When I started this blog back in February 2011, I had every intention of filling my coffers through a combination of ebook and affiliate sales, as well as freelance writing income. That’s how it is when you first start off, all starry eyed and bushy tailed… hopped up on Rockstar Energy Drinks and Trader Joe’s banana chips and whatnot.
I did manage to maintain that model for a year.
Well actually, let me clarify something. I’ve been doing the Amazon affiliate thing long before I started writing and selling ebooks. So that part of the master plan was already on cruise control by the time I launched this blog.
Unfortunately that one stream of income was almost sucked up by the Google Penguin. Uuugh… it pains me to talk about it, though the extent of my damage could’ve been a lot worse! I had several #1 listings in Google drop to #6’s-10’s.
True, I didn’t lose much of the first page advantage. But I did lose that coveted first place position for a lot of my keywords.
I ain’t gonna lie… my profits took a proper beat down. (Cue the “woe-is-me” violin music in the background.)
I don’t care if your targeted keyword gets 300 searches a month, when you’re in the #1 position, you get a lot affiliate sales love. Especially when you multiply a #1 position across several dozen stinky little keywords nobody else seemed to love.
Here’s what sunk my battleship…
Lack of updates.
The pages that booted me from my ivory tower had all been frequently updated. I knew this because I keep track of what’s going on around me in the search engine results.
My pages – though well written and of more-than-adequate word count – were about two years old.
Google gave me my props for a long time and I got comfortable with my meaty checks. In hindsight I’m surprised I didn’t lose my first page advantage altogether.
Lucky for me I had set up that affiliate revenue stream early on in my career, because even though it got sliced with the Google Ginsu knife, it did allow me the flexibility to set up a pretty solid ebook business. And while I wasn’t updating my affiliate sites, I was working overtime to make sure the ebook business was growing by leaps and bounds.
Diversifying horizontally saved me
Instead of planting seeds into several different niches (affiliate sales, freelance writing and ebook sales), I’d actually been taking the horizontal route and focused solely on growing my ebook sales.
In my last post (back in March) I mentioned that I was working on several new ebooks. I actually wrote six new titles between that last post and the end of April.
Four of them are already up on Amazon. Two were written under a pen name that I won’t be disclosing.
And the other two (which I just put up Wednesday and Thursday last week) are:
I’ll be putting these two up on the Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and this blog (as PDFs) within the week. Then I have the last two ebooks going up on Amazon within the next 10 days.
It’s harder to get that stinger out of your butt than it is to avoid the thing doing the stinging
When my affiliate site rankings dropped, it was like being in a hot shower and suddenly having the water turn lukewarm. It wasn’t enough for me to completely jump out, but it put me on alert that the water might soon be going cold.
As much as I love the traffic I get from Google (across the board, they are my #1 traffic source), I don’t want to end up as one of those site owners who loses their entire income because they’ve been drop kicked by Google.
The WRONG time to worry about Google is when that rank dropping boot is already wedged in your hind parts. As we’re seeing, rank is not guaranteed no matter how sparkly and shiny your site is. There are a lot of very sad site owners who will attest to that.
I knew the smartest thing I could do was to diversify more of my ebooks to sites that already had a sizable audience. This way if I ever got a major thrashing from Google, my business wouldn’t be killed off altogether.
This is what I refer to as horizontal diversification. And you’re gonna see me doing a whole lot more of it in the upcoming months.
In that respect, I’ve done quite a bit more content marketing away from this blog.
For example, I added 13 articles to Squidoo.
And Squidoo ain’t so bad ya’ll!
I won’t go into a long drawn out story about Squidoo, because I’ve fully documented my journey from March till today, at eBookMarketingJournal.com.
But I will say this… Squidoo represents just one of the sites that pushed me from my friggin #1 spots on the affiliate sales level.
That’s because you’re seriously encouraged to update your articles at Squidoo. I actually thought it was kinda silly at first, but a lot of those frequently updated articles are now in the #1 position where I once was. Nothing is “silly” anymore!
And FYI, I don’t use Squidoo for backlinks. I’ve been using my articles there to generate ebook sales, and yes, it does work.
Part of the reason is because Squidoo generates a lot of traffic on their own. Only a few of my articles there have gotten ranked well in Google. But all of my articles still get traffic – much of which comes from Squidoos internal search engine.
The less I have to rely on Google, the better for my peace of mind.
As I’m quickly discovering, this requires a lot writing.
Not that spun article bullshit that a lot of internet marketers love to indulge in. I’m talking about articles that make are genuinely helpful and make perfect sense.
The better my articles, the better my profits. That’s all I need to know.
What should you be doing?
The problem I have with affiliate sites (after this whole Google Penguin business) is that they’re basically dependent on bringing in traffic, much of it being traffic from Google.
Whereas if you have some ebooks on your blog and some on Amazon and some on Barnes and Noble and some on iTunes and some on Smashwords, you’re not dependent on one site and you’re not totally dependent on Google.
I’d rather take a little bit longer to keep cranking out ebooks, knowing each one will sell in multiple locations, rather than creating one site and betting my entire livelihood on it.
Google has an uncanny way of making you get philosophical about your income. (Fast, might I add.)
So what’s your ebook writing plan?
I’m always here to help: