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Saturday
Jun302012

Income and Debt Report -- June 2012

June will go down as the first month where we made big money on the Internet!  Okay, just kidding, we didn’t.  June was the third month of our effort to make money online and document our debt and income progress, so I have to remind myself that perseverance is the quality which will win the day, so here's our report (it is a long one):

I thought I'd lead off by posting a screen capture from one of the make money online sites I visited last night.  Passive income can very much be a money faucet; the ultimate objective of passive income is to create an income stream that works 24/7, but doesn't require constant attention.  That said, turning that handle is going to be a lot of hard work, so run away very fast from any site that wants to collect your email address while promising you an easy-to-use money faucet.  

Anyhow, back to it.  I want to lead off this month with some site metrics.  

Social networking:  we made a big push on Twitter this month and it has paid off, as we now have over 650 targeted Twitter followers and we continue to grow on Twitter everyday.  I’ve arrived at a technique that has some unique characteristics which I’ve shared with newsletter subscribers that has increased my rate of getting Twitter follow backs from 16% to over 30% (sign up for the newsletter on the upper right of the site under the down arrow). 

Site visits:  We continue to grow with total page views and unique visitors to this site up nearly 300 percent since the beginning of the month.  This is great growth and we’re very pleased to experience it!  We’ve also climbed to the 941,159th most trafficked website in the world and the 223,869th in the US according to Alexa.  This is remarkable growth, given that we were 4,003,179th on June 4th.  I expect our growth on Alexa to taper off and be less explosive and more steady over the upcoming months.  

Niche Site metrics:  Our niche site, www.adjustabledumbbellscenter.com, continues to struggle with ranking and conversions, as you can see from the Market Samurai (free trial) rank tracker screenshot posted below.  My back link strategy has been the time-tested one utilized by Pat Flynn and others to slow drip article submissions in Wordpress, Blogspot, Squidoo, and other Web 2.0 properties with links to the site.  I've checked with others and there have been lots of fluctuations in the SERPs, with pages jumping up and back 50+ places over the last few months.  As you can see below, the site is beginning to rank for some long-tail keywords, but one of the primary keywords is completely unranked.  The only play at this point is to add a few more pages of content and then just see what happens over the next few months.  I've also done a fairly significant site redesign to encourage more affiliate clicks, mainly highlighting to visitors discounts and sales.  Backlink tracker numbers are usually a trailing indicator, but the site now has over 200 backlinks.  

The niche site has received some traffic, mostly from spammers trying to use it for their own backlinks or SEO types letting me know that I'm not on the first page of search results (thanks for the obvious!) and that they can help (no thanks!).  The site is an affiliate marketing site primarily, though it is monetized with InfoLinks as well.  Even with the poor search ranking, I am getting some clicks on affiliate links, but no conversions to actual sales so far.   Competition in this niche is very strong from an SEO perspective, though competing sites are remarkably inferior in quality.  If you want a case study in how Google's Panda update is not working to reward quality content, just search Google for "adjustable dumbbells" and scroll the pages of results and observe the quality of the sites.  Then, check the backlinks for each site.  More on that here.  

So, what were our income results?  

All of this month's affiliate earnings were earned through this site, primarily from the few readers who have used our affiliate portal or other affiliate links to do their Amazon shopping.  Thanks!  It isn't huge financially, but it is a morale boost!

All told, passive income dropped from $2.82 to $2.49 this month, which is really disappointing (* I had a June 30 surprise!  See my update below!).  My video walk-through of Market Samurai (free trial) generated a few clicks and even some sign-ups, but no sales.  The same is true of the other affiliate links sprinkled across the site, including ones that I linked to during the course of my reviews and other posts.  So what am I doing to make this better?  Right now, I'm continuing to work hard to continue to provide high quality content here and, as I described above, I'm going to put some more effort into our niche site.  We've also begun extending loans through the peer-to-peer lending site, Lending Club, and we've already earned $1.02 in interest, and should begin to receive loan payments mid-July.  I'm also currently waiting for my balance transfer to go through with Prosper so that I can extend some loans there and compare their service to Lending Club.  Clearly, though, we need both perseverance and some potential changes in direction.  I'm trying to display some patience so I don't course correct too early, but July will be about as far as I go before I make substantive changes to our passive income plan.  

As far as other site activity is concerned, I let netreviewshq die.  I was hosting it month to month through Squarespace (free trial) so it was an easy decision to let it go.  One of my first forays into creating a site, I had originally used it really as a place to host product reviews, but I folded those video reviews into other sites, and it was a dumb idea, so I let it go.

Now, on to our effort to "Live (Better) the Old Economy."  To recap, I consider all of our Internet-based efforts to be examples of "New Economy" thinking, while our jobs, savings, 401k, assets, and debt reduction efforts are decidedly "Old Economy," in the sense that they active or portfolio income streams and they aren't reflective of key tenets of the Internet Economy, including lifestyle design, location independence, reach and scale through the Internet, etc.

After committing to finding $1000 in two months ago, primarily targeting shopping, groceries and restaurants, and cutting out some other extraneous expenses, I'm happy to report that we've once again increased our savings this month.  

(All of these charts are generated by Mint.com, which is free, web-based and a completely awesome way to put ALL of your financial stuff in one place, as well as do planning, budgeting, reports, etc.  Open it up in your browser and it goes to all of your financial institutions and gets your latest balances, payment information, and more.  We use it every day!)

Auto and transport went up primarily due to gasoline for my wife's trip and some unscheduled maintenance on her mini-van.  Our total food-related expenses decreased, but this was undoubtedly influenced by travel as well.

Finally, some summer clothes  for the kids needed to be purchased, so clothing shopping went up, but most other categories were down.  

Our active income also increased again this month with my having received a 2% raise, due to hitting a seniority step in my profession.  

Debt reduction was an enormous success this month, as we reduced our total non-mortgage debt by a whopping 5.15% and our total debt (including our mortgage) by .90%.  Both of these values are sharp increases from last month, as I've applied all of our spending decreases to overall debt reduction.  Our goal remains to be completely debt-free minus our mortgage by May of 2014.  

Our overall net worth decreased by 6% due to losses in our 401k programs and Zillow's estimate that our home value had gone down substantially.  Once again, these sorts of months remind me of the importance of generating new income streams and not relying too much on the market or on home values to generate net worth.  

All in all, June was a great month for us with the things within our control in the "old economy"-- spending, debt reduction, etc.-- but a disappointing one in the "new economy."  That said, we are ready to face the challenges of July and I hope you are right there with us!  

Are you ready to start your own blog or site?  I've posted a simple guide to getting started blogging here.

Now my call to action!  If you want to recognize the work that we are putting into quality content here, you can have a direct impact on this site's success.  (1) You can leave a question or comment below, and click the Tweet, Like, or Pin It buttons directly below this post to refer this article to your favorite social media sites.  I have embedded those buttons with special HTML code that stimulates the "feel good" centers of your brain, so they are guaranteed to please (2) You can also follow us on our Twitter feed and Facebook page-- we're still gaining Twitter followers, but Facebook is growing very slowly (and that is charitable). (3) You can sign up for the recently launched LTNE email newsletter on the right sidebar and receive weekly, non-spammy LTNE goodness via email. (4) Finally, if you'd like to help in a more direct way, please check out our affiliate links, where a purchase at Amazon (or any of the other affiliates) doesn't cost you anything additional, but passes a little bit of money back to this site!  Teacher says that every time you make a purchase with that link, an angel gets his wings.  

Thanks to everyone for following Live the New Economy and for your continued support!  

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