2016 In Review: How I Make Money Online (and A Request)

arms open at beach

Let’s face it, the internet marketing and wider SEO industry has a reputation for being a bit spammy and full of snake oil salesmen. I’ve been in this industry a long time, and early on I got burned by some of these people. Maybe it’s happened to you too (I hope not!). Pop into any SEO or IM group on Facebook and you’ll see people complaining about “gurus” who claim to make a living with niche sites or some other form of SEO, when the reality is they make most (or all) of their money from teaching people how to make money. As a result of this, I take messages like the one below as one of the highest compliments.

recent email

Knowing that I don’t come across as spammy is definitely the impression that I want to give people. And I get comments like this every so often, so I want to thank those of you who say those nice words 🙂

With that in mind, I want to break down my income sources from last year to show you how I make my money. I’m not like the person I know who makes well over $10,000 monthly with most of that income coming from selling services to readers of an SEO blog. I’m also not like the person I know who hasn’t ranked a new site in over a year (and is struggling to keep old sites ranking), while taking people’s money for courses and other services.

The truth is that the majority of my income comes from my authority niche sites. I work on them pretty much every day since they are responsible for covering my bills and funding my travels.

My 2016 in Review

Though I’m not going to give out my exact income amount here publicly (or privately, so don’t ask). My exact income is between me and the IRS! But, here’s a rough breakdown of total income and expenses last year:

  • Total income: between $150,000 and $250,000
  • Total expenses: almost $32,000 (mostly outsourced content)

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of my income streams that made up my 2016:

income breakdown

So, that breakdown is:

  • 88% from my portfolio of authority niche sites
  • 6.5% from misc. freelancing
  • 5.3% from this blog (including my Insider25 group)
  • 0.2% from ebooks

In case you’re wondering, the ebook income is from a series of books that I published a few years ago. So, that’s truly passive income as I’ve not added any new titles to that pen name in well over a year.

The income from this blog includes affiliate links (for things like hosting), backlink purchases, and my Insider25 group.

The misc. freelancing (I don’t know why I put outsource in the chart!) involves a variety of things from word-of-mouth SEO services that did not involve this blog to a high paying freelance writing gig from an old client. I don’t offer freelance writing as a service, but years ago that was how I made most of my income. As a result, I sometimes get offered jobs from old clients. When that happens, I usually decline, but in this instance the pay was good and it was an easy-to-write topic that I was interested in. Usually freelancing writing just isn’t worth my time though.

And, the niche sites category is self-explanatory.

For 2017, my focus is on income diversification for my portfolio of sites. And my goal is to double my income from them. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to meet that goal with the decrease in Amazon commission, but it’s still what I’m aiming for this year.

A Request

In recent months, I’ve gotten a lot of emails and messages from people asking me to look over their niche sites and give them advice. I don’t mind answering some specific questions, but I cannot take time away from working on my own sites to look at anyone else’s sites. If you really need help, then know I do take on a limited number of coaching and consulting clients each month. I charge for this service because my time is very valuable – and I could be spending that time increasing the revenue of my sites.

Reminder: My in-depth course on creating a successful authority niche site launches in one week! If you want in first, and at the beta pricing level, then contact me now. I’ll send you a personal email once you can enroll!

About the Author

Hey, I'm Shawna. I make a living working from my laptop in places like London, Sydney, Dubai, Rome, Oslo, Bangkok and (currently) Las Vegas. I share how I do some of that on this website.

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