My blog paid for itself – it earned me over $10,000 and currently generating $600-$1100/mo in affiliate commissions… Originally it cost me $100 to set it up. When I started, I had no clue… But first let’s start with my latest income report.
Income Report March 1, 2020:
Thrive Themes: $693.05
Human Proof Designs: $127.46
Course Sales: $53.84
Total February Income: $874.35
- Total Visits 3.6K ( ↑25.46%)
- Avg. Visit Duration 00:01:43
Pages per Visit 1.47
Bounce Rate 80.32%
And now let’s see my story.
My First Failure
My first WordPress blog was a complete failure in January 2017.
I had no clue. I signed up for the Wealthy Affiliate Program, but it didn’t work out for me.
I am not saying that it is a bad program, however I had no idea what to expect when starting a blog – I didn’t understand the purpose of the individual steps, like getting comments, and I didn’t see the strategy. Also, I picked a bad niche (very competitive) and nobody corrected me.
Even the domain name I picked was horrible – StartAnInternetBusiness.net. It is too long and it is an exact match keyword that gets easily penalized.
I didn’t know what was considered great content, I didn’t know about the Google sandbox.
I was trying to rank for keywords, it didn’t work, and I didn’t understand why – the keywords I was going after were too competitive. I concluded that SEO was not working any more.
And no one in the community corrected me on these points…
Selling On eBay
After this I signed up for an eBay coaching program. We paid $6,000 for it. It was money down the drain.
We became a bronze seller in 3 months, but that was not because of the coaching, but only because I researched, googled and watched multiple YouTube videos.
They had an entire course on how to build an affiliate website. Looking back at it with the knowledge I have now, I know completely that their material wasn’t up to the competition level of today’s internet.
We got scammed. They were just trying to upsell us instead of helping to get results.
My Second Attempt: Expired Domains
As you can see, I had my share of failures and I can totally see where you are coming from when you complain that you can’t get traffic to your blog and you can’t generate income.
Before I started again, I did a lot of googling.
I started YourExpiredDomains.com.
I bought a domain at NameSilo, where a .com domain costs $7.99 if you use my coupon code yexpd0. (You also get lifetime free privacy.) I used Scala Hosting as my host, I was totally happy with them. They had a special discount going on and I got 6 months of hosting for $5.86.
The site has paid me back more than 10 times my original investment of $15. (It did take hard work.)
Despite this result I consider this site a failure, as this income isn’t enough to reach any goal, except for the fact that it paid for my domain and hosting.
I consider those $260 commission “beginners luck”. Unfortunately that affiliate program hasn’t generated any results since…
Why did I choose this domain niche? When you pick your niche, there are two main things you need to consider:
- You need to have passion/knowledge for the subject. This helps to keep going.
- There needs to be a demand for products/services in that niche.
- You need to find a sub-niche where you can compete
There are 330 million registered domains in the internet, over 130,000 domains get registered every day… This is a huge demand, and all these people also need hosting, website building, etc, with a great earning potential. Also, the subject of domains has always intrigued me. I was always hunting for domains that the previous owners didn’t want any more…
However the domain niche was a bad choice, because you can only make a small commission from selling domain names and if you can’t balance this with high volume, you are going to make very little money, as you can see it in this earnings screenshot:
It also turned out that the NameSilo commissions you see here were NOT from the blog, but from the Quora articles.
They stopped coming when a moderator decided after 1.5 years that my answer “violated Quora policy”.
How I Accidentally Started Making Money…
In case you are wondering, the below screenshot with the cake is from MostlyBlogging.com. A guest post that I submitted in November 2017, even though there were only 2 months left from the year, made it to #5 on the list of top posts for 2017. It went viral, it was shared over 300 times.
The title was, “How To Get Your Blog To The First Page Of Google Guaranteed“.
What did I do? I wrote a blog post targeting a long-tail keyword and announced a challenge to rank it to the front page of Google, which by the way happened only hours after it was published.
Not only that, but afterwards the owner Janice wrote an entire follow-up post that explained why it was a success. It was called “How to Improve Blog Traffic for Free: Get 1,000+ Hits Quickly“.
Type in “blog to the first page of Google guaranteed” and see it. You can play around with the phrase and you will see that if you omit “blog”, the post will show up on the second page. If you omit “guaranteed”, it is again a different position.
This is actually a very competitive keyword and I utilized the power of Janice’s blog (high Domain Authority over 40) and long-tail keywords to achieve my purpose.
I used long-form content (over 2,000 word tutorial) and I went into the details to provide advice that works.
(Note: After a year passed by, it’s still on page 1, but not in position #1 any more, things do change on the internet.)
This is to show you that
- Whenever you hit the right thing that resonates with your readers, and you provide really awesome and deep actionable content, you will get a reaction
- Targeting long-tail keywords can rank your content
- When you can do both at the same time, you are a winner.
I didn’t have much clue when I did this, but it gave me the success I needed at that time to continue and I want to thank Janice for the opportunity. (We are blogger friends now.)
There are two more factors to this success that I only realized much later.
I produced a result.
In today’s world, many times results are lacking. Get a result and tell everyone. People will react.
I used a specific linking strategy
I linked back from a high DA 43 domain to a blog post that targeted a non-competitive, long-tail, MONEY keyword.
That was the key to my success.
Earnings History of FunnelXpert
FunnelXpert just passed 2 months of age.
I used an SEO strategy, plus the power of social media.
This is what the traffic looks like:
55 organic visitors for the past 4 weeks, and it is increasing every day.
And I can’t say that I am doing a lot of promotion…
My strategy is –
- write a detailed long blog post targeting long-tail keywords
- do some Facebook promotion
- get good user experience scores like this:
You see that one of the posts has 11:39 average view time… But I have some posts that have 14 minutes, and one even with 20 minutes of view time.
Update Jan 31, 2018: Something Crazy Just Happened
This morning I opened my dashboard to see my stats… And this is what I found:
I haven’t done any promotion the last couple of days… Still 68 page views.
I click on the last bar of the JetPack bar to see the referrers… There is this strange URL, Zest.is.
I Google search and this is what it says:
[pullquote align=”normal”] We approve and publish
~1% of suggested articles
The fact that the content is recommended and verified by pros makes Zest
wildly efficient for it’s purposes – it’s saving my time and provides
valuable categorized resources [/pullquote]
Someone obviously submitted my post, WordPress Sales Funnel Training – How Bloggers Can Make Money to this site, and seems like it made into the 1 percent…
And also look at this:
Update Feb 25, 2018 : FunnelXpert Paid For Itself
I originally paid $86 for 2 years of hosting and I got the domain and the SSL for free from Hostinger.
And these are my earnings:
To give you an idea about conversion rates, here is the summary:
This is without a mailing list, just with straight organic traffic to affiliate link conversion.
These numbers completely support the fact that without an email list the conversion rate is about 1 percent, and I am leaving money on the table.
However it is also true that I am not going to build a funnel for every single thing on my blog…
How did I do it? With this post on Thrive Themes & Plugins, 2473 words unique content.
I picked a few keywords from the Google Keyword Planner that are listed with 0-100 search volume.
I linked to the post from Quora.
And look at the rankings in Google:
And that’s it!
Update April 3, 2018
Here’s the most recent earnings update:
Update Sept 14, 2018
It’s been a long time and I actually gave up on this blog. I hadn’t logged into my WordPress dashboard for 4 months.
I happened to log into my affiliate account and, to my greatest astonishment, I found this:
Needless to say, I started working on the blog again and I updated the post that brought all these affiliate commissions to make it even better.
Update Feb 20, 2019
As you can see, my blog more than paid for itself.
I paid off my $1,500 debt from my PayPal credit account and $400 of Capital One credit card from the earnings of this blog.
These are the earnings I received on February 1:
- Thrive Themes $207.50
- NameSilo $57.68
This money came from this much traffic (1,500 visitors in the past 30 days):
Income Report March 1, 2019
It is a given that you can’t predict how much affiliate commissions you will make a month.
These are the earnings I received on February 1:
- Thrive Themes $573.00
And I am about to start selling my courses.
Income Report Aug 1, 2019
I haven’t posted an income report in a while.
Here is the screenshot of Thrive Themes affiliate commissions.
Income Report Sept 2, 2019
Total Monthly Income: $445.92
- ClickFunnels: $100.00
- Thrive Themes: $282.00
- NameSilo: $63.92
Cost: $80 on link building
Only 2,672 page views. It doesn’t take a lot of traffic to make money.
I spent two weeks in Greece on vacation, therefore I haven’t done a lot of work on the blog. But this is not the reason for the decreased income – affiliate commissions are delayed. This is the result of server problems – I had moved to a cloud server and it was regularly going over the 1 GB 1 CPU limit, which caused the site to go offline regularly.
NONE of the content I wrote recently has generated any money. Only a few successful old post. Make Money niche SEO is not easy. That’s why I am getting links built.
Content is NOT king any more. It’s just one component that you need to get right.
And affiliate income is unpredictable, as you can see on these pending commissions here (the big number is lifetime commission for that account since March 2018):
The plan for September is to start selling my courses, get the webinar funnel set up for this. More importantly, after writing a lot of content in term of blog posts and courses, I want to look outside and do promotion.
Just wrote a new post on Free Plus Shipping funnels, I want to give that a try in a foreign language.
I wrote another one on how to target People Also Ask listings. I want to do a round on that too, to improve my SEO.
Income Report Oct 1, 2019:
Thrive Themes: $282.00
Total September Income: $600.00
Link Building: $80.00
3 years of VPS: $137.00
Income Report Nov 1, 2019:
FunnelXpert Courses: $23.93
Thrive Themes: $516.75
Clickfunnels: Pending payments don’t reach the $100 payout threshold
Total October Income: $540.68
The cumulative total for Thrive Themes account since March 2018 is shown on my featured picture.
This is the cumulative total for ClickFunnels:
This is the site traffic per Google Analytics:
People are surprised about how little my traffic is compared to my income.
Link Building: $80.00
New Domains: $54
I purchased two domains, $27 each and they are now up and running, getting indexed by Google.
Look at the DAs:
It’s kind of crazy that I worked for 2 years on FunnelXpert and I still only have DA 23, and the newly purchased domains are DA 34/35 with links from prominent websites…
On this one, I restored the original content from Archive.org. I have used it for link exchange, but I am also thinking about moving over my non-ranking blog posts from FunnelXpert and generate some additional income.
Do a search on Google and see all the video, the related article, etc. results that come up…
On the second one, I am creating a shopping affiliate site.
The moral is, blog smarter, not harder, use the Pareto Principle.
I already built 10+ backlinks from link exchanges from Facebook groups. I am planning to get more.
I also went through the keywords on my Search Console to see what content I should create to increase traffic that will bring more revenue.
Income Report Dec 1, 2019:
Thrive Themes: $562.60
Total November Income: $689.00
Link building: $80
Children’s play is over…
My entire focus is on content and link building.
I am rewriting my home page so it doesn’t have thin content. It will be several thousands of words long.
I am going to do new keyword research using Ahrefs.
And do shotgun link building.
Income Report Jan 1, 2020:
Thrive Themes: $1,150.92
Total December Income: $1,180.42 – Highest Ever!
Link building: $150
Ahrefs trial: $7
Total 2019 Earnings: 8,055.21
vs Total 2018 Earnings: 1,225.61
Just released my new free Keyword Research Sanity course. (Coupon code KWFREE.) I don’t really care much about my course sales, they are not selling well. But the traffic that comes because of the free course supports my SEO.
Take all the noise out and concentrate on what moves the needle.
I just did a fresh round of keyword research with Ahrefs. I will write new articles based on that. Need more money generating content.
I just recently got over the “entry barrier” that goes with link building.
- I am doing link exchange in FB groups.
My site is starting to react fast and well.
I got a link from a DA 39 site yesterday from a hosting review website to this SSD Nodes review. It instantly jumped from Page 2 to middle of Page 1. Now I contacted my host and asked them to link to the article… We’ll see what happens.
Income Report Feb 1, 2020:
Thrive Themes: $499.71
Total January Income: $655.91
DA has increased from 24 to 26 as a result of all my link building efforts.
- Total Visits 2.87K ( ↓ 12.47%)
- Avg. Visit Duration 00:01:43
Pages per Visit 1.51
Bounce Rate 82.34%
- Create more money-making content (clusters) for long-tail keywords.
- Build more links
So this is my journey…
As you can see, it is possible to make progress.
I am not going to say that making money is easy…
But if you start getting some traffic to your site and if you keep working on it, the affiliate commissions will come.
The only thing you need is hard work and correct information.
Hi Peter, very interesting write-up. I’m really interested in how you do your keyword research and how much organic traffic you are getting. I know the process on the surface looks super easy, but it is more complicated than it looks. The results you have shown are impressive for such a niche, especially for such a short period of time. Congratulations on that!
The method I have been using is very basic, I am working on one that gets more returns with less work…
Amazing post. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for sharing this. Must say I am impressed 😊😊
Wow, I am really impressed, most bloggers never get to the point where they make more than 100 dollars.
I am amazed by your strategy!
Thank you for writing this post!
Hey, it is really amazing how you got two blogs to pay for the expenses that you put into them.
I do need to mention though that it takes a lot of work, and your blogs paying for your expenses is just the first step, you are still not paid for all the work you put into them, which I consider an investment.
This is гeally interesting, Υоu’re a very skilled blogger.
I have joineⅾ youг гss feed and look fօrwaгd to inquest more of your wonderfuⅼ posts.
Also, I һave shared your website in my socіal networks.
Happy to see your income report and shared all of your affiliate earnings with the affiliate program as well.. Thanks