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May 2015 Income Report


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May was a fabulous month. We hit some new records and, apart from some hosting problems for my travel blog, it was relatively stress free. I was even let back into the Commission Junction program!

It was a much better month than April and I am happy to be exactly where I hoped to be at the start of June – in a position where our passive income is enough to cover all our costs as we travel Europe! We have a busy 4 months planned exploring Bangkok and Europe so it is great to be in a position where I don’t have to feel so much pressure to work. I look forward to enjoying life some more!

Another great milestone is that we can also afford for J to no longer chase freelancing work but to work on my projects as well. I have so much on my plate that it is a big relief to share some of the load and I have been teaching J to be a keyword ninja! I had no idea just how much work was involved in fabulous keyword research until I tried to teach someone else. I am so used to it that I forgotten how complicated it is.

We spent the first ten days travelling in Sri Lanka and the rest of the month in our home base of Penang working hard while we could.

Cash Flow

Cash flow was a big problem for us last month so I thought I would update how this aspect is affecting us now.

Thankfully, it has stopped being such a problem. Now that I have my Payoneer card, I can finally access my Amazon earnings. It takes two months at the end of the month to access this money, but from the end of June, hopefully I will be seeing about US$2000 minimum a month coming onto this card – this is more than enough to support us in itself thanks to the fact that we have already paid for our accommodation for the next few months.

I also was paid the money owing from Commission Junction and we currently have nothing outstanding save for small amounts which we are only waiting shorter periods for. This is a huge relief!

It can be frustrating having lots of little amounts owing across lots of different affiliate programs that I may never see – I actually do not put every amount in these income reports as it seems pointless if I am unsure I will ever earn enough to be paid out. For example, I “earned” $2.55 on eBay last month.

The best part is that we have finally stopped going into our savings. We even hope to start topping this up again in June since we have all our accommodation already arranged.

Commission Junction

After my big whinge last month, I am happy to say that my Commission Junction dramas are over. I was cleared of any wrong doing out of the blue and admitted back in. I am even in their premium content creators program now which gives me pre-approval for many advertisers and a higher commission rate for some of them.

It was annoying to put all the work back into changing the links back, but I am just happy that that drama is over!

Where’s Sharon

I continue to focus on this site to grow its income. My primary aim continues to be to increase affiliate income on this site. This is becoming increasingly successful.

My hotel and Amazon commissions increased nicely this month, despite all the dramas (I didn’t get commission junction back until about the 7th). My continued SEO effort has been paying off – I earned nothing from commissions at the start of this year now its over $1700. My page views also continue to explode. I think I will hit the magical 100,000 mark very soon.

Hosting Changes

I did have some dramas with hosting this month. My continued massive growth finally affected my hosting situation and I had about 5 days where there was a lot of down time. Of course, this happened at the end of our Sri Lankan adventure when we were not in a position to do anything about it.

I initially changed to SiteGround who I use for a smaller site and have been very happy with. However, despite buying the Go Geek package which is meant to be fine for 100,000 page views, I found I was already very close to hitting their limits for shared hosting and was having lots of very quick outages. I still recommend SiteGround for smaller sites, but for sites with more traffic, I have a different recommendation.

After chatting to my awesome friends at MyTanFeet, I switched over to Traffic Planet Hosting and so far I could not be happier. It’s US$25 a month which is a bit more than what I paid at SiteGround (at least for the first year after which Traffic Planet is cheaper). However, my site is a lot faster, my up time has been great and they transferred the site for me. I could not be happier and I am so glad that my hosting problems are over. It was a stressful couple of weeks!

Sponsored Travel

Playing on the beach in Sri Lanka! Sponsored travel is not all bad, but I'd rather just earn enough money to pay for myself

Playing on the beach in Sri Lanka! Sponsored travel is not all bad, but I’d rather just earn enough money to pay for myself

We had two sponsored stays towards the end of our Sri Lankan stay. They were both straight forward but always add to my work load.

I continued lining up experiences for Europe. I am doing very little sponsored stays though as it just takes up too much time and we are generally finding Airbnb apartments to be very affordable.

We are very strict with working out if an experience is really worth our effort from a sponsorship stand point or if we are better off just paying for ourselves. As our income rises further, we will probably stop doing any sponsored travel at all. I would rather put my effort into smart ways to earn money. I also enjoy travel far more when there is not that pressure.

I would love to put a dollar value on the sponsored travel we do and include it here, but it is so hard to work that out (although I try to work out if each opportunity is worth it).

I don’t consider it to be the cost of the actual experience as the fact is that we are not in a position to pay $200+ per night and would not. Usually I value accommodation at $50 a night (a usual cost for us) and experiences based on whether we would pay for them ourselves or not.

Traffic

Page Views: 82,023 (up from 68,614)

Another great increase primarily thanks to google search and SEO. It would have been at least a few thousand more if I hadn’t been plagued with down time thanks to my hosting problems. I am tasting the 100,000.

I have not been doing anything directly to increase traffic – and have increased from 30,000 to this in 6 months. The things that happen when you work on bring targeted traffic to your site – chasing money and page views do not have to be separate endeavors.

Costs

PayPal fees – $53

HootSuite – $12
I use this for twitter scheduling

Writing – $100
Articles written by my brother.

GetResponse email service for managing my subscribers and autoresponders – $33
I had to increase this plan thanks to a subscriber increase. 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.

Kraken Image Optimizer – $6
This tool optimises all the images I upload to my sites

Tailwind – $19
Pinterest scheduling

Payoneer – $9
This is a debit MasterCard that I use to access Amazon money immediately. There is a 1% charge on Amazon deposits.

NameSilo – $10
I transferred my domain name to NameSilo to save money.

Canva – $13
I pay for images here sometimes to make pins.

Plugin – $29
I bought a map plugin.

Traffic Planet Hosting – $33

SiteGround hosting transfer – $50
They only provide free transfer for sites under 1GB

Total Costs: $385 (up from $191)

Income

Advertising – $1386 (up from $1079)

Direct advertising – $1163

Google AdSense – $223 (up from $213 – it is frustrating how this number stays relatively static despite the increasing page views)

Affiliates – $1741 (up from $1021)

I made $876 from Amazon (up from $290) and $7 from an Australian retailer. I also made $34 from Thrive Themes.

I made $792 from hotel commissions (up from$618) across Commission Junction and HotelsCombined directly. I also made $32 from Airbnb. This was actually in the form of credit which I would never normally consider as income. However, we use Airbnb the majority of the time, so this is the same as income to us at the moment – it will help pay for our next rental.

Total Income: $3,127 - $385 = $2,742 (up from $1,903)

RPM: $33

After seeing RPM on the amazing Pinch of Yum income reports, I decided I wanted to track this too now that my traffic more closely aligns to how much money I make. This is basically the amount of money I made ($2742) divided by the amount of page views in thousands (82) and is an indication of how much money each 1,000 page views is worth to my site.

Digital Nomad Wannabe

Page Views: 5,062 (down from 5,114)

I want to start this by thanking everyone who commented last month and contacted me to thank me for these reports after my big whinge! It was much appreciated.

I am still ambivalent about whether to continue with this site. I have decided to only write one more niche site case study update – next month when I hit 12 months. I am not really covering any new material in them anymore and I can do a summary update in these income reports.

I am thinking about taking next month off from writing an income report and then see how I feel about continuing them. I was reluctant to do this as I didn’t want to be dumped from the Matthew Woodward income round ups, but for some reason, I was not featured in the most recent one anyway, so there is no real reason not to take a break now, except that I am kind of addicted to writing them and I do find them useful.

I will see how I am going next month as I know I am going to be super busy with travel. At the very least, I will work out an approximate total and add it to my earnings page.

Costs

NameSilo – $10
I also transferred this domain.

Income

Coaching – $40

MassPlanner – $12

GetResponse – $119

Income: $171 (up from $98)

Niche sites

They continue to grow. We had a lot of costs this month as we start hitting the period a year ago when I started building my PBN and niche sites. I renewed the majority of the domain names this month which really adds up!

Thankfully, I came across a domain name registrar who doesn’t hit you with high renewals fee – they promise to keep the rate at US$8 when you renew including privacy protection, so I have also been moving many of my domain names here (while still keeping a spread with other providers to avoid a footprint). The registrar is NameSilo – I highly recommend them. It is ridiculous what some others are charging to renew.

If you do go with NameSilo, use the discount code DNW1OFF to save an extra $1.

You can read a full update here.

Costs

Writing – $100

Hosting – $3 (cheap hosting for PBN)

Domain Name Renewals – $237
Primarily at NameSilo but I spread some around to avoid a footprint.

Payoneer – $25

Total Costs: $365 (up from $117)

Income

I made $2,541 (up from $2,202) across my niche sites. I also sold a link on a PBN site for $66.

Total Income: $2,607 - $365 = $2,242 (up from $2,085 )

Freelancing

This is from programming work.

Income - $1,050

Earnings Total: AUD$6,205 (USD$4,730)

Up from USD$3,334 in April.

We are very happy with the increase and the fact that we easily reached our current goal of $4,500. This is by far my best month since I made over $5,000 myself, and I am happy that it means that we can forget about freelancing now. J spends far too much time on it for far too little reward.

Passive Income

My favourite part of the income report! I was hoping I would hit $150/day this month to mean that I am covering the $4,500 we need to live and travel well.

Average passive income per day for May = $150 (up from $117)

I am so happy to have met this – just! I look forward to riding the passive income wave over the next few months and hopefully increase it to $200 per day.

Plans for the Next Month

We will be spending a fair chunk of June travelling fast with sponsored travel obligations. My goal for June is to just keep my travel blog up to date building up great resources on that site based on keyword research and the cities we are visiting. J is working on some great keywords for affiliate articles across our sites and I have both my brother and sister writing for me at the moment.

I would really love to lower our costs which seemed to explode this month. It’s been by far the most expensive month since I started tracking costs. Unfortunately, there are a lot of niche site and PBN hosting costs coming up over the next two months so these are still likely to remain high.

I am also paying for more scheduling programs than usual to help me keep social media up to date and to meet all my obligations as stress free as possible while we are travelling.

I am disappointed that my niche sites did not increase much money wise. I feel they need more links, but it is not looking like that is going to happen. The affiliate income is growing so well for Where’s Sharon that I think my effort is better spent growing this further. I actually earned more money from Amazon in May from this site than I did one of my niches sites. The power of an authority site and age – I wish I had started focusing on Amazon earnings from Where’s Sharon earlier.

I just hope that our passive income at least stays constant and hopefully grows some more in June. With less time, we will not make as much from indirect advertising and we are stopping freelancing, so I do expect the overall total to drop.

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

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

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that 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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