My Passive Income Report [April 2012]

Being an internet marketer is truly a wild ride, and April was no exception.  As if losing my AdSense account wasn’t enough, Google threw another curve ball in the form of a significant ranking algorithm update.

In some kind of sick and twisted way, I’m having fun with this.  While the ultimate goal is to make money (and I’ll warn you: April was a terrible month from an earnings standpoint), the whole thing sometimes feels like a game to me.

By getting knocked out of the comfort zone I was in for awhile (building micro niche sites), I was forced to try some new things, and I’m enjoying it.  Anyway, let’s get to the income report…

A Brief Overview of April

With tax season ending on April 17th, I was finally able to gain back my free time.  The best feeling in the world is after you work your ass off for an extended period of time, and are finally able to relax, breathe, and do nothing.

After a mini-break, I jumped back into my passive income projects.  The past couple weeks have been spent building up content on my authority site, and trying out some other interesting things (which I’ll touch on below).

Although April was extremely disappointing, I’ve learned that I can’t just sit around and blame everything on Google, and neither should you.  It’s time to take ownership of the process, and get back to where I was using a different strategy.

April Income Report

InfoBarrel

Last month, I decided to give away this income due to the fact that I couldn’t earn from the AdSense ads within my InfoBarrel articles.  The individual who won my little contest is still earning from the ads (even though it’s been more than a month) because I haven’t figured out yet what to do next.

Do you have any ideas?  I’d like to continue giving this income away so that someone benefits from it (because I can’t), and I’m open to suggestions (leave them in the comments).

Here is the small amount of income I was able to earn in April:

  • Chitika: $1.26

Even though I can’t earn much from InfoBarrel right now, I still highly recommend checking out my original plan to make lots of money with article writing if you’re new to the “making money online” game.  Article writing is still one of my top recommendations for earning online passive income for those who are just starting out and don’t have much money to spend.

Lending Club


As you know, I write about Lending Club every month, so I don’t need to go into a ton of detail here, but if you are unfamiliar with Lending Club, you can read my original write-up here.  In short: it’s my only truly passive income source.

Over the past month, I’ve decided to ramp up my investments.  Typically, I’ve just been taking my interest payments, and each time they accumulate to $25, I invest in a new loan.  A few days ago (so this will be reflected in May’s income report), I deposited $300, and will continue to keep adding to the account.

It’s been a long time, and my return is still extremely high compared to other similar investments.  Therefore, I’ve decided this is an area I should focus more on, to see if I can get a nice stream of interest income on a regular basis.

As of the end of  April, I was invested in 117 loans (+4 from March) and my net annualized return was 5.96% (+0.11% from March).

If you’re interested in trying Lending Club, you can sign up with this link and get a free account.  If you’re unsure whether this type of investing is right for you, you can deposit a small amount (investments can be as small as $25) and become familiar with it. If you have any questions about it, I’d be more than happy to answer them in the comments (or feel free to contact me by e-mail).

Niche Sites

This is the area where Google’s recent algorithm change hurt the most, as you would expect. As I mentioned here though, it wasn’t my newer micro-niche sites that were hit badly – it was my older niche sites, particularly those monetized with Clickbank and Amazon.

Also, I’m still working to try out different AdSense alternatives.  You can read about what I think of Media.net, if it’s an alternative you’re considering.

Here’s a summary of April’s niche site earnings:

  • Amazon: $17.12
  • Media.net: $12.58
  • Chitika: $0.16
  • InfoLinks: $4.61
  • Total: $34.47

Ugly, I know.  Stay tuned for a case study (starting in the near future) where I try to “resurrect” a few niche sites and get them ranking again – I’ll document everything on this blog, as usual.

Authority Site

This was probably the only bright spot in April, as I finally completed a major project – a free eBook/digital report to give away, in order to grow my site’s e-mail list.   It’s 20 pages of content that I feel really good about.  It took me several months to write (I wrote it little by little each week), but the final product is great.

The list already has 8 subscribers, which doesn’t seem like many, but the site doesn’t get a ton of traffic yet (and the digital report has only been available for less than a week).  I plan on doing a full write-up here soon on my entire process of creating the eBook and setting up the list.  I’m hoping this list will become a major asset to my business in the future.

Here’s a look at what the site earned in April:

  • Media.net: $9.15
  • Other: $8.80
  • Total: $17.95

Other Affiliate Income

Here’s the breakdown for April.  [Note: This income comes from other sites not discussed/listed above, including affiliate sales generated through this blog.]

  • Amazon: $0.00
  • ClickBank: $0.00
  • Commission Junction: $130.20
  • PayDotCom: $0.00
  • Private Advertising: $0.00
  • Market Samurai: $48.50
  • Other Misc.: $5.82

Total Misc. Affiliate Earnings for April: $184.52 

The most shocking thing to me was Clickbank – this is the first month in over a year where I earned nothing.  It’s really disappointing, as I was used to always making at least 1 or 2 Clickbank sales each month.  Also, I lost my private advertiser on one niche site (which used to pay $35/month) because the site lost its rankings with the recent Panda and Penguin updates.

It pains me to write all of these negative happenings, but I remain positive in my outlook – things absolutely will get better.

Income Summary

Here’s a summary of April’s earnings, organized by project/challenge:

Grand Total for April: $238.20 (-$320.30 from March)

Popular Posts

These were my top 5 most popular blog posts in April based on number of views:

1) AdSense Account Disabled: What the Hell?!

2) The Ultimate Backlink Tracker (Free Tool)

3) My Passive Income Report [March 2012]

4) How to Make $2,000 Per Month Writing for InfoBarrel

5) A Detailed Look at My Top Earning Niche Sites

How was your April?  Did anyone else see a significant drop in earnings?  Until next month, best of luck to you and your passive income projects!

If you enjoyed this income report, subscribe to the RSS feed (if you haven’t already) so that you don’t miss any future updates. Thanks so much!

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41 Responses to “My Passive Income Report [April 2012]”

  1. April was great! My traffic spiked during the algo update (sorry to hear that yours fell). It seems like Google is destroying the older sites and promoting the new ones.
    Rick recently posted… Why It’s Hard to Become an Investor

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Rick – I’m not sure how much age has to do with the recent update, aside from the fact that older sites tend to have a more diverse backlink profile.

    I’ve definitely seen older (worse) sites suddenly ranking well, and newer (better quality) sites falling off of Google’s radar.

    [Reply]

  2. Eric, the latest Panda and Penguin update hurt. I look forward to your post about how to “resurrect” your traffic.

    I have been following your blog since 2010. You are one of my inspiration.

    Keep it up and I am sure that you continue scaling up and growing your online business.

    Do you think Authority Style Niche Site is way to go? I have been following NPC Authority Site Sample these days.
    Kent @ Niche Site Tips recently posted… MMO Monthly Report April 2012

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Kent. At this time, I do think authority-style niche sites are the way to go, simply because they are less likely to be “hurt” by Google in the future.

    I still believe they are riskier in a way, because you’re going to put in more time and money and there’s still a chance the site will fail (unlike micro-niche sites, where if a site fails, you can move on because your investment was fairly minimal). Either way though, I think it’s a much more stable business model going forward.

    [Reply]

  3. Hey Eric

    Sorry about hearing of all the trouble with the animals of the Google zoo (and the stuff with adsense).

    I know I haven’t been much into the whole micro niche site thing, but from where I’m sitting the Penguin has really made this business model much less attractive since you need to spend much more time on quality content and quality backlinking in order to be able to rank. Something that’s not really that viable if you do not stand to make much money in the other end (and you are not really passionate about the subject of the niche site).

    I’ve also written some words about this on my blog and would love your input on it:
    http://my4hours.com/what-no-one-is-telling-you-about-niche-sites

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Rasmus – left a comment on your post earlier (great post, by the way).

    [Reply]

  4. Hey Eric,

    Thanks for another great income report. Sorry that you got hit twice by Google this month. It seems like we need to accept these “hits” as part of the job these days.

    I agree with you on the Clickbank thing. It doesn’t seem to be as profitable as everyone says it is in their blog(s). To be honest, I haven’t promoted enough products to have a decent sample size. Hopefully I’ll have better results with my new projects.
    Vin @ Rank For Profit recently posted… Ultimate Niche Finder Keyword Research Guide

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Vin, thanks for the comment. I agree – the “hits” by Google are really just the “cost of doing business” these days.

    Clickbank is very hit or miss. If you have the right audience and the right product, you can obviously do well, but there are also a lot of low-quality products on Clickbank that tend to perform poorly with most audiences.

    [Reply]

    Doug Reply:

    “”the “hits” by Google are really just the “cost of doing business” these days.”"

    – In that case you need to change your business.

    Eric, I like your blog and I’ve followed it for a while but in all honesty you are chasing the wrong goals.

    You need to stop focusing on Google (either for traffic or for monetization) and instead focus on creating: (1) a product/service, and (2) a high-converting offer for the product/service.

    That’s it.

    Once you have (1) and (2) you can buy traffic or attract affiliates because your offer converts at a good enough rate to either break even or make a profit.

    Eric, you are a great writer and people clearly enjoy reading what you have to offer. So stop obsessing with perceived ‘free’ traffic (by the way, it’s not) and build a real business.

    Doug

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Sounds good but how do you know if you’ve got a “high-converting offer for the product/service” if you don’t have the traffic to convert?

    Its all good saying forget about google and traffic and make your own product but unless you can get people to the product what is the point?

    I know you can pay for traffic but how many of us have enough money to spare for making a ‘great’ product and then sending enough traffic to it to know if people might like it or not.

    If you’ve got that kind of money floating about you might as well open a shop (online or offline).

    The great thing about IM and ‘free traffic’ from Google et al was the low cost of entry and the fact that if you just had time and no spare cash you could still make cash. Are those days over?
    Joe recently posted… Link Authority Now Accepting Page Rank 1 Sites

    Doug Reply:

    Joe,

    See my responses below and them a suggested plan for Eric.

    Sounds good but how do you know if you’ve got a “high-converting offer for the product/service” if you don’t have the traffic to convert?
    **DOUG – THERE’S A TON OF WAYS TO GET TRAFFIC, SEE BELOW.

    Its all good saying forget about google and traffic and make your own product but unless you can get people to the product what is the point?
    **DOUG – SEE BELOW

    I know you can pay for traffic but how many of us have enough money to spare for making a ‘great’ product and then sending enough traffic to it to know if people might like it or not.
    **DOUG – FOR ERIC WHO IS A GREAT WRITER, HE SHOULD MAKE THE PRODUCT HIMSELF. HE’S PROVEN HIMSELF TO BE ABLE TO PRODUCE CONTENT THAT PEOPLE LIKE AND RETURN TO CONSUME REGULARLY. AS TO TRAFFIC, SEE BELOW.

    If you’ve got that kind of money floating about you might as well open a shop (online or offline).
    **DOUG – WHY ON EARTH WOULD I WANT TO OPEN A SHOP? SHOPS (OFFLINE AT LEAST) DON’T LET YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE UNLIMITED LEVERAGE POTENTIAL OF THE INTERNET.

    The great thing about IM and ‘free traffic’ from Google et al was the low cost of entry and the fact that if you just had time and no spare cash you could still make cash. Are those days over?
    **DOUG – YES THEY ARE OVER.

    MY PLAN FOR ERIC:
    Let’s say Eric has some time but no money.

    1. Eric should utilize his writing skills. Write articles for $20 a time. There’s a ton of people who would pay that amount (or more) for writing of Eric’s quality.

    2. Write 5 articles for $20. Eric now has $100 to invest in traffic.

    3. Complete his product – sell it for $33. Build a basic site. Squeezepage/Landing Page for the traffic [make 2 versions and split test using free Google Website Optimzer], a series of follow up emails (he writes himself), then a Sales page.

    4. Buy some traffic with his $100. Either PPC (via Facebook, or MSN or Youtube – perhaps avoiding Google PPC since it is overpriced these days).

    5. Record the results – in terms of opt-ins received and ultimate sales. If Eric sells at least 3 products for his $100, he is already home and dry.

    6. Use the better performing Landing page from Step 3 and create a new alternative to split test again.

    7. Write 5 more articles. Get $100.

    8. Repeat Step 4 and 5.

    You can do this endlessly. Constantly playing around with your Landing Page and Sales page. Constantly improving your conversion rate.

    SPECIAL TRICKS FOR ERIC:

    9. Eric’s site is mentioned by many higher profile bloggers in the IM space. He needs to cultivate those relationships and recruit those bloggers as affiliates for his product. Offer them 90% commission. They drive sales traffic to his site and he gets: (a) 10% to reinvest in paid traffic and (b) more traffic to perfect his conversions (see Step 5 and 6 above).

    10. Instead of writing 5 articles for $20 each, instead agree to write 10 articles for $20 then spend $50 of getting those 10 articles written by someone else. Eric then only needs to edit and tweak the first drafts before delivering the 10 to his ultimate buyer. He earns $200, spends $50 and probably spends less time. He now is LEVERAGING his efforts and has $150 to reinvest in paid traffic.

    —-

    No money is a MYTH.

    Create some value, charge for it then reinvest that money into your own measurable business.

    FORGET ABOUT GOOGLE.

    Doug

    Rasmus Reply:

    I’m totally with you Doug!

    Let’s not forget that Eric has a sizable email list that he could launch a product to.

    Eric G. Reply:

    Great discussion here, Doug & Joe. Doug, I especially appreciate the thoughtful comment and the plan you crafted for me. :) A lot of good stuff there.

    I agree with a lot of what you said, although some of your views are a bit extreme for me. As much as I would love to write off Google, I think it will ALWAYS be one of the best sources of free traffic, regardless of how Google manipulates its search engine. A real, quality website will almost always be able to tolerate any algorithm changes.

    I can’t remember who said this, and I’m paraphrasing here, but I believe the quote was something like: “It’s not wise to rely on Google, but it’s even more foolish to completely ignore it.” I know you aren’t suggesting completely ignoring Google. And although I know SEO/search engine traffic shouldn’t be EVERYTHING, it absolutely needs to be part of any website’s traffic strategy (when possible).

    With that said, there are certainly some types of sites (such as sales pages or “squeeze” pages) which may do best with paid, targeted traffic via Facebook, Google or whatever your favorite PPC ad platform is.

    Now, what you said about creating a product and a high-converting offer for the product, I completely agree. I do think that would be one of the best ways to take control of my business and diversify my income.

    It’s actually similar to what I’m doing right now with my authority site, except that I’m giving away the eBook I created (in exchange for an e-mail list sign-up, of course). My hope is that I will build a substantial list to eventually sell a premium product to, which I will eventually create. In the mean time, I may test different offers as an affiliate.

    I actually have been testing paid traffic (PPC) a little bit with my giveaway product on the authority site, with some success. My focus however is to still get free traffic by cranking out more content, which will hopefully convert into e-mail subscribers.

    I can afford to pay for traffic, but right now, I’d still prefer to build a nice stream of organic traffic while I test out different things. If I get to a point where I feel like I have a really high converting offer, I’ll throw more money into paid traffic.

    As for selling services as a writer, I’m not sure how I feel about that. I enjoy writing in small doses, and I’ve been told by many people that my writing style is “interesting” to read, but I don’t know if I have the endurance to write for other people. I had a hard enough time writing for my niche sites (which is why I outsourced 95%+ of it). I won’t write this idea off though (no pun intended) – it may be worth trying.

    The one thing I know is that any product I create, it will NOT be in the internet marketing niche, which would make it difficult to leverage the relationships I have in this niche.

    When I started this blog, and as I’ve written it for the past couple of years, I made the decision that I don’t want this to be my primary source of online income. I don’t want to make money online by teaching people how to make money online.

    Yes, I will occasionally use affiliate links and earn some commissions, but it’s never my focus. As Rasmus mentioned, I have a decent sized e-mail list (well over 4,000 subscribers), yet I barely recover the $30/month in costs me to have the list.

    I KNOW I could make more money with this blog, but doing so wouldn’t sit right with me. I want people to read this blog to learn about my journey as I experience it. I don’t want anyone to think that the “journey” exists only to extract affiliate commissions from this blog.

    Anyway, Doug, Joe, and everyone else, I really like discussion here, and appreciate everyone’s input. I have more to say, but I think this comment is long enough already!

  5. Eric,

    There have been a lot of changes lately and now there is no way internet marketers can only concentrate on getting traffic from Google. Yes, traffic from Google is great but all the other sources of traffic combined would equal more than Google and it would benefit your site long term. Just stick with it and I can’t wait to hear more about how you plan to resurrect your sites.

    Adam
    Adam recently posted… Ready To Learn Internet Marketing?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Adam – I completely agree. Focusing solely on Google as a source of traffic/income puts your online business at a huge risk. While organic Google traffic will probably always be significant to most people, it’s critical that we find other ways to get traffic. As far as I can tell, the 3 biggest ways to do this are:

    1) PPC advertising (not my favorite)
    2) Social media (need some initial traffic to build a following though)
    3) E-mail lists (similar to social media – you still need the traffic to originate from somewhere)

    Using a combination of all 3 is probably a solid way to diversify your traffic, although I think most people can get by without directly paying for traffic via PPC.

    [Reply]

  6. Diggin the positive attitude man. I know you’ll jump right back up soon. Looking forward to seeing those case studies! Should be interesting :)
    Sean King recently posted… April Monthly Income Report (My First One!)

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Sean! I think you NEED to have a positive attitude to succeed in this business. :)

    [Reply]

  7. Hey Eric, great information. Thanks for the monthly updates. Just 1 question, since you live in IL (as do I), how are you continuing to make (what I assume are) affiliate commissions off of Amazon after they banned Illinois residents?

    Thanks,
    Rob

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Great question, Rob – My sites are based out of a residence that I have in Nevada, so they are legitimately not based in IL.

    [Reply]

  8. Cool. I’ll be checking in once and awhile to see the progress of your internet marketing journey.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Baker!

    [Reply]

  9. My April was better than the previous months this year but I fear May will be terrible after the recent updates.

    Glad to hear you are staying positive!

    My earnings report for April is up on my blog now.
    Joe recently posted… About this Blog

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Good to hear that April wasn’t bad – keep working at it, and May hopefully won’t be too bad. I also fear my May will be somewhat poor – I’m figuring it may take a couple months to “right the ship.”

    Thanks for the comment Joe!

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    It took me months to recover from the October Panda update. Hope I don’t have to wait that long to recover from these last updates otherwise it will be another lean winter in the How I Got Rich household.
    Joe recently posted… About this Blog

    [Reply]

  10. The decline in traffic was the reason.

    But what’s even worse is that I see that websites that have meta descriptions like [keyword keywords kwd key word keyword] are ranking for those keywords although the information on that website is about restaurants.

    Nice -real quality- update no?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Evidently, I don’t think this Google update was aimed at improving the quality of the search engine results. It’s unfortunately, but it looks like Google had a different agenda.

    [Reply]

  11. It’s horrible, but I’m relieved to know I’m not the only one getting hit by the Google.

    I’ve been sitting here thinking about your Infobarrel dilemma. I have been following your IB updates with interest, since I always wanted to see you hit $1k a month with it.

    A few Ideas I have:

    Take down the pages on Infobarrel and transfer them to Squidoo. Send all of your donations to one of their great not-for-profit partners. (or keep ‘em for yerself)

    Or you could take them to Wizzley and switch all the ads to Chitika.

    Or you could click the “donate” button on the Infobarrel articles as they are.

    The other idea would be to run a big contest… Maybe have a bunch of people send in their success stories that you can convert into an e-book… and the winning story gets to take home your IB account.

    Or a contest for people building post-penguin blogs

    For a $60/month income, you could probably make a pretty big contest. Especially if it results in a bigger email list.

    Ok, enough with the brain dump. Keep chugging!
    Quinton Hamp recently posted… April 2012 Income Update

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment and all of the ideas, Quinton. I’ll have to think it over, but for now, I will probably keep the articles where they are (mainly because they act as backlinks to several of my other niche sites).

    [Reply]

  12. Hi Eric,
    Your April Niche site earning is better than me and sometimes my amazon earning is good sometimes not.I don’t know how to stable it, Do you have any idea?
    Pete Goumas recently posted… What Is Mythology

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I’ve had the same issue, with Amazon earnings being unstable. A lot of it has to do with poor conversions (for me), which is somewhat dependent on the niche and products you’re promoting. More expensive products will likely have lower conversions.

    Also, the time of the year matters – during holiday times, you’ll see higher conversions as people do a lot more online shopping.

    [Reply]

  13. Hi Eric! Good to see you’re still having fun with it ;-) Have been following your blog for a while now and I just wanted to say hi real quick. I can remember like it was yesterday when I was making a couple of hundred dollars a month. A life changer, because that let me to break out and make a decent living online. Over the years I also had some setbacks (some also caused by Google) that caused me to go back to 0 overnight.. But every time I’ve recovered from that, so I’m sure you will do the same! It all comes down to mindset, and (from what I’ve been reading) you’re doing fine on that one! I’ll be following you :)
    Wilco recently posted… 25 Facebook fanpagina tips

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the encouraging comment, Wilco. It’s good to see that others have been in a similar situation and have found their way out. :)

    [Reply]

  14. Hey Eric,

    Just a quick question.

    I’m looking to build an email list for my page too. Just wondering if you recommended one as I’m fairly new to blogging and don’t really know which to use.

    Cheers!

    [Reply]

    Tho Huynh Reply:

    You should try Aweber, it’s the best in this industry :)
    Tho Huynh recently posted… Animoto Promo Code – Save Lots Of Money With Animoto

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I use Aweber and think it’s a great e-mail list provider, but it’s not free. A good free alternative (that I haven’t really used much) is Mail Chimp.

    [Reply]

  15. Hello! I just discovered your site via Twitter. I see that we have the same goals! I’ll check back your site to see your results from time to time. I’m just a beginner in passive income, I plan to set up some niche sites, but before I’ve got to finish my own site! Good luck!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, David, and best of luck to you too!

    [Reply]

  16. You’re not alone Eric, everyone I know is feeling the pinch right now because of Panda and Penguin. That being said, I love your positive attitude. You’re totally right when you say you can’t blame everything on Google and need to take charge and shake things up. The vast majority of affiliate marketers I know spent the better part of this month whining about Google’s Penguin updates instead of getting off their behinds and figuring out something new that works. Good luck for May!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks a lot Joe – hopefully the positive attitude will get me somewhere. :)

    [Reply]

  17. We’re in the exact same boat dude. My income (mostly from Amazon and some for IB/AdSense) fell by the same amount because of Penguin. Pretty frustrating. I’m also going the “revive and convert to authority sites” route but haven’t seen any progress yet.

    Good luck…I’ll check back often.

    -B
    Brock @ BrockStarLife recently posted… Earnings Report: March 2012

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I hear you, Brock – it’s very frustrating. There are times now where I literally feel like I’m back to where I started, and really unsure about what to do next. I’m sure we’ll figure it out though.

    [Reply]

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