The Month Is Over?! Case Study & Income Report [Apr 2020 edition]

Is it just me, or was April 2020 both the longest month ever and the most blink-and-you’ll-miss-it month ever? I can’t believe it’s already May both because wow, what happened to April? and omg, I thought April would never end!

I did a little bit of client work last month, so I didn’t spend quite as much time as usual on my sites. But even with so little work, I think this has been the best month ever for my total portfolio.

But remember, the sites in this report are only a portion of my portfolio and not the only sites that bring in revenue.

Ready? Let’s go!

**And as always, I’m an affiliate marketer and this post contains affiliate links, meaning I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

What Happened In April

I think I spend less than 90 minutes out of the apartment for the entire month trying to avoid getting COVID-19. So far, so good with that.

Most of my work on my portfolio of sites was spent tweaking site speed on a variety of sites and working on tables for my buying guides. I use a mixture of Tablepress, AAWP and basic HTML tables but I want something more lightweight.

So, I spent a lot of time learning about styling your own mobile responsive tables with CSS. I’m not super technical, so this probably took me longer than most people.

And once I got that done, I spent time replacing tables on my sites. Honestly, it’s tedious as hell and I’m still working through my list of posts.

But, of course, the big event for April was the cut in Amazon commissions. I know this hit a lot of people really hard, and that sucks.

I’m fortunate in that I’m diversified in terms of affiliate programs, as I mentioned in my longevity of Amazon affiliate sites post back in November. I hope, if you read that post at the time, that you took immediate steps to diversify and managed to limit some of the financial damage most people experienced with this commission cut.

If not, don’t waste your time emailing Amazon about it or signing a useless petition. Get to work finding other affiliate programs to test alongside your Amazon links. And brainstorm other monetization streams that you can add to your site.

The Sites – April Update

In case you missed it in the announcement post, or just can’t remember, I’ll be recapping the basics of each site before I give you the details on what the month looked like for each site.

Site #1

Here’s what you should know about this site:
  • Niche: Professional services
  • Monetization: display ads + info products + sponsorships/direct ads
  • Income Goal: I’ll be happy with $2,000/mo but I think it has the potential for low to mid to high four figures monthly (if not more).
  • Growth Plan: HARO, joining niche relevant groups/forums for traffic leaking, ebooks/books, social media marketing. This will be a large site/brand.
  • The case study angle: building a successful non-affiliate site

True to my word, the MVP version of this site was live by the 10th of April so that I could start replying to HARO requests. Right now, it is literally just a one-pager landing page style site.

Eventually, this will be a full-fledged site with articles, etc. But for now, this MVP version gets the job done.

On April 15th, the first keyword ranking for the site popped up in Google. So, that was quick, eh?

new keyword ranking

I won’t be sharing the monthly keyword volume or anything else that makes it easy to identify the site. At least not anytime in the near future.

I responded to a few HARO requests, but so far have not been notified of any new links (or seen any pop up).

However, I did order some links from SerpLogic. If you’re not on their mailing list, then get on it – that’s where they advertise the best backlink opportunities.

For May, I still need to finish up my keyword research and plot out the rest of my site structure. I like to do this before I start creating content.

Right now, my goal is to have 20-30 posts up on the site by the end of summer. Yes, that’s a bit of a slow build but it’s important that I do this right and I’m putting most of my focus on other sites for the next few months.

Summary for site #1: The MVP version is live and the first 15 backlinks have been ordered.

Site #2

Here’s what you should know about this site:
  • Niche: Transportation
  • Monetization: affiliate (Amazon + others) + display ads
  • Income Goal: I’ll be happy with $1000/mo but I think it has the potential for mid four figures monthly based on a conversation I had with someone in this niche.
  • History: Site has been earning steadily and is profitable. It was sitting, neglected, when I decided to pick it back up this year.
  • Growth Plan: hit it with lots of informational articles to optimize content for ad money (first goal = Ezoic and eventually Mediavine). I also need to update old content & utilize more non-Amazon affiliates with longer cookies. I may end up testing Pinterest on this site to see how it performs.
  • The case study angle: prioritizing links over content + expanding beyond Amazon + beyond Google traffic

Traffic for this site is still down a little due to so many Americans working from home and sheltering in place for COVID-19.

As a result, I did not focus much on this site in April.

New posts for this site: zero

New links for this site: one

No new content was added. And the only link building that I did was setup a Pinterest account for the site.

site2 april 2020 traffic

You can see that there wasn’t too much of a change in overall traffic to the site. So, nothing really exciting to report about there.

The drop was only around 50 users, so I’m happy with that.

Like the previous month, April saw the income (and RPM) for this site increase again. That was a nice surprise.

But the not so nice bit is that Amazon is the largest revenue stream for this site.

Total income for this site last month: $114.67

The income for this site is a mixture of AdSense and Amazon affiliate. I use AAWP for the Amazon links on this site.

Summary for site #2: Income is up but traffic is down, still probably due to Covid-19. Pinterest account created for this site.

Site #3

Here’s what you should know about this site:
  • Niche: Health/Fitness
  • Monetization: affiliate (Amazon + others) + display ads (and maybe products?)
  • Income Goal: I haven’t decided what I’ll be happy with yet for this one – maybe $5000? But I do know this site has five-figure potential.
  • History: Site has been earning steadily and is profitable. It is somewhat seasonal, though the niche is evergreen.
  • Growth Plan: Hit it with lots of informational articles to optimize content for ad money. This site has enough traffic for Ezoic, but I’m holding out to qualify for Mediavine. I also need to update old content & utilize more non-Amazon affiliates with longer cookies/higher paying offers. HARO is the only link building that I currently have planned for this site.
  • The case study angle: prioritizing content over links + building a mailing list + monetization diversification + alternative traffic growth

This site is getting most of my focus for the next few months since it’s really taken off due to COVID-19 and people not being able to get out and go to the gym.

Though I didn’t get a lot done in terms of new content, it’s been an amazing month for the site.

First, traffic has continued its steady climb, meaning that I’m getting closer and closer to those Mediavine qualification requirements.

Second, I got accepted into a high paying affiliate program that I hear converts really well. Also exciting. Though, most of their products are currently out of stock due to the COVID-19, which is not exciting.

Third, one of the affiliate programs I work with ran a special promotion for the month with a higher commission rate and that really boosted revenue for this site.

I’m also testing out a new web host for this site in my quest for optimal site speed. It’s too early to tell how I feel about it, but I’ll update you on that next month.

And I did get two high quality videos made (no cost). My intention was to put the videos on YouTube and embed in the matching blog posts. However, since I know Mediavine monetizes your videos, I’m waiting to do anything with these until I see if I can get into Mediavine soon use and them with Mediavine ads.

New posts for this site: seven

Of the new posts, I’d say that 80% of them are informational in nature. And the average word count is around 1,800 words.

site3 april 2020 traffic

You’ll notice a slight decline in traffic toward the month end. That’s due to Google completely removing a featured snippet from the results for one of my top queries.

The number of users in Google Analytics almost tripled over the previous month, which is really exciting. Why did this happen?

Some keywords I’ve been chasing finally popped in the top spot for me. Social is also still bringing in more people than in previous months (like last month). And, I have some content that just always does well in the warmer months.

New links for this site: two

These are links that I found in Ahrefs, so other sites just naturally linking out to me. Those are some of the best links since they’re free!

Total income for this site last month: $4,629.27

Quite the income jump, eh? Well, remember that one of the affiliate programs that I’m in raised the commission rate temporarily for most of the month.

The sad news is that it would’ve been over $5K if the Amazon rates hadn’t changed.

Last month’s income is a mix of AdSense, Amazon affiliate, and other affiliates. I use the AAWP plugin on this site as well.

With the traffic and income increase, there’s also an RPM increase to around $115 per 1,000 visitors.

Like last month, I am celebrating that this is the highest ever April income for this site. 🎉🎉🎉

Summary for site #3: Income and traffic is on an upward trend.

Site #4

Here’s what you should know about this site:
  • Niche: Lifestyle
  • Monetization: display ads + affiliates + products + info products (+ possibility for real world business offshoot)
  • Income Goal: I think I’ll be happy with $2500/mo but I know of a few people in this niche making $20K+/month.
  • Growth Plan: Right now I’m all about content creation. Next up is traffic diversification and this niche does well on Pinterest. For link building, I haven’t decided yet. There are a lot of guest posting opportunities in this niche though.
  • The case study angle: mega authority site from day one to mega status –> building a brand from the beginning with long term growth focus on diversifying traffic + monetization

Not much to report on this site because I did zero work on it, instead choosing to put my time towards site #3.

New posts for this site: zero.

Despite the lack of work, blog posts on the site are getting traffic and there is a noticeable increase in organic traffic. This is due to chasing those longtail keywords.

Since this is a new site and it’s aging, I’m not super concerned about progress right now. But as we get closer to it being live for six months, I’ll start to refocus some of my time to this site.

COVID-19 and people being stuck at home also means that creating content right now would result in practically zero audience.

New links for this site: zero.

I think I might start the social accounts in May to get them warmed up a bit before I really get heavy into content creation.

site 4 apr 2020 traffic

I don’t know how, but someone managed to find a post and share it on social media on April 21st. That’s the traffic spike that you see.

Total traffic for the month was just under 100 users, most due to that one-day spike. So, I expect traffic to be lower next month.

Total income for this site last month: $0.00

Nope, still not monetized at all, and likely won’t be for a few more months. Though an opportunity locally gave me a new idea for a real world business offshoot using this brand, so I’ll likely look more into that in the future.

Summary for site #4: Traffic up due to a social share, no work at all done on this site.

New Expenses For April 2020

If you want to know about any recurring expenses or previous expenses, then refer to February’s report in this section. Here’s new expenses for the sites for April:

Site #1

  • $1,467 for 15 links via SerpLogic
  • $11.20 Digital Ocean droplet at Cloudways

Site #2

Site #3

  • $69 for the Unlimited Extension for the All-In-One WP Migration plugin (using this to both move a copy of the site for hosting testing + do my own backups)
  • $0 hosting because I’m trying out a free month with a new host

Site #4

  • no new expenses (No hosting expense because it’s on a shared account right now)

Final Thoughts & Summary

Overall, I’m really happy with the progress that these sites are making, even though I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped to be in April. I did focus most of my time on site #3 when I saw that the traffic was taking off, and I’m glad that I did!

For May, I’m going to attempt a better splitting of my time so that each site gets some work done on them. I do also have other sites in my portfolio that I work on each month.

One of the sites in my portfolio did hit the Mediavine requirements in April, and I applied and got accepted. Once I get that site all setup with them, I will try to add site #3 to my account. Fingers crossed that it gets approved as well!

Income summary for April:

  • Site #1 = $0.00 (no change)
  • Site #2 = $114.67 (+ $38.07)
  • Site #3 = $4,629.27 (+ $3,240.58)
  • Site #4 = $0.00 (no change)

And remember, these four sites are only a portion of my portfolio 🙂

Got any questions? Requests for other data in future updates? Let me know.

 

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8 thoughts on “The Month Is Over?! Case Study & Income Report [Apr 2020 edition]”

  1. Hi Shawna,

    Thanks a lot for another great income report. May I ask you a couple of questions?

    Are the numbers revenue or pure profit? How many websites do you have on your portfolio?

    And the most important how do you manage to be productive for all your sites? I know this isn’t r/productivity or r/getmotivated but I think that a couple of suggestions would be nice.
    It’s interesting that none of your expenses includes Content. Are you going to write everything yourself? Or are you going to outsource sometime in the future?

    To your inevitable success!

    Cheers.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the kind words! I put the expenses on the lower portion of the report, so I know it’s a bit confusing right now. I think maybe I need to do a little table or something under each “site” section to show expenses and profits.

      I’d have to count to be certain, but I think there are 16 or 17 sites in the portfolio currently.

      Productivity is a challenge. I make a lot of lists! Basically, I have a master monthly list of website tasks, then I break that down into weekly tasks. And each day I pick three things on the weekly list to work on. This means that the amount of time spent on each site varies by week. But it’s the only thing I’ve found that prevents boredom from setting in.

      I’m not yet buying content on these sites. My goal is to start out keeping it lean, like most people just starting out have to do. Fortunately, the content that I’m creating are all topics that I enjoy right now. There will be outsourcing in the future 😉

      Reply
  2. How did I miss that you were doing this? You know how much I love an income report!

    Nice work on the early KW popping up in Google – looking forward to following along with your reports 🙂

    Reply
  3. You said you were going through CSS to build mobile responsive tables. For someone just getting started with affiliate sites what would you recommend as far as devoting some time on the side to learning a new skill? HTML? CSS? Photoshop? Coding?

    Thanks!
    – Nick

    Reply
    • Hey Nick,

      If you’re just getting started with sites, then I think there are two areas you should consider learning more about — copywriting and buyer psychology.

      That being said, of the things you mentioned I wish I’d spent more time (back when I had more free time) learning CSS. That’s what takes me the longest to do these days. I think css-tricks.com is a great resource for the dabblers, like myself.

      Good luck!
      Shawna

      Reply

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