Sorry again for the lateness on this progress report. I’ve had an extremely busy August and September with my family in town from abroad. Getting away from the IM grind was certainly refreshing though and I was able to come back with renewed vigor at the tasks at hand.
Private Network UpdateHow I link out from my private network - fibre optic backlinks!
My private network is as big as I want it to be right now, which is just under about 50 sites or so of my own. If I count free Web 2.0 properties that I maintain like Wordpress.com and Blogger I would have well over 100, so the empire is slowly growing!
I’m using a combination of free, paid, and SEO hosting to host everything. I put in a ton of work and research into different hosts at all levels and have finally come to the balance that I like, while having all my sites on completely separate IPs and ranges. Just one recommendation I would have is to stay away from IXWebhosting. I had about 15 websites there, with half of them having no content, and they disabled my account as it was “taking too much CPU” resources. The other sites with content weren’t generating any visits aside from myself, so I’m not sure what the problem was. However, the most important thing to me is uptime for my sites from a hosting perspective, so I was forced to move elsewhere and cancel my account. I’m glad that I did. So stay away from IXWebhosting!
I don’t have any recommendations for any particular hosts. The way I approached it was to have a budget and find the hosts that fit into that budget. If I find that the host is terrible, I pack up and move on. Most have 30-day refund policies or more. I have the tools that allow me to pick up and go as I please so it’s easy for me to move sites from point A to point B.
I did complete last month’s goal of linking out from 5 of my sites to current niche sites. I didn’t have any scientific method of choosing which ones that I was going to link FROM. Actually I just chose the sites that were fully completed in terms of appearance, structure, etc. Aside from one site (the Amazon one mentioned above) I haven’t noticed any SERP movement in a positive or negative direction. Of all the links made I have only sent one from the source to a unique target domain, so it’s more likely that I just need to send more links. I do feel really good about having full control over my links though. You just can’t get that when you pay for a service or a software tool.
WordPress Network Management
I’ve had a good response from last month’s review of ManageWP (affiliate), InfiniteWP, Worpit, and xMarkPro (affiliate). I’ve settled on using ManageWP and xMarkPro primarily now and will make a decision at the beginning of the New Year on which one I will keep for good. So far that’s looking to be xMarkPro. I’ve been speaking a lot with the developer and have put in some suggestions for feature additions. No promises, but fingers are crossed, and hopefully there will be some exciting new software features in the next year.
Search for a New Virtual Assistant
This month, as I became busy with my family life, I came to the realization that I’m now at the point again where I need a virtual assistant (VA) to help me run my organization on a daily basis. I’m basically at the point where I don’t feel that I can grow as a lot of my time is spent just “keeping the lights on.” You may recall the last time I had a VA, where I found someone through oDesk.
As I outsourced various things I came to realize that oDesk is much better for short term, contract-based work. Through a reader I became aware of Onlinejobs.ph and was advised of how to hire from there. On that site, you’ll find more people looking for long-term work with a more stable monthly salary. I thought that would be perfect for my operation, so I signed up for a month. Unlike oDesk, OnlineJobs.ph has a monthly fee for access as an employer.
Unfortunately, the search hasn’t been going so well. Despite posting the job and also emailing candidates directly, there hasn’t been anyone that I’ve been able to connect with and feel like they could take over the reins. I haven’t changed the approach much from looking for candidates with excellent command of the English language, which seems to bring about the best applicants. Sadly most have been balking at my trial tasks or are just flat out flaking out when I communicate them. It’s pretty frustrating when your business is at a standstill and you can’t do much about it without help.
I suppose that I should’ve seen this coming, so I’ll chalk this up to my mistake of poor planning ahead of time. Being in reactive mode sucks so I’ll be making sure that something like this does not happen again.
Despite the problems with my VA search, earnings have stabilized and I am earning about the same as the last two months, which is great. As I mentioned last month, I no longer feel the need to share the exact number of pennies earned on a regular basis anymore, and would rather keep you updated on what I’m working on so that you can get an idea of how I work.
August also brought up some Amazon earnings again. On one of my sites I had replaced the AdSense blocks with an Amazon widget instead. The site wasn’t converting that well with it, so I decided to give Amazon a try. I ended up getting really lucky and catching a few sales, netting me a small commission. CTR/conversion is about the same as AdSense though, so I’m not sure if I’ll keep Amazon there. It’s worth it to test for a month though. The site wasn't intended for Amazon so it doesn't sell the products advertised there, so CTR is lower than it should be. But I think it's fairly decent regardless.
Clickbank sales through my Ultimate Niche Finder review trickle in here and there. I’m almost at the point of obtaining another $100 payment from them as soon as I breach that threshold. This is pretty good considering I haven’t dropped a link to my review outside of this blog really (I believe there is one link on AdSense Flippers’ site).
This probably deserves another post on its own, but my rankings are stable across relatively established sites (6-9 months old). I'm most pleased, however, with my new batch of sites (roughly 22) that have all experienced some nice jumps after about a month or two of shelf life. I have several first-pagers and non-first-pagers earning back their development costs as well as six sites coming up on the second or third page. By month #3 I should have secured a good spot on first page or top position, right on schedule.
The rest of the sites haven't been backlinked yet as I've had a hard time catching up with my marketing strategy for each site. This is one of the reasons I've decided to pursue a VA at this point. On the flip side though, it's given me a lot of time to review my onpage SEO, which I've worked on extensively this month to optimize and improve on my old ways of constructing sites. All of my new generation of sites are between 1 and 35 pages of content depending on the vertical. I am also paying much less attention to "keyword difficulty" these days; if I see another MFA, Amazon, CPA/affiliate site, etc. on page 1 or page 2 I know that it's doable in terms of SEO (notice how I didn't say profitable though).
Goals for September
This month is already almost done, but my primary focus right now is on hiring a virtual assistant and getting them up to speed. This will be necessary for expansion of my current AdSense setup as well as leaving me time to experiment with affiliate marketing/CPA. I have a few leads at the moment but if you know of a reliable worker with excellent English skills, please contact me.
I’m also taking some suggestions for new content that you’d like to see me write about. I get asked about all sorts of things privately that I don’t mention here, but if there’s something that you want expanded upon that you think I can write about, let me know.