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Not Altruism, Just Numbers

Track IncomeAs you know I recently stepped down as the Insurance Feature Writer for Suite 101. This decision isn’t one that was made based on the Google Panda update. It was a decision that was making itself abundantly clear to me. I’d love to say it was an altruistic move to give another writer a shot at being the Insurance Feature Writer, but that’s not the case. It’s all about the numbers.

Being a numbers junkie I let my numbers have a say in my freelance writing direction. Below is a portion of a rather large spreadsheet I created. I linked this spreadsheet to my article/income tracking spreadsheet so when I update my income tracking sheet, this spreadsheet gets updated also.

The numbers shown below compare my Suite 101 earnings to another blog I created in 2009.

Suite vs Blog

3/18/2011 Comparison

As you can see, as of this morning, 3/18/11, my blog earnings are more than double my Suite earnings for the month (Suite numbers are on the left). Although I’ve earned more with Suite over the years, if I put the same amount of effort and number of posts on my blog as I placed on Suite, I believe my own blog is a better investment.

Additionally, my Suite articles get about three times the amount of traffic that my blog gets. As of this morning, I had 14,065 page views for the month with Suite and 5,198 for my blog. This tells me that 100% of a little is sometimes better than a small percentage of a lot.

Huge Spread Sheet

The spreadsheet that I took the above screen clip from is huge. I have 17 such boxes that automatically update my numbers. Every couple of weeks I take a look at the numbers to see if there are a few talented contestants that need just a little attention to become stars (I’ve been watching way too many reality TV shows).

Every so often I get the urge to create a new blog and it gets added to the spreadsheet.

Numbers are a Freelance Writer’s Friend

You don’t have to be a numbers junkie when tracking your income and effort, but it makes sense to quantify your effort. Some folks track their hourly rate and folks like me track their daily rate. It doesn’t make a difference how you track, just make sure to keep track. It will help you to work smarter, not harder. Employees have to work hard, entrepreneurs (yes that includes you) have to work smart.

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Ken March 18, 2011, 8:35 am

    The numbers do tell the story don’t they Felicia. Just an observation on the Panda update to share. I have been running a few split-tests. Suite stuff seems to be getting some love, but I don’t think they are being crawled by the bots as often as they were. Same thing with AC. I cannot seem to get a handle on what the heck is going on with eHow stuff. It is still fluctuating all over the board. It seems as if the blogs and static sites are seeing a little more love from Google, but it is still work to get ranking. The jury is still out about how Google is viewing syndication.

    Overall little has changed with how we should approach our articles as far as proper keyword density but the quality has got to be there now.

    So do you think Suite will continue to tighten up a bit on the quality control especially for the feature writers?

    • Felicia March 18, 2011, 8:54 am

      Apparently a large part of Suite’s problem was old sub par content. There are articles on Suite from 1998 to 2006 that are not the type of articles that would be accepted on the site today. Suite is getting rid of the old content, but it’s like closing the barn door after all of the animals are gone.

      I fully believe that Suite will recover. There are too many good writers there and management is diligently working on correcting past mistakes while implementing changes going forward. It’s just that I still need to pay bills and spending my time placing more articles on Suite at this point in time doesn’t help to get my bills paid. The mortgage company doesn’t care about Google, Suite or Pandas. 🙂

  • Rachel @ Pen Meets Wallet March 18, 2011, 10:07 am

    I think it’s great that you were able to track and assess your efforts and make a decision based on them. I am spending this month in reflection in light of the Google situation, and I plan to scale back my writing on some sites while increasing them on others.

  • Brian March 18, 2011, 11:44 am

    I love how you do your tracking; it really is the best way to stay involved with your work on a level that lets you see what’s working and what’s not.

    On my last Niche Site Duel update I discovered that my slow and steady work on the site this year was proving that the site was generating over $100 per 1000 unique visitors, which is way better than I initially thought the the site was performing at; now that I know it earns so efficiently I know it’s worth focusing more intently on.

    Moral – you have to track your projects at a granular level; if not you are losing a lot to inefficiency.

    • Felicia March 18, 2011, 12:12 pm

      Nice return on investment, Brian. Numbers don’t lie.

  • Steve March 18, 2011, 11:57 am

    I’m a numbers junkie myself. I’ve already created a few spreadsheets to track my numbers. It’s kind of crazy, I’ve only been doing this about 3 weeks. I can’t imagine what it will be like 3 years down the road!

    • Felicia March 18, 2011, 12:14 pm

      Oh man, can I imagine. 🙂

      You can bet your spreadsheet will evolve over the years. I think my spreadsheet is almost as large as my dog by now.

  • Crystal Watts March 19, 2011, 8:48 am

    Hi Felicia, I’ve been following you blog for a while and was wondering if you could share some tips on how you market your suite 101 articles. I would like to see my articles reach 14,065 page views in a month.


    Crystal Watts

    • Felicia March 19, 2011, 1:46 pm

      Hi Crystal.

      I don’t market my Suite 101 articles or any of my other articles for that matter. Sometimes I’ll include a link to a Suite article if I’m writing on a similar subject and feel that my earlier article can add to the reader experience, but in general, I tend to write it and forget it.

      I do have a few links to related Suite articles here on NJFM, but that’s about the extent of my marketing.

  • kidgas March 20, 2011, 5:59 pm

    You have to use numbers to make informed decisions. Otherwise, personal bias will get in the way. I see it all the time at work when people think spending time pursuing a particular activity makes no sense, but when looking at revenue numbers reveal the exact opposite is true. You are wise to evaluate your efforts this way. Just always be sure apples are being compared to apples.

    • Felicia March 21, 2011, 7:59 am

      Good point about comparing apples to apples. I guess what I’m really comparing in this case is return on investment.

  • Master Dayton March 21, 2011, 10:41 pm

    Great post, and it really does pay to be analytical about how you spend your time. There are only so many hours in the day and you want to make sure to put most of your effort in what really pays of. As the old saying goes: “the numbers don’t lie.”

  • Angela March 22, 2011, 3:41 am

    Hi Felicia, love how you keep track of everything. Your Suite 101 earnings I can only dream about, but overall your earnings with Suite 1o1 is more because you contributed more, so just imagine if you had invested more in your own blog…so smart move on your part. Good luck!

  • William Tha Great March 22, 2011, 10:42 pm

    Hey Felicia,

    Thanks for the awesome article!

    I really enjoyed reading it, because i recently found out that tracking your numbers does mean a lot. I have been working really hard, but in the wrong direction. I didnt think it was important for me to track my numbers if I just worked super hard. Some good things have happened, but not where I thought it would take me.

    Since I started tracking my stats I have been working much smarter. Still putting in hard work, but in a direction direction.

    God bless,
    William Veasley

    • Felicia March 23, 2011, 6:58 am

      William that’s good to hear. It’s good that you started tracking your numbers early in your freelance writing career. Too many writers spend so much time and energy working in areas they “believe” to be lucrative only to find out they were wrong. Tracking numbers forces you to work smarter.

      William, with your energy, tenacity and willingness to learn, you’ll do very well in any endeavor you choose.

  • debra March 30, 2011, 3:07 pm

    Felicia, when I click on your “Touching Base,” link, I get a huge screen that reads “You are banned.”

    Am I doing something wrong? I am not a spammer or anything. I hope I don’t have a virus?

    I could access the second most recent post and post this.

    • Felicia March 30, 2011, 3:21 pm

      Debra, I’m sorry about the banned message. I’ll see what I can do. I use a plugin that bans spammers (so far I’ve had to ban over 3,000 of them). Maybe it’s getting a little too good and it’s beginning to ban people that I don’t want banned.

      • Debra March 30, 2011, 5:52 pm

        I’m on my desktop computer now. I got in just fine. I’m puzzled because I don’t have anything I’m promoting (yet) or even a signature link.

        I do have a new website (my first) and have checked a few stats today. Maybe I visited Commission Junction first to check my zero stats and it thought I was a bad guy. I’m not.

        I just enrolled in an IM training course, two. Actually, two of them. I’m finishing up 30 days at one site and starting a 5-month one at another one. But I’m not promoting anything yet or trying to sell anything. I’m too busy learning.

        Thanks for checking. As long as I can get on via my laptop, I’m okay. I’d hate to miss my favorite fix of the day.

  • Julie @ Inspired to Write March 30, 2011, 7:41 pm


    It has been a while. 🙂 I think I am pretty much done with Suite, and Hubpages and all the content sites. Although I was not really affected by the Panda update, I feel like I put in way to much time for so little return. (I just wrote a post about this). The residual is nice, but just not worth my time. I am going to start a “real” professional freelance writing career. (Wish me luck!!!)

    I also recently applied to ContentDivas and soon after realized the pay was insulting as well $18.00 / 1000 words!!! COME ON!!! (and I don’t even get credit for it!)

    After connecting with REAL freelancers, I learned there is so much better and much higher-paying opportunities out there.

    We will see how this next adventure goes!!

    • Felicia March 31, 2011, 9:14 am

      I’m with you Julie. Things have changed and it’s time for us to change too. As you say…on to the next adventure.

  • Edward G Gordon April 1, 2011, 3:30 pm

    Hi Felicia,

    I really do need to drop in here more often. Your articles so often reflect my own thinking. (Not only that but it is nice to be reminded by someone who has actually reached that point that it can be done.)

    Personally I work on an hourly rate. I would love to reach the £50 an hour mark sometime in the next 24 months, nowhere close yet though. (Working that out over a 40 hour week- ie £2,000 weekly)

    At present I am concentrating on Google and Amazon. Hopefully I will get around to writing a book this year. I am working on a treatment at the moment.

    What are your hourly/daily goals for 2012/2013?

    • Felicia April 1, 2011, 6:01 pm

      Edward, it’s no secret that my ultimate goal is to earn $10,000 per month in residuals. Each day I try to do something that will get me closer to my goal.

      I can’t say where I’ll be in 2012 or 2013, but I can tell you that I’ll be out there scratchin’ and scrappin’ until I reach my goal, no matter how long it takes.

      • Edward G Gordon April 3, 2011, 3:00 pm

        That’s actually the same as my own goal. (I am probably being a little bit too optimistic) When I take into consideration the fact that you are several years ahead of me in terms of content and experience, it makes me think that while the goal is fine, my time estimation is a bit off.

        No harm in being optimistic I suppose, lol. Anyway good luck with your own goals.

        • Felicia April 4, 2011, 6:18 am

          Edward, don’t let my numbers scare you. I’m not the quickest learner on the block. You might meet and surpass my numbers in short order. Just keep your focus and remain consistent. Oh, and yes, remain optimistic. I’ve found that optimism with the occasional doses of reality helps too. 🙂

  • Maria (WriterGig) April 1, 2011, 5:03 pm

    When you take into consideration the number of articles on your niche site versus how many pieces you have on Suite 101, your own site is kicking butt!

    • Felicia April 1, 2011, 6:07 pm

      When I checked my month end numbers, I earned 3 times more with my niche site than I did with Suite. As far as my monthly earnings go, Suite is currently in fourth place and dropping. I guess it was a good ride while it lasted, but all good things must come to an end. *sigh*

  • Jerry Hart April 4, 2011, 9:28 pm

    The Suite stuff I have has not been getting any hits since the Google change. I hope my own website starts to do well.

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