Earnings Report – July 2014

This is the July edition of the earnings report for Niche Site Project. If you haven’t visited before, thanks for stopping by to check out the site.

July was another low month of sales – not much different than June. However, we do see a very positive trend that we will talk about in a bit…

Why do I publish these reports?Jolly Pumpkin Brewery


Jolly Pumpkin Brewery – Traverse City, MI


These reports are for you. By publishing these income reports that focus on my Amazon Associate niche sites, you can see what’s working and what’s not working.

I hope you can learn from my mistakes and successes.

This July report is an important one – not every month yields thousands of dollars of profit. In fact, if you’re building niche sites on the side and have a full time job like me, then there might be a lot of months that aren’t profiting over $1000+.

Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.
— Dale Carnegie

Amazon Earnings and Traffic

I think you can tell from the introduction that the earnings from Amazon are fairly low. This month we will just look at two websites: the first is what we call the “Main Money Site” that has earned over $12,500 and the second is the “Niche Site #3” (NS3).

(You might be wondering “What happened to Niche Site #2?” I sold it back in May – Read more…)

Main Money Site – Cumulative Lifetime Earnings

The overall figure still blows my mind. The majority of the earnings were during the retail holiday season last year. You can see the details here.

Yep. One day.

Overall Earnings from the Main Money Site. This is cumulative since last August, 2013.

Overall Earnings from the Main Money Site. This is cumulative since last August, 2013.

Main Money Site – July Only Earnings.

And, back to reality. In July, we see the meager earnings. It is on par for June. Perhaps we have seen this site bottom out and the earnings will be going up from here.

Earnings from the Main Money Site.

Earnings from the Main Money Site.

Main Money Site – July Traffic

Let’s get to the more interesting stuff. The traffic is growing – Thank goodness! In June, only 421 users visited the site versus over 900 in July. The bounce rate went up to over 80%, which isn’t good, but the average number of pages visited increased.

July Traffic for the Main Money Site.

July Traffic for the Main Money Site.

Let’s look at how June compares with July as far as traffic goes. This is just the default Google Analytics “compare” option.

July vs. June Traffic for the Main Money Site.

July vs. June Traffic for the Main Money Site.

I still think that the average session duration is a little bit low but when we look closer maybe it’s not so bad. The screenshot below shows the top 10 pages on the site. Those pages seemed to be more relevant for the visitors since they are spending over 3 minutes on those top pages.

Top 10 Pages July for the Main Money Site.

Top 10 Pages July for the Main Money Site.

We can see that more visitors are coming to the site which is great. Now that it takes longer to rank a site (4 to 6 months versus 2 to 3 months), it would be nice to get an idea if you’re on the right track even before the high ranking shows up.

It’s not an exact science but if we look at the Webmaster Tools Search Queries section over the last 90 days we can get an idea. In this case, the number of impressions is trending up. That’s certainly positive.

Search Queries as reported by Google Webmaster Tools.

Search Queries as reported by Google Webmaster Tools for the Main Money Site.

Niche Site #3 (NS3) – Cumulative Lifetime Earnings

This site is still not doing much in the rankings. It’s doing okay but not great – ranking in the top 30 for several terms. A few visitors make it to the site each day, not many though.

Overall Earnings for NS #3.

Overall Earnings for NS #3. I have two tracking IDs so I used this other view.

Niche Site #3 (NS3) – July Earnings

Last month in June, there were not any sales. In July, there were a couple sales which is a great sign. That tells me that people do find the answers to their questions on the site.

July Only Earnings for NS #3

July Only Earnings for NS #3

Niche Site #3 (NS3) – July Traffic

The traffic is still really, really low. Normally, it’s less than 10 visitors per day. Luckily, it’s a good sign that some people are making purchases indicating that visitors find the content useful.

July Only Traffice for NS #3

July Only Traffic for NS #3

Again, let’s compare the June traffic to July traffic. This illustrates that we are trending in a positive direction.

July vs. June Traffic for NS #3

July vs. June Traffic for NS #3

Just like the Main Money Site, the top 10 pages seem to be adding some value even though the overall website has a low average session time.

Top 10 Pages July for the NS #3.

Top 10 Pages July for the NS #3.

The Webmaster Tools Search Queries are not as positive as the Main Money Site. However, we can still detect a positive trend.

Search Queries as reported by Google Webmaster Tools for NS #3

Search Queries as reported by Google Webmaster Tools for NS #3

Overall Amazon Earnings (All websites)

The total earnings from Amazon since August 2013 are still impressive. I have to say it’s far more than I could ever earn as a bonus from my day job in a single year. Like way, way more…

Overall Earnings since August, 2013

Overall Earnings since August, 2013

Next Steps to Improve Earnings

One of the main things that project management emphasizes is the concept of continuous improvement. We’re thinking about incremental improvements here, not groundbreaking, amazing changes. A 1% improvement every week adds up.

So, let’s review what we talked about last month…

Review the Plan

Last month, we talked about how to get more traffic on the sites to improve earnings. Not surprising, right?

The plan was to target some long tail keywords that had a very low search volume. The idea is rooted in the fact that sites take longer to rank…due to the Google sand box. (Read more about it here from NoHatSEO or FormYourFuture.)

The hope is that the lower volume and correspondingly lower competition would allow us to rank the long tail keywords faster…basically avoiding the sandbox period. So, is it working?

I think so. We are only trying this for the Main Money Site right now.

My wife analyzed data. It’s a multistep analysis but here are the main ideas:

  1. In Google Webmaster Tools export the data to find keywords that are ranking in the top 25 positions.
  2. Check search volume for those keywords and filter out the search volume over about 200 exact match searches per month. She used Long Tail Pro.
  3. Next, check out the Keyword Competitiveness for the list.
  4. We target anything under a KC of 25, and sometimes terms under a KC of 30.

The chart below from SerpBook.com shows the some of the keywords that we are tracking. The trend is great and you can see that the main keyword is getting some traction over the last month – up 6 positions. That’s big time. I know that if we can crack the top 5 consistently then the traffic will probably triple.

Main Money Site Rankings - Long Tail Efforts

Main Money Site Rankings – Long Tail Efforts

In our specific case, we looked at the titles for the pages that are already ranking along with the meta descriptions. The titles and descriptions are updated to better target the search phrase, if needed. I may have mentioned before that my wife really enjoys blog commenting…So, she has been commenting each day targeting a couple specific pages.

What’s next to improve earnings?

We will keep on targeting the lower competition keywords in hopes of obtaining traffic from the long tail keywords. It looks like our main keyword is gaining momentum from the improved rankings for the long tail keywords. We should ramp up that effort and try to target more keywords.

The reality is that we were only really going after about 2 – 3 keywords/pages rather than the 5 – 10 that I was hoping for. We just ran out of time. So, maybe this month we can add a few more to the effort.

Would a Silo Site Structure Help?

I have been talking with several people about silo websites. Some people swear by it, citing that a site that is properly architected with a silo can rank in Google with fewer links. It’s quite a claim but I have heard it from some very reliable sources.

The overall idea of a silo does make sense. The usability benefits for a visitor are undeniable even if the SEO benefits are very low. I will stop short of re-architecting the whole website but I will set up some silo portions to see if it will help.

(I’m working on a series of posts about Silos right now so stay tuned.)

Other Projects

Here are a few other things that I am working on that we didn’t cover in the Amazon Sites above.

Case Study

case-study-nichesiteproject-1.com 250We continue work on the case study regarding New versus Expired Domains for starting a niche site. I am a little disappointed about not having much news to share so far. Since the Google Sandbox is delaying the rankings and traffic, there just isn’t much progress to note at this time. The rankings are slowly trending up and we have several terms ranking in the top 30 and a few in the top 20. The sites were started in mid April so I feel good about how they are ranking so far.

Once the case study web sites start earning, I will publish the earnings in these reports each month. I hope that comes soon!

The Ultimate Private Blog Network Course

ultimate-PBN-courseLewis Ogden (from CloudIncome.com) and I have been continuing to tweak and improve the Private Blog Network Course. Some of the tweaks have been superficial in nature since we are not trained designers (far from it!). The other tweaks offer up a huge amount of value.

We have a great list of expired domain brokers within the course and we’ve been able to negotiate discounted rates for the members of the PBN Course. The discounts alone are enough to pay for the course if you are going to buy 5 or more domains in most cases.

The course price has been re-adjusted based on feedback from list members. Building a PBN can be expensive and cost is one of the main reasons that people are not building a PBN. We took that information and improved the value of the course.

There are over 3 hours of video to guide you through the process. So, if you want to see a step by step guide on building a PBN, the course is for you.

And, we now have packages that come with domains. It’s a huge bargin! If you’re going to build a PBN, you’re going to need domains…there’s no doubt about that. You’re basically getting the course for free. Be sure to check out the new pricing.

Coaching Sessions

coachingIt turns out that I really enjoy coaching. I didn’t realize it at first. For my day job, I end up having quite a few meetings that are essentially one on one coaching sessions. In fact, over the last two years I have logged over 200 hours of one on one meetings, over 400 individual sessions with various members of my team.

It’s crazy to think about 200+ hours but 30 minutes at a time over two years. Wow. It adds up.

If you’re interested in coaching, you can check out the packages on the work with me page. Keep in mind that this coaching isn’t for everyone.

I won’t be offering assistance with basics for setting up hosting, working with WordPress, setting up WordPress themes, or technical issues – you can find more qualified people than me for that.

However, I can definitely help you if you need to prioritize your tasks, organize projects, help implement a project management system, need help planning a PBN, improve effectiveness of your efforts, optimize your workflow, or optimize your niche site for maximum earning potential.

The output of the coaching is to provide you with an Action Plan with Deadlines, including short term and long term goals. The session will kickstart your efforts if you are just starting or it will turbocharge your current efforts.


July was another low earning month but we persevere. The earnings seem to be moving up slightly and if we are a little lucky we may be able to keep that trend going.

Aside: One aspect that I didn’t mention before is that I was able to take a little bit of time off and spend it with family. That was a good move. I definitely have the kind of personality where I can intensely work at the computer for 12+ hours per day…and enjoy it. Sitting at the computer is not really the overall goal and sometimes I forget that.

Yep, I know if we want to get ahead we have to work hard. I know spending time working is absolutely required. Just be sure you’re working smart. Don’t work just for the sake of working.

Next month, I hope to share that we see a little more traffic on the niche sites. And, in turn, I hope we see a little more in the way of earnings.

If you have any questions, comments, or complaints, just let me know in the comments below.
If you haven’t signed up for the email list, sign up below. One of the first things you’ll get is technique that can double your efficiency – the Stand Up Meeting.

About the author: Doug Cunnington is the founder of Niche Site Project. He shows people how to create Affiliate Sites using project management and a proven, repeatable framework. Doug loves creating systems, using templates, and brewing beer (but usually not at the same time).

20 comments… add one
  • Theodore Nwangene

    Congrats once again Doug,
    You did so well in July and I’m happy for you. You and your wife are really doing a tremendous work on the sites and i want to encourage you guys to keep it up.

    I’m still working hard to rank my own sites though, I’ve not been giving it much time but, i will focus more on them now.

    Thanks and have a great week.

    • Doug cunnington

      Hey Theodore – Thanks for the kind words, as always. Good luck with your sites!

  • Ruan Oosthuizen

    The best of success in August buddy!

  • Nicheblockbuster Pastorial

    Hi Doug, I am still looking forward to when the earning report will be balanced. I mean including expenses as appropriate.

    • Doug cunnington

      Hey Pastorial – Good point! I actually keep forgetting about adding that in when I write these reports. So, the one main issue is that I do not monitor expenses on these specific sites on an individual basis…Currently, it would be a little difficult to true up the ongoing expenses, especially for the main money site.

      That said, I could include the costs for content, hosting, and link building activities which of course make up the majority of the costs. I’m not promising anything 🙂 but that’s something that I can do.

      Thanks for the excellent suggestion!

  • Larry Gonzaga

    Hey Doug, I was wondering about the silo structure.

    Do you manually link them together or do you use WP’s categories or related links plugins?

    Curious to know.

    • Doug cunnington

      Hey Larry, I go for the simpler method of manually linking at this point in time. If I had a bigger authority site with a LOT of content, I would look at the WP No Category Base Plugin. I’ve never used it and I hear it’s not up to date so use at your own risk.

      I assume if you’re a coder that you (or anyone) code take care of this on the backend.

      I just use pages with parent/child relationships which is super easy and forces you to plan out the site a little more upfront. Planning is a good thing.

      More on that silo stuff soon…

  • John

    Hi Doug,
    Back in July 1 to 16, my bounce rate was really high, almost like yours at 80%. I removed the entire header image, it lowers the BRate. Then i rearrange the section and remove the tablepress, it lowers the bounce rate to 60+% then returning visitors went up to 17%. I re-arrange the top 3 product, it worked pretty well… though the problem still exist.

    • Doug cunnington

      Hi John – Great job to you this month! 🙂

      That’s cool about the header changing the bounce rate so dramatically. Why do you think that was the result?

      So, you mentioned “the problem still exists…” What problem is that?

      • John

        the problem that there are days i see no orders even the traffic is 294 and 244 in just 1 day..

  • scott masse

    Good persistence and your attention to detail on these updates is fantastic…I know I will have a hard time being as detailed on my updates… I seem to be stuck in the six month muck as well!

    • Doug cunnington

      Hey Scott – Thanks a lot for the compliment. The updates definitely take some time…lots of screenshots & renaming of files…etc. (I know I should outsource some of these kind of things…)

      Yeah, looks like the sandbox is keeping things moving a little bit slower but that means (hopefully) that we’ll be poised to move during the retail season.

  • Dave Starr

    I think there is as much value in this earnings report than is typically found in
    any other 5 such reports picked at random. Great stuff.

    I particularly like the info box where you described the process for choosing the keywords to go after, rank-wise.

    I’m a LPT user and love the product but it is often the wrong place to begin, I believe.

    Looking at what a site is already ranking for and then using LPT to build upon what already has achieved some success makes much more sense to me.

    I’m also very interested in your forthcoming siloing article. Years ago I was
    heavily into siloing and for some reason I drifted away.

    I just looked at a site right now which can barely hit $100 a month now, and then looked at its results three years ago when it was a consistent $300 a month property on AdSense alone.

    Wake up call? Like yeah …

    Keep at it Doug, you’re not only doing well for yourself you’re helping a lot of us rekindle our “taste” for improving sites.

    Thanks (and thanks to your wife, also, she should get more
    coverage here 😉 )

    • Doug cunnington

      Hey Dave – Thanks, buddy. I really appreciate the compliment. I’ll keep that in mind for the infobox with some actionable tip.

      Speaking of the process of finding keywords that your site is already ranking for…It’s not overly complicated but there are a few steps. That might be something that we can make a little video tutorial of.

      My wife did a great job on that…I just sent over the CSVs of the Search Queries and a list of URLs for the site. She did all the analysis on the keywords and search volume.

      It’s the best way to outsource! Give the task to someone smarter than yourself. 🙂

      I’m interested to hear about your background on silos – shoot over an email if you care to share your top few tips about silos. There is a lot of info out there now that I am looking for it.

      I’m not totally convinced it will shoot your page to #1 just by silo’ing but the usability of a site with a good silo structure is undeniable.

      For example, look at the search results when you google quicksprout. Google can parse that site and provide sitelinks right in the search results. So, that has to be a good thing and why not take up more real estate on the SERPs.

  • OnSynergy

    Hey Doug,

    interesting and detailed report. Its quite a fluctuation
    ride on amazon earnings you’ve been going through! I’ve been reading about Silo Site Structures before but never really paid much attention to it. I look
    forward to read your thoughts on this.

  • Greg Nunan

    Hey Doug, you’ve got a lot going on! I love the format of your expired domain case study btw.

    We’re doing a ton of testing with ways to rank faster > adding content to sites, building big resource pages that target plenty of long-tail KWs and siloing is all having an impact. You’re on the money with all that. Look forward to seeing the results of your testing over the next few months.

    • Doug cunnington

      Hey Greg – yes, it’s busy around here! Thanks about the case study and I hope we can both find some shortcuts or areas to optimize the process.


  • Jeff

    Very cool doug – looks like the items for niche site 3 are pretty high ticket items – those are nice to have as not a lot of sales will give you solid earnings. I am with you on the silo structure – I’m going to do all my niche sites this way from now on. Even though we in the space are focused on SEO, we still HAVE to think like users. if the site layout sucks or is totally disjointed, visitors arent going to stay long, and goole is going to know this and demote your site accordingly. Useful content that is laid out in a clean fashion + good On Page SEO will rank well every time. Adding some Juice from PBNs will only seal the deal. I recently added a new market to my niche site, and have not built any backlinks yet and it’s sitting at position 11 for my target term.

    Great of you to offer the coaching too – that was 95% of the reason why I bought the alpha version of the book.

    • Doug cunnington

      Thanks for comments, Jeff.

      It’s ironic how poor the structure is here at Niche Site Project. I need to set up some pages to act as the categories to make it easier to navigate around. I should do that soon… 🙂


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