What We Are Doing to Make Money Online in 2016

Yes I know, I haven’t been adding much to this site lately and I only came into it today to update WordPress and various plugins and such. But I like to keep adding content to the site even if it is only every now and then. It’s one of the first websites we created and one I still enjoy writing for.

So I thought about what to write for this post and decided on discussing what we are doing this year to make money online. It’s been evolving over the years but it has to if we want to continue working online. If you rely on Google, Amazon, Pinterest, Twitter or any other external business in order to make your money then you have to be prepared for them to make changes that could alter your income….sometimes in a big way.

It’s so easy to give up when those changes happen. We could have easily given up when Google hit our review sites hard but it never occurred to us to do so. Neither of us wanted to go back to a regular 9 to 5 job so we just assumed that it would work out in the end.

So after we got hit, we spent a lot of time working on this and that, just managing to hang in there by the skin of our teeth sometimes, but we just kept going and eventually we settled in on creating authority sites. But it wasn’t so much that one day we decided that we should create authority sites – it was more of an evolutionary process as what we really wanted was to be working on something that we had an interest in. We had created all of those Amazon review sites on topics, which for the most part, we really had no interest in so we wanted something we could work on long term that sustained our interest.

What this meant is that we started to build sites based on ‘our interest in the topic’ rather than ‘how good the niche was’. However, we also knew that the we couldn’t just build a website based on our interests if no-one else was interested. Nor could we do so if we couldn’t make any money from it. The reality is that if we want to work online, we not only need to think about what interests us but whether we can generate an income from it.

So we ended up creating a couple of authority sites – but we really only have one that we have been placing most of our focus on lately. It is a craft site and it is something the both of us really enjoy working on. We love the topics we write about and we love the people who follow us. It’s a nice community to be in so it was a good choice for us.

We have been building up a presence on YouTube and that has been a great way to get traffic to our website. Creating videos for YouTube can be a lot of work but we make sure we do the best we can with the equipment we have and we have improved so much since we first started recording for YouTube.

Our main focus this year has been on creating our own products. As many of you know, some years back, we released a manual called the ‘Amazonian Profit Plan’ which provided a step-by-step plan on how to create review sites and make money with Amazon. This was extremely successful and we were amazed at how much money we made from that manual – we honestly weren’t expecting it to do so well. But it taught us that creating your own products is the key to making money online over the long term.

We create downloadable graphics and crafting files as well as full training programs for various topics. We will continue to do this for at least the remainder of this year and probably on into next year.

We have also been selling physical products for over a year now on eBay and although it is doing better than we expected (we are a Top Rated Seller) , we don’t want this to be our main focus. We like the freedom of working online so that we can get up and go at a moments notice if we want. However, eBay doesn’t lend itself to that as you have to be in one location in order to stock and post the items. This is why we have started to reduce the amount of items we have on eBay and eventually we will most likely close up shop.

We still of course use Amazon quite extensively. We link to it wherever we can plus we still make money from the old review sites we have, but we don’t want to have to rely on it exclusively.

So that in a nutshell is what we are doing online now.

Are You Getting Results from Your Online Business?

Well it’s been a while since my last post. It’s not that I’ve been busy…it’s more the fact that I couldn’t be bothered writing for this blog.  Sounds bad doesn’t it? But when it comes down to it, this blog isn’t how we make our money. In fact, it makes us nothing at all except when we write up a review for something (which is few and far between) or when someone pays for advertising space.

For now, this blog really is just a way of expressing my views of this online business I am in and also provide advice to others who are wanting to make a living online.  So I personally don’t want to have to feel forced to write every day for it simply to keep the traffic coming in order to make sales.

But not only that, I find this business model for making money online quite time consuming. It also requires consistent action in order to maintain the momentum and quite a bit of networking in order to build a following.

In contrast, I find that the model we use to make money online is so much easier and once set up requires minimal work.

For instance, to get this particular blog up and running to a level of making a consistent income I would probably need to do the following on a consistent basis:

  • leave blog comments on other peoples websites
  • leave forum posts
  • tweet regularly
  • regularly post on Facebook
  • write at least one blog post a day
  • network, network, network!
  • regularly post to my email list
  • check RSS feeds on a daily basis (something that I don’t do at all by the way)
  • write guest posts
  • work on JV’s

That to me is a lot of work.

On the other hand our model requires the following:

  • find a product in Amazon
  • do a bit of keyword research
  • write up a really good review for that product and post to one of our blogs
  • get traffic to it

The difference between the two is that the first model requires consistent effort (usually daily) whereas the second model requires a one-off amount of work. The only consistent work involved with this is getting the traffic and even then once a level of traffic is achieved we don’t have to worry too much about it.

So we can take a week off and not do any work without it affecting our business. In fact, we can take a month off because the pages we have set up already get traffic and don’t need constant work to maintain that traffic. Obviously we can’t neglect those pages totally but the work involved with maintaining them doesn’t have to be done on a daily basis nor on a weekly basis once the traffic is there.

When it comes down to it, you only need a handful of good pages to make a full time income online. We have individual pages that consistently make over $500 a week and that is without ongoing effort on our part. So we don’t need to blog consistently or leave blog comments or check RSS feeds or post regularly on forums or Twitter constantly. All we really need to do is get traffic to our top product review pages and that really is just a handful of pages per website.

I’m on a mission at the moment to simplify everything we do. I want the The 4-Hour Workweek lifestyle…who wouldn’t?…but the only way we are going to get that is to consistenly analyze what we do to see what is working and what isn’t and then refine the process.

What me and Wanda do is get out the butchers paper and write down the tasks we do on a regular basis. We then go through each to see whether each task is actually worth the effort. For instance, at this moment in time we don’t see the value in spending hours a day on Twitter. It brings in minimal traffic for the amount of time and work that is involved. So you’ll notice the Twitter account for this blog has been pretty quiet these days as has the rest of our Twitter accounts. That’s not to say that Twitter doesn’t have value but for us it’s too much work for the results we are getting.

So what about you? Have you thought about the effort you put into your online business? If you are new to making money online then obviously you are going to have to do a bit of work before you see results but what about those that have been online for a while. Are you actually making any money for all the work you are putting into it? If not, then you need to step back and look at exactly what tasks you are doing on a daily basis and see if they are getting you the results you desire.

How Much Did We Make on Amazon This Month?

Amazon Associates LogoWe’ve mentioned in the past how a turning point for us was when we started adding Amazon affiliate links to our websites but I’d like to expand on that a little so that you can see the true potential of their affiliate program. I’d also like to share exactly how much we make on Amazon – or at least how much we made this month to give you an idea of what you can achieve.

So where did it all begin?

Last year we were struggling as affiliate marketers. We had over 20 blogs but were only making around $500US a month. After we took out expenses and the money we paid for a writer, we were left with pretty much nothing. We really needed to get to the next level if we were going to live the dream of working from home on a full-time basis.

One of the sites we were working on at the time was a website that provided reviews of products. At the end of each of those reviews we would provide links to different online merchants so that our readers could find the best price. But since, at the time, we were thinking of the money first and our readers second we never added Amazon as an option despite the fact that it would have benefited our readers as Amazon have some of the best prices. So why didn’t we add them?…because we saw that Amazon only pay 4% commission and we didn’t think it was worth it. After all we were getting around 8% from other affliate merchants.

Now Amazon do pay more once you start selling more but at the time we didn’t think we could sell that many items to increase our commission. Talk about limiting beliefs, but you have to remember that prior to this we were using merchants from CJ, Shareasale and Linkshare and to see a sale a day was quite exciting – to see 2 sales a day was amazing and 3 or 4 sales a day would have been a major celebration.

Thank goodness we started to focus on our readers because when we did we realised that we needed to add Amazon links in order to provide them with better buying options. So we did just that to about 10 pages of that site.

Two days after adding the links, I checked Amazon stats and was quite surprised when I saw 11 sales. I also realised that we had already jumped to the 6% commission level. I didn’t get too excited though as I really thought it was just a fluke. I even remember telling Wanda that it was probably just one person who went on a shopping spree. I definitely wasn’t expecting to see any further sales.

But then the next day I checked again and we had 9 sales, the next day 3 and the day after that 12…I started thinking that maybe this wasn’t such a fluke after all.

Amazon Daily Trend Results for Nov Dec 2008

You can see the results here in the table above.

We were pretty amazed since we weren’t used to that many sales in one day, let alone continuous daily sales like that.

The Benefits of Amazon

The main benefit of using Amazon is that they know how to convert. You just have to get your reader there and Amazon will do the rest. Even so, you shouldn’t just rely on Amazon to do all the work for you. We noticed that when we reworked a few pages to provide more indepth reviews for our readers that conversions jumped through the roof. So make sure you provide value too and then let Amazon do the rest.

By far and away the best benefit of Amazon is that although you might send your readers there for one thing, they generally tend to look around and often they will buy the product and other items or they end up buying something completely different.

For instance, if your site is all about dog beds and you provide a link to Amazon recommending what you think is the best type of dog bed, the reader might go to Amazon and decide not to buy the dog bed but because Amazon has so much to offer, something else may get their attention and they end up  buying other unrelated products.

And believe me when I say that this happens more often than you think. If we take our stats for instance, for November, 524 of the products we sold were products that we recommend. The remaining 1768 products that sold were products that we didn’t recommend and in fact in a good majority of cases they were for products that were not related in any way to our blog topic.

How to Use Amazon Effectively

The best way to use Amazon is to use text links within a review of a product. Don’t bother with the widgets or the banner ads – they won’t be anywhere near as effective. Use text links and your click through rate will be much higher.

Amazon Stats for Nov 2009So How Much Did We Make on Amazon This Month?

This is the bit I am sure you have been waiting for but since a picture tells a thousands words I have added a screen print of our Amazon stats for November 2009. The results are for four of our blogs but most of the money is coming from one site…probably about 90% of the income. We haven’t worked much on those other 3 blogs and until we do they will continue to make a minimal income.

Notice that we have hit the 8.25% commission level. This is because we have sold over 1571 items – the more you sell the more commission you get up to a maximum of 8.5%.

It will be interesting to see how we go in December with the build up to Christmas.

And Finally…

Just remember that with anything you do online, that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in the one basket. We use Amazon quite extensively and highly recommend them but we also use Google Adsense, CJ, LinkShare, Shareasale, Google Affiliate Network, Clickbank and more. So that $14,000 + from Amazon isn’t our only source of income this month.

Well we can’t stop smiling at this months Amazon earnings and here is the link if you would like to add Amazon to your website.

Update:

Due to popular demand, since writing this post we have written and released the Amazonian Profit Plan e-book.  This e-book  provides you with a step by step blueprint full of in-depth, highly detailed information on making money with the Amazon Associates Program

The Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer

By guest author Nia Sowden author of Survival Wytch

I am a freelance writer and this is my perspective on working from home. I’ll share with you what I have found to be the advantages and disadvantages.

I began working from home when the kids were little, having part time jobs cleaning or selling products or preparing and selling food to cafés and being a day care mom. This meant that I could be at home for my children after school.

I loved the freedom of being my own boss and having my own hours. I always made sure I had something freshly baked for afternoon tea, I loved having time to potter around or tidy up in the garden or create a mess. I love sculpting in clay and styrene so having time to practice my art was important to me, working from home means I can do whatever I want to do.

What I have always loved about working from home is the choice of having my own schedule, creating my own time and being my own boss. I can shop when I want to, visit my friends, see a movie and go to the beach.

I have returned from working full time outside the home, to working from home writing articles.

The Time Management Myth

Again my time is my own. I have to be disciplined though. The first step to success is time management.

So I read the articles available on realistic expectations of working as a writer from home, being committed to working from home, looking after my health, eating properly and exercising, taking time away from the work desk to do something unrelated to the task at hand.

These accounts are all very different to what is my reality.

Do one thing at a time, that is the time management secret, and devise a plan. The plan of my day looks like this:

• I write a heading and main ideas, then wash the dishes, flesh out the first paragraph, make the beds, get involved in the article, hang out the washing, save article and cook lunch.
• Rewrite bits that don’t fit for whatever reason, prepare afternoon tea for the children, stare at the screen.
• Bring in the laundry and fold and put away.
• Prepare the evening meal.
• Adjust the article for readability.
• Talk to someone about their day.
• Return to the article and send it off.

I am finding being a freelance writer is quite different to the romantic way this particular employment choice has been portrayed.

My evenings are filled with interruptions because I guess I am neglecting my parental responsibilities and as for being a loving partner…

I thought I would interrupt the family during something they love to watch to demonstrate the ‘no interrupt’ policy I need for writing success.

It didn’t work.

My family switched off the television to talk to me because, they claimed, they never see me. And besides, if I am away from the computer for 5 minutes they figure I have finished and then they want to use it.

I get engrossed in a story, investigating and researching an idea and just ‘exploring my craft’. After all the story doesn’t get written if I don’t make a start. And then I get interrupted by my family, ‘Are you finished yet?’ or ‘Can I use the computer?’ or ‘What’s for dinner?’… Dinner already?!

My husband has pointed out to me that the evening meals have all had something that is not quite right about them lately. The pasta was hard on Wednesday, the rice was only half cooked, mm crunchy rice on Thursday and the beans and carrots on Friday were only warm and still raw. (Memo to me, stop thinking about writing when cooking dinner).

I have read other writers accounts of how they manage their time, how they justify the time in front of their computer, how they do things in stages so that they can improve on it.

Take breaks from the computer the guides all say, but when I’m on a roll I just can’t. Unfortunately my family is on the back burner while I get my article finished.

Make sure you exercise often, stretching and moving around to increase blood flow and oxygenate the brain.

My exercise breaks consist of hanging out a load of washing, or vacuuming the floor. I’ll do household chores whilst I rework an idea.

These exercises don’t appear in the keep healthy manuals, they just aren’t written for work at home mums! I felt that I wasn’t maintaining my fitness because I wasn’t doing crunches while talking on the phone or squats while searching through the filing cabinet and as for lunges or running on the spot, does running to the stove to save some forgotten meal count?

Exercising by doing my housework is a great strategy to rework an article in my head, or when I get discouraged with they way an article looks, I can still ensure my responsibilities to the family are met with house work done and the batch of cookies for afternoon tea.

But I’m always working, I can’t switch off. Maybe I’m obsessive about writing and I’ve become a Zombie mum working from home, Distant and aloof.

“Can I eat everything in the house?” asks my 9 year old daughter. “Hmm?…yeah sure” I absently reply

Maintain a healthy diet

I make sure I eat properly, albeit with one hand while I type with the other and I haven’t enjoyed a hot cup of tea in days.

I’m sure I’ll find a balance, perhaps when I finish this article.