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Well – it has been quite a month. Certainly the most eventful in terms of my online business. It started with a great deal of optimism. In my last income report, I signed off on a very positive note, hoping that September would be the first month where I turned a profit.
Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.
Niche Site Disaster
For the first six days of September, I was averaging AdSense earnings of over £2.50 ($4.40) per day from Modeling For Kids, which would have produced a gross income of £75 ($125) for the month. I was hoping that the actual income would be much higher, as I was targeting quite a few relatively high traffic keywords and anticipated ranking highly for them, sooner rather than later. I could see a path whereby I could increase this income exponentially by continuing to target additional keywords. I was also considering hiring a virtual assistant to do the more menial work, so I could start up a new project whilst Modeling For Kids ran in the background. A business model of sorts was beginning to form – although the earnings from the site were low, if I could scale it up through additional keyword targeting and new projects, I could begin to plot a path to a sustainable and adequate income.
But as you probably know by now, on 6th September (just a day after my birthday, I may add), disaster struck. My site was struck with a heavy penalty by Google, and my traffic source disappeared overnight. This was probably due to my overly-aggressive backlinking technique, which in retrospect, was extremely stupid. I’ve certainly learnt a big lesson there. The site still remains well off the first page of Google for all of the keywords I am targeting, and I am not much closer to figuring out if I can undo at least some of the damage.
Onwards And Upwards
But all is not lost! Whilst it is a big blow to lose my only source of income (albeit small), there is no point on crying over spilt milk. I have learnt an extremely valuable lesson from my experience with Modeling For Kids – that experience is in itself an asset.
I have started a new project, the approach of which is the polar opposite of my first niche site. Deal With Anxiety is to be an authority site, based upon a combination of my own experience, and research. I do not plan to employ any ‘grey’ or black hat SEO techniques in building the site. To date, all I have done is publish a new article every single day. Each article targets a specific long tail keyword that has anywhere from 5 – 70 exact searches per day, and a relatively low competition level. In time, I hope to be able to rank on the 1st page of Google for some of these keywords without doing any offsite SEO. This is all theory of course, so we will have to see how it pans out. As of today, I rank from anywhere between 60 – 300 in Google for 5 different keywords. And that is without Google having indexed my site in the last week – I hope that the rankings will jump once Google reindexes the site and notices that there are an extra 7 articles!
I am keeping my approach very simple with this site – my single short term focus is to produce quality content for my visitors, that is also finely honed for the search engines. I’m not worrying about monetization, design (although I have started with a nice clean design for the time being), social media promotion, offsite SEO, or anything else. With such a singular approach, I am able to produce a lot of content, which strikes me as rather useful for building a good level of traffic in the long run.
I have a couple of other things that I am working on at the moment that I’m keep under wraps for the time being. Either of these two things could produce a significant amount of income, but I am not counting my chickens before they hatch! Rest assured, you will be the first to know about these projects if and when they take off.
Income And Expenditure – September 2011
Unfortunately, I renewed my Build My Rank subscription in September, which was a waste of money, as I have done no backlinking work. Beyond that, I have incurred the usual monthly expenses relating to hosting and my mailing lists. The one exception to the norm is my ‘secret project expenses’. All will be revealed in good time!
September was a pretty successful month for Leaving Work Behind. There were three articles that were especially popular:
- Do You Make These 13 Common Keyword Research Mistakes?
- How To Use Twitter For Exponential Blog Growth
- What I Have Learnt From My First Niche Site
The second post attracted 34 re-tweets, which is a great number for any post on my blog.
On a personal note, I was quite proud of “What Playground Politics Can Teach You About Search Engine Optimization“, but it didn’t prove to be particularly popular.
If you haven’t read those articles yet, be sure to check them out!
What’s In Store For October?
Well, I certainly hope October will be a better month than September! In terms of earnings however, it may not be, as my new projects will take time to mature. There is one exception to this, but I am remaining tight-lipped for the time being. You will just have to keep up to speed with my posts and wait to see what I am up to!
Wilson Usman says
Hey Tom you’re in the right path though. I’ve excited to see you succeed. I’m just starting my first venture here soon with MDBP from ThinkTraffic. Let’s do this!
Tom Ewer says
It’s just a matter time and determination Wilson – we both know that! 🙂
Hello, Tom! I stumbled upon your blog and I really liked what you’re doing, I was actually kind of getting tired of seeing so many people making many thousands per month and seeing somebody who really works hard to get that income up is truly inspiring.
I am sure you know that already, but I feel the need to tell you that when I started blogging about three years ago (and I knew nothing about SEO), it took me about 6 months to get my first pay check. But I never lost faith and now things are a little better. So all you have to do is to keep trying and keep working hard. Eventually, it will happen!
Tom Ewer says
Thanks for your kind words! I appreciate your encouragement too. I know it takes time, but I will get there, and I truly hope that I can help others achieve success too!
All the best,
Hi Tom, your blog is inspirational to see that you are working hard. I also agree with the simple template set up. Also, I was wondering what kind of theme you use?
I wish you all the best going upwards.
Tom Ewer says
Thanks for your kind words. The LWB design is a customized Canvas theme by WooThemes. WooThemes are awesome – I highly recommend them.
Alex- 1095 Days to Freedom says
Hi Tom, just wanted to give your words of encouragement. Keep up the good work and it will pay it’s dividends eventually!
Tom Ewer says
Hi Alex – thanks so much – that’s very kind! Your website looks awesome by the way! 🙂
I suffered a big hit on my ranking on 6th September too so it must have been an update they rolled out which affected sites targeting only one keyword. I too have learnt from my mistakes but I don’t think the site will ever get it’s rankings back unless I put a LOT of work into it.
Tom Ewer says
Hey Adem! Good to see you here again. I tend to agree with you on the permanent coma Google has put our sites into…but like you say – lesson learned!
why don’t you use mailchimp instead of aweber? it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers I think.
Tom Ewer says
I don’t want to deal with the transfer hassle once I do get beyond 2,000 – and I much prefer AWeber.
I found your site through your Twitter account.
Charles, yes – up to 2000 subscribers. It’s difficult to figure out who is best between Mailchimp and Aweber. More personal preference. But if you are growing your list slowly, taking advantage of Mailchimp’s 2000 subscriber limit will save you $19/mo for a while and eventually start saving you $29/mo.
I believe just staying with Mailchimp since it cost about the same as Aweber is a good move for slow growing list. Importing your list into Aweber will be high risk, since some subscribers won’t confirm the new list.
Tom Ewer says
Blimey — talk about dragging up an old post! 😉
It is largely a matter of personal preference but I have read horror stories about MailChimp shutting down accounts due to ToS violations that are not particularly apparent.