November 28, 2012, 7:03 am

Is My Online Gig a Company or a Sideline?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Alternative Income,Business,Make Money Online
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At the very beginning of the year, I wrote an article entitled 2012 Blogging Goals The Pass or Fail Ultimate Test. For the first time in four years of existence, I thought that 2012 was the breaking point for our company to become the ultimate making machine or simply remain a great sideline. I thought that after 2012, I would know for sure if my online project is a company or a good sideline that will never pay the bills. There is only one month left of 2012 and I already know the answer about my sites. But let’s look at my 2012 blogging goals first:


1st Goal: Launch my Dividend Growth eBook by April and sell 300+ copies


Our very first goal of the year was to successfully launch an eBook and sell over 300 copies. Let’s be honest, I didn’t give myself all the chances of succeeding in this one. Instead of publishing my book in April as planned, the book was launched the last week of September. Therefore, instead of having eight months to sell 300 copies, I only had three left! Fortunately, apart from the bad timeline for this project, the rest of the plan was solid. It was so solid that I didn’t even need three months to achieve my goal. As of yesterday, I’ve sold 325 copies. Sales have slowed down over the past three weeks but I’m still selling over 1 copy per day.


In 7 to 10 days, I’ll be launching the paper copy for both version (Canadian and U.S. edition). I’m just waiting to receive my copy for review and I’ll be all set to click on the publish button. Using my network (and huge newsletter), I’m expecting to rake in an additional 50 to 100 copies in December. Hopefully, I’ll be able to reach over 400 copies by December 31st!


It was a really good decision to go with Amazon for publishing as the “Amazon machine” is selling books by itself while I can continue to promote my product from my website as well. We have learned a lot during this process and I can already tell you that we will be launching another book in 2013 and we’ll save a lot of money and time in the process. It’s a good thing that the book is already profitable after 2 months as it gives us hope to create a more profitable product in 2013.


nd Goal: Reach over $15,000/month in online income by the end of the year


Our second goal was determined way before I got my first kick in the nuts (read how many kicks I’ve got so far here and have a good laugh!). With our recent progression (from September 2011 to January 2012) back then, I thought we could increase our revenues by 50% for three consecutive months. The plan included the following strategies:


– Increase our traffic and reach an average of 3,5K/month with Adsense (currently at 2,3K)

– Growing our niche websites and make 2K/month (currently, we make about $500/month with them)

– Keep our private advertising income at 6K/month (this is about an average month for us with peaks at 8K)

– Grow our advertising management service to income of 2K/month (we are currently making about $600-$1000 per month with it)

– Grow our affiliate sales to a steady 2K/month (this greatly vary from month to month right now)

– Sell our Dividend Growth eBook (hopefully make over 3K in sales for 2012)

– Buy 1 or 2 websites and generate 1K/month from them (we are currently hunting, so let us know if you want to sell yours!)


We focused on Adsense earnings with such success that we reached a record month of over $4,000 back in September. Unfortunately, we got penalized right after and our Adsense payout has dropped down to $2,800 – $3,000 per month. It is still higher than it was at the beginning of the year so it’s good news.


I wasn’t able to put as much emphasis I wanted on our niche websites. The result is that I didn’t really work on them throughout the year and they continued to make roughly $500-$600. I can’t really say that we improved this revenue source but at least, it’s pure passive income and it didn’t go down.


Private advertising was definitely hit big time as you know already. I wanted to maintain $6,000 in revenues from this side of our business and it had dried up to almost nothing. To be honest, if private advertising was still a healthy business model, I would have been making over $15,000 per month for a while! I’ve literally spent the year working on diversification to compensate for the losses of income from private advertising!


Along with the private advertising, our brokerage services have dried up as well. While we are still offering this service and still making money from it, we are far from the $2,000 we used to make in the “good old days”.


Affiliate sales have been increasing steadily with several successful campaigns throughout the year. We get regular checks along with peaks during mailing list campaigns. I’m sure I can do more but I’m very happy of all the funnels I’ve created in 2012 to ensure a stable income from affiliates.


I’ve already covered the book at the beginning of the article. The funny part is that I won’t be seeing the color of my money until January. Amazon payment system is not the fastest on earth so I have to wait 60 days after the first month I reached the trigger amount to generate a check. I expect my first payment in January. The good news is that I should be able to get a check each month after that.


As for the site to buy, we did it early in 2012 and took our time to integrate them perfectly in our business model. So far, it has been a great transaction where little work is involved and a lot of passive income is generated!


Overall, we weren’t able to increase our revenues this year. This is a major disappointment. At the same time, we are in line to only have a slight decrease of our revenues even if 60% of our business has been thrown in a garbage can. If private ads weren’t dead, we would have killed our objective.


rd Goal: Successfully launch a new site of major importance

The site is launched but the energy and work is yet to come. Dividend Stock Analysis was officially launched on TFB back in September during the Authority Site Duel. We are happy with our start since the site is already making money while we haven’t pushed the promotion of the site very much.


We can say that the site is launched but it’s not a site of major importance yet ;-). However, the early response from our existing readers is great and we expect to grow this site in the upcoming months. We already started to get more links towards this new site and will host a contest in 2013 in order to grow our newsletter base rapidly. We have over 100 subscribers already and I want to finish 2013 with over 1,000. This will be another awesome customer base for any investment related product.


Keep our expenses at the same level


We have kept close attention to our costs throughout 2012. We were able to diminish them while we were growing. Today, we have more sites and more projects rolling with a smaller budget. We will also attack our interest paid in 2013 in order to reduce this additional cost.


Our system allows us to run multiple blogs and other websites without having to stay up all night. The key is always to focus on added value actions and outsource the rest. I can say that our “fixed” expenses are roughly $4,000/month while we added at least $3,000 in debt repayment per month. The rest goes for variable expenses (and taxes! Lol!).


Is My Online Project is A Company or Just a Great Sideline?


The answer is not as clear as I thought it would be at this point of the year. I’ve called that 2012 was a “pass or fail” test as I wanted to grow my revenues to a level where it could compensate totally my income. This is not the case yet but I don’t consider it as a failure either. All external factors contributed to put pressure on my revenues this year. None of the things we control helped us out to boost our company.


Nonetheless, we were able to find other sources of revenues and keep our objectives in line even if we had to delay some projects. Our “recent” focus on debt repayment also influenced the way we managed the business this year. In order to gain in flexibility in the future, we decided to restraint our expansion this year. A cash rich company could definitely be profitable in a few years and will allow us to do even more things.


I think that our diversification translates into several doors opening in front of us that will lead us to even more revenues in 2013. We used to have two major metrics to push in order to increase our revenues (private ads and Adsense). We now have several other metrics we can push at the same time. Our revenues are not only more stable from month to month but offer also a wider range of improvements. Products combined with an upsell system will also be a great fit for 2013.


For now, I’ll continue to consider my online empire as a company and think that it could grow significantly in the upcoming years. What’s your take? Do you think I have a good sideline or the possibility to eventually create a real company with my websites?

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Not sure if Company vs. Sideline is a proper comparison. Maybe it’s a Canadian terminology I’m not familiar with?

Your company can still be a sideline company for example.

My only hope for Google is that they don’t drastically change algorithms often, so webmasters can focus on doing what is best practice. Can you imagine if they suddenly said that affiliate income was not allowed? What a disaster.

Let’s hope for the best!


Hey Sam,

I for me, a company is an entity that can afford to have employees and that you can live from it. A sideline can be a company in legal terms(our sites are held within a corporation) but I consider a sideline being a addition to your existing salary without being able to replace it.

From my small experience (since 2006), I’ve seen at least three major changes in 6 years from Google. Therefore, a business model is only good for 2 years so far 🙁 that’s pretty bad!

Hopefully Bing and Yahoo will do better in the next 2 years then!

I’m optimistic that good, meaty content wins out in the end and will always be desired by Google. Furthermore, any penalties one does experience seems to go away within 10 months.

I think you have a company that just had some pains this year. You can’t expect constant awesome growth every year but I bet 2013 will be better for you guys.

Hey Sam,

you got a point. traffic varies but Google has at least the good habit of correcting its mistakes overtime!


yeah, it’s just that it would have been awesome to continue our growth this year! oh well, we are already working for 2013 to reach that magical number of 15K/month! lol!

I think it’s hard to determine. For example, I was only making $35,000 a year before taxes in my old job and you are bringing in way more online, so that would make it a company by your definition for me. But you make more at your day job, so it isn’t? Nah, I think it is a company that you just want to grow more before depending on it full time. 🙂 That makes sense. 🙂

Well, thats pretty awesome. Obviously building wealth comes down to a simple “save more than you earn” strategy, and with you making more money while keeping your expenses the same or lower is a great way to do that. Selling over 300 copies of your book in less than 3 months is great accomplishment, congrats.

by: The Financial Blogger | November 30th, 2012 (6:16 am)


you bring a good point… maybe I should elaborate more on my definition of a “company” ;-). But yeah, definitely be able to live from your company’s revenues is a great start to call it a company! lol!

[…] The Financial Blogger – Is my online Gig a Company or a Sideline? […]

My business didn’t grow quite as much as I expected this year (about 10% rather than 80%). I’ve been following a pattern recently where I have one flat year followed by one year of big gains. If that repeats itself next year should be good 🙂 Hopefully I’ve worked out what I need to do to keep up a better growth rate.

I think you’re on the way to something good. Businesses always take longer than expected to reach a stable point, especially good ones that can last a long time. As long as you’re willing to keep doing the work it’s worth going on to reach the next level. Once you get there you won’t remember the extra year or two it took!

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