Online Passive Income & Blog Update [January ’11]

The first month of 2011 is in the books, and winter is here in Chicago.  The blizzard this week wreaked havoc on nearby businesses, but fortunately the internet world is somewhat immune to weather conditions.

I have mixed feelings about January.  It was definitely a month of change – as I detailed in my 2011 goals, I changed jobs (and careers) this past month.  As is usually the case, I didn’t spend enough time (or as much time as I wanted) on my internet business(es).  My results were still positive, but growth has been slower than I’d like.

Anyway, I’ll let you read about it and decide.

Lending Club

[Read my write-up here]

As always, I begin my reports with Lending Club because it’s my only online income source that I believe is truly passive.

January continued my growth trend that I’ve experienced over the past 3-4 months, which I’ve enjoyed.  As of the end of January, I was invested in 77 loans (+3 from December) and my net annualized return was 7.39% (+0.20% from December).

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:

I’m currently performing worse than investors who have a similar portfolio to mine (7.39% vs 8.28% shown in the first image above) and I’m doing a lot worse (7.39% vs. 9.68% in the third image) compared to all investors.  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.

Info Barrel Earnings Challenge

[Read about the challenge here]

One of the reasons I really love InfoBarrel is that even when I don’t put any effort toward it (i.e. my priorities are elsewhere), my earnings remain consistent (or they grow).  InfoBarrel recently released InfoBarrel 2.0, which features a newer design and a load of new features sprinkled throughout the site.

As of the end of January, I have written 127 articles (+3 from last month).  I’m still adding articles at a relatively slow pace, but this hasn’t affected my earnings negatively.  In fact, I’ve seen an explosion of growth, which I attribute to the “aging” of my articles, which have allowed them to crawl higher in Google’s rankings.  I haven’t done much backlinking at all, so I really believe the growth is due to the articles’ maturity.

Here are my January Google AdSense statistics for Info Barrel:

In January, I earned a total of $92.17 from my Info Barrel articles (+$40.30 from December).  Considering I only added three articles last month, I’m extremely happy with this.  Without much effort, my earnings nearly doubled from last month.  I don’t think I can expect this same rate of growth each month without adding more articles, but it’s a great sign that InfoBarrel is truly becoming one of the better revenue-sharing sites out there.

January InfoBarrel Earnings Summary

  • Google Adsense:                 $92.17
  • Amazon Associates:          $0.00
  • Chitika:                                    $3.96
  • Other Affiliate Earnings:   $0.00
  • Total: $96.13 (+$40.37 from December)

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.  In January, my site briefly hit #4 in Google for my target keyword (“P90X reviews”) and received a huge influx of traffic.  The earnings you see below were pretty much earned in one day.  Sadly, my site quickly fell back into Google’s “sandbox,” possibly due to my backlinking (i.e. not varying the anchor text enough) and change of the site’s design.  I detailed my brief, yet wild ride in this post.

January Niche Site Duel Earnings Summary

  • Google Adsense: $2.77
  • Chitika: $0.37
  • Amazon Associates:  $41.93
  • Total: $45.07 (+$42.12 from December)

Amazon Niche Site Challenge

[Read about the challenge here]

In November, I launched a new challenge that has been my primary focus over the past few months.  Essentially, 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 week, and 22 in total (over 25 weeks).  You can read my original post for more detail and you can also read the update I wrote in December.

I’ve changed my goals with respect to this challenge recently – now I’m going to try to focus on no more than 2 sites per month, so that I can allow myself additional time to really get these sites ranking well.  Basically, I’m giving myself all of 2011 to complete this challenge, instead of just half a year. I’d rather have smaller collection of really powerful sites than a large collection of sites that don’t make much money (on a per site basis).

It’s been about 12 weeks since the challenge started, and I won’t lie – things haven’t been going well lately.  My earnings in January were nothing short of terrible.  Part of this drop is due to the fact that I began the challenge during the busiest shopping time of the year (when Amazon products thrive), but I think the larger reason is that I’m having a bit of trouble with Google’s sandbox.  I’ve been studying up on it, and I believe I have a good plan to get out of the sandbox and prevent future sites from ever entering it.  If I come up with something that I think is somewhat replicable, I’ll write a post on it. 

Here are the stats for January:

# of Amazon niche sites: 8

December January
Amazon AdSense CPA Total Amazon AdSense CPA Total
1 2.09 0.09 2.18 0.93 0.93
2 1.00 0.02 1.02 3.49 3.49
3 28.51 10.67 2.50 41.68 2.14 1.25 3.39
4 1.12 3.58 1.50 6.20 1.85 1.85
5 0.56 0.56
7 0.41 0.41

$ 32.72 $ 14.36 $   4.00 $ 51.08 $       – $   9.38 $   1.25 $ 10.63


Total January Amazon Niche Site Earnings: $10.63 (-$40.45 from December)

The story is really the same as the one I told last month, except this time it’s with site #3.  In December the site began ranking well, but in January, the site was sandboxed.  Obviously, this is a recurring problem for me, and hopefully the tweaks I’ve been making recently will help turn things around in February.  I won’t give up on this!

Misc. Affiliate Income

In January, I saw a slight uptick in my miscellaneous affiliate sales, which was pretty nice to see.  This month, I’ve decided to start sharing with you the sources of the affiliate income (but not the niche sites or products that they’re associated with), just so you can see the diversification of this affiliate income.

  • Adsense: $3.67
  • Amazon: $2.06
  • ClickBank: $318.88
  • Commission Junction: $51.00
  • PayDotCom: $105.00
  • Other Misc.: $113.50

Total Affiliate Earnings for January: $594.11 (+$20.15 from December)

Income Summary

Here’s a summary of January’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: $96.13
  • Niche Site Duel (P90X site): $45.07
  • Amazon Niche Site Challenge: $10.63
  • Misc. Affiliate Income: $594.11

Grand Total for January : $745.94 (+$63.21 from December)

Despite my poor performance in the Amazon niche site challenge, I still managed to see an increase over December’s earnings.

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) Online Passive Income & Blog Update [December ’10]

3) How to Build a Niche Site in 0 Hours

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

5) How I’m Going to Add $20k/Year to My Passive Income Portfolio

Monthly Goals

January Goals

1) Write 10 articles for InfoBarrel – FAILED

2) Create 4 new Amazon niche sites – FAILED (due to a change in my strategy)

3) Transition to a new “9 to 5″ job COMPLETED

February Goals

1) Write 5 articles for InfoBarrel

2) Create 2 new Amazon niche sites

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

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

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32 Responses to “Online Passive Income & Blog Update [January ’11]”

  1. Enlightening stuff Eric. I think I too am trapped in the google “sandbox” with my amazon niche site. I was doing some blog commenting as part of my backlink strategy and left a comment on a site that uses a recent comment widget. Sure enough, after 1 week of my site being live, I had 4000+ backlinks!

    Slowly those backlinks have been going away as I was finally pushed off that recent comment widget; I am down to 524 backlinks according to yahoo site explorer. I am changing up my backlink method because of this, only doing article marketing and web 2.0 properties, and am hoping by April to be somewhere in the first 100 results!

    We shall see.
    Lonnie @ My Income Lab recently posted… My First Ever Income Report! – January 2011


    Eric G. Reply:

    Sounds like a great plan, Lonnie. I think if you stick to article marketing along with Web 2.0 properties, you’ll be in the top 100 long before April (and hopefully much higher than the top 100!).

    The sandbox is pretty terrible though – I know that as well as anyone else unfortunately. The good thing is, you’ll often emerge from it in a much better position than before you went in.


  2. I like lending club as one of my investment options. Although I’ve taken the tactic of spreading out my loans in $25 increments so that I can diversify my risks.
    Richard recently posted… Riches Corner Report- January 2011


    Eric G. Reply:

    That’s exactly what I do too, Richard. Thanks for the comment!


  3. Great to hear your results with InfoBarrel, I signed up with them yesterday and will hopefully push out a couple of articles there this month.

    Have you heard of any alternatives to LendingClub for Australians? It sounds like an interesting concept.
    Thomas Sinfield recently posted… January Niche Site Challenge Results!


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Thomas, thanks for the comment. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by InfoBarrel.

    As for a LendingClub for Australians, I did come across a site called “Lending Hub” that you can find here:

    Based on a very basic Google search, they sound legit, but I would definitely do your research on them before depositing money there.


    Thomas Sinfield Reply:

    I checked out, but it seems like it’s dead – only have 4 loans available to invest in and all are 0% funded (and there are no real other options).

    Pity, cause it is something that I’d like to do (but obviously the idea hasn’t taken off in Australia.
    Thomas Sinfield recently posted… How To Get Indexed By Google In Under 4 Hours!


    Eric G. Reply:

    Sorry to hear that – it’s been a pretty successful business model for Lending Club, so it won’t surprise me if it eventually takes off in Australia as well.

  4. Dude, Eric, awesome stuff as usual man.

    I really need to get back on board with IB because it’s certainly paying off – just gotta find the time now haha.

    I might look at bit more into Lending Club too because I’m looking to diversify; I want to hedge my passive earnings into a few funds since I don’t have to worry about it all – it’s passive, it’s money I’m getting without working so it makes perfect sense 😀


    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Murray – not sure you have the time to add another project into your mix. 😛

    I’d definitely recommend trying Lending Club (obviously, I recommend it on a monthly basis). It’s a really easy way to get above-average returns on some of your savings.


  5. Hey Eric.

    Thanks for keeping us updated on your Lending Club investing. Perhaps the reason your performance is “lower” than the average is that you’re focusing on better quality loans (A, B, C), in which case you may be doing just grand. Another way to look at is the normal variation and distribution of investor returns by number of loans (100, 400 or 800 loans):

    Clearly, the more diversified, the more stable (and less variation in) returns.

    Best regards,
    Rob G @ Lending Club recently posted… What To Do If You Cant Pay Your Taxes


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Rob. That’s some pretty helpful information.


  6. I wanted to completed 100 more hubs. Than i will go with 100 infobarrels, xomba and few other sites. Possibly 500-1k articles for all revenue sharing sites.

    My plans is to support to create two networks.
    1) Hubpages (100), infobarrels(100) , xomba (100), shetold me, snipsily.
    2) Adsense revenue sharing network 2.

    I wanted to acheive $1k per month from all these.
    Rahul recently posted… January Monthly Income Report


    Eric G. Reply:

    Ambitious goal, Rahul, but I like it!


  7. Hello Eric,

    Excellent income you have, I bet you work a really lot of time. It’s kind of imossible to achieve this kind of money without a lot of work, the affiliate marketing is te best thing to do as I convinced my self. Keep up the good work!

    Have a nice day!
    Cristian recently posted… Locomotiva Thomas


    Eric G. Reply:

    You’re absolutely right – it is hard work, but the harder part is probably being patient. Even those who work extremely hard still need to sit and be patient for results.

    Thanks for the comment!


  8. Always love to hear about the most recent updates when it comes to passive income. I’m finding that steady growth, though I’m seeing some signs that at least a few of my sites might be taking off to become big earners, which would definitely help. The Sand Box is rough, I usually start my backlinking efforts with a few no follow links, a few with only the website URL, then just stay hands off for a month or so before coming back and slowly building up the links again with actual keywords. Seems to work for me so far. Thanks for the update!
    Master Dayton recently posted… Writing for Passive Income- Small Steps for Big Goals


    Eric G. Reply:

    I like that backlinking strategy. I’ll try that on the next site I create and see if I can avoid the sandbox. Thanks Master Dayton. :)


  9. Great post, Eric! Of course, like always, any talk of InfoBarrel immediately peaks my interest. I really hope your readers can see and understand the ‘context’ behind InfoBarrel earnings, when they are displayed (here or on any other blog). For what you are earning now on a low authority site, I truly believe that you’ll eventually be seeing $1,000-$2,000 at least from your efforts there, consistently, every month.

    Did my recent blog post explain it all clearly? I know I tend to go off on tangents…but, regardless, I think we are all beginning to witness some amazing things when it comes to that site. I really want to be the best steward of people’s time possible….so I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t truly believe they have the makings of becoming the next very high authority Web 2.0 rev share site.
    Howie recently posted… 2010 Annual Report and a Month- a Year in Review


    Eric G. Reply:

    As always Howie, I appreciate your support and optimistic view. I’ll be thrilled if my InfoBarrel efforts eventually lead me to earnings in the $1,000-2,000 range.

    Your recent blog post explained it pretty well. Looking forward to the future of InfoBarrel and your blog as well! :)


  10. Keep at it Eric, setbacks are only there to make us stronger. You’re doing a brilliant job :-)
    Stuart recently posted… The Lion By The River


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Stuart, much appreciated!


  11. Hope you’ll stick to the February goals. From my point of view your doing so well it really inspires me to work even harder. So, thanks for sharing this!
    Ali Mujtaba recently posted… Symptoms Of Tinnitus


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Ali! Inspiration and motivation run both ways – comments like yours keep me going too!


  12. Great Article! Question, how long have you been doing Online marketing? I’ve been doing it for about 6 months now, and I finally understand how things work, and are seeing results. yes I have made a few sales through clickbank along the way, but would like to know your story!

    Hope to hear from you soon! Cheers on your Success!
    Shakd recently posted… Google Keyword Tool – The BEST FREE TOOL


    Eric G. Reply:

    Good question, Shakd. I’ve really only been truly *active* with internet marketing for about 10 or 11 months. It feels like ages ago, but really, I’ve just begun (in the grand scheme of things). Looking forward to my own progression as well as everyone else’s here. :)


  13. Nice earnings! Good to see you are up from december as a lot of earnings seem to have gone down over the past few months.
    Emforce @ Webmaster City recently posted… CSS Text Blur Tutorial


    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks! Hopefully this trend continues… :)


  14. For anyone in the UK there is a similar company to Lending Club. They are called Zopa.


  15. nice earnings i bet you work a lot of time


    Eric G. Reply:

    I wish I did! Unfortunately, I haven’t put too much work into these income sources lately. Thanks for the comment!



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