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March 2015 Income Report


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March has been a brilliant month for us. We met and exceeded our income goals by a fair bit. If we were happy in February, then we are ecstatic this month! Read the full details below.

We spent all of March based in Penang. We just love it here. You can read a full report of a regular week in our lives here. Of course, I wasn’t just in Penang. I didn’t become a digital nomad because I like staying put!

I spent 6 days on a solo Myanmar adventure and the 4 of us headed to Langkawi for an amazing 4 days. No wonder I am tired!

Where’s Sharon

I continue to focus on this site to grow its income. I have been continuing to increase affiliate income, rebranding to focus on travel planning and working on growing my email subscribers. So far, so good! I have seen some great increases on my affiliate income which is exactly what I want. The more passive, the better!

My increase in hotel commissions was perhaps my biggest achievement on this site this month. I tripled my average daily rate at the beginning of the month compared to the end and there is still lots of room to grow and improve.

I have found so far that writing a short list of options in my city guides has worked well. For an example of a well converting post, see my guide to Hobart.

For Amazon commissions, the posts that I wrote based on extensive keyword research to target this back at Christmas time are ranking well in Google, particularly since they are still in the sandbox (I find it takes about 4-6 months for them to rank for big keywords steadily). What has been frustrating is that they are ranking very well in Australia, but not as well in the USA.

I have noticed before that I rank best in Australia (my home country), but I had not thought about what that means for Amazon affiliate style posts. People just don’t buy from Amazon in Australia, at least not much. They are meant to be opening up properly in Australia soon, but that does not help me now.

The items I am writing about generally cannot be shipped internationally from Amazon, so I am missing out on possible commissions. I am trying to become an affiliate of an Australian site but it is not easy as not many sites offer this option.

I wish I had somehow set up my site as an American! It is going to make it harder to grow my affiliate income as much as I would like. There are some definite drawbacks to coming from a sparsely populated country! I am surprised I have not read about someone having this issue before as I can’t be the only one?

Rebranding

I have continued to work on restructuring this site to improve my internal linking structure (and thus, flow of link juice and help my search engine rankings). I also hope it is becoming easier to navigate my travel blog and that it is looking more like a travel resource site than just a blog.

There is still a fair bit of work to do on this. Since this doesn’t earn me income directly, it keeps falling down the job list.

Traffic and Subscribers

Page Views: 61,102 (up from 55,234)

I have loved seeing the traffic rise this month especially as it comes from Google. Two affiliate articles that I talked about above now rank in the top ten pages on my site – thanks to my keyword research.

Between these and other guides I have written this year where I target 50+ lots of keywords, I have seen a great increase. It is great to know that I am not only gaining page views, but I am gaining the right type – ones that convert into money 🙂

Costs

PayPal fees – $47

HootSuite – $12
I use this for twitter scheduling

Writing – $50
An article written by my brother.

GetResponse email service for managing my subscribers and autoresponders – $19.25
You can read more about the different email subscription services here.

MassPlanner – $13
This tool does post scheduling, follow/unfollow, liking and commenting and a million other things across all the social media that I use. I have been trying it out and so far I am very impressed. It is very powerful and an excellent price for something that does pretty much whatever you need on social media.

Frantech hosting – $23

Total Costs: $172

Income

Advertising – $563 (down from $699)

Direct advertising – $350

Google AdSense – $213

Affiliates – $725 (up from $310)

I made $217 from Amazon and $508 from hotel commissions (up from $129 and $181).

Basically all my hotel commissions come from HotelsCombined.

Sponsored Reviews – $588

Total Income: $1,876 – $172 = $1,704 (up from $1,696)

Digital Nomad Wannabe

Page Views: 4,459 (up from 3,930)

The page views on this site have doubled over the last two months. I would be happy except I am unsure how to progress with this site.

It is definitely a labour of love. I enjoy everything I write for this site. The teacher in me (my previous career) comes out and I love writing what I hope are super useful tutorials. I also enjoy writing these and the niche site reports and tracking how far I have come since I decided I would become a digital nomad but had no idea how.

However, I do not have time for a labour of love. I am so time poor and tutorials like my last one, how to increase mail subscribers, take me at least a couple of full days to compile.

Despite the fact that it has seen a fair bit of traffic since I published it, it has made me $0. In fact, even though there are quite a few affiliate links in it, the click through rate is horrendous.

I have not put in the effort to really try and market this site or make money, but at the same time, I cannot justify putting in that effort when what I am doing is clearly not working.

I don’t know if it is my articles – how I write them or what I am writing about – or just the fact that the majority of my readers would be travel bloggers who, in general, seem to go to ridiculous lengths to avoid spending money.

I don’t need to be living off this site, but I need to feel it has more potential than I currently do. For the moment, I am only going to write my monthly income reports and niche site updates.

Income: $60 (affiliates – up from $24)

Niche sites

They continue to grow. You can read a full update here.

Costs

Writing – $150

Hosting – $3 (cheap hosting for PBN)

Total Costs: $153

Income

I made $1373 across my niche sites. It was great to crack the $1000 barrier!

Total Income: $1373 – $153 = $1223 (up from $471!)

Freelancing

J completed a programming project this month.

Income – $2,400

Earnings Total: $5,379 (USD$4,085)

Up from USD$2,309 in February. Our goal at the beginning of the month was to make $3,500 so we did it!

I am especially happy by my own progress. I made about $3,000 of this which is by far my best month ever. The best part, though, is the…

Passive Income

I absolutely love watching the growth in my passive income. I calculate it each day!

I consider affiliate income and AdSense income to be passive because I could not work at all for the next couple of months and I should keep earning this. I am getting closer to my goal of $100 a day.

Average passive income per day for March = $76 (up from $39!)

Just like last month, my daily average at the end of the month was higher than this. I really cannot wait to see what happens in April. I think I am going to hit my magical $100 a day goal soon!

The dream is to be making enough passive income by the time we go to Europe in June that we can enjoy travelling and not put so much focus on work. It’s looking like it should happen.

Plans for the Next Month

My main goals for the coming month are basically the same as for March:

1. Increase affiliate income on Where’s Sharon by further refining how I use affiliates on existing posts.

2. Write more posts specifically with the aim of growing affiliate income.

3. Continue adding articles to my niche sites.

4. Finish rebranding Where’s Sharon

5. Enjoy Sri Lanka. We head there about halfway through April and we will not have much time to work while we are exploring this destination for 3 weeks.

J is working on winning oDesk contracts again which is not much fun. We are close to getting to the point where he can forget about freelancing and work on growing our affiliate income instead. I wish we had a crystal ball so we could work out whether we are already at that point. I am just not quite ready to say that i can make at least $3,500 a month yet to support us.

We do not expect to earn as much money in April, thank to J doing less freelancing. However, we do hope to continue to be self supporting and for our passive income to grow – maybe even past $100 a day! Making that happen is far more important to us than some temporary freelancing income.

You can now read our income report for April and more posts on blogging and income reports here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, tips or advice.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

 

About the Author

Sharon Gourlay is passionate about working online and helping others to follow in her footsteps. She left Australia with her young family at the end of 2014 determined to grow an online business. She succeeded and now supports her family of 5 to live their dream lifestyle.

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