Thursday, December 8, 2011

Beating Panda with Affiliate Sales, not Adsense

When the Google Panda algorithm changes went into effect in the middle of October, I was already knee-deep in a site redesign for my pets niche site, one that would both improve the aesthetics and usability of the site and move the earnings focus from Adsense clicks to affiliate sales.

I took my inspiration, by the way, from my Wealthy Affiliate University training and the underlying theory that I could better monetize my traffic on the site with sales rather than ad clicks. 

The end result? When Panda slapped my site and took away about 50% of my traffic overnight, my earnings only went down by 20% (comparing this November, first full post-Panda month, to September, the last month before the changes).

Looking at it from another angle, with only 20% more traffic than November of last year, income from the site this November was up more than 35%.

The "traffic" designation in the graph refers to site visits; page views are at least twice that.  Thus September saw over 20,000 site visits and more than 40,000 page views.

Here is the precise breakdown of earnings and traffic by month, using the months before, during and after Panda as well as last November for a more accurate comparison. My site redesign happened Nov. 1, two weeks after the sweeping algorithm changes.

September 2011
20,670 site visits; total earnings: $516.35
Adsense $450.85

Amazon $5.55
Clickbank $59.95

October 2011
15,060 site visits; total earnings: $439.87
Panda strikes on the 15th, cutting traffic in half
Adsense $368.71

Amazon $31.24 (mostly due to a random large purchase)
Clickbank $39.92

November 2011
10,800 site visits; total earnings: $416.70
New site redesign launches on the 1st; traffic still low post-Panda
Adsense $175.76

Amazon $40.88 (virtually all from the two main books I promote)
Clickbank $200.06

compare this to
Nov. 2010
9,030 site visits; total earnings: $300.76
Adsense $258.80

Amazon $1.90
Clickbank  $40.06

The main differences on my site now are that the ads are less prominent than before (though I still have three units per page) and I have more focus on my two main affiliate products --an ebook from Clickbank and a hardcover book via Amazon -- with photos and in-text links.

If you haven't checked out Wealthy Affiliate, definitely do. It's the only online training community I've found enough value in to stay for the long haul and recommend to family, friends and my blog readers.

They're the reason I've been able to stay ahead of the curve through the recent internet upheaval. I gain inspiration and motivation from the other members and valuable tips and insights through the training material, blog posts and forum threads. 

Now, while I certainly am not happy that my traffic is still down so much, and have begun the process of increasing traffic and making the site more pleasing to Google, I'm relieved that my income did not drop off the cliff with the traffic.

What are your recent experiences with online writing and marketing?

Monday, November 14, 2011

October 2011 Monthly Income Report

Well, I've dropped even further in my online residual earnings, down to Sept. 2008 monthly income levels!

The culprit here was "Panda II," the moniker for Google's sweeping algorithm changes put into place in February and October of this year. While the first update early this year actually helped my niche sites, this second one dealt a heavy blow to my best-earning pets niche site.

When the chances went into effect Oct. 13-14, my traffic was cut dramatically overnight:

My site received 700-750 visitors a day in October pre-Panda II, and a mere 270-300 per day afterward. I lost more than half of my site visitors thanks to Google's tweaking. Fewer people see my site in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) after the algorithm changes.

Residual Writing Income: October 2011
Adsense $504.94
Amazon Associates $86.01
RA affiliates $81.48
Clickbank $70.81
Demand Studios  $70.59
WA comissions $65 $37.76
NB comissions $19.96
e-junkie reseller $3.00

TOTAL $939.55

Now, I'm disappointed but I have a plan to move my site back up in the rankings, a plan I'm already putting to work. Stay tuned for updates!

Note: November and December will be the last months that I publish a detailed earnings report on the blog. I will continue to provide this information to my email subscribers and occasionally update my ballpark income amounts on the blog, but don't feel that there is much to be gained from a detailed report on the blog -- I don't think it's particularly useful to other writers/ WAHMs and eventually I hope to be at an income level once again where I'd rather not broadcast how much money I'm making to the world.

Have the recent Google algorithm changes (Panda II) affected your residual income? What are you going to do to bounce back if the changes were negative?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Outsourcing Article Writing: Lessons Learned

Is outsourcing the solution to maximizing your productivity and success as an online entrepreneur? If  you have more work than you can manage yourself, and the budget to hire others to do it for you, it might make sense to outsource some aspects of you life or home business in order to focus your own efforts on the most important areas. The key is to discover which aspects you should hire out and which are best done by yourself.

As I mentioned in my post about focusing on one website vs. many, I have more website ideas than time to properly write and manage them all. One approach I've tried is to hire freelance writers and employ article writing services to create original content for me to use on my blog ... to mixed results.

Specifically, I've turned to Textbroker andContent Kingdom, as well as individual private freelance writers, to write articles for which I'd already created keyword-specific titles. These articles were for a variety of my websites (but not this blog, of course).

Mixed Results from Article Services
The article writing services I used were hit-or-miss. I got some great articles from Content Kingdom, and then some really disappointing fluff pieces. Textbroker was largely disappointing at first, even while paying for higher-end pieces. I got a few good articles from them after adding more details to my article request descriptions, but it was still clear to me in most cases that very little research, if any, was done by the author.

There were even some cases of complete inaccuracies I was able to spot at first glance because I am very familiar with the topics of all the blogs and sites I've started -- I do live by the adage to "write what you know." Perhaps precisely because I chose my niches based on a combination of passion and potential profitability, it would take a lot to satisfy my expectations for content on these topics.

For some of the articles, I spent more time editing, tweaking and adding more information that I would have just writing the article from scratch myself. Spending the extra time and money became a drain, not a boost.

Ultimately, unless I find a freelance writer who has real life experience in my best niches, I've learned that for my top sites I am much better off writing my own content. This is most especially true for sites that have a strong author voice, as both my top sites do.

Outsourcing Other Tasks
Some web writers swear by their virtual assistants, who do all sorts of tasks for them, from paying their bills to performing basic research to setting up new website and adding content as directed.

While I don't think I'm anywhere near needing or being able to justify my own personal assistant,. there are some non-writing business-related tasks that would be best done by someone else.

I'd really like to hire a web designer or graphic artist to help me with several website re-designs and create logos and headers for my sites. I am not capable as a graphic artist and would love to find the right person at the right price (If you have a recommendation, please leave me a comment!)

Should I Outsource my House Cleaning?

My mom, who raised a large family and home-schooled most of her children all the way through high school, has wisely pointed out (practically insisted) that I should hire a housecleaner once a week to do my deep cleaning and other household tasks.

I actually tried this last spring. I found a cleaning service that was "green," and did not use harmful chemicals in the cleaning process, important to me with kids in the house. (Oddly, though, the woman was a smoker and would take smoke breaks. When she came back inside she smelled smoky and it really bothered me. I was pregnant and extra sensitive to smells at the time).

It felt uncomfortable to me to have strangers in the home, and to have another woman cleaning my house while I was not. I was stressed out ahead of time trying to get the house ready for her to clean (can't mop floors with kids toys all over them). Some items were left undone, but I still paid the regular price that was supposed to include everything. Maybe I have issues and need to "let go" a bit, but the additional stress led me to cancel her services after two visits.

This is one area I am going to revisit for potential outsourcing. I first have to get past any feelings of failure if I'm not cleaning my own house to the standard I like it. 

What Should You Outsource?

Your own needs and talents are unique and what might make sense for you to outsource can vary widely based on your home business and family situation.

Tips on Outsourcing:
  • Don't force yourself to hire out the tasks you actually enjoy doing.
  • Find competent assistants or service providers, even if you have to pay a little more.
  • Make a budget and re-evaluate it every couple weeks. If the payof isn't there, reconsider your options. 
  • Have a clear idea of how much time or money you will save, or how much you'll be able to increase revenue based on your outsourcing. Make sure it is worth it to you either financially or for your sanity (moms of many, I'm looking at you!).
Have you outsourced or hired others to help you with your business? What were the results? 

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Highest Residual Income Day

Last November, I set a record for residual income earned on one day -- a personal record, that is. There are, obviously, plenty of freelance writers and internet marketers who regularly do far better. This was quite a day, though, hundreds of dollars above my previous best day and something I likely won't beat for quite some time.

The majority came from sales through a certain merchant I link to via the commission junction ( affiliate network. While the sales were in the same general niche, they came from two avenues: an eHow article I'd written, and a niche website that was only a few months old at the time.

Here's the breakdown:

( sale commissions via eHow article:  $164.44 sale commissions via family/home niche website: $575.47) total: $739.91
eHow: $104.55
Adsense: $20.15
Amazon $4.47

Total one-day earnings: $869.07

Just to make that number seem even crazier, a year of those earnings every. single. day. would mean a $317,000+ annual income! Wow.

Ironically, I'm earning less than $1,500 now per month, as my September earnings demonstrate, but having this crazy-high earnings day to look back on reminds me of what's possible, as well as how much potential there is in my home/family niche blog.(By the way, I got the inspiration for that blog during my first month in the Wealthy Affiliate online training program).

The thing about residual income is that it can be fickle, and follow a feast/ famine trajectory at times. But when I look at earnings over a time frame of weeks and months, it evens out to a more predictable pattern. The key is not to expect single-day highs but to work strategically for long-term growth and income. And that's what I'm doing now.

Do you have a earnings mark or other indicator that you look back on as a reminder that you're doing something right? I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

September Passive Income Online

My passive income online in September 2011 came so very close to $1,500 ... just a few dollars shy. I know I won't be in the $5,000 a month range by the end of the year, but it's definitely attainable by the end of 2012. Right now, I'm building the foundation for future earnings through my network of websites and niche blogs, especially two in particular. Of course, I'm looking forward to my efforts paying off; but I'm also having fun as I go.

September Earnings:

Adsense $592.72 $349.27
RA commissions $154.24
Clickbank $149.81
Amazon Associates $132.57
Demand $84.08
WA commissions $65
NB commissions $39.92
ShareASale      $8.70

Total $1,492.23

 In addition to online income from websites and blogs, my husband and I earn a somewhat passive income from two two-bedroom rental homes here in our county. I'm planning to blog about that this month, just to give some insight into another residual income model with which I have experience. Diversification really strengthens your ability to survive economic downturns and industry changes, and diversifying offline makes sense to me.

How were your online earnings in September? If you're just starting out, what's the main challenge you face to building a reliable online income?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One Website or Many?

Should you focus on one website (or niche) or several?

This question has come up for me many times since I started my online writing journey, or more precisely, since I began focusing on my own websites for the foundation of my writing business. Part of my conundrum stems from having more great website ideas than I have time to build, develop and write. I've purchased a couple (okay, maybe a few) dozen domain names and yet the bulk of my income comes from just two of those. 

Oh, I've tried outsourcing, to mixed results. But ultimately, my best websites and articles are ones I've written myself. They tend to be so focused that a hired freelancer without preexisting interest or experience in the topic can't do it justice at the standard freelance rates I've been able to afford.

The problem I've discovered, when you have a large number of domains and thus websites and blogs (assuming you've made the first steps to turn the domains into traffic-generating, revenue-earning assets) is that your attention can become very fragmented, meaning that even your best niches and blogs become somewhat neglected.

In the quest to make every website reach its potential, none actually do. For example, my pets website earns $500-$1,000 a month. It could hypothetically bring in much, much more, but I still haven't gotten it a new and better template, or regularly added new content in recent months. I'm too distracted by other sites that may not be in as great a niche and I've barely touched, yet feel an odd obligation to take care of.

I don't think I'm ready to just delete -- or not renew -- my collection of great-idea domains that are languishing in various stages of completion. But my approach moving forward is to give my most focused attention to the ones that showed themselves early on as true winners. By winners, I agree with fellow WAHM Felicia at No Job for Mom: the website has to both do well AND be something I truly enjoy writing about.

By putting about 80% of my efforts into my two top niches (the pets site and a home/ family niche that is also doing very well, responsible for most of my affiliate sales) I think I can have my cake and not eat it, too (I'm on a post-baby diet.) That is, I can both hold onto all my wonderful ideas and still maximize my earnings by focusing the majority of my time, effort, and resources on the best income-generating ones.

With these two websites alone, I know I can get back to my previous income level of  $5,000 a month.

To keep myself on track, I will:
  • Make a detailed work plan at the start of each week, and a checklist for each day to accomplish the week's goals. 
  • Schedule my work time, with my family's cooperation.
  • Use my prime morning work time (5-7:30 am) for my top niche sites.
  • Work on the extra sites when I need a break, or during extra work sessions after my main weekly goals are completed.
 Have you faced the dilemma of how many successful websites you can truly manage? What was your conclusion or solution?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

August Residual Income Report

I've been taking a sabbatical of sorts since my new baby was born, but luckily the residual income from my writing work keeps coming in -- that's the best part of being a work at home mom for me. 

My biggest earners are still my pets website and my family/ home blog. Here's my breakdown of earnings for August 2011:

Adsense $634.21
Amazon $181.94
WA commissions $89.00
Demand residuals $88.84 $75.41
HG commission $50 
NB commissions  $49.90
Clickbank    $41.26
C.Tracer commissions $20.00
RA commissions $11.60

Total         $1,242.16

Just enough to pay for the kids' private school tuition and some extras for now, but I definitely have plans for increasing my income and hope to bring it back up to where I was before the eHow changes, this time relying on my own online properties.

I'll be posting more in the coming months as I get back on track with my writing and online marketing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

July Residual Income Report

My  July residual income from affiliate sales, Adsense and online writing was higher than June's, thankfully. I took most the month off writing and blogging to prepare for, welcome and enjoy my new baby.

I think that writing for passive income is one of the very best work at home jobs for moms you can find -- there is nothing like checking your accounts on a Monday morning (after spending Sunday hosting a post-baptism reception) and seeing a $250+ commission from a large sale over the weekend. That's the site that greeted me August 1, a great start to a new month.

I'm back at work now, getting up early when I can (baby Mark likes to wake up and eat at all hours, the little stinker, I mean sweetie) and writing during nap/ quiet time. I'm still working to build up my monthly income back to the $5k/ month mark ... as you'll see from the numbers below, I have a ways to go.

July Residual Writing Income:

Adsense    $577.30      $338.15
Amazon   $114.73
Demand Studios $107.78
Clickbank $101.32
Wealthy Affiliate $66.50
Niche Blogger $29.94
Squidoo $5.62

Total $1,341.34 

I'll be writing, formatting, linking, backlinking and working on all the other fun tasks that writer-webmasters do throughout August to hopefully increase my numbers.

What are you working on? I love to hear about others' online projects!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Welcoming a New Baby

Introducing baby Mark, my sweetest and best project of the year:

July 17, 2011
12:27 a.m.
9 pounds, 20 inches

We're all in love. He is so sweet, wonderful about sleeping and eating, and just the cuddliest little guy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

June Residual Income Report: Lowest Month Ever

 One of the downsides of a residual income is that it can decrease from one month to the next,  with fluctuations caused by factors from the season to online competition in your niche to search engine changes. A roller coaster ride comes to mind as the perfect illustration for this reality.

During my highest months, I've earned $5,000+. last month, in stark contrast, was a fraction of that at less than $1,000 earned from residual income sources online. In fact, it's the lowest month I've had since I embarked on my residual-only business plan.

As those of you who follow my blog know, the largest source of my residual income, articles, were purchased from me by Demand Media in March. Thus I no longer have that revenue stream, am and relying on my own small sites and blogs to earn money through ads and affiliate links.

2011 Still a Record
On the positive side, my residual income for this year as a whole will be my best ever, since the one-time buyout payment was also residual income. So, when I look at this year as a whole, I know it will be a great success income-wise. The monthly picture, at least during the summer when interest in my top niches wanes and traffic to my sites is down, is less encouraging. But, and here's the good part -- it's truly motivating. I have to re-focus my efforts, build up my best sites and work harder to make a go of this so that my 2012 income is back where it need to be.

Here are my sources of income and numbers for last month:

June Residual Writing Income
  • Adsense   $488.89
  • PCo affiliate $104.19
  • Amazon    $92.07
  • Demand Studios   $91.35
  • WA affiliate  $66.50
  • NB commissions $49.90
  • clickbank $40.04
  •     $5.40
 Total $938.34

 See what I mean? Nothing exceptional -- everything was down compared to May, the previous month, which saw over $2,000 in revenue. Time for me to get back to work -- what about you? How are the summer months treating your income?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Residual Income Report May 2011

 May was a great month for residual income, beating out April's earnings by more than $550, despite lower Adsense earnings due to the seasonal nature of my pets site (it tend to peak in March - April every year). The increase was due to higher afiliate sales at, which i explain in more detail below.

I added a couple more pages to my pets site and expect next year to be excellent, with even higher traffic and earnings than these past few months. As for the home/ family site, I keep adding a few blog posts every month and will be focusing more on it this fall, since fall and winter are the best time of year for this particular topic.

May Residual Writing Income
  •     $1,060.81
  • Adsense   $530.72
  • PCo Affiliate $205.08
  • Amazon    $150.85 
  • WA affiliate  $89.00
  • Demand Studios residuals   $88.20
  • NB commissions $49.90
  • clickbank $41.26 
  • Squidoo    $5.66 
  • Misc         $1.20 
 Total $2,222.76

As you might have seen from my earlier post about my niche blog income for May, my two best-earning sites made $771.93 combined. The rest of my passive income for the month ($1438.53) is from Adsense on other, smaller blogs and niche sites, as well as HubPages and Squidoo royalties, and affiliate commissions via my older Demand Studios and eHow articles.

When I first started writing for eHow's WCP and Demand Studios, there were no rules against affiliate links in the resources section, so I added a couple topic-specific ones to each of my articles. Even though the articles are no longer mine, they continued to earn money for me this past month -- I had two $400+ sales days in May thanks to my old eHow articles via links.

But as you might surmise, I can't depend on affiliate sales form those old articles lasting for any time -- they could be gone tomorrow as I no longer control the articles or their links.  That's why it's doubly important for me to build up the income through my sites, blogs and other projects.

Are you building up your online passive income? How did you do in May?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Niche Site Profits in May 2011

The numbers are in for my niche website earnings in May. Since I'm working to replace my eHow earnings of about $3,000 a month, I check these stats at the end of every month to see how I'm doing.

Over the past month, I added a few pages to my pets site and a couple posts to my home/ family blog. I added a backlink to my home/ family blog through eZine Articles, but that was at the very end of May.

Here's how my two best-earning websites are doing:

Pets niche site

Adsense   $431.31
Clickbank  $20.02
Amazon    $15.90

Total $467.23

Home/ Family blog
PCo Affiliate $205.08      $64.78
Clickbank  $21.24
Adsense   $13.60

Total $304.70

Combined earnings for both sites together was $771.93. In the grand scheme of things, these numbers are not gigantic -- but on the other hand, I'm greatly encouraged by the results as I can see the potential they both have for future earnings as I increase content, improve their look and navigation, and build social network and search engine traffic.

Have you been working on a website or blog? Are you happy with the results so far?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Five Reasons Why You Should Write for Residuals

 There's a good deal of how-to information when it comes to building a passive residual income online and in the real world, but not much about the benefits, about the why of residual income efforts. Until you've achieved your passive income goals, the efforts to get there can seem enormous compared to the returns: you might write 50 website articles in a month and only see a few dollars in revenue during those few weeks.

That's when a reminder as to what you're aiming for, and why, is important.

Having built up to a full-time residual writing income in the past, and earning one this year as well, I've experienced firsthand the peace and freedom that comes from passive income. A residual income allows you to:

Diversify your income sources: In an unstable employment market, adding to and diversifying the places from which you receive income is especially important. The more income sources you have, the better better you can weather most financial storms in any economy.

Increase earnings potential: By building a residual income stream that doesn't need constant attention, you can can earn more money over time. The more residuals you build through websites and digital media, the higher your overall earnings will be, even if your boss never gives you a raise at your 9-to-5 (assuming you have and keep a regular job). As a work at home mom, I am able to earn far more through residual sources than if I only wrote as a freelancer for hire.

Retire early or on time: Build income source for retirement through your own niche sites, blogs, revenue-share articles, ebooks, apps and the like. While many Americans are facing the threat of less less money in retirement, delaying retirement or even no retirement at all due to lack of savings and investments, savvy online writers can build an income stream to last throughout their retirement years with basic upkeep and maintenance.

Work less hours: If you want to quit your day job and work only as much as you like, building a full-time passive income is the way to go to achieve this without living on peanuts or handouts. Since passive income allows you to reap the benefit of years' worth of efforts, you can work much fewer hours -- even take off for weeks at a time -- if you aren't trying to build up to a higher level.
Enjoy life more: Whether it's a long commute, stressful deadlines, or plain old burnout in your current job, many people find their work stressful and their family and personal time too limited. With a strong passive residual income from writing, you can plan your days, have more time with children, a spouse, friends and the adventures and activities you enjoy.

What your motivation for working for a long-term passive income?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Building a New Website

I'm building a new website in a home cleaning niche. There, that's my confession. I know that building new sites wasn't in my stated plans for recovering residual income post-eHow, but the other day I received an alert that a few domain names I own were up for renewal.

To my chagrin, one of those domains had nothing on it -- not even a basic html frame, no blog, nothing, and I'd owned it for 11 months. I decided to renew, even though it's just a .info domain, but only after committing to myself that I would actually use it for a website before it hit the 12 month mark. And to that end, I've spent the past week making this new site. Here's what it looks like in terms of structure, content and money-making model.

Website Format: Static Site
The cleaning niche I picked isn't particularly conducive to a blogging format, and I find that websites that won't be frequently updated or commented on do best in a static  format, so I picked a simple html template and customized it with niche-specific cleaning photos.

Website Content: Outsourcing
I wrote one page and outsourced seven articles from Textbroker. While I've used Textbroker several times in the past month, this was my best set of articles from them thus far. I chose level 4 and was very specific in my request instructions. The writers did well -- I had to make only minor edits to the articles before adding the content to my site pages. All told, I spent $60.77 on the content.

Website Monetization: Adsense & Amazon
The income model for this site is simple: Google Adsense units along the two side columns and in-article text links to Amazon products. I've also used Amazon product photos to illustrate the content and these link to their Amazon product pages as well. As far as earning potential, I don't expect this to be a huge money-maker, as it is a narrow niche and the products are inexpensive ($5-$100, with most under $30).

However, there isn't much competition there either. I'll set $100/month as my goal for monthly earnings for this little site, and hope to hit that within a year.

I'll definitely post updates on the website as it begins to earn money (here's hoping!) and I add more content. For the record, I put the first page up on May 17. No backlinks yet, but the first page was crawled and indexed by Google a few days ago, which means at least the search engine giant knows it exists.

Are you working on a website, new or old? How is it doing?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Niche Site Profits April 2011

 With the eHow WCP closed for good and taking with it the backbone of what was a full-time passive residual income from writing, I've been working harder than ever on my own properties to rebuild my monthly residuals. I recently shared my residual income without eHow. In April, I focused efforts on two of my own sites to begin rebuilding monthly cash flow. I'll share their income reports below.

Facebook Fan Page
In April, I added some backlinks and set up a Facebook page for my pets site.  The Facebook page has 15 fans and I've posted links to articles on my site there, receiving a few comments and a sprinkling of visitors. With the Google changes, social media is increasingly important for traffic and rankings.

Outsourcing Content
While the pets site was previously written entirely by me, and is on a topic with which I am very familiar and work with in real life on a daily basis, I decided to hire a freelance writer to help me add more articles to it in May. The writer has personal experience in this niche as well, and I'm confident I'll see quality work from him. I'll update on that front next month.

Pets Website Earnings
Income for this niche hit its peak in March, as was the case in 2010 and 2009, and will wind slowly down from here, with the fall months typically the lowest-earning.

Adsense      $557.74
Clickbank   $220.18
Amazon        $16.44

April total   $794.36

(-$10.33 compared to March 2011)

Family Niche Blog Income
Just the other day, I lamented to my husband that my newer niche blog on a family-related topic was only earning about $10 a month from Adsense, whereas the pets site at the same age was making $80-$100 a month from ad clicks and affiliate commissions. It wasn't until I listed and tallied all its income sources that I realized it's actually doing very well.

Started last August, it's less than nine months old and has just 15 blog posts and four pages. I discovered this niche from one of my eHow articles that did exceptionally well (it earned over $3,000 in revenue share and more than $1,500 in affiliate commissions in 3.5 years).

Family niche blog income sources in April 2011:       $29.75
RA sales    $21.82
Clickbank  $21.24 
Amazon     $17.06
Adsense      $9.82

Total         $99.69

Thus my total earnings from these two sites in April was $894.05 -- to me, a very encouraging number. I have over a dozen domain names, most sitting unloved with just a few pages or posts apiece (or in some cases, nothing), but by focusing my efforts on one or two sites at a time, I hope to bring them all up to at least the $100/month mark by next year and keep growing from there.
  •  Check out my Tools & Training resource page for links to the products and services I use and recommend. If you haven't made your own profitable website yet, everything you need to get started is right there.

Do you have a niche site or blog? How is it doing? If not, what's stopping you from moving forward?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

WriterGig's Residual Income (sans eHow)

My Residual Writing Income
With the official closure of eHow's Writers Compensation Program (WCP) on May 5, 2011, my monthly residual income took a dramatic shift downward. As much as I have been working to diversify my online income sources over the past year, I was still very dependent on eHow for the bulk of my monthly earnings (I made over $3,000 from my articles there in March 2011).

I have worked on my websites almost every week, sometimes daily, but having met my original income goals, and busy with little children, I didn't have quite the drive and intensity that I did when I first began my residual income adventure.

One of the silver linings to the end of the WCP is that it has re-inspired me to build my residual income platform through my online properties, with quality content monetized by ads and affiliate links.

The Numbers
April 2011 Online Residual Income Report
  • Google Adsense:                                                   $647.96
  • Clickbank affiliate commissions:                             $241.42
  • Amazon Associates affiliate commissions:               $239.42
  • Other (NB $59.88 ; RA $21.82; WA $66.50)      $148.20         
  • Demand Studios residuals                                      $117.22
  • Commission Junction affiliate commissions:                  $40.27
Total                                                                             $1,434.49

Future Writing Income Goals
Obviously, my writing residuals are much less today than they have been in years, especially compared to this past March and November and December of last year (those were my three $5,000+ passive income months). But even with no eHow and very low numbers (my best selling product was out of stock from the vendor all month) I still broke $1,000 and came close to $1,500. If this is my basis going forward, I think I am in good shape -- not starting from zero, at least. I'm going to work to build back up to a $5,000 month by the end of the year.

Will I make it? I hope so. I have a plan, which involves quadrupling the amount of quality content I have online currently in order to see the same percentage increase in my earnings by late 2011 or early 2012. Stay tuned in here to see if I make it.

What about your goals? How will you build your residual income, or freelance writing income, or work-at-home-mom business, going forward?

Note: Due to a Blogger glitch, most of the comments on this post disappeared. I've re-posted them below. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

End of an Era: Goodbye to the eHow WCP

"Rich people focus on opportunities,
Poor people focus on obstacles." 
-T. Harv Eker, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind

 For many writers, the official end of eHow's Writers Compensation program (WCP) comes as a big disappointment, if not a total shock. Since the program closed to new articles a year ago, in April 2010, many predicted the eventual cessation of payments. 

Why End the WCP?
Demand Media, which went public in January, has been working to streamline their property, minimize duplicate content, and since last spring has put all new articles through a competent editorial process. There are still many articles on the site, including content that pre-dates Demand's acquisition of eHow and some inferior WCP articles, that detract from rather than boost eHow's reputation. By stopping WCP payments and allowing users to remove their content, eHow is both cleaning up its site and perhaps making a business decision as to the profitability of various content.

Buyout Offers
As of May 5, 2011, the WCP is over and done with and no further earnings will accrue. However, Demand Media has made personalized offers to buy writer's content in order to keep it on

Writers still own their intellectual property -- the articles written and published on eHow -- but can no longer receive residual payments via the eHow platform. Thus, many will choose to accept Demand Media's buyout offer for their articles and leave them on the site, transferring ownership to Demand.

Some will decline the offer and instead delete their articles from eHow and move them to other content sites, personal blogs and self-run niche sites. Others have decided to leave their articles on eHow, hoping to profit at least for a little while longer from the secondary streams of income generated by their content: links to their related niche sites and the affiliate links allowed by the original WCP.

My mom accepted her offer of about $220 for three articles, sister #1 took $330+ for her dozen articles, and sister #2 declined $34 for 10 articles. I think they all made good decisions. In the end, much of their articles' value was that they were published on 

Regardless of whether they keep their articles on the site or not, writers who counted on the money they earned from eHow each month will need to find ways to replace that income as quickly as possible. Several writer/work at home mom (WAHM) friends have asked me what I'm going to do.

 My Plans
First, I am going to look at this not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity. The quote I shared at the beginning of this post is from a book my husband's sales team was required to read and discuss over the past few months. There are many excellent "wealth files" in it, and I thought this one was particularly fitting for those who write online to build residual income.

A positive outlook is important in order to move forward and to create success in other endeavors. I think of all that I learned from  my articles, including valuable insight about profitable niches, and know that I can take this experience, knowledge gained through the surprising success of my "eHow experiment," and use it to build an even higher monthly residual income.

Practically speaking, I'll be concentrating my efforts on the following areas:
To build my residual income on these properties, I'll be
  • Writing quality, original, helpful articles
  • Locating and affiliate-linking to excellent products and resources
  • Backlinking and using social media to increase traffic and SERP ranking of my content
(2/2/2016: For those looking back and wondering... yes, I took eHow's buyout offer. It was fair. It was significant. It was a win-win. And looking back, five years later, I know for certain what a great decision that was.)

That's my plan in a nutshell. What's yours?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Affiliate Marketing Programs: Target Your Niche Audiences to Increase Income

Since joining Wealthy Affiliate nearly a year ago, I've put much more of an emphasis on affiliate marketing across my niche sites and have seen my income rise.  Instead of just relying on ads or a few obscure Amazon affiliate links, I now search for and link to specific products people reading my sites need in order to solve their problems or improve their lives. it not only improves the reader's experience, but affiliate sales are typically much better for the bottom line than ad clicks.

Sometimes, the right solution is obvious: on a recipe/ menu planning site I own, I market both a Clickbank ebook on menu planning and hard copy cookbooks from Amazon. But sometimes the it's not that simple to find the right product. My pets niche site caters to a budget-conscious audience that buys most of their pet supplies form farm and garden stores. I do suggest an ebook that will meet some of my visitors' needs, but most are already past the stage in which that book is helpful.

With my website on a home & family topic, I've had better luck. I found an excellent match with a vendor through, and have earned thousands of dollars in commissions from that one niche.  My most recent payment from them was over $1,000. Without a perfect match, there's not much I could have sold that particular audience.

For your websites and blogs, make sure the products you link to are quality items or resources that are precisely targeted to your visitors. To find the right items, look across a variety of affiliate marketing programs. These are single-stop sites that support a great variety of individual companies, or vendors, whose products you can promote once approved for the network and for each site individually where required. Here are the ones I use and suggest that you explore:
Sometimes, searching the available vendors through these programs doesn't reveal exactly what you're looking for to promote. Their search tools are often inadequate and even when they have the vendor you need you may not be able to find it through their site. One work-around that I use fairly often is to first find the vendor (often it's one I've used myself and thus can recommend from personal experiences)  and then explore their site, or contact customer service, to find out if they have an affiliate program and how it's run.

Sometimes, the company doesn't belong to one of the large networks, but manages its own private affiliate program. I actively promote about four vendors through their own designated affiliate programs. For example, Wealthy Affiliate University has its own on-site affiliate program in which members can build links and track their sales.

When looking for products to link to from your site, put yourself in your visitor's place. Ask yourself these three questions about your reader, for each article or page you publish:
  1. Why is he reading your article? 
  2. What information is he looking for? 
  3. What does he need?
  4. What products, either physical goods or electronic information products, will provide a solution?
Once you place yourself in your own audience, you'll be thinking like a successful marketer.

Are affiliate sales commissions part of your business model? Which affiliate marketing programs do you use?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Review: How to Write & Sell Simple Information for Fun, Profit

I've just finished reading How to Write & Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit: Your Guide to Writing and Publishing Books, E-Books, Articles, Special Reports, Audio Programs, DVDs, and Other How-To Content by Robert Bly. The book not only earns its long title through a plethora of detailed information on each topic covered; it over-delivers on the reader's expectations.

The author knows his stuff, which is clear from reading the book and from the fact that he makes over $600,000 a year through his writing and has earned six figures as a freelance writer consistently for several decades. He's weathered the transition from print-based freelance writing to online content and multimedia (audio CD's, DVD material, software and more).

He gives an excellent overview about becoming an accomplished how-to writer and an expert in your chosen niche. It's important to specialize and become well-known in one niche or a small handful of related ones, he says, given the nature of today's information-hungry climate and the social nature of the internet. Rather than spread yourself over many different subjects, it's better (and arguably more profitable) to learn one area very well and to share information in that specific topic.

Chapters most relevant to my interests were those on writing and selling books, ebooks and articles. My plans for future residual income generation include Kindle self-publishing as well as a traditional hard copy book. Bly's advice in this book has been invaluable, and I'm keeping his book on my shelf to reference as I go.

The only topic he didn't address that I think would have been within the scope of his book is publishing how-to information on your own website and earning money from ads and other monetization methods, while giving the information away for free. I imagine this isn't something he focuses on, but he does have a section on membership sites as a method of earning money from how-to writing.

Have you read any books pertaining to freelance/ web writing or internet marketing lately? I'd love to get your recommendations -- please share what you think in the comments section, below. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rev-Share Sites Still Viable for Residual Income

While's Writers' Compensation Program was the best revenue-share opportunity I've experienced for residual income, it's no longer an option as far as adding new articles directly through the site. Still, there are other places to go for a similar model: you write content and get paid according to the ad revenue your articles generate.

Demand Studios, Bukisa, HubPages, Squidoo, and Infobarrel are all sources of residual income for me -- several more eggs in the proverbial basket, if you will. In addition to their income, articles I've written on these sites provide backlinks, site or blog traffic and/or brand recognition in several niches.

Out of this handful of revenue-sharing content sites, some do better than others for page ranks and traffic and thus earnings.

Here's how they stacked up in March 2011:

Demand Media Studios revenue-share: $114.58 with 21 eHow articles

Bukisa: $29.39 with 17 articles

HubPages: $29.59 with 6 articles

InfoBarrel: $3.81 with 6 articles

Total ...... $177.37 with 50 articles, for an average of $3.55/per article.

With many hundred articles on the right sites, you can still make a viable residual income through revenue-sharing programs. A thousand articles with that average would give you $3,547 per month. You can actually do much better than that; some of these articles were written when I was just starting out and didn't know much about what niches perform well. By specializing in one or two areas which you know well and whose audience you understand, you will see a higher level of success than the random collection of articles here represents.

While I am currently working almost exclusively on my niche websites, I do still recommend some rev-share writing for those new to online writing and marketing. Writing content articles is a great way to experiment with several or dozens of niche topics. You can figure out what you enjoy researching and writing about, what you want to specialize in and what topics are most profitable. For me, eHow was very well-paid market research and has certainly contributed to the successes I'm seeing in creating my own niche sites and blogs.

That being said, don't wait too long to branch out to your own properties. Once you've identified a good niche topic, done keyword research and learned the basics of site creation and promotion, start a site of your own and monetize it with ads and affiliate links. Revenue-sharing sites are great, but having your own online properties is even better. For web hosting, site design and other recommended resources, see my Tools and Training page.

What revenue-sharing content sites have you earned well with? Do you still write for them?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pets Niche Website Profit Report

In my last post about niche website earnings, I promised to update with March's data once the month closed. As I noted, this particular site tends to see its highest earnings in February through May, with its lowest months in the fall and winter.

In the slow months, I didn't ignore my site. I added a few new pages, created some backlinks and started a Facebook page that links to the site and has generated some conversation on topics of interest to this type of pet owner.  But in March I was busy on other projects, so this is true passive/ residual  income.

It's interesting to see how much the site's traffic and income has grown in the past 12 months -- for contrast, my pets niche site made only $202.81 from Adsense in March 2010; this March it made almost triple that in ad revenue with a healthy $200+ in affiliate commissions as well.

Pets Niche Site Earnings in March 2011

  • Google Adsense:                                                       $586.24
  • Clickbank ebook sales commissions                          $199.03
  • Amazon book product sales commissions                    $19.42
Total                                                                   $804.69 (+$351 over Feb.)

Traffic stats for March : Just over 24,000 visits counting for nearly 68,000 page views.

I'm still working on implementing the improvements I mentioned previously (new website design being paramount), and this week will add Facebook "Like" buttons on my pages to increase social network traffic to the site. With Google's recent algorithm changes, social links seemed to have gained importance. I'm already pleased to see people "liked" the Facebook page I made and socializing on the page. It's a more fun way to bring traffic to the site than just writing content articles, for sure.

If you haven't started a niche site and want recommendations for getting started, check out my new Tools & Training resource page. In a nutshell, that's what I've used to educate myself and build a site that earns. 

Are you working on a niche site? What are your goals for it?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Niche Website Profit Report

Profitable Pets?
My pets-themed niche website, which I started just over two years ago, is doing very well so far. It always picks up in the spring and summer months and slows down considerably in the winter. March earnings are outpacing last month, so I'll be sure to report on it again in April. But I thought I would share my income sources for the site in case it would be helpful to anyone working on niche sites for residual income.

Pets Niche Site Earnings in February 2011
  • Google Adsense:                                                            $373.11
  • Clickbank ebook sales commissions                               $60.09
  • Amazon book & product sales commissions                   $20.10
Total                                                                                         $453.30
    When I say "pets theme," I'm being intentionally vague as to the exact niche. It's a site on a specific type or breed of pet, and my url is a three-word well-searched keyword phrase in that niche. Currently, I have 22 content pages (articles with unique urls) published on the site.

    Encouraged by my pet site's success thus far, I've made it one of my top priorities for this spring. I'd love to have it earning $1,000 a month this time next year. To that end, I have some work to do.

    Niche Site Plans and Goals
    • Site redesign: I built this site on a free template back when I was brand new to website creation. Seriously, the site is not pretty, and its template is a bit bulky and problematic to work with. Whether I buy a quality template or hire a designer to create me something practical and attractive, this is one of my top priorities for the site. 
    • More content: Its earnings are impressive for having a couple dozen pages, so adding more content both to improve my readers' experience and to add income possibilities is a no-brainier.
    • Forum posting: I have a profile on a niche-specific forum and need to increase my posting there to drive traffic and create backlinks to my site.
    • Social media interaction: Adding a Facebook Like button is one thing I'm hoping to implement and currently researching. 
    Are you building residual income through niche sites, or planning to start? What are you working on this week?

      Wednesday, March 16, 2011

      Strong Google Adsense Earnings

      There's been a good deal of chatter in the online writing world regarding Google's recent algorithm change, which basically penalized sites with low-quality content and gave more search engine favor to sites with original, high-quality material. Places like, and numerous "content farms" with duplicate content, PLR articles, spun articles and other cheap content saw their traffic suffer and even nosedive.

      Conversely, websites with good and excellent quality control and all original material received a boost from the changes. My own niche site on pets was one of these -- its Adsense earnings for March are stronger than ever. My total Adsense for March is projected to be my highest month to date and should close at $700 or more. I'm still working on my goal to get that up to $1,000 a month by the end of the year.

      How can online writers, especially those working to build up their residual income through niche sites and blogs, stay on Google's good side? What do you need to know to "write for Google"?

      Don't write for Google. 

      That's the simplest way to put it. Your website, whether monetized with adsense units, affiliate links, paid ads or a combination of these and other models, should have its audience (real live humans) as the primary focus when creating content, not Google (the robots).

      Is your site helpful? Funny? Informative? Will the people who find your blog based on the keywords you're targeting find what they need -- whether its information, resources, product reviews -- if they land on your site?

      Do you publish only original, creative, quality material, whether it's written by yourself or a paid freelancer? You should be -- for the sake of your readers and for your own success. I have never paid for PLR articles (the ones sold in packs to multiple buyers who then tweak them to make them "different"). I have never "spun" articles myself or with a program to turn copied content into something "unique." About 95% of my content, including the articles I post on article directory sites, was written by me. I've paid for a few articles but only from US-based freelance writers.

      Ensuring the best of quality control on your site, in addition to a pleasing template and tasteful ads and links, is the best thing you can do for your online business and to increase your residual income. Position your sites so that these quality control checks by Google and other search engines improve your ranking and boost your earnings, not the opposite.

      Did Google's changes affect you, for good or bad? What's your strategy to improving your online residual income?

      Monday, February 28, 2011

      Try Wealthy Affiliate for $1

      Okay, this is big news. For the first time in over a year and a half, starting March 1, Wealthy Affiliate University is offering a free one-week trial for only $1. That means you can access all of the training modules, community forums, keyword tools and  everything else for an entire week for practically nothing.

      I joined Wealthy Affiliate in June 2010 and credit it for the near doubling of my online writing and marketing income by the end of 2010 compared to the previous year. For me, the 30 day article marketing club within WA was worth the price of my year's membership by itself. I was able to use what I learned there to boost eHow earnings (three months in a row have been over $2,000!) and dramatically increase my affiliate marketing income through my niche sites.

      The point of my Work at Home Mom blog is to help others find legitimate ways to build significant residual income online through writing and marketing. Wealthy Affiliate is the best collection of educational resources, training, tools and community I've found. It is both an opportunity for those brand new to online writing to find success, and for those with a  few years' experience to supercharge their income.

      I encourage you to sign up for Wealthy Affiliate's free Webinar that will not only show you the inside scoop about this great $1 trail, but also give you many ideas and strategies for building an online income.

      Best of luck as you take action to meet your goals!

      Friday, February 4, 2011

      Protecting Your Work at Home Time & Space

      As a work at home mom with young children, my writing time is limited and I have to make the most of the hours I have allotted to my online efforts. I've found that I am able to be most productive when my writing schedule is clearly set, family members are aware, and I make every effort to protect my work time and space -- and you should, too. It will make all the difference in your success or failure as an online writer or internet marketer.

       The first objective is to set a schedule for your work hours. Determine what's practical, keeping in mind your ideal time of day (are you a morning bird or does your brain function best at night?) and family schedules. For my situation, it works best for me to work from 5:30-8 a.m. three days a week. I also get some additional work time on other mornings if I'm up early and the kids are sleeping, but three days out of the week, my husband is "on-call" for the kids in the early hours, supervises morning routines and gives them breakfast as I finish up my writing time.

      Make sure family members (down to the little ones!) are aware of your planned writing/ working time. Conversely, be fully present for them when you aren't working, minimizing computer time when it's not productive, and your kids will be more respectful of your set work hours.

      You'll find that even with a set schedule and plan, you'll need to make an effort almost daily to protect your work at home time and desk/ office area from intrusion, distraction and even your own laziness. To that end, remind family members as needed that you're working, and you'll be able to talk/ help in 10 minutes, an hour -- at your designated stop time. Do not answer the phone while you're doing your work. Do not check your email unless you need something specific for the task at hand.

      Keep your work desk neat as a pin -- you will find yourself much more productive when you have a clean, ordered space that feels professional. 

      Avoiding distractions online -- unnecessary email checking, reading news or forums unrelated to your work at home daily tasks, and other time-wasting traps -- is crucial for your success. Keep yourself on track by writing a short list of items you need to accomplish at your next work session, after finishing the day's tasks and while everything is fresh in your mind.

      I keep my daily tasks list in a notebook stored in my top desk drawer. Each morning, I take it out and keep it by my computer as I work, reminding me of what's next and giving me the satisfaction of checking off items I've accomplished.

      How do you protect your work at home time and space to increase your writing income?

      Sunday, January 16, 2011

      Double Your Residual Income in 2011

      Have you set your goals for residual income in 2011? I did -- my reach-for-it goal is to double my monthly residual income within the next 12 months. If it sounds a bit impractical, especially since it's taken me three years to build to my current level, here's why I think it just might be doable -- and how you can do it, too.

      Why I Can Double my Writing Income in 1 Year

      Since I already have niche websites, blogs, and articles and profiles on revenue-sharing content sites, doubling my current residual income should take much less time than it did to get to the point where I am currently. Three years ago, I was starting from scratch -- any niche sites I had were brand new and not on Google's radar. Now, I have the advantage of domains that are several years old, and hundreds of articles that have already been online for years or at least several months.

      This means that any new articles I add to my established sites in the coming months should theoretically  earn more, and faster, than previous articles. As I've shown recently, I can increase my earnings on existing eHow articles by adding backlinks.

      Furthermore, I am aware of what niches, topics and affiliate products have been profitable for me and those that have shown promise and need more exploration. I wrote plenty of articles for that earned very slowly and, conversely, dozens that have been great earners -- all of these give me an idea of what works, and how to duplicate success.

      My skills in setting up niche sites, creating attractive, informative blog posts, researching quickly, and incorporating adwords and affiliate links with quality content have all grown over the years, putting me in a better position than ever to leverage my abilities to build long-term residual income.

      Hopefully, much of what I've just described applies to you, too.

      The Plan: How to Increase Your Passive Income by 100%

      Double the amount of residual-earning content you have online.

      Will it be that simple? I think so -- but will it be easy? Probably not -- it takes effort, discipline and dedication to work every day toward your passive income goals. This is especially true when you have a primary full-time job, whether it's as an employee or a stay at home mom to young children.But if you break it down into monthly goals, weekly lists and daily action items, you may be better able to follow the plan.

      For starters, add up the number of articles, website pages and blog posts you have online -- even if you don't have an exact number, get a rough estimate. For example, someone who has 100 eHow articles, plus 20 at Bukisa, a blog with 52 posts, a niche site with 20 pages, three Hubs and four Squidoo lenses, plus 10 ezine articles, is looking at a portfolio of just over 200 pieces of content currently earning residual income. Adding 200 more in the next 365 days should certainly be doable.

      Focus on building the niches and sites that are earning the best, adding more keyword-targeted pages and quality backlinks to your best-earning sites and pages. Don't try to start three more blogs in the coming year -- work on building your current sites to perform better. If there's a niche you just can't resist trying, build a Squidoo lens and a Hubpage on it and use them to test the market before diving into a new property.

      If You're Just Getting Started

      If you are new to making money online from writing, you'll have a different goal -- there's not much to double at this point and you need to get started and build, build, build in 2011. Use sites such as HubPages and Squidoo to experiment with writing and marketing, exploring different niches. When you find something that interests you enough and shows promise as a money-maker, start a blog or niche site on the topic, adding a page or a backlink every day as you work to gain traffic and eventually, affiliate sales and advertising revenue.

      For those who really don't know where or how to start, as well as those who are serious about taking their online income to a higher level, I recommend that you look into WealthyAffiliate and give it a try. This is the only service (other than web-hosting and ejunkie checkout) for which I currently pay money to use. They have an amazing collection of resources, including step-by-step action guides, all in one convenient location. I've attended several recent WA Webinars on affiliate marketing and backlinking and those have been very helpful to me.

      Using the WealthyAffiliate Article Club method to build and promote a new niche site, I was able to earn over $1,000 in affiliate commissions from a niche site I built in 2010 -- it has been hugely successful for me so far and I have to attribute much of that success to what I implemented after taking the WA course.

      However, if you don't have the money for that right now, don't worry about it because you CAN make a go of this on a shoestring budget. It make take longer and there will be more trial and error to find what works best, but it can be done -- it's how I started out and so did many other work at home moms.

      Best of luck in 2011 -- will you try to double your residual income this year?