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…
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
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:
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Research & Initial Setup
- Part 3: Setup, Configuration, & Design
- Part 4: Content & Ad Placement
- Part 5: SEO / Backlinking
- Part 6: Looking Toward the Future
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)
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)
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.
These were my top 5 most popular blog posts in January based on number of views:
Until next month, best of luck to you and your passive income projects!
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