March 2012 Progress Report

| April 5, 2012 | 25 Comments

Hi Everyone,

March 2012 was a CRAZY month in which we saw multiple Google changes wreak havoc on several blog networks (which still continues at the time of this writing), leaving behind it a wave of mass hysteria and confusion. Despite all the fuss, I did manage to improve my operations last month in a big way. In March, I also diversified my income and found a new source of revenue. This is something that I’m looking to expand upon in the future. So, how’d I do? Let’s get to it.

1 Million Dollar Bill - I dream of making it someday

Think Big - Achieve Results

Key Activities in March 2012

If you recall my goals from last month’s progress report, I wanted to focus on the following:

  • I will break the $400/month barrier in AdSense alone. (Success)
  • I will create 5-10 new sites to replace losing sites. (Fail)
  • I will expand current winners again with new long-tail keywords. (Success)
  • I will start at least 1 case study. (Fail)
  • I will stop checking rankings daily. (Success)
  • I will stop checking AdSense earnings daily. (Fail)

As you can see, I’m very happy about point #1, which I’ll cover later on. As for new sites, with all the confusion going on this month I was too busy doing research, reading, and testing that I didn’t manage to create a whole lot of new sites. I launched 2 so far and have content for a third, but this was still short of my goal.

I did have some great content come in this month from my all-star writer at TextBroker, in addition to some other places that I tried. I love my writer at TextBroker because he basically knows how I think, so I don’t have to instruct him as much when I ask for something to be written. I did try new sources for content, but the results weren’t that good, so I ended up having to do a lot of manual rewriting myself. As I mentioned to Joseph Archibald on his blog, I’m a bit of a content snob, so I don’t allow sub-par written work on my sites.

I failed to launch a public case study amidst the chaos. However, I did use some of my throwaway domains to launch new backlinking tools at them to see what happens. They aren’t monetized and are in low-competition niches in terms of AdWords competition. I did this so there was no incentive to throw more links at these sites to push them forward. I’m doing a few trials of different software/services here and there just to see what I’m comfortable with, but I don’t have any meaningful data to present since it’s much too soon to tell.

I’ve finally managed to stop checking my rankings daily (#winning). However, I still check my AdSense stats daily (#fail). I have started to pay more attention to the page views within the AdSense interface and use that to gauge if I’ve gained/lost rankings. I still use the free rank checker tool for Firefox from SEOBook to check rankings, but it’s a laborious process to record all the results so I haven’t bothered as much. One day I might invest in a tool to do this automatically, but for now I’m fine with what I’ve got.

I Lost My Virtual Assistant

Sadly, my awesome VA had to leave, presumably for another job that paid more. This was pretty depressing for me, because he was such an amazing worker and corrected so many of my mistakes that I let slip by. I did try another hiring round on oDesk, but the candidates of that campaign were so abysmal that I haven’t hired anyone yet.

I think that I’m going to hold off for now and take things back under my direct control for the next few weeks. I’ll post the same job again and see what happens. Hopefully there will be some better candidates out there that can match the quality of my previous VA.

I Started a Fiverr Gig

Andre Garde's SEMRush Fiverr Gig

My SEMRush Fiverr Gig

Awhile ago I purchased a subscription to SEMRush, which helps me a lot with competition analysis and keyword research. I thought that I’d put my subscription to more effective use, so I started selling reports on Fiverr. Although lately it looks like the undercutting game has begun since other people have caught on and are offering more for less, basically. So I don’t know if I’ll take it to the next level with this particular gig. Anyway, it’s something that I wanted to try and see if I could bring in a few bucks here and there, since it’s pretty easy to do.

Manual Linkbuilding

I went old school and setup a bunch of Google Alerts on several keywords that I monitor to do some good old fashioned blog commenting. This isn’t exactly the sexiest way of creating backlinks but it does the job. Unfortunately, a lot of the links are nofollow links that don’t pass full link juice to my sites. Anyway, it’s better than nothing. I’m going to be experimenting with more dofollow links that I can find for April.


Honestly, they were pretty good, despite all the problems going on in March. I can’t really complain. I’ve had a lot of them slip down in rankings but that didn’t seem to hurt so much, because many other sites rose up in the ranks to compensate. I expect things to get better as time goes on, since I should start to see some more domain and page authority now.

What I’ve found most interesting is that even if you’re on page 3 for a 1200-4400 exact match local search term, you can still bring in a few dollars here and there. This happens on a consistent basis. I haven’t gone over my analytics with laser beam scrutiny, but I suspect that it might be something like Bing/Yahoo rankings, image searches, or extremely long tail keywords that I hadn’t thought of that could be bringing the traffic in.

So, I’m not too obsessed with ranking high anymore with ONE particular keyword, but moreso to have a bunch of them ranking decently. With the extra traffic came this lovely letter in my Webmaster Tools account:

Big Traffic Change for Top URL notice in Webmaster Tools

Love letters from Webmaster Tools

What I’ve also found is that I’m now also starting to rank in the top 10 for the first word of the keywords that I’m ranked for. What I mean is that I’m ranking for the word “baseball” when my keyword is “baseball gloves”. This is a completely unintentional but favourable situation, as it’s bringing in more traffic. The downside is that the traffic is a bit less targeted, so I’m seeing a little bit higher bounce rate since there’s little to no context on singular-word keywords.

In general, I’d say that rankings were up on my sites across the board. There are still about 5 or so that are languishing out of the top 1000, so I’ll have to see what can be done about those next month. I may have forgotten to backlink these (it happens when you have a lot of sites).

Income Breakdown

Total March Earnings: $742.29 (+$549.67 from February)

  • AdSense Earnings: $691.29 (+$498.67 from February)
  • Affiliate Earnings: $0 (no change)
  • Fiverr Earnings: $51 (+$51, income stream didn’t exist prior to March)

Firstly, let’s get the negative side out of the way. I don’t do a good enough job of selling my affiliate software/services, and it shows. I still have only one sale from Unique Article Wizard, and they don’t even pay you until two months later, and only if you break $100 per month.

That aside, I CRUSHED my February goal of $400 with AdSense and blasted that figure right into outer space this month. My top earners started to surface this past month and I really hope that the success that I experienced continues. Traffic exploded on one of my sites, which gets about 200-300 daily uniques. This is actually quite small, but remember that these niches that I’m targeting are really micro niche in terms of scale.

On one day this month I managed to hit in excess of $60 for the day, which was a massive jump in come that really took me by surprise. Sadly, I wasn’t able to repeat this success on a consistent basis, but I think that I will get there eventually and make it happen.

The lowest that I made in a day was about $5. Not really sure what happened there other than traffic faltering. Rankings were consistent, so again, I’ve got no idea what went wrong.

The vast majority of my sites are earning something, with the rest having not earned a single penny in March. Pretty bummed about the latter because I found myself in niches that just don’t convert well, or the competition was tougher than I originally anticipated. Oh well.

As for Fiverr, again I’m not sure if I’ll continue with it on any serious level. But, it has introduced me to the idea of selling services, and this is something that I’d like to explore in order to diversify my income stream.

Selling Sites

I am thinking of scaling up again to push past the 100-site mark, but could use the capital to do so. I was thinking of selling sites, but to be honest, I’ve been on the fence about it. I’ve worked with these sites for quite awhile and I’ve actually come to like quite a lot of them. So I was thinking that it might be hard to part with some of them. I suppose that every man has a price, but I still feel that there is some growth potential for a lot of them and I could do better.

I’m not keen on putting my sites on Flippa and going through all the motions there. I’d rather try to sell privately first and use Flippa as a last result, so I can cut out the middle man and save on fees too.

If you’re interested in buying a package of sites, or know someone who does, let me know.

Goals for April 2012

I’m going to keep it simple and conservative this month will all the changes going on. It’s going to be heavily focused on continuation and preservation. Here’s what I want to do:

  • I will achieve $800 monthly revenue with AdSense.
  • I will continue my SEO experiments on several domains to test the effects of different backlinking strategies.
  • I will expand my high traffic sites with more content (I have a huge queue of 30 articles ready to go).
  • I will reinforce my sites with higher quality links.
  • I will continue to build relationships with other niche marketers, IMers, and SEO professionals through blog commenting and Twitter every few days.

As always, I’m very gracious and thankful for all the success I have seen so far.

So you in May!


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Category: Progress Reports

Comments (25)

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  1. Matt says:

    Thanks for sharing your report Andre, do you plan on building sites that are monetized with Amazon/Clickbank etc. or are you focused on Adsense only?



    • Andre Garde says:

      Hi Matt,

      I have a few sites with some Clickbank and Amazon in a small amount, but they’re in experimental phase at the moment. I don’t have a full site devoted to just a CB/Amazon product(s), but likely will in the future. I have a specific target with AdSense that I want to hit first, then move on. I don’t feel that I’ve mastered everything there is to know about maximizing revenue with it.

      Although I am also looking at selling services as another income diversification stream at the moment. My Fiverr data and research is proving to be more useful than I originally thought it would.

  2. $500 increment on Adsense was awesome! May I know how many pages do you have on your winning niche site? I was curious how many ads impression you got to have $700 income. That is very motivating.

    I’m targeting to get 1000 ads impression daily.

    • Andre Garde says:

      Thanks Kent. My top sites each have at least 5-10 pages, with about 2 months worth of content queued.

      I don’t think we can talk about impressions, isn’t that against ToS? Anyway, more is better. 🙂

      • Andre, I should have asked you how about your daily page-review, not the Ads impression. 🙂

        5-10 pages is decent size. You may want to grow to 30-50 mini-authority sites if those CPC is high enough and worthy.

        I learned that you may only need a few ranking pages to make decent Adsense income. Just that I don’t have those yet.

        I think you mentioned that you have 100 domain names. Am I right? Was wondering what is percentage that you have traffic and clicks out of them? I’m hesitant to build too many that I can’t control these days.

        • Andre Garde says:

          My top earners only average about 20-40 uniques a day from Analytics. I have some other sites that garner about 200+.

          In some niches I’ve got content for all the low-to-medium difficulty keywords and now I have to go after the harder ones. From my experience so far, I prefer to rank at least 3-5 keywords and get the traffic from those for a decent income. Notice I said keywords and not pages.

          Actually I only have about 60 domain names, but I’m not using all of them. Again, from personal experience I think 25 is the sweet spot for manageability especially given your time commitments elsewhere.

          • Andre, thanks for your time answering my questions. It’s not too far from my expectation. 🙂 I’m going back to the basis – adding quality posts to reach 1000 Daily Page-view as a goal. Income will come later.

  3. Awesome sauce, Andre! I’m getting left behind (no surprise, because I really didn’t do jack in March). I have started to step it up a little in April thus far. Just need to keep the momentum.

    Looking forward seeing how April plays out for you.

    • Andre Garde says:

      Thanks Jason. It’s gonna get harder for me to maintain the momentum since I lost my VA. I’m looking at some new tools to help me out with making things more efficient. Hopefully I find something that works.

      Stay motivated! Stolen quote: Keep laying those bricks as perfect as you can… eventually, you build yourself something great.

  4. Keep rocking my man! I love how your having success with google adsense.

    When you get in the flow you can get into even higher numbers! It will all take time though.

    Also, please remember to diversify as well. Recently (March 16, 2012) my google account was banned and I had it for over 5 years! I was due over 6K and then on pace for another 6K plus site sales for around 4.2K. So yeah…always make sure you diversify.

    I am actually working on a blog post discussing why I think my account was banned…and how bad the customer service is!



    • Andre Garde says:

      Hi Omar,

      Thanks for the encouragement. I am trying to diversify as quickly as possible and am really of thinking of the services route. Losing my VA hurts as I have to take over full time management again while I look for a new guy, so I’m running short on time for R&D.

      It is extremely disappointing to hear about how many AdSense accounts were banned recently. Personally I don’t think it’s fair when a lot of legitimate marketers are being tarred with the same brush by Google. Sadly I don’t think they seem to give a damn.

  5. Steve Wyman says:

    Hey Andre

    I saw your comment on Toms thread about your VA. You should hear back from them quickly and if not i’d hit up chris directly (proffesionally of course not a twitter blast) to see what they think.

    The income is coming along nicely. Well done there


    • Andre Garde says:

      Thanks Steve. I heard about VSF before from one of Pat Flynn’s old podcasts, but didn’t have the capital at the time to fork out the entrance fee. I may consider at this point but I’m revamping some of my processes so I’m going to wait until I get new training material done to seek out another VA.

  6. Wesley Banks says:

    Congrats Andre, that’s an awesome increase in AdSense! Looking forward to see you crushing it in April.

  7. Jerret says:

    Just curious, why would you put Google analytics/webmaster tools on your domains? Why give Google any more than they already know?

    • Andre Garde says:

      Hi Jerrett,

      1. I’ve got AdSense on my sites, so they can track these things if they really want to. Plus they can use data from Chrome, Android OS, etc.

      2. WMT is just a view of data that Google already has.

      The real reason is essentially AdSense. There’s really no good reason not to put them on if you have it enabled.

  8. Adem says:

    Nice increase in income for the month. I’m trying to put the extra effort in this month and get more sites up and running.

    As for selling sites. I’d say don’t do it. I had considered it but I prefer the continuous income every month and if you think the site has more potential then try and spend more time on the winning sites rather than just building new ones for the sake of it. That’s just my view anyway.

    • Andre Garde says:

      Thanks Adem. The choice to sell or not is actually pretty conflicting for me, surprisingly. Although you’re right, the continuous income is nice.

  9. Nate Rivers says:

    Great job on the Adsense income Andre.

    Just a side note- I personally think nofollow links help, despite what ‘nofollow’ is supposed to mean. They definitely help on Bing and Yahoo… I have several niche sites on page 2 or 3 in Google but all of them are on the first page of Bing and Yahoo, and they send a decent amount of traffic.

    It’s a whole lot more natural looking to have a bunch of them if you think about it… instead of someone paying for all their links so that every link pointing to their site isn’t a nofollow.

    • Andre Garde says:

      Thanks Nate. I’ve done a lot of blog commenting lately, and most of the time they end up as nofollow links, and I intend to keep those in the mix. I agree, they’re very common types of links to get.

      With Bing/Yahoo traffic it’s pretty interesting. I have a baby authority site that I’m still building up (about a year out from where I want it to be) and most of its traffic comes from Bing and Yahoo. It ranks well there but not so much from Google yet, but I’ve got time.

  10. Irwin says:

    Hey Andre –

    I’ve seen you around a few blogs not to mention Trent’s niche site mastery website. Are you still a member of NSM? I’m happy to see you’re doing great – keep up the great work!

    • Andre Garde says:

      Hi Irwin,

      Thanks for the compliment. As for NSM I am no longer a member. I left a couple of months ago.

  11. Donna says:

    This is great Andre! Very impressive output.. So your looking for new VA? I can recommend someone..

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