Reporting your income online is always a two sided sword. This month, I have to face publicly the fact that my sites’ earnings tanked. Part of it is due to the fact that I was on vacation, but still, it shows how hectic a side-business income can be!
The main reason why I decided to post this report again is actually for my own follow-up. Since I having our third child, my online business has been harder to manage. Producing this report helps me to keep track of my main goal: making 100K online in 2014. A few weeks ago I outlined my business plan as follows:
Therefore, my revenues should be represented as seen in the following graph:
Instead, March shows the following results:
Overall, my online business has generated $3,363.48 (-58%). This is gross revenues and does not account for my expenses. My online expenses are around $3,000 per month. Therefore, this month is like working for nothing. This is quite insulting as I value my time a great deal. But everything can’t run smoothly all the time. This is why it’s so important to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and kick your butt for better results next time!
While last month our broker services peaked with several deals, the month of March was almost dead in this segment of our business. Adsense was stable but we didn’t receive any affiliate checks either. I know the advertising brokerage business is full of ups and downs, but March was particularly bad overall. I hope this is only temporary and that it will kick back into action this April. I also expect an $800 check from one of our affiliates in the upcoming weeks, let’s hope I’ll be able to deposit it in April!
Since I didn’t do any promotion with my membership website in March, I only made money with my monthly members. This is great to see that I’ve stabilized my recurring payment at $500 or so, but I will need to push further to reach my goal of making $2,500 with this site. This shows how fragile a membership is when you don’t keep advertising it.
I’m currently reviewing my marketing plan to include mentions of Dividend Stocks Rock across my network and more specifically within my mailing list. I have pretty strong email funnels generating affiliate income and generating traffic on my blogs. But I haven’t taken the time to include my membership website inside my funnel. I know how dumb that is! But time management is always an issue.
This business division also includes my two books for sale on Amazon:
Dividend Growth – a 4.5 Star Investing Guide
2014 Best Dividend Stock Picks – After beating my benchmark with my picks in 2012 and 2013, I’m back for a third year with 20 US and 10 CDN favorite picks.
Sales are stable right now with Dividend Growth (I sell about 1 copy a day) and the 2014 Best Dividend Stocks continues to roll as my picks are doing as good or better than my benchmark. The easy money is gone and now investors are looking more than ever for undervalued stocks.
Back to square one with our niche sites as we didn’t benefit from a traffic boost for two months in a row. Then again, it’s a very frustrating month for all business segments. The positive point is that I’ve finished my niche site development plan in March and started to apply it last week. Hopefully, I will be able to improve my ranking with a few of our niche sites and make more money with Adsense. Everything is optimized, I just need more traffic!
The secret for traffic is not complicated: writing great content and make sure Google finds it. Simple, obvious, but this is what I need to look for if I want to improve this side of the business. All my niche sites were in the financial industry and all rankings have been hit hard by Google over the past 2 years. Dormant sites used to get between 2,000 and 3,000 unique visitors per month and now have dropped to 500. While they use to generate $50-$100/month each, they are now down to $10-$20 per month. This is why the niche site business has been hurt so bad.
I’m attacking 1 site right now to make sure I do things properly. Once this site is back on track, I’ll be able to create a process and bring all my sites back to life.
My biggest win in March is definitely in terms of strategic planning. I met with my partner and we worked a whole day on what we are going to do this year. We do this once a year in order to keep our focus in the right place.
This is exactly what we did a few weeks ago: focusing. We each have established 4 priorities which we will report weekly on what we have done. It increases the accountability and pushes us to work on what really matters. Here are my four priorities:
#1 Dividend Stocks Rock Content/Improvement
My first focus is obviously to produce high quality content for our membership website. We now have a bi-weekly premium investing newsletter (it was monthly before) that is about 12-15 pages per issue. The second point is to improve the website on a monthly basis. We started this project with a lean version (also known as minimum viable product) and we add new features on a constant basis. The latest one was The Rock Solid Ranking which is a complex scoring method to determine the most powerful dividend stocks at the moment. The ranking is updated on a weekly basis. We will add ETF portfolios shortly as well.
#2 Dividend Stocks Rock Promotion
Creating great content and adding new features are good to keep members on board but it doesn’t bring in new clients. This is why I also need a marketing plan. This includes special promotions, a referral system, affiliate program, guest posts, etc. I’ve written my first guest post last week (not published yet) and the affiliate program is almost ready (we changed our mind and switched affiliate systems last week! Doh!).
#3 Niche Site Link Building Project
I focus on driving traffic to one niche site at the moment to make sure I understand the “new” way Google wants sites to be. The idea is to optimize one site, create a process out of it and copy/paste the formula at a larger scale.
#4 The Financial Blogger Improvement
It’s been a while since I haven’t touched TFB seriously. I switched writing directions to more of a “make money online blog” about 2 years ago and I feel I had more fun writing about personal finance. This is why I’ll be changing the site slowly back to my previous direction. The site will continue to have updates about my online business, but the idea will be more targeted to my tag line “working 4 days a week, making a 6 figure income”.
I think it is quite obvious what a mess was: the money didn’t come in! For the first time, I truly feel the absence of my VA (maternity leave!). While I save on expenses, I also have to work more. I was on vacation 2 weeks in March and almost took an entire week to get my work routine back. Therefore, I wasn’t the most productive guy on earth this month!
I had narrowed down my task list to 4 items for March, here there are:
#1 Finish the 500K+ portfolio and advertise it – Not Finished Yet
#2 Write two guest posts for my membership site – 1 Guest post written, not published yet
#3 Offer my affiliate program to three bloggers and walk them through – I’ve changed my mind and switched affiliate program. Still under work.
#4 Finish my niche site development plan – Done! I can now apply it!
I started April with the most productive days I’ve had in a long time. I’ve already finished another side project for our membership site called The Rock Solid Ranking which is a complex math model to evaluate dividend stocks. It seems to work very well now!
Here’s the list of what I need to do in April:
#1 Publish 1 guest post for DSR
#2 Build links for my niche site
#3 Launch my affiliate program for DSR
#4 Finish and publish my 500K+ stock portfolio
#5 Change The Financial Blogger sidebar to reflect my “new” direction
While my results were very poor in March, it motivates me to the highest point. I really want to grow this business and improve my lifestyle. A bad month just tells me that I have to work harder in the upcoming months and this is what I’m gonna do!
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