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In last month’s income report, I mentioned that we had our biggest revenue month ever, but we were also hit by the core algorithm update right near the end of the month. In this month’s report, we get to see the true impact of that update on our portfolio of sites.
In June of 2022, we ended up with a total revenue of $50,749.80, which was still a great month, but a huge drop from May. For reference, last month we made $62,212.86.
Dropping from over $60,000 down to around $50,000 isn’t ideal, but it could be much worse. Unlike some people, we weren’t completely wiped out by this update (or any previous update), and I think we can attribute that to a couple factors, which I’ll discuss further below.
In the coming months, we’ll likely see the revenue dip even further, as RPMs typically drop during the first month of a quarter. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of an impact this has on our sites and whether or not we can regain any of that lost traffic.
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
While some people make drastic changes after being hit by an update, we’ve never been those people. We’ll wait for the dust to settle, see if anyone has found strong evidence of potential causes, then adjust from there.
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In all likelihood, we won’t significantly change anything that we’re doing. No one is immune to these updates, and the best course of action is typically to focus on improving the quality of your site and hope that you see an improvement with the next update.
Focusing on improving the quality of our sites has already been our approach all year long, so our hope is that our efforts will pay off with a future update. We made this shift in focus right at the beginning of the year, so a lot of those changes are still a work in progress.
We’re doing things like adding more related articles around topics that are performing well, adding relevant internal links between our articles, and linking out to sources within each article. We’ve also improved our keyword research process to include relevant subtopics for many of the articles that we outsource.
Doing these things should slowly improve our sites over time. With any luck, we’ll see some of our traffic return as a result during a future update.
As far as the impact of the last update, things could have gone much worse that they did. Instead of dropping from over $60,000 to $50,000, we could have dropped down to single digits. It’s not unheard of for sites to be wiped out during these updates.
This is about the worst we’ve been hit by an update since we’ve launched our sites, and if this is as bad as it’s going to get, we can’t complain. We attribute the relatively minimal impact to two things: having multiple sites, and taking a clean approach to building sites.
Clearly, having multiple niche sites can soften the blow of an update, as it’s unlikely that all of your sites will be hit at once. This is exactly why you diversify when investing.
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What I mean by building clean sites is basically that we do things by the book to the best of our abilities. We don’t use any shady tactics to grow our sites, and we do this specifically to minimize the chance of being hit significantly during one of these updates.
This isn’t to say that we can’t be hit much harder by a future update, as that possibility is always on the table. However, by focusing on quality and avoiding shady tactics, you can at least sleep better at night, knowing that your chances of avoiding a significant hit are much higher than they would be otherwise.
Next, let’s jump into the numbers.
Sites and Posts
As I mentioned last month, we decided to double down on our best-performing sites by increasing the posting frequency on those sites from 4 posts/week to 1 post/day. We started outsourcing content accordingly in June, so we’ll start posting at this higher frequency starting in July.
It will take some time to see the effects of this ramp up, but our hope is that this increase in publishing frequency will pay off with faster and higher growth down the road.
Here is a breakdown of the numbers for all of our sites:
Traffic took a huge hit in June, due to a combination of the effects of the algorithm update and a decrease in traffic due to seasonality on our two biggest sites.
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As you can see in the graph, the drop is pretty significant, but we still cleared the one million pageviews mark overall. Hopefully, as we continue to double down on our high-performing sites and focus on improving quality, we’ll see an uptick in traffic that reflects our efforts.
Something else you might notice in the graph is that site #6, which is our case study site, has gained enough traffic to be visible on the graph. That site is now 8 months old and was just shy of 10,000 pageviews in June.
Here’s a breakdown of the total pageviews by month:
As expected, the big drop in traffic also resulted in a big drop in revenue. Thankfully, because the RPMs were higher in June (due to being the last month of a quarter), the revenue did not drop as much as the traffic.
Going into July, we expect the revenue to drop again, potentially by a significant amount. July is the first month of a quarter, meaning the RPMs will take a big hit when compared to June.
Our warmer-season sites are also passed their peak for the year, so to see an increase in overall traffic, our sites will need to more than make up for that natural, seasonal decline.
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 $1,205.02 from our US account, and a small amount of revenue from the UK and Canada ($100.57).
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: $39.90
- Other affiliate programs: $0.00
- Digital products: $59.25
Our expenses for last month came in at a total of $10,648.13. As usual, the bulk of our expenses can be attributed to outsourced content.
Here’s a breakdown:
- Rocket (hosting): $100.00
- Bluehost (domain): $67.98
- Shutterstock (stock images): $169.00
- iStock (stock images): $133.27
- Upwork (writing service): $148.05
- Textun (writing service): $4,147.50
- Passion Posts (writing service) – use LAKPFDZ2J0 for 10% off your first order: $0.00
- Content Pit (writing service) – use PIU10 for 10% off your first order: $5,827.25
- Google Workspace (business email): $30.00
- SendOwl (digital sales platform): $15.00
- PayPal (fees): $10.08
Total Expenses = $10,648.13
If you take our total revenue of $50,749.80 and subtract out our expenses of $10,648.13, we’re left with a net profit of $40,101.67 for the month.
Future Plans & Goals
As I mentioned above, I don’t anticipate any drastic changes in our approach to building sites, even after being hit by the algorithm update. Our main focus this year has been, and will continue to be, to improve the overall quality of our sites.
This is a long-term project, and we think we’ll start to see a return on our efforts toward the end of this year or possibly in early 2023.
Seeing your traffic and revenue drop is never fun, but with blogging, it’s bound to happen from time to time. With that being said, if you take the right approach to building sites, these drops will typically be a small bump in the road, and over time, you’ll keep moving in the right direction.
If your site was impacted by the update, don’t let it stop you. I’ve heard countless stories of people bouncing back with a future update, sometimes without even making any changes to their site.
To minimize risk in the future, build multiple sites and avoid using shady tactics. For even better protection, build multiple traffic sources. If you want to lock in some of those gains, you always have the option to sell your site as well.
I forgot about last month’s even higher revenue and when I saw the YouTube thumbnail for this this morning was utterly blown away—but then repeatedly kicked myself for not writing enough content ;). Great work guys!!!
Thanks! Now, time to get back to writing 🙂