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From the economy to the frequent Google updates, this year has been one that many would like to forget. Going into Q4, let’s hope we can get back to some sort of normalcy.
October came with yet another Google update, one that hit a lot of sites hard. We weren’t hit badly by this one, but we weren’t untouched either, which I’ll jump into in a bit.
All in all, October was a relatively strong month for us, coming in at $36,821.96, which was up from $33,971.99 in September.
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 mentioned above, Google released another update in October. This one was a “spam” update, targeting sites that violate their spam policies.
This is the type of update that you’d like to think you don’t have to worry about, but judging by what I’ve heard from various communities and on YouTube, many sites were hit hard by this one.
In our case, our four largest (and oldest) sites all saw a small boost with this update. With seasonality in play, it’s hard to put a good number on it, but I’d say roughly 5% across all of those sites.
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Our two newest sites got hit yet again, each dropping by roughly 10%. Thankfully, this didn’t really put a dent in our overall traffic or revenue.
Considering we build all of our sites using the same basic techniques, it really does seem like backlinks and/or age are playing a role here. I’ve heard from a couple of other large publishers that have seen the same thing, with their newer sites taking a hit, while their older sites were untouched.
This of course almost incentivizes link building as a potential way to stay safe from these updates, but for us, we’re going to take the long road and see what happens with these sites naturally over time. As long as we’re building sites the right way, I’d like to think that they will bounce back and do just fine in the long run.
Next, let’s jump into the numbers.
Sites and Posts
In October, we kept our publishing frequency at 5 posts/week/site. After running out of content on a couple of our sites in the previous month, we’ve decided to build out a slightly larger buffer before shifting to 7 posts/week/site.
While it likely makes zero difference in rankings, we like to publish at a consistent frequency across our sites. If nothing else, it’s good for return visitors, and we get plenty of them on our older sites.
We’re also considering pulling back some on our two newest sites if we don’t start seeing some positive movement in the near future. At this point, we’re just going to stay the course, but if we’re not seeing any growth for a few more months, we might scale back just a bit on those sites to put more focus on our big earners.
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Here is a breakdown of the numbers for all of our sites:
Traffic stayed flat going from September to October, which is great in our case. Our oldest site (blue in the graph) is starting its upward trajectory for the winter, but a few of our other sites also pull back quite a bit during the cooler months.
There’s a good chance that our overall traffic will decrease slightly in November, but with it being Q4, the revenue should rise regardless.
Here’s a breakdown of the total pageviews by month:
While our traffic was flat going into October, our revenue actually did increase by a decent amount. This is mostly due to an increase in RPMs, which was great to see going into the fourth quarter.
With the economy this year, it’ll be interesting to see where the RPMs land in November and December, but if October is any indication, I think they’ll be reasonably high.
Here’s a breakdown of the revenue totals by month:
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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 $1,404.07 from our US account, and a small amount of revenue from the UK and Canada ($84.71).
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: $36.99
- Other affiliate programs: $0.00
- Digital products: $11.85
Our expenses for last month came in at a total of $10,445.96. As usual, the bulk of our expenses can be attributed to outsourced content.
Here’s a breakdown:
- Rocket (hosting): $100.00
- Shutterstock (stock images): $169.00
- iStock (stock images): $133.27
- Content Pit (writing service) – use PIU10 for 10% off your first order: $5,848.50
- Textun (writing service): $3,598.00
- Upwork (writing service): $191.10
- Google Workspace (business email): $30.00
- SendOwl (digital sales platform): $15.00
- PayPal (fees): $1.89
- Mediavine Trellis (theme): $359.20
Total Expenses = $10,445.96
If you take our total revenue of $36,821.96 and subtract out our expenses of $10,445.96, we’re left with a net profit of $26,376.00 for the month.
Future Plans & Goals
Like I mentioned in last month’s report, our focus will be where it’s been all year. For more info, just refer to any of the previous income reports.
While we’re not where we had hoped to be at this time of the year, we’re grateful for the upward trajectory that we’re seeing. This year has been a bumpy road for a lot of sites, and we’re glad that we’ve sailed through relatively safe.
Going into the remainder of Q4, we’ll be watching the RPMs to see if they’re anywhere close to the previous couple of years. With any luck, Google will hold off on any major updates and let everyone enjoy the highest-earning quarter of the year.