Zero to Four Figures a Month. The Lessons I Learned in 2012 – Part 1 (of 3)
So, here is my year in 2012, Part 1. Before I start, there are Three people I need to thank (and you should follow them). Without their advice and support, I would most likely not have made over $20 in 2012, much less almost $20,000.
3 People That Inspired and Made My 2012 Successful
The following are in now particular order. Unless you’re my wife, in which case: I saved the best for last.
- Neil Patel of QuickSprout.com – for his insightful and analytical methods of doing SEO, and his blog which is full of amazing material. Neil is actually the reason I got back into SEO and even considered Internet Marketing. Neil, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU.
- Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com – for making me realize that it was possible to make a decent income online and giving me the confidence to try new things out. Pat, If you’re even in Portland, let me buy you a drink
- My wife – For her support, understanding, and for not throwing my computer out the window; I spend a lot of time on it and I’m sure that I have truly tested her patience and love.
Hi, I’m Serge and I’m a Work-aholic. I’m luckier than most Internet Marketers out there in the fact that I’ve been around computers most of my life so understanding and implementing things came easier for me. The first website I worked on was back in 2000 when I learned HTML and helped manage our Middle School website. Since then, I’ve worked on hundreds of websites, earning extra money on the side. In late 2011, I had stumbled onto this thing called “Internet Marketing”.
Being a skeptic, I wasn’t willing to invest any time or money into something that sounded too good to be true. However, after Christmas, I realized that I’d be stuck in “making payments” mode and that if I ever wanted to advance in life, I needed to take some aggressive steps. We were in debt and weren’t having a very fun time trying to dig ourselves out of it. I realized that we had gotten ourselves into debt; I can sit here and blame the economy all day if I wanted to, but the fact was that WE used our credit cards to buy stuff and pay for bills.
Things had to change… So, I began reading into adsense and how to make money online using it (that’s all I knew about making money online: ads). I had already used $100 to pre-pay for Hosting for an entire year from BlueHost (This is an Affiliate Link) and started doing my research. By Jan 1st, 2012, I had decided to use what I already had; My webdesign skills to build a couple of websites which I would use to try my hand at Internet Marketing.
2012 Quarter 1 – Getting My Toes Wet
January – Entering the IM world
Since I was a total “newbie” at Internet Marketing, I decided to start a Car picture website. I went out and ordered a domain, CarPics.co, (which I let this domain expire after 1 year because it wasn’t hitting the goals I wanted) and started uploading pictures of cars. Also, I had my own personal website / Blog; MrMarchuk.com that I was posting random stuff on (whatever I was interested in at the time). Since I had barely any traffic coming in, I wasn’t expecting to make a boatload of money. Nonetheless, I was kind of disappointed when my AdSense earnings for the month had totaled $0.14 I needed to find something else, and realized that I needed to narrow in to a specific area.
February – The Month of Discovery
Since I had a bit of experience with cars (having restored a stingray corvette), I decided to write a few articles on maintenance tips for stingrays (and later on ended up expanding outside of Stingray Corvettes). At this time, the CarPics.co website and the Automotive blog I had started were getting some traffic this month due to the new articles and pictures being indexed in Google. Mid-February, I heard about a new social network called Pinterest, so I made an account and started pinning images I thought were cool as well. A little later in February, I learned about the Amazon Associates program and started pinning some links to cool things I had found on Amazon. Both the Traffic and the Revenue took off immediately. That’s when I learned about the beauty of Social Networks and driving traffic to your site. February had brought in $8.35 in adsense earnings with a promise for more exciting opportunities in March via the Amazon Affiliate program.
March – Discovering the Power of Pinterest
March was the month that I focused on Pinterest and Amazon Affiliate Program. I worked on getting more followers, pinning what I thought my followers might like, and plugging in an Amazon Affiliate item every now and then (relevant to the boards that the items were pinned on). Because of my new focus on Amazon Affiliates, I had decreased the number of ads and my March AdSense Revenue fell to $1.61 while my Amazon Affiliate revenue rose to $12.48 for a total of $14.09 earned in March – My first Double-Digit month (lol)! What I had noticed was that Pinterest did a lot more for me than just sell Amazon Items, it provided a great source of traffic as well. I decided that for April, I would focus more on Pinterest to drive traffic to my sites.
Total Quarter 1 Earnings: $22.58
Quarter 1 had brought in just short of a quarter of my initial investment ($100). I was happy and had learned quite a bit during these first three months. Little did I know that the Q1 earnings would pale against the Q2 earnings…
2012 Quarter 2 – The Learning & Revenue Curve
Quarter 2 was the quarter where I learned and earned a lot. Being of an analytical nature, I had analyzed everything that I had learned in Q1 and decided that it was time to do things a little differently in Q2. First, I needed to get mobile equipment so that I could write articles and create content on-the-go. Next, I would need to read into Internet Marketing a little more and decide on what might work for me. At this point, Amazon Affiliate sales looked like they were more profitable than AdSense and I decided it was time to do some testing with AdSense and Amazon Affiliate sales, as well as look into what else was possible, and so with this in mind, I started quarter 2 of 2012.
April – Realizations, Planning and Implementation
April was like that girl you dated in high school that taught you a ton of life lessons… April taught me that I needed better (and portable) equipment so I bought a new laptop for my business so that I could write and analyze content while traveling. I finally settled on a tiny 12″ Thinkpad X61. I had one of these before and LOVED it. The battery life was amazing, the keyboard was comfortable, and it was small enough that I could take it anywhere with me.
Also In April, I found Neil Patel’s blog once more and this time Bookmarked it. I was dumbfounded by the amount of free information this apparently insane person was giving away for free! I had no idea who Neil was at the time, but I could tell that his info was solid and good. I spent WAY too much time on his blog reading up on everything that I thought could be useful, absorbing information, implementing changes and optimizing the site for SEO.
Neil, if your page views per visitor and time spent on page figures were out of wack in April, I’m sorry, but I really did learn tons.
Due to my attention being mostly absorbed into learning new information, April for me was a slow month; I had brought in $3.87 in AdSense Revenue and $49.56 in Amazon Affiliate sales; thanks to 1 high-priced affiliate sale that brought in $45. However, I did notice that Since I had spent so much time absorbing information, I did not have as much time to pin and so as my Pinterest Pins got lower in the feed, they would push less-and-less traffic through to the site where I had the Amazon Affiliate links on, and so I decided that Amazon Affiliate might not be a good “long term” plan since I would be constantly having to find items that I thought my followers would re-pin.
Overall, in April, I had a QUARTER of the March sales , they were just higher priced items than March. The total earnings for April were $53.43.
I was unaware of how much my world would change in the month of May, thanks to what I had learned and implemented from Neil Patel.
May – Establishing a Foothold
Besides May being my Birthday Month, it was also my most informative and productive month. I decided to add another site to my Portfolio this month based on my success with Pinterest. I had wanted to add a site to replace the CarPics.co website; After reading into copyright lawsuits and other issues that can come up with me running a site about car pictures, I decided I did not need the extra liability and possibility of having to shut down the site because I might have accidentally uploaded a copyrighted image.
I decided to go with a “store-type” layout. Something that would be easy to promote on Pinterest…. Jewelry! After running a couple names through NameCheap (this is an affiliate link), one of the suggestions caught my eye: www.RingsForMe.com I quickly started adding Rings as posts with large pictures to make pin-able and inserted links to Amazon where those rings could be bought.
Note: the RFM site is not the same as when I started it. It’s changed drastically and is currently in stand-by mode while I work on some other projects. I might eventually come back to it since I want to eventually set it up as a drop-shipper of jewelry.
May was also the month that I learned to optimize my images to generate more traffic, tried some new tricks on Pinterest, applied my Google Authorship, and started building back links to the automotive blog and RingsForMe.com. Traffic took off. Unfortunately, I did not have Google Analytics installed at the time, so I can’t guess how much traffic I got in May, but according to my WordPress Jetpack Plugin, RingsForMe.com had 3,463 visits, and the Automotive Blog had around 5,000 visits (guesstimate based on what I remember, I did not have any form of analytics installed on either site at the time)…
Needless to say, With higher traffic came higher revenue. Amazon Affiliates brought in $10.08 while Google AdSense brought in a whopping $307.14 for a grand total of $317.22 in revenue in May.
Most of the ad money was due to the Automotive Blog getting so much traffic. This is when I realized that the money might be in the ads, and that the Automotive industry might be a better alternative to Jewelry. However, RFM being a new site, I decided to continue experimenting on both sites…
June – One Foot In The Door
June was the month that I saw the difference that Adsense can make. I saw that the visitors to my RFM site were somewhat interested in buying the items, but I had a crappy template set up at the time and conversions were below .05%. At the same time, I did notice that I was getting a large increase to the automotive blog, due to some backlinks I had received. I decided to focus most of my attention on the Automotive blog for the month of June and applied some changes (mostly ad placement and writing more articles).
June’s Amazon Revenue totaled $184.06 while the Adsense revenue totaled (get this) $3078.95! June Revenue brought in a total of $3263.01; That’s an over a 1000% jump in revenue from May! What did I do differently from May? I added ads across all the pages of my high-traffic automotive blog. I did the following: Inserted 1 ad before the content, another ad 2 paragraphs down, and a 3rd ad at the very bottom of the page. Also, the Amazon Affiliate sales increased greatly, from 12 in May to 60 in June. The difference in the Amazon Affiliate sales was due to quite a few re-pins of jewelry that was linked to the RFM site as well as a slightly “more prominent” button which led to more traffic and amazon click-throughs.
I literally jumped from joy when I saw the final number from the Adsense revenue and Amazon Affiliate sales. I could not believe my eyes. Not only had my revenue jumped like crazy, but this got my foot in the door and allowed me to see exactly HOW MUCH was possible with an online website; and this is just the tip of the iceberg…
Total Quarter 2 Earnings: $3,633.66
Quarter had opened my eyes to the possibilities of Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and the importance of Social Media and proper backlink building. Going from $22.58 in Quarter 1 to $3633.66 in Quarter 2 was more than I could have dreamed of. This was a 160 times the Q1 revenue.
While this was a huge increase, I realized that I had squeezed just about everything out of the automotive blog with AdSense (meaning I wasn’t likely to get over $3,000 a month from that site) so I decided to see what I could do to optimize that revenue. Also on the plate for Q3 was testing the RingsForMe.com site and seeing what else was possible on there.
Either way, Quarters 3 and 4 would be interesting and rewarding, I was sure of it.
Part 2 coming soon
Edit 2/27/13: Part 2 is live at THIS LINK
Also in Part 2, I started testing with Clickbank and THAT took off successfully. More information coming within a week. I’m currently on vacation to a sweet little lodge in the middle of Oregon, USA. Here’s a picture of the beautiful drive and lodge (Suttle Lake Lodge):