Side Hustle Income Report – March 2018

Amazon FBA and Affiliate site side hustle updates

2 weeks ago I wrote a post about cashing out my Roth IRA and buying a website.  Prior to that I bought another website with the gains I had made from Bitcoin I mined 5 years ago.

In total I've spent $23,000 this month on acquiring 2 affiliate websites.  I haven't had a full month of earnings yet but so far the results have been great and I'm excited for this new monthly income report.

The income report will be broken down by side hustle/niche, roughly like this:

If you want to get updates when I make new posts or talk about my side hustles, you can join my email list right here and also get a guide with my top 7 picks for side hustles you can start right away.

Amazon FBA Results

In March I spent about 10 minutes working on my Amazon business.  That's not an exaggeration, I am basically paying no attention to it and the sales keep rolling in.

For the month of March I had $11,586.78 in sales and a net profit of $2,959.37.

I've been selling physical products on Amazon for several years.  Lately the competition has been getting more and more fierce so I am diverting my attention away from Amazon FBA and towards building affiliate sites.

Chinese sellers will always be able to undercut FBA sellers on price but they can't produce high quality content which is why I think there's a larger moat around creating affiliate websites vs selling physical products.

People always talk about passive income and treat it like the holy grail of business.  The truth is I put in a lot of time up front to get this business to where it's at and because of that work, it's now become a passive income stream.

I still have to do work, but it comes in waves and usually isn't too hard.  For example, my top selling product is down to 600 units left in inventory which will last about 60 days since I'm selling 10 per day.  I have to place an order with my supplier for another 1,500 units and arrange the shipping with my freight forwarder.

Obviously this isn't completely passive like dividend investing is, but then again you get much higher returns so it's a good trade off if you've got the hustle to make it happen.

Home/DIY Affiliate Site

I purchased this site earlier in March for a little over $13,000.  It was earning about $500 per month at the time but I saw a couple opportunities to optimize the site and bump earnings up immediately.

Here's the sites earnings this month with the changes I made.

With the changes I made I've already seen a 50% bump in earnings and this wasn't even a full month!

One of the changes I made was that some of the pages on the site didn't have a clear way to get you on to Amazon to buy the product.  This is affiliate site 101!

 If someone comes to your site and reads a 1,000 word article about the product, naturally they'd like to read more on Amazon and buy it if they're ready.  

By not giving them an easy way to get to Amazon not only are you making the user experience worse but you're hurting your earnings.

Another problem was that the way the old owner linked to Amazon was through some weird embedded Amazon affiliate code that my adblocker was blocking.  

So anybody using an adblocker wouldn't be able to click through to Amazon.  Huge problem!

Another thing I did was purchase a program called TableLabs which makes a nice table at the top of the page comparing the products on your page along with a star rating, current price on Amazon, and a 'buy now' button that takes them to Amazon.

In addition to the on site changes I made to increase conversion rates, I poured a lot of money into content creation.

I hired 6 writers, kept 3, and had them get to work on articles.  I'm paying roughly $50 per 1k words and so far I've spent $1,300 on the articles I've outsourced for this site.

This isn't cheap but it will pay off in the long run.  Once these pages start ranking in Google I should see a huge increase in traffic and earnings.

Here's the word count graph for this site.  You can see when I started paying for content to be written with the huge spike.

The total word count on this site is 59,960 words.  In the last month I've had almost 25,000 words of content added so I've basically increased the word count on the site by 100% in the last month.  These new articles haven't brought in any traffic yet since it usually takes Google a month or two to start showing new articles some love. 

Here's my traffic for this month:

The referral traffic is all spam.  The old owner was paying for an account on Blogarama.com which basically sends robot traffic to your site.  It makes you no money and does nothing besides screw up your Google Analytics so I have cancelled it which is why the traffic drops at the end of the month.

In addition to the organic search traffic I'm focusing on growing, I've started doing more work on Pinterest.

Any home/DIY site should have a presence on Pinterest because that's where your target audience is at.  The old owner did very little work on Pinterest despite having a nice account and board setup.  I'm using Tailwind to automate my posting there and I'm hoping to see some good growth on Pinterest in the upcoming months.

Software/Technology Affiliate Site

This is the most recent site I purchased for $10,000.  It's earning about $400 per month with a mix of Amazon affiliate earnings and an e-book that is for sale on the site.

I talked about this a lot in my last post when I bought the site.  The old owner was selling the ebook for $2.99 and had a very ugly sales page.

I've improved the sale page and increased the price to $4.99.  I also made the entire side bar on the website an ad for the ebook.  It's too early to know how effective this has been but I think I'll be able to double the earnings that the previous owner had on the ebook side.

Here are the earnings this month:

I haven't had the site for a full month so the earnings are tough to compare to what they were before but I think they're going to at least be up by 50%.

One of the awesome things about this new site is that it gets a TON of traffic and one of the top ranking pages is "best laptop for X".  People who use this software need powerful computers and all of the laptops sell for over $1,000.

I put a TableLabs table at the top of the page and I'm seeing good results there in getting people over to Amazon.

I'm trying to figure out other ways to take advantage of the huge traffic this site gets and I'll probably try to put some display ads on the site as well.  

Here's the traffic for the last month:

I don't have a word count graph to show because I honestly know nothing about this software and I'm not even sure what to go after right now.

My other sites are keeping me busy enough that they have all of my attention but at some point I'm going to have to do some keyword research and hire a content writer for this site so I can grow it.

Phase 1 for this site is going to be optimizing the existing content before I move on to phase 2 and try to grow it.

The good news is that there are a couple other sites in this niche that are HUGE, like 20x my traffic size, that I'm able to use as a reference for what articles to go after.  The problem is I don't own the software and have no idea about anything to do with it so I won't be able to create any of this content on my own.

Outdoor Affiliate Site

This is my site I created from scratch.  I bought the domain name, installed WordPress, and started cranking out articles.  I got burned out pretty quickly doing that and I've since outsourced the content creation to 2 writers on Upwork.

One of the writers has a ton of experience in this niche and I pay him $60 per 1,000 word article.

The second writer is good, but not great, and makes $24 per 1,000 word article.

This site is brand new and I am not expecting much traffic/income for at least 6 months.  But long term this site is something I'm passionate and knowledgeable about and it also has a huge earnings ceiling.  

Other large sites in this niche are easily making $100k+ per month so I know there's a lot of demand out there and I'm confident that my quality is good enough to start raking in a piece of that pie once it has some time to age and get some love from Google to move up in the search reslts.

Here's the traffic for the last month:

There's a ton of fake traffic in there under referral so that needs to be ignored.

Without that traffic I got a total of 127 visitors.  Most of them came from Instagram which I've been really active on.  Here's my Instagram stats:

I've been using Gramista to automate following/unfollowing people which has been pretty productive.  I'm up to about 1,600 followers after a month and a half of posting.  There's a direct correlation between number of posts you make and how many people visit your profile and go to your site.

I don't know how many of the people I get through Instagram are actually buying stuff through my links (well its 0 right now) so I'm going to give Instagram about 6 more months to see how it pans out and if I'm not getting much results then I'll shift my focus away from that and back towards SEO and ranking in Google.

Here are the Amazon affiliate stats for this month:

Not a lot of clicks and no earnings but that's what I expected.  This is one of the reasons so many people give up when trying to build authority websites.  It takes a long time to get serious traffic and make real money.  It's really discouraging to crank out tons of articles and spend hours and hours on your website and make no money.

But persistence will pay off and I'll continue to invest money back into these sites to grow them.

Here's a graph showing the word count on my site with a huge jump when I started outsourcing my article writing.  I've got a backlog of about 10k words of content that my writers have written for me but I just haven't posted yet so this number is going to keep climbing.

What's Next?

Since my wife is a teacher we can't really take vacation during the school year except for next week which is spring break!  

I won't be able to do much work on any of my side hustles but the good news is I can send out a bunch of work to my freelancers and they'll create content for me while I'm gone.

Also my businesses will continue to run on autopilot and bring in about $1,000 while I'm gone next week.  Not too shabby 🙂

If you want to get updates on my progress, drop your email below and join my email list. 

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3 comments

  1. What software do you use for your word count if you don’t mind me asking?

    All the tools I found just show a page word count – not the count of the overall website.

  2. Thank you so much! I read a couple of articles where someone mentions their overall wordcount on their niche sites and I am starting to believe overall word count helps SEO vs just page word count.

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