I spent August in Amsterdam, enjoying the legendary unstable Dutch summer. No travel except a weekend in Dusseldorf!
I was expecting a quiet month, both online&offline, but here in Netherlands the summer holidays don’t put business to a halt (in Italy pretty much everything shut down in August) and I had a full agenda.
Last month I introduced a new format for this Online Income Reports, including a ‘Tool of the Month’ section. I didn’t get any reaction so not sure what to do with it, but I’ll stick to this for a while before making conclusions 🙂
Let’s get into the report of the activities & the finances.
What’s Going On
Focus and Execute: the Truth
In May I spectacularly declared that I was going to reduce client work and focus on two online projects: an Amazon affiliate website about drones, and a blog about IT networking.
But when your favorite customer calls you for few well paid days of WordPress consultancy, you go there and deliver few well paid days of WordPress consultancy.
I started using Toggl few months ago and I’m getting better and better at tracking how I spend my time… so here is the report of the client activity in August:
I logged almost 62 hours spent on clients projects.
I wish I could say that everything was billed with my hourly rate of €70 but that’s not the case. Anyway this report is about online income and not my WordPress consultancies 😉
The reason why I show this is because I’m pretty close to that 50-50 share between client work and working on my own projects, assuming a 40h/week total.
First Earnings from WP-OK!
In May I started testing a new idea: WP-OK. WP-OK is a WordPress support & maintenance service focus on the Italian market.
I’ve been providing this to my existing clients for a long time now, but this is the first time I’m trying to sell it as a stand-alone service.
The idea with WP-OK is simple: entrepreneurs should not spend their time fixing WordPress, but working on their business.
In August I tuned the landing page using the amazing Hotjar tool. The session recording feature is really useful to understand how visitors interact with the pages and the user experience.
Here you can see a visitor clicking on a text saying “Solve a Problem”. As there was no link there, the visitor got confused and left the page even before reaching the offer:
In September I’ll have a marketing action to promote WP-OK in the Italian market… let’s see how it goes!
Negotiating a Direct Advertising Campaign
One of the projects I’m focusing on is RouterFreak, a blog for network engineers. I’ve been a network engineers for 12+ years so I can relate with that audience.
For the third month in a raw I got asked for a sponsored product review. But this time the product wasn’t a simple software tool, but rather a complex solution for high-end networks (at high-end price)… so I had to negotiate the price accordingly.
I brought up the subject in my mastermind group and got very good feedback:
- Choose the price based on how much value the campaign provides to the advertiser;
- Always give 2-3 options;
- Try to maximize the profit offering volume discount;
- Try to use their language.
So I produced an offer justifying the price with the resource allocation for the project (typical in the IT world) rather than time required by the writer or even worse price per word (typical of the writing world).
I stressed that we provide a certified senior network engineer writing the review of such a technical product, and offered 20% on the immediate order of three reviews for three months (volume discount).
How did that go? While they refused the more pricey option and the volume-discount, we closed the deal for $1200 USD! That’s the highest sponsorship I ever got, very happy about it.
Another House Sold
The most visited articles in this blog danielebesana.com are about how-to buy an house in Amsterdam.
It’s enjoying stable traffic and I use it as lead generator for a trustworthy local house agent. It’s a win-win situation because I know the guy is great and very helpful, and that’s what buyers are paying for.
I was pretty happy to receive an email informing me that another house was sold, with a nice commission fee awaiting me.
While it doesn’t happen often, it’s a pretty passive revenue stream. It remembers me of the importance to address markets where the money are.
Let me explain: I wrote many practical posts about living in Amsterdam. I wrote about how-to move here and got plenty of questions from jobless people. I wrote about buying an house and got few questions from rich people.
While I tried to help both, the smaller audience generated $ while the larger audience generates traffic.
WPtube: time for an update?
In July 2014 I launched the Premium version of the WordPress theme WPtube. It generated almost $6000 USD so far, but the earnings decreased in the last months. At peak I sold $663 in a month, but August was the second month in a raw totaling $195.
I admit that I haven’t put any time in this project, and this has surely taken a tool in the bottom line sales. I plan to release an updated version of the theme in September and see how it goes.
Let’s get down with the numbers!
- Adsense: €446.66 (was €380.66) – very glad to see the earnings coming back up on this
- Feedblitz: €52.11 (was €37.03) – feedburner newsletters monetization
- Direct Ads: €363.21 (was €131.23) – got a one-time extra advertising campaign
- Sponsored posts: 0 (was €227.91) – I close the deal for a new sponsored review but didn’t get the payment
- BuySellAds: €20 (no change)
- Job Board Services
- Job posting & Resume: €167.87 (was €179.51) – few paid jobs on AidBoard
- Affiliate Programs
- Lead generation: €387.75 (was 0)
- Product affiliation: €203 (was €113) – TestKing, Pass4sure, Clickbank, SEMrush affiliate programs
- Amazon program: €538.35 (was €775.16) – the drone website keeps providing
- ComoHacer ebook: €24.31 (was €68.72)
- WP Tube theme: €175.09 (was €177.70) – 5 copies sold
- Website sale: 0 – Nothing to sell at the moment!
- WP-OK services: €260 (was €98)
Total Gross: € 2,636.5 (last month € 2,208.92)
Note: some links to products and services may have affiliation. This means that if you’ll buy I’ll get a commission. Never the less, I’m only mentioning services that I use myself to operate my websites.
- Site5: €71
- This is the hosting I’m using and happy with. I recently switched to VPS2 solution. They have servers in Amsterdam too, perfect for my websites with European audience.
- HostGator: €18
- This is a popular cheap hosting provider with servers in US. I still use it for some websites with majority of traffic from Americas, but their support is getting worse and worse!
- Site5: €71
- Mailing List services
- FlipFilter: €10 – very useful service for website buyers, crunching big data from multiple marketplaces for you
- Articles: €46.68 (was €41)
- The Dynamite Circle: 0 – great community of online entrepreneurs, quarterly paid
- SEMrush: €59 – PRO membership of this excellent tool to analyze search engine results and competition
- Ahrefs: €18.68 – I’m testing the paid membership, this is a great tool for backlink analysis
- Boomerang for Gmail: €13.47 – Excellent tool for email management
- Website acquisition: 0
- Domain renewal: €44.63 (was €36.40) – expenses related to domains registered at Godaddy
- Adwords: €26.42 (was 0)
- Facebook Ads: €22.18 (was 0) – tests
Total Expenses: € 438.4 (was 496.03)
Net Total August 2015: € 2,198.1 (last month € 1,712.89)
Tool of the Month
I introduced this section last month, talking about a software or service that I use and I’m satisfied with. The goal of this section is not to review new stuff, but rather to give earnest recommendations of what works well for me.
The tool of the month is the excellent HotJar!
Hotjar let you understand how visitors interact and use your website. This helps identifying how to improve the user interface to increase conversions.
These are the features I use:
- Recordings: extremely useful videos showing the exact visitor interaction
- Heatmaps: a well-known way to see where people are clicking or moving the mouse in a page
- Polls: a way to ask questions to your visitors. For example, asking if they found what they were looking for before they leave
- Forms: to see how visitors interact with the form in a page
I just think that everyone with a website must use this tool, period!
Back over quote 2000!
I’m quite surprised that the month went so well, considering it was August and holiday season in most of the countries I’m getting traffic from.
As always there are websites going up and websites going down, so I still believe in the strategy of building a diversified portfolio of websites in different niches.
Please don’t leave me alone here! What was your challenge in August?