May and June 2016 Progress Update

Things are Moving in the Right Direction!

It’s crazy how fast the time flies by. I missed giving you an update for May so I’m including both months in this update. I’m happy to say that May and June were better than I expected. But, with that said I’m a long way from being profitable.

Affiliate Disclosure |

June 2016 Progress Update |

Image Credit: Elizabeth (Klein) Rayor (edited with PicMonkey)

I love the picture I used for this post. It was taken by my sister on a trip to Belize our family took two years ago. On that trip we met a number of people who make their living as consultants, educators or by selling physical products. They’re able to live where they want and work on their own terms.

That’s my dream and while it’s taking longer to realize than I had hoped, I do see progress and believe that if I don’t give up it will happen.

On to the update.

This update is broken into these four sections:

  1. Niche Sites Information and Metrics
  2. Business Expenses Across All Niches
  3. 2016 Goals Update
  4. Niche Site #1 Update

Let’s dive in!

Niche Sites Information and Metrics

I currently have four niche sites. Each is listed below with some general information and metrics. I think this information is important to track because over time the MOZ Domain Authority (DA) and traffic should grow. If these metrics don’t increase, the likelihood of income increasing will be slim.

A Note about MOZ: It seems that MOZ may have changed their algorithm for calculating Domain Authority. The DA on all sites except for my Niche Site #1 have decreased.

This is my first project and while I no longer actively post, continues to get traffic and I earn a small amount of affiliate income. Most importantly, a significant percentage of my traffic on comes from this web property. That confirms my belief that people are interested in learning how to sell on Amazon and build a private-label business.

  • Launch Date: March 2013
  • MOZ Domain Authority: 28 (down from 30 as previously reported)
  • June Traffic: 2,020 visitors (down from the last report)
  • June Page Views: 2,940 page views (down from the last report)
  • Physical Products?: No
  • Affiliate Income: Yes
  • Status: I’m not currently posting new content on this site exists to create a brand presence on the web but the products are really affiliate links that go to our product listings on Amazon. The majority of our revenue comes from selling beer cozies on Amazon. We do occasionally get someone click through from our website and buy, that’s fun because you not only make the sale but you get a little commission to boot!

  • Launch Date: October 2014 (first product listed on Amazon, the website came later)
  • MOZ Domain Authority: 10 (down from 13 as previously reported)
  • June Traffic: 460 visitors (up from the last report)
  • June Page Views: 1,283 page views (up from the last report)
  • Physical Products?: Yes
  • Affiliate Income: Yes
  • Status: I’m not currently posting new content on this site is where I spend a lot of my time. It’s the spin off from Escaping Dodge. I’m behind on adding my products to this site and I intend on adding print on demand products, too. Right now the affiliate income is minimal but I do hope to grow that. (Shameless plug…the Resources page is chock full of great tools and services that I use and recommend.)

  • Launch Date: December 2015
  • MOZ Domain Authority: 16 (down from 18 as previously reported)
  • June Traffic: 781 visitors (up from the last report)
  • June Page Views: 1,429 page views (down from the last report)
  • Physical Products?: Still working on that!
  • Affiliate Income: Yes
  • Status: Active

Niche Site #1

This is my latest project where I combine a store with an authority site model. It’s still very early to tell, but I have high hopes for this brand. One of the things I’m most excited about is the “give” component. While it’s a for-profit business, it’s more of a “for-purpose” business. I’ll dedicate an upcoming post to this topic and why I’m so excited about this model.

  • Launch Date: April 2016
  • MOZ Domain Authority: 9 (up from 6 in the last report)
  • June Traffic: 328 visitors (up from the last report)
  • June Page Views: 602 page views (down from the last report)
  • Physical Products?: Yes
  • Affiliate Income: Yes
  • Status: Active

Business Expenses Across All Niches

The table below shows all of the recurring expenses I have that span all four of the niche site projects. This does not include advertising costs as that changes based on what I’m testing.

June 2016 Progress Update |

Don’t be alarmed by the totals at that bottom. This list includes many services that I choose to test that you wouldn’t need to start your project. For example, you wouldn’t need Tubeshift or Rafflecopter right away if ever. I currently subscribe to these services so I’m listing them here. If you’re comfortable using your personal address, you don’t need a PO box.

Remember, too, that I’m a domain junkie so I have a bigger GoDaddy outlay than you would likely have; one domain might cost you under $15 for the entire year.

Another important point is that I’m running four websites on self-hosted WordPress, two of which require SSL certificates because I sell products (or will) on those sites. Because of this I’ve upgraded my service to a more expensive package. Your hosting costs with Bluehost, for example, could be as low as a few dollars a month to start one niche project.

If you have questions about any of the services you see listed, just leave a comment on this post or shoot me an email and I’ll provide an in-depth explanation of why I use that product/service and my opinion of it. Many of these are also listed on the Resources page.

Moving on…

2016 Goals Update for May and June

At the beginning of the year I set out some specific goals for 2016. While I fear I may have reached for the stars, there is still a tiny chance that I’ll make my goals. (Of course, the one goal I’m slaying is advertising spend! It’s really easy to nail the spending goals and that can be a profitability problem <wink>).

June 2016 Progress Update |


Thankfully, May and June turned out some decent revenue numbers. This is largely due to the fact that our My Beer Cozy products do well around Father’s Day, during the Summer and over the holidays.

But, when you compare the same two months last year, 2016 shows a significant increase in sales. That said, our My Beer Cozy full color boater set was being designed last year. This year we’ve sold quite a few sets and that may be what is making the difference along with better advertising campaigns.

Affiliate Income:

The affiliate income is weak…very weak. That is something I want to really work on because that is pure profit and once you create the content it can drive clicks and hopefully conversions. I definitely need to do better at writing more useful content on all of my sites.

Advertising Spend:

As I mentioned, I’m blowing a lot of cash on Amazon Sponsored Ads. I joined Brian Johnson’s Sponsored Ads Academy because I felt like I was throwing money at a system I don’t understand. The cost to join is steep and while I can attest that Brian gives a ton of value, I’m still in the “wait and see” camp before jumping for joy over shelling out the money to learn from him.

The reason the June spend is so ugly is because a big hunk of May’s spend was billed on June 3rd. I dumped more into the machine to gather information on what shoppers are actually searching for before trimming back.

I can say that I believe some of the strong sales numbers are due to the changes I’m making to my advertising strategy but it will take another couple of months for the dust to settle. Stay tuned.

Niche Site #1 Update for May and June

Niche Site #1 has been live for just over two months. Let’s break down how it’s looking so far.

June 2016 Progress Update |

Revenue: Amazon

You notice what appears to be revenue for June. That’s because Amazon approved me for a second seller account. It’s not typical and requires approval.

At the time I set up the new seller account, I also applied for Brand Registry. That was pretty easy because I already had product with the brand on it and I had already launched the brand website.

I created the product listings for some of the products and ran promotions on one of them. Remember in my last update where I said that I’d scream when I got my first sale from a complete stranger? Well I hope you had your ears covered on June 13th because that was the date of my first bonafide sale!

Since then I’ve had several buyers find my products and purchase. That’s without any advertising because as a new seller, I’m not yet eligible for the buy box. I have a whole ear full to say about that but I’ll save it for another post.

Revenue: Website

I made one sale (thank you Julie!) in May and no sales in June. I tried driving some traffic to the site through Facebook advertising and while I had some success, no conversions happened. Advertising is the bane of my existence and I’m constantly struggling to figure it out.

What’s nice about listing the products for this brand on Amazon as well is that you get immediate feedback about what will sell and that can be quite helpful.

Affiliate Income: 

Niche Site #1 has quite a lot of affiliate links embedded in the posts. I’m using Long Tail Pro to uncover keywords that I think I can rank for and then focusing my post content on those keywords. Where appropriate, I’m building in affiliate links. The fact that my Domain Authority increased by three points since April is evidence that this strategy is working.

So far, I’m seeing clicks and a few conversions but nothing has been paid out yet. I’m reporting on payments here, not earnings.

Cost of Goods:

I launched a new product in June and created the listings for both the website and on Amazon. I’m getting good feedback early on so I hope this does well. It’s another example of using art on a common item to appeal to a specific market/interest. Not to beat a dead horse, but once again I used a 99designs artist to get me exactly what I needed and I’m super happy with the way it turned out.

This new product is my very first transaction with a Chinese manufacturer and I learned a lot from the experience. Overall, everything went smoothly.


May expenses included the following

  • Facebook advertising

June expenses included the following

  • Facebook advertising
  • Rafflecopter subscription
  • Paid WP Fix It to help with a WordPress problem I was having (this was the first time I used them and they did a great job!)
  • A few office supplies
  • Fees paid to Amazon


May and June turned out to be pretty good and I’m crossing my fingers that things keep moving in a positive direction. I have a lot more work to do to become profitable, but every day I feel like I’m making progress.

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How are you doing on your goals? What’s next for you? I’d love to hear from you in the Comments or shoot me an email if you’re shy!

Now back to work for me!

Ree Short Sig

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  1. Diana Poisson July 12, 2016 at 12:10 PM

    As always, thanks for sharing your numbers. Looks like those Beer Cozys did a great job for you in May and June!

    I started tinkering with the Sponsored Ads recently. It gave me one sale on a product that I bought last November or December that didn’t have any sales at all. I’m going to try and figure it out a bit more.

    You’re doing a great job and congratulations on your first sale from a complete stranger!!! I’m sure more will come soon!


    • Ree Klein July 12, 2016 at 1:22 PM

      Hi Diana, thanks for checking in and for the support! I think Sponsored Ads would be more of a challenge for RA sellers because you don’t know what “search terms” are in the back end of the listing. For the ads to be shown, Amazon must see some relevance between the listing and but buyers search terms. The best way to help Amazon “see” that is through the listing copy and the back end search terms. I’ll be curious to hear how your experiments go!