Here I want to report on how Black Friday and Cyber Monday did for my own internet marketing business (those of you who don’t know me, I’m an affiliate marketer and web publisher who eats well on a passive income, thank God).

For someone who looks forward to this day every year (one day I’d like to be a consumer again versus madly pursuing opportunities, but I digress), this weekend “field of dreams” turned out to be a flop.

At least I thought it was a flop – I reported in the Pond I made 1/10th on BF 2011 vs BF 2010 – then I double-checked and I. Am. An. Idiot. I was totally dead wrong!

Comparing 2010 Black Friday to this year (and I include Cyber Monday in the mix) – I made $150 less this year on Black Friday, but overall in the week from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday – I actually made $194 more this year than last.

Not too bad, and strictly looking at this one niche, for which I still have only 1 site (that is ranking at present – I’m building links to my new reviews and have a second site in the niche that needs links)…

 

I made $860 more in November on this one niche site than I did last year.

 

So I was wrong, I made $860 more in this niche alone in 2011 over 2010, but I had bigger plans than simply making $860 more – I wanted to double my income in fact.

So not only was my memory way off, but so were my expectations: I haven’t marketed my new reviews on the site – so largely these sales are my 2010 reviews that are all now ranked, not my 2011 product reviews.

And to think, for the past week (or so) I’ve been kicking myself into a state of thinking, “Oh woe is me! This internet marketing thing is so unstable…”

There’s a lot of that going around – but now I rest my case: success hinges on the quality of your site, the intelligence of which niches you target, and your traffic sources.

If your traffic source is only SEO (mine is 95% SEO still, I’ve not had time to invest in other forms of traffic, it’s still on my “to-do” list using largely Kristi Hines book and a WSO I bought on Adwords, another I bought on Facebook ads), then you’re risking a Google algo shift.

And Google hates affiliates, unless they happen to line their own pockets with AdWords gold, but again I digress.

And if anyone from the Pond is reading this: I am horrible with details like my bean-counting – but I verified it with this post here. See the 26th of November, which was Black Friday in 2010.

This year, the same site generating that income itself made $860 more in all of November compared to last year, so I’m actually happy I was wrong (and not sure why I thought I’d made $1,000 last Black Friday).

Furthermore, the site in question peaked in February/April in 2011 – so I expect the same sort of pattern to hold sway here – and my big idea to make 5 figures by year’s end (though I don’t think I’ll make it still) is basically unreasonable: the niche I’m working in peaks after December.

Again, let me correct myself – I’ve been wrongly saying I made a mint last Black Friday (like to my Aweber list subscribers!) – I didn’t actually, so this year’s lackluster performance (I made $150 from that site) shouldn’t have been a surprise.

What is a surprise (and silly) is that I’ve been depressed recently thinking, “How did I flop so badly? Last year I made over a grand…”

Actually it was the first time I’d made that much passive income in a month.

So my old-man brain (sorry to old men, I love you guys and will join you soon enough, my mom calls me an old man for this funky memory I have) recalled last November’s income as all occurring on Black Friday…

And it didn’t. I made around $2600 and change last November in passive income – this year it’s more than that in spades.

Overall I’ve made significant improvements to my income this year over last, and I simply stink at keeping track and checking my records. Quickbooks, anyone?

My Plan for Dominating and Why I Didn’t

OK so what my readers at TheAverageGenius.net were expecting is that by year’s end I’d have reached a more modest income goal of $7k a month in passive income to $12k a month. I’m still not sure I’ll hit it, but it’s not impossible.

What I said in the Pond that I didn’t publish here is that I planned to make $10k a month by year’s end.

I’m not sure it’s reasonable, since I refuse to outsource and we have a lot of November bills (like web hosting, 2 birthdays to celebrate and Thanksgiving)…

So I make things hard for myself (not on purpose, I’m just not an efficient writer, meticulous to a fault and picky with outsourcing – oh and I don’t trust people to build my links for me, I think lots of it is done flat-out wrong).

My Overall Plan to Double My Passive Income

 

  • Target the best-performing niche from last year.
  • Using the same affiliate programs, create a new website and sell their other products.
  • Do the same for other, similar affiliate programs offering a performance incentive as described in my Commission Junction Profit Plan.
  • Rank the new reviews and add quality content that inner-links to these reviews: link-building starting from within my own website for users and for search engines.
  • Um…I said rank the reviews.

Yeah. It’s that “rank the reviews” that I sorta left out – I went content heavy and didn’t do what any SEO does: rank the content.

I told myself I’d just write 5 reviews…then build backlinks…

Like I learned from the Amazonian Profit Plan but I instead wrote 20 reviews that needed ranking.

I couldn’t rank 20 reviews on my own by Black Friday, not since I got done writing that content the Monday before…

The key to succeeding – or one of them in marketing – is timing.

My timing was way off: for 1-man shows like me, a good 3 months is what my results should have taken (to build the links after writing content – I mean 3 months from content to ranking that content).

Other Mistakes Worth Noting

I won’t kick myself too hard here, but I missed these gems from Amazon that would have sold incredibly well this time of year. The heck of it is that I have websites that these could have been sold on just fine.

Did I review any of that? Nope. Big mistake, too – because a lot of those things will do well this Christmas season, and I bet sold a mint on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

A mistake I repeated from last year: I still didn’t target Christmas.

It’s like I have an allergy to successfully nailing a whopping end of year crescendo – and I told myself last year (and told my wife) that I’d pick some smarter, gift-giving type of opportunities…

But who am I kidding? I still did well, and I’m thankful I was totally wrong (stupidly so) about reporting how I missed out on over a grand from last year.

I just really need an accountant (next year!).

It’s the doom of any one-man-show: you try to do it all and don’t work smarter, so you overwhelm yourself with too much to do…

And then you don’t get much done between the 20 projects you’re trying to do all at once (which is what I was doing).

Seasonal Markets Are Not to be Missed

I’ve poo-pooed Halloween this year, but still made some money there (not much worth mentioning) – but the fourth quarter shopping season is largely going to be missed by me for not starting early enough (September!).

Overall, targeting those products and services you yourself are excited about – that’s the simplicity of marketing this time of year – and I need to mail myself a letter so I don’t repeat the mistake next year (even though I thankfully made nearly $900 more, not counting my other niches).

Altogether I did more in my business as a whole than what I did last year – so I’m humbled at that realization, and happy to report it.

Hopefully my subscribers don’t think I’m making up figures now…the highest I’ve earned in a day was about $800, but it was on some random day that made no sense (it wasn’t Black Friday).

It’s not normal for me yet. (YET)

Whew. Now I’m OK, I think: had to air that out because I got myself down in the dumps.

What Went Better This Year

One of the best things that happened to me this year was going to a reseller web hosting account for HostGator – and last year my sites all crashed the day after Black Friday.

If you’re on my email list, I wrongly said my sites crashed ON Black Friday (I realized my mistake only writing this post!), but they crashed that Saturday.

Anyway – this year I took 4 precautions:

  1. Changed from ugly old host (shared hosting) to my reseller hosting account on HostGator.
  2. Paid more attention to page speed with the MaxCDN CDN service (I totally sped up all my websites with it, especially good for SEO, rankings and conversions).
  3. Upgraded my WordPress themes on critical sites to Flexsqueeze, installed one instance of the Genesis Framework – and it made a lot of difference in conversions!
  4. Bought and used Backup Creator, a backup plugin for WordPress, just in case I lost a site.

I did all that because of the horrible service at my last host, but HostGator has been an incredible resource for me, read my review here. The theme upgrades were necessary and I saw my sales shoot up when I changed themes and updated them (like moving from Flexibility 3 to Flexsqueeze)…

I have a funny story on Backup Creator I’ll share in a future post, but it blew my lid: someone’s a smart marketer (and they’re about to get some free links from me) – they cloned their website and I wish I’d done that myself.

More on that another time, I just wanted to say that these precautions I took paid off: no down time outside of some squirrely issue with this blog (I’m having HostGator help me walk through that recurring issue: but it’s nothing I can’t handle)…

I’m in a much better, more protected situation now than I was last year in terms of network stability, security, web development know-how and backup plans.

All good in the ‘hood.

What I Should Have Done

I already use a number of tools to make my life easier – and one of them is the ReviewAzon plugin. But if I’m targeting Commission Junction products, I of course don’t use ReviewAzon much.

I could have used ReviewAzon to make content generation easier on my reviews (I spend too much time with images, getting links, etc. – this would save me time on that).

I’m not suggesting auto-blogging or just posting what Amazon has up – I just mean things like easy product links, research of the top sellers, that sort of thing.

These are tools I have in my arsenal that I’m not using nearly enough to benefit me, and I wish I had made use of them.

By the way, I have a killer ReviewAzon discount, use this coupon code “JamestheJust” at checkout and save $27.65 or so (or the HostGator coupon will save you 25% off hosting).

Better yet, just use these coupon links:

ReviewAzon savings:

HostGator savings:

October of 2010 vs 2011

Maybe this is something I need to do or consider a main feature of the blog – because this was exciting to see:

Last October I made $568.23 on this one website…this year I did over $1800.

Thankfully that’s not ALL I made or else I’d be crying a river – but just comparing that one website against itself (I made more money in other income streams, internet marketing among them and my book keeps selling, so I’ve out-paced myself from last year).

But just wanted to throw it in there: I picked good niches to tumble with. I’m doing a lot better than I thought and that I reported – and I’m plenty happy with the overall direction of a “Year 1 vs. Year 2″ comparison: my income has increased dramatically.

How’d YOU Do?

Have you compared your earnings this November to last year’s? Did you do better or worse?

Mind sharing your niches? :)

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