June 2021

By: 
Tom Qiao
 | 
Updated: 
July 1, 2021
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Happy Canada Day! 🍁 And welcome back to Flexibility Is Freedom!

Believe it or not, but it's been 3 years since I began building passive income!

Honestly, it feels more like 5 years (or forever), especially with the last 1.5 years of COVID-19, but we don't get to choose the time we live in, only how we live with the time we're given.

Now, I've done a lot of reflection about my journey, on both a personal and professional level, and while there's certainly been up's and down's along the way, I'm extremely glad that I made the difficult decision to pursue this opportunity & lifestyle.

Whenever I feel lost (which happens very often) or without a sense of purpose, I always re-read my original post on Medium, 5 Reasons I Quit My Job to Build Passive Income Businesses, and periodically review my income reports on Flexibility Is Freedom as well to remind myself of both how far I've come and the inspirations that I've found along the way.

In a few days, I'll be publishing a full blog post about my 3-year journey!

RELATED: 3-Year Review

I'll discuss business results and activities, what's worked & what hasn't, my personal experience running an online business, and the associated lifestyle possibilities.

For now, though, sit back and enjoy my June 2021 income report! April and May were both short and sweet, so I definitely owe you guys a longer one to wrap up Q2 2021.

Key Metrics

  • Revenue: $706 (+281% MoM, +2% YoY)
  • Sessions: 3,636 (+70% MoM)
  • RPM: $194 (+124% MoM)
  • Amazon Risk: 25% (down from 41% last month)

Revenue and sessions rebounded for the first time since the December 2020 Core Update. 😎

While sessions increased significantly by +70% MoM, it was a massive jump in profitability (RPM) to $194 that really drove the explosive revenue increase of +280% MoM.

I think the main drivers were my content optimization efforts (which started in April 2021) as well as more strategic decisions on keyword research & content management.

The Derm Detective Homepage

In Q1 2021, I took time away from TheDermDetective.com to explore new business opportunities as part of my long-term diversification strategy, including 1 joint venture with a friend.

In Q2 2021, I completely rebuilt TheDermDetective.com from the ground up using Oxygen Builder, optimized the technology stack, and upgraded my analytics dashboards.

With that in mind, I'm happy with these initial results, perhaps a sign of further things to come as I continue to create SEO-optimized content.

Technology Stack

I completely redesigned TheDermDetective.com to run faster and cheaper than before:

  • Oxygen Builder: I switched to Oxygen - a theme and page builder - for its clean code and lightning-fast pages. While there was an initial learning curve (and learning a bit of CSS), it's been one of my best decisions as it provides the drag-and-drop features of Elementor with the performance of a theme like GeneratePress. Plus I get a lifetime licence (no annual fees!) for unlimited websites! 👍 Their support team is amazing as well!
  • Plugins: I reviewed my plugin list - removing slow plugins and optimizing general settings.
  • Gutenberg Blocks via Oxygen: I can now design my own Gutenberg blocks using Oxygen and this has opened up a world of possibilities - such as product boxes and comparison tables - that are not limited by the features and costs of a third-party plugin like AAWP or Lasso.
  • Admin: I switched from GSuite (C$7.80/mo) to Namecheap Private Email (US$11.88/yr) to save a bit on business email costs. I transferred my domains to Cloudflare Registrar ($8.03/yr) which offers wholesale pricing on domain name renewals.
Oxygen Homepage

At this point, I've spent over $6,000 on SaaS and Lifetime software. Not every purchase was useful (many are sitting on the shelf after I bought them on AppSumo), but I now have just about everything I need for the next 3-5 years.

Content

On-Page SEO

In the past, I've always talked about content optimization and content quality but I've never been able to "measure" it objectively. Until now...

Today, I use 3 tools to calculate a Topic Score and provide content recommendations:

  1. Surfer SEO: Content Editor, Audit, and SERP Analyzer
  2. MarketMuse: Optimize, Questions
  3. Frase: Long-Tail Topics

Each tool uses a slightly different methodology to evaluate the relevancy of a piece of content and I like to combine their recommendations (along with human judgment) to craft the best article.

MarketMuse Homepage

These recommendations include:

  • Word Count: Target and Competitor Average
  • Number of HTML Elements: headings, paragraphs, images, bold, italic, etc.
  • Contextual Terms: a.k.a. TF-IDF, NLP, LSI terms
  • Non-Text Factors: Page Speed, Domain Authority

To stay organized, I keep track of all my content's Topic Scores in a content dashboard.

Content Dashboard

Starting Q2 2021, I've started to systematically catalogue my content and significant keywords into a content dashboard that includes the following:

  • Search Volume: estimates (Ahrefs, Surfer) vs. actual (Google Search Console)
  • Competition: allintitle matches (used to calculate Keyword Golden Ratio)
  • Rank: normal rank, exact match rank, estimated vs. actual time to rank
  • Content Performance: monthly clicks, monthly unique pageviews, and historical trends
  • Optimization: Topic Scores from Surfer SEO, MarketMuse, and Frase
  • Backlinks: # of links, referring URL, and anchor text
Master Keywords Dashboard

Overall, this content dashboard combines what would have been 2-3 separate spreadsheets - making it easier to conduct analysis and make decisions at every stage of the content lifecycle:

  • Research: identify keywords and clusters with sufficient search volume & user intent
  • Select: filter keywords by level of competition
  • Create: add to content calendar; create content briefs; create SEO-optimized content
  • Monitor: track rankings and traffic
  • Optimize: use Surfer SEO, MarketMuse, and Frase to optimize existing content
  • Repeat: continuously improve existing content

URL Reports

Finally, I created URL reports in Google Data Studio to visualize data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics - resulting in quick & easy analysis of individual URL performance.

In the past, I spent hours and hours on manual reports and ad hoc analysis so it was definitely worth the upfront investment to learn to use Google Data Studio.

Google Data Studio - URL Report v4

The URL report tracks the following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

  • Conversions: for me, that would be affiliate link clicks
  • Unique Pageviews: proxy for traffic (cannot use Sessions for individual URLs since one session will often contain multiple unique pageviews)
  • Conversion Rate: conversions divided by unique pageviews - a very important metric to evaluate content performance and quickly identify underperformers
  • Clicks: organic clicks from Google search results (Web, Image, Video, News)
  • Impressions: organic impressions from Google search results
  • Click Through Rate: how frequently the URL is clicked on when it's shown to a user - this is useful for optimizing the Meta Title and Meta Description
  • Average Position: average rank of the URL across all its keywords
  • Average Position (Exact): average rank of the URL for the exact keyword only
  • Keywords: the number of keywords that the URL ranks for (in the top 100)
  • Adjusted Bounce Rate: the % of users that leave before 30 seconds

Backlinks

On the backside side, I bought a guest post from LinkGraph to test out their service but decided not to pursue a long-term commitment due to the quality of the first one.

My short-term plan is to continue recycling monthly cash flow into backlink acquisitions.

Next Steps

Thanks for reading my June 2021 income report! As I mentioned, I'll have more details to share in my 3-year review where I'll walk through my business results, activities, and personal experience.

To Flexibility and Freedom,

Tom

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