March was a busy month. I spent most of it going down the site speed rabbit hole.
I read endless blog posts (in some cases entire blogs). Hired a few folks/service. Bought this course which taught me a decent amount (his blog is really good as well). Read this entire site multiple times and bought all the ebooks (actually I had bought them a while ago, but I reread every single one). Read more blog posts. Tested, tested, tested. Slashed plugins left and right.
You get the point. Chances are you’re doing the same given Google’s User Experience update is rolling out in May.
No more Elementor
I hired a person to convert all Elementor landing pages to Gutenberg. That took most of the month. I’ve since removed Elementor from every site. A side benefit of hiring this person is he taught me the Gutenberg basics which really helped me get a good grasp of how to use it.
Another big change for the better was switching to Optimole for image compression. Not only does Optimole compress, but it serves the correct sizes per device. This helps mobile site load time. It also serves up images in WebP format. My niche blogs use a ridiculous amount of images so image compression and optimization are very important.
Before Optimole I used ShortPixel. SP is good but it took forever to bulk compress and as far as I could tell, doesn’t change image sizes for different devices. I could be wrong. Anyway, Optimole is amazing. It compresses thousands of images blazing fast. No grinding. It works amazingly well.
The downside of Optimole? It costs more than ShortPixel. The cost is based on page views. Shortpixel prices per number of images. I suppose if you don’t have much traffic but lots of images, Optimole could cost less than Shortpixel. As I said, image optimization is important so I don’t mind spending more on it.
And yes, Optimole is used on this site as well.
The most frustrating part of working on site speed and site speed scores is there is no real consensus as to what you should do. Every “expert” have their own theory. Some say the scores are meaningless and to focus on a fast-loading site. Others suggest you should get good scores because they may be taken into account by Google.
There are also preferences and opinions. In other words, site speed is one big murky area where you need to figure out what works for you. I tend to agree that fast load times and user experience is most important but I do care about the scores as well. You can optimize your site to the point where it’s actually a bad UX. Stuff doesn’t load when it should. Content adjusts as it loads (FOUC). I don’t like any of that even if it scores better.
I continue to do more configuring and testing. Once I’m where I need to be, I’ll write more about what I’ve done in detail.
Did I get good site speed results?
Overall, I’m happy. The improvement is remarkable. AdThrive is still working on optimizing the ad tech but aside from the ads, my sites perform very well. I don’t have control over the ads. I hope AdThrive comes up with a good solution.
What about revenue results in March?
They were good. Best ever actually. Site 1 topped $100K in revenue (all revenue sources). That’s a first. Site 9 breached $3K per month. Traffic was good. Ad revenue per 1,000 visitors spiked in March which helped big time.
Switched from EX.co to AdThrive Video Ad
Until mid-March, I used the EX.co video ad on niche blogs which has been a great performing ad for years. Last year AdThrive launched a video ad. I tried it in early 2020 but it didn’t earn as well as EX.co. I stuck with EX.co.
Somewhere between last year and now, AdThrive really poured on the performance gas with its video ad player. I suspect they managed to get more advertisers on board. Long story short, AdThrive’s video now out-earns EX.co two to three times for me. Switching to AdThrive video ad boosted revenue a ton. I’ve had some days so far where the AdThrive video ad alone earned north of $1,000. A good day with EX.co was $400.
Onto the the numbers…
Fat Stacks earnings NOT included in income reports
This income report ONLY includes revenue/expenses from my various niche blogs. It does NOT include revenue or expenses from Fat Stacks (course sales, affiliate promos, ad sales, etc.). Fat Stacks is a different type of site altogether. These reports are merely to demonstrate that various niche blogs can be a good business. It would be ludicrous to include revenue from Fat Stacks since it’s the very site that publishes income reports. It would state “here’s my income report based on income earned by publishing income reports.” Doesn’t make sense to me.
There are missing sites below because I sold a bunch in December and January.
All figures are in USD.
- Niche Site 1: $100,499
- Niche Site 3: $448
- Niche Site 8 (Cyclebaron.com): $44
- Niche Site 9 : $3,319
- Niche Site 10: $186
- Niche Site 11: $0 (just launched – aged domain experiment – obtained from Odys Global)
Total Revenue from 5 sites: $104,496
You can read about all niche sites here.
The lion’s share of revenue is from display ads.
Expenses for all niche sites
- Kinsta hosting: $2,665
- Bluehost hosting (for cyclebaron.com): $5
- VAs: $5,250
- Cloudflare: $200
- Cloudflare APO: $5
- Loom: $10
- Ahrefs: $179
- Shutterstock photos: $400
- Quickbooks: $10
- Jotform: $40
- Tailwind: $120
- MarketMuse: $1,000 (renegogiated MM contract to $1,000 per month)
- MeetEdgar: $50
- Grammarly: $45
- Canva: $48
- Gutenberg designer (converted all Elementor pages to Gutenberg): $3,000
- Skyscraper link building service with Niche Website Builders for Site 9: $2,000
- Buzzsprout: $12 (this is the podcast hosting platform I use for niche site 1 podcast).
- Adobe Spark: $20
- Answerthepublic.com: $99
- Advanced Database Cleaner Pro: $149
- Optimole: $429
Total expenses for 8 niche sites: $15,724
Net Income: $88,772
Content investment: $20,230
Content sources include WriterAccess and in-house writers.
Included in the content investment is $400 for Fiverr videos.
Content distributed across 5 niche blogs.
Net income after content investment: $68,542
I explain here why I extract content costs from expenses.
If you’re interested in learning what I do in detail, grab my entire bundle of courses here.
Since the lion’s share of revenue is from AdThrive, I’ll just include an AdThrive screenshot.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.