I promise to publish these more consistently – but anyway, here’s May 2022’s full income report for our niche sites.
The end-of-month total was $22,737.61, though this usually underestimates actual earnings by a few hundred bucks on programs that don’t list affiliate sales until they’ve been fully confirmed a few days later.
We’re down on the month before, but that was because Amazon temporarily increased their rates in April, and so we made a few thousand extra from that.
Here’s how that compares with previous months:
Our goal is to scale up to $60-80K per month by the end of 2022 across all our niche sites, so we still have quite a way to go.
But we’re expanding our team faster than ever and becoming more effective and organized now, so things should hopefully increase at a faster pace moving forward.
May 2022 Core Update
The biggest thing to happen in May was the Core Update, which everyone has an opinion on what it covers (nobody really knows).
I won’t patronize you with my personal take (follow me on Twitter for that, @Jamie_IF), but we didn’t feel the effects on our main sites. Both stayed basically the same – but two of our small sites were affected.
One of our sites: sad mode 🙁
Our third largest site was hit by the Core Update, on exactly 1 post. However, that 1 post happened to make up around half of the site’s traffic, and 90% of its revenue.
It’s roughly halved in traffic, so that’ll probably cost us around $600/month in lost earnings, but we’re working on getting that re-optimized for how we feel Google wants it.
Another of our sites: happy mode ?
A smaller site, with only around 40 posts so far, had been consistently sitting on around 40 users per day, and making $70-100/month, prior to the Update.
With the Core Update this suddenly rocketed to 150 per day, and in mid-June, this has increased to a consistent 150-220 users.
No idea why really, the content isn’t fantastic and we haven’t worked on E-A-T.
Site 1: $15,897
Our largest site made up two-thirds of our revenue this month. This figure is down around $2,000 compared to last month, but this is mostly due to the Amazon rates being higher in April.
In fact, if you account for that, we earned around $500 more this month, so hopefully in June we’ll see even higher numbers.
The earning breakdown is:
- $5126 from ads
- $800 from sponsorships
- $3149 from Amazon USA
- $6822 from other affiliate programs and Amazon rest of world
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Acquisition (Case study on this at some point)
At the end of March, we completed the purchase of a now-defunct business in our niche, which during its heyday produced some best-in-class content and guides based around these products they sold.
The founder had moved on, starting up an online course in the same niche, and had left some lead magnets in the still-popular blog posts to sell these courses.
But, we were able to offer enough to close the deal, eventually paying a total of £21,308 for the domain and content (including transaction costs, VAT, etc).
The blog side of the business site was getting around 42,000 monthly page views, and now in May the posts have mostly stabilized since we 301 redirected them via the .htaccess file, earning $1,000-$1,200 back per month.
More importantly, though, the site is very authoritative and was known for its high-quality products when it was active. The site is linked to from Wikipedia (no-follow, but still powerful for E-A-T signals, etc), Business Insider, various niche-specific Wikis, various universities, and has a DR of 39 (used to be 50+, but deteriorated during the inactivity).
The redirection has taken our site from 44 DR to 51 DR, and it’s still growing. We haven’t seen an increase in rankings or traffic across the board to existing posts however, but we will see how this progresses over time.
I speculate that this move, with the acquiring of such top-class content, may have prevented us from being affected by the May 2022 Core Update; so not only have we bought content profitably and enhanced our standing and authoritativeness, but we’ve effectively bought protection from Google updates — again, this is completely hypothetical and unproven.
We published a total of 24 new articles during the month, and also republished and re-optimized 6 articles, so a total of 30 articles were impacted in May 2022.
A former full-time employee has moved into a freelance role with us as of the start of May, who is helping us with some formatting and planning, so this should help us get more content out — without me and my formatting/final edits being the bottleneck.
Site 2: $5,400
Our second largest site performed well, down from last month’s $6868 because of the Amazon Affiliate rate increase in April, but equalling last month’s performance in almost every other area.
The income breakdown works out as:
- $2549 from Amazon USA
- $2277 from display ads on AdThrive
- $547 from other affiliate programs
I’ve been focusing all my time on our main site, so admittedly I haven’t devoted much time to this site in the last month.
We published 8 new posts from our writers, but we should be doing more than this, with our goal being 20+ posts a month on this site to hit our goal of £10,000 per month by the end of 2022 (this month’s $5,400 revenue translates to £4,328 as of the start of June 2022).
We’re looking for another writer for this site, but the niche isn’t a super easy one that anyone can just turn up and write about. You need technical knowledge, and that makes it difficult and expensive to hire.
We have had a new writer start in the last couple months, who writes around 6 long-form 2000-3000 word posts per month, at a cost of $0.08 per word. But while he’s very good with the technical knowledge, he still needs to learn the SEO side, and he is not a native English speaker, so there’s a trade-off in fluency, and sometimes we need to make slight corrections for sentence flow.
Site 3: $1,167
We purchased this site for $28,000 almost a year ago, and towards the end of 2021 the site was making upwards of $2,000 per month with little-to-no work.
Unfortunately, the Core Update impacted it, and in May 2022 it earned $1,167. It will probably be less than that in June as the full effects from an entire month are expressed. I predict around $800.
The earnings breakdown is:
- $35.89 from Amazon USA
- $891 from one affiliate program
- $213 from another affiliate program
- Very small amounts from other programs
- $0 from ads (we’re waiting to hit 30,000 monthly page views and hitting up AdThrive)
This site has a full-time employee working on it, so we’re able to put out much more content per month, and it also means when necessary we can focus on super high-quality content that may take longer, which is difficult to negotiate when you’re working with freelancers on a per-word basis.
This is what I feel is the best strategy for big long-term success.
You will struggle to get the same commitment, pride in work, and feeling of ownership from a freelancer as compared with a full-timer who really buys into the site and the project, and in our case the employee has equity in the website’s final sale price (the % increases as the sale price increases, a motivator to grow it!) so they can really take ownership and feel and act entrepreneurial in the site’s best interests.
But, obviously this isn’t a suitable option for most niche site owners – but I’m very into the full-time team strategy moving forwards, a rarity in niche sites it seems where everyone idolizes having 20+ nameless freelance writers.
We published 23 posts in May, and with a full-time writer you can really push things harder, both on the quantity and quality front.
We are currently publishing content across two niches simultaneously, which does complicate the strategy. We’re still discussing through the best play for this, and whether it’s best to prioritize just one niche in the short-term, and we haven’t come to a final decision yet.
The site is only DR3, so we are limited a bit for each niche’s super high competition keywords. But we did spend roughly $600 on 3 links recently on high authority sites in our shoulder niches as guest posts, so we’ll monitor the resultant effects.
Site 4: $132
As mentioned at the beginning, this site actually took off after the Core Update, instantly going from around 40 users per day, to around 150. This should see us reach around 3000 users in June, up from 800 in May!
We’ve published 45 posts on this site so far, having started the site around a year ago. We hadn’t created a cohesive 100+ article plan until this month where our new freelance ex-employee helped with the deep dive for keywords, so we’re in a better place to really grind this content out now.
We have just hired a freelance writer for this site, who will hopefully deliver 8 articles per month. We’re ideally looking to publish more than this though, so may search for another writer in addition.
We earned $132 in May, all from Amazon as we don’t have ads on this site yet. Like with site 3, we’ll probably wait until we hit 30,000 monthly page views and then move it over to AdThrive (yes, it’s normally 100K, but if you already have sites with them, additional sites you only need 30K PV). However, we’re a world away from 30,000 right now – so who knows what’ll happen during that timeframe.
To Conclude, & Goals For June 2022
In June, we’re aiming to finish writing all our standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be able to hire a virtual assistant to help us with formatting posts.
It’s the most replicable part of our process, and requires the least high-level SEO knowledge and skill, so it’s the easiest part to outsource, leaving us with more time to perform higher-value tasks.
However, formatting is still integral, and the micromanager in me still wants to do it all because “if I do it then I know it’ll be done perfect.”
But that’s super toxic and prevents big growth — and I’m all about the big growth. So we have to do it. ?
We’re also going to fully optimize and sort our FAQ schema vs rich snippet targeting strategy, for info content and affiliate content, and integrate Product schema into our single product reviews (we still haven’t done that! ?).
We’re also overhauling our custom reusable blocks for affiliate product CTAs. I might make a couple YouTube videos showing you how to do these with Generateblocks if anyone wants to know that for their sites.
While I’m sure we could make and sell a bunch of t-shirts adorned with “I Survived The May 2022 Core Update”, we didn’t come out unscathed, with a big article taking a hit and tanking us over half a grand in monthly earnings, but on the plus side one of our smaller sites finally starting hitting that explosive growth we love to see.
It could all change going into next month, and we’ll post that update when the numbers are in. If you have any affiliate marketing or SEO-related questions, feel free to hit me up @Jamie_IF on Twitter, and join our email newsletter to be the first to get updated when we publish our latest article on how you can get ahead with your own niche sites ?.