Income Report – September 2012
It’s time for another income and traffic report from us and we have quite a bit to cover with the recent Google changes and the effect on our business. We publish these reports each month to help you better understand our business, where we’re earning our money, and to help motivate and guide you towards building a successful and profitable online empire.
Before writing this post, I took a few minutes to go back to our September 2011 income report as I remembered us taking a bit of a hit with some of our sites. I thought it would be interesting to compare where we are today to where we were a year ago. Here are a few of the things we were looking at and how they ultimately turned out:
- Niche Site Recovery Project – We stopped production for a couple of weeks and redirected the team to significantly changing and improving the 100 or so sites that were hit or “tanked”. This was a wash…the few thousand dollars we spent on this was recovered in AdSense earnings value and site sales, but we would have been better off focusing on new sites in terms of ROI.
- Improved Content On Niche Sites – The value of the content on our niche sites to searchers was pretty low when we started. We significantly improved the content over time (As much as we could with the limited scope of our sites) and this proved effective, avoiding all of the negative effects of updates over the last year.
- Expanded Niche Sites – We’d originally talked about expanding these sites out a year ago and this is something we never followed through with, unfortunately. I think this was a costly failure, actually…we would have been better off “leveling up” our site building at that point rather than today. More on this in a future blog post…
If you’re a regular reader you’ve likely already seen our post on the EMD Update and its devastating impact on our sites across the board. It’s been a few weeks and we’ve all had time to review and weigh in on the impact. Many of you have left some extremely interesting and insightful comments on the post. Here’s a quick run-down from some other niche site builders, where they’re at, and our thoughts on their direction.
Niche Pursuits – Spencer
Spencer wrote a post shortly after the update that estimated around a 13% hit to his sites from the EMD update. He attributes part of this to taking a larger hit on his sites from the Penguin update and is reporting those that some of those that survived Penguin have actually benefited from the most recent update. He went on to discuss the opportunities these changes represent and actually talked about it a bit in his latest podcast.
We admire and agree with his entrepreneurial outlook on the opportunities that are presented with change. Overall, I think you’ll find that the types of sites we build in the coming months will be quite similar. I chatted with Spencer the other day and told him we disagree on a few points:
- There wasn’t a penalty – This is true in some instances, but we also had plenty of sites that were hit with a domain-wide penalty across the board for both their primary and longtail keywords.
- EMD’s lost value – EVERY site is, ultimately, an EMD for their brand name. There may have been some semantic interpretations that effected some EMD’s and not others, but cutting out value simply on the fact it’s an EMD seems rather improbable.
Still…significantly upping the value to the end user and “leveling up” the site building process is his main point and we’re in agreement there, for sure. We’ll be laying out some of our changes to site building in the coming weeks.
Mike From Maine
Mike been successful at scaling out niche sites in recent months. He recently sat down with Spencer for an interview where they both discussed Google’s changes and the heavy impact on his sites. Mike’s since backed off from selling sites that have earnings and has positioned them as Authority “starter” sites for sale. Shortly before the latest update and after, Mike’s pivoted his blog to be more interview focused…looking and talking to those who have widely-varying methods, tactics, and strategies for success online.
I really like some of the content I’ve seen in the interviews and he’s been KNOCKING THEM OUT lately! It’s interesting, because I know that he’s focused on finding new/different ways to make money online and so his questions come across as quite earnest and he tends to pull quite a bit of information out from those he’s interviewing. He mixes in some affiliate sales and self-promotion, but it doesn’t take away from the value of the interviews at all, in my opinion. I think his positioning his sites for sale as authority starter sites is interesting as a path to recovering some investment, but I think that going down-market with site sales wouldn’t be a good long-term strategy…you’ll be competing with…well…everyone who can setup a wordpress site.
WSO Testers – Josh And Trevor
Josh and Trevor were able to quickly build their empire through an initial investment, but are now reporting a 70-80% hit with this last update. They didn’t mince any words and are reporting that both their niche sites and authority sites were hit…ouch. Their short-term plan is to discontinue building sites and to instead possibly focus on testing through and reviewing various WSO’s from the Warrior Forum.
I really like these guys, their approach, and have been following their progress in recent months. I’m hoping this post was written out of frustration more than anything else. I think a focus on testing through random WSO’s is not likely to produce a viable long-term strategy for their blog, won’t be a profitable or ROI-driven strategy, and won’t provide the helpful content to their audience they’re hoping it will. Don’t take this the wrong way…I really like these guys and I’m wishing them the best. They’re smart/resourceful and I’m sure they’ll figure out their next move in the coming weeks/months.
Our Short-Term Strategy
Joe and I are in Thailand from October 14th to the 28th on a pre-planned trip and we wanted to implement a few changes before we leave so that we’re not hemorrhaging cash. Without going into too much detail in this post, here are the short-term changes we put into effect:
- Drop from 40-50 sites created per week to 10-15
- Cancelled contracts with 3rd party
- Content Managers All in-house
- Content Managers are now writing and not ordering content
- No longer targeting “low-4’s” on our Chance To Rank scale…only “mid-4’s” or better
- No longer using exact match for site title, H1’s, etc.
- Cut down keyword density from 4-5 mentions to 2-3 on each article
- Only using partial match on image titles and their alt tags
- Less aggressive internal anchor text and linkbuilding
These changes will significantly cut down our costs in the coming weeks and will (hopefully) produce sites that will withstand the latest updates. It will also buy us time and allow us to further adjust the process to create sites that Google will “love”. There are no guarantees, but these are the quickest/easiest changes we can implement right now that we feel will have the most positive impact.
Based on the lack of success with our “Tanked Site Recovery Process” we implemented a year ago, we’re only going to be working on a recovery project that focuses on the top 30 site earners (that ended up tanked) leading up to the update. This 1.5% of our sites represents about 30-35% of our earnings in the previous 30 day period and is worth some level of effort to recover. Depending on how that test goes we may or may not roll this test out to more of the sites.
Traffic To AdSenseFlippers
Our traffic was pretty consistent for September, coming in at 18,635 visits for the month. Our EMD Update post drove a crazy amount of traffic, but that will be included in October’s traffic report.
Here are the top content pages, in order of pageviews:
- Income Report – August 2012
- AdSense Flippers Monthly Expenses
- Clickbombing And Click Fraud
- 8 Misconceptions Regarding Site Rankings
Our podcast downloads were pretty consistent in September with 11,972 total downloads. We’ve been on a 2-3 week podcast schedule which tends to fit our schedule a bit better and gives us plenty of interesting things to discuss. We’ll have quite a bit of content coming out with both AdSense Flippers and other brands in the coming months that will compliment the podcast greatly, we think.
Overall, September was great for AdSense earnings and we brought in $4,129.40 total for the month. Our best day was on Sep 18th at $191.42 and our worst day was on Sep 30th at $37.88…ouch. As you can see, September 29-30 was when the full effects of the EMD update kicked in our sites. To give another representation, take a look at this screenshot of pageviews over the same time frame:
Ouch… We’ve seen a bit of bounce-back/growth in early October, but nowhere close to where we were in September, unfortunately.
We were planning on offering up a few Flippa auctions in late September, but never got around to it. We’re not planning any Flippa auctions in October. If we estimate a value based on revenue it wouldn’t be fair to the potential buyer…he or she would be paying a multiple on earnings that have taken a huge hit. I haven’t looked, but my guess would be that it’s a BUYER’s market on Flippa right now with AdSense accounts. It’s likely that plenty of those creating sites will be looking to sell them off in a fire sale. As long as you’re sure they’ve updated after the EMD Update, you might be able to snag some excellent deals right now.
We’re not planning on any private sales through October for the same reasons mentioned above in the Flippa section. We’re going to need to wait a couple of months and see how everything plays out, first.
I like Mike From Maine’s approach in positioning them as starter sites rather than expecting a multiple on earnings. Our plan now is to move up the value chain with site creation…and we’ll probably have some of our new/expanded sites for sale in the next 6-8 months or so.
Niche Site Gold
I know they’re calling it the “EMD Update”, but we’re pretty confident that the value of EMD’s will never truly go away, even if they have tweaked it down a bit. Still, I would expect the PERCEIVED value of buyers to be pretty negative towards EMD’s in the next few months, presenting a great opportunity for buyers to take advantage. You might see some pretty interesting EMD’s become available in the next few months. If a purchase/transfer will remove any associated penalties you might find some awesome bargains here.
Our free trial and discount on Long Tail Pro continues to be the primary driver for our affiliate income, bringing in $1,008.90 of our overall $1,346.92 in affiliate income. It’s awesome to see so many people picking up LongTailPro. No matter what kind of sites you’re building, having a keyword research tool that works is the most important step for getting ranked and getting traffic.
Sites Created: 130 (182 last month)
AdSense Earnings: $4,129.40 ($3,983.59 last month)
Flippa Sales: $0.00 ($0.00 last month)
Private Sales: $7,477.20 ($10,797.40 last month)
Niche Site Gold: $500.00 ($450.00 last month)
Total Affiliate Sales: $1,346.92 ($1,455.31 last month)
- LongTailPro: $1,008.90
- SubmitYourArticle: $59.59
- CTR Theme: $60.62
- SECockpit: $28.02
- HostGator: $100.00
- GoDaddy: $50.44
- Our Niche Site Guide on the Kindle: $25.55
- Whoosh Traffic: $13.80
Total Income: $13,453.52 ($16,686.30 last month)
Thank you so much for your support at AdSense Flippers! Want to check in with us? You can sign up for email updates, check us out on Facebook, or say Hi on Twitter! How did your September turn out? Let us know in the comments below!