2016 is long gone, and a new year is upon us. I have some extremely big plans for 2017 that I’m really excited about and can’t wait to start hustling. But first, I wanted to kick things off with a 2016 year in review.
I had some big wins in 2016 but also fell short in a few areas, and I’ll cover all that in this post. I’ll start out with some of the highlights, then some things I wish I would’ve done better and my plans for 2017. Let’s jump into it.
2016 was my most profitable year for freelance writing. I won’t disclose exact numbers, but it was far more than I’ve made in previous years. So that was a huge win for me.
The flip-side of this is I probably won’t be doing much freelance writing in 2017. As you’ll see later, I have other plans that’ll take up a lot of time, so I won’t be able to dedicate as much to freelancing.
The Cosmo Project
Some of you may remember I started the The Cosmo Project, which was a case study where I took one of my existing blogs that I neglected for a long time, and planned on documenting the journey to growing it into an authority site. You can see some posts about it here. I started it in January 2016, but stopped making updates around February. So why is this in my highlights for 2016?
While I did stop making updates about it, I didn’t stop working on the site. The site grew a lot in 2016 and I’m going to amp things up in 2017. Here’s a look at some stats on the site.
First, here’s the traffic in 2015 vs 2016.
I increased traffic over 175% YOY.
A big part of this was I invested pretty heavily into content and published close to 100 pieces of new content on the site. I did a ton of keyword research using KWFinder to discover low competition keywords to create content around. You can check out my KWFinder Review to get more insight into how I used it.
Another big improvement on the site was its income. If you recall from the last update I did back in February, the site earned about $26 for the entire month. Over the past couple months it has earned over $100 per month. While a part of that is attributable to the holidays, most of it is due to the increased traffic and all the new content.
Before I show you the income from last year, I want to point out a pretty big change I made towards the last quarter of the year. At first I was planning on heavily using Adsense as a revenue driver but later decided to focus on Amazon. Turns out I made the right choice.
So I took down a ton of Adsense ads on the site and am primarily focused on Amazon (with plans to expand to other income sources). In addition to links inside my articles I also implemented Amazon Native Shopping Ads. These things are great and I highly recommend checking them out. They’re recommended product ads you can put inside your content or on your sidebars, that look like this:
My in-text affiliate links outperform the Native Shopping ads, but they still convert well.
Now, let’s take a look at the Amazon Affiliate income from 2016 ($519.34 is the amount I earned).
And here’s a look at the Adsense income. Notice how the drop in October directly correlates to the increase in Amazon income. That’s when I made the switch from all the Adsense ads to Amazon.
Here’s a quick recap of the changes I made to the Cosmo Project site throughout 2016:
- Got rid of a ton of Adsense Ads and focused on Amazon Associates.
- Changed my theme from SteadyIncome to the Newspaper theme from MTS to account for all the new content I was creating.
- Added almost 100 new pieces of content.
- Did keyword research to find new keywords to target.
- Picked up some extremely high quality backlinks from authority sites naturally using this tactic.
Throughout 2016, I had the opportunity to be featured in a few roundup posts (like this and this) and get mentioned in a few big blogs. That was great for helping to get my name out there and I hope to do a lot more in in 2017.
I’m sure I’m missing a few highlights, but those are some of the big ones. But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, I also had some failures along the way.
Biggest Failures of 2016
This is easily my biggest disappointment of 2016. I severely neglected this site. I didn’t post very much, and when I did it was sporadic. In fact, I only published 17 new posts throughout the entire year. Just to give you some comparison, I published 78 articles here in 2015.
Why the huge drop? Mostly because I wasn’t committed and didn’t make this site a priority. I was busy with my day job and freelancing so this site got put on the back burner.
Outreach & Promotion
Thinking back, I don’t think I did any guest blogging for my site in all of 2016. If it weren’t for those roundups and a few pickups here and there, my site would probably have gone completely downhill. This is something I definitely intend to change in 2017.
A Lack of Focus
If I told you how many domains I bought and sites I started to setup and abandoned in 2016 you’d probably laugh. I was spreading myself entirely too thin last year which really slowed down my growth. The Cosmo Project site should’ve earned a lot more money and be much bigger right now. But I kept distracting myself.
It’s amazing how much more you can accomplish when you set your focus on just one or two projects at a time. I’ll be making a sincere effort in 2017 to Follow One Course Until Success (shout out to John Lee Dumas for the F.O.C.U.S acronym).
So what do I have my eyes set on for the new year?
My Plans for 2017
I have two main priorities/projects for 2017, one of which I’ve been working on a long time in secrecy.
The Cosmo Project Site
First and foremost, I’m going to take the Cosmo Project site to the next level. The reason I decided to pursue the site in the first place after neglecting it for so long is because I saw the potential it had. And now that I’ve had some initial success, it has really motivated me to hustle even harder and do some big things.
My ultimate goal is to make it the top site in its niche.
One change I plan on making is the monetization strategy. You already saw the success I had switching from Adsense to Amazon as a primary income driver, but my next step is to move onto larger ticket items. Right now a bulk of the products I recommend on the site are low-cost (less than $20 in most cases) so the commissions I get from Amazon aren’t that much.
Instead, I plan on promoting higher priced items I can make $30+ on each sale. I’m going to start by promoting a few products on Clickbank, and eventually start working directly with specific companies (probably towards the end of 2017/beginning of 2018).
But the main thing is I’ve decided to stick to what I know best which is affiliate marketing rather than an ad driven strategy. I personally don’t like ads and there are much better monetization strategies out there.
Since I’ve seen so much success with the new content I added, I plan on adding around 100 new pieces of content to the site in 2017. Maybe more.
Last, I’m extremely interested in selling a product on the site. I’m brainstorming some ideas right now, so I’ll have more details when I finally decide on something.
Now, onto the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!
I Created a Course!
This is something I’ve been working on behind the scenes for a while now, and I’m finally ready to launch it. I’ve never sold anything on this site before, so this is a pretty big deal.
Over the last couple years I’ve received emails from you all with questions about launching a blog, getting traffic, SEO and other topics. I’ve done my best to answer all your questions through email or my blog posts. But I wanted to think of a better way to help you all without having to point you to a bunch of different blog posts or go through long email chains to answer all your questions.
One random snowy day last year I committed to creating a course. I started laying all my ideas down for what my course could/would look like until I found the right one.
I won’t get into all the details quite yet, but this course is essentially an A-Z walk-through of how to launch a blog. I’ve taken all of my best tips, tactics and everything I know about blogging and put it into this course. But since there are a ton of courses about blogging out there, I wanted to differentiate mine, and I found the perfect way to do it.
I’ll give you all the details on it soon, and I plan on launching it early February.
Don’t worry, my top priority was to make this thing affordable for people just starting out. I made the course for beginners, since a lot of my readers are in the early stages of their blogs/businesses. It’s not going to be some $500 course with thousands of dollars in up-sells. I personally believe those are B.S. and would never buy one, so there’s no way I would sell it to you.
Anyways, I’m pumped for 2017 and can’t wait to release this course. I hope you all have big plans for the new year too. Let me know what your goals are for the new year by leaving a comment or shooting me an email. If you’re interested in learning more about the course, make sure you sign up for my email list because my subscribers will be the first to be able to enroll (for a discounted price).
Let’s crush 2017!