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Income Report – October 2012

Justin Cooke Updated on February 29, 2020

Income Report - October 2012

Once again, it’s time for another income and traffic report for October, 2012. As always, we’ll be sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly to give you a complete picture as to what’s going on with our business, how our sites are doing, etc. This is the first full month after Google’s EMD Update and we expected to take quite a hit for the month. Luckily, we’ve been seeing some improvements in earnings towards the end of the month and have some sites that are still doing well, so we’re much more optimistic about November. We’ll give yout he rundown throughout the post, but our total revenue for October was $3,914.42.

Many of our sites took a hit at the end of September, putting them in a pretty bad position in terms of earnings and value. We decided to avoid site sales for the month and let the dust settle…giving us time to figure out which sites were not affected to see if we could learn something about those sites. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a discernible pattern between those that were affected and those that were not. Our best guess points to two things:

  1. On-Site SEO – While we’ve avoided heavy anchor text usage when it comes to backlinks, we were quite liberal in applying exact match anchor text on our own sites. With very few other sites linking to our niche sites, these links are often the only links to those pages. We’ve since toned down the on-site internal linking with exact match anchors.
  2. Unnatural Positioning – When looking at the strength of competition with SEOMoz, our ranked sites would often stand out like a sore thumb with very few backlinks, lower page authority, etc. This is problematic…we don’t want our sites to stand out much when compared to those above and below on the SERP.

We applied the steps we mentioned in our September Update to both cut costs and cut down the on-site optimization for the sites. It looks to be working…our AdSense revenue has improved throughout the month and we’ve had some even better days heading into November.

Joe and I both did quite a bit of traveling in October, heading up to Manila to take care of some business and meet up with friends, spending a couple of weeks in Bangkok to give a presentation and do some networking/relaxing, etc. It was good for us to take some time off and we’ve come back with some fantastic ideas we’ll be rolling out in the coming months. I’m not so hot on traveling when you’re in a zone and really need to knock out some work, but a change in scenery has always been great for me in terms of inspiration.

Traffic To AdSenseFlippers

We had a TON of traffic come in with our EMD update in the beginning of the month, but the lack of updates and posts in the second half of October kept things pretty quiet here. Overall, we had a total of 22,203 visits for the month of October.

AF Analytics October 2012

Here are the top content pages, in order of pageviews:

EMD Update – Rolling With The Punches – 7,262 pageviews
Income Report – September 2012 – 3,538 pageviews
The Problem With Flippa – 1,049 pageviews
AdSense Flippers Monthly Expenses – 891 pageviews

Podcast Statistics

AF Podcast Analytics October 2012

We haven’t put out any new podcast episodes for a while now and we’ve seen a decline in our downloads. We only had 6,949 downloads for October. We’re working on some content for a few new episodes and we’ll resume the podcast shortly.

AdSense Earnings

We definitely took a hit with AdSense, but there was a bit of an increase through the month and early into November that looks positive.

AdSense Revenue October 2012

Our best day was October 22nd at $99.21 and our worst day was October 20th at $43.51.  We’re expecting improvements to our AdSense earnings through November and things are looking good so far.

Site Sales

We didn’t offer any private sites for sale or any auctions on Flippa as we knew we needed some time to determine which sites were ok and which were not. Because we sell sites on a rolling 30-day earnings multiple, it wouldn’t accurately reflect their value if we sold them based on earnings before the update. We’re starting to see some normality return and should have some sites available in the next few weeks.

Affiliate Sales

We saw a bit of a drop-off in LongTailPro sales, but there was just a major update to the software that includes some pretty significant improvements to the competition analysis. We’ve been using and have had success with and have had some earnings from referrals we’ve sent to them.

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Sites Created: 141 (130 last month)
AdSense Earnings: $1,952.19 ($4,129.40 last month)
Flippa Sales: $0.00 ($0.00 last month)
Private Sales: $0.00 ($7,477.20 last month)
Niche Site Gold: $0.00 ($500.00 last month)
Consulting: $1,000.00 ($0.00 last month)
Total Affiliate Sales: $962.23 ($1,346.92 last month)

Total Income: $3,914.42 ($13,453.52 last month)

Hope you found this month’s income and traffic report useful! If you’d like to connect you can sign up for email updates, check us out on Facebook, or say hi on Twitter! How was your October? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Good stuff. Regardless of the impact that the EMD update had, I noticed that you continued to build sites. Good to see that you are continuing that process. Did you already have those sites in the funnel and decided to keep going? I just wonder if the work is done for naught with the latest changes.

    I am also looking forward to your next podcasts. Hearing what you guys are thinking is very useful for me as I plan my future growth. Thanks for the updates!

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Steve,

      I should have mentioned this in the post, but out of the 141 sites started this month they’re not all built out. Based on the changes we made, it will likely take the rest of November to get through all of those domains. It was just a timing thing…Joe ended up buying a ton of domains towards the end of October and we’ll still be working on them through November. We’re actually down to around 40-50 sites created per month…it will just take some time for that to filter down, heh.

      Definitely hoping the work will be fruitful…we’ll see how the changes we’ve made will affect the newer batches of sites in a few months.

      We’ll definitely have another podcast out soon! If everything goes as planned we’ll most likely be starting ANOTHER podcast by the end of the year! 🙂

      • Dan says:

        +1 MORE PODCASTS!!!

      • idreesfarooq says:

        good to see you are growing. I am following you guys a lot. You have said about building new site after EMD Update. Are you still with the same EMDs pattern or you have started avoid it? And if not avoided, do you think PMD domains can be good………Need an answer as i am also building my niche sites but stop after EMD update as all of my research work was based on EMD before it? Thanks in advance

        • JustinWCooke says:

          Take a look at our last income report to check out the more immediate changes we made to our process going forward:

          I strongly believe that EMD’s and PMD’s on their own are just fine…useful, in fact. (I know, I know…it’s the “EMD Update” right? More to the story there, though…) I think it’s a threshold problem…so we’ve looked heavily at our on-site SEO and our over-aggressive content and toned it down a bit…

  • Re: Unnatural Positioning, one of the easiest ways, I believe, for Google to spot heavily-SEO’d sites is to simply look at what KWs they’re ranking for. Most real websites rank well for a whole host of terms, not just the extremely profitable ones.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Yeah, Beau…it’s pretty obvious when you look at it with tools…our sites were really standing out. Still…boggled as to why some sites were hit and others weren’t. It’s gotta be a threshold thing…probably several factors.

  • I noticed that you have masked out your CTR and RPM values.

    One of my sites has 3.55% CTR, €0.21 CPC, and €7.46 RPM.
    I was wondering if you consider these numbers good enough?

    This is a complete autopilot site with 150,00 pages indexed and no backlinks at all. It receives traffic for about 1,800 keywords.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Tauno,

      It’s against Google’s ToS to reveal that information, unfortunately. We have nothing against sharing it, but are following their rules. I’d say your numbers are a bit low across the board there.

      • Ah, I had no idea. Thanks for clarifying. Good I haven’t posted my numbers anywhere. I am actually quite OK with CTR, but CPC could be higher.

        • JustinWCooke says:

          Gotcha. Actually, with your edit on the first post…I see that your site has a ton of content and traffic from a large amount of keywords. With that type of site I agree…I think your CTR is doing just fine. Typically, tighter niche sites have better numbers…sounds like you’re doing just fine for such a large site, IMO.

  • mally says:

    Hi Guys, I’ve been looking forward to your update, as my adsense sites, infact most of my sites have been hit in some way or another. Do you think google are too big now as simple changes in their algorithm can close businesses pretty much overnight. I’ve noticed alot of useful websites and business brands have disappeared. They have a massive share of the market, and their google search pages seem to show more and more off their adverts as time goes on, it makes you wonder when governments will take a closer look.

    its definitely harder to make a residual income if you can’t depend on site rankings lasting indefinately

    I’m based in the UK, and there’s alot of discussion going on with the government kicking off as google pay very little tax, if any!

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Mally,

      Nothing lasts forever! Now…a small group of IMers complaining isn’t going to change much of anything…but if Google continues a shift towards showing poorer results and more ads there will definitely be an opening for another company to take up market share. I think, more likely, that the traditional “search” growth will slow down as more people are searching on platforms like iTunes, Amazon, etc.

    • Hi

      Well the issue with “people” not paying Tax is very limited !! Justin case our american friends think were loosing the plot over here!!

      Its really only about the major corps paying no or little CORPORATION tax they still pay employee and property etc. However they are using tax avoidance issues to save huge amounts of money. And dont be fooled British companies do this as well by having their HQ in Ireland for example.

      I’d do the same !! their is no moral dilemma (even though some think their is) “its every free mans right to avoid paying tax :-)”

      the tax man here will close that loophole.

      Google are all powerful in search but nothing any goverment can do about ranking MFA as a favour to us! the algo is googles and they have nobody to answer to. And anyway no way would i want a Goverment tellling anybody what my search results could be !!!!!

  • hi guys !

    I see spencer from niche pursuits and james gunthrie ( I hope I didn’t misspelled his name ) are gearing towards authority sites rather than niche sites. do you see yourselves going that direction ?

    and one more thing . I think we should diversify our traffic sources . Add a little bit of youtube , iTunes , social media etc.

    be healthy and smile .

    • Yep, that is the direction we will be taking in 2013. Just need to clear some things off our plate in the meantime.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      I’d like to diversify our site creation. To me, that means “leveling-up” our niche sites and creating larger, more valuable online properties. Ideally, I’d like to continue with smaller and larger sites.

      I have a great idea for social media and niche sites, I think…maybe a future post?

    • This is a good idea -> “diversify our traffic sources”

      However, I think, instead of trying to feed off facebook, youtube, pinterest (and be at their mercy), we should create our own next “Facebook”, “Youtube” etc.

      It doesn’t make much sence if we all create our own small sites and compete with each other for rankings and visitors. We should get together and beat the **** out of competition (big companies). Think about it, if we all shared our visitors and members instead of selling them for pennies to Adsense!

      Is this ever going to happen? Not likely, because of fear and greed, which prevents the collaboration.

      As Michelangelo said, “The problem with human beings is not that we aim too high
      and fail; it is that we aim too low and succeed.”
      Would you guys be interested in starting something really big together?

      • Good call Tauno, though I have to say I fall more on the fear side. The fact that some would take advantage of any system we come up with just to make a quick buck makes me less inclined to invest much money in our own system.

        And quite an investment it would take! according to a recent answer on Quora it cost a large chunk of change to run a very popular video. Now they were profitable, but they also own the advertising platform as well. Check it out:

      • I don’t know if it is fear or greed or just the human nature but it is very difficult for a large group of people to work together , especially if they don’t know each other.
        lets say I am interested . do you know me ? do you trust me ? do you know if I can get things done ? what if tomorrow I disappear ? its not that easy …
        but there is some kind of collaboration , let me explain what I mean : I learned about Adsense Flippers from ( I think ) Lifestyle Business Podcast and I learned about the LBP from Foolish Adventure . So these guys help each other, but I don’t see them abandon their platforms and create something big together. And to be honest I wouldn’t do it if I were in their shoes.
        I don’t know if this is what you had in mind, but this is the most I would do ( and probably what most people would do ) : I would recommend anyone that has good stuff , but no sir I am perfectly happy with my own site where I do things my way and that’s not bad , is it ? 🙂

        • Well said Ilias. Trust is so very hard when you don’t know where the other person lives!

          • OK Joe and Ilias, let me ask you this. I ‘ve got an with 165,000 search volume. If I offer you to upload your content to my site and make 90% adsense revenue from your content, is there any reason why you wouldn’t do this? Your only investment is your time. Would you fear that I get gready and take your pages off when they start performing well (remember fear and greed?) Or would you register or (both are still available btw) and compete against me?

            Why would I let other people use my domain? Because the more content the better my own pages rank and the better rankings accross the board for that domain. There’s no way a single marketer can create sites like livestrong, ehow, squidoo all alone.
            “You can run a successful shoe stand all alone, but that’s the limit of it” – Brain Tracy.

            I am heading to register a 2 word with 1 million exact searches right now. Let’s see if I can get this one to page 1. Both .net and .org are also still available for this one.

          • I might use content from previously penalized sites that I had taken down or let expire. We are trying this strategy with Squidoo and similar sites. The problem seems to be a lower traffic and CTR then expected (plus other content approval issues).

            I still think this is a temporary measure. If these updates are telling us one thing it’s that you’re going to need to create not only compelling content, but a site that provides real value with return visitors and natural linking because you are a true authority on the subject. This is not easy to do and I’m not sure it can be done on a shared platform.

          • Here’s a real life example. A website created by 16 people. 490 pages of content. 49,000 visitors a day (avg. 100 visitors per each page). Alexa rank 10K in US, Semrush rank 8.5K, value $175,000
            peak SE Traffic 500,000 a year ago. Organic keywords 15,000
            I don’t know how they share the profits, but it looks pretty good.
            Do you know which site I am referring to?
            Of course if you can afford to outsource creating a big site, it’s another story, you’ll keep all the profits.
            This is rather a call to people who can’t afford to pay for content. Get together and build one big site together instead of competing with each other. You can keep building the small sites at the same time. It’s not a choice, you can do both, and you’ll see which strategy performs better.

          • Profit is the key there. With 16 people involved, the site need to make a heck of a lot of money to be worth it.

            We can make some assumptions though to try and approximate the profit if they are using AdSense. If they get a CTR of 3% and a CPC of 30 cents, with 49k visits a day they make $441 a day in AdSense revenue. That’s a little over $160k a year or about $10k to each person. Not exactly retirement money.

            Once you factor in expenses, this goes down even further.

          • I ‘ve never done the math, but yes I agree, 10K a year is not exactly retirement money. However you forgot to mention that it’s just 30 pages of content per person, probably a week worth of work or $500 investment into outsourcing. The ROI is fantastic. They don’t have to stop there, do they? I have no idea how many sites like that their team has.

            How easy it is to make a 30 page stand alone website that would earn $1000 a month from Adsense? And find ideas to build 16 websites that will each earn that kind of money. I think multiple small websites vs one big site is not diversification, but rather diworsification.

            Also factor in that each time you put up a new page for new keyword phrase on existing domain it will rank with much less effort, compared to brand new domain built to rank for that particular keyword phrase.

            I ‘ll stop right there, I am not trying to convince anyone. It’s just my opinion, actually, to me it’s a common sense.

            It’s like 1 hotel vs 100 rental apartments or 1 Ferrari against 1000 bicycles. To me it’s an easy choice.

          • JustinWCooke says:

            Hey Tauno,

            While I appreciate your enthusiasm and you’re “Let’s build the next Facebook” sentiment, I’d have to argue that there are things besides fear and greed that might keep two or more parties from collaborating on projects. Why would I not give you access to our business AdSense account so that you can learn from and help us grow our business together as a team? It’s “rational” fear and common sense! I don’t know you, know what your abilities are, know how trustworthy you are, etc.

            Using your example above, let’s say I currently own a hotel and someone comes along and says, “Hey, I’ve got a small rental apartment…let’s combine our businesses and split it 50/50!” That’s just not a good deal for me. Unless I thought bringing you on would either double the size/value of my hotel or would quickly get me to the point of owning a second, equally valuable hotel…it wouldn’t be worth it. Even then…I wouldn’t split the business with that person on the “hope” they would bring that to the table at some point…that would be silly, right?

            We get requests to do deals quite often. (See this post):


            They’re rarely coming from the position of mutual benefit AND bringing something to the table, unfortunately.

          • I remember reading that post. Yeah it’s funny that people come up with those silly proposals.
            I was suggesting to “build a hotel” together from scratch. It doesn’t matter if someone already has a business or who’s got a bigger business. It’s not a merger, but a brand new side project, where partners get paid according to what they have contributed.

            Either way let me return to this topic sometime in the future and tell you if I was able to make this happen. Right now I am building a 20 million page website. The problem is google is only crawling and indexing 4 pages per minute. So it’s a slow process.

          • JustinWCooke says:

            20 million pages, eh? Sounds like you’re already on track! 🙂 I wouldn’t pick up a partner if you’ve already got it figured out…make them bring something to the table. Best of luck.

          • sometimes we see the end result, but we fail to realise the road that led there. or we project our desires or we just want to convince ourselves.
            All we said was that it is difficult . You can try it and you know what ? It might work . That’s the beauty of life. No one knows what the future knows.
            Good luck with whatever you choose to do .
            Be healthy and smile .

        • I agree with you ilias and I think that is something to keep in mind always.

  • Alex Alcyone says:

    Hey everyone, quick Q – I have a bunch of sites that got clobbered by the EMD update. The content was top quality. I am thinking of taking the sites down and putting the content on fresh non-EMD domains (specifically, amalgamating all the micro-sites into one big new authority site). Anyone tried this? Do you think the content will bypass the penalties if placed on a different site? Thoughts?

    • darren says:

      Hi, alex, I did exactly that with 10 similar niche employment blogs I had, and created 1 large authority site. I got instant results. Its been about a month I now have rankings and earnings… Best think about it instead of trying to update 10 site I now only have to worry about 1.

      • Alex Alcyone says:

        Nice!! Thanks so much Darren, going to do this now. I will probably make a few edits to the content just so that it is not 100% identical, might as well. I’m also concerned that some of my stuff might have been “over keyword optimized” in terms of “perfect” tags and titles on everything… anticipate that there may be other overoptimization penalties at some point…

        • Keep us updated on this approach Alex. I am doubtful it will work in the long haul, but as long as you get a positive ROI short term it’s a good choice.

          • Alex Alcyone says:

            Hi Joseph – Why do you not think it will work out long term? This is important to me as my content is “evergreen” and a lot of research / effort went into making top quality materials. It’s some of the best info of its kind online; I just used a lot of keyword research in order to find exact match article titles that I could rank with on site opt and small amounts of link building.
            I’m hoping to build sites with some long term revenue potential…. they will not consist only of content from my other sites, but will also have fresh content and a more user-oriented feel.
            I will be happy to keep you up to date and give more details on my progress. I’m also working hard on building a “google proof” business – using “links for traffic” techniques as opposed to “links for ranking”; also getting some good early results with pinterest.

  • darren says:

    Interesting to see the drop off. Do you think at some stag you will move away from small niche sites. and start creating bigger authority sites.

  • I know one thing – It’s been a hell of of ride this year. I see you guys coming back strong and the end end of the year is closing in, once again.

    I stopped building small sites (actually any sites) earlier in the year, but have just started up a blog is the web design niche that I plan to grow and make an income from, eventually.

    Let’s look forward to a better 2013!


  • Hi Guys

    Glad to see you’ve at least level out with some up turn 🙂

    the “filtering” defiantly relaxed again recently but not enough to get back to where we were.

    1) Do you think a 1 page site that got hit should still be able of being developed?

    2) As i understand it youve changed very little in your process so the Keyword research and use of EMD is still central, no backlinking and simply reduced interlinking between internal pages on your site? have you tuned down alt text as well?

    As always im sure all the readers appreciate your openness and wiliness to share info from your large scale op that has always helped those of us with smaller portfolios.


    • Just a quick answer here Steve:

      1) Nope, I would move on.

      2) We are working through a totally new process. We don’t believe small changes like this will work in the long run.

      • JustinWCooke says:

        I agree with Joe that I don’t think I’d mess too much with a one-page site that got dinged, but I do think tweaks can be made to the niche site process, which is why we’re continuing to build sites…even if we’ve cut the # down considerably.

        That being said, we’ll be revamping the process through 2013 significantly while creating both Version 1 and Version 2 sites…until then, we’re still chugging along.

        • Thanks Joe and Justin

          That makes more sense :-0 i was concerned you were tweaking only.

          Im sad to say i can see a tweaked process working long term.

          Ive seen “recovery” in many of the EMD i built six month ago.. but not the ones in the last few months..

          I hate to give way to Matt cutts blunderbus but Yep i think were now leveling up :-0

          2 major projects underway so we’ll see in 3-6 months..

          • JustinWCooke says:

            I just had the team go through and pull out sites that were our “best targets” for an improvement process. I’m going to be making tweaks/adjustments to those older sites myself to see if we can put something together that works. It’s a bit of a long-shot and might not pay off, but these are previously high-value, high-earning sites…if it DOES work these would be the sites I’d most like to see it work on! Will be blogging about it here soon…

          • Hey Justin!

            That does make sense

            “may the force be with you” 🙂

  • Really interested to hear about your new strategies with larger niche sites and diversifying your income! Bit of a tough hit this month but nothing that can’t be recovered from!

  • Dong those EMD updates Google made were killer. So glad I off-loaded some of my sites prior to these updates. Guess we just gotta keep plugging away. I’m trying to figure out ways to NOT depend on Google so much. Some of the methods (video, for instance) would be tough to scale.

  • Brad Acker says:

    How many of your sites got him from the EMD update?

    How many sites are in your adsense earnings?

    Looks like you guys are recovering! That’s great!

    • About 70% of our sites were affected. That’s hundreds of sites.

      We have a lot of sites in our AdSense earning, but any number I give you would be misleading. Do I count all sites, even if they only made pennies? Do we count sites that are still in various stages of development? Do we count sites that only earned through part of the month because they were sold, cancelled, or penalized?

      Still the short answer is hundreds of sites.

  • Yakezie says:

    Still some great numbers guys! I’m sure you guys will adjust, recover, and earn more once again.



  • Yakezie says:

    Just thought of something guys. Can this be spun as REALLY POSITIVE since you were able to offload $7,500 worth of sites before the EMD update? If you didn’t, you might be $6,000-$7,500 lighter.

    I’m generally an optimist so I’m looking for the good points of the EMD update. Better content online is probably the biggest benefit yeah?


    • Yakezie says:

      Anybody have any thoughts on this?

    • JustinWCooke says:

      It’s great to look for silver linings, but I really don’t think this is it. It remains to be seen whether we can still build profitable websites that stick and we’re testing through that now. That’s where the majority of revenue for the AdSense Flippers project comes from…if that’s broken, $7.5K isn’t going to matter much either way…

  • Howie Sun says:

    hi what about your expanses? I see total income posted, none of the expenses..

  • jimmy says:

    Geez stll decent money but from last month…The big G sucks!! Are your guys making authority sights out of the sights that received a penalty…is that even possible?

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Jimmy!

      We’d tried a “tanked site recovery” project about a year ago when we had a snag. Ultimately, the time/money we spent on trying to fix the sites was a wash…we would have been better off spending those efforts moving forward rather than trying to fix.

      Undeterred once again 🙂 We took our top 20 earnings sites from before the hit and I’m personally making adjustments to them to see what will happen. Will be blogging about it…should make for a good case study either way, eh?

  • Melinda says:

    Its nice to see you not only share the good thinks of your site, also the bad thinks in the business…

    The exact match anchor text for backlinks is a big problem and our sites have also problems…

  • That sucks, I hope November was a better month for you.

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