Side Hustle Income Report – April 2018

Amazon FBA and Affiliate side hustles

April was my first month of owning both of my newly acquired niche affiliate sites so I'll be able to have a baseline for earnings/traffic that I can measure against.  If you'd like to see my last update you can find it here.

If you want to be notified of new posts and follow along with my side hustle progress you can join my mailing list by entering your email address below.  You'll also get a guide with 7 of my favorite side hustles that actually make real money while you sleep.  None of that Uber B.S.  These are side hustles that can create passive income and are real assets you can sell later for quite a bit of money.

Here's an outline of this post if you want to skip to a specific side hustle.

Amazon FBA Results

April was a slightly down month for my Amazon side hustle.  Total sales were almost exactly $9,000 and my profit was about $2,100.  Here's a screenshot showing my revenue and profit.  The profit number includes all of my expenses for the cost of manufacturing/shipping as well as advertising on Amazon.

The big drop on 4/29 was because I had to prepay for my inbound shipment from my supplier.

I had to spend $7,000 to re-order 1,500 units of my best selling product.  Since my manufacturer just finished production I had to send them the prepaid shipping labels and Amazon charges you for them immediately.

Selling on Amazon is really capital intensive.  Between the cost of production, shipping over the ocean, and shipping from the port to the Amazon warehouses, I'm looking at about $9,000 of expenses that I have to pay up front and then recoup slowly over the next few months as my product sells.

Another small bump was that I got my taxes back and actually owed about $3,400.  I also have to make quarterly payments to the IRS of $1,000 and now I even have to make estimated payments for my state taxes!

So between dropping $9k on production and $5k on taxes I basically wiped out all of the money I had been saving up from my side hustles.  The good news is that I'll recoup that in sales but it's tough to see so much money going out at once.

Home/DIY Affiliate Site

I purchased this site in March for $13,000.  At the time it was earning $500 per month on average.  I made a couple of tweaks and hired a couple of writers to write a bunch of content for the site.  Since then I've put the writers on hold since I had them complete about 50 different articles that covered most of the items in my niche.  Now I'll be working on building links to the site to try to get those new articles to show up higher in the search results.

Here are the Amazon earnings for April:

Unfortunately this was a pretty big drop from last month, about $250 less.

The main reason my earnings dropped is that my site makes most of it's money from ranking for 1 keyword.  That keyword now has a 'featured snippet' on Google for a different site.  This means that even though the other site might rank 3rd or 4th, they get a little box at the top of the search results and people end up clicking on that instead of going to my site.

On the positive side, this featured snippet is really useless.  It's a table that just shows 3 different products and shows that they all have a 10 year warranty.  Not very helpful but it still gets people to click.

I went back to my site and added my own table that's much more helpful and has a feature comparison for the different items on my page.  I'm hoping that Google will start showing my site in the featured snippet and get some of that search traffic back.

In April I only added 1 article that was 4,000 words long that was written by my freelance writer.  It's a huge guide for beginners and my plan is to use that article for outreach to get backlinks.  

Other websites are more willing to link out to your site when you offer up a helpful page that doesn't have any affiliate links on it.  Getting links to your 'money pages' is the best choice but when you're asking for links it makes you look greedy and people are reluctant to give you links.

Here's what my traffic looked like in April.

My organic search traffic dropped by 6% from March but my social traffic was up 16% from my increased activity on Pinterest.  My plan from last month was to double down on Pinterest and learn how to use it to drive more traffic but I'm struggling to get into it. 

I don't like Pinterest and I don't normally use it.  It's fallen by the wayside as I've focused my efforts in other areas but it's a big opportunity for traffic that I'll come back to later.

Software/Technology Affiliate Site

Next up is the software site.  I bought this one for $10k and April was the first full month of ownership.

Here's the Amazon earnings screenshot for last month:

The problem with this site is that the only applicable Amazon item to offer is a computer.  These are high ticket items with a high commission but it's very rare for someone to actually purchase one so the earnings can fluctuate a lot.

This site made a little over $400 this month and 1/3 of that came from 1 day of orders.  Someone actually ordered a $2,500 item on Amazon and I got a 5% commission on that.

The other way this site made money was by selling an e-book.  The previous owner was selling the e-book for $2.99.  I redesigned the landing page and increased the price to $4.99.  I was seeing some OK sales, about 3-4 per week, but it wasn't much money.  I also had an issue with the site I use to deliver the e-book (Gumroad) where they keep saying they can't find my bank account.  Right now they owe me $30 and I haven't gotten them to pay it out yet.

So I changed up the business model.  Now I'm giving away the e-book for free in an effort to drive e-mail sign ups.  The day after they sign up for the e-book I send them an email with links to some of my most popular posts that I monetize through Amazon.  I'm hoping this will drive some traffic back to those posts and earn some money but more importantly, I'll be building a list of people I can email and sell products to later.

I don't know what the monetization will look like for people who subscribe on this site but it's better to start collecting the emails now instead of waiting and wishing you had them a year down the road.

Here's the progress I've made on building this email list.  The conversion rate sucks but this site gets so much traffic that I'm still getting several people each day to join.

I just started this a few weeks ago so I don't have a full months history yet.

Here are the visitors and subscribers stats:

Part of the problem with the conversion rate was that Convertkit has really ugly templates.  I couldn't get it to look appealing so I ended up designing my own with Thrive Leads.  I use Thrive Architect to build all of my websites and their Thrive Leads plug in helps you make awesome email subscriber boxes (like the one I use on this site!).

I used the screen filler sign up for a couple of days but really disliked how it blocked the entire site.  It's a poor user experience and it's not worth the increased sign up rate (if it even works!).

I ended up creating a slide in sign up box that comes in from the corner of the screen.  Right now it's getting a 1.2% sign up rate but I'm planning to do some A/B testing to see if I can increase that.  Thrive Leads will automatically run tests for you and makes it easy to optimize your sign up forms.

The other way I've monetized this site is by using Adsense.  For sites that get a lot of traffic but don't have any obvious physical products you can monetize with through Amazon, Adsense or other display ad networks are usually the best option.

Unfortunately Adsense pays almost nothing so my earnings aren't very big, about $1 per day.  I'm using a new service called Ezoic  that is supposed to optimize your Adsense ads but it's a little difficult to set up so I haven't gotten it fully implemented yet; hopefully over the next few days I'll get it done.  

Here are the Adsense earnings for April:

Right now I only have 1 small ad at the top of each page so there's definitely room to improve this.  I need to make sure to find the right balance so my site isn't a pain to use but I think I can get Adsense up to $100 per month or so when I optimize it.

I also applied to another display network called Mediavine.  A lot of people claim to see a 5x earnings increase when going from Adsense to Mediavine so I was really excited to try this out.  You have to have 25,000 users per month and my site had just hit 26,000 so I applied.

And I was rejected.  Apparently when you apply they show your site to potential advertisers and if those advertisers don't think they have anything they can offer your viewers, they say no thanks and you get declined.  It sucks but there's not much you can do about it.  This niche is hard to monetize so I'll have to come up with some more creative ways to do it.

Here's what traffic looked like for April:

Outdoor Affiliate Site

My outdoor site is one I created from scratch.  It's a brand new domain that started with no articles on it.

I hired 2 writers on Upwork and had them crank out a bunch of articles targeting low competition keywords I found with Ahrefs.

Here's the Amazon "earnings" for last month:

Not surprising, this site isn't getting much traffic so I wouldn't expect much earnings.  Here's what traffic looked like for April:

The direct traffic should be ignored, nobody knows about this site so they aren't typing the URL in directly.

The organic traffic was a nice surprise!  I've only built 1 link to the site through outreach so to have 33 visitors last month is great to see.  In March I only had 10 organic search visitors so 33 is a very solid increase.

My social traffic dropped off because I slacked off on building my Instagram page.  I got back into that and I've seen an increase in growth in followers and traffic back to my site.  The traffic probably isn't worth much because people on Instagram aren't really looking for product reviews to read but some day I can sell sponsored posts or do something else so I'll keep doing it.

Here's what my Instagram follower graph looks like.  Try to find the stretch where I gave up and wasn't active....

I've outsourced all of my article creation to ​Human Proof Designs. They've come through with some great articles for me in the past and I was paying them to write 2 articles per month.  They'd insert my affiliate links, pictures, and upload the post to my site.  I didn't have to do anything which was AMAZING.

Human Proof Designs announced they were going to be increasing their prices so I upgraded from 2 articles per month to 10 articles per month.  This will cost me just under $500 per month but the articles are good and way less effort for me compared to having my freelancers write articles so I'm going to double down on their services in addition to creating my own articles for the site.

This Site!

This site currently makes no money.  I don't like shoving ads in people's faces and I don't have enough traffic to even think about making it worth the pain for my readers.

Eventually I'd like to make a course teaching people how to do what I've done with these sites but I don't think I'm ready yet.  Once I've grown my site from the ground up to earning at least $1,000 per month I'll think about it.

One highlight this month was being featured in the Rockstar Finance daily email.  I read all of those posts religiously and look forward to them every morning.  Having one of my own articles in the daily email was awesome and I saw a huuuge influx of traffic.  Here's what April traffic looked like on this site:

Organic traffic ticked up nicely to over 200 people last month.  I'm going to start focusing on writing some articles that will show up in Google's search results instead of just talking about my side hustles which they don't really like since people probably aren't searching for them 🙂

If you want to stay up to date on my progress, join my email list.  No spam ever, just awesome articles.

Some links on this website may earn me a small commission if you click on them at no extra cost to you. For more information please click this text to see the full affiliate disclosure.

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1 comment

  1. This stuff is so fascinating to me! I’ve wanted to get in on owning multiple domains, but frankly don’t have the mental energy. Thanks for sharing what all goes into your side hustles; this is cool!

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