Month 8 – January 2021 Monthly Income Report

Well, it was inevitable. The string of month after month of increasing revenues was bound to end. The January 2021 income report gives the first decline in monthly earnings

Total Earnings of $6,581.53

40.56% decline from Dec. 2020’s $11,073.21

Even though the revenues declined over 40%, I’m not that disappointed. The numbers are still good being only on Month 8 of the sites for me.

The decline was expected though after Black Friday and the holidays saw amazing traffic and sales. The majority of posts across the sites are affiliate posts, so there’ll be seasonality tied to them during major sales periods.

If I can get these revenue numbers each month – I’m good to go. (But of course…I want more.)

Monthly Profit & Loss Overview – Jan. 2021

Here are the general numbers for the 3 main sites.

Site 1Site 2Site 3TOTAL
Sessions32,75014,86268648,298
Pageviews35,51516,01376852,296
Amazon Associates Earnings$1,909.58$2,283.55$65.02$4,258.15
Ezoic Earnings$1,947.47$334.39$16.52$2,298.38
Other EarningsN/AN/A$25.00$25.00
Total Revenue$3,857.05$2,617.94$106.54$6,581.53
Expenses$1,265.87$470.06$69.16$2,002.41
Profit / Loss$2,591.18$2,147.88$37.38$4,579.12
ARPU$0.118$0.176$0.155
*ARPU (Avg. Revenue Per User) = Total Revenue / Sessions

Sites 1 and 2 revenues decreased, while Site 3 hit a new monthly high in earnings by a few dollars.

One interesting thing to note is Site 2’s Amazon earnings of $2,283.55 overtook Site 1’s $1,909.58, and Site 2 did it with only 45% of the traffic. But Site 1’s Ezoic ad earnings was 5.8x of Site 2, thanks to a great EPMV.

I also have Site 4 that I started to build, but nothing to show yet for it as I got a late start. There’s nothing going on with traffic or search impressions. Explain more later down below.

Ezoic Premium was also automatically downgraded on Jan. 11th, about 12 days after the start. Traffic slowed, so Ezoic automatically lowered the plan to protect earnings and not result in a loss for me. I went from paying $1100.00 a month for the Diamond Elite plan to $440.00 a month for the 5 Star Elite. Is there a difference in earnings? Check the charts below.

Starting this month, I’ll also be reporting an extra metric at the bottom of the table here for ARPU, Average Revenue Per User. If anyone’s been involved in building a company, marketing, or sales, you already know the value of this metric. I’ll do a write up on it later, but it’s a common metric that’s used across a number of industries, so it’s easily found on Google.

The calculation is simple: ARPU = Total Revenue / Sessions.

Site 1 – Recap And Income Report Breakdown

SITE 1OCT.NOV.DEC.JAN.
All User Sessions12,43165,62251,08032,750
All Users Pageviews13,31371,99755,81035,515
Organic User Sessions10,53763,35849,01031,103
Organic Pageviews12,58569,33253,44433,561
Amazon Affiliate Earnings$845.62$5,074.47$4,141.59$1,909.58
Ezoic Ad Earnings$355.76$3,526.25$2,660.13$1,947.47
EPMV$26.59$50.32$49.15$56.02
Total Revenue$1,204.38$8,600.72$6,801.72$3,857.05
Total Costs$970.60$1,451.26$902.50$1,265.87
Monthly P&L$233.78$7,149.46$5,899.22$2,591.18
ARPU$0.097$0.131$0.133$0.118

53.9% drop in Amazon Affiliate commissions and 26.8% drop in Ezoic Ad earnings for a total revenue decrease of 43.3% from December revenues.

It just shows the seasonality of the niche, but also the importance of preparing for Black Friday and the holiday season. There’s so much money to be made then.

The first full month of Ezoic Premium Ads was also nice as it helped keep my EPMV high during January, a notoriously low month for ad rates as it’s the beginning of the year and post-holidays.

January was also the 3rd month for the Shotgun Skyscraper campaign through Niche Website Builders. I’ve paused the campaign for now in February to focus on content. After 3 months of the campaign, 35 links were built. I’ll aim to put up my review of the campaign in the next couple weeks.

I was going to start another campaign with them with a different article, but then decided to put the funds into more content.

I added a couple pillar pages and re-optimized some posts due to the December core update. As SERPs change, re-optimizing posts is a good idea to keep your posts relevant.

Site 1 Google Analytics Traffic

Site 1 Case Study Month 8 January 2021 Google Analytics Visitor Traffic
Site 1 – January 2021

As expected, traffic declined post-holidays. I don’t see evidence of the decline as a result of Google updates, because I didn’t see any major swings in rankings.

Traffic spikes occurred over the weekends.

Average Session Duration and Bounce Rate also decreased and increased, respectively. For the last 3 months:

  • November – 3:34 and 9.49%
  • December – 3:23 and 10.95%
  • January – 3:01 and 12.08%

My conclusion is people were staying and reading articles for a longer time to get the information they needed (higher session duration times). Once they got what they needed, they clicked through to Amazon (lower bounce rates). On Amazon, they’d purchase the products (higher commissions from previous months).

During January, people would read more and not necessarily be as driven to purchase as they were during the holiday “buy now” phase.

Site 1 Amazon Affiliate Earnings

Site 1 Case Study Month 8 January 2021 Amazon Affiliates Commissions

This is only the US Amazon earnings, as it’s the majority of Amazon commissions.

There were sales and revenues every day, so that’s good. Although on Jan. 9th, it seems like there were ordered items, but no earnings. It’s only because that day’s earnings were $1.75.

Site 1 Case Study Month 8 January 9th 2021 Daily Amazon Affiliates Commissions

There were 40 ordered items and 40 shipped items, but there were 5 returned items. It just turned out that those 5 returned items all happened to be higher priced items that lowered the earnings for the day.

Site 1 Ezoic Earnings

Site 1 Case Study Month 8 January 2021 Ezoic Ads Earnings EPMV

My first full month of Premium has helped to keep my ad earnings up and make up for the lower traffic. EPMV of $56.02 is the highest it’s ever been. I can only image what premium ad earnings would’ve been during Nov. and Dec.

A question that a lot of people have is: Is Ezoic’s Premium Ad plan worth signing up and paying for?

Let’s take a look at the numbers just for Site 1: Premium Ad Partners accounts for $873.40 in ad earnings and the pro-rata cost for the Premium 5-Star Elite plan was $372.79.

The net ad earnings of $500.61 isn’t too bad at all by signing up for Ezoic’s Premium plan.

You do pre-pay the Premium plan fees, but Ezoic pretty much guarantees that you’ll end up positive. It’s essentially a no-brainer to join it.

I also want to touch upon the difference in Premium ad earnings between the Diamond Elite ($1100/month) and 5 Star Elite ($440/month). I had Diamond Elite from Jan. 1-10th. 5 Star Elite started Jan. 11th.

Just by taking a look at the darker green, you can see that the earnings were much higher when I was on the Diamond Elite Plan. The average EPMV for Diamond days was $62.17. The average EPMV for 5 Star days was $53.87.

That $8.30 EPMV difference would’ve netted me an extra $183.69 if I was still on the Diamond plan, for a total of $1,057.09 in Premium ad earnings. The Diamond plan cost would’ve been $932.06 pro-rated for net ad earnings of $125.03.

$125.03 is much lower than the $500.61 net ad earnings I received. So Ezoic’s AI worked.

If you haven’t signed up for Ezoic yet, definitely sign up. You can sign up through my affiliate link, which doesn’t affect your application positively or negatively, but I may earn a commission if you sign up and start using Ezoic. Or sign up through the non-affiliate link: ezoic.com.

Word is they’ll be loosening up the requirements, so do check back for when they do.

Site 1 Expenses

Site 1 costs were $1,265.87 for link building, couple articles, and the added Ezoic Premium Ad costs.

$795 of it will be coming off the books as the NWB campaign is paused, but that money will be allotted to creating new content. Maybe not all for Site 1, but across sites.

Site 1 Plan for February

Keep it simple for February. Add more content.

I’ll still look to build links, but not as big of a push.

Site 2 – Recap And Income Report Breakdown

Here are Site 2’s visitor traffic, earnings, costs, and profit.

SITE 2OCT.NOV.DEC.JAN.
All User Sessions2,6889,37316,80314,862
All User Pageviews3,02210,17818,47416,013
Organic User Sessions2,2789,07116,08712,360
Organic Pageviews2,7789,78517,50715,222
Amazon Affiliate Earnings$673.13$2,037.53$3,863.93$2,283.55
Ezoic Ad Earnings$36.75$188.16$335.74$334.39
EPMV$11.33$18.68$17.71$19.27
Total Revenue$709.88$2,037.53$4,199.67$2,617.94
Total Costs$155.60$402.41$95.50$470.06
Monthly P&L$554.28$1,635.12$4,104.17$2,174.88
ARPU$0.264$0.217$0.250$0.176

The traffic decline wasn’t as big, but the earnings did slow down more. So people were still looking into the niche, but not as many purchased as before.

Site 2 Google Analytics Traffic

Site 2 Case Study Month 8 January 2021 Google Analytics Visitor Traffic

An 11% drop in traffic seems to just be from the post-holidays lull also and not any Google update. Keyword rankings didn’t go through any major changes for this site.

Average Session Duration and Bounce Rate were relatively the same for the last 3 months:

  • November – 2:30 and 21.57%%
  • December – 2:33 and 21.89%
  • January – 2:27 and 22.20%

I do expect the session duration times to decrease as the mini-informational articles I put up continue to grow in traffic. Those articles usually take less time to consume.

Site 2 Amazon Affiliate Earnings

Site 2 Case Study Month 8 January 2021 Amazon Affiliates Commissions

Affiliate commissions dropped 40.9% from December’s $3,863.93. That’s due to a drop in conversions from the website and from Amazon.

The Amazon conversion rate for Jan. was 13.80%, which is lower than the 3 months prior, Oct.-Dec. The conversion rate of people clicking from the website to Amazon was also lower at 64.78% in Jan. The Amazon and Website Click-Thru Rates:

  • Oct 2020: 15.67% and 71.47%
  • Nov 2020: 17.61% and 73.37%
  • Dec 2020: 18.72% and 70.06%
  • Jan 2021: 13.80% and 64.78%

Conversions were higher previously, but I also believe it’s due to being post-holidays. Let’s see how February goes with conversions and if there’s a different story to tell.

Site 2 Ezoic Earnings

Site 2 Case Study Month 8 January 2021 Ezoic Ads Earnings EPMV

Thanks to Premium ads, the EPMV was the highest ever at $19.27.

Similar to Site 1, the Premium ads from Jan. 1-10 generated more revenue on the Diamond Elite plan than the rest of the month on the 5 Star Elite plan.

Site 2 Expenses

Expenses were $470.06, the most I’ve spent on the site in a month, since I purchased the site. Majority of the money went into building links and the pro-rata Ezoic costs, $68.06

I didn’t think it fair that I attribute the whole $440 for the Premium Ads cost to Site 1, so the cost is shared between 3 sites. The cost will vary from month-to-month, because I take the ratio split based on ad earnings for each site.

I do have to pay the Ezoic Site Speed Accelerator costs again, because I’m down to the 5 Star plan. Diamond plan users don’t pay for SSA. I don’t split the SSA costs pro-rata, but instead just split it 50/50. So site 1 and 2 both pay $4.05 towards it each month.

Site 2 Plan For February

Same as Site 1 with adding more content.

Site 3 – Recap And Income Report Breakdown

SITE 3OCT.NOV.DEC.JAN.
All User Sessions355498655686
All Users Pageviews413552832768
Organic User Sessions237380506595
Organic Pageviews290406555668
Amazon Affiliate Earnings$37.31$75.72$64.92$65.02
Ezoic Ad Earnings (Started 12/13)N/AN/A$6.90$16.52
EPMVN/AN/A$14.87$18.23
Other Affiliates$0.00$25.00$0.00$25.00
Total Revenue$37.31$100.72$71.82$106.54
Total Costs$31.00$65.00$66.00$69.16
Monthly P&L$6.31$35.72$5.82$37.38
ARPU$0.105$0.202$0.110$0.155

Site 3 didn’t grow in January and was pretty much the same. Had a full month of Ezoic ads, so it’s good to start earning there too.

Site 3 Google Analytics Traffic

Site 3 Case Study Month 8 January 2021 Google Analytics Visitor Traffic

Traffic still relatively up and down as traffic is at these lower numbers. The positive is people who are showing up are staying for longer. Here’re are the Average Session Durations and Bounce Rates for the last four months:

  • Oct 2020: 2:34 and 20.00%
  • Nov 2020: 2:11 and 21.04%
  • Dec 2020: 2:45 and 21.07%
  • Jan 2021: 3:02 and 14.87%

Even though the actual traffic numbers hasn’t increased, these time on page numbers are a good sign.

Site 3 Amazon Affiliate Earnings

Site 3 Case Study Month 8 January 2021 Amazon Affiliates Commissions

Amazon sales were sporadic throughout the month and were pretty much non-existent for a week. Not sure what happened there, but a few sales would’ve been nice hah.

Site 3 Ezoic Earnings

Site 3 Case Study Month 8 January 2021 Ezoic Ads Earnings EPMV

The display ads show an interesting picture where the second half of January showed lower earnings.

Part of that is probably due to the difference in Diamond vs 5 Star Premium plan earnings.

Another reason could just be the general volatility of low traffic sites. It’s difficult for Ezoic’s AI to do its ad optimizations with sporadic traffic to various pages.

On the 5 Star Premium plan, EPMV swung wildly. EMPV range was from $3.61 to a high of $30.86.

Part of that is what pages were visited the most that day. Different pages have different EPMVs.

Site 3 Expenses

Expenses were low again as it’s just hosting, minor link building, and Ezoic costs.

The 1-2 links I’ve been adding the last couple months seem to have a minor positive effect. I’m wondering if I should do a bigger blitz of links to have better links compared to the bad links from the expired domain.

I’m not sure I’m ready to go further into the red with this site yet though. It’s currently at a ($413.12) loss due to the initial content writing and the expired premium domain cost.

Site 3 Plan For February

In January, I re-optimized about 1/4 of the articles on Frase. Didn’t add any new articles.

Will try to re-optimize the rest of the articles in Feb. and add a couple new articles.

Brand New Site – Site 4

The month got away from me and I only just put up 7 articles the end of Jan. / beg. of Feb.

These were longer articles, averaging 2900 words each, so it took me a longer time to edit and optimize.

Frase updated their AI last week (for the better), so the topics were different from when the writers original wrote the articles. That means I had more optimization to do.

I’ll update once articles start ranking or doing anything. Only been a few days.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to in January. Realistically, I’m not so sure I’ll be able to get as much done in February either.

One additional thing I did do is create and schedule social media posts. Site 1 and 3’s posts are all scheduled. I have a few more to do for Sites 2 and 4, so should be done with that soon.

I use Publer.io and they make it easy. They’re one of the few that have the Instagram API and can connect to IG directly. No more need to go through a third-party like Zapier or IFTTT. Pinterest is still through a 3rd party and I use IFTTT for that, which has a free plan.

I do have another project as well that started in January. A good friend wants to get into affiliate marketing and purchased an old site. I’m helping him get things up and running, so that’s also taken time away this month.

That’s it for now. If you’re not getting my weekly newsletter yet, do go to NicheSurfer.com and sign up. The newsletter is specifically to help affiliate marketers on this crazy journey we’re on.