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January 2017 Income Report: Working With Freelancers, Niche Websites Update

Update: Fixed “Outsourced writing” expense + totals + totals chart; before, used a combined number for both January and February

Here comes the first month of the year 2017. Time flies soooo fast! We have only one month of winter left and it is the coldest one.  I do not mind winter at all – I like snow and the smell of cold fresh air – it’s just the lack of sunlight makes it harder to go through.

Ok, let’s proceed to the business.

Read on January 2017 Income Report – this is my income report #17 and the very first report for 2017.

What Happened In January

Working With Freelancers: Two Conclusions

In January, I was intensively working with freelancers. I have now 2 writers and 1 VA and I have hired all of them through Upwork.

Writers or how I got into my first dispute

Initially, I hired 3 writers.

For some reason, it is hard to find writers on Upwork regardless of their qualifications. Usually, I post a job and then wait for freelancers to submit their applications. While for a VA job, I receive 5-6 and more applications, I usually receive only 2-3 for a writer one. This time, I also wanted native English speakers from the U.S. and I knew very well I would be out of luck.

Rather than passively waiting for applications to swim in, I decided to actively search for writers and outreach them on my own. I sent maybe 10 or 15 offers. The majority of answers were “No” except for 3 freelancers. These were the ones I hired.

Two out of three gals were fine… but the third one was slow on submitting her first article. When I poked her, she finally delivered. However, the article was full of inaccuracies and cut corners. I asked the girl to re-write. It again took her long time… and this time, she delivered pretty much the same article with only few changes! I got pissed and canceled the contract right on the spot without paying her. She got pissed, too, and filed a dispute. Upwork chimed in and reimbursed money to both of us.

Conclusion: Don’t be afraid to cut loose un-delivering stuff. It will save you time and money.

Virtual Assistant: The same story repeats

This is a third VA I am working with… and I see again the same major problems as with 2 previous ones:

  • the guy often un-delivers in terms of the number of hours
  • he promises to work on a particular day and does not.

Also, this guy has some problems with attitude. He does not always follow the order of tasks and sometimes refuses to do some tasks 😤

You may ask – why do I keep him? Good question.

First of all, he did the best in the tests among 4 VAs I interviewed.
Second of all, the guy also:

  • pays attention to the work he’s doing
  • seems to produce a good quality work
  • clearly has a relevant experience
  • charges a bit more than $6 / hour 🙂

I also need my work to move – I was getting swamped by it and was losing my focus.

So, I plan to find a new VA. For now, I would want the 2nd VA to work in addition to the 1st one and see if this person is better or not. Then, I can choose the best.

Conclusion: Don’t be afraid to cut un-delivering stuff as long as you have a backup. In the case with the writers, I do have a backup. In the case of VA, I first need to find one.

Niche Websites Update

If you are new on my blog or forgot what websites I own and where they come from, yo can take a look at my website portfolio.

Elephant 🐘 Website

This is the 1st website I bought in 2015. It was supposed to be a major income contributor.. .and it was until November 2016 when its traffic was undercut by competition. Or so I thought.

Recently, I started realizing that the website was affected not only by competition but by Google algo updates. Not sure it was Panda or something else. Probably Panda.

My website has lost a significant portion of its ranking for a few major keywords (traffic > 3,000-6,000.) SERP moved from the 1st-page numbers to 5th ones! This clearly has nothing to do with competition. The first drop happened in the middle of December 2016 and since then it has been going lower and lower.

The keyword with less traffic have not been affected and I wonder if it is only a matter of time…

Meanwhile, the overall traffic in January 2017 was lower by 42% comparing to January 2016. Wow. I guess this is my new reality now.

The good thing is that my worse (black-hat) competition has suffered the same or even worse drop. According to AhRef, their traffic is now lower than mine by 40% and keeps going down. Meanwhile, only in November 2016, they were way above me with traffic – maybe twice as big as mine. Double wow.

I am currently actively improving the website in order to fight it sliding down. In January, I added 4 new posts targeting new keywords. I also added more Amazon products to the existing pages.

Apart from that, I am trying to fight decreasing earnings by… duplicating the website 🙂 This is my secret weapon to fight competition I mentioned before.

A while ago, I spun off a new website on the same topic as Elephant 🐘 Website. Of course, it only targets the same keywords and is not a total dup. Currently, I am filling it up with the content and building some low-hanging-fruit backlinks.

“Once found a niche, exploit it to the maximum!” I read this advice on diggitymarketing.com (I think) and found it pretty clever. Once you find good keywords, spin off not one but 2-3 websites and fill the first page with your links thus leaving little room for competition.

Once found a niche, exploit it to the maximum! Click To Tweet

I have not come up with the name of the new website yet (Elephant 🐘 Website II? Rhino 🦏 Website?) and have not yet monetized it.

Now I am thinking about it… given that’s happening with its big brother, is it a smart thing to invest into a potentially dying niche? 🤔

Let’s see.

So far, I spent $75 on the content and about $10 on VA to do backlinking. Over the course of the next 1-2 months, I plan to spend extra $100-$150 on the content and maybe $15 more on VA.

It gives us about $250 in total.

Elephant 🐘 Website easily makes (or should make) a double of this sum per month in high season. If the new website gets 2 times less traffic than its elder brother, my guess it still can pay off the expenses in only 2-3 “high” months.

Since the high season is coming soon, it seems like a thing worthy to try.

Horse 🐎 Website

This is the 2nd website I bought in 2015.

It is still on a total autopilot 🙂 And I am still very pleased with it.

In January, it almost hit the best-month-ever mark missing only 58c comparing to September 2016, which is the best month so far.

Here is a chart with the earnings since the middle of November 2015 when I bought the website. Seems like the numbers are growing over time, no? 🤘🤘🤘

january 2017 income report horse website revenue all times

Projected revenue is the revenue that was used to calculate the cost of the website when I bought it.

The website paid back the money I paid for it and now, it brings in a pure income. At the moment, it has already paid 23% on top of the price I paid for it. This is a great ROI!

Rat 🐀 Website

Not much work done here apart from researching low competition keywords for new articles.

I will be adding more content to it in the next couple of months.

0Honeybee 🐝 Website

This is a website that has a backlink profile consisting mostly of PBN links.

In January, I kept improving my PBN and have done a lot of work here.

I found 3 good expired domains and tested 6 domains. Based on the testing results, I set up 2 new blogs (one more to go), left one old blog as is, and got rid of two old ones 👩‍🔧

Thanks to my efforts, there is already an uptick in the organic traffic showing. It is not very high but only one backlink went live in January. The second one is located inside a scheduled post. This indicates that I am moving in the right direction with my PBN. I did not add any new content to the website since 2015 so the growing traffic is based purely on the improved backlink profile.

Black Friday Hangover Continued

In January, I still got some returns of purchases made during Black Friday / Cyber Monday! Eeeeh.

I wonder how it went on your side guys? Also a lot of returns?

Kickfurther

In January, I backed zero businesses while four businesses successfully finished their contracts by paying off in full.

Kickfurther has been recently going through a lot of changes. Seems that they became more cautious about what businesses to accept and how to do due diligence. It results in a smaller number of new consignments available to back.

The backers have also been changing their attitude. They are not keen anymore to cancel failing consignments that are behind the payment schedule. The backers are more and more realizing that it is better to wait and let the business try to sell the stock rather than cancel the agreement and get the stock instead of money.

Nobody but the business knows the best how to sell their stuff – and the backers are now getting it.

This results in more consignments being stuck in the paying phase rather than being canceled. This is not good and not bad. Just different from what I saw in the beginning.

Personal Life

January was a bit of tough month for me.

I was sick during at least a half of it. It was a weird sickness that made me feel very weak without having any other symptoms like fever or coughing. I had to stop doing sports and was spending work lunches meditating / resting in a napping room (we are very lucky to have one in the office.)

Given that my second job – that’s how I call my niche website activities – was more demanding than usual, it made my January life even less easy. In the evenings, I often found myself loaded with anticold medicine to fight headache while reading submitted articles. In the mornings, I stayed in bed with a laptop until I had to rush to work. Some days, I was pretty happy that my VA was sluggish with the work.

And the month started on such a good note… In the morning of January 1st, the weather was super nice. It was about -1C and sunny so I went for a run. It was snowing during the New Year night and the park trails were covered with fluffy snow. It did not stop me; I ran through the snow 🙂

January 2017 Income Report: Winter jogging

January 2017 Income Report: Winter jogging

On some days instead of jogging, I did a bit of stretching at home. Stretching is such a good way to relax and get rid of anxiety.

January 2017 Income Report: Yoga

Now, I am feeling better and hoping that I am done with the sick period for this season!

January was a blooming month for me. Unusual, right? It’s a winter month so where the blooms would come from…

From a bulb!

Sam gave me a narcissus bulb for Christmas and in January, the bulb bloomed! I was so ecstatic to see the flowers. Apart from being overwhelmingly pretty, The narcissus smells like a fine perfume – love it 🙂

January 2017 Income Report: Narcissus

On top of that, Sam and I have started a very personal project that requires us to take night classes once a week. Every Thursday night, we take a 50 min bus ride to go to the other end of Montreal to attend a 1.5-hour class. After, we spend another 50 min to come back home.0
The class will finish by the end of February.
I am not ready to share details of the project on the blog yet. But once (and if) the project goes into a more definite state, I will definitely write about it.

 

Yeah, January was one heck of the month. Now, let’s look at the numbers!

Expenses

January expenses were higher comparing to the other months because my freelancers worked a lot. It means my business is growing and it makes me feel satisfied 🙂

In fact, I should aim to have high expenses. Why? Because it is good for taxing purposes.

Currently, my total revenue (personal + business) is calculated as one whole (due to my sole proprietorship status.) My day job salary is pretty high so with my combined income, I almost hit the highest tax bracket. No good.

That’s why I need to invest in my sites now: To reduce the income base and to have a good foundation for future in terms of experience and content. I can afford it because I am not yet living off my online business.

Expenses
Expense Amount Notes
Outsourced writing $96.07 Ordered new articles
Outsourced VA $94.21 Outsource some work to a VA
Heatmap tool $20.00 Paid for 2 LuckyOrange accounts
E-marketing and tools $35.02 Paid for stock photos and a cheap access to AhRef, Majestic, plus some other tools
PBN domains $48.39 Register new domains for PBN and used proxies for Domain Hunter Gatherer to mine more expired domains
PBN hosting $42.90 Paid for Easy Blog Networks, an awesome solution for PBNs (read my review) and Bulk Buy Hosting (here's my review)
Meals $15.23 Went for lunch with a blog reader turned friend to discuss business 🙂
KickFurther $0.00 Did not re-invested anything
Total $331.82

Income

In terms of income, January was better than December. Elephant 🐘 Website is going up due to the high season upon us.

(Read here to find out what website nicknames mean.)

Income
Income Amount Notes
Amazon by Elephant Website $80.94 Revenue from the 1st website I bought
AdSense by Elephant & Horse Websites $469.81 Revenue from two websites
Amazon by Rat Website $3.35 Revenue from the website built by Human Proof Designs; check their website to see if you can get a ready made niche website for yourself
Ads by Rat Website $0.28 I monetize Rat Website through media.net
Amazon by Honeybee Website $0.00 Revenue from the website I am building myself
ClickBank $46.98 Recurring and new sales for Easy Blog Networks
Human Proof Designs $0.00 Affiliate sale for Human Proof Designs
KickFurther $124.9 Online investments paid back; read more in my post about Kickfurther
Interest $7.40 Stashing extra money on a high earning saving account and earning interest
Total $502.96

Totals

Here are my totals for January 2017.

Total income $502.96 minus total expenses $331.82 makes a net profit of $171.14.

Here is the chart with my revenue vs expenses for the last 12 months. It does not include my big investment in June 2016 when I bought some cryptocurrency.

january 2017 income report revenu expenses chart

February 2017 Plans

In February, I plan to keep my expenses high 🙂 It is good for taxing purposes because I have a high income due to my day job. I almost hit the highest tax bracket and this is not good. I need to invest in my sites now to kill two birds with one stone: To reduce the income base and to have a good niche website foundation in terms of experience and content.

I will keep working on my PBN and keep buying more expressed domains. My VA will be busy with filling the sites with the content. I plan to find one more VA and probably get rid of the old one.

I will keep working on Elephant 🐘 Website and its small brother to prepare for the high season that will start in March. This will include building more backlinks as well as adding more content. My freelance writers will be sooo busy with work! 🙂

And of course, I will try to write about my experience in the blog! Since I am nor sure when I will post the next post, stay tuned by subscribing to my emails!

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Disclaimer

Some of the links in this income report are affiliate links. I will receive a small fee if you choose to buy after clicking on any of these links. Thank you if you do!

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