Happy New Years 2012Three…two…one…Happy New Year! Well if we had cable TV we’d likely have watched Times Square and the revelry with Ryan Seacrest (personally, I preferred Dick Clark), watching the ball drop…

This year we rented Super 8 to watch with the older 3 kids and my mother-in-law, after a time of praying and Bible reading.

In case you didn’t know this about me: at my core, I’m a Christian and family man, with 8 kids. Seven of those children are still in the home, my oldest is out and about in another state.

Ending and starting the year with my faith and family at the center was rewarding in itself.

Whatever your faith, or lack thereof – having an identity and purpose that roots you in who you are and answers the question, “Why and what are you working for?” is going to drive you like nothing else.

I don’t suggest this business if all you want is money and more of it…

…even though “more money” is at the heart of business (you’d think), for me, it’s all about more freedom, more family time, enjoying what I love with the people I love.

Quality time, for quality purposes.

Life’s shorter than you think, working until I’m incapable to go further because I have to instead of doing what I’m called to do or enjoy doing is something that would make me shudder as a kid…

…especially as I watched my dad in his latter years, busting his back and knuckles, burning the candle at both ends to provide.

Love my dad, but that settled it for me: I wanted to enjoy my life and family, and a job was out of the question.

I’ve had a year put to bed that has been drenched in reasons to be thankful:

  • My marriage is solid.
  • My kids are good people (better than my wife and I were at their ages, anyway).
  • My business is growing.
  • I don’t have a job.

Oh yeah – shouldn’t I be worried at that last one?

I’m completely thankful I don’t have a job.
Before I go over my goals that I hit or missed for 2011, for some reference, read this post I wrote at the beginning of 2011.

I just re-read it and I can “sorta” hear my frustration.

2011 ended with very little of that: frustration.

2012 begins with a renewed hope and a pretty relaxed life. I’m writing a book I had put off, because my methods are tested and proven and won’t change any time soon, and because my income tells me I know what time it is.   ;)

2011 Goals: Swing and a Miss?

Well so much for suspense, huh? Here’s a key goal from the 2011 Goals post:

My goal is $5k with Amazon, and $5k with CJ and another $1-2k with my other affiliate programs combined. My “low” tolerance will be $3k Amazon, $3k CJ and $1k with every other passive income.

So: $7,000-$12,000 a month in November / December of 2011 of passive income. That’s my big “8 ball, corner pocket” shot call.
8 Ball
I plan to publish my own ebook and have my own report for download posted here, with an email list of 1000 by year’s end. One of the funnest and most rewarding jobs this year was writing the book for MatthewDC at SEOSage.org – an IM guide for newbies that hopefully others find helpful.

And another one bites the dust…and another one gone, and another one gone…another (goal) bites the dust.

 

Let me pick this apart a bit.

My goal is $5k with Amazon…

Wow! I actually said in that post that I planned on making Amazon a priority, a “top priority” – and I didn’t. Not by a long shot.

I make anything from $50 on up to $300 a month in Amazon to be honest: I just haven’t at all focused on Amazon. Actually I made more at Amazon before HubPages got all scared from Google Panda and went crazy unfriendly.

Thanks, Google. Thanks, HubPages. Happy New Year to you guys, too.

HubPages took a bunch of hardcore editorial stands and made themselves less friendly to Clickbank and Amazon affiliates, but hey: it’s also why I think you should have a self-hosted domain.

It’s not up to Google or HubPages to keep me focused on Amazon. I think you should publish at Wizzley and Squidoo anyway…

How I Plan on Making Amazon a Priority

Well I’ve already bought the Amazonian Profit Plan and have used it to take my Amazon income from nothing to a steady income every month. Nothing to brag about, not yet, but that’s because I’ve used CJ as my main affiliate program with a lot of the ideas in APP.

As for how I plan on fixing this, I’ve already joined a program called Amazing Goldmine for a cost of around $13 or so a month. What this service does is to email their members a list of filtered “Golden Nuggets” and “Bargain Basement” deals that match a set of criteria.

For instance, the products need to be well-reviewed by customers, and a litany of other filters that make the service worth it if you want to get more Amazon sales.

At least that’s my take on it: I’ll pay $13 a month to save time and pick through some opportunities that are ripe for the harvest, rather than dig through the entire marketplace on my time.

I’d rather spend my time on content and ranking efforts, but we’ll see how Amazing Goldmine works (or doesn’t) in the long run. So far I like the service and like saving time on mindless tasks (go figure).

Add in Amazon-Focused Sites

I’ve said this before, but just haven’t done it. CJ has been incredibly lucrative for me, but I want to diversify my interests.

What I plan on doing is using my existing sites that are still focused on AdSense and re-task them for Amazon sales. It means redesigns, using FlexSqueeze or something from StudioPress rather than what I currently have up.

More Amazon Pages

On existing sites, I plan on adding more Amazon product reviews, simple as that. I don’t have enough, and Amazon makes it easy to diversify a website that’s focused on a few brands in a niche.

Why haven’t I done that yet?

Oh, you’ll read about it when the book comes out.  ;)

I’m not disappointed I didn’t hit my Amazon goal, but I am disappointed I forgot I had this goal. 

I wrote the post and claimed the goal – but then forgot about it.  :/

CJ and Overall Income Goals

My goal was to make:

  • $5k with CJ and another $1-2k with my other affiliate programs combined.
  • My “low” tolerance will be $3k Amazon, $3k CJ and $1k with every other passive income.
  • So: $7,000-$12,000 a month in November / December of 2011 of passive income. That’s my big “8 ball, corner pocket” shot call.

Well I did more than $5,000 a month for many months in CJ in 2011. Some months, predictably, were not that high. Others were more than that (I had my first $5k+ month around spring of 2011).

As to my “low” tolerance, I didn’t meet that goal as I mentioned, with Amazon not getting the attention from my efforts at all this year as I should have given it. (But I’m not crying about it.)

But overall I wanted to make between $7k-$12k a month by year’s end in passive income…

Well in December of 2011 I made a whopping $6,802.06 in passive income.

Not as high as I wanted it to be – I was shy by $197.94.

Am I disappointed?

Are you kidding me?!

I’m enthralled and the most relaxed I’ve been all year – this is good money, yo’. And I won’t need to join the cast of Breaking Bad, yo’.

And yes…I’ve been watching it with my wife but don’t spoil it for me – we’re in season 2 on Netflix.

My point is, though, it was a swing for the fences and I still made it to third base, if not home plate (and I don’t even like sports but they make great analogies).

Not too shabby. If my dad was still alive he’d buy me a drink.

But I don’t think he’d believe me even if I showed him my PayPal, where I made over $700 from my SEO book (Duct Tape SEO -thank you all), much less the $5700+ from CJ alone.

Self-Publishing Goal: Met Sorta?

  • I plan to publish my own ebook
  • …and have my own report for download posted here…

I’ve published 3 books: the Internet Marketing Starter Guide for SEOSage.org, the Unfair Advantage (54 pages on getting instant traffic through leveraging one method really well) and Duct Tape SEO.

The first was in 2010 for one of my last Elance clients, it’s free and at this point a bit out-dated. But the Unfair Advantage is part of my marketing strategy for Duct Tape SEO, a free book for those who exit off the DTSEO main site.

So this was nailed – and I’m about 90% done with my second premium book (Duct Tape SEO being my first premium book).

What I have yet to do is actually have my own free report for download here at The Average Genius, and that’s going to change for 2012, but I’m not decided on what the subject will be just yet.

List-Building Goal: Whoops!

I wanted to have:

…an email list of 1000 by year’s end.

That didn’t quite happen. I get pitched to a lot by people who think I have some stellar list, the fact is I really don’t do a ton of list-building and my mediocre efforts show it: I have about 500 people on my two lists (for Duct Tape SEO and this blog).

About 400 or so for this blog and another 100 for my book.

One thing holding me back is the need to re-visit and re-tool my autoresponder, so subscribers get more than just the 7 or so messages in that sequence. The other reason is I focused more on the book itself, and then focused on adding content to my niche sites since they bring in the lion’s share of my income.

The final reason is I have this “thing” about being in this niche in the first place. I don’t like the typical “sell-sell-sell” model and need to simply dedicate the time to making my list more of a priority.

As it stands, I haven’t done my list justice and that’s a big eyesore on my to-do list. People deserve better when they sign up, at least that’s my opinion.

So to my subscribers: thanks for hanging in there, and I’ll be adding some value to your inbox in 2012. That’s going to be a focused area of improvement.

Same with having a free download – I just need to make up my mind on what I want to share in that regard.

Lessons Learned

Personal Lessons

I mentioned that I “need to learn” time management in my 2010/2011 new year post. Well that’s something that Action Enforcer helped me learn, but so did my wife.

My exact words were that I needed to learn:

  • Balancing family / work.
  • Time management.
  • Making more time off for playing with the kids, dating my wife every week.

I balanced a bit better this year, which was only possible because I don’t have an overbearing 7am-10pm “job” or deadlines except for those set by my own itinerary.

Time management for me meant buying Action Enforcer and listening to my wife.

As for dating my wife and playing with my kids – 4 months off in 2011 and 2 vacations down: yeah. Did that, thankfully.

Honestly, having a sit-down and impromptu time where my wife can interrupt me and say, “Can we go to lunch?” or “Want to have a beer?” – and then I just drop everything and we go out…

That never happened in 2010. It was tough as nails – but 2011?

Totally different ball game.

What About Google and SEO Lessons?

Panda panda panda. ‘Nuff said. OK not really. I’m diversifying my traffic, using what I’ve learned from Kristi Hines’ Ultimate Blog Post Promotion book and Kim Roach’s Traffic Dashboard – both of which teach non-SEO traffic.

SEO will be my main go-to, using BuildMyRank and ArticleRanks, as well as Article Marketing Robot – because they currently work – is what I’m currently doing.

But lessons learned?

  • Google wants everyone on their toes, but building links still works.
  • On-page content can’t be sub-par, or if it is, don’t come crying to me.
  • Google Panda “attacks the web” half a dozen times a year. I got affected temporarily, and currently have some pages in Panda limbo: not worried about it. My pages come back, and if they don’t, I’ll build some solid links to them. Presto. Old-school SEO works.

Maybe it’s a lesson that thin content isn’t a good idea anymore – like it ever was – but honestly I don’t do that sort of thing so can’t say it’s a lesson for me.

Build assets, not websites. Think of the reader’s needs and user experience…not really a lesson there, is there?

It’s all old news at this point.

Other changes to the web:

  • Social signals matter…there’s a big push to tie an author’s identity to his or her published pages, and Google’s a major player in that, so is the U.S. government. Guess they both want to be “Big G.”
  • Rel=”Author” is going to affect your rankings, a push for transparency (mark my words).
  • Brands and branded websites are getting more and more favoritism (so diversify traffic streams).
  • Google auto-corrects your misspelled keyword searches – so quit buying stupid misspelled keyword domains already.
  • Google wants more snitches. Can’t beat ‘em? Join ‘em. Open up a Google Webmaster Tools account if you haven’t already, just sayin’.
  • Google can’t be trusted by affiliates. Not really news.
  • Google is trying to force SEO’s to buy AdWords ads, otherwise their keyword tool hides a number of good opportunities from you.
Google plans on “something special” for January and “especially the anniversary of the Panda update”…which a Googler admitted on PotPieGirl.com.

So what does all that mean?

It’s game on, basically.

This business isn’t for everyone. I’m in it neck-deep and don’t plan on quitting the business any time soon, and frankly I don’t mind if my competitors shake like a leaf at the headlines.

Google will continue to line their pockets with gold, nothing newsworthy there – but I personally don’t like how they own over 80% of my current traffic (shame on me).

Lesson learned: if Panda wasn’t enough to convince you to diversify traffic, whatever they have coming this February should wake you up.

Me? I’m going to be studying and applying Traffic Dashboard and other Google-free traffic resources (like Facebook ads and social media).

I won’t quit SEO until it’s utterly a waste of time, at present it’s working like it should.

But one last thing to think about: in 2011 Google caused an industry-wide ripple effect that changed my income for the worse at a few points…HubPages and other sites got skeered and buckled down, re-defining “quality” so it excluded Clickbank for instance, and dialing down the number of Amazon ads you could display.

All that directly impacted my income (and my sales on Clickbank and Amazon beg to differ that my hubs were “low quality,” when frankly they weren’t).

The other silly thing that Google’s posturing on the web has done (for me personally) is made Squidoo of all places impossible to publish to for promoting my (non scammy thanks) SEO book.

So when I say diversify and use non-Google sources of traffic, I’m not taking that lightly.

Google couldn’t have made their anti-affiliate stand clearer than they did in 2011, with a heavy brand-name bias (because frankly brands are lining their pockets like you wouldn’t ever be able to).

Some people want to pretend Google is more friend than enemy, I’ve called them a “frenemy” before and haven’t changed on that stand. I enjoy the traffic, but don’t trust the company when they take an adversarial approach against affiliate marketing.

Thankfully, they don’t own web traffic.

2012 Goals

Let’s see…I more than doubled my December income year-over-year (in December 2010 I made $2502.47)…so this December I made $6800…

I want to make at least $12k by year’s end, entirely passive, no coaching or anything like that: just book sales and product sales from my affiliate sites, maybe AdSense.

As soon as that happens I’ll report it, followed by another update next January.

Other goals…

  • Have 3,000 subscribers on my Aweber list.
  • Have a Facebook fan page for every book I publish, and all my affiliate websites.
  • Making Facebook a priority in terms of traffic.
  • Publish 2 books this year at least.
  • Make $1,000 or more a month from Clickbank, as well as Amazon.
  • Make sure I get less than 60% of my traffic from Google by year’s end.
  • Publish video tutorials on tools I’m using, like Market Samurai.
  • Do something memorable with my family every quarter.
  • Take my wife to some local wineries without complaining they’re not California grapes. :D
  • Keep reading to my kids every night (at least 5 times a week we’ve been reading from Roald Dahl and other authors).
  • Make networking a priority, as Kristi Hines’ UBPP book espouses.
  • Diversify to 4 Main Niches (I’m supported by 2 niches right now).

Nothing life-shattering, but those are my goals. This time I think I’ll post them up on a board so I can see them year-round.

That way I’ll actually work them. :D

Thanks for a Great Year!

2011 was a banner year for me and mine, thank God for that – and thank all of you who helped make it so memorable and the success it was.

I’m praying and hoping, not without reason mind you, that 2012 is another banner year, even better – but I’ll tell you how it goes on the other end of the calendar.

Your Turn: What About You?

What are your goals for 2012? How was 2011 for you? How can I help make it better (if at all)?

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year to you and yours!

 

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