How I Plan to Take Leaving Work Behind’s Earnings to the Next Level

Photo Credit: Baboon

Photo Credit: Baboon

Joey Kissimmee interviewed me last week for his Income Press podcast. If you don’t know Joey yet then take it from me — he’s one of the good guys. We really hit it off and it was a genuine pleasure to share my story with him.

But what really got my juices flowing was the revelation that Joey’s site makes about $5,000 – $8,000 per month. He told me he manages this with around 500 – 1,000 visitors per day.

In May I made a total of $2,031 (nett) and received on average 784 visitors to my site. Compared to Joey’s earnings, this tells me one thing: I’m not making the most of this blog’s potential to make money. In this post I want to reveal the plans I have to make amends for that.

Immediate Changes

Joey had one suggestion right off the bat that was simple enough to incorporate immediately — the introduction of a banner for my freelance writing guide on all posts with the “Freelance Writing” tag.

Now if you click through to a freelance writing post on LWB you will see something like this:

Freelance Writing Post

This should hopefully boost the percentage of visits to my information product’s sales page as a percentage of total visits to my site — a key metric for measuring the income-producing potential of my blog. A simple trick and one I should have implemented a long time ago.

Joey followed up that suggestion with another: use a link tracking plugin. This is actually something that has been on my list for a long time but I have neglected to implement it until now. I chose the excellent Pretty Link Pro on the recommendation of several internet marketers and I’ve certainly not been disappointed yet.

The plugin enables me to set up trackable links for all of the affiliate products I recommend and also for my freelance writing guide. This means that I can see how well links (such as that connected to the banner in the screenshot above) perform in terms of directing visitors. With that information I can optimize my site which should lead to increased earnings.

I’ll probably follow this up with a more in-depth post on how to make the most of Pretty Links Pro in the future.

Making the Most of My Information Product

For the past few months my information product has made around $1,000 per month. While it has effortlessly outperformed my original goal I do feel that it has the potential to make more.

With that in mind I plan to instigate a new split test with a drastically different sales page. The existing sales page is pretty bland to say the least:

Sales Page

I had my web designer guy draft a more colorful sales page with edited sales copy and I plan on testing that against the above over the next few weeks. I am hoping that a more colorful and dynamic sales page will result in a higher conversion rate.

Beyond that, I may have another crack at split testing the pricing structure of my guide. Although I have tested this in the past, the results were somewhat inconclusive.

Boosting Affiliate Earnings

My affiliate earnings have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride since August 2012 (when I first made any kind of real money). I have broken $1,000 in both of the last two months but income was down ~$450 in June compared to May. This inconsistency in earnings hardly fills me with confidence.

My approach to affiliate marketing has been quite soft as I have always been wary not to portray myself as yet another money-grabbing “make money online” type blogger. However, upon reflection I think have been far too cautious. In reality, I think I have a lot of value to offer in terms of teaching people how I use the premium products that I love — doing so can help them. And if I make some money at the same time, everyone’s a winner!

With that in mind, you can expect more from me in terms of actionable tutorials in the near future. I am hoping that publishing such posts will provide a healthy boost to my affiliate earnings.

Increasing Traffic and Subscribers

The above methods focus on optimizing the site so that I can make more money out of the same number of visitors. On the other hand, the alternative approach is to get more traffic and subscribers.

In the past I have fooled myself into thinking that I work hard on building traffic and subscribers to LWB. However, over the past few months at least I have done very little. Sure — I have published posts and dabbled in social media, but how much time and effort have I put into an organized marketing strategy? Very little.

Leaving Work Behind's consistent yet modest growth through 2013 so far.

Leaving Work Behind’s consistent yet modest growth through 2013 so far.

I’m hoping that the release of my book in September will have a huge impact in this area. I feel like I need to something big and bold like publish a book in order to take this blog to the next level.

While I have enjoyed steady growth since this blog started in May 2011, I want to see Leaving Work Behind get much bigger. I hope that the book goes a long way in achieving my goals on that front.

What Else?

If blogging has taught me one thing, it is that often the best solutions are those most obvious and yet most easily missed. With that in mind, I’d love to read your suggestions as to how I can enable Leaving Work Behind to make more money.

There’s no such thing as a bad idea as far as I am concerned, so please fire away in the comments section below!

Comments

  1. says

    I think your resources page is something you should care more about.

    Add more of them and try to link to it through your posts. Check how Pat Flynn do this.

    This tip can help you raise your aff. income by 100%.

  2. says

    If there’s anything I’ve learned about copywriting, it’s that you if want the reader/customer to do something (buy a product/tweet your post) you have to make it easy for them.

    (Which is what you’re doing with your new intro banner).

    I suggest you check out Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers.com. I think It’ll be useful for you since you are interested in improving your product sales through your sites design.

    He firmly believes that design is king, not content. I hope that helps!

  3. says

    Hi Tom, I am dealing with the same problem to push sales without looking too sales-focused. Honestly what i always see on your income reports is, that you focus a lot on doing payed writing for your clients. But thats a job and brings you only to a specific income. What you should focus on is the income that comes through affiliates and passive streams like your product.

    I also liked the idea of writing for money, but the problem is that it keeps you busy. Instead of working on your business you work IN your business. Thats what i learned from Robert Kiyosaki ;) Great guy I can truly recommend.

  4. says

    It really is about scale and the focus of what type of readers you’ve got. Since you blog about how to make money freelancing and blogging you’ve got to really sell yourself as a guru despite your experience and earnings. It’s very hard to keep on freelancing b/c your time is not scaleable.

    But in time, one of the best ways to make money is to teach other people how to make money online. So it’s best to keep producing relevant info products. Everything will eventually come. Just takes time.

    • says

      I’m not interested in selling myself as a guru because I think that’d be dishonest. I’ll just tell people what I’ve achieved and let them make their minds up :-)

    • says

      Hey Tom I hope you don’t mind me cutting in here, but I’d like to add to this “best way to make money” thing.

      I’d have to disagree with you on the best way to make money is by teaching people how to make money.

      On my blog, the majority of the money comes from posts that I do not teach people how to make money. It comes from tutorial and demonstration type posts. All I simply do is show people how to use certain features of products or services. That’s it. I sell nothing nor promote it.

      The way I make money is that I simply add the link within the post and let them know that if they purchase through that link, I will get a commission.

      The idea here is to sell by demonstration. Just like those guys selling knives in the supermarket. They show you all the ways you can use the knife, even by cutting through steel.

      Anyway, just my way of doing it. It’s been working for years so I must be doing something right ;-)

    • says

      Hey Rob, you really don’t want a banner on every post. It’ll really seem salesy and annoying. Here’s how I do it on my blog.

      I have two separate features. One feature is by default that adds the specific banner on every single post. I use the widgets section to do this. I can turn it on or off when I want. I usually use this one when I have a big promo or special going on. But usually it’s off cause I don’t want it on every single post all the time.

      The other feature is on the actual post. I use the Custom Fields to add the banner. I use this one for specific post to add super targeted and related banners and promos. Just as Tom did with his freelance product. This one is great to leave for a while and even split test offers.

      I wouldn’t use tags to add these banners cause then you’ll end up with banners on unrelated posts and that’s never good. Believe me, it happened to me ;-)

      Hope this helps Rob and Tom I hope you don’t mind me jumping in.

      • says

        Not at all Joey! I would add that I’m very stringent with tagging on this site so I can afford to use them in the way that I have. A lot of tag-happy people run into the exact problem Joey mentions.

      • says

        “But what really got my juices flowing was the revelation that Joey’s site makes about $5,000 – $8,000 per month. He told me he manages this with around 500 – 1,000 visitors per day.”

        That is incredible Joey! I figured you would need way more traffic to make that kind of money. It really all is in what your audience is and the proper sales/advertising techniques.

    • says

      I think an example of a company successfully offering a product on every post is Hubspot. Their blog offers an info product at the end (rather than the top) of every post. Granted, those are free info products, but they get the reader to go to the next step in the purchasing funnel and sign up for the company’s email list, which lets them push their product.

      I’m not sure that the same strategy would work for a non-product focused business (ie. a blog that relies more on community and selling many products vs selling a service & 1 product).

      • says

        Thanks for your thoughts Melissa :-) In fairness, I do either promote my product or my email list at the bottom of every post, so my approach is very similar.

  5. says

    Hi Tom,

    Nice post, it’s always interesting to learn how much money sites make based on their traffic. Joey at income press seems to be making a really good return. I hope your planned changes work out for you and boosts your monthly income, I’ll keep an eye on your up coming income reports :)

  6. says

    Hey Tom,

    There’s a delicate balance when it comes to selling on your blog. If you overdo it you’ll turn people off and they’ll think you’re just in it for the money. But at the same time you need to earn a living too. I think so far you’ve done a great job of providing value to your readers.

    Mike

  7. says

    Two thoughts:

    First, I can’t wait to read your post on Pretty Links Pro. I would love to hear the details of how you plan to use it.

    Second, I wish you would promote affiliate products more (provided you actually use them). I’ve come a long way this year in terms of internet income, but still have a long way to go to catch up to you. I would love to know the ins and outs of every paid product you use and would gladly click your affiliate links to get them.

    As always, thank you for sharing all of your hard work!

  8. Ron Chester says

    I clicked your link at the start to see the podcast, but it only takes one to the front door, and poking around in there did not turn up the podcast. Rather annoying, the best links being the ones that take one to just the right place immediately.

  9. says

    Brotha thanks for the shout-out. Really appreciate it. You know it’s so awesome that you took action on my tips and even more so that you took immediate action. I mean you actually did these changes right after our call. Very impressive. Says a lot about you.

    I can’t wait to see the results of this case study in a few months time. I’m sure you’ll be happy with the results. Just make sure to split test for maximum conversions ya know.

    Best of luck with your plans brotha.

  10. jonthan jacob says

    Great action plan Tom. It’s interesting to see that you mention marketing. What kind of marketing were you doing for your blog when you were just getting started? If you could only focus on one kind of marketing as a starting blogger what would it be?

    • says

      Hey Jonthan,

      I have done a lot of guest posting in my time. These days I do interviews when asked, but that’s about it.

      I would recommend that any new blogger does lots of email outreach and guest posting.

      Cheers,

      Tom

      • says

        Hey Tom — have you ever done a call with the Freelance Writer’s Den that Carol Tice manages? I know one of the “den mothers” and that she regularly looks for people to feature. Might be a good marketing opportunity for you, since it’s definitely your target market.

        Feel free to drop me an email if you’re interested and want an introduction.

  11. says

    Great post! I think that I am in a similar situation as you as I started by focusing solely on creating content without doing anything for SEO. Although traffic is coming in, its more like a trickle. Would love to learn from your example as you create your marketing strategy.

  12. says

    Have you read the Book “My Blog Traffic Sucks” by Steve Scott? He recommends prioritizing your ‘most wanted responses,’ that is, making a list of the things you want most people to do on your site and designing the site around those priorities. It seems like you already do this somewhat.

  13. says

    There are so many ways you can boost affiliate income :-) Here is what I’d suggest:

    Do product comparisions and link to them on your recommended page. Seriously. Go through a lot of the popular sites that sell wordpress themes and do in-depth comparisons. Even buy multiple themes from the one company, like Studiopress, and compare them. Talk about how they would serve different types of bloggers. Include case studies from people using those themes.

    That would convert like gangbusters, especially as Studiopress is considered to be industry standard and woothemes doesn’t have an aff program.

    Consider having bonuses for those who buy through your affiliate link. Sometimes this is a product of yours or a consult. Pat Flynn created additional skins for those that bought opt-in skin via his link.

    Buy and review infoproducts in the niche of creating infoproducts. Cliched, yes, but there would be a demand from your audience.

    It’s like what Joey Kissimmee said. Teach others and mention your link. As you advance, I’m sure there are more products you can recommend. Each income experiment leads to something else you can report on.

    The product comparisons, though, I think would really help.

  14. says

    This content has been “kingged” or crowned in the IM social site – kingged.com where the comment below was left:

    Optimization of the LWB site is good and the putting more effort to increase traffic is always wonderful! However, I would suggest that you combine the two approaches effectively instead of doing one in place of the other. This is my candid suggestion and I must state that “we all have unique experiences to learn from”.

    Sunday – kingged.com contributor
    http://www.kingged.com/how-i-plan-to-take-leaving-work-behinds-earnings-to-the-next-level/#comment-13455

  15. says

    I don’t really have any advice for you Tom as it looks like you are making the changes to do the things you need to get accomplished. I like the banner idea as it puts it in more of your readers view. I really enjoy using PLP as it keeps everything neat and trackable.

  16. says

    Hi Tom, I just checked out your sales page for the freelance writing guide. This looks quite interesting and I’m sure lots of people should be interested in your guide. I was wondering if you also do any paid traffic campaigns: PPC, solo ads, media buys… in the short run you almost always lose some money with paid traffic, but once your campaigns are optimized, this should allow you to boost your earnings quite significantly.

    • says

      Hey Robert,

      I’ve thought about it but I figured it would be better for me to optimize the sales page as much as possible before going down that road. Priority number one is to get a much better sales page!

      Cheers,

      Tom

  17. says

    You are definitely right with this conclusion: ” I’m not making the most of this blog’s potential to make money”. If Joey can make 5,000 to 8,000 per month with only 500-1000 visits per day, then you’re definitely missing something as you only have a quarter of what he earns with almost the same number of visits.

    I like the plans you’re having about changes you need to incorporate to your blog, especially about your affiliate earnings. I hope your income is going to do better the next time! :)

    I found your article on the IM social networking site, Kingged.com and “Kingged” it. :)
    http://www.kingged.com/how-i-plan-to-take-leaving-work-behinds-earnings-to-the-next-level/

    • says

      It’s all about finding the sweet spots on your blog. I found my blogs sweet spots and that’s why I’m able to make money from it with 500 to 1K visits a day.

      Even when I was only getting 100 – 200 a day it was making money. You just have to find that sweet spot. The places where they are clicking on, the most popular posts, where they’re hovering on, scrolling to, etc.

      I know it may seem or look crazy and it is, but all those specs and all the little things are what makes the difference in how much your blog makes.

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