My Plans for a Google-Intimidation-Free Online Income

Following up on my A Change in Direction post, here’s an accidentally ridiculously long post which lays out all of my ideas for continuing earn online after my guest posting magic money machine dies. I’m writing this post both to share my plans for attempting to find new ways to earn a living in this changing world of internet marketing and also just to get those ideas down in one place so that I have a sort of a checklist to refer back to to make sure I stay on track. The new name of the game for me is ‘diversification’ and it hasn’t been a conscious effort I’ve made… it just seems to have worked out that way.

I feel like my earnings goals are pretty modest and, for the new earners related to my African websites, I’m really not sure at all what to expect. I’ve put what I’m hoping to be earning each month with each product by the end of 2013. Some of these things might take longer, some are already earning that amount… but it’s just a bit of a timeline to aim for.

Current Earnings

Guest Posts and Links

This has been by bread and butter for several years now, accounting for most of my earnings each month. I expect that I’ll continue to earn with this for awhile yet, maybe even years, but I think there will be a steady downward slide.

  • What I Need to Do - This one is easy… business as usual! I’m still getting emails, some from long-time partners and many from completely new people, so I’ll keep trying to do deals and hope for the best.
  • Earnings Goal - $1,500 (I currently have an ongoing deal for $500… so if that keeps up, my goal is real just $1,000 each month)

Google Adsense

Adsense has been a trooper all of these years, despite me giving it zero love and attention. I suspect that the entire Adsense network is in a bit of trouble based on the lack of quality ads lately and the emergence of Facebook advertising (which I use and think is far superior). So if Adsense itself is becoming less popular and it’s not getting decent ads, there’s not much I can do about that. But if things stay as they are then there’s no reason to believe that I won’t continue to earn a bit each month.

  • What I Need to Do - While I should be doing something to optimize the ads on my sites, I probably won’t. I hate tinkering  with Adsense and, unless the shit really hits the fan and everything else I do fails, I’ll probably continue to ignore it and hope for the best.
  • Earnings Goal - $250

Affiliate Sales

This is another long-ignored income stream. I used to earn around $1,000 a month, mostly with World Nomads. These days I’m lucky if I can scrape together $100 across several travel insurance affiliates.

  • What I Need to Do - One of the major reasons for a drop in earnings is that many of the affiliate programs I’m a member of have expired or changed or the code doesn’t work anymore. So I have travel insurance websites filled with affiliate links that don’t actually do anything. This is kind of a problem. I really need to go back through my affiliate sites to check all of the links and replace the ones that don’t work with something new. This will be a horribly unexciting job and I’ve been avoiding it for… years! But it’s just a matter of dedicating a day or two to this, doing it, and then it’s done so I can have another few years of laziness. This, in itself, won’t fix things as affiliate stuff generally takes a lot of monitoring, experimenting and tweaking that I’m not so interesting in doing… but it’ll be a step in the right direction.
  • Earnings Goal - $200

Ebook Sales

My international volunteering ebook has been a steady seller over the years, despite doing no promotion at all except for when it was first launched and no SEO to bring people to the sales page. The ebook is good and I’m proud of it, but it needs an update and I’m missing out on a huge opportunity by not having a Kindle version.

  • What I Need to Do - Update my ebook! This will be another annoying job but, as with as with the affiliate programs, once I do it, I can forget about it for a few years. It could be interesting too… I have a lot of new volunteering opportunities for Rwanda that I’d love to share and it’ll be fun
  • Earnings Goal - $140 (10 sales a month)

New Projects

Living in Kigali Advertising

My moving to Kigali site is popular and, without even putting the word out, I’ve been approached by several businesses already about advertising. I’ve only got three deals active but there’s another that should start in June and I have about three more people who’ve shown interest. My goal is to have ten 135×135 sidebar ads at $100 each (I also have an option for $150 a month that includes a page on my site… but I’m not sure how successful that will be) and one banner ad at the top of my site costing $200-300 a month (this will also be displayed on my forum so will have more exposure).

  • What I Need to Do - I guess I need to sell ads! That’s not something I’m super excited about. And the chasing of money each month doesn’t fill me with joy, either. But it’s a necessary evil in this new world of dealing with ‘real’ businesses. The site is pretty much ready to accept ads. I should write articles more regularly but, even when I don’t, the site remains busy. So my focus will be on continuing to create a great website and on finding a few more quality businesses that I believe in to fill up my ad spaces.
  • Earnings Goal - $1,200

Eating in Kigali Advertising

This site hasn’t even been built yet but it’s going to be a good one, I think! I’ve got people out there, scouring the streets of Kigali for restaurants, cafes, and local bars and finding all of the information anyone wanting to eat out in Kigali could possibly want to know. The site will be mobile-friendly and trilingual and just plain awesome.

  • What I Need to Do - Well, most importantly, I need to build the thing! I’ve got the content creation going and I’ve got a fantastic WordPress/programmer guy who seems to be able to do anything I ask of him. Once I bring all of this stuff together, I’ll need to get the work out and get people using it. As there’s some competition coming to town soon, I’m going to put a bit of money into offline promotion and really try to corner the market with an awesome product. I’ll then wait for awhile while the thing gains a bit of momentum and then start approaching potential advertisers. No idea how this will all work but, as there are no decent places for restaurants to advertise, I think my site will make a logical choice.
  • Earnings Goal - $500

Kigali Products

Kigali is kind of an information dead zone for outsiders. My site sprung up and has been a success because of this but, besides that and a Yahoo Group, there’s not a lot of information around for a new arrival to the city. Spring boarding off of the success of my website, I’d like to start offering a few products for sale. I’ve got three things in mind: an ebook (PDF and for Kindle), a smartphone app, and a map.

  • What I Need to Do - Make them! The map has been an idea for two years now but I really want to make it great and I think that’s really holding me back. I’ve done a lot of work copying the entire city’s streets into Illustration only to realize that I don’t really know enough about the program to be able to do what I want. So I’ve decided to go for a hand-drawn and scanned map but haven’t had the art supplies I’ve needed (until now… just brought them back from my recent trip). This is a huge project but one I’ll really enjoy. I just need to sit down and get to it. The ebook will be easier and is something that I’ve been working on now and then. The app… I don’t really know when this will materialize or whether I’ll sell it or give it away from free. I’m still not so familiar with apps myself, so this is more of a longer term thing.
  • Earnings Goals - $100 (The only thing I think I’ll have done is the ebook and I’ll start with a modest estimate of selling 10 a month at $10 each)

Living in Kampala Advertising

The entire model for my living in Kampala website is the same as for Kigali. The site is set up exactly the same with the only differences being that I have a partner who lives there so everything is split 50/50 and that we’ve had a really hard time so far finding good, reliable, dedicate writers. My partner is a great guy who is on the exact same page as me with pretty much everything. It’s been nice to split the work and the costs but this also means that we’ll be splitting any earnings. Luckily, Kampala is a much larger and more internet-savvy market than Kigali, so I feel like, once we get the site really known, we’ll be able to command higher ad prices.

  • What I Need to Do - I don’t really need to do anything at the moment. I’v just finished writing up a job description for my partner to take to a couple of potential writers and now I’ll just need to wait and see whether that all works out. My partner is the content editor, sales and manager guy so much of what we need to happen right now falls under him. Once the content starts rolling in, I’ll have to edit photos and add things to the site but, overall, this site will take up a lot less of my time than the Kigali one.
  • Earnings Goal - $500

Living in Dar Es Salaam Advertising

This is a site that’s just an idea and a domain name at the moment but it makes a lot of sense to me to copy successful ideas, especially when there’s a demand for a site like this in Tanzania. A friend of mine just moved to Dar and, at the moment, the only information source for new arrivals is a Facebook group. This is pretty crap. Dar is bigger than Kigali and Kampala with plenty of foreign invaders who need help so the plan is to get a site going for this city too.

  • What I Need to Do - The easy and fun part for me will be actually setting up the site. Creating a little logo, coming up with colours, copying everything that I already have working well on m other two sites. This should take about a week and is something I should do as soon as possible. The much more difficult part (unless I get lucky) will be finding writers who live up to my standards. I’ll likely go with a different strategy to the Kampala site and keep control over everything and just pay writers per submission (or maybe a monthly wage) and if and when it comes to ad sales time, I’ll attempt to have people sell ads for a commission. No idea if it’ll work!
  • Earnings Goal - This one is a long way off, so I’ll leave it off the list for now.

Priorities

I’ve got a lot to do and I have an idea of what order I’d like to do things in. Below seems like a lot but, if I work really hard this month, I think I can have all of the things below finished or at least have made a decent start on each.

  1. Kigali Restaurant Site - I need to get this site launched and out there and popular as soon as possible because I kind of stole the idea from some Nairobi people who are planning on expanding to Kigali. They’re planning on launching in December (although since now they can steal all of the content from my site, it might be sooner) so that gives me a lot of time to get people using my site and they might decide to partner with me in some way instead of destroying me with their big budget. I’ll go into this whole thing in detail in another post… but I need to get this site up pretty quickly.
  2. Kigali Ebook - Writing an ebook is time consuming (my volunteering ebook took me four months to write and design) but once it’s done, selling it is sort of a set it and forget it thing which is exactly how I like to do business. I have much of the information I’ll be using already on my website so most of the work will involve reworking existing content and laying the thing out. Not super enjoyable jobs, but something I can power through and something I can do when the internet isn’t working.
  3. Living in Dar - While this site is something that won’t get going for awhile, it’s easy and enjoyable for me to set up the shell of the site, stick in a few keywords here and there and get it indexed and ready for the real content. Getting the content is the hard part, but having everything ready to go will make things easier later and give me a little push to get started on it.
  4. Kigali Map - In order to really get started on this, I need to know what’s possible with the printers here. The size and folding pattern will dictate how the map is laid out and how much I can cram on it, so it’s a first step that I need to do soon.
  5. Affiliates - This job will destroy my soul but once it’s done, it’s done for awhile. I need to go to my travel insurance affiliate sites, troll through all of the links, and replace them with current, active links or find new ones for different products.
  6. Volunteering Ebook - I need to update the ebook and set up a Kindle version somehow. Again, an annoying (but potentially interesting) job that will take a lot of my time now so that I won’t need to worry about it later.

So, adding all of my new and diverse set of revenue goals up, I get a total of $4,390 which is a pretty nice monthly total. There’s a lot of room to increase on this and, if I do all of the things I’m supposed to, I don’t think earning this amount will be an impossible task. Plus, I’d be happy with a lot less… my main goal is to not have to get a ‘real’ job! I can live a very nice life in Kigali on around $2,000 a month (after tax) and if I wanted to go budget, I could probably make $1,000 a month work so even if some of my new earnings plans don’t pan out, I’ve still got a lot of wiggle room.

It’ll take a lot more of my time to manage things,  So, for me, this means a lot of busy days and a lot of discipline to stick with each of these tasks – some very annoying. This post is a push for myself in the right direction, I hope!

Ok… time to get some serious work done.