It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst of Times - March 2011 Income Report

March was a very interesting month for me.

The Best Of Times

A lot of good things happened to my niche site in March.  After finally realizing that I needed to invest more in my niche site in order to see some positive returns, I purchased Blog Blueprint to help me with backlinking and I could not have been happier.  It's easy to use and gets results.  I purchased it on March 6 and by March 15 the traffic started creeping in:


Before Blog Blueprint I was maybe seeing 2 visitors a day, but after 9 days of use, adding no more than 10 backlinks a day, the traffic started to shoot up.

I peaked at 27 visitors a day.  And my highest rank was 22.

Now that may not sound like much but it was clear that I was attracted highly targeted visitors:

(Gratuitous pat myself on the back moment)  Looking at the usage stats, visitors were spending a decent amount of time on my site, reading at least one review.  That could only increase my chances of someone clicking through one of my links to Amazon.  At that point the potential transaction is out of my hands, but I was attracting hungry buyers, who needed only the slightest of nudges to make a purchase:
Amazon did its job, converting almost 8% of the visitors coming through via my links into happy, paying customers.  So without further ado....there is REVENUE to report!

Yay Earnings!

I can finally type, "Earnings for March"....$20.52 (of course I haven't turned a profit, but you have to start somewhere)

I'm rich!  Well not quite. But most of those sales occurred over a 4 day period and considering I never ranked higher than 22 for my main keyword I would call this a success.  Now just imagine if I was ranking #1 for my main keyword!  I still wouldn't be rich, but I sure would be happy.

For now that's all I can do.  Imagine.

The Worst of Times

If you scroll back up and take a look at the traffic graph you will notice a little downhill thingy happening.

Yea, Google had to fook with my head.

So after feeling like the world's beset internet marketer, the Big G decided to de-rank my niche site.  I went from the top of page 3 for my keyword, seeing traffic, converting, all that great stuff, to some nether-world otherwise known as page 79 of google search results!

Once I got the crying under control I sought out some advice in the Twittersphere and Warrior Forum and found that this is to be expected with a site that is just about 3 months old.  So now I continue to use Blog Blueprint to backlink, but am varying it up a bit by creating product review videos (thank you Fiverr), profile backlinks, and also blasting mass article submissions to some of my existing articles on Ezine to see if that will help too.

Right now the site is dancing (with two left feet).  It's gone much higher, a little lower, higher again, and just a tad bit lower.  I want to add two more product reviews and I want this dancing to stop (I hate dancing, always have.  I was that guy who thought he was too cool for it, but in reality, I'm just terrible at it, so I pretended to be too cool instead).  My friend Michelle of My Passive Income Online Blog said to give it about two weeks or so and the site should emerge from this dance in a stronger position than when it started.  So, we'll see what happens.

In the meantime I am looking to start two more niche sites (one of which will be monetized only via Adsense).  I guess we just gotta keep on keeping on!

How Blog Blueprint Saved My Internet Marketing Ass

Yea, that was me!

If you've been following my experiences as a rookie internet marketer, then it comes as no surprise that I have been operating under a cloud (a voluminous, dark, gray cloud) of frustration!

Come to think of it, looking back at my old posts, it has reduced me to a sniveling, whiny little baby.

Not what I intended!

I started this endeavor knowing full well (maybe not "full") that it would be some time before those passive dollars would magically appear in my bank account and I prepared myself by defining success in terms other than just making boatloads of dough.

So what the hell happened anyway

I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere and the time I was putting in at night, after a long day of work, was all for naught.  I knew if I had to persevere if I wanted to find any type of success but the forces were working against me, and I was beginning to feel its weight.

And it was suffocating me.

I hadn't given up per se, but I was doing less and less with my niche site to help it with each passing day.  At that point, my main backlinking method was blog commenting.  BLOG COMMENTING.
And it gets worse from there.  I began to substitute reading and putzing around online for doing anything with my site in the name of progress!  Instead of building backlinks, I would look for tweets about backlinking.  Or read someone else's blog, drool over their success, and trick myself into thinking that will be me in a years time.

All I was doing was tricking myself.

A Change In Tide

I needed to shift my perception and treat my pursuits more like a business.  Businesses require investments in order to succeed and that is what I did.  I made some investments.

I bought Market Samurai and the first thing I did was use their rank checker to find out exactly where the hell
I stood before the eyes of Google. As of purchase time I was ranked at 256 for my main keyword.  I was pleasantly surprised (apparently in my frustration of searching for my site in Google I would give up after page 20!)


Then I heard great things about Blog Blueprint from fellow awesome bloggers Pat Flynn and Moon Hussain.  This was the greatest investment I made for my business so far.

Blog Blueprint is a backlinking service that allows you to place up to 20 100-word posts per day on their network of high PR blogs.  Each post is allowed 1 anchor text backlink, giving you the possibility 20 backlinks per day!  And all are do-follow as well!
I started using Blog Blueprint on March 8.  As of this writing, I am now ranked 93 for my keyword when doing an exact match search!  That's a movement of 163 positions!  I already surpassed the goal I set for myself in my last post of cracking the top 100 by end of April!

This feels good! 
Not only  has Blog Blueprint surpassed expectations that I had previously set for myself, it has re-energized me as well. The taste of success has laser-adjusted my focus.  Knowing that one system is working means that other systems can as well as long as I keep at it.  And now more then ever I need to diversify where my backlinks are coming from.  I don't want to rely only on Blog Blueprint because I don't think it alone will get me to the top spot in Google.

If you want to give Blog Blueprint a whirl, you should.  It will set you back $57/month, but consider it a long-term investment that can be used on an infinite number of your sites (no need to purchase again and again for each site you create!)

 *Note: The links to Blog Blueprint are affiliate links.  If you decide to purchase and do so through my link, I am truly grateful!

My Second Ever Income Report - February 2011



February came and went and all without a sale but definitely with some changes (and these changes cost some money!).  The theme for me in February was frustration.

Mounting frustration.

It's to be expected, I guess, especially for a new internet marketer.  In my last post I wrote about my backlinking hell and since then I have taken steps to climb the depths of Google rankings from the dungeons to at least the cellar.

It required me to make some investments.

I had to lay out some cash.

Something I said I wasn't going to do (sorry honey, remember I love you!)

But I think I was being shortsighted.  I realized that I needed to treat this endeavor more like a business and less like a hobby.  And business requires investment.  Investment which will show a return (hopefully).  So I made three purchases during the month of February to increase my efficiencies and mentally get me in a better place.

The first purchase was to help with article marketing.  I purchased The Best Spinner to spin articles that I can distribute to various article directories and gain backlinks.  The marketers I admire most all use this product so I have no doubt in my mind that it is a good product.  I am still figuring the software out (and right now it seems that it takes me longer to spin an article than actually write one!) but I can see that it is a very handy tool.

Next purchase was Market Samurai.  This was more of an emotional purchase for me rather one that is completely necessary for me at this time.  If you don't know, Market Samurai is the premier keyword research tool available.  It not only does in depth keyword research, but evaluates competition, manages the ranking of your sites, and a whole lot of other things I need to figure out.  It was more an emotional purchase because I was getting so frustrated with my niche site, I started to look for new keywords to monetize.  I needed this break.

The final purchase was Blog Blueprint.  This is a tool that gets you contextual backlinks from high PR domains.  It's real easy to use and lots of people can attest to its success (Pat Flynn uses it as part of his backlinking strategy that works, and Moon Hussain is experimenting with Blog Blueprint for her niche sites as well).  All you do is write a 100-word posts and include an anchor text backlink and Blog Blueprint does the rest.  I started using this two days ago and built 8 backlinks so far.  We shall see.

So lets get to the numbers.

Amazon Affiliates....$0

The Best Spinner...$77/year

Market Samurai....$147

Blog Blueprint....$57/month

February Income...-$281.00


As you can see, Blog Blueprint and The Best Spinner have recurring charges.  The downside to that is, I can really get myself into a financial hole if I don't start generating some income.  But the upside is that I can use these tools on an infinite amount of sites, so this should pay for itself eventually.

Eventually.

My Niche Site Progress - An (un)Update

What is so hard about internet marketing, really?  I mean think about it, building a blog takes the push a few buttons; graphics, content, backlinking, it can all be done for you, at relative bargain prices (or you can slog through it yourself).

Sure finding a niche to monetize can be time consuming, but is it really "difficult?"

Being a doctor, that's a hard job. One bad day and someone literally loses a life.  Cops, firefighters, they put their lives on the line for us all the time.  Physicists, molecular biologists, that's some hard shit there.

But internet marketing.  Come on.  This stuff is a walk in the park.

Then why the hell am I having such a hard time with it?

Let me give you an (un)update on what's been going on with my attempt to build passive income with a monetized niche site.

Previous posts covered why I chose to monetize my niche site with Amazon, how I built the site and filled it with content.  Next comes the backlinking. 

I had a sorta, kinda, maybe kind of plan.  It consisted of:
  • blog commenting
  • writing some articles (I won't call this article marketing)
  • some forum profiles
  • social bookmarking
  • a little pinging action
All standard stuff really.  And I was really into it too.  For a while.  I found some relevant blogs to comment on, left my keyword in the name form and got my comments to stick about 60% of the time.  But then what about do-follow vs no-follow?  Oh, and you got to have some .edu or .gov in you arsenal too.  Get good link juice there!  I wrote a few articles, left my keyword rich anchor text link in the resource box,submitted them to Ezine Articles, and boom, more links.  Found some high PR forums to create profiles on, left my keyword rich anchor text link in the profile.  It doesn't matter that the page with my link has a PR of n/a (not even a freakin' 0), I get the good stuff passed down from that main domain.  And the couple other things from my bullet list (see above).

Oy!

I've been at this diligently for a good six weeks.  I get some organic traffic to my site via long-tail keywords (keywords that I am not choosing to actively rank for but are relative to my main keyword.  For me, these long-tails are product names+some term after it.  So, if you were ranking for mountain bike, a long-tail keyword could be "Specialized bike seat") but it only amounts to an average of 4 visitors a day.  For the month of February I have so far 35 clicks on Amazon but no sales.

But for the life of me I can't even crack the top 1000 in Google search results for my main keyword.  And, I think, here's why

I left a comment on a post related to my niche on geniusbeauty.com (I found the site by reverse engineering my competition.  Note to self, write about this at a later date).  A couple days later my comment was accepted and all is good.  A few days later I am checking the amount of backlinks pointing to my site with Yahoo Site Explorer and all of a sudden I have 4000 backlinks! 

All from geniusbeauty.com!

That's a lot of links and it happened in a very short amount of time.  The damn site uses a recent comments widget, so my keyword rich anchor text backlink ended up on every single page on this site (and this stupid site about celebrity gossip, makeup, and other bullshit has thousands and thousands of pages).  So Google sees a brand new site instantly receive thousands of backlinks all from the same site.

Well, I'm fucked.

I posted comments with a different name, dusting off the old AOL email address, on the sites newest posts to push myself off the recent comments widget and have since then seen a steady decrease in my backlinks.  But I have a feeling I landed in the dreaded Google sandbox. 

Oh, and this happened not once, but twice more.  I didn't get the same amount of backlinks, but it couldn't have been good.

So, I thought I would just slog on through this but lately, that small tiny voice in the back of my head, that small tiny voice of self doubt has grown into a full on choir.  We're talking church bells and all (and I'm Jewish!)

I haven't seen any improvement in my site's ranking.  And because I haven't seen any improvement in my site's ranking I have been working on it less and less (kinda the opposite thing to do, huh?). 

If I'm stuck in a sandbox or whatever, why try and get out?

Eric over at My 4 Hour Workweek just wrote about impatience being a killer to the new entrepreneur.  And I do have a mighty bad case of it.  He suggests that it is okay to walk away from whatever it is your doing, whether it be an hour or a few days, as long as you return to what it is your working on.  The break can lead to fresh perspective and leave you feeling recharged.

Well, I walked away, and for a minute there I thought I might not return. 

But, return I am.  Doing. 

I wrote about goals in my very first post and I think what I need to do is talk about smaller goals with deadlines in the very near future.  So that is what I am going to do here.  I am totally switching up how I backlink and want to give myself until end of April to at least crack the top 100 for my main keyword.  If I am not in the top 100 by end of April I am going to move on.  I will basically start over.

At least I have a plan. That wasn't so hard now, was it?

Backlinks The Completely Unscientific Way - Part 1 Squidoo and You (Updated)

I did a google image search for SEO and this picture came up!
 Thank you  insightforge.com
I've been meaning to have a fully articulated, fleshed-out, detailed down to the finest grain of sand, SEO post up and ready for consumption this week.

But I haven't gotten around to it (damn you life!).  Actually, I've been doing a lot of reading up on various backlinking techniques and I realized I don't really have a fully articulated, fleshed-out, detailed down to the finest grain of sand SEO plan, so I have been rethinking what I am doing and will have that for you next week.

But I know all of you out there have been waiting with bated breath how I will go about driving organic traffic to my amazon niche site.

So sorry to keep you waiting.

In the meantime,  I came across this nifty little way to get some high PR backlinks (I originally thought that these backlinks were do-follow, but Alex Whalley was nice enough to let me know that they are in fact not.) 

We all know what do-follow means right, search engine spiders crawling through the fiber optics finds your backlink and follows it to your site, bringing with it all that lovely PR juice.  I am still a little confused by it and am still trying to figure out no-follow vs do-follow. 

For now do-follow = good.

And no-follow = still good, in the sense that the all mighty and powerful google likes to see a mix of no-follow and do-follow backlinks because that appears more natural, and more natural means not spammy, and not spammy means we climb those google rankings! 

When I know more you will know more, unless you already no more and can share the love in the comments.

Head for the Squid

Squidoo is a Web 2.0 property where the user can build, what the squidoo people like to call, lenses (it's really just a blog post with a catchy name).  It's pretty cool because you have the ability to post videos and images and all sorts of other neat things and monetize it, and the best part of all, no savvy interweb skills required.  Alex Whalley over at his awesome site AlexWhalley.com just posted a great tutorial on how to effectively use Squidoo and other Web 2.0 properties.  It's a great read and I will be incorporating it into my broader backlink strategy.

But there are other ways to use Squidoo to get backlinks without having to create a lens.

Some lenses have lists of websites/blogs that can be added to by the reader (*Note you will have to sign up to Squidoo to do this).  I guess the reason why people do this is to gain lens popularity.  All you need to do is find these lenses that have an "Add To This List" button.

How might I do that, you ask.  Well here's a bit of google-friendly search query to get you on your way:

site:squidoo.com "Add To This List" your keyword

Lemme explain: site:squidoo.com tells google we only want our search to yield domains with squidoo.com in the URL.  "Add To This List" tells google to find only squidoo.com domains with the "Add To This List" feature.  Your keyword is, well, your keyword that you are ranking for so that your link is placed on a relevant site (which, I am learning is important to the mighty eyeless google).  

As I'm typing this I just realized that this is also a nifty way to take a peek at your competition as well!

Tip # C

Head on over to SEO Quake and download and install their toolbar.  Activate the thing, and when you do your search you will have a whole bit of other info pertaining to that particular domain that comes in mighty handy.  Most importantly it will tell you the page rank (PR) of the domain.  Now you have instant info on what high PR sites to leave your link on.

Go find those high PR, relevant lenses. Find the "Add To This List" button. First you will be asked for the URL, then once you add that, you can leave any kind of anchor text that you want to rank for. Hit the proper add button, enter in some captcha and you're done.  Easy.  *Note, be careful because some of these lists are asking for Amazon links, and there is no point in leaving a link to an Amazon product on a competitor's site!  You will know it is asking for an Amazon link when you go and type in your URL and it says to you, "Hey, this isn't a link to an Amazon product!" (not in those words of course)

Now, I am not sure that if you have a thousand of these types of links if google will pass along all that delicious link juice, so I am using this sparingly until I learn otherwise.  Especially because I do want to have lenses of my own. For my niche site, I have 5 backlinks with this method and I would like to build a lens a week as well starting this weekend and until I reach my goal of ranking #1 for my keyword (I can see myself having at least 100 backlinks coming from Squidoo alone).

So if any really smart and experienced internet marketers out there could shed some light on whether having tons and tons of links coming from one place (like Squidoo) will be beneficial or not, please share it here!

There you have it.  I hope you find this beneficial.  All thoughts, questions, and random musings is encouraged in the comments section.