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If I remember correctly, I believe I mentioned in last month’s report that it would be nice if Google held off on updates through the end of the year.
Right after I published that video and wrote that report, Google of course put out another Helpful Content update. They then followed that up about a week later with a link spam update.
At the time of this writing, both updates are still in progress. Thankfully, we haven’t seen any negative movements on our sites, and if anything, we might have seen a small boost on a few of them (really difficult to tell with the holiday traffic).
Aside from updates, it was a pretty quiet month in December, with traffic and revenue mostly meeting our expectations. RPMs were definitely down this year, but traffic was up, so that’s at least a good sign.
We ended up making $44,646.97 in December of 2022, down from $46,446.49 in November. With our traffic levels this year and the same RPMs from last year, we would have cleared $50,000, which would have been a great way to end the year.
Before jumping into the report, I want to quickly mention that this will be the last income report that we publish (at least that’s our current plan). We made the decision several months ago to end them at the end of 2022.
Basically, I started putting these reports out initially for two reasons: to show you what’s possible with niche sites, and to help motivate you to either start or keep pushing forward. Income reports from others helped me significantly in these two ways early on, so I hope they’ve done that for you as well.
With that being said, these reports have become rather repetitive (to me at least), and they take a lot of time for me to put together. By freeing up this time, I can put more focus into creating content for our course, shooting more YouTube videos, writing more emails, and of course putting more focus on our niche sites.
These are the things that I plan to put more focus on in 2023.
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, the Passive Income Unlocked YouTube channel, and The Passive Income Unlocked Protocol (our course). 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
As I already mentioned above, December came with two new algorithm updates from Google. These updates are still going, so I don’t know what the fallout is quite yet.
Aside from the updates, ChatGPT has seemingly come out of nowhere in full force, getting plenty of coverage from national media. I’ve tested it myself, and it’s truly impressive.
I do think that AI will change the landscape with blogging and niche sites going forward, so we’re making adjustments accordingly. I’ll touch on this more down below in the future goals section, but in a nutshell, we are narrowing our focus down to a few sites and focusing on building brands going forward.
Next, let’s jump into the numbers.
Sites and Posts
As part of our new strategy going into 2023, we’ve decided to move all of our outsourced content over to Content Pit (use discount code PIU10 for 10% off your first order). Content Pit is easily the most impressive writing service we’ve used, and we think this move will help to improve the overall writing quality of our sites.
Moving over to 100% Content Pit means we’ll be publishing less posts each month going forward, but we’re okay with this. We’re already narrowing our focus down to our three biggest sites anyway, and the publishing frequency on those sites will not change.
For our other three sites, we will lower the posting frequency accordingly (I’m not sure what that will look like yet), and simply keep publishing content. We will still do things like adding images and internal links on these sites, but we won’t be doing any of the other things I’ll mention a bit further down.
Here is a breakdown of the numbers for all of our sites:
Although our revenue isn’t as strong as we had hoped it would be at this time of the year, we’re pretty happy with how our traffic is trending.
Our oldest site had its biggest month ever in December, coming in just shy of 700,000 pageviews. While that’s great, I’m just as excited about the growth that we saw last month for a couple of our seasonal sites, which should really start to show in Q2 of 2023.
Here’s a breakdown of the total pageviews by month:
We had hopes of clearing the $50,000 mark in December, but the RPMs simply weren’t there to support it. Had we had the same RPMs as last year, we would have likely been there with the traffic we had last month.
The RPMs for December were down by 10-20% when comparing 2023 to 2022. While this is less than ideal, it’s not surprising with how the year has gone.
Going into 2023, we’re expecting really low RPMs for the first 2-3 months. Unfortunately, this will likely lead a lot of people to reconsider blogging, as people tend to freak out when they see those really low numbers at any point during the year.
Here’s a breakdown of the revenue totals by month:
Here is a breakdown of our ad revenue from Mediavine for last month. NOTE: the “Live On” date represents the date that each site was launched with Mediavine ads, not the date it was created:
After display ad revenue, our next largest revenue source is from Amazon Associates. Last month, we made $2,125.22 from our US account, and a small amount of revenue from the UK and Canada ($62.24).
Here is a screenshot 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: $104.45
- Other affiliate programs: $0.00
- Digital products: $0.00
Our expenses for last month came in at a total of $6,510.55. As usual, the bulk of our expenses can be attributed to outsourced content.
As mentioned above, we’ve reduced our outsourced writing to one service, Content Pit. Content Pit checks all the boxes for us with quality and formatting, so we’re really excited about this move going forward, even if it means less articles published per month.
Here’s a breakdown:
- Rocket (hosting): $100.00
- Shutterstock (stock images): $169.00
- iStock (stock images): $133.27
- Content Pit (writing service) – use discount code PIU10 for 10% off your first order: $5,848.50
- Upwork (writing service): $194.78
- Google Workspace (business email): $30.00
- SendOwl (digital sales platform): $15.00
- PayPal (fees): $0.00
- MailerLite (email): $20.00
Total Expenses = $6,510.55
If you take our total revenue of $44,646.97 and subtract out our expenses of $6,510.55, we’re left with a net profit of $38,136.42 for the month.
Future Plans & Goals
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in 2022, as we entered the year with a plan and stuck with it until the very end. Nonetheless, new challenges have emerged throughout the year, and our plans for 2023 have changed accordingly.
For 2023, our focus will be all about building authority on our biggest sites. While we’d like to take this approach across our entire portfolio of sites, it’s just not realistic, so we’ve decided to focus on our three largest sites instead.
For those three sites, we will be doing things that we believe will strengthen them against competitors (human and AI). A few of those things include:
- Building topical authority through targeting topic clusters and following good internal linking practices
- Building out social media followings to increase our brand awareness
- Building email lists to create new traffic and revenue sources
- Creating/improving YouTube content to create more brand awareness and to add another traffic source
Aside from the first item on the list above, these are all things that we’ve never been great at, but we’ve done our homework and feel like we have a good plan of attack to move the needle in the right direction.
All of this will definitely involve some experimentation, and we don’t expect every experiment to succeed. Nonetheless, I fully expect these three sites to be in a much better position by the end of 2023 as a result of our efforts.
I think the days of simply publishing content on auto pilot are just about behind us. With AI getting better and better, we have to start thinking of ways to really make our sites stand out against the competition.
2022 was a years that was full of ups and downs. At the end of the day, we still ended up with another strong year.
Going into 2023, our focus will be shifting more toward building brands. This will be a big change for us, so it’ll be interesting to see where it all leads.
As mentioned above, this will be the last income report that we put out (at least that’s the plan). I hope all of you have found these reports helpful and that they’ve given you that extra push to keep moving forward with your site or sites.
I still plan to post updates about our business, likely through our email list or on our YouTube channel. Those updates will simply be more focused on what we’re doing and what’s working (or not working), instead of focusing on overall traffic or revenue.
Best of luck to all of you in 2023!