Another month has come and gone, and with it, the first quarter of the 2012. Can you believe that we are already 25% of the way through the year? Have you achieved all that you hoped for in that time?
That question has in fact been on my mind during the past few weeks. I am not particular interested in focusing on the specific goals I set at the start of the year (as I barely met any of them) – I am actually more interested in how my attitude towards and expectations of my business has evolved.
I thought that reaching my goals would be the most important achievements of this quarter, but I now believe that the development of my mental outlook has been in fact far more valuable.
At the start of March, I predicted that the month would be not “particularly spectacular”. I was away on business for most of one week, and away on holiday for another 10 days. I am still in Houston, Texas as I type this – spending time with my sister and her family. A working holiday of sorts (the benefits of lifestyle design!).
I did however hope that the blog would attract 10,000+ visitors as it did in February (thanks to the success of my LWB 100 post), and expected my freelance income to be “healthy”, albeit lower than last month. Finally, I expected a small increase in my niche site income. Let’s see how it panned out!
I am really comfortable with the writing side of my business now. Whilst my “base income” (from regular clients) is not enough to cover my outgoings, I am picking up work from other clients on an ad hoc basis. I am actually happy to run at a loss for the time being, as I like to have the extra time to dedicate to the rest of my business. If I want to earn more money from my writing in the future, I can always expand that side of the business.
But for the time being, I have got into a nice groove of doing all of my writing work before lunch, which then leaves the afternoon open to more speculative endeavors.
In February I made clear my frustrations with regards to my niche site plans. It has certainly been a winding journey to date.
In January I decided to build the sites myself, and starting doing so. I quickly realized that I didn’t want to spend so much time doing what is repetitive work, so I decided to hire a VA. February was spent looking for that VA (who I found through Virtual Staff Finder and is doing great so far!), and March was spent getting systems in place and training her. That will continue through April as I finalize my backlinking strategy.
Progress on existing sites has been slow. AdSense income is starting to pick up a bit, but who knows how that will develop in April. I have 6 finished sites, and 18 under development. I used Fiverr to build links to the first 6 sites, and am concerned that a poor job may have been done – some of them aren’t even indexed for their primary keywords yet. I’ll sit tight for the time being (as I have other sites to concentrate on), but I made need to go back and build more backlinks to those sites.
What has been interesting to see is how my keyword research process has evolved. I think I now have a pretty good system down (which I plan to share with you soon). When it comes to scalable business models, it is a case of first building the system, then developing it further over time. That is certainly what has happened with my keyword research process.
Income & Expenditure – March 2012
As predicted, my earnings weren’t as high as they were in February. But that is to be expected, given that I essentially did no work for about half of the month!
- Freelance writing:
- Income: $2,433.10
- Expenditure: $0
- Profit: $2,433.10
- Income: $9.35
- Expenditure: $1,049.67
- Profit: -$1,040.32
- Income: $0
- Expenditure: $67.71
- Profit: -$67.71
Total Profit for March 2012: $1,325.08
Leaving Work Behind actually generated some affiliate sales in March (a grand total of $71.35), but to keep life simple, I am only going to record affiliate income when it is paid to me.
The dip in freelance income comes as no surprise, given the amount of days I had off. The niche site expenditure is disproportionately high as it includes quite a lot of expenses for websites to be built in April. However, I will be working towards minimizing the cost per niche site built over the coming weeks.
I’m going to stick with the long term cash flow model that I started last month for the time being at least:
In my opinion, it is always important to be conservative with cash flow projections, for two reasons:
- No one likes nasty surprises
- It is always encouraging to have more money than you thought you would
Point 2 came into play this month, as a have a few hundred pounds more in the bank than I thought I would at the start of March. That, coupled with a few amendments I have made to the cash flow in general, has created a knock on effect which means I now theoretically run out of money at the end of November (as opposed to the end of September, which is what last month’s cash flow showed).
In fact, if the cash flow is correct, I could stop investing in niche sites in November and would be more than break even month by month with existing writing and niche site income. What I plan to do however is start selling niche sites as soon as they reach maturity (which I’m hoping will possible starting in July or August).
I expected March to be a period of consolidation for the blog, after the huge growth in February. I’m really happy with how the month turned out:
- Visitors: down 7%
- Average actions: down 19%
- Average time per visit: up 3%
- Bounce rate: up 0%
As you can see, I did manage to attract over 10,000 visitors again, which I wasn’t expecting. It certainly hasn’t been a stellar month for content, as I have been distracted by business trips and holidays. Having said that, there have been some posts this month that I am proud of.
I started the month with Why You Should Be A Selfish Blogger, and have really taken my own advice to heart. I produced a little WordPress plugin that can help you to boost the number of tweets your blog posts get. I spent a whole load of time on producing Why BuildMyRank Is Not The Best Private Blog Network, only for confidence in all private blog networks to fall through the floor on the same day. We call that sod’s law in England (which I believe is known as Murphy’s law in the USA). I also did my first ever video post.
Finally, I wrote a post at the end of March which is rather pivotal to the future of this blog. If you are a regular reader, you really should take a look: And Now For Something Completely Different.
March Micro-Goals Roundup
I set only two goals in March, so you would think they were easily hit, right?
- Hire VA and put niche site building system in place. I have hired a VA, the system is still being worked on.
- Build a minimum of 10 sites. We started building 7 sites in March.
It is almost laughable how bad I have been in recent months at settings realistic goals, but as I gain experience and get a better handle on my business, my goal-setting will no doubt improve.
My To Do List For April
Since I am comfortable with how my freelance writing work is going and I am taking a much more relaxed view about this blog, my goal setting now revolves around guess what…
- Finalize niche site building system
- Finish building March’s sites
- Start building 8 sites in April
- Research methods for reducing cost per niche site
There is in fact another item on the agenda – a brand new project. I will be revealing more in the near future, so stay tuned…
What’s In Store For April?
I was doubtful of reaching 10,000 visits to the blog in March, and I am extremely doubtful of hitting that in April. I am not going to be putting a great deal of work into promoting the blog, and I’ll probably be posting less – but I am completely fine with that. I’d rather serve you guys as best I can, than continue to strive endlessly for more readers. I’m sure they will come in time.
My freelance writing income should pick up again in April, and ad hoc work with additional clients may provide a nice little boost to my earnings. However, I am not expecting a record month.
Finally, I have no solid expectation of how my niche site income will develop. It might rise quite a lot, or it might only rise a small amount. May will be a better time to reflect on progress with the sites that I have built.
Creative Commons photo courtesy of c_ambler