Firstly, let me apologize for the lack of activity and neglect. November and December were busy months what with all the Christmas holiday fanfare here. Friends, family, parties, and eating -- oh my! There just isn't much time for life on the blog, but I wanted to at least make a concerted effort to update you on significant progress that I've made over the past couple of months after the last Google fallout.
I've just come up on over a year on the blog here, and I would've thought that I'd have something more epic in store for you other than a simple progress report. Looking back, I can't believe how far I've come in terms of my growth -- both as an individual and as an aspiring Internet Marketer. I've learned a lot throughout the year and have built a nice, small following that I (try) to keep in touch with regularly. One of my readers had wrote me an email saying that this is very much a lonely game. I think it very well can be depending on how far you reach out to people. Although I would hope that the information on the blog here, the videos that I've made, and anything else I've done has helped you in some way on your journey towards success -- even though I may not be reaching out to you directly. I would like to thank everyone that has helped given me some sage advice, some tough love when I needed it, and even a kick in the ass when I needed to smarten up and get my hustle on.
The Past Year in AdSense
When I tally up the year's income I come up to a low, but decent 5-figure total. Not enough to quit the day job but also not bad for my IM rookie season I think. At this time last year I was doing a TON of reading and already had purchased my first few domains... it seems like such a long time ago and a completely different situation than I am now. I'm starting to branch out further than AdSense into Amazon and CPA marketing finally, as I feel that I don't have much more to learn in terms of building a great AdSense site that converts. Adding those new sites with different monetization methods will definitely help reduce the risk in my portfolio, and I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead. For all I know about building an AdSense site, I don't have much of a clue about building a great affiliate site that converts visitors, so that's something still very new to me. I'll be using the same two strategies to succeed as always:
Throw stuff against the wall to see what sticks, and...
Bang my head against the wall until it breaks.
Amazon and CPA
With my AdSense portfolio now creeping up back over 50+ sites I finally branched out and made new sites in both categories now. Just as an aside, thanks so much to my wonderful virtual assistant, who just recently had to endure some tough times due to a typhoon. She has been helping me construct my new empire going into 2013, and now I've got her helping me with the affiliate marketing side of things.
Doing research for these types of sites is a little different. I'm used to researching the keywords first and then taking a look at what I can write for them when it comes to AdSense sites. With Amazon and CPA, I'm usually looking for the product first and then thinking about the topics and keywords to write about later. I had to dust off my copy of good ol' Ultimate Niche Finder to help me out with that, as I haven't done any "new" keyword research in awhile. Check out my past review of UNF here.
As some of my readers have indicated, there definitely are some advantages to Amazon and CPA that outweigh AdSense. For one, they definitely pay out way more when you've got a good ranking site that's generally attractive. With AdSense it's generally the opposite; the uglier you go, the more likely your site does well. There's a fine balance between form/function, but it's generally the case. One thing that I do like is that I don't have to worry too much about where I place my ads and such in relation to other content like images. There is a little bit more freedom to experiment in that regard. In addition, with CPA I have an affiliate manager -- a REAL person -- helping me on the other end with some tips on what offers to promote, what's working with SEO, etc. I encourage you to consider signing up for a CPA company as you'll get a lot more practical advice in the beginning when you are just doing research. As of now I am working with Greg from Neverblue and he has been very helpful.
I believe that I've missed the boat for Christmas though in terms of trying to get a new site to rank in time, so I'm not even bothering. I've built a couple seasonal sites though (hint: winter) so I'm just trying to see how it goes as there is more time allowed. With my VA I essentially have unlimited content at my disposal (my VA helps with writing duties) so I have the freedom to try anything and everything.
My Private Network
Not really much to say here as I've grown my PBN to the point where I don't feel that I need to grow it further unless absolutely necessary. I feel that it's working well in conjunction with other links; mix it up as best you can and don't rely on it solely unless the other guys do. Check your competition and if they are being aggressive and winning, then you pretty much have the green light to do so as well. Just remember that when they get owned, so do you.
One reader was looking for me to write about what to do with your expired domain after you get it. I've still got this topic on my bucket list of things to do so hopefully I can get that done during the Christmas break, and if not, definitely in the New Year. So be on the lookout for that.
My Current Portfolio
As I mentioned above I am now just barely over 50 sites again, although only 28 of them are "justifying their existence". Loosely put, they're the sites that have at least paid their domain costs back to me already. Unfortunately the rest of them need a little work so it looks like more content is required amongst other things. For the record, all these sites have MUCH more content than what I was doing earlier this year. Although every IM guru under the sun is preaching "It's all about content!" this is certainly NOT the case for many niches, as I see many 1-page wonders still ruling the SERPs. Where you can succeed with less content will depend on what's in the niche. My favourite example is the "what time is it now" niche. You only need one page to tell the visitor the current time, really.
I am simply not earning as much as I used to from the summer months, but I wonder if that's just a function of the season or something (anything) else. Traffic is once again at good levels, and the same with CTR. I have noticed that CPC is generally a lot lower than it used to be. I wonder if AdSense/AdWords just hasn't been working out as well during this time of year. It's hard to compare even with last year as I didn't have any sites ranked since I was just starting, so I'm not even sure what it was like. If you look back at my old progress reports I didn't really hit great earnings until about March or so.
One thing's for sure, Amazon is definitely working well. I have one person that I've been in touch with that's knocking it out of the park with Amazon. Although the well will probably dry up just after Christmas hits, it's still something to make note of for any holiday or event. I'm kind of kicking myself for not starting earlier. Oh well, another lesson learned (get off your ass and take action).
I am back at decent earnings though with AdSense, which is nice. This is simply a function of doing hard work: building sites as efficiently as possible, recognizing and correcting any mistakes made during site construction and link building, and then deploying those sites. This, by the way, is another reason why I've been silent as of late. There's not really much to say other than it's a slow grind to the top if you choose to do what I'm doing and it takes time. But it's still worth it.
I still get asked questions every now and then, which is both flattering that someone would value my opinion but disconcerting at the same time -- perhaps I'm not putting out enough content here to help you. So I was thinking of gathering up all those questions and making some kind of FAQ for my next post, because there a lot of similarly-themed questions. A lot of them focus on what to do when your site gets killed. Most of the time my answer is rebuild it better and faster but I will elaborate on that on the next post. I blame my mentality on my love for Lego as a child. What to do when someone destroys your castle? Build it again into an even BIGGER castle!
Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
I hope that you all had a Happy Holidays: That you ate, drank, and all that good stuff! I hope that Santa brought you all that you wished for and then some. For the rest of us, it's back to work as usual. :)