Online Passive Income and Blog Update [January ’12]

I can’t believe how quickly January flew by – it seems like just yesterday that we were ringing in the new year.  In general, it was pretty good month.  I saw some overall improvements, although there was one area where I struggled mightily (and I’ll explain that below).

The good news is, my biggest passive income project has continued rolling along nicely.  I’m not earning the big bucks yet, but steady improvements are nothing to complain about.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to post a monthly income report for two primary reasons:

1) To be transparent, and show you what I’m actually earning as a result of the various projects I discuss on this blog.

2) To show you that it’s possible to work a full-time job, 40+ hours per week (I probably work closer to 50 hours at my regular job each week), and still have time to make money online.

I’m not earning enough to quit my day job by any means, but I’m always learning new things, which where the real value is (in my opinion).  One of the biggest things I’ve learned as someone who works a regular “9 to 5” job is that patience is key, and you really have to be willing to work hard and stick around for the results that may (or may not) follow.

Productivity Tip for January

January came and went faster than most people’s New Year’s fitness resolutions fade away, or it at least that’s how it felt.  It’s always exciting to start with a clean slate – new goals, new ambitions, and a new year to begin tracking all of it.  But one month in, you might find yourself back to your old habits, quickly losing sight of the goals you set within the past 30 days or so.

This month’s productivity tip is simple – revisit your 2012 goals.  Rediscover what made you excited about a new year, and reestablish your plan to accomplish your goals if you’ve found yourself straying from the path.  It’s okay to revise your goals, even one month into the year – just make sure they are fresh in your mind and continue working toward them.

January’s Income Report

Now, onto the good stuff…

[Read my write-up here]

As I discuss in my income reports every month, Lending Club is a peer-to-peer lending site that I feel is my only true source of passive income (i.e. once I’m invested, I make money by doing virtually nothing).

As of the end of  January, I was invested in 108 loans (+2 from December) and my net annualized return was 5.90% (+0.09% from December).

The thing I like most about Lending Club is that, while it’s obviously riskier than putting your money in an interest-bearing savings account, the additional return (i.e. higher interest rate) more than compensates for the risk (in my opinion).  As of right now, these are the average interest rates for certificates of deposit (CDs):


Although Lending Club loans are more risky than CDs, I think they’re a good point of comparison, because both investments have a specified duration where your money is “locked up” so to speak. Even a 5-year CD only offers a 1.56% yield on average, which is substantially lower than what I earn at Lending Club.

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 (loans can go 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).

Info Barrel Earnings Challenge

[Read about the challenge here]

As it’s been for several months, this has become a “back burner” project for me.  The nice thing is, I haven’t put much work into it for nearly a year, and still continue to earn a decent amount of income from it each month (which is why passive income is so great!).

As of the end of January, I have written 134 articles (+2 from last month).  Here are my earnings from Info Barrel for this past month:

January InfoBarrel Earnings Summary

  • Google Adsense:                 $46.57
  • Amazon Associates:          $0.00
  • Chitika:                                    $3.37
  • Other Affiliate Earnings:   $12.30
  • Total: $62.24 (+$14.18 from December)

If you want to add InfoBarrel to your passive income portfolio, you can sign up for it here.

AdSense & Amazon Niche Site Earnings

This past October, I started a case study where I’m documenting, step by step, how to create an AdSense-monetized, micro-niche website.  Here are the parts I’ve written already:

Because the process of creating micro-niche AdSense and Amazon sites are similar (and some sites are monetized with both), I’m going to track them together.  For my sites that are solely focused on Amazon products, I will still be following the strategies taught in Chris Guthrie’s Niche Profit Course.  You can also read about my plan for Amazon niche sites.

As you’ll notice below, a lot more of my sites are now earning something, even if some of them are very low amounts (which usually means they only received 1 click).  Although my AdSense income continues to rise steadily, my Amazon income completely tanked last month.  It had nothing to do with traffic – traffic was the same or better than the previous month.  The reason I hardly earned anything this month was due to poor conversion.  Take a look:

I can’t emphasize enough how terrible this conversion rate is.  I’ve heard people who have conversions up to 8-10% (which to me is remarkably high), but I would consider a decent conversion rate to be 4-5%.  My conversions rates are usually below that, but never this low.  Here are my conversion rates for the past few months just for comparison purposes:

  • December: 3.18%
  • November: 5.92% (holiday season shopping)
  • October: 2.72%

As you can see, January’s conversion rate of 1.26% is much lower.  Nothing has changed on my Amazon-focused websites, so I can’t exactly isolate why conversions would decrease substantially other than “bad luck.” I was thinking that maybe conversions would be down because it’s the first month after the holiday season, so people are less in the buying mood.

I’m not sure how accurate that reasoning is though – when I look at my January 2011 conversion rate, it was a decent  4.13%.  Does anyone have any ideas? Anyone else experience something similar?

Here are the stats for January:

# of Amazon & AdSense niche sites: 81 (+20 from December)

Note: Sites with no income in the current or previous months are hidden (just for ease of presentation).

* Site #21 is the site created for my public AdSense micro-nice site case study.

Total January AdSense & Amazon Niche Site Earnings: $74.06 (-$49.26 from December)

Authority Website

As I detailed here, I’ve started an authority website that I have big plans for.  Once again, earnings and traffic took a small step forward.  During January, I only published one article on this site, so I didn’t spend too much time on it.

One nice thing is that I’m starting to build a decent Twitter following (over 1,000 followers now), which drives some good traffic to my site. I use a free plugin called Tweet Old Post that retweets my articles at random, once per day. This has actually had a pretty nice impact on traffic and social media activity.

Here’s what the site earned in January:

  • Google Adsense:  $5.02
  • Other:   $8.71
  • Total: $13.73 (+$1.79 from December)

Misc. Affiliate Income

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

  • Adsense: $10.08
  • Amazon: $0.00
  • ClickBank: $87.90
  • Commission Junction: $210.85
  • PayDotCom: $80.00
  • Private Advertising: $35.00
  • Market Samurai: $0.00
  • P90X Blog: $3.05
  • Other Misc.: $5.70

Total Misc. Affiliate Earnings for January: $432.58 (+$141.60 from December)

Income Summary

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

  • InfoBarrel Earnings Challenge: $62.24
  • Amazon & AdSense Niche Sites: $74.06
  • Authority Website: $13.73
  • Misc. Affiliate Income: $432.85

Grand Total for January: $582.61 (+$108.31 from December)

Thanks to a bump in my affiliate income, I was able to overcome the issues with my Amazon conversions and have an overall increase compared to last month.

Popular Posts

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

1) The Ultimate Backlink Tracker (Free Tool)

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

3) Online Passive Income and Blog Update [December ’11]

4) AdSense Micro-Niche Site Public Case Study – SEO / Backlinking (Part 5)

5) AdSense Micro-Niche Site Public Case Study – Research & Initial Setup (Part 2)

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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38 Responses to “Online Passive Income and Blog Update [January ’12]”

  1. Eric
    Nice to see that you are continuing on your goal. Were can I download your backlink tool as I have already subscribed.

    I notice that not all of your 80 blogs are showing. I assume this means the others did not make anything.

    Have you listed your exact strategy anywhere or do you follow Pat Flynns strategy.




    Eric G. Reply:

    Hi Kevin,

    I just sent you an e-mail with the download link. Let me know if for some reason you did not receive it.

    Yes, you are correct about the sites not showing – it means they had no earnings in January. As for my backlinking strategy for my micro niche sites, this is what I do:

    For my larger niche sites, I use Pat Flynn’s strategy.

    Thanks for the comment!


  2. Glad to see your earnings increase.

    I do like the sound of the Lending Club, maybe when I’m earning a bit more…

    My January was terrible, you can read all about it on my blog if you like a good cry.
    Joe recently posted… Great Niche Finding Video


    Eric G. Reply:

    I took a look at your post – $1,180 isn’t bad at all (much better than me)! Just keep on working hard and the earnings will follow.


  3. Thanks Eric! This is always great stuff to read up on. It is crazy that today is Feb. 6 lol. I did have to look back and revise my goals and refresh to stay on track. I tweaked a couple so that they are now possible to reach. Anyways, good stuff!


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Casey! That’s the good thing about self-made goals – they’re generally easy to tweak. Best of luck to you.


  4. Great to see you are making strides with your passive income. I had no idea you were already up to 80 sites! My Amazon income went from $160 in Dec to $1.92 in January.
    JC recently posted… Niche Site Questions?


    Eric G. Reply:

    Having 80 sites is nice, although most aren’t at the point where they are ranking well and earning, so I have a pretty long way to go.

    That’s a pretty steep drop in Amazon earnings, although I guess it’s comforting to see that I wasn’t the only one to experience a big drop off.

    Thanks for the comment JC!


  5. Hmmm that conversion rate really is horrible. I usually have around 8%, my worst month being around 5%. I aim for local traffic, so I use a local amazon. There are plugins that change the amazon links to the local program of the visitor, which could improve the conversion rates of english websites with a global audience, as I can imagine that someone from Europe would only very rarely order from the US.


    Eric G. Reply:

    That’s a good point, Sven. Doing a quick check at my traffic for my bigger Amazon sites though, it seems that most of my traffic is local (US), so I’m not sure that’s the issue.

    One reason my conversion rates are typically below average is that my higher traffic Amazon sites are for high priced items ($1,000+), so conversion rates will naturally be lower. With that said, I am usually happy with 3% conversions (but below 2% is definitely way too low).


  6. Eric, I enjoy your blog, but someone here has to keep it real. The micro niche sites really seem to be failing. Less than a dollar per month per site? Dude, at that price you barely cover the domain registration cost. I can also tell you why your conversion rate is so low on these sites, its because you aren’t giving the reader the information they need to make a purchase. These thin micro niche sites are out imo. I’d just focus on that authority site – and if it’s in a real niche there should be tons of ways to expand the site, and with some work you could drive more traffic with one site if you focus your efforts. Even if you don’t rank for any major key terms yet, the longtail should be driving a ton of traffic if you have lots of high quality content.

    Sorry man but $1/month niche sites seems like a poor investment of time – let alone money. Hate to give ya this “tough love” type post but I know you are a good guy, and just wanted to help out / give back a little. I think you should rethink your strategy.


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Dan,

    I really appreciate the honest comment. In fact, I think it’s such good criticism that I’m going to keep this reply somewhat brief and write a more in-depth reply in the form of a blog post (later this week or early next week).

    You may turn out to be right – that these sites will be failures – however it is way too early to tell. Most of the sites built so far were built within the past 2-3 months.

    When I say built, I mean the domain was purchased and WordPress was installed. Most of these sites still have just 1 page of true content, and my backlinking is far from over.

    There’s still plenty of work to be done – more content, more backlinking, and overall passage of time. I don’t work on these sites full time (far from it – I spend maybe 4-5 hours per week on them), so I wouldn’t expect to have lots of successes yet.

    My goal definitely isn’t $1/month per site – I agree, that would be a poor investment of time and money. While things will start of slowly, I’m hoping to plant lots of little seeds – some will grow, some won’t. I don’t expect 1 page niche sites with a few backlinks to magically rank well and earn lots of money.

    As for low conversions, I was referring primarily to a small handful of sites that focus specifically on Amazon projects. These sites aren’t too thin – most have at least 10 pages of content. And the low conversion was an issue specific to January. I’ve had much better conversions in past months.

    Anyway, I know I am being pretty defensive here, but I want to acknowledge that you do raise a lot of good points. Perhaps it’s almost time to stop building new sites and focus on getting these current ones to earn well first, along with putting more work into my authority site. I’m definitely willing to adjust my strategy and plan as I move forward.

    More on this to come – thanks again for the comment, Dan, I really do appreciate it.


    Rohit Shukla Reply:

    Hi Eric,
    You need not to be defensive here, he raise right questions and you are doing good in my point of view. Now you created 80 sites. It is a good point. Now, the important point is to generate revenue before creating more sites. If you generate good revenue through those 80 sites. After that you have to start building more site. I am saying this because if you successfully generate good revenue from most of sites then it is good fom you because this experience teach you so much in you niche site journey.

    Good luck.


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Rohit – I think you’re right. It would probably be a good idea to work on getting these 80 sites to earn more before moving onto creating more sites. It does take time, however, so I’m being patient.

    Kent @ Niche Marketing Tips Reply:

    Hey, Eric. I agree with Rohit that you may spend more time to rank them first.

    2 of Adsense sites made me $100 last month. A lot of times, people ask me how many sites do I have to make 4-digit income.

    Indeed, I have fewer than 30 sites (some are just failing and no traffic whatsoever).

    The key is to Rank Pages. Most of my niche site traffic goes to pages instead of the root domain name.

    Having good On-page SEO content and ranking them is the key.

    My 2 cents!
    Kent @ Niche Marketing Tips recently posted… MMO Monthly Report January 2012

    Doug Reply:

    Yeah, I agree with the others….you should stop building sites and focus on one or two and get them making consistent income. Once that is done then reinvest the money to outsource as much as possible. This might free up your time to work on other sites but then you will have some teething problems with outsourcing initially so that may take some time. Think about selling some of the sites once they make money to fund your outsourcing. You have a good base to work with if you have 80 sites….but managing them will drive your crazy unless you have your systems well defined and an exit strategy once they reach some predefined goal.
    Doug recently posted… Who is Chris Guthrie ?


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Doug and Kent. I know you guys are right. I think I’m at a point now where I can pause the site building, and just working on getting these sites each earning $1/day on average (which would net me $2,400+ per month).

    I have a pretty good strategy for managing them, and the keywords’ competition is low enough where I think once I get the site ranking on page 1, there won’t be TOO much maintenance to keep it there.

  7. Hey Eric,

    Thanks for sharing that information. I enjoy reading your info as you present it in an easy to read format – no mumbo jumbo.
    I don’t seem to be getting updates emailed to me when you write on your blog. Maybe I am just missing them? I was trying to follow your case study on Niche Sites, but it’s okay I can see the links in this post,
    Thanks again, David
    David #inoosa recently posted… Pricing and availability


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey David,

    It’s possible you are only subscribed to my newsletter, in which case, you won’t receive many e-mails (I generally don’t e-mail my list when I publish a new blog post).

    If you want to receive e-mails when I publish new blog posts, you can subscribe to that here:

    Thanks for the comment! :)


  8. I can’t speak for all europeans but for me not true, I am from europe (netherlands) and always use amazon USA first. Better selection , more product reviews, better price then on UK amazon. Other languages then English amazons I don’t even check as I already know it offers me nothing more. Ebay Germany is a good alternative for amazon germany though.


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, fem, that’s very interesting to hear that as a European, you prefer to use Amazon USA (and I guess that bodes well for us US affiliates).


    Sven Reply:

    The problem with are the taxes, which can increase the price significantly. Everything about 27€ in germany has to be taxed, and not lightly. It’s 17% price increase I think + shipping, which is nonexistent for heavy items and even small items are really expensive.
    Sven recently posted… UMTS Speedtest


    Eric G. Reply:

    Ironically, it’s the opposite in the US. Amazon offers products free of sales tax, which is what we typically have to pay to most retailers. Combined with free shipping (usually), and it’s pretty obviously why Amazon is wildly popular in the US.

  9. Eric, great to read your achievement again this January and i wish you success in the remaining months of the year. continue to work the work and success will surely come. I’m also working towards this as well.

    BTW its suppose to be total for January and not for December – correct it



    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for pointing that out, Sheyi, I’ll fix it now! :)


  10. What is your exact searches count and cpc?
    Rahul recently posted… Online Income analysis year – year


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hi Rahul,

    I may post this at a later time – right now, I don’t have the information organized in a way where I can share the exact search volume and CPC of each site.


    Rahul Reply:

    This is important for you because if you are not targeting 1500 exact and not ranking in top 5, you will not make much money. Hence analyse this before launching any new sites.
    Rahul recently posted… Online Income analysis year – year


    Eric G. Reply:

    You may want to revisit my niche site case study – you’ll see that I do a full analysis before building a niche site (including looking at the search volume and CPC).

    All I meant before is that I keep that information organized on a separate spreadsheet, so it’s not easy for me to share (and it contains specific information about each site that I don’t want to make public).

  11. Hey Eric,

    What happened to your infobarrel project? You say it went onto the backburner, but in your article you were talking about how you were going to write three 400 word articles a day. May I ask why you abandoned the project to the backburner?


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Chris,

    Basically, I turned my focus to creating niche sites. While I still believe InfoBarrel (or any revenue sharing article website) is a great way to build up your passive income, I felt creating niche sites had greater potential (but also more up-front costs), and they’re more enjoyable for me to work on.


    Chris Reply:

    I’ve come to the same conclusion myself.

    Good to hear we’re on the same page.


  12. Eric,
    Great write-up. I really like your point about revisiting goals. I recently revisited my goals and I can already see them changing 1 month into the year! I can’t believe it. :-) However, like you said, it’s about having goals. It’s ok for them to change.
    PPC Ian recently posted… Negotiating a Great Price on SEM Software


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Ian. In my opinion, if you find yourself NOT tweaking your goals and allowing some flexibility, you probably set goals that are either too easy or irrelevant to your true objectives. That being said, I’ve always been someone who sets ambitious goals and fails to meet them. 😛

    At the end of the day though, I’ve generally done better than I would’ve if I never set the goals in the first place.


  13. That’s interesting, because I didn’t realise I could buy on amazon us (I am from the uk) and it always seems to redirect me!

    I always use amazon USA on my IM sites, but have been looking for a plugin which will automatically geotarget people to the correct site, but maybe it isn’t worth it…
    Lou recently posted… Finding Real Paid Surveys The Right Way


    Eric G. Reply:

    There are some plugins out there that work well – I wrote about one of them here:


    Lou Reply:

    Thanks Eric, I’ll check these out!
    Lou recently posted… Finding Real Paid Surveys The Right Way


  14. You make a very good point. The only way to make more money is to believe our time is worth more than what we currently make. I know my time is worth far more than what I make, thats why I’m working on making more money. I haven’t exactly got there yet, but one day at a time I feel myself getting closer. Sometimes, its easy to just give up. If I do that then, i’ll be letting myself down. Thats the last thing I want to do.
    James Martin recently posted… Watch the Olympics live online


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