This post is meant to be updated and reviewed monthly on the status of our journey to become a media guru creating values for viewers.
If you loved to follow us in this hustle/journey, be sure to come back monthly and see our progress against yours.
This post will be updated in chronological order (older to newer).
A brief history of us. We have been on the Internet since April 2017, long before this income report, and learned several things in the past years. We made The experiments include
- Buy from online / Sell on the local classified website (e.g. Craiglist): Our starting point of making money online, we just listed something we didn't need at home. it worked for us in our local marketplace as new things always get lots of views. We got our first sales triggered and inspired us. Why not make it bigger? We tried several items and many failed and surprisingly some items worked. The problem is it is really hard to automate / scale since you need to keep listing the item and meetup people. Recommended place to start while you keep your job. (income probably in hundreds if you are hardworking)
- Dropshipping in general (e.g. Amazon): Next step, we found an opportunity where some marketplace has item slightly cheaper than other marketplaces due to its discount coupons, cashback rebates, etc. registered in a local marketplace. Therefore, we tried and it does work for some items. Again it is hard to scale in our local marketplace and manage the pricing as our local marketplaces have no automated tools to reprice or check out of stocks. If there was, I guess there won't be such an opportunity. We still maintain this store with a handful of pretty stable items. (income in early thousands if you are hardworking)
- FB Ads + Google Adwords (for a while) + Shopify (dropship): We got attracted to the so-called expert youngsters sharing their success. It is so hard and there is a reason why less than 5% of people succeed here (we belong to "losers" 95%). Even if you target people interested in your topic, your post needs to be attractive among their other news feeds. This usually means a great video/image which is not our strength. We are not built to copy write or sell and it is hard. It is really easy to get traffic, likes and others though if you are a rich media company. Good "get-rich" idea to burn your cash and good learning lesson. Seeing how "experts" are selling courses and mastermind, we figure out how they keep making money (income negative and not recommended unless you have a real brand)
- Income School; Along the way, we got into the concept of SEO and there are several schools of thought. We don't agree with many of them and only when we stumbled onto Income School, we thought it gel with our philosophy. We bought a few defunct domains as we didn't have ideas and also a few new domains we liked (based on our local marketplace's demand). 1/2 year of creating content, we were pleasantly surprised that we got over 10k traffic in total. We decide to fully commit and will create tons of content. This is the purpose of our income report.
To clarify, we have 3 content sites in October that focused on creating content. The purpose of the monthly review is not to focus on our income/loss but to remember our ultimate goal of being a media guru.
Site 1: Niche Site for both men and women. The idea was from our local marketplace sales
Site 2: Location-specific travel site. Bought as an expired domain
Site 3: Niche site for a group of people. The idea was also from our local marketplace sales. Started recently since our Shopify domains are expiring and we wish to keep the renewal of the domains around the same period.
Income Report Review Oct 2019
We set some traffic goals for the 3 sites. Along the way, we think it is not a good goal as traffics is out of our control. It is also important to remember the concept of a ghost town. Even though we wrote several contents in Oct 2019, traffic fell for Site 1 and Site 2 due to competition and the new posts take time to rank.
We know it will work eventually because we are monitoring Google Search Console where (super highly recommended tool as Google Analytics doesn't tell you impressions). Overall Impressions is not a good measure too as usually Google puts your page in some unexpected keywords (due to related blog post).
Income is purely on Adsense (only Site 1 and 2) and expenses are for writing content. We do the keyword research and editing ourselves.
Some other Learning points
- GoDaddy Auction min withdrawal for PayPal is $25 and has exorbitant fees that weren't obvious throughout the listing process. We end up having a $20 balance with them and no way to see the balance. Still trying to list our failed domains.
- Transferring from the GoDaddy domain to Shopify can fail somehow. Failed once (we got charged and refunded) but worked 2nd time. Relatively seamless thereafter but was a scare.
- Creating a second Instagram account (for Site 3) was hard. We gave up as it asked for our verification and never replied since.
- Should focus on doable goals (not traffic)
- Traffic falls for top posts due to competition Decide not to compete with them first
- Try more "best" posts to compete on top keywords
Income Report Review Nov 2019
- Big dip on top posts for Site 1.
- Site 2 traffic drops as top keyword dropped in rank due to a highly competitive website
- Site 3 is done and will slowly add more articles.
- Started Site 4 / Site 5 to ensure all domain renewal around the same timing
- Exploring more tools too like SendFox (email sending by AppSumo. Not that easy to use/delete users but good enough. Almost paid but read reviews that there is a need to ensure bounce rate low else throttle badly. Also no email subscriber so far too so pointless to invest so much even though lifetime [their model probably cannot sustain too in the long run]).
- I tried Lumen5 and super impressed. Have done quite a few youtube videos in channel and will do more videos too as an alternative traffic
- Read Incomeschool recommending SendinBlue and Sendy (need to install so too troublesome). Same as SendFox will only try when got more subscriber (putting the subscribe at the footer)
Moving ahead, expect controlled articles rates (around 2 articles/site/day) and focus on efforts in spreading videos at Youtube channels.
Income Report Review Dec 2019
- Site 1 traffic stabilizes around 4k. Focus is on Youtube as traffic seems easier and target the 4k watch hours required for monetization
- Site 2 traffic stabilizes to 2k
- Site 3 is having some traffic and surprising have more Youtube subscribers than Site 2
- Site 4 and 5 are growing slowly as expected
- Tried SendInBlue and not useful yet as Shopify mailing list is full of spams
Income Report Review Jan 2020
- First thing first, more video (try 4k view hours and 1k subscriber first)
- Traffic might be seasonal as no new written content
- Need to learn writing better content
- Youtube ads are cost-effective without targeting (~0.04c/view), compared to targetting narrowly
Income Report Review Feb 2020
- Traffic improving across all sites. Potential to have 3rd site Adsense monetized.
- Spending more as starting content production again, plan to have 1 post every week
- Continue video generation and posts
- Got $75 in AdWords from the $45 spent in the video, need to think how best as unable to get meaningful returns, maybe when got a product to promote.
Income Report Review Mar 2020
- Read up Ahrefs free video course by Tim.
- Quite useful and reinforced the previous mindset of creating great content from Income School.
- The concept of customer acquisition instead of traffic acquisition (though we don't have a product yet, one way is to be a marketing agency).
- 50% / 50% - New content and old content as didn't have an industry gauge previously. Was just finding content > 1 year with poor results to analyze
- The link building ideas were acceptable too but still prefer Income School way of not focusing on doing it at all.
- So far saw that posts with a real backlink do outperform, so they can understand why people want to do that. But not for us as we will play the long game of learning how to create great content (which we admit are weak now but will learn on improving old content)
- Rewrote some old articles we did at the start. Only had 500 words which were ridiculous thinking about it now. Tried to repivot 1 post as competitive too. Added more content to a competitive post too to try.
- Income dropping but viewership was still good, might be due to the recent virus. Good time to use up the $75 ad credits
- Right now, will focus on rewrite old post without clicks based on past learning (don't compete with pages with backlinks). Will also reduce the video to only those with great viewership to improve CTR%
Income Report Review Apr 2020
- Income still low but traffic is increasing
- Site 3 and 4 have overtaken Site 2 but unable to add ads during this period
- Site 2 which is a low search niche, will try a few more related topics. If still unable to grow, will just focus on update old post with great content
- Found some good tools shared by Ahrefs which will be explored more for Hub and Spoke concept
- Going to start Site 6 (content almost ready in a tough but niche I am interested in) and Site 7 (a potential niche for info product) in June (so only start new domains in June or December)
Digital Assets' Income Report Review May 2020
- Income still low but highest since I started
- To still note that everything is estimated only (since I take them on 28th so more accurate to compare across months)
- Watch about Income School Snippet Optimisation video and will take note of some key mistakes I made (e.g. use of Yes/No and "It" at the start of para).
- Will exclude monthly traffic as not too concern with the past/current numbers. More about improving and creating content via my other reports (Google Data Console, Search Console)
- Added ads for Site 3 and Site 4 which caused an increase in revenue
- Started some affiliate link and got a surprise $0.41 on 2 products I didn't even promote
- Found that some posts got ranked on video purely even though it is a subset of the post and post is nowhere to be found
- Found that Ahrefs released a free keyword tool which includes questions too (just that the traffic light/crosswalk captcha is annoying)
- Will register 3 domain in June, next set of domains would be Nov/Dec only if I managed to outsource easier
- Site 6 (content almost ready in a tough but niche I am interested in) and Site 7 (a potential niche for info product) is almost ready, added a Site 8 since I wish to test out broader niches.
- I learned about Onfolio which is very close to my original idea but on a bigger scale. Will invest and monitor how it goes
Digital Assets' Income Report Review June 2020
- Revenue double due to terrific posts in the DW site but likely to drop over time.
- Ending a long relationship with Fiverr writer to find and help local youth writers (part of my life goals to help hardworking youth)
- Many youths are more interested in Copywriting, which isn't my forte or goal of my websites
- Disappointed with 2 local writers who just respun 3 articles
- Excited with 2 writers with passion and 2 with potential
- Amazon Affiliate closure due to review of the content standard in my new site (appealed failed so resubmitted with my older website and had to relink again. Lesson learned is don't submit all sites to Amazon Affiliate and start linking only when account approved)
- Not part of records yet but I started Merch and have 2 masks sales in Redbubble and 2 shirts sales in Amazon UK (with 1 UK design and 9 DE designs given sales seem higher in DE. US is still closed). Will continue daily till I filled up Redbubble limit and maybe swap in bestseller across the channels (I had Merch long ago but only 3 designs and gave up then)
Digital Assets' Income Report Review July 2020
- As expected revenue drops in the DW site, but traffic is holding up for all sites. The newer posts by local writers aren't indexed yet so I expect Sep onwards to see the good growth effect again.
- Forgot to add local writers fee last month, so updated last month.
- Getting more local writers and happy with the progress (Not hitting any bottleneck, and can post their article within a day usually)
- Will look to make some writer be the editor to give them more experience and free me some time
- Removed SendOwl popup on websites as I don't see the value, added Disqus to site, and hope to see some engagements.
- Loved the Nathan Latka "Deal or Bust" Youtube series (aka Shark Tank for online companies). Makes me feel like coding a service
- Gave up restoring the Amazon affiliate account. Open a new one excluding my weakest websites (that was the reason for the rejection)
- Not part of records still. Sold more at Redbubble before getting suspended. Still trying to get it restored as good passive income.
Digital Assets' Income Report Review Aug 2020
- A slight increase in income due to higher CPM but worrying about lower traffic. Got to do more content audit.
- I bought the Frase.AI web app as there was a lifetime deal. It will help me in creating helpful content as it will gather information for me faster than I do myself
- I also streamline some documents for tracking local writers' posts to track the results in Google Search Console. It surprises me how some articles work better than others. Probably niches-related.
Digital Assets' Income Report Review Sep 2020
- In term of traffic, it is overall evening out and didn't grow much except for my travel site which result in income growth
- Writers seem to slow down significantly as school terms starts. I also realized I am not very good in motivating freelance writers but that can be improved eventually (I probably reject too many ideas that I know cannot work rather than teach them how to realize those won't work given competition). Probably a good reasons to find someone to be an editor + keyword analyzer to replace myself if I can make this more sustainable.
- At start of month, almost rewrote a few articles per day using Frase.AI to improve content with stats or useful references.
- Towards the end of month, was focused on exploring other options like buying the Google Chrome Developer for making Chrome New Tab extension since it is relatively easy but just need to figure how to target customers (end up it seem really hard to target them but will think about the extension first).
- Watched more videos of IncomeSchool and realized they had tied up with Ezoic which is nice as I got rejected even though I had traffic (maybe it was because I was running on Shopify)
- Trying some ideas for writing best local content after seeing certain blogs. Tried 1 post and still taking longer than I expected even with some automation. I ran out of idea to write about 20 shops in a unique way when they are doing the same essential thing. (i.e. good service, good quality). Will still try as I think it is a helpful content
- Ever since I changed to my new Amazon Affiliate account, it seems harder to convert sales. Shall ignore till more meaningful content.
- Merch wise, got sales from Redbubble again since resuming but got 3 new blocks on F1 racing images. Wonder if it were the tags as nothing odd from the photo sites. Will stick to mostly text design to be safe for now.
Digital Assets' Income Report Review Oct 2020
Set 2021 goal to hit 400k overall monthly views by end 2021, around 20x from the current.
First profitable month because of fewer local writers during this period (school re-opened) and think ads rates seem going up. This will drop as the need to invest more writers to hit 20x content to hit 400k views by 2021.
Plan to donate or set up funds giving $1 per article written by local writers (inspired by UX Collective). Added as part of ultimate goals to give back to the community
New interview questions for interested local writers and added a post to list local meaningful organizations (e.g. interesting to learn about Hagar)
Probably $80+ for 2020 to give back. Maybe just donate for now (relying on government matching)
For the longer-term, consider how to maximize giving back with organization meaningful, e.g. creating a promotional video about the non-profit to increase awareness
Tried simple email listing with Klaviyo and nothing meaningful though, need to rethink of more automated way probably SendFox which can auto send weekly updates.
Tried LinkedIn with Zapier for related blogs (maybe create sub-accounts as limited to 5 zaps in free, FB, LinkedIn)
Signed up for InVideo via AppSumo but realized no automated text to speech so ended up canceling. Will continue this as a side-side hustle in Youtube blog-to-video content. Read review on InVideo.
Digital Assets' Income Report Review Nov 2020
Back to loss as expected as my traffic is declining even with more content for a travel blog. My main earning post in a special niche is as expected dropping (that one post earn me probably $40/month)
Got some traffic for a post I self-written again that got the #1 position (Google Snippet) in a few weeks at my super low traffic/low ranking domain. It taught me that you really need to niche down and traffic estimation is inaccurate (most sites on the SERP are low, and maybe forums like Reddit). Got more ideas to work on that niche when I got some time.
Decided not to get any more new content domains until I managed to learn how to monetize/delegate my existing sites
Added 1 more job posting site and getting more applicants again
This month is mostly slow as I was busy with refining some aspects of my sites rather than content
Add Awin into Travel Blog, relatively easy since they have a script that will convert all related links into their affiliate rather than required you to update each link to a special link (Actually, maybe I should have a similar script for Amazon though not sure if it is acceptable). Don't expect much
Finally received approval for Amazon Affiliate officially (lesson learned is not to put a new website among all your sites as it will affect your overall approval)
Did some automation with Sendfox for each blog, LinkedIn with Zapier for related blogs
Also trying to figure other ideas like having a survey style content like ProfitWell (very interesting and useful content that I loved). But after checking around, I think it is too difficult unless I survey my own employees/freelancers (put inside part of my company culture docs for future)
Watched more social enterprise ideas like Youth for Causes that give seed funding to youths to raise funds. Seem a more efficient way to raise money than just direct donate. Will need some partners though.
Looking ahead, I expect Dec to be still breakeven but not too sure as my content mixes are still not really getting much search volume.
Digital Assets' Income Report Review Dec 2020
Technically, I lost money counting the $114 ($1/each for the article wrote in 2020 by volunteer writers) to contribute to a non-profit fund.
Still 20x away from 400x target by 2021
The videos posts effort didn't reap any benefit but it was a good experience
Got 1 positive post (written by myself) from my non-monetized sites that picked up the #1 spot in a few weeks, giving me hope that writing a good post in an uncompetitive niche is still the answer.
The plan is still to get 20x by having 2x from the new sites that are non-monetized and 10x overall
I decided to accumulate the $114 into a prize pool for next year, maybe at least $1,000 and start some yearly contest to encourage some causes (I am still thinking something Youth for Causes related as there are opportunities to give underrated media talents a chance to contribute to some meaningful causes).
I saw Shopee Designer prize pool was only $6,000 which seem like something I could try to amass if my site starts growing
I didn't start any more sites as I really want to focus on the right way to build my existing sites instead of interest hopping too much.
Besides looking for causes and editing articles, I have done little in my own writing as I was coding my own productivity tools (yes, I am a software engineer among other roles) to keep my sanity of things to do and automate
Digital Assets' Income Report Review Jan 2021
Revenue dropped as Dec had $25 from RedBubble and Jan had a period of no earning from Google Adsense.
The adjusted formula for writing expense to $8.5/article since $1 donated.
Moving forward, personally wish to connect with experts on Twitter/Instagram to write expert posts rather than rely on research existing posts. Create "new" content rather than collate what others said.
Wrote my own tool to focus on write and take notes faster while surfing
To start building silos on what worked already instead of scattering posts randomly
Digital Assets' Income Report Review Feb 2021
Revenue dropped further with another period of no earning from Google Adsense.
Quiet month as only 1 article contributor. I did write a few of my own articles but busy generally
- The income showing that this method of organic traffic is still sustainable
Will still seek experts and build silos on what worked already instead of scattering posts randomly
- Consider using Google Domain as available in Singapore
- FYI, switching to a quarterly updates to focus on more important project
Digital Assets' Income Report Review Mar to Aug 2021
Had a busy life with lots of life event with someone passing away
Off-topic, my wife and I had been finding lots of charity,
donating money to F&B stall to give free food for anyone who wants,
donating bathtub, high chair, cots, and the daily necessity to Safe Place (supporting woman with unsupported pregnancy),
donating money for the meals of monks and monastery effort
Anyway, the blog's revenue had increased steadily to hit around $200/month in the last few months
Didn't know my job opening in Glints was closed and had to re-open to get some new writers.
Overall, $131 was raised (from 131 articles written by freelancers) in the fund to do good. Not much but glad it is growing.
Recently read how TOMS failed and got sold off. The company started the 1-for-1 shoe and end up selling it to creditors as it just gets copied and had no edge. It just reinforced my point that non-profit should be sustainable.
Overall, running 8 blogs has not lost money since Dec 2020 though all it takes is an algorithm hit for no good reasons to break it.
I am seeing progress in 2 more blogs that I hope to monetize at least 1 by year-end (I prefer at least 2k views/month before doing it).
I definitely not hitting my target of 1k revenue this year. I got to work harder myself (writing more myself or even posting in more job sites)
My blogs focused on ranking naturally and selling ads. 99.9% of articles written lose money but sometimes that 0.1% can make up the rest.
Overall, writers didn't do much good in terms of revenue (i.e. lose money per article). I do like them refreshing the blog with their views and researches. (might not be good for blogs since Google like to see the authority of writers but I think it is a good experience for these writers and myself)
Still early stage but to scale up, I need a content manager to find writers, review, and post the articles.
Digital Assets' Income Report Review Sep to Nov 2021
- No writers for 3 months so relying on existing posts and myself
- Monetize 1 more blog (in finance) with bare minimal traffic but should do ok with niche
- Had some journal book sales in Redbubble which is nice
- Don't wish to scale up with writers still and prefer to keep it small for now
- Failed to my target this year but keeping a 10x target to hit $2k/month next year
Digital Assets' Income Report Review as of Nov 2022
- Been burning cash in past 4 months, and unable to grow revenue (in fact dropping due to traffic dropped but stabilizing)
- Register new Japan domain (using CloudFlare)
- Optimize website for Core Web Vital with new themes, but it broke some plugins
- Had 2x Redbubble payout in Dec 2021 and Jul 2022
- Had first Merch sales by chance(as previously put $0.00 royalty). Still tier 25 though. MerchFlow seem like a good tool to manage items when it grow