February got away on me. This Jan. income report is a tad late. Heck, I can almost get started on Feb.
Other than a few days off for skiing, a college reunion, Superbowl and the Oscars, I’m not sure what I did that delayed this.
Part of it is the unpleasant task of gathering all the numbers. Not my favorite job, but worth doing so that I know what’s actually going on.
For example, I spent more on content than I thought. Expenses are usually higher than I expect and revenue lower than I expect. It’s the optimist in me. It’s good to get an accurate picture of what’s happening each month. If I didn’t do this each month, I’d assume I’m making way more than I am.
Let’s get on with the show.
What happened in January 2020?
Low Ad Rates
Low ad rates chopped revenue off at the knees big time in January. If you monetize with ads, you know what I’m talking about. Also, I moved niche site 1 to AdThrive. Big transitions like that hurt revenue as it takes time for sites on new networks to ramp up revenue. I’m told the revenue optimization process with AdThrive takes several weeks; perhaps a few months. I can say it’s continued to climb into Feb but it’s not meteoric.
Topsy Turvy Traffic
The good news (for me… I’m sure you don’t care) is traffic for niche site 1 started climbing fast in January 2020. This typically happens in January each year with this site. Toward the end of January, it hit record traffic levels which was great. It’s still climbing.
The bad news (again, I’m sure you don’t care) is sites 3 and 4 took pretty big traffic hits after many months of growth. I’m talking 25% decreases for both sites. Now they’re chugging at a plateau. As usual, I’ll just keep publishing content and hope for the best.
The rest of my niche sites sputter along earning enough for a pizza night.
I’ve heard a’plenty about AdThrive over the years so I thought I’d apply and give them a shot. I was approved in late 2019 and their ads went live on January 8, 2020.
So far, so good. It’s far too early to conclude just how high they’ll earn but out of the gates it’s doing pretty well. In Feb. 2020 I deployed their video player as well.
Big Content Investment
As you’ll see below under my content investment section, I went a little nuts with content in January (I’m doing the same in Feb). With record-level traffic for niche site 1, I anticipate excellent revenue this year. Instead of putting the money under the mattress, I’m investing it back into my sites. Most of the investment went into site 1, but I did add quite a bit of content to the other sites in January.
Spam Links Infiltration
Sometime in late 2019, my niche site 1 was attacked and piles of spam outbound links were inserted. I happened to discover it by chance as I was combing through older content. My site wasn’t the only one. Apparently, it’s been a problem.
I have to give a shout out to Ron Stefanski, the One Hour Professor, who suggested Wordfence to clean it up. I took him up on the suggestion and hired them to do a clean up. They did a terrific job. It’s not easy determining legit outbound links from the spam variety. They also installed the plugin to prevent such attacks in the future.
The Usual Disclaimer
This income report only reports revenue and expenses for my niche sites. It does NOT include any financial information from fatstacksblog.com.
Let’s dive in.
Revenue for 7 niche sites I own (January)
Click here to learn more about each niche site featured in my income reports.
All figures are in USD.
- Niche Site 1 Revenue: $31,868 (mostly display ad revenue, some affiliate revenue)
- Niche Site 2 Revenue: $5,213 (mostly affiliate commission revenue)
- Niche Site 3 Revenue: $1,784 (mostly display ad revenue, some affiliate revenue)
- Niche Site 4 Revenue: $1,037 (mostly display ad revenue, some affiliate revenue)
- Niche Site 5 Revenue: $34 (display ad revenue only)
- Niche Site 6 Revenue: $41 (display ad revenue only)
- Niche Site 7 Revenue: $84 (display ad revenue only)
Total Revenue all 7 sites: $40,061 (December revenue was: $55,493)
Expenses for all niche sites
I lump together all expenses for all 7 niche sites because it’s difficult, impractical and unhelpful to spend the time allocating each expense to each site.
- Ezoic Premium Ad Program Fees: $575
- Ezoic Site Speed: $20.70
- Kinsta hosting: $1,200
- Amazon AWS (still host some images on this): $47
- VAs: $3,250
- Cloudflare: $23
- Techsmith (Jing storage): $8
- Ahrefs: $179
- Shutterstock photos: $800
- Quickbooks: $10
- Jotform: $40
- Tailwind: $84
- MeetEdgar: $50
- Elink.io: $15
- Grammarly: $45
- LeadPages: $79
- Onlinejobs: $69
- OptinMonster: $99
- Mailchimp: $178
- Wordfence: $529
- NitroPack: $49
- Buzzsprout: $12 (this is the podcast hosting platform I use for niche site 1 podcast).
Total expenses for 7 niche sites: $7,361
Net Income: $32,700 (January was $37,665)
Content investment in January 2019
I continue to pour money into content, including products for product reviews as well as podcast content for niche site 1:
- WriterAccess: $12,000
- Textbroker: $250
- In-House writers: $3,475
- Podcast content: $1,500
- Product purchases for product reviews: $1,425
Total content investment for January 2020: $18,650
Net income after content investment: $14,050 USD
I explain here why I extract content costs from expenses.
AdThrive (Site 1)
AdThrive went live on Site 1 on Jan. 8, 2020.
Quarterly Affiliate Check (Site 2)
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 that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
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.