Earnings Report – September 2014

sept-earnings-reportI was sitting at a bar in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. Actually, it was a cider house – hard cider.

“What the hell are you going to do with the sites now?” asked Jeff.
I stared across the bar while the barkeep pulled another tall glass of hard cider. I pondered the question…

“Yeah, good question,” I replied.

“Good f*%kin’ question…”

More on that in a minute… This is actually a monthly earnings report for September.

September started with strong momentum and peaked too early. There was a flurry of activity before things settled down.

Why do I publish these reports?
I publish these earnings reports each month for you. I share all the earnings from my Amazon Associates niche sites. The goal is to show what’s working with niche sites…and more importantly what’s not working. You can learn from my mistakes. I think we have a lot to learn this month!When I got started a little over a year ago, I looked at earnings reports from guys like Pat Flynn – of course, these earnings are a laughable fraction of the Smart Passive Income reports. I hope these candid reports help you see that anyone can get started with niche sites.

And, this report is very candid…Every month I am not reporting record earnings. September was a tough month.

I get many questions about the specific details about creating Amazon Sites – If you want to see the full process, check out the Niche Site Process.

Amazon Earnings and Traffic

September was a roller coaster month. I was feeling pretty good about earning over $100 in August and it was likely that the 2 Amazon sites would hit $150 at least.

Traffic was on the rise and the Main Money Site seemed to be coming out of the Google sandbox. Things were going well…

Main Money Site — Cumulative Lifetime Earnings

I have been tracking the lifetime earnings of this site since the beginning. It may be the last of this specific cumulative earnings table. As always, it’s pretty impressive to see the grand total even though the growth has been slow recently.

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 — September Only Earnings

Like I said, things were going well until around the 18th of September. A few more sales trickled in but the earnings pretty much dropped off.

You’ll see what I mean when we get to traffic.

Earnings from the Main Money Site.

Earnings from the Main Money Site.

Main Money Site — September Traffic

It was pretty dramatic. There isn’t much more to say about that.

September Traffic for the Main Money Site.

September Traffic for the Main Money Site.

Niche Site #3 (NS3) — September Earnings

NS3 had a low month in August but was picking back up. You can see only 4 sold items yielded $13.90.

August Only Earnings for NS #3

August Only Earnings for NS #3

Niche Site #3 (NS3) — September Traffic

And, yep. It’s the same kind of drop off here.

September Only Traffic for NS #3

September Only Traffic for NS #3

Overall Amazon Earnings (All websites)

Here is the overall earnings from Amazon over the last 13 months. I never would have imagined that I would make almost $24,000 over the last year.

Overall Earnings since August, 2013

Overall Earnings since August, 2013

Next Steps to Improve Earnings

And, now we’re back to Jeff’s question.

“What the hell are you going to do with the sites now?”

I thought about it long and hard. I talked with my mastermind groups and asked other people, too.

A lot of other people that had niche sites are moving over to Authority Sites. Actually, it seems like everyone that I talk to is planning on “doing a big authority site over the next year to make 5 figures a month.” Gael & Mark at Authority Hacker are crushing it so it is a very promising approach.

Before we answer Jeff’s question, let’s digress…

Why was I in Colorado? I was visiting a couple good friends who just had a baby recently. In addition, the Great American Beer Festival happens in Denver, CO in the fall. Jeff lives nearby so we met up at the New Belgium Brewery and met face to face. We talked niche sites & SEO over beers.

After a bit we decided to head over to the Compass Cider…where we continued our conversation.

What’s the status of my sites?

They were all hit with a “thin content” penalty. Two were hit initially and the rest were a result of a manual review of the sites in my Webmaster Tools account.

That includes all 4 of the case study sites, the 2 sites in this report (main money site & NS3), plus one other Adsense niche site that I haven’t ever talked about here. The domains are basically worthless at this time.

Overall, I have about 100 pages of content across all of the sites, maybe more.

The Current Plan

I will set up a brand new domain and move all of the content to the new domain. I can loosely tie all of the topics together to make one larger site.

I don’t really consider this an authority site – it won’t be like the sites that Authority Hacker describes. I won’t be working on a full white hat kind of approach either.

I still have a PBN and plan on using it. PBNs still work and so do the gray hat strategies that I have been using.

Sure, some niche sites have taken a hit in the SERPs. Do  you know what replaced them?

Other niche sites with PBN backlinks, Web 2.0 Blogs, and so on…

I will add more content that targets the lower volume keywords, just like I was doing before all the PBN issues occurred. I expect that it will take longer to rank for the higher volume keywords, in the range of 4-6 months.

I am hoping the lower volume keywords will rank faster.

The PBN De-indexing at Rank Hero hit a lot of us…

The “Jeff” from the cider house is the founder at Online Side Income. He was one of the original buyers of the Niche Site Project Management book and a coaching student.

His site was on track in September to make over $1100… He ended up at $683.84 for the month.

Other Projects

I have a few things going on and it’s keeping me pretty busy. That’s actually one reason that I’m rolling all the content into one site instead of 7 new sites. There is overhead in building out a new site. Multiply that by 7 and it’s pretty darn time consuming!

Here is what is going on…

The Mastery – A Community for Entrepreneurs

the-mastery 300

I’m very excited about this! I’m working with Dave Schneider of Self Made Businessman and Lewis Ogden from Cloud Income.

The main focus of The Mastery is to help people find mastermind groups. It’s widely held that mastermind groups are one of the main things that helps push and drive entrepreneurs to accomplish great things.

The concept has been around for a very long time…though I only heard about the concept in the last year. The main idea of a mastermind is that you can deal with challenges more effectively and efficiently by harnessing the collective intelligence of others.

I joined a mastermind as soon as could after getting started in the Niche Site Duel (NSD) by Smart Passive Income last year. Meeting with the group made a HUGE difference in my progress.

However after several meetings, the group stopped meeting…We had different goals and priorities.

It fell apart.

I was lucky to even find that group and it was only because I was a member in the community at NSD. It’s very clear that there is a problem in finding a good mastermind group even if you’re already part of a larger community.

The Mastery will be a platform to find the right mastermind for you…You’ll fill out some basic information and will be able to search for other entrepreneurs.

That’s just the beginning. It will be a full community with a forum, webinars, and will continue to grow. You will be able to find a Cofounder for your budding company too.

If you’re interested in learning more about The Mastery, click here.

The Ultimate Private Blog Network Course

 pbn-course-logo 250The course is still going well and the methods hold up to the recent issues that Public Blog Networks have seen. In fact, Lewis, the co-creator of the course pull through unaffected after the deindexing.

Yes. That’s right. The Rank Source network is still solid and they didn’t experience any major issues in September. It’s really amazing.

In fact, with the recent deindexing, it’s even MORE important to follow best practices when building out your Private Blog Network. The fact is the backlinks from PBNs still work very well and can be seen when you take a look at the backlink profile of niche sites that are ranking on page 1.

Video Course on Niche Site Project Management


I just released this new video course in the last week. It’s a distilled version of the Niche Site Project Management Book. Please check it out if you were interested in the book.

I priced the video course very low. In fact, a Beta tester told me he was shocked at the price based on the information included. That’s a great thing to hear since it means the course delivers a ton of value.

So much value that it totally exceeds expectations.

Case Study – CANCELLED

It’s unfortunate but the case study will be cancelled. It was pretty clear that an expired domain will definitely help your site rank higher and faster.

BUT I can’t recommend that you try it unless you realize that risk that you are taking. I only have a small sample size but, of course, I experienced a “thin content” penalty. And for that reason, I wouldn’t recommend that you try to build out a new site on an expired domain.

A less risky option would be to find an expired domain in the exact niche and topic that your money site will be in. That way the backlinks and topics will match up.


You can see the month of September put me and many others through a range of emotions.

I was feeling really good about my money sites moving up in the SERPs. I produced more valuable content in the form of a video course. I am involved in launching a new community.

Then, there was a huge issue with my money sites. My earnings dropped. Traffic dropped. The case study that I put many hours into was cancelled.

Here are the main takeaways:

  • Know your risk tolerance. All my sites received a thin content penalty…I’m sad about it but the income from the sites is not essential for me. The lights are still on at the NSP compound and we keep on truckin’.
    • It would have been ideal to have the various money sites on different Webmaster Tools.
    • The same goes for building, owning, linking from a private blog network. There is risk involved and the consequence is that the network might be deindexed.
  • Backlinks from Private Blog Networks still work just fine…Be sure to stay away from Public Networks.
  • Meeting people in person is huge. If you have an opportunity to network in person, do it. It was great meeting Jeff in Ft Collins and it was more impactful than a simple Skype call.
  • Reducing the number of things you are working on is usually a very good thing. It allows you to focus on doing something bigger.
  • I’m pumped about The Mastery! There is a gap in this area. Lewis, Dave, and I are all very excited to help other entrepreneurs find each other and excel.


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).

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12 comments… add one
  • Sean Markey

    Great points re: knowing the risk of PBNs vs. the efficacy. But yeah, they are still doing pretty well.

    Nice to follow along with your posts, as always 🙂

    • Hey Sean – Thanks for the comment.

      Yep…You gotta keep your risk tolerance in mind when you use PBNs….

  • agree here totally doug. It’s unfortunate that my sites were trashed as well, but I ended up moving them all to new domains and am going to wait for them to rank and start earning. It’s a setback, but it’s making me re-think how I go about earning money online for sure.

    Good luck doug.

    • Thanks, Jeff. It was good to meet you last week.

      Maybe in a couple months we’ll both have our sites back on track.

  • Matt

    So when your affiliate sites were penalized, did you say you were using Rank Hero PBN links or Rank Source or a combination of both?

    Thanks Doug!

  • Hey Doug –

    Really awesome to hear about The Mastery. I remember we were harassing you a few months ago to do something with your Mastermind building skills, glad to see you’re acting on that.


  • Hi Doug,

    This is my main concern, but i hope you will have a in-depth tutorial on how to solve this.

    your website earn $6,000 last December 2013, may i know if you experimented on how to increase conversion on single product page review ?

    Was the orders coming mostly from the homepage (comparison table) if so how much is that % compare to other single pages? Was image link better than amazon link (title, image, price) ?

    What was the most converting single page and its section?

    Single Page Product Review Sections 1:
    a) Intro = 80 words
    amazon link 1
    b) Pros and Cons section
    amazon link 2
    c) Features and Benefits
    d) comparison table against same products

    Single Page Product Review Sections 2:
    a) Picture – video – buy button
    b) star rating
    c) Intro = 80 words
    amazon link 1
    d) comparison table against same products
    e) Features and Benefits
    f) Pros and Cons section
    amazon link 2

    Im asking you this cause my single page reviews are not converting well, its mostly the homepage that get more orders.

    Id also like to know more on how you hire-screen writers that can really write convincing reviews

    sorry to ask too much from you.. this is my problem and im stuck with this since May..

    ps. you might find this the same question from other seos cause it really bothers me so i ask many…

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