Perrin and I have been working quite a bit lately on our Authority Site Project. I've also been enjoying a lot of brownies and cookies lately…but that's a different story.
I don't share the income from most of my business (you can see all that I'm involved with in my last post); however, the one area of my business that I have been sharing the income for is the authority project.
I missed posting the income report for February, so today's report will include both February and March.
To be honest, I was hoping to show an increase in income, but that hasn't happened. We had a smashing success with our first book, and we had assumed that we would be able to achieve similar success with subsequent books, but that simply has not happened.
Today, I'm not only going to discuss the actual earnings of the site, but what we plan to do differently to turn around the downward trend in earnings. I will also discuss my decision as to whether or not I will be revealing my site. (I asked for your opinion in my last post).
Let's jump into it.
Income for February and March
I want to throw the numbers out here first thing, so that we can discuss things the rest of the post.
Here's the overall stats and earnings of the site:
Combined February and March Earnings: $1,854.68
This is both Kindle earnings and Adsense earnings for the months of February and March.
February Earnings: $899.08
March Earnings: $955.60
As you can see, we continue to sell nearly $1,000 worth of Kindle books on Amazon each month; however, this is much less than January and December.
I'm unhappy with the downward trend.
However, before I dive into reasons for the lower earnings and strategy, let's take a look at a couple of screenshots.
First, here's a screenshot of the Kindle sales for March, just in case you enjoy the visual stats that this represents:
Promotion on Amazon Brazil
The huge spike in sales that you see on March 5th was due to a promotion that Amazon Brazil did for our book. The promotion was done at a $0.99 promotion, so most of the sales you see there are worth about $0.35 to us.
I was contacted by Amazon Brazil out of the blue (I didn't do anything to get their attention) and they asked if I was okay if they highlighted our book at a discount. Of course I said yes, and the above spike in sales was the result. Pretty cool!
Here's a look at the traffic stats to the site:
As you can see, the site averaged about 215 sessions per day for the month of March. While this is a good start in traffic, you can see from previous months (in the chart above) that the traffic has not increased significantly since December.
What's Going On? Negative Reviews…
While I'm happy that the site is earning real money, I expect so much more from the site. I don't think I'll be satisfied unless we can get the site to $10,000 per month in revenue. That's the goal.
Here's a quick recap on the site and why it hasn't been steadily increasing in traffic and earnings like I had hoped.
First, we did a stellar job with our first book and it was earning $100 a day for a while there. However, we hired a different author for our next 2 books, and they flopped.
Part of the reason for the flop was poor topic choice, but the bigger reason I believe was the lower quality of the books. These 2 books were slammed with a few negative reviews early on, and that just killed the sales. Once you get some negative reviews on your books, it's hard to overcome them.
Unfortunately, our first book, (that I feel IS high quality), was also hit with a couple of negative reviews. These negative reviews also took that book from a bestseller, to a not so hot seller. I believe that the 2 negative reviews on this book are “fake” reviews.
They don't really address concerns in the book, and at least one of them was written by someone that only reviewed our book. You can never know 100% which reviews are fake or not, but there were certainly a few signs that the negative reviews on our first book were not “real” reviews.
The negative reviews on books 2 and 3 were real, and unfortunately were probably deserved.
As a result, we went back to Perrin writing book 4, and I'm happy to say that the quality is excellent again! Book 4 has received nothing but positive reviews and I still believe it has a chance to sell well.
Book 4 is currently selling just okay, mostly because the timing of our launch strategy didn't quite work as well as before. We just didn't get our book listed on some promotional sites in time and other timing factors just caused it to have an average launch.
However, we will be trying a few things in the next couple of weeks and hope that will jumpstart more sales for Book 4.
In addition, Book 5 is nearly completed and gives us another opportunity to bring in more sales.
Overall, we are still learning as we go with writing Kindle books, but I think we are getting closer to finding a “formula” that works for us more consistently.
Email Subscribers and Google Traffic
In the meantime, we are still building an audience and getting more and more email subscribers to our list. All of our books have opt in forms, and of course our website itself is helping to build the email list everyday.
We currently have about 625 subscribers on our email list, and I think we may come close to doubling that in April. We made some tweaks to the opt-in forms on our website to give more opportunities for people to opt-in, and the early results are very promising.
We've been using Thrive Leads to make this process easier for us. Thrive has built-in A/B testing, AND has just about every possible type of lead form you can think of: pop-ups, exit pops, widgets, headline bars, content upgrades, slide-ups, and more.
I know. We should have done more to increase our opt-ins sooner; however, I really think things are moving in the right direction now.
Another big reason that we haven't seen a higher increase in traffic is due to the fact that we focused so much on Google News traffic for the past few months. We saw some early spikes in traffic with a couple of our Google News articles, and we thought we could replicate that on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, the Google News traffic has not really panned out for us. We tried writing more daily articles. We tried different topics. We tried keyword focused articles for news pieces. We tried both longer and shorter articles. However, we could just never get consistent traffic from Google News.
Here's a look at the traffic from Google news over the past 2 months:
As a result, I've made the decision to focus more on what I know and what is still bringing in more of the traffic to our site: Organic Traffic from Google.
Again, I know. We should have just stayed with what we knew all along…but the “shiny object” of Google News traffic got us started down a path that just hasn't panned out as well as we'd hoped.
We've done some additional keyword research and now have a better content plan moving forward. The process is long, but over the next couple of months we should start seeing more search engine traffic as our new articles get picked up.
The Decision. Reveal the Site?
Like Lebron James, I have a decision to make. Unfortunately, nobody in Miami (or Cleveland) wants my basketball talents…and nobody from ESPN wants to interview me about this decision. However, I DO have a decision to make regarding my authority site.
Many of you had good reasons for why I should reveal the site; and many of you had good reasons why I should NOT reveal the site.
The primary reason given for revealing the site would be to give people an example that they could see, visit, and try to glean strategies from for their own site. I see alot of value in having a live example of a site that is working.
The primary reason given for NOT revealing the site was that it takes away from the true case study value of the project. If I reveal the site, readers from NichePursuits.com will visit the site, link to the site, and probably even buy the books. The waters become muddied as to whether the success of the site was “natural” or whether it was really just due to the fact that I have a popular blog.
After reading all your comments and doing lots of thinking…I've come to my decision!
I will NOT be revealing the URL to my authority site.
I want the site to do well on it's own…without the influence of NichePursuits.com. Not only will this prove that a site can be built from scratch; but will hopefully inspire those without any influence or following that they can do the same.
So, for the now, the site will remain hidden and I will continue to share these updates without revealing the URL. IF the site reaches the goal of $10,000 per month in earnings, I will take a second look at that decision. (If Lebron can go back on his decision, then so can I).
If I can build the site to that size, I think it might be valuable at that point to talk about it openly. I'm not saying I WILL do this, I'm just saying I will consider that as an option once we get to that earnings level.
In addition to some of the changes to our site mentioned previously, we will also be focusing more on producing quality books. The best way to avoid negative reviews is to simply make sure there is no reason your book should be getting those negative reviews.
Sometimes it's unavoidable (if a competitor decides to buy negative reviews); however, for the most part, you control your own fate with reviews.
I think 2 out of our current 4 books are sufficient quality. However, any new books we do will be even more in-depth, longer, and I'll be more liberal with the editing hammer. The only way to get top notch results is to produce top notch books.
Finally, since our list is finally starting to grow a bit, we will be gathering a “street team” of reviewers that will be happy to download and review our books as they come out. These initial reviews will help propel the sales on Amazon.
Overall, we have been putting quite a bit of effort into our authority site and kindle books. This post doesn't really do justice to everything that goes on behind the scenes. However, this gives you a quick look at how the site is coming along and what our plans are for the future.
I'm disappointed that the site isn't earning more. However, it IS earning close to $1,000 per month and that's a decent start. We are definitely not profitable yet, but I believe the potential is there if we simply keep plugging away and continuously improve.
Whether or not you like my decision to keep the site private, I hope you will continue to follow along as there are plenty of lessons to be learned here. I'll continue to teach what I learn along the way and hopefully some of my tips can help your own sites succeed.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Are you happy that I'm keeping the site private? Do you have any questions about something I discussed? Or perhaps you have questions about something I didn't discuss. Either way, let me know in the comments section below.