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.
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
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 (+$42.12 from December)
Amazon Niche Site Challenge
In November, I launched a new challenge that has been my primary focus over the past few months. Essentially, I’m creating several niche sites specifically tailored for Amazon’s affiliate program (i.e. selling physical products as an affiliate of Amazon.com), and I’m following the lessons taught in Chris Guthrie’s Niche Profit Course. The goal is to create, on average, one niche site per week, and 22 in total (over 25 weeks). You can read my original post for more detail and you can also read the update I wrote in December.
I’ve changed my goals with respect to this challenge recently – now I’m going to try to focus on no more than 2 sites per month, so that I can allow myself additional time to really get these sites ranking well. Basically, I’m giving myself all of 2011 to complete this challenge, instead of just half a year. I’d rather have smaller collection of really powerful sites than a large collection of sites that don’t make much money (on a per site basis).
It’s been about 12 weeks since the challenge started, and I won’t lie – things haven’t been going well lately. My earnings in January were nothing short of terrible. Part of this drop is due to the fact that I began the challenge during the busiest shopping time of the year (when Amazon products thrive), but I think the larger reason is that I’m having a bit of trouble with Google’s sandbox. I’ve been studying up on it, and I believe I have a good plan to get out of the sandbox and prevent future sites from ever entering it. If I come up with something that I think is somewhat replicable, I’ll write a post on it.
Here are the stats for January:
# of Amazon niche sites: 8
|$ 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)
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.
These were my top 5 most popular blog posts in January based on number of views:
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
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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