2013: What a Year!

If you are a regular reader here, you will know that at the beginning of last year, I set myself the ambitious goal of making $1 Million within 1 year. So, I thought it was about time I let you know the final outcome of my year-long challenge, discuss the changes that have taken place on the web over the course of the year and identify any lessons learned.

First off, let’s deal with the actual figures. You can see from the graph below that I actually earned $20,714.13 for the year …

Total Income 2013

Well, I can hear you say, that’s a long way short of $1 Million!

Yes – that’s right – and it is also a lot worse than I have done in previous years too. So what exactly was going on last year and was I mad to set such a big goal – way out of my comfort zone? I’m glad you asked ;)

There were two major factors that affected my performance, the biggest of which was Google’s algorithm changes over the course of the year (variously know as Penguins and Pandas). These changes were designed to filter rubbish from the Google SERPS. As you know, I don’t write rubbish, but as with any automated system, Google’s changes were not perfect and my main site got caught in the crossfire so to speak. The upshot of the Google changes meant that traffic to my main site plummeted and, with it, Adsense income dropped dramatically.

The second big thing that happened during the year was that the main affiliate program I was promoting went through a major change of approach and that led to a reduction in the income generated via the program. As I had decided to focus on this one program over the year, this change seriously impacted my bottom line.

Around August, I became seriously demotivated (very unusual for me) and a bit disillusioned with the whole internet thing. I stopped writing and began thinking about the way ahead. It was a lengthy period of reflection. I spent a lot of time just walking the dog and thinking. One of the things I wanted to do was rationalise the distribution of books at White Dove Books with those offered on Kindle. As you can’t give away books on Kindle (except in special promotions) I came to the conclusion that I should start selling my books at White Dove Books. I have now decided this is the wrong way forward and will be returning White Dove Books to a free books site soon.

My thoughts are now crystalising and I believe that affiliate marketing represents my way forward. I will be working more closely with the affiliate programs I have found to work and will also be offering all of my books as rebrandable tools for others to make money too – this will be accomplished via Smart Rebrander. Watch our for more details later in the year.

So, was I a bit mad to set that $1 Million goal? Yes – probably! But, I did manage to push my thinking into places where it otherwise would not have gone. So it was not a completely worthless exercise. In addition, I have learned a valuable lesson from Google this past year i.e. the ultimate success of my business must be accomplished without dependency on  the vagaries of their programmers.

That’s about it for now. There’s a lot of work ahead for me as I implement my new business model. It’s time to take a deep breath and get back to work!

Speeding up WordPress (Part 1)

A while back, my ISP complained to me that my sites were taking up too much resource from their server. It puzzled me a bit because I had bought their top hosting package. However, what I had not really understood is that WordPress (my chosen CMS) is not at all optimised for performance. It actually does a lot of rebuilding of pages and does not perform caching unless you add on – yes here we go again – a plugin!

Anyway, I sorted out the issue with the ISP by loading a caching plugin and, whilst I was at it, I thought I would test a few different plugins. I intended to install caching at my 3 main sites, so I thought I would load 3 different plugins and see which performed best.

The plugins I chose to test were:

  • WP Super Cache
  • Quick Cache
  • W3 Total Cache

There were a few other plugins I loaded but fairy immediately unloaded because they looked far too complicated. They may be good plugins but I did not want to invest a lot of time learning about something that may or may not be worth it. So, of all the caching plugins I looked at, the above were all simple enough for me to activate with just a few clicks of the mouse.

I installed each of them on a different blog. However each blog was running the same theme so essentially that placed the same overhead on each of them. The results were that all three plugins improved the site speed. My outright winner, in terms of both ease of use and performance benefit, was Quick Cache. However, be aware that their latest version does also require the latest version of PHP.

Now that I have decided on my caching plugin, I will be using the same one on each site and I will be further investigating the matter of speed as my site is still comparatively slow and I know there’s a lot more that can be done.