The Beginning of the End

Well it’s been a great ride but it looks like the ‘magic money’ gravy train is coming to a screeching halt. I’ve seen it coming for awhile now with my earnings for the second half of 2013 being a lot less than in previous years. And now, things have gotten really serious with me earning only $875 in February and on track to do only slightly better in March. But all is not lost! And, in a weird way, this is all actually pretty good news for me. Sure, it’s slightly stressful seeing the bottom drop out of my main income source, but I think I’m actually well-positioned to move on to bigger and better things.

The Bad News

  • My earnings have dropped fairly drastically, fairly quickly. I only earned $875 in February and $1,646 in January as compared with $3,174 and $5,000 the previous year. I’m on track to earn less than $1,000 again this month with my guest posts, affiliate sales, and Adsense.
  • I get more emails these days asking me to remove links than I do inquiries for new deals so it seems like this latest Google crackdown is the real deal.
  • I don’t see things improving in the world of paid links and guest posts anytime soon, if ever.

The Good News

  • While my traditional way of earning money is on the down slide, I’m starting to earn with my Kigali and Kampala city guide websites and I have my Kigali restaurants guide mostly finished so once that gets going, that’s another spot to sell ads. So far I have six advertisers on board for my Kigali site and we’ve just signed up our first for the Kampala site and I’m earning around $500 per month at the moment.
  • Businesses that want to advertise on these sites don’t know anything about SEO at this point. They’re actual businesses that want actual clicks from my actual readers so I can ‘no-follow’ the links. Google-proof.
  • Businesses still approach me to advertise and I haven’t had to do a hard sell to anyone. I hate selling things, so this is a good sign,
  • This type of a business model is based more around building a community who trusts my opinion and interacts with me, rather than dealing with nameless, faceless, people trying to trick Google. I’m filling the internet with great content instead of rubbish and it feels good.
  • Having my income drop off has been a huge kick in the arse for me to start working on other ideas that I’ve been putting off for the longest time. I have three products that I’m working on (also Google-proof). An update to The Underground Guide to International Volunteering which I’m going to put on Kindle this time around, my Kigali map which I know will sell well, and a downloadable Kigali PDF ebook (and maybe a version for Kindle eventually) that I can sell from my website.
  • With everyone asking to remove links, my sites will eventually be back to their squeaky clean, non-Google-scamming roots and maybe I can sell them or start adding genuine content and improving them.
  • I have some savings, so there’s no huge sense of urgency just yet.
  • The costs of running my business are very low and can be temporarily reduced to almost nothing, if need be.
  • I can live very well in Kigali for less than $2,000 per month (and even on $1,00 a month, if I have to) and I think that, with all of the different components I have brewing (including earnings from my ‘old’ methods – affiliate sales, Adsense, the occasional paid post) I’ll be able to reach and exceed that amount in the coming months.

So while things are getting a little scary as far as monthly earnings go, I’m not worried as I think I’m really well-positioned to move away from sleazy guest posting to something that’s a lot more real and satisfying.

As I mentioned above, I don’t need to earn loads of money to sustain myself and save a little. My priority is to never work for anyone else again forever and ever. I’m not interested in striking it rich, just in sustaining a good quality of life while being able to stash some money away in the bank and travel a few times a year. I think I’ll be able to pull this off and do it in a way that leaves me proud of the work I’m doing, allows me to create and communicate with a great communities of people, and lets me partner with lots of interesting businesses.

I’m nearly finished the update of my volunteering ebook and I’m excited about it! It’s been greatly expanded and improved upon and I’m really excited to get it onto Kindle and explore that world. I’m not expecting huge things out of the ebook, in fact it’s probably going to be the smallest earning for me, but I don’t think a couple of hundred a month is unreasonable. Just another piece of the puzzle!

How are you guys finding this latest Google crackdown? I’d be surprised if anyone out there isn’t feeling the pain! I’m getting a lot of emails from other bloggers that are attempting to sell ads for cheap which is something that’s never happened before. I think a lot of people are going to see their earnings and maybe their entire way of life effected. What’s your backup plan?

Well… wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted.

About Kirsty