The online business has completely changed over the past 2 years and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!
A few years ago, the recipe to make a few hundred bucks per month with a financial blog was the following:
#1 Buy a domain with a good financial keyword in it
#2 Blog 3-4 times a week
#3 Comment on other blogs daily (let’s say 10 comments per day)
#4 Join a group of bloggers and exchange comments/guest posts/mentions (the biggest at that time was the Yakezie)
#5 Wait for the next Google Page Rank update so you can show a PR2 or PR3
#6 Start selling links on the sidebar and sponsored posts
#7 Bang! You just make between $500 and $1,000 per month for roughly 15 hrs of work per week!
Yup, you read this right; I made over $100K through what I used to call “private advertising”. This private advertising was a mix of a few marketing strategies:
#1 Sidebar links (a link on your homepage to an advertiser)
#2 Sponsored posts (getting paid to publish an article including links to a company)
#3 Banners (an image published on all pages of your blog including a link to a company)
I know… it’s against Google Policy Rules to sell links. We all knew it at the time, but the money was too good. But as you can see, Google finally penalized my site with a PR 0 for selling links. In other words; I finally got caught! Hahaha! I didn’t mind too much since I moved my biggest sites away from private advertising mainly because I wanted to avoid penalties and because the money was drying out of this market anyway. Today, you just can’t expect to publish a few articles a week and sell links like crazy and make $1,000 per month with your blog. Google has a close eye on financial blogs and advertisers understood that it was a bad idea to game the devil at its own game. It was good while it lasted, but now it’s time to move forward.
Ah… that is an interesting question; how can you make money once the easy cash is gone? This is when we will separate the bloggers from the business owners. This change started back in 2012 and it is still the new motto; do you have a business or are you’re simply a blogging slacker?
My goal for 2014 is plain and simple: I want to make 100K from my online business. Keep in mind that I’m talking about revenues and not profit and that I’m a 50% partner in this journey. Therefore, this goal translates to make 30K in my pocket and not the trendy term “6 figures”. But we will all agree that 30K net in your pocket is better than a slap in the face, right?
Still, you’ve heard this before, the money is harder to be made online, this was why I needed to come up with a plan. Here’s how I intend to make 100K this year:
Even though I don’t manage a multimillion dollar company, our online partnership shows more than 1 segment of business. It took us a while to create different segments as only 4 years ago, 90% of our revenue came from private advertising. The goal this year is to keep 10% in private advertising and generate the rest of the money through other means.
I briefly mentioned that we have launched a membership website back in December. I’ll come back to this later as I want to bring you a full case study on how we achieved this important diversification in our business. The idea of a membership website is to create a product generating monthly cash flow. You own both the product and your clients and nobody can take either away from you if you do a good job. Along with our membership websites, we also sell a few eBooks creating a constant flow of income.
Our second business segment is our blogging business. We own a sizeable portfolio of blogs in different niches where we write or pay writers to do the job for us. The blogging business is where the most traffic is but due to its nature, it doesn’t mean that it’s the most profitable segment. Blogs mainly generate Adsense and affiliate income.
C) Niche Websites
This ranges from a 5 page site to a 200 page website on a very specific topic. I’ve discussed this before on this blog as building several niche sites has been tried over the past 2 years. Unfortunately, I can’t say it was our biggest success so far. On the other hand, what is very interesting is the potential cash flow these sites could generate with only a few more hours of work. With small numbers, our niche sites have revealed their potential. It’s now a matter of growing them into real money making machines.
It’s no secret; if you want to reach your goal, you need a plan. A solid one, not just a plan including words like:
I’ll work harder
I’ll work on getting traffic
I’ll optimize my sites
I’ll generate more affiliate income
This is wishful thinking and will not get you anywhere. I know it because I’ve tried it many times and it never worked! My plan is a lot different this year as I’ve listed actions to be taken instead of writing down results such as “increasing my Adsense income with more traffic”.
I’ve made a list of 10 tasks to be completed during the year to make it roughly a monthly marketing plan. The goal for our product line is to acquire 140 new members this year. This makes an average of a dozen new members per month. Since I want to reach 200 members by the end of the year, I need to get more than 12 new members each month considering cancellations. This is why I need a continuous marketing plan.
Income Expectation from Products for 2014: $30,000
Since private advertising has been cut from our blogging network, there is a lot of work to be done to make money from these sites. It’s not just a matter of using our blogs to promote our products, we are already doing that. We need a list of key tasks to achieve in order to increase the money directly generated from blogs. Among these, here are a few ideas:
#1 Identify useful affiliate products for each blog.
#2 Create blog posts, newsletters and an overall package (a resource) to promote the product by helping readers.
#3 Create offers and bonuses for those who sign-up to the blog newsletter.
#4 Communicate directly with readers through the newsletter (send “checking in” emails)
Income Expectation from Blogs for 2014: $60,000
C) Niche Websites
Our general problem with our niche sites is not the optimization or monetization of sites. It’s definitely the lack of traffic. This will be the most challenging part of our business plan. We all know there is a lot of money to be made from niche websites but it’s not like we just have to write about it to make it happen. Our niche sites generate roughly $500/month at the month with 0 hours of work on it. I guess that if we can manage to find a few hours, we can double this revenue!
Income Expectations from Niche Websites for 2014: $10,000
It’s fun to make money, but it’s also fun to keep the money for yourself! In 2014, we expect to cut down our costs to roughly $3,000 per month. It is still a lot of money but most of it is related to accounting and servers. We can’t really cut these expenses as we need both to operate! On the other hand, if we reach our goal of making 100K in revenues, there will be over 50K left after expenses and taxes which is a very good thing!
We are definitely starting the New Year with a new set of goals and a lot of hope for 2014!
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