Online Passive Income & Blog Update [February ’11]

Well, this is officially the longest it’s taken me to post an income report for the previous month! For whatever reason, I don’t like February.  It always feels like my least productive month.  Maybe that’s because it’s usually always (thanks Lyndsy!) the shortest month of the year. And the weather is terrible.  And tax season is right around the corner (which no longer affects me from a professional standpoint, thankfully).

With that said, there were a lot of good things this February – mostly non-internet business related, however.  January was a month of change – February continued that trend, although things are beginning to stabilize.  Keep reading, and I’ll explain.

Personal Update

This is the first time I’m kicking off an income report with a “personal” update, mainly because I think it’s relevant to my current big picture.  For the first time in my young career, I’m at a job (now working as an executive recruiter) where I feel I can not only have great success, but also enjoy my daily routine.  That’s not to say there aren’t ups and downs, and days where I wish I could stay home and relax, but it’s far less stressful and far more rewarding so far than my previous career as a tax consultant.

I don’t feel like this is going to stop my planned growth as an entrepreneur (both online and offline), but I can see it changing my timeline.  It’s kind of funny – when you hate your job, you’re extremely motivated to find a way out.  That’s how I stumbled upon blogging and internet marketing, and I’m glad it happened – I’m still very passionate about what I’m doing online. One thing I’m excited about is finding a way to bridge what I’m doing offline (i.e. my 9 to 5 job) to what I’m doing online (i.e. internet marketing).  I have an idea in mind for an authority website that I think could be huge if I can make the time to get it started.  I’ll talk more about that in a later blog post.

Here were a couple personal events in my life that occupied a lot of my time in February:

  • I spent a week in Boston, at a training event for my new job.  It was my first time in Boston, and I really liked it.  Very cool city; I’d definitely like to go back sometime in the near future.
  • My girlfriend and I adopted a bunny (pictured to the right).  It wasn’t our ideal pet choice, but we had to compromise between a dog, which we don’t feel like we’re ready to take care of yet (especially in an apartment that doesn’t allow dogs), and a cat, which my girlfriend is allergic to.  It’s been fun so far – I didn’t realize bunnies had distinct personalities and attitudes…

Lending Club

[Read my write-up here]

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).  My steady growth continued through February.  As of the end of February, I was invested in 78 loans (+1 from January) and my net annualized return was 7.58% (+0.19% from January).

As usual, my current interest rate at Lending Club far exceeds that of any type of “safe” investment like money market bank accounts and CDs (certificates of deposit). It’s important to keep in mind that Lending Club loans are riskier than these other types of investments.  However, I strongly believe that the additional risk is more than compensated for by the higher rate of return. Here are some images from my Lending Club account summary that show my performance compared to other Lending Club investors:

In the images above, you can see that I’m currently performing worse than investors who have a similar portfolio to mine.  I generally consider this to be due to random variance (i.e. luck).  Over time, I expect my rate to increase and move closer to the average.

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.

Keep in mind, Lending Club is currently only open to U.S. residents.  Below are alternatives to Lending Club for those outside of the US – please note, I have not done business with these sites, but they were mentioned to me as alternatives to Lending Club.  Check them out at your own risk.

  • Zopa (UK)
  • [Canadian site removed due to it being an unrealistic option for Canadian investors.]

Info Barrel Earnings Challenge

[Read about the challenge here]

Overall, February was a pretty bad month for InfoBarrel.  After earning my highest amount so far in January, February took a turn for the worse.  There were three primary reasons why my InfoBarrel earnings took a significant dip:

  1. February only had 28 days.
  2. InfoBarrel released its new version (2.0), and it took Google a few days to adjust to it (i.e. for a few days, most of my articles weren’t indexed, and therefore, weren’t earning any money).
  3. Google made a significant change to its ranking algorithm, which did impact a lot of InfoBarrel articles.

As of the end of February, I have written 128 articles (+1 from last month).  Obviously, writing articles wasn’t a priority in February.

Here are my February Google AdSense statistics for Info Barrel:

In February, I earned a total of $53.51 from my Info Barrel articles (-$38.66 from January). Given the reasons mentioned above, I’m not surprised my earnings took a significant dip last month.  So far in March, it’s not looking any better, so my guess is that I will need to begin writing more again and adding more backlinks to my articles if I want my earnings to climb back to where they were.  I’m fine with that, though I still don’t expect it to be a top priority of mine.

February InfoBarrel Earnings Summary

  • Google Adsense:                 $53.51
  • Amazon Associates:          $0.00
  • Chitika:                                    $2.94
  • Other Affiliate Earnings:   $0.00
  • Total: $56.45 (-$39.68 from January)

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

Niche Site Duel

As a part of Pat Flynn’s niche site duel,  I created a niche site last September based on P90X, an extreme home fitness routine.  Over the last month, I’ve added no content or backlinks, because I wanted to keep things stable while I try to get out of Google’s “sandbox.” Obviously, it hasn’t been working.  I’m not giving up on this site yet, but I clearly need to come up with a better plan to bring this site back to where it was (even though that time was brief).  Any ideas?

February Niche Site Duel Earnings Summary

  • Google Adsense: $0.00
  • Chitika: $0.00
  • Amazon Associates:  $3.17
  • Total: $3.17 (-$41.90 from January)

Amazon Niche Site Challenge

[Read about the challenge here]

In November, I launched a new challenge where I’m creating several niche sites specifically tailored for Amazon’s affiliate program (i.e. selling physical products as an affiliate of, and I’m following the lessons taught in Chris Guthrie’s Niche Profit Course.  The goal is to create, on average, one niche site per two weeks, and 20-25 total sites in 2011.  You can read my original post for more detail and you can also read the update I wrote in December.

In February, my income grew quite a bit compared to January, but most of these sites are still struggling with their rankings.  A few of them are fairly thin sites, and I worry Google’s recent algorithm change is going to make these smaller Amazon sites less viable in the long-run.  I plan on adding more content (specifically, adding YouTube videos – I think this adds to the perceived quality of the site quite a bit) and backlinks, so I expect at least some of these sites to make a comeback eventually.

Here are the stats for February:

# of Amazon niche sites: 8

January February
Amazon AdSense CPA Total Amazon AdSense CPA Total
1 0.93 0.93 1.92 3.04 4.96
2 3.49 3.49 0.76 0.59 1.35
3 2.14 1.25 3.39 0.34 0.34
4 1.85 1.85 1.05 1.05
5 0.56 0.56 2.69 2.69
6 24.33 3.83 28.16
7 0.41 0.41

$       – $   9.38 $   1.25 $ 10.63 $ 27.01 $ 11.54 $       – $  38.55

Total February Amazon Niche Site Earnings: $38.55 (+$27.92 from January)

Misc. Affiliate Income

February was a down month for my miscellaneous income, but there’s a new piece that I’m excited about, and will discuss it in another post, hopefully this month.

  • Adsense: $3.43
  • Amazon: $0.00
  • ClickBank: $119.41
  • Commission Junction: $6.00
  • PayDotCom: $28.00
  • Private Advertising: $35.00 < This is a new source of income – I’m excited to write a post about it later.
  • Other Misc.: $179.70

Total Affiliate Earnings for February: $371.54 (-$222.57 from January)

Income Summary

Here’s a summary of February’s earnings.  Instead of summarizing it by source (i.e. AdSense, Amazon, etc.), I’m going to summarize by project/challenge, which I think makes a bit more sense.

  • InfoBarrel Earnings Challenge: $56.45
  • Niche Site Duel (P90X site): $3.17
  • Amazon Niche Site Challenge: $38.55
  • Misc. Affiliate Income: $371.54

Grand Total for February: $469.71 (-$276.23 from January)

Overall, it was one of my lowest earning months in awhile.  As disappointing as that may be, I think there’s a pretty valuable lesson: Making money online is hard work, and there’s no magic bullet “set it and forget it” mechanism that’s going to make you rich.  Furthermore, you need to be willing to adapt to the ever-changing atmosphere of the internet.  So much of what I do (and what many of you do) relies on Google’s “rules,” and Google runs a very dynamic and ever-evolving system.  The only “magic bullet” solution out there is hard work, patience, and willingness/flexibility to adapt.

Popular Posts

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

1) 142+ Ways to Make Money Online

2) The Ultimate Backlink Tracker (Free Tool)

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

4) Online Passive Income & Blog Update [January ’11]

5) How to Generate Unlimited Article Ideas

Monthly Goals

February Goals

1) Write 5 articles for InfoBarrel – FAILED

2) Create 2 new Amazon niche sites – FAILED

3) Take the first step in starting my “real” business – COMPLETED

March Goal

I don’t like I like the idea of setting 3-4 goals for the sake of setting 3-4 goals.  What I find is that I’m setting goals that I feel I should accomplish, but don’t actually care to accomplish.  Rather than set 3 mediocre goals that I’m not passionate about, I’m going to set one goal for something I am passionate about:

1) Start my new authority site (the one I mentioned in the beginning of this post, that will be relevant to my “9 to 5” job) by completing the following steps:

  • Buy a domain and install WordPress (okay, I know this only takes 5 minutes)
  • Create a plan of action, including ideas for content, design, and how I plan to delegate it all

I’m still planning on keeping up with my InfoBarrel articles and Amazon niche sites to some extent, but they will not be my priority.

Until next month, best of luck to you and your passive income experiments!

If you enjoyed this article , 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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29 Responses to “Online Passive Income & Blog Update [February ’11]”

  1. Hey Eric, it’s funny how life dictates your plans sometimes rather than the other way around. For real long-term growth online, your authority site is probably the way to go. Good luck with that, I bet it will rock!

    As for backlinks to your niche sites, do you use Blog Blueprint? I’ve been using it for a week and I am already seeing good results. After a couple days of usage, my site disappeared from Google and then re-emerged 52 spots higher, and has been steadily rising every day since. It is definitely a major part of my backlink strategy until it proves otherwise.

    Lonnie @ My Income Lab recently posted… My Second Ever Income Report – February 2011


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Lonnie! Actually, Blog Blueprint is an integral part of my backlinking strategy – I have used it on all of my Amazon niche sites. What I noticed was that I had brief periods where my sites were ranked very well, followed by long periods of terrible rankings.

    It’s definitely the “Google dance” but for some sites, this has been a prolonged experience. On some sites, I’m going on a few months now where I haven’t been able to climb out of the “sandbox.”

    I like Blog Blueprint, but I’d caution people against using it as the primary part of a backlinking strategy. I think it’s unnatural for a site’s backlinks to be primarily PR3+ do-follow blog links. I’m trying to mix it up a bit and see if that helps.


    Lonnie @ My Income Lab Reply:

    You’re absolutely right Eric and my backlinking plan is broader than just using Blog Blueprint. But, I thought my site might have been sandboxed as well (in all honesty though, I think it was just somewhere beyond page 30 of google search results and I never bothered to check that far), and for the past two weeks have been using Blog Blueprint exclusively (at most creating 5 posts per day, but usually its just 2 or 3) and I have shot up to around 100. With these great results, my motivation has kicked into high gear and I am going to incorporate more article writing and web 2.0 sites to my backlinking.

    So maybe, since you are “sandboxed” why not just build say 5 – 7 posts a day through BB for two weeks and see if that changes things. What do you have to lose?
    Lonnie @ My Income Lab recently posted… My Second Ever Income Report – February 2011


    Eric G. Reply:

    Great point Lonnie – I think I’ll try to start making an effort to backlink the site a little each day. :)

  2. Feb. was a bit of a downer as well Eric – maybe it’s just the season overall; everyone is readjusting after the holiday seasons and getting back to the grinding stone.

    I did launch a new business in Feb which is really cool. I’m looking forward to what you have planned for your other site :)

    Congrats on the bunny!

    March should pick up, I think. We’re all getting back into the swing as well, we’ve got good weather and spirits building so I think we’ll be able to tackle everything full on.

    Let me know if you need any help with your new plans – I’ll be having a LOT more time on my hands coming soon 😉
    Murlu recently posted… Fuck the Hype! I Choose to Build a REAL Online Business and You Should Too


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Murray. You’ve got some exciting things going on, and I’m enjoying your posts lately. I apologize for not stopping by to comment often – blog commenting has fallen off my list of things to do recently, just because of the lack of free time. No worries though, I’m still reading everything you write.

    Even though selling PLR content is nothing revolutionary, I really like what you’re doing with your new project. Are you planning on starting an affiliate/partner program?

    That comment about having “a LOT more time” on your hands – maybe I missed something, but are you planning on quitting your day job sometime soon? 😛


  3. I’ve been noticing a dramatic dip in the visits to my blog after Google changed their algorithms. I used to get at least 50+ hits (I know that isn’t much) for my review of The 4 Hour Body. Now, it’s down to 15-20. I’m not sure if it’s because of less people searching for the book or what.

    I’m curious to see what you do with your next venture.


    Eric G. Reply:

    I think it’s going to be some time before we start to see some stability with Google’s major algorithm change. They probably are noticing some unintended effects with it, and will likely be tweaking it soon (or they are already doing it on a continual basis).

    More specifically about your 4 Hour Body review, my guess is that your traffic has probably fallen as we’ve gotten away from the book’s release and hype, assuming your ranking hasn’t changed.


  4. Not bad, Eric. Anything above $0 is good!

    I just started with my niche site and not seeing much movement yet. It’s indexed, but has a long way to go to get ranked nicely.
    Learn With Tim recently posted… February 2011 Income Report


    Eric G. Reply:

    Keep up the hard work, Tim, and it will eventually pay off!


  5. Nice update Eric.

    I found which is an Australian bank,, which has a interest saving of about 6.5% compared to a much lower rate in Netherlands (where I was born) so there are good interest banks out there if you are not the investing type. Do like the lending club idea tho..

    For infobarrel, i’ve just started another website about running, would you say that I can use those unique articles (spin / re-write them) to submit to infobarrel?

    For backlinks, I came across Might even be on this site actually… works pretty good!
    I didn’t go for the paid version but might later on.

    Also, you need to update your “About Me” since you are not an Tax consultant anymore :)




    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Ralph – that’s a pretty nice interest rate for a regular savings account.

    As for spinning/re-writing articles for InfoBarrel, I think this is a gray area, but I would say if you can re-write it so that it’s still high quality and and unique enough (I would say at least 80% unique), it’s probably okay. Many people would disagree with me though.

    SocialMonkee looks interesting – I’ll have to check that out.

    And yes, you’re right, I definitely need to update my “About Me” page one of these days…


  6. Hi Eric, sounds like the bunny was a good option for a pet. :)

    Since Google changed its algorithm, I’m ranking on the first page for two of my keyword phrases. I’m not sure if my backlinking efforts finally bumped me up or if it was the change with Google.

    I, too, did not meet my InfoBarrel personal challenge. I did however write a few HubPages.
    Laura recently posted… How to Use CommentLuv to Increase Your Blog Traffic


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hi Laura – that’s awesome to see that the algorithm change helped your sites. You must be doing something right! :)


  7. I’d just like to point out that February isn’t just usually the shortest month – it’s always the shortest month :)

    I’m interested in hearing more about your Amazon experience. I think there’s real money to be made there, but my two implementations haven’t done well at all – one is a thin affiliate site that refuses to gain rank in Google, and the other is a content site that doesn’t really have a compelling call to action.

    I intend to reorganize my thin affiliate site into something more worthwhile, but have been dealing with other IM projects, and haven’t gotten back to it yet.


    Eric G. Reply:

    I have no idea why I said “usually.” Thanks Lyndsy, I fixed it now. (Way to make me feel stupid… :P)

    I would like to dig deeper into my own Amazon issues and see if I can find the root of the problem. I know my conversions (clicks-to-sales ratio) have been downright terrible. The only solution I can think of is to find a way to get more traffic, or optimize the layout so that I get more clicks.


  8. Bridging the gap between your 9 to 5 job and your online business is smart and could lead to a long term successful website. Since you’re already solving problems in your ‘real’ job, your expertise can be definitely be shared online, plus it’s a constant source of topics.

    That’s what I do with my authority site… talk about what I’m already doing in my job and documenting everything. It takes me a bit longer to create my blog posts because I use lots of pictures in addition to the descriptions and I often use video because that’s the industry I’m in.

    Looking forward to the launch of your authority site! Also, thanks for reporting your Lending Club results. I’ve never heard of it before but it looks like something I could get into.


    Eric G. Reply:

    Sounds like you have a good plan with your site – I wouldn’t worry about it taking longer to create blog posts, which is something I’ve come to realize recently. Although I’m not posting as often, I’m trying to make sure my posts are high quality when I do post. It’s worth putting in the extra time, and other people appreciate it too.


  9. About your P90X niche site, i believe it was a bad move to stop working it.
    You have to show google you’ve done nothing bad to get sandboxed, and by that i mean adding content and backlinks at the same rate you did before. Sooner or later you will get out, and when you do you’ll be ranked even higher because you didn’t waste time while sandboxed.
    Maria Pavel recently posted… Certified Nursing Assistant Practice Test


    Rahul Reply:

    I agree keep working/backlinking on px90 website. It may help.
    Rahul recently posted… The End Of Web 20 challenge


    Eric G. Reply:

    I know, you’re absolutely right Maria. I definitely need to get back to working on it, and I think I will!


  10. Eric,
    I just came across your blog and I find it very refreshing to see someone post when they don’t necessarily make thousands of dollars on any given campaign in IM. I’m definitely going to be a regular reader now. I’m just now fighting through my own back-linking work in trying to build ranking and traffic. Thanks!


    Eric G. Reply:

    Awesome, thanks for the comment Alex. :) Glad to have you here.


  11. Eric,

    Can’t wait to hear more about your ‘real’ business.

    Having both an offline business and an online business can be a real challenge but when you have the passion for both it isn’t really work now, is it?
    Brendon recently posted… Earning Adsense Revenue- Hot Tips &amp Conversion Techniques


    Eric G. Reply:

    I agree, Brendon – it feels good to do the work and I do enjoy it. The more difficult challenge is time…finding enough of it. :)


  12. Hey Eric,

    I hate February too! My earnings are always the lowest in February (due to there being only 28 days in the month), and (as you mentioned) the weather is so cold and dreary over here in MA. The only plus side to February, I’d say, is Valentine’s day. 😉

    I’m sorry things haven’t been working out well with you for the Niche Site Duel though. I’m sure that after a while Google will re-index the site. Though, I think it might help to continue adding new content of value. And Google’s change in algorithm might actually help your niche site start seeing rankings.

    On a side note, congratulations for the new bunny! I’ve always wanted a pet around that size. I’m in the middle between a bunny, ferret, and guinea pig though. :) Dogs and cats will come later.

    Overall, I think you did well this month. I’m sure next month will be even better!

    Christina Crowe recently posted… Understanding Link Wheels and Avoiding Sandboxes- The Beginner’s Guide


    Eric G. Reply:

    Luckily February is over!

    For my niche site, I’m actually not de-indexed, only sandboxed (i.e. my rank is deep within the search results, but it’s still there).

    As for the bunny, she’s getting a lot bigger than I would’ve expected! I’d say she’s almost as large as a cat now. I’d recommend a bunny if you’re considering it (even though I’d prefer a cat or dog).

    Thanks for the comment Christina.


  13. Like you, I’m just starting out as well. I find it difficult to balance, work, life, and building my passive income. So far I have earned $2. Hahaha


    Eric G. Reply:

    No worries, Craig – you’ll get that number up in no time!


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