Bluehost has been perfect for me. All of my websites—niche sites, greenexamacademy.com, etc. are all hosted on Bluehost, and I'd recommend them to anyone. However, this blog is becoming fairly popular, and I want it to be able to handle large loads of traffic in the future. Plus, a fish can only grow so big in a fishbowl. I need that lake or ocean to grow bigger, and I think now is the time.
So, what is the next step?
After shared hosting, it's using a VPS host, which stands for Virtual Private Server. It's the “middle” ground between shared hosting and a totally dedicated server, so the prices aren't that bad. I'll be looking to pay maybe $29 to $49 a month, compared to at least $100 a month for a dedicated server.
Again, I'll let you know how that goes once it happens, and hopefully you'll be able to tell because the site will be even faster. I'm crossing my fingers that it will be a smooth transition.
As I stated in last month's report, I've been starting to get involved with niche sites, and I'm actually seeing some good results. For many internet marketers, niche sites provide a majority of their income, either through pay-per-click ads or from an affiliate commission. Either way, the main goal is to find a niche based on keywords that people are searching for, build a site around it, and rank on the first page of Google.
I've gotten three niche sites up so far, and two of them are on the first page on Google. I have earned an affiliate commission on both of those ranked sites already, and overall, I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of how this works, because it was a business model that I was totally uneducated about not too long ago.
Here's exactly what I've been doing:
- I use Market Samurai to find golden keywords that are highly searched for and have relatively low competition. You can grab your free trial of Market Samurai here.
- I then build a quick WordPress blog around that site. See my video about how to create a WordPress blog (and publish your first post) in less than 4 minutes if you're wondering how this is done.
- Then, it's all about creating content. I write about 5 blog posts, schedule them out for 5 days, and make sure the last one I write is the best—the one that REALLY promotes the product I'm pushing, along with affiliate links, obviously. I also like to include some relative YouTube videos on some of those posts (with the same Keywords in the title), just to give it a little more Google SEO juice.
- Then, I submit my site to a large number of Blog and RSS Feed Directories. This builds quick backlinks from relatively high ranking sites. The authority may not be as high because they are links from directories and not links from sites totally relevant to the niche I'm targeting, but it does help me to get picked up by Google within a day, usually.
- Then, I build more authoritative backlinks by finding relevant blogs and forums to post to, making sure to leave my site inwith the keyword as the anchor text in the signature. I don't spam, and I do my best to leave a thoughtful, relevant comment or response to a thread.
- Then, I write articles. Article writing has been the strategy that has been giving me the best results for climbing Google, by far. I use a tool called Instant Article Factory to quickly write articles. I can literally spit out a well-written article in less than 5 minutes using IAF—the software is crazy amazing, and I want to give credit to Jonathan Ledger for creating the tool, because it has saved me a ton of time. I encourage you to watch the video about how it works now. Actually, I'll talk more about Instant Article Factory at the end of this post, because I have something special to announce.
- I submit the articles to a number of article directories, obviously using they keywords as anchor text links back to my site, and then—I just wait.
- If the keyword research was done properly, I can see in Market Samurai's rank checker that each day I climb the rankings and eventually rank on the first page of Google. I'm 2 of 3 so far, and the other one is not far behind.
I know you're wondering what niches I'm in and exactly what sites I've created, but I don't think I'm quite ready to disclose that information, at least not yet. I know that sounds sketchy, and without proof you might think I'm making this whole thing up, but I think you understand where I'm coming from.
I can tell you that I am promoting products from Clickbank, and I can show you this screenshot of my daily earnings:
*Please note that not ALL of the income you see in the report above are from the niche sites I've created. About 75% ($285) are from the niche sites—including the August sales you see.
I did this all myself at first, but for the last site I hired a Virtual Assistant from Odesk.com to do it all for me, and it's the one that has actually earned me the most so far. I can get a lot more done with my VA helping out, that's for sure.
Although the earnings are still not spectacular, it's nice to explore the niche site option and know it really can be done. Now with my VA in hand, all I have to do if find more of those golden keywords, and then rinse and repeat.
I think it's time for July's income breakdown:
Please note that these are figures from reports from each individual company for the previous month. It does not necessarily reflect the actual payment which, for some of the companies listed below, come 30 to 60 days later because of potential refunds.
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.
It's actually quite amazing that after all of that, I'm only $12 off from last month. Another consistent month of earnings, although I know I can do better.
One thing—we actually had a little hiccup with the free iPhone apps. We found that with the new release of the iPhone 4 and the OS4 operating system, the ads on our free apps were not being shown properly, so our ad income went down drastically. We're fixing the issue right now, and will hopefully get the free app income back to normal next month.
What I Learned in July
I'm only going to mention one important thing, because I've already spilled a lot of info into this post.
The most important thing I learned is that article marketing works. When I asked Mark Mason, niche site extraordinaire (who was actually featured on the second session of the Smart Passive Income Blog) what was working for him lately, he said the same exact thing: article marketing.
When building authority sites like this blog, article marketing isn't really that important. In fact, I would say that SEO in general isn't that important (at least not as important as everyone makes it out to be), because a majority of my traffic comes from referrals from sites other than Google, which drives higher quality traffic than Google does, at least in my case. That's why I don't even pay attention to SEO on this particular blog, yet I'm still able to have an Alexa ranking in the 18,000 to 19,000 range.
With niche sites, however, SEO is everything because you want to rank on the first page of Google, and article marketing is the best way to get there. Not many of the big guys say that, because they don't need to do article marketing themselves, but it's an old school method that does work.
Above, I talked about how I used an awesome tool called Instant Article Factory to help me write quality articles in less than 5 minutes, and that I had a special announcement about it.
Well, I contacted Jonathan Ledger (the creator of the software) myself and told him that Instant Article Factory would be perfect for my readers who are doing niche sites. I also told him that many of my readers were just starting out and may not have the resources to pay for it.
He totally understood, and was nice enough to give me 3 free lifetime copies for my readers!
To enter to win a free copy, all you have to do is look at the video here (Instant Article Factory Sales Page), and tell me what you think about the software and how you would use it in a comment on this post.
Please note that these are affiliate links and I do earn a commission if you do purchase through them. If you have any questions about the product, please let me know before making a purchase! Thanks!
Jon also offered to give the SPI readers special pricing until Friday (a deep 40% off), so the contest must end by Friday too. You must go through my affiliate link though—because this special price is just for SPI readers only.
The video explains everything, and all I can say is that it works exactly as advertised.
And on a side note, the sales page is probably the best sales page I've ever seen. Why? No hype, and it shows everyone exactly what they're getting. This is the type of sales page I want to create when I have my own products.
Check out the video, and I'm sure you'll have no problem leaving a comment about it.
Here are the rules:
- Enter your comment about IAF before the end of the day tomorrow, Thursday August 5th.
- Good, thoughtful comments get the most consideration. I only want to give this away to those who will really use it and really want it.
- Early entries get special consideration.
- On Friday, August 6th at noon (not Saturday) I will pick three (3) winners and contact them via email.
- The three winners will get free lifetime copies and will be announced via email and on Friday's post.
Note: If you have already purchased a copy, don't worry. I'll be sure you get your money back for your initial purchase if you are chosen as a winner.
I get to choose the 3 winners at my own discretion, and my decision is final.
Check out the video and good luck!
The Contest Has Ended
- J Griffin
I have already contacted each of the winners via email.
Again, thank you all for your entries, and I feel really bad I can't choose everyone.
If you didn't win, but you still want a copy, Jonathan was nice enough to also offer a special “Pat Flynn Discount” (a deep 40% off) just for the SPI community. The offer expires at midnight tonight (Friday, August 6th), so you have until 11:59pm PST to grab the discount.
Thanks for reading July's income report, and here's to a healthy and profitable August. Cheers!