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2021 has finally come to a close, and while we’re sad to see Q4 and the high RPMs go, we’re thrilled with the growth and results we saw throughout the year.
While we didn’t quite reach our target of $50k in December, we came very close with a total of $49,382.21, which was again our new high. For reference, we made $48,452.59 in November, which was our previous high.
As you’ll see below, over half of this revenue came from a single site, which historically does much better during the winter months. Our other sites took a seasonal hit, but we expect them to start rising again in January.
Now before I jump into the details, here are my usual disclaimers:
- First, I’m not a one-man show. I work as part of a small, four-person team.
- Second, all of the revenue and traffic figures below exclude anything tied to passiveincomeunlocked.com and the Passive Income Unlocked YouTube channel. I keep these separate, as I don’t want the totals to artificially inflate what we’ve built with our niche sites from the ground up.
Changes and Updates in December
Due to the holidays and some non-covid illnesses in our families, December was a pretty laidback month. That’s not to say we didn’t work on our sites, but unlike the past few months, we didn’t make any major changes or pursue anything new.
Our main focus in December was to work on sites #5 and #6. For site #5, we decided to start publishing more content around the topics that have been performing the best, and for both sites, we added a significant number of internal links between relevant posts.
We also put quite a bit of time into building the keyword lists for both of these sites, which should put us in a good position for outsourcing and publishing content in the coming months.
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Next, let’s jump into the numbers.
Sites and Posts
As far as publishing is concerned, we kept our foot on the gas pedal again in December, publishing over 150 posts.
For our four main sites, we stuck with a posting schedule of 4 posts/week/site. For site #5, we’ve been posting 1-2 posts/day. Lastly, on site #6, we’re outsourcing roughly 40-50 posts/month and posting in bulk as we get the articles.
Here is a breakdown of the numbers for all of these sites:
Once again, site #1 carried the traffic load in December, bringing in over 650,000 pageviews. That will likely drop significantly in January, but the other sites should start trending upward in early 2022 due to seasonality as well.
This is the one of the benefits of having multiple sites. The off season for one can be the peak season for another.
In last month’s income report, I mentioned how site #5 took a big traffic hit due to an indexing issue when switching to Ezoic. Thankfully, as soon as we removed the Ezoic integration from that site, the traffic came back and has been growing rapidly ever since.
Site #5 is now at the 15 month mark and pulled in over 27,000 pageviews in December, with a month-over-month growth rate of around 55%. While the overall growth has been slower than some of our previous sites, it’s starting to look like another successful site.
As a reminder, we took a different approach with site #5, just to see what would happen. We targeted a very broad niche and posted articles on random topics within that broad niche from day 1. We believe this is the reason for the slow growth, but nonetheless, it still appears that this site will do very well in the near future and beyond.
For site #6, we built the total post count to over 90 in December. This site is only two months old, but we really like how it’s shaping up. For a detailed breakdown of this site, keep an eye out for the case study update, which I’ll post in a week or two.
Here’s a breakdown of the total pageviews for December:
As I mentioned up above, we made a total of $49,382.21 in December. This was a slight increase from November, which was our previous all-time high.
The average session RPMs (for display ads) across our four sites ranged from $36 – $50 in the month of December.
Here’s a breakdown of the revenue totals by month:
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Just like 2020, our revenue for the year started relatively low, flatlined a bit during the summer, then took off in Q4. We expect a similar drop going into 2022, with our revenue likely dropping in half for a month or two.
Here is a breakdown of our ad revenue from Mediavine in December. NOTE: the “Launch Date” represents the date that each site was launched with Mediavine ads, not the day it was created:
As you can see in the Mediavine screenshot, site #1 pulled in well over half of the revenue for December. That’s because site #1 peaks in traffic toward the end of the year, while the other sites drop significantly due to seasonality.
Over the next few months, all of these sites will reverse course, with site #1 declining and the other sites increasing. The exception is site #5 (which isn’t monetized yet), which we don’t expect to experience much seasonal fluctuation.
After display ad revenue, our next largest revenue source is from Amazon Associates. In December, we made $1,590.89 from our US account, and a small amount of revenue from the UK and Canada ($122.64).
Here is a graph showing our Amazon Associates revenue from the United States:
Other Revenue Sources
We also made a small amount of money from the following:
- Print on demand: $129.75
Our expenses for December were a bit lower than the past few months, coming in at a total of $8,217.95. As usual, the bulk of our expenses can be attributed to outsourced content.
Here’s a breakdown of our expenses for December:
- Rocket (hosting): $100.00
- iStock (stock images): $116.61
- Upwork (writing service): $111.24
- Textun (writing service): $4,462.50
- Passion Posts – use LAKPFDZ2J0 for 10% off your first order (writing service): $3,400.00
- Content Pit – use PIU10 for 10% off your first order (writing service): $0.00
- Google Workspace (business email): $27.60
Total Expenses = $8,217.95
If you take our total revenue of $49,382.21 and subtract out our expenses of $8,217.95, we’re left with a net profit of $41,164.26 for the month of December.
Future Plans & Goals
While I’ve mentioned in the past that our hope was to hit $50,000 in a single month in 2021 and $100,000 in a single month in 2022, these aren’t truly what I would consider to be goals. There are simply too many things that can happen that will impact whether or not these numbers are realistic, so we consider them more to be rough targets that we hope to hit, instead of being actual goals.
Instead, our goals for 2022 are more centered around tasks. We hope to publish at least 1,500 new posts across our portfolio of sites, and we want to put more focus on our existing content. By that I mean we want to add more internal links, add multiple images per article, and figure out what’s working best, so we can double down in those areas.
We also want to better define our overall strategy for growing niche sites. We’ve experimented with a few different approaches with our sites, so our hope is to look at the data to determine what strategies work the best, then apply them to our sites (new and existing) going forward.
Lastly, we have another site that we’d like to launch at some point in the near future, but we haven’t decided yet whether or not that will be in 2022. The last thing we want to do is to spread ourselves too thin when there are so many opportunities to pursue with our existing sites.
2021 has been our biggest year yet by far, but at the same time, we feel like we’ve only scratched the surface on what’s possible. We look forward to seeing what 2022 has in store for us.
Best of luck to all of you publishers looking to grow your new or existing sites in 2022!