Well, it’s time for the last monthly report from 2014! The month of December was a great month again for my website, but real life came and smacked me in the face. The first half of the month was spent dealing with a family emergency regarding my mother’s fight with breast cancer (see
“personal notes” at the end of this report for more details).
Because of this, I lost about two and a half weeks of time spent on my business and website. I still managed to squeak out a few posts before the end of the year during my Christmas break, so I made up for it as best as I could.
Despite all of this, my traffic continued to increase! That’s the great thing about this business, all of your previous work will continue to be productive for you, even when you’re not actively working on your website!
In terms of money, I was just under even for the month. I had an overall loss of $7.10 for the month, but I had some additional expenses that I felt comfortable making now that I’m actually making money from my website. So, all in all, I’m happy with where I’m at.
Anyways, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details of my site!
What I Did This Month
As I mentioned, I was unable to produce any new content for over half of the month. Because of this, I was only able to write two new posts and completely revamp a third.
Of the two new posts, one was a product review of a product I found on Clickbank called Perpetual Cash Machine. In the second post, I wrote about how I’ve built this website and have gotten multiple top three, and hundreds of first page, rankings in Google without doing one iota of keyword research:
- Perpetual Cash Machine Review – Good Information, But Poorly Packaged
- How To Get #1 Rankings on Google Without Doing Any Keyword Research
I also did a total remodel of my MyThemeShop review post. I was checking on the rankings of some of my posts and I realized that this review was ranking very well under a number of keywords. I then proceeded to check out my review and was appalled by what I saw! It was one of the very first pieces of content I had written, so I didn’t know what I was doing and I had yet to find my voice and style. Needless to say, the following two hours were spent revamping it.
Purchasing Products To Review
The primary focus of this website is to review products and make recommendations to my readers whether or not a product is high quality and worth considering, or not.
Up until this time, I had not been able to actually purchase most of the products I was reviewing because I simply didn’t have the money to do so. Instead, I would scour the internet for everything said about a product, good and bad, combine that with the product’s promotional material, and draw my conclusions from that. I don’t think this prevented me from providing quality, honest material, but I don’t think it’s the best I could’ve done.
Now that I am actually making money, I decided I am going to start purchasing/using most of the products I am reviewing. This way I can provide the highest quality and most trustworthy reviews on the web. That being said, at this point, I still can’t afford to buy everything I review, so I am going to set a monthly budget of $50 to go towards product purchases. Hopefully, at some point, I’ll be bringing in enough money that I can purchase everything, but that’s still a few months away I think. I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got!
Setting Analytics Goals
Towards the end of November I had the pleasure of watching an amazing live WAbinar (yes, that's spelled correctly) over at Wealthy Affiliate on the topic of Tracking Affiliate Goals in Analytics. In it, Jay demonstrated implementing Goals and affiliate link tracking and showed us how useful they can be in providing valuable insight into your website’s performance. These were two aspects of Analytics that I knew existed but hadn’t ventured into because they seemed complicated and unnecessary for where I was at in my business.
Post WAbinar, my mind was completely changed on both points and I decided to implement these two tactics myself. I added one Goal, and started working on the affiliate link tracking, but was unable to finish due to family circumstances. The Goal I had set up is already providing me with some valuable information, which I will discuss in the “Traffic Goals” section below.
My overall traffic seems to have levelled off a bit this month, but I had 538 PPC visitors in November that I did not have in December. So, taking that into consideration, my non-paid traffic really increased again this month.
One number I am extremely happy with is the amount of returning visitors to my site. Only 81% of my traffic was from new visitors, which means almost 20% of my traffic was there for at least the second time. This is a good sign as it shows my content is worth returning to! Hopefully this trend will continue!
I am actually very happy with my traffic this month, especially since I was out of commission for over half of the month. My website continues to gain traction within the search engines and is becoming more of an authority each and every day. It’s exciting to watch!
Total Visitors: 3,731 (+17)
Unique Visitors: 3,073 (-217)
Pageviews: 10,103 (-662)
Pages/Session: 2.71 (-0.19)
% New Visitors: 81.32% (-6.48%)
Average Session Duration: 2:01 (+0:23)
Organic, direct, and referral traffic all increased again this month. My referral traffic really increased a lot, but, unfortunately, I don’t think most of this traffic is legitimate. When looking at the referral sources a lot of them are coming from Russia and/or other really sketchy looking websites. I imagine they are trying to somehow spam my website. Luckily, my anti-spam plugins seem to be doing their job.
Obviously, since I haven’t been active on my social media accounts at all, my social traffic decreased significantly.
Organic: 2,924 (+282)
Direct: 412 (+17)
Referral: 383 (+272)
Social: 12 (-41)
PPC Adwords: 0 (-506)
PPC BingAds: 0 (-32)
This is the first month I have had any goals set up within Analytics. Because of this, there isn’t a whole lot of in-depth analysis I can do yet. However, as the months continue, having these goals set up should really help me determine how successful my content is at converting its readers, where they are dropping off in the sales funnels, and where I can make valuable improvements to my site.
I still have a lot of learning to do in regards to interpreting this information, but I’m excited to start digging into this new aspect of my Analytics data.
Goal: Click through to Wealthy Affiliate Review
Goal Completions: 337
Goal Conversion Rate: 9.03%
Traffic Over Time
Just to give everyone some perspective on how I have built this online business from the beginning, I like to include these two charts in every update I do.
Looking at them you can see how, for the first 3.5 months, I had very little traffic and absolutely no organic traffic whatsoever. Since then, you can see when the traffic started increasing steadily and it hasn’t stopped since!
Top Performing Pages & Posts
For the first time in a few months we have a new member in the top performing pages competition. Of course, the same two posts are solidly in first and second positions, and have been for months.
This post continues to become an increasingly large percentage of my total traffic, up to 40% now. It is ranked in the top 3 for a majority of the most common keywords for this product as well as in the top five for many, many more. Now…if only I could get all of my reviews to perform this well!
% of Total Traffic: 40.04% (+6.84%)
Sessions: 1,494 (+271)
% New Sessions: 94.11% (-0.94%)
Pages/Session: 2.71 (-0.04)
Average Session Duration: 1:42 (+0:16)
Exited Through WA Review: 120 (+2) or 8.14% (-1.52%)
This review continues to hold the second position, but has decreased significantly in every metric. The overall landings have decreased by almost 200 and those that do come aren’t staying as long. Truth be told, I have no idea why this is the case. Maybe it’s because I’m still building my authority and, as a result, my rankings can be a bit sporadic.
% of Total Traffic: 14.58% (-5.40%)
Sessions: 544 (-198)
% New Sessions: 80.51% (-9.70%)
Pages/Session: 2.52 (-0.29)
Average Session Duration: 1:23 (-0:31)
Exited Through WA Review: 20 (-26) or 3.74% (-2.54%)
This review is coming on strong and wouldn’t surprise me if it’s in the number two spot next month. The metrics regarding this post are FABULOUS. People are staying on my site for over two and a half minutes and 1-in-5 are clicking through to my WA review. This post seems to be a really good candidate for some future PPC campaigns, once I get back into that.
% of Total Traffic: 10.18%
% New Sessions: 94.21%
Average Session Duration: 2:37
Exited Through WA Review: 81 or 21.43%
Social Media Profiles
My social media profiles were COMPLETELY neglected this month. Seriously, I don’t think I logged in to any of them once for the entire month. Despite that, I was finally able to reach the 30 likes mark with my Facebook Business Page. This is nice because now I can access the page analytics, although it doesn’t do me much good at this point with only 30 followers, but it was still a benchmark I was happy to meet.
On Twitter I have a net gain of 1 new follower, which is interesting because there were 13 people that started following me in December. That must mean there were 12 people that stopped following me. Shame, it’s probably because my account was completely inactive and not providing any value to my followers.
I am most happy with the increase in my email list subscribers! As long as traffic continues to increase, I’m sure this number will continue to grow completely on its own.
Time Spent – 25 Hours 37 Minutes
I was nowhere near my goal of 60 hours worked, but I still managed to put in 25 hours and 37 minutes for the month. Most of this time was spent on writing new content, but I also spent some time interacting with the Wealthy Affiliate community, doing some training, and responding to comments left on my site.
I have found that tracking my time makes me much more productive while I am working. I am much less distracted. Once you can actually see how long it takes you to do something, you realize just how inefficient you really are! This may not be true for everyone, but it definitely is for me.
Total: 25 hrs 37 min
Post – Monthly Update – November 2014: 8 hrs 4 min
Post – Perpetual Cash Machine: 5 hrs 45 min
Post – Achieve Rankings Without Keyword Research: 2 hrs 44 min
WA Community: 2 hrs 30 min
Post – MyThemeShopReview – Update: 2 hrs 28 min
Miscellaneous: 1 hr 37 min
Education: 1 hr 30 min
Respond To Comments: 58 min
Monthly Revenue = -$7.10
This month I ended up about seven dollars in the hole. I didn’t bring in as much revenue as last month, but I think that may have been due to the holiday season. My niche and the products I am reviewing and promoting aren’t really conducive for that time of year. I’m expecting things to pick up again in the new year (and they already have).
Expenses = -$73.90
Wealthy Affiliate Membership: $24.92
AWeber Membership: $19
NameCheap (Hosting): $3.98
Product Review Expenses: $17.00
PPC BingAds: $0.00
PPC AdWords: $0.00
Facebook Ads: $0.00
Income (New Conversions/Revenue) = 136/$66.80
(New Conversions/Conversions Over Time/New Revenue/Revenue Over Time)
Wealthy Affiliate: 12/59/$61.00/$244.5
Elegant Themes: 0/0/$0.00/$0.00
Paid Viewpoint: 103/186/$5.57/$6.46
Totals Over Time = -$546.36
Total Profit: $546.36
Last Month’s Goals
There’s a whole lot of big red “NOs” in this section this month. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet most of the goals I had set.
- Post 5 new pages or posts, not including this update NO
- Get 10 new sales NO
- Have a net profit for the month NO
- Over 3,750 organic visitors to the site NO
- Complete WA Affiliate Bootcamp Phase 7 Through lesson 5 NO
- Work for a total of 60 hours or more NO
- Set up goal tracking in Analytics YES
- Set up affiliate link tracking in Analytics NO
- Social Media Goals:
- Facebook: 30 likes YES
- Twitter: 325 followers NO
- Google Plus Business Page: 55 followers YES
- Pinterest: 100 followers NO
- Email List: 25 subscribers YES
Goals For January 2015
My goals for this month are pretty straightforward. I mostly just want to put out as much quality content as possible. My social media goals are not anything overly ambitious, I just want to maintain a small level of growth in January. I am going to shoot for an average 125 organic visitors a day (I averaged about 95/day in December), so about 3,875 total.
- Post 7 new pages or posts, not including this update
- Get 10 new sales
- Have a net profit for the month
- Over 3,875 organic visitors to the site
- Work for a total of 60 hours or more
- Track 2 more goals in Analytics
- Set up affiliate link tracking in Analytics
- Social Media Goals:
- Facebook: 35 likes
- Twitter: 325 followers
- Google Plus Business Page: 65 followers
- Pinterest: 105 followers
- Email List: 35 subscribers
As I said in the beginning of this update, my mother is in the midst of an epic battle with cancer. Over three years ago, she was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic breast cancer. That means it was very advanced and had spread to multiple organs and into her bones. In fact, there was so much cancer in her liver her doctor was afraid it was going to shut down any day.
At that point, she started an aggressive treatment plan (along with an even more aggressive prayer plan). Miraculously, and there's no other way to describe it, within a couple of months, nearly all the cancer was gone. It wasn’t all completely gone, but it was at a manageable point that was no longer immediately life-threatening. Her doctor, who wasn’t willing to discuss more than a couple months into the future was flabbergasted. Honestly, he had no explanation as to how the cancer had receded, it was like nothing he had seen before.
Unfortunately, a couple of years later (about a year ago), there were three spots found in her brain, in inoperable locations. This is basically the worst place you can possibly get cancer because very few forms of chemotherapy can actually get into the brain. That means the only real viable treatment is radiation, and that has its limits.
She has undergone two separate radiation treatments to knock the tumors back, but the stubborn buggers refused to go away. During the beginning of December she started showing some definite side-effects of something not quite right in her brain. She went in and had scans and found out the three tumors had greatly increased in size.
She has undergone a 3rd and final radiation treatment. Doctors rarely do more than two, so a fourth is out of the questions. It would just do too much damage to her brain and she wouldn’t ever be herself again. So this is most likely the last offensive action we can take against the cancer. She is doing really well given all she’s up against. She’s still independent, has her mind, and is herself. She definitely is a fighter and I’m super proud of her!
I’m sure my readers follow a variety of beliefs, but if you pray, then I ask you to pray for my mom and for her miraculous healing (that’s really all we can hope for now) as well as for family and especially myself. If you don’t pray, then I ask you to keep her in your thoughts. Most importantly, pray that she will be able to meet my beautiful fiancée, and soon to be queen in person! I want nothing more than for her to rest assured that I am in good hands and will be taken care of. 🙂
Speaking of my fiancée, we have finally gotten all of our paperwork and documents sorted out to a point where I could officially send in the petition to apply for the K-1 Fiancée visa. Now, we just play the waiting game as they process everything and move us through the system.
Here’s To A Successful 2015
With that, my first calendar year of running my own business has come to a close. I’ve turned it into a profitable enterprise. Just check out this first year of reports to see how far I’ve come.
Finally, if you want to follow in my success, I would encourage you to look through my website, learn what you can, and maybe even take my advice and check out what Wealthy Affiliate University can offer you on your journey. I’m by no means “wealthy” yet, but I’m putting the building blocks in place on solid foundations.
I would also encourage you to sign up for my email list to keep up to date with my latest content. I send out an email every Monday morning summarizing my previous week’s new content. I may also send out a few emails here and there, but nothing to clog your inbox. You can sign up here: