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What a Difference a Year Makes

CalendarI normally don’t post proof of my income. I don’t really think it’s necessary because you guys know that I shoot from the hip and tell you like it is. However, I think that showing you a screen clip of my earnings will help you see what making a few adjustments can do.

Below I’m inserting screen clips which compare my July 2010 AdSense earnings to the same period of time in 2011. Similarly, I’m doing the same comparison for Infolinks (click to see full image).

AdSense July 2010
AdSense July 2010

AdSense July 2011
AdSense July 2011

Here’s Infolinks 2010:

Infolinks July 2010

And here’s Infolinks 2011:

Infolinks July 2011

To what do I attribute the income growth? Well, it all goes back to tracking and measuring. Prior to 2010 I wrote a lot of articles and placed them where ever I saw fit.  I knew eHow articles earned well so I placed a lot of articles there. Suite articles were performing well at that time so I placed content there too. I had a few sites so naturally I added content to my sites as well. I was all over the place.

In 2010 I decided to make monthly writing goals. I added a few extra columns to my income tracking spreadsheet and I listed all of my writing venues. Each month I set a goal for the number of articles I would write for each site. Therefore the additional spreadsheet columns listed the name of the site, the monthly goal and the actual number of articles written. The final column showed if I had hit my target or not.

Developing Pattern

Whether or not I hit my goal became secondary to discovering my emerging writing pattern. There were some sites that no matter how miniscule the monthly writing goal, I would never achieve it and other sites where I would exceed even the most aggressive monthly writing goals. This showed me which sites I should keep and which ones I should drop from my arsenal.

Next I was able to review the ROI (return on investment). Of the sites on which I regularly added content, I was able to compare the financial return on my efforts. On sites that provided a large financial return, I increased my monthly writing goals and conversely decreased my monthly article count on those with low return.

The Joy Factor

Because writing is something to be enjoyed there is also the joy factor. The joy factor meant writing anywhere for the joy of it. If I got really jazzed about an idea and wanted to write about it, I had free license to do so. I never stopped myself from writing for the pure joy of it (as long as I continued to meet my monthly goals).

A Year of Tracking

When I first started my monthly tracking, I set goals of 80 to 85 articles a month. The sad part of it was that of those 80 or 85 articles a large portion of those articles were written for Demand Studios. October, 2010 was the worst. I wrote 123 articles and 77 went to Demand Studios.

By December I had a full year of data to play with. That data was a wakeup call. It told me that I was wasting my time writing for Demand Studios and that I should concentrate the bulk of my efforts on 6 sites; 4 I owned and 2 I did not.

Making the Write Change

I did what the numbers told me to do and immediately began to see an increase in my residual earnings. Not only am I writing less (this year’s average monthly article count from Jan to July is 37.2 per month) but I’m earning more. Of course I had to rearrange things when Panda struck, but having the raw data made it easier for me to switch gears.

As Peter Drucker  said, “What gets measured gets managed.” So what I take away from this whole thing is that it doesn’t take luck to earn money online as a freelance writer, it takes planning, tracking, monitoring and of course writing.

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • kidgas August 12, 2011, 9:37 am

    Very analytic and scientific treatment of the data. I enjoy it as a data person myself. Too few bother to measure anything, but I am sure that your readers are starting to get the message.

    • Felicia August 12, 2011, 9:39 am

      I hope everyone is getting the message, Kidgas. It’s amazing how listening to the data can change the direction of things.

  • Michael August 12, 2011, 11:23 pm

    I am really impressed by how much you are pulling in through AdSense and Infolinks with your sites. You certainly seem to be doing things right. I will continue to use what you’ve done as a blueprint and as inspiration.

  • Angela August 13, 2011, 12:02 am

    Wow! I came running over here all excited because I wanted to tell everybody that in the six days that I’ve rolled out Infolinks to three of my sites I’ve made $0.02, and I get hit with these numbers! I had to take a moment to compose myself before I could type a reply.

    Felicia, in a different career life I held a position in which I had knowledge of people’s salaries across the country. Do you realize that this type of income parallels, or even in some cases exceeds, that of the average income earner in America right now? Just think what a difference this type of online strategy might have made in the lives of some of the unlucky folks who’ve been laid off in the last few years. Just think what a difference it could make in the lives of folks who are trapped in job situations that they don’t enjoy! This is just so absolutely exciting!!! I can’t think of a more perfect illustration of working smarter, but not harder.

    To answer Kidgas’ question, yes, we most certainly are getting the message! 😉

    • Felicia August 13, 2011, 11:44 am

      Angela! Oh my, if you could only hear how loud I laughed when I read your first paragraph!! LOL! I’m still chucking. Thanks for the belly laugh. 😀

      Regarding your next paragraph, that’s exactly why I keep this blog up. I know people who are currently unemployed and are looking for ways to make money. I tell them what I do and suggest that they take a look at NJFM, but many of them choose not to.

      It’s tough for me to hear their unemployment and financial woes. These are people that are dear to me but they don’t want what I’m offering. Oh well, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. That’s why I’m so glad I can share my info with you guys. As you all become successful and share your stories, maybe it will encourage the folks in my life to give it a shot.

    • kidgas August 13, 2011, 4:49 pm

      Great news for many then.

  • Amanda August 13, 2011, 8:06 am

    I’m also a number junkie. I record how many articles I write each month right from the start, but I guess I am not being diligent enough. I don’t write 80 to 85 articles per month.

    • Felicia August 13, 2011, 11:47 am

      Amanda, write what is right for you. You’ve got to understand that I also use voice recognition software and a digital voice recorder. I used to write articles on my way to football practice, the store and cheer leading competitions. I also dictated articles while folding clothes, preparing dinner and cleaning the bathroom.

      If you only write 10 articles a month consistently, you’re heading in the right direction. Don’t let my numbers intimidate you.

  • Eve August 13, 2011, 10:15 am

    Felicia, I love it when you post stats like this — it gives me an incentive to keep writing.

    You are really my main source of inspiration when it comes to online writing. When I created my first site in 2009 and it didn’t completely take off money-wise, I might have seriously just forgotten about the whole thing.

    But then the eHow fiasco happened, and you kept writing about focusing on the bottom line, and your message kept going back to: own your sites. Own your own writing. Own your data. See where the money is, concentrate on those sites.

    I now have six sites up, and every month, the earnings keep increasing. I know you get a lot of this — but I want to say thank you for writing this blog. Thank you for all the advice you’ve given us. I doubt I would have kept plugging along if it weren’t for your inspiring posts.

    • Felicia August 13, 2011, 11:52 am

      Thank you, Eve. Comments like yours keeps me going. I get a thrill when I hear success stories. I hope you won’t mind if I copy your post and list it as a success story on my personal blog (FeliciaWilliams.com).

      BTW, Angela, you have a few comments I’d like to copy over to my personal blog also.

      I hope everyone understands that I’m getting just as much out of this blog as you are. This is not a one way street.

      • Angela August 13, 2011, 12:06 pm

        Felicia, you’re absolutely welcome to copy over any of my comments that you desire. I’d consider it a high honor.

        Side note: This post revved up my adrenalin so when I read it last night that I was up to–wait for it–06:00am this morning setting up another site! I’m supposed to be working right now, but I’m so sleepy that I can barely keep my head up. Lol.

        Is it just me or can you hear the strains of “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” playing in the background too? 😀

        • Felicia August 13, 2011, 12:44 pm

          Ok, you made me have to tell this story. Here it goes:

          I don’t own an iPod, iPad or any of those devices. When I go running, I strap my old iRiver digital player on my arm and put my earphones in my ears and go waggling around the lake (I’d say running, but at my age I waggle).

          Anyway, the iRiver model that I have is so old that I can no longer upload or download music to it (not compatible with Windows 7). I’m stuck with the music I’ve had on it for years. On the iRiver I have the “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us” song several times on a loop. In between the loop I have a few clean Kanye West songs, a song entitled “Optimistic” by the Sounds of Blackness and “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers.

          When I run I sing (well sort of, it sound more like a heavy breathing pervert, but I call it singing). So yes, I do hear more than strains of the song…I hear it playing in my head over and over again. And despite a grammatical error in the song (“our time has finally came around”), I love it and use it as my theme song.

      • Eve August 13, 2011, 10:13 pm

        Of course you can post my comment on your blog! I’d be honored. 🙂

    • Michael August 13, 2011, 9:20 pm

      I agree, I find the stats based articles really useful. It breaks everything down to a more concrete, easy to understand concept. Sometimes things get rather abstract and ethereal with freelance writing sites. I like how Felicia sticks to the meat of the topic with each post.

  • Melissa August 13, 2011, 1:42 pm

    Hi Felicia.
    I had to take step back as well when I caught a gander at your Info Links earnings. I was impressed with my daily average of .23, especially since I just implemented them last month.

    As usual, I use you, your statistics and advice as inspiration for reaching my own goals. I am leaning more and more toward complete focus on my own sites, instead a mix between my sites and content sites. Seeing how successful you are only fuels the fire! The numbers don’t lie.

  • Alina Bradford August 13, 2011, 2:47 pm

    You’re my hero Felicia. I hope to one day get of the client track and get onto the me track like you have done so well at. I’m working on crunching the numbers! 🙂

  • Gisela August 14, 2011, 6:49 pm

    Felicia, thank you for sharing that strategy with us. I love spreadsheets but never thought to apply them to tracking my writing goals and earnings. I am now excited to go create my own color coded beauty to track my efforts and goals.

    • Felicia August 15, 2011, 9:12 am

      Gisela, I have an income tracking spreadsheet that you can use. You can modify it (and color code it) to meet your needs.

      • Gisela August 19, 2011, 1:55 am

        Thanks so much Felicia! It looks great, I’ll use it for sure together with some I created. I never would have thought to include a daily average earnings or have the residual aside from the upfront. Makes so much sense the way you set it up!

  • Angela August 14, 2011, 10:05 pm

    Oh, , I love it!

    The old saying, “Like minds (‘like’ in this situation instead of ‘great’ because the sheer enormity of your expertise in all of this far exceeds mine) think alike” immediately comes into thought. 😀

  • Peter August 15, 2011, 12:15 am

    Hi Felicia, may I ask few questions?

    1. Are you doing any promotion/SEO on your sites from which you earn? Or do you just write and leave texts on sites?

    2. By reading this blog I know you’re writing good stuff. How come Panda had effect on your sites? I thought it hits only dupe/crap text sites…

    • Felicia August 15, 2011, 9:16 am

      Hi Peter, I do basic SEO when writing an article and do little to no promotion.

      As far as Panda’s affect on my sites, I love it! My income shot up after Panda. Well, let me rephrase that. The income from my own sites shot up. The income from content sites dropped dramatically.

      • Peter August 15, 2011, 6:02 pm

        Ok, got that regarding panda effect, thanks.

        By basic SEO do you mean on or off-site?

        1 more – how hard is it to write for wide variety of topics? I did a little search and found you have really wide topics at your rest sites, I can’t imagine myself writing for all of those…

        • Felicia August 15, 2011, 6:52 pm

          Peter, my SEO is onsite. Actually, I’ve found that quality content is the best SEO “trick” there is.

          As far as the wide variety of subject matter, I write my life. When I’m interested in something I write about it. My interests range from laundry detergent to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. If something catches my attention for longer than a fleeting moment, I write about it. Some sites/articles are hits and many are not. Even if a particular subject isn’t financially rewarding I write about it because it’s rewarding to me. So, back to the original question, it’s not hard at all to write on a wide variety of topics.

          Give it a try. You’ll find it’s not so difficult.

          • Peter August 15, 2011, 8:19 pm

            Got that. Thank you, Felicia.

  • Melissa August 17, 2011, 12:05 am

    Just wanted to add, my daily income from Info Links was calculated wrong. When I add both accounts together (I have no clue why 2 of my sites are on one account and one site is on another!) I have a daily average of $1.75. Although it’s not anything to brag about, it is way more than my original estimate of .23 cents! LOL

    • Felicia August 17, 2011, 7:45 am

      Melissa, that is something to brag about. Congrats!

  • Kristine August 17, 2011, 11:20 pm

    I know you’ve shared your tracking sheet before, but I’m soooo disorganized when it comes to tracking. Do you track each day? Or do you go back at the end of the month? How do you keep yourself focused to track, or is it something you like to do?

    • Felicia August 18, 2011, 7:11 am

      Kristine, I track too often and have installed LeechBlock to prevent me from looking at my stats every time I get on the computer. I track my income daily and my articles as I write them.

  • Peter October 29, 2011, 7:29 am

    Hi, Felicia,

    I’ve started a couple of sites on my favourite topics, I write 1 article a day to each of them, for more than a month now. Not that I expected to see high number of visitors right awya but seems like noone comes, just 0-1-2 cisitors, according to G’s analytics. I even doubt if it’s human, maybe some search engine…

    Why am I writing this – can you share how was it in your case – when did your sites start seeing visitors and all that stuff?

    Thank you beforehands.

    • Felicia November 1, 2011, 9:37 am

      Peter, that’s hard to say. My traffic varied depending on the topic. I have some sites that never took off and some that started getting traffic within the first week.

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