January 2020

Cruise Ship in Chongqing

*Pictured above: Spectacular views from my trip to the central city of Chongqing, China!

I don’t know about you, but it seems like 2020 will be a year for the history books.

Already, we’ve started off with a flurry of global events:

  • Iran shoots down a passenger plane due to “human error”, killing 176 people and sparking massive protests in response
  • US President Trump is impeached by Congress (but will likely be acquitted by the Senate), marking the end of a delusional 3+ year impeachment saga
  • Brexit finally happens (“we’ll be taking back our tea and biscuits now!”) ????????
  • NBA legend Kobe Bryant dies in a helicopter crash; the Duke and Duchess of Sussex say adios! to the Queen of England
  • A deadly novel coronavirus originating from Wuhan is (as we speak) morphing into a global pandemic and has already surpassed the number of SARS cases ????

This month, I’ve returned to my home in Oakville, Ontario after about 3 months abroad (of which 2 months were spent on family matters in China and about 1.5 months in Thailand).

I’m sad to end my Southeast Asia trip early, however, recent developments related to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak have alarmed me. In my mind, it’s not just the risk of catching the virus that worries me, but the broader ramifications for the global tourism industry (such as border closures, flight cancellations, travel visa issues, etc.)

Given these considerations, I decided that it would not be ideal to continue travelling in Southeast Asia at this time. And I’m now counting my lucky stars because we (my mother and I) escaped from China just before the recently announced flight cancellations and border closures.

My heart goes out to the people of Wuhan who are suffering the most right now, due to the gross negligence and incompetence of local officials and the Chinese central government.

This month’s income report will be very short. I’ll provide the updated key metrics for 2020, a discussion of recent results, and a brief overview of my goals for 2020.

Key Metrics

  • Revenue: $553.64 (+162% MoM)
  • Sessions: 10,774 (+125% MoM)
  • Earnings per Thousand Sessions: $51.39 (+16% MoM)

Going forward, I’ve replaced the metric for traffic (previously Unique Pageviews) with Sessions. This is a better representation of user behavior for my purposes as I’m chiefly concerned with conversions for each session, not for each unique pageview.

Recent Business Performance

In January, revenue set many all-time highs, crossing the $300, $400, and $500 marks for the first times. This was driven by exceptional SEO traffic growth as the momentum in search ranking improvements from December 2019 continued to play out.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) initiatives also had a major role in driving more affiliate link clicks, thanks to better CTA designs from Amazon Affiliate for WordPress (AAWP) tables and cleaner content layouts overall.

In addition, I reviewed my Amazon Associates sales data from 2019 and made small adjustments to product recommendations to increase realized commission rates. In other words, the same (or similar) product is sometimes listed in multiple departments which offer different commission rates (e.g. Health & Personal Care pays 4.5% but Beauty pays 6%). In these cases, updating the product recommendation can net an incremental 1.5% (a 33% increase!).

Finally, I completed 1 piece of new content and updated 5 or so more, and ordered another 3 guest post links from SEOButler (with a sweet 15% bulk discount).

Honestly, I didn’t work that much on my site this month. I visited Chongqing and Chengdu for over a week, stuck around Nanjing for a week or so, flew back to my grandpa’s village for Chinese New Year for a few days, and then left China near the end of January as the coronavirus began to really worsen.

Now that I am back home, however, I want to really make some solid progress in the next few months and I’m encouraged by the recent progress in January.

Next Steps for 2020

Here’s my roadmap for the rest of 2020:

  • H1 2020: grow revenue to $1K a month, continue creating affiliate content & investing in backlinks, build processes & hire or contract a part-time VA
  • H2 2020: grow revenue to $2K a month, switch to creating info content in preparation for ebook, write & publish ebook, initate email marketing plan

As you might notice, I’ve decided to leave out hiring a content writer for now. I feel that content research & writing is my strength, and now that I’ve outsourced backlink acquisition for the time being, it allows me to focus on producing high quality content.

My longer-term revenue goals are:

  • 2023 (essentially when I’m 30): $5-10K a month
  • 2022: $3-5K a month
  • 2021: $2-3K a month
  • 2020: $1-2K a month

To Your Flexibiliy and Freedom in 2020!

Tom

Cruise Ship in Chongqing

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