I'm expanding the format for our report this month because we have a lot of good information to share with you. From the beginning, one of the main purposes of this site has been to transparently report our successes and failures and our lessons learned to you, our readers. Just nine months ago I knew next to nothing about passive income, affiliate marketing, search-engine optimization, or most of the hundreds of topics we write about here! So, aside from just reporting this month's results, I'm going to dig into our results a bit more than usual to communicate some things we've learned. So, straight from the Ikea standing desk, let's get to it!
Clearly, the big story this month is that we've increased our internet-derived passive income by a sizeable 221% from just last month, for a total amount earned of $463.62. Obviously, we're not quitting our jobs and buying a beach house in Malibu with this amount, but I'm not going to sell it short: nearly $500 in passive income is a significant increase in our overall income, and I'm pleased with it.
So, how did it happen? Four ways primarily:
1. Our solitary niche site, with traffic driven to it mostly by review videos I've posted to YouTube (which now have over 7,000 views total!), generated $61.28 in Amazon affiliate sales. I put zero hours into this site this month. Importantly, this site also doesn't rank highly on Google search for my targeted keywords and the bulk of the traffic is driven there by two YouTube video reviews. As I've pointed out in a previous post, an excellent strategy for driving traffic to niche sites where you don't rank highly in search (or, even where you do, but you want more traffic!) is to leverage YouTube by creating videos that link to your sites.
2. My Dollar Shave Club review has become a front page Google search result, which has driven about 100 addiitional unique visitors to this site each day. Embedded in that review, aside from my Dollar Shave Club affiliate link, are Amazon links for the shaving brush and shaving soap that both Jen and I use and enjoy. Here is why that is important: those links are moving people off this site (in a separate window, of course), where some are buying the inexpensive brush and soap set. This is increasing our total volume of affiliate sales on Amazon with a low-cost item, which increases our advertising fee rate, which begins at 4% and increases up to 8.5% depending on sales volume. Increasing volume means that your referral rate increases, which increases your commission for each sale. Also, while they are at Amazon, many people are buying additional items (upsells), which we receive commissions for as well! Traffic + Amazon Links + Upsells = Nice Earnings! In this case, $61.67 in additional Amazon earnings.
I targeted Dollar Shave Club with keyword research gleaned from using Market Samurai (free trial), which also updates me automatically each week on search engine rankings for keywords that I'm interested in and actively targeting. Click below for an enlarged screenshot that shows Market Samurai's Rank Tracker in action! Market Samurai has been an essential tool for building out this site and making it profitable!
3. We are steadily increasing our stake in Lending Club loans. I intend Lending Club to be a hedge against bad months in affiliate sales, as I want a steady stream of income that is independent of our changing fortunes online. We increased our assets there by 159 percent this month (I dipped into our savings to do this), increasing our stake from $2540 to $6580. We currently have 219 notes and a Net Annualized Return on our investments of 17.60%. I've made two additional points about our Lending Club strategy in the video below:
4. We are embracing the dribs and drabs of other affiliate income sources. Every time someone signs up for web hosting from Squarespace, which is the platform that we use for this blog, we generate a $50 commission. A BlueHost signup, which we use alongside Wordpress for our niche site, generates a $65 commission. As you can see in the itemized total below, these amounts quickly add up to generate ever-increasing earnings.
Here is our complete list of passive income sources for the month of January:
Squarespace (free trial!): $100.00
Amazon Affiliate: $122.95
Dollar Shave Club: $198.00
Ready for Zero (free!): $2.40
Lending Club Interest: $38.60
As far as active income, Jen and I were hit like most of the rest of you with the Payroll Tax increase, so our active incomes decreased this month. Note in the pie chart the increasing slice that passive income represents though!
Our only remaining debt is our mortgage payment on our rental home, where we are paying both our normal mortgage payment as well as an additional $1000 a month in principal payments, which I decided to do after examining our remaining debt with the free Ready for Zero service. Ready for Zero examines debts and creates an optimized debt reduction strategy that has already saved us thousands of dollars in interest!
Our Overall Debt Reduction / Asset Creation Strategy:
Aside from increasing our active and passive incomes where we can, we pay our credit cards off each month, keeping our non-mortgage debt at zero. In addition, we're spending wisely and intentionally, keeping our overall spending down, but also making sure that the money we are spending is for things and activities that we generate the most satisfaction from (like ski lessons for the kids, for instance, or an occasional nice dinner out).
We're also doing the following as a minimum each month: $1000 in savings, $1000 in Lending Club loans, and $1000 in principal payments on our mortgage. With our remaining disposable income derived from income increases, cutting spending, and not paying interest on debt, we're mostly accelerating our investment in Lending Club for now, including reinvesting our monthly returns into new notes, creating a social-lending snowball.
Though I'm bullish on the investing side of Lending Club, if you are currently in debt and want to explore ways to consolidate your debt, consider consolidating your debt with with a zero percent interest credit card (like this Discover card -- we consolidated all of our previous credit card debt into a zero percent interest Discover card and then paid it off) or a lower-interest loan from Lending Club or Prosper. Once you do, do whatever it takes to pay them off and not increase your debt though!
Our net worth was hurt this month by a decrease in our home's value (as reported by Zillow.com) and my reducing the resale value of our remaining vehicle to account for age and mileage. That said, our assets continue to accumulate.
Unique visitors and page views are way up this month, as we had 4,031 unique visitors to this site this month (up from 1,972 last month), plus over 10,000 page views.
I've given up on Alexa being any sort of useful indicator, at least in the short run, as we've doubled our traffic, yet our Alexa rank is actually worse than it was at the beginning of the month. In fact, this has caused me to forego the entire Yakezie Challenge, as it seems to rely mostly on artificially bumping up your Alexa page rank).
January really was a great month for us here at Live the New Economy!
Thanks for reading and for sharing our posts with your friends, social media followers, and for linking to our content from your own sites!
We hope you have a great February!