My Passive Income Report [May 2012]

Time really flies as we get into the summer months – all you want to do is sit outside, enjoy the warm weather, and relax.   I did a lot of that May, as I saw my online business finally settle down and begin improving again.

May was a lot of fun in a “what the hell am I doing?” kind of way, as I splurged with a couple of fairly large purchases (for my personal life, not internet business).  I’ll explain more on that below.

Let’s dig into May’s report…

A Brief Overview of May

Income was up in May, and although I’m still very far away from where I once was, I’m happy with the direction that things are heading.  It’s becoming more and more clear to me that it probably isn’t worth spending time and money building and investing in assets with questionable value.

Even though these types of projects don’t cost much and don’t consume a lot of time individually, it all adds up.  Sometimes I look back on all the time I spent on micro niche sites and wonder what I would’ve created had I put all of that energy into one or two larger projects.

Realistically, I know that this type of approach wouldn’t have fit my personality well – as you know, I like to try lots of different things to keep from getting bored, often at the expense of my own success.  Smart or not, it’s been something I’ve been willing to do.  While I’d love to build a multi-million dollar business (who wouldn’t?), I remind myself that this internet business is still more of a hobby/side business.  It’s not that I don’t want it to be more, but until I’m willing to invest the time to make it something more, I can’t pretend that it’s something beyond a small side business.

As for my personal life, I purchased a new car in May – a 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE (pictured to the right).   It’s been a great car so far (with excellent gas mileage), especially compared to the car I used to own. Also, my girlfriend and I recently upgraded to a new, really nice mattress – a memory foam Serta mattress.  We had no intention of buying a memory foam mattress (mainly due to price), but after trying it out, it was hard to not buy it.

Anyway, enough about my personal life…let’s get to the actual income report!

May Income Report

InfoBarrel

A couple months ago, I decided to give away this income due to the fact that I couldn’t earn from the AdSense ads within my InfoBarrel articles.  Ever since I set up the winner with my InfoBarrel account, I haven’t figured out what to do with it next, so he has now received over 2 months of my earnings.  Not bad – my laziness is his gain!

I’m still not sure what to do with it next, but depending on how a couple of other things go, my business may soon have its own AdSense account that I could put back on InfoBarrel.

As pathetic as it may be, here’s the income I was able to earn from InfoBarrel in May:

  • Chitika: $1.86
  • Amazon: $2.22
  • Total: $4.08

Even though I personally 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 among 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.

In May, I really kicked my Lending Club investments into high gear.  I’m now invested in 129 loans  (+12 from April) as I decided to put more money into this area of my passive income portfolio.  It continues to pay off, as my net annualized return is now 6.07% (+0.11% from April).

Even though this is a really solid return on investment (for something that is completely passive), I can’t help but feel like I’ve been slightly unlucky.  I continue to read about people who have been able to sustain returns in the 9-12% range over multiple years.  Maybe I need to start mixing in some more higher risk (but higher return) investments?  We’ll see.  I tend to be more on the conservative side.

UPDATE:  One reader (Mikey) left me a comment below to share his experience using Lending Club, and I figured others might find it interesting:

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. As always, 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

As I reported in last month’s income report, my niche sites have largely been destroyed by the recent changes Google as made (in conjunction with the loss of my AdSense account).  If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been experimenting with AdSense alternatives (such as Media.net and Infolinks), but I’m still finding nothing comes close to the results that AdSense offered.

I’m close to admitting “defeat” on smaller niche sites.  I still believe they can be profitable despite the changes in the SEO landscape, but I constantly question, “is it worth it?”  There will always be people who earn tens of thousands of dollars per month with these types of sites, but they will always be at higher risk of losing those income streams.

Nevertheless, if you can find success with them, more power to you.  I think they’re perfectly fine in a portfolio of other projects that allow you to remain diversified.  I’m not throwing away my niche sites yet – in fact, I’ve been running a little case study to see if I can revive a few of my niche sites that were severely hurt by Google’s recent updates.  You can read them here:

Here’s a summary of May’s niche site earnings:
  • Amazon: $15.02
  • Media.net: $2.76
  • Chitika: $0.36
  • InfoLinks: $2.28
  • Total: $20.42

Authority Sites

This is the area of my business that is currently receiving the most focus.  As I mentioned last month, I’m currently building an e-mail list in an attempt to create a site that isn’t solely relying on Google for traffic and earnings.

On this particular site, I’m writing abut 50% of the content, with the other 50% being written by guest authors (yes, this is free, unique content for my site – more on this in another post).  It’s in a competitive niche, so right now I’ve only been receiving some trickle traffic from long tail keywords.

I’ve recently (within the past few days) created another authority site that will actually be a “passion project” for me.   I’ll be writing 100% of the content in attempt to monetize an actual hobby of mine.  Because this is something that won’t be easily duplicated, I will probably be sharing this authority site publicly in the future, on this blog.

Here’s a look at what the first authority site earned in May:

  • Media.net: $4.75
  • Other: $11.19
  • Total: $15.94

Other Affiliate Income

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

  • Amazon: $0.00
  • ClickBank: $44.36
  • Commission Junction: $203.40
  • PayDotCom: $0.00
  • Private Advertising: $0.00
  • Market Samurai: $0.00
  • Other Misc.: $42.70

Total Misc. Affiliate Earnings for May: $290.46 

Commission Junction saw a nice increase in May due to a uptick in conversions, not an increase in any traffic.

Income Summary

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

Grand Total for May: $330.90 (+$92.70 from April)

Popular Blog Posts

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

1) Bringing Niche Sites Back from the Dead, Part 1 [Case Study]

2) AdSense Account Disabled: What the Hell?!

3) My Passive Income Report [April 2012]

4) The Ultimate Backlink Tracker (Free Tool)

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

How was your May?  Is anyone else starting to bounce back from the Google algorithm changes from the past few months?  Until next month, best of luck to you and your passive income projects!

UPDATE [6/16/12]: Marc over at Train Horns Delivered has been putting together monthly compilations of income reports from around the internet marketing blogosphere.  You can read May’s report here.  (By the way, this ranking makes my income look so weak!)

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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42 Responses to “My Passive Income Report [May 2012]”

  1. In my book micro niche sites are dead as well. They just aren’t worth it in the end. As soon as Google comes out with a new update all of them are dead again.

    My adsense income decreased by half in may. Thanks Panda!

    Semi-authority niche sites, here I come!

    PS: Nice wheels!
    Kris @ Detailed Success recently posted… How To Set Up Your RSS Feed Like A Pro

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Kris! Unfortunately, aside from those who are willing to go the “extra mile,” micro niche sites are becoming a prohibitively difficult business model. I guess it makes sense – creating a successful, profitable business shouldn’t be that easy anyway, right?

    “Authority” sites are clearly the future of successful internet marketing (from a content-creator’s perspective). They’ve always been a good option, but it’s only been recently that they’ve stood out given the failure of so many thinner niche sites.

    [Reply]

  2. Hey Eric,

    I’ve been following and I’m sorry to hear your issues with the micro niche sites and loss of Adsense income.

    In regards to Lending Club, you may be happy to know that I learned about it from you, and I’ve been investing ever since. I’m currently at 15.05% average return. I tend to invest more into C and D rated loans, with the occasional B. Never really mess with the A rated loses, or anything under 10%. You may want to try it. =)
    Mikey recently posted… Call of Duty Blacks Ops 2 reveal trailer

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Cool, thanks for sharing your Lending Club experience. In fact, I’m going to copy your comment and update my income report to include it, just so everyone can see what kind of success other people are having.

    [Reply]

  3. Semi authority sites have definitely done well for me relative to the new, micro niche site experiments I tried conducting given how everyone was making money with them. My timing was unfortunately not so lucky as Penguin was right around the corner.

    That said, my semi authority sites are doing quite well. These are sites between 15-35 pages each.

    I am really seeing traffic pick up nicely with my authority site project however. Sheer content lends itself to being found for long tail keywords, an inherent limitation in micro niche sites. in the long run, traffic source diversity will also help an authoritative site.

    the challenge with the authoritative site however is scatter brained entrepreneurs will need to learn how to focus on 1 and 1 project alone at a time. in the past, it was much easier managing a portfolio of niche sites whereas now and in the future, managing a handful seem to be more reasonable and profitable.

    just my two cents.

    what does everyone else think?
    Sunil l Expediting Wealth Through Extra Income recently posted… Mind Hack Strategies for More Productivity & Better Results

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Sounds like you’re doing quite well with the “semi-authority” sites, Sunil (although I’m not surprised – you’re highly successful with a lot of things!).

    I really like your point about how “scatter brained entrepreneurs” need to learn how to focus on 1 project at a time…this is key. It’s something I haven’t been good at, and I KNOW it’s a huge thing holding me back from being successful.

    [Reply]

  4. Maybe you should pay more focus on authority sites. You know, google is hunting for niche sites :) It’s better for us to stay one step ahead
    Robert recently posted… Comment on Flexible – Responsive Portfolio WordPress Theme From Elegant Themes by Robert

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I agree, Robert – it’s definitely a big part of my plan!

    [Reply]

  5. Have you had a large number of notes default? Why would you say you’ve been unlucky?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I haven’t had a large number of notes default, but have had a few of my “higher quality” (grade A or B) loans default. These grades of loans have traditionally had an extremely low rate of default, much lower than what I’ve experienced. With that said, I’m still averaging higher than 6%, which is still a relatively strong return to me.

    [Reply]

  6. Congrats on buying a new car. That must have been exciting for you.

    Also, it is good to see that you are not giving up on your niche sites. I strongly encourage you to keep going on that because for mine own sites I am seeing them come back with a little bit of link variety. Just stick with it and I am sure you will benefit from it.

    Adam
    Adam recently posted… Begin Your Blogging Venture – Interview With Adrienne Smith

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Adam – yes, it was pretty exciting (although my bank account isn’t be happy).

    Also, thanks for the encouragement on the niche sites. I’m not going to give up on them, although I can’t say they will be a huge focus in the coming weeks/months.

    [Reply]

  7. Eric,
    Congrats on the new car! I have been investing in Lending Club (thanks to your recommendation) and have experienced 9% returns so far. Hoping the great performance holds up.
    All the best,
    Ian
    PPC Ian recently posted… Google AdWords – Your AdWords Are Now Running

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Ian! 9% is very solid, and I believe that’s right around the “average” return that Lending Club reports. Glad to see it’s working out well for you.

    [Reply]

  8. Eric, awesome that you got a Hybrid car.

    Thanks for sharing your numbers. It’s nice to have multiple income stream like that. :)

    I have been following your blog since 2010 and took your advice piece by piece. Finally, I had a month “beating” your number. It’s not a tease, it’s encouraging that this MMO works and I love to motivate each other along.

    Keep it up!

    I was hit by Penguin 1.1 and working on my game plan to bring back my Niche Site Traffic and income. (I was very panic & frustrated over the long weekend.)

    Would you keep update about your new Authority Site progress? I’m growing many of my mico niche sites as semi-authority ones.

    Once I find the winner, will grow them much bigger.

    So far what I see, is that you haven’t found the key for Amazon and Adsense Niche Sites yet. Once you have it, just duplicate.

    I really admire your willingness and focus to try and execute your plans. Most of MMO newbies just quit when hitting roadblocks.
    Kent @ In Marketing Tips recently posted… MMO Monthly Income Report May 2012

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Kent, thanks, and congrats on beating my number.:P

    My performance in the MMO space has been downright embarrassing over the past few months, given how many of my income streams have just taken a dive. I almost feel like I’m starting from scratch again, building up stronger passive income assets slowly but steadily.

    I will definitely write update about my authority site progress, since this is a large focus of mine. Thanks again for the comment!

    [Reply]

  9. Nice report and nice car!

    I am in the same place as you roughly. Almost given up on my niche sites and now focusing on some big sites.

    I’ve just published my monthly report so feel free to take a look.
    Joe recently posted… Monthly Round-up: May 2012

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Joe! I’ll definitely check out your income report.

    [Reply]

  10. Great post. I strongly encourage you to keep going on that because for mine own sites I am seeing them come back with a little bit of link variety. Thanks that you’ve shared.
    Jennifer recently posted… Alternatives to Fiverr.com

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the support, Jennifer!

    [Reply]

  11. It sounds like you have a diverse range of income trickling in. Their are a lot of get rich quick schemes out there; baiting people on the internet.

    I know enough people who have lost their Adsense account. Google is flighty and it doesn’t take much to scare them away.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    My income streams may be somewhat diverse, but unfortunately they aren’t too large. :)

    [Reply]

  12. I’ve started to take the passion site route as well. However, you guys must realize that passion sites are all about LONG TERM effort. This means you might not see any actual income for years.

    The good part about passion sites is that you have actual authority because it’s something you are knowledgeable about and enjoy doing. I’m gotten tired of working on niche sites because I felt like sites I produced were all garbage. Now I feel like I can give something that the user actually wants.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Jason, that’s one thing I’m beginning to realize as I work on authority sites/”passion” sites. It takes a LOT longer to earn that first dollar, and isn’t as easy as simply making lots of little sites that each earn a little bit of money.

    In the long run though, it’ll be worthwhile (I hope), assuming you (or I) can stay dedicated to it.

    [Reply]

  13. Hi all I’m just starting out and have 2 micro niche’s on the web. I have 1 site on page 1 between #4-8. It’s a 1900/month exact match and I have the EMD in .org extension. Lots of impressions but CTR rate is I think low. Anyway the coach I’m involved with says that fresh content is key. Which means the days of putting up a site and leaving it alone are gone. This takes either more work or more money if you want to outsource ‘info content’. So it’s updating my niche site/s consistently.

    This approach makes more sense to be anyway because it seem that consistent updated fresh content is either more important or just as important as back linking from what I’m reading an from what info I get from my mentor.

    It has been said that after the update the key is updated consistent content.

    [Reply]

  14. Hey Eric,
    You have some nice diversified income streams there. Sorry to here you got penguin smacked. I got hit too. I appreciate what Google is trying to do but I don’t think they’re going about it in a particularly great way. I think I got smacked for linking to one of my sites from another one of my unrelated sites. Although the subject matter is different, I, as the owner of one site deem it appropriate to link to the other site on the grounds that they share the same demographic. Who is Google to punish me for that?! Ugh, anyway! Keep up the good work. Here’s wishing you a great June. I’ll be checking back here to see how you’ve done :)

    [Reply]

  15. How much time (hours) did you spend on getting your first authority site going?
    Chris recently posted… Looking For Web Design Tips?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I’m not 100% sure, as I never kept track of it…Just to get it started (design, initial content, etc) probably took somewhere between 4-6 hours.

    [Reply]

  16. The ideas you’ve shared here are fantastic! It encourage me to continue my pending affiliate site that I haven’t work on for more than 3 months.
    Congrats to your new car!

    [Reply]

  17. Hi Eric!

    Serious damage on micro niche sites when the Panda struck! Thanks for sharing your May income report though. Even though figures are not as vibrant as they once were but in time it will recover. I’m struggling also with my micro niche sites. It is smart to diversify your portfolio but i hope good results will come up in your micro niche case study. Hope you can share more info on this subject matter.
    Chris Barker recently posted… Online backup for PC & Mac

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Chris! The recovery seems to be a slow process right now, but it’ll happen eventually.

    [Reply]

  18. Hey Eric, hopefully you’ll be back to where you were by the end of the year or even reaching your $1000/mo goal.

    I’m curious, were your niche sites tracked in Google Webmaster Tools? I ask because I got a message saying “Google Webmaster Tools detected unnatural links to your site”. Did you get this message for any of your sites?

    Like everyone else, I’m changing the way I build websites. One of my other niche sites is in the process of turning into an authority site and I’m stunned by the increases in Adsense income each month. I had no intentions of monetizing with Adsense on this site but it’s doing great so I’ll be keeping those ads on there along with my original plans which I’m still developing.

    Always enjoy reading your progress. Looking forward to your next income report!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hi Harlan,

    A handful of my sites were tracked in Google Webmaster Tools, but I never received those “unnatural links” messages. Even so, I think most of my sites were punished for having an unnatural backlink anchor text profile.

    That’s awesome to see your AdSense income is increasing on the site – just do what you can to diversify. Hopefully you’ll never have to worry about losing AdSense, but I think everyone could benefit from being prepared for it, just in case.

    [Reply]

  19. I got hit by Google Penguin too. Would love to hear what others are doing to recover.

    [Reply]

  20. Hey Erin,

    I feel your pain dude! I think it’s worth spending time on one or two bigger projects that you can be proud of and share openly with friends, family, the world.

    But yeah, it’s gotta be around something you’re very interested in since you will have to spend time on it everyday and not just complete project by project (like niche sites).

    Keep going!

    -Brock
    Brock recently posted… Best Places to Buy Clothes for Short Men

    [Reply]

  21. That’s an awesome revelation you came to! I was just getting ready to start small micro niche websites but that has fallen by the wayside! Time to think of something new!

    [Reply]

  22. Hi Eric,

    Thanks for the update.

    I’ve noticed that most of your income now is coming from affiliates like Click Bank and Commission Junction. How do those work for you? Do you have the stuff they sell on some of your other sites or something?

    Also, who do you use for your email list?

    Thanks again for your help. I’m pretty new at internet marketing and passive income and trying to find more information.
    Alex@ Anti-Status Quo recently posted… The Lonely Phonebox

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Good questions, Alex.

    As an example, one of the things I promote from Commission Junction is Coupons.com. I have a shopping-related niche site that shows ads for coupons. When users click through and sign up (for free) to get the coupons, I’m paid a small commission.

    As for my e-mail list, I use Aweber.

    [Reply]

  23. Hey Eric!

    Since you turned me on to P2P lending (lending club), I thought I’d share another great passive income. Similar to lending club, prosper.com. Same type of platform but they offer 1 year loans…quicker return. Have you heard of them or use them?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I’ve heard of Prosper – in fact, I believe they have been around longer than Lending Club. I know in Prosper’s earlier years, they had issues with poor quality loans, but I’ve heard that they have since gotten better. I may give them a try soon – thanks for the reminder!

    [Reply]

  24. Hey I’ve been following your site for a while. I really enjoy reading your monthly reports. Would be super cool if you reported average traffic each month as well.

    I too had all of my niche sites hit in April. Totally demotivated me. They were doin so well prior to April and in a healthy steady incline. Then bang! cut in half or more, and flatlined.

    I dont even bother with them now, i don’t even like looking at them anymore.
    Moe recently posted… What makes internet marketing so hard?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Moe – do you mean the average traffic of my niche sites? Since I no long report earnings by each individual niche site (because many don’t earn money anymore), I’m not sure traffic numbers would be all that meaningful.

    Let’s hope things start improving for both of us!

    [Reply]

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