That’s right, folks! An entire year of earnings all rolled up into one glorious post! I wouldn’t have a clue what I’ve spent in 2014 so lets just forget that side of things doesn’t exist.
I ditched my popular monthly earnings and spending reports back in March 2013 when I’d earned an impressive $6,500. That was one of my best months ever and income around then was still pretty consistent but I wasn’t enjoying writing the updates as much as I used to. I didn’t feel like, month on month, I was really doing anything different that was worth reporting. I was just sitting back and watching the magic internet money roll in without me having much of a constructive role in earning it. I also saw the writing on the wall with Google crackdowns and the end of link sales and article marketing as a viable (albeit shady) income source. Truth be told, I wanted to jump ship before I found myself reporting embarrassingly low earnings. So I decided to stop the reports and haven’t thought much about it sense then.
Actually, I haven’t thought much about this blog at all since then. I’ve had a smattering of posts but my attention has been on other time-consuming projects and Nerdy Nomad has been treated badly. The poor little guy. But, between life in Rwanda, travel, volunteering, and earning online, I think I have an interesting thing or two to say and I think it would be super sad to let this blog die a slow and neglected death.
So I’m back! Starting with a complete 12 month look at 2014’s earnings. I’ll be a little less specific about certain things (lumping Adsense, link sales, and affiliate sales into one category) because I don’t put any effort each month into improving these things so there’s nothing to report. I’ll keep ebook sales separate because, though I haven’t put much effort into it so far, I intend on focusing more on increasing sales in the coming months. I’ll also offer a more concise breakdown of the Africa website and map side of things because that’s where most of my efforts go these days.
Ok so, here we go… 2014 giant earnings report coming at you!
Adsense, Link and Affiliate Sales, and Article Marketing
Earned in 2014: $10,647
When you compare this total for 2014 with my total for March 2013 alone (at almost $6,500), it’s pretty easy to see that things have taken a turn for the worse. Adsense still chugs along as it always has and affiliate sales are still as neglected as ever, but paid articles and links have dropped off drastically since Google started to seriously crack down last year. But it doesn’t seem like this method for earning is going away completely and I can still count on a few deals each month.
Earned in 2014: $1,062
Adding my ebook, The Underground Guide to International Volunteering, to Amazon hasn’t had the miraculous results I was hoping for. I’d expected that joining what is essentially a massive search engine for book buying with a good product and ranking well (I had been on the first page when people search for ‘volunteering’ in the books section but it seems I’ve falled to the thid page now) would lead to a nice boost in sales. But it seems like there’s more to it than that and I’ve got some work cut out for me. I haven’t put any focus on this just yet but I’m hopeful that with a bit of work I’ll be able to boost sales.
I also haven’t spent much time at all reaching out to potential affiliates. I know there are a lot of things I could be doing to get the book ‘out there’ and I have a lot of work cut out for me. The affiliate sale commission is appealing and the book is good but I need to reconnect with people who might be interested in promoting my ebook and also search out new site owners. There’s a lot of work still to do and I was silly to think that just putting a new edit out there into the world would lead to magical sales.
Living in Kigali
Earned in 2014: $6,276
My Kigali website is what gives me the most satisfaction to work on and being approached by businesses wanting to advertise seems to fit in well with my ‘wait to be contacted’ style of doing business. Maybe I’d have a lot more in ad sales were I more ‘salesy’ and wiling to approach the big money clients (like airlines and telecom companies, for example) and ask for more money per ad. But I like working with small business owners in Kigali, having a personal relationship, and I’m happy with my policy of only partnering with people I would actually recommend. It means I can feel like I’m adding value each tme I write about my advertising partners, rather than just bombarding my loyal readers with spam.
So far things are going really well and I’m nearly at capacity for my ad space. I’m charging $80 for each square ad (although some are currently barters and some are a bit less), $150 for the banner ad at the top (which will likely go up to $250 when I get a better offer), and $140 for the half banners (I only have one but would like two). That gives me the possibility of earning $1,330 (800+250+140+140) before taxes which is a decent amount to live on in Kigali.
I want to be able to sustain myself on my Kigali website, spending only what I earn and stashing any other income away in my savings account. I don’t want to jinx it but my advertisers have been loyal so far and they seem to see a lot of value in advertising on my website. I’m going into 2015 with 12 advertisers and $860 per month in earnings and I hope that this will continue to increase as the site gets more and more popular.
Living in Kampala
Earned in 2014: Around $300
Earnings for my Kampala site are a bit tricky to keep track of since I’m not the one in charge of the books. I do the nerd stuff and my partner in Kampala takes care of the finances and the deals. This one is a bit deceptive because, while we’ve earned a bit, we’ve also dumped a whole bunch of money into this site over the years and are very much in the red. Unlike my Kigali site, we have to pay content writers (since my partner is too busy and I don’t know Kampala very well) and there have been some costs with initial setup and Facebook promotion, too. But we’re on our way and hoping to go from red to black this year.
The Map – Kigali
Earned in 2014: $1,321
This is my big risk! I’ve shelled out well over $10,000 (post with details coming soon) and a lot of time hard work in an effort to finally take my map of Kigali idea from my head and put it onto paper and into people’s hands. It’s been a three year labour of love and there was no way I wasn’t going to print something, no matter what the cost. But I might have bitten off more than I can chew and will be collecting 5,500 maps in London in January.
I’m giving myself a year before a reprint (the city is changing so quickly so even that might be too long) and I think unloading that many maps in 12 months is totally doable. I’ve already pre-sold about 200 to individuals and another 580 (with some payments coming in 2015 that haven’t been reported) to businesses around town who will act as wholesalers. So I’m off to a good start! I’ve got 12 businesses on board to sell the maps without me even trying that hard. It helps that I’ve created a lot of goodwill over the years through my website. Promoting businesses for free seems to be paying off for me now! Plus people have been hearing about this map for years and the final product is pretty sexy and useful, so it’s an easy sell.
If everything goes as planned (a big ‘if’) then this map thing could turn into a nice little money-maker. I’ve covered about half of my expenses with an Indiegogo campaign and should earn between $5 and $6 profit per map sold. With 5,500 maps, that adds up to a nice chunk of money. But the key will be actually selling them!
I haven’t included the pre-sales to individuals as part of my 2014 earnings since they’ve come as part of my Indiegogo campaign but once that’s done, all sales will be reported here. I’m reporting the amount paid to me and not factoring in my costs, so take that into consideration. This could either earn me a nice chunk of money in 2015 or go horribly wrong and see me living with boxes of maps in my house until the end of time. I hope it’s the former…
Total Earnings for 2014
Totaling up all of my little projects gets me to a grand total of $19,606 in earnings for 2014. Again, it’s a huge drop from the glory days of old but it’s a step in the right direction as far as diversifying goes. I’m moving towards projects that I can be proud of and it’s still early days and I’m excited what 2015 holds.
Happy New Year everyone!