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In the last income report, I went over the impact of the most recent core algorithm update, which led to a fairly steep drop in revenue. Last month, we again saw a big drop, but not for the same reasons, which I’ll get into below.
In July of 2022, we ended up with a total revenue of $39,429.59, which was another big drop from June where we made $50,749.80. Seeing a drop of over $10,000 is obviously not ideal, but we feel like we’re in a good spot moving forward.
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
With our revenue dropping by $10,000 in each of the last two months, you might think we’d be scrambling, trying to figure out what we’ve done wrong with our sites. Believe it or not though, we’ve spent very little time looking into the algorithm update from a couple of months ago that hit a few of our sites.
I mentioned in the previous income report or two that we don’t spend a lot of time researching the fallout of an algorithm update, simply because it typically ends up being a huge waste of time.
Google tends to keep us in the dark as far as what’s being targeted with these updates (which is a good thing), so it’s usually just a big guessing game as to what you should or shouldn’t change on your site.
Instead of wasting time trying to figure it out ourselves, we tend to wait to see if people identify some trends with the sites that got hit, then see if the general logic makes sense and applies to our sites.
Now that the update is a couple of months behind us, we’ve taken a quick look at various sites out there that have analyzed the the sites that have either benefited or been hit by the update, and to be honest, nothing really jumps out.
When we look at our portfolio of sites in particular, one thing does stand out though, and that’s that the sites with the most random content were the ones that were hit. In other words, the sites that don’t have a well-defined scope didn’t perform well during the update.
This would make sense, as Google really should have a hard time trusting a site that covers hundreds of topics and doesn’t go into great depth on any of them, which is something we’re definitely guilty of doing.
Now is this why these particular sites were affected by the update? We have no clue. But when we step back and take a look at it, this really is an area that we need to improve on, both in Google’s eyes and in regards to improving the visitor experience.
Fortunately, a big part of our approach this year has been to move to more of a topical approach, instead of simply publishing random articles just because they’re low in competition. We’re publishing multiple articles on each topic and interlinking them wherever it makes sense to do so.
We think this shift in our approach will payoff over time and lead to better sites overall, but because we’ve gone so broad with our niche selection on all of our sites, this process will take some time.
Next, let’s jump into the numbers.
Sites and Posts
As I mentioned in a previous report, we’ve decided to bump up our best-performing sites to 7 posts/week. Our case study site (site #6) is also right around that rate.
Our other two sites are easily our broadest sites and were hit the hardest in the last algorithm update. We’ve bumped those down to 4 posts/week for now, but might bump them up to 7 posts/week sometime soon and start tackling smaller subniches within the broader niches.
Here is a breakdown of the numbers for all of our sites:
Our traffic took a huge hit in June from the algorithm update, but stayed pretty flat in July, which is consistent with last year.
Our seasonal sites that do better in the summer will likely keep decreasing the rest of the year, while our food site (site #1) and our newer sites (sites #5 and #6) will hopefully continue to increase.
Here’s a breakdown of the total pageviews by month:
With our traffic staying pretty flat, you’d expect our revenue to be flat as well. In fact, that’s exactly what we saw last year, with both the traffic and revenue staying flat from June to July.
In 2022, things are different, and this is most likely due to the economy. Instead of our revenue staying flat, it ended up dropping by over 20%.
RPMs typically go up each month within a quarter as advertisers burn through their budgets, so going into July (the first month of Q3), we expected to see a drop. However, due to the current economy in the United States, advertisers likely lowered their spending more than usual.
The talk of a recession began sometime during the second quarter, so it would make sense that we would see a drop in ad spending as soon as the following quarter started.
Of course, this is all just a theory. However, I’ve heard from several big publishers that they all also saw a higher-than-normal drop in RPMs in July.
This might be the new norm for a while, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out the rest of 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 $1,449.42 from our US account, and a small amount of revenue from the UK and Canada ($91.49).
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: $28.29
- Other affiliate programs: $0.00
- Digital products: $75.05
Our expenses for last month came in at a total of $8,976.18. As usual, the bulk of our expenses can be attributed to outsourced content.
Here’s a breakdown:
- Rocket (hosting): $100.00
- Bluehost (domain): $33.99
- Keyword Chef (keyword research): $250.00
- Shutterstock (stock images): $169.00
- iStock (stock images): $133.27
- Content Pit (writing service) – use PIU10 for 10% off your first order: $3,899.00
- Textun (writing service): $4,081.00
- Upwork (writing service): $253.58
- Google Workspace (business email): $30.00
- SendOwl (digital sales platform): $15.00
- PayPal (fees): $11.34
Total Expenses = $8,976.18
If you take our total revenue of $39,429.59 and subtract out our expenses of $8,976.18, we’re left with a net profit of $30,453.41 for the month.
Future Plans & Goals
No changes. See any of the last few reports.
Clearing the $60,000 mark a couple of months ago felt great, and it’s less than ideal to see it drop back down to $40,000. With that being said, we’re not too concerned about it and feel like we’re on a great path going forward.
The drop from June to July can mostly be attributed to the higher-than-normal drop in RPMs. This may be the new norm for a while, but if it’s something that’s out of our control, we’re not going to worry about it.
Our path forward involves strengthening our sites by adding more relevant content, adding more internal links, etc. Basically, doing the things that give both Google and our visitors a better experience.
If you have a niche site, always look for ways to make it better. Over time, the competition will only get tougher, so even small improvements can make a difference.