Passive Income Report


In 2007, I decided to give Google's AdSense program a try, and launched MakingMusicFun.net - an elementary music education website jam-packed with free resources. Realizing the potential, I added a few more sites. In just four years I surpassed my full-time income of $38,000 per year with passive income.

The following reports are annual summaries of what I'm earning and how I'm getting there. I hope that what you read in these reports is both encouraging and useful in the development of your own online businesses.


Annual Reports
Income reports from my first two years aren't dazzling by any means, though they may be of interest to those of you that are just starting out. Further on down the page you will see what's going on now.


December 2008
I launched my elementary music resource website MakingMusicFun.net last December, and things appear to be going well. I experimented with AdSense ad positioning to find the optimum placement, and worked hard to drive traffic with two WordPress.com blogs and classified ads (Craigslist.org/Backpage.com) to free resources. I later abandoned the ads, in favor of creating links that would be permanent.

I try to catch as many errors as I can, though I don't seem to catch all of them. As I believe an accurate, well-written website is a trusted website, I hired a part-time editor.

Website Traffic
MakingMusicFun.net - 64,000 visitors per month

Passive Income Report
For my first year things appeared to be going well.

Added this year:
SheetMusicPlus.com affiliate links
WoodwindBrasswind (WWBW.com) affiliate links

Total Monthly Earnings for Nov 2008: $508.00


December 2009
I launched MakingArtFun.com in May, 2009, and StorehouseBuilder.com in November, 2010, and pushed hard to market these websites. My primary resources were Flickr.com, a new WordPress.com blog, and my own websites/blog. I also tried to make the most of YouTube.com in the promotion of free sheet music on MakingMusicFun.net. On one day I launched a whopping 40 videos!

Website Traffic
MakingMusicFun.net - 145,754 visitors per month
MakingArtFun.com - 2,845 visitors per month/147 pages
StorehouseBuilder - Launched in November/42 pages

Passive Income Report
Earnings rose by 300% this year. Income was largely generated with AdSense, though affiliate links add a little.

Added this year:
MusicTeachersHelper.com affiliate link

I'm building a residual income with MusicTeachersHelper.com each time a music teacher signs up for their service. So far I'm receiving about $5 a month for my effort.

Total Monthly Earnings for Nov 2009: $1,538.38


December 2010
I converted my music studio website, WaveMusicStudio.com, to a blog mid-2009 and added AdSense ads. My main goal with this blog is to drive traffic and increase my website rankings for certain keyword phrases.

Beginning in January of 2010 I was challenged to write 100 articles for AssociatedContent.com in three months. The articles would provide me with an additional source of passive income and drive traffic to my websites. I don't make much with the articles, but the link building opportunity has been well worth the effort.

Website Traffic
MakingMusicFun.net - 277,000 visitors per month/1338 pages
MakingArtFun.com - 10,698 visitors per month/224 pages
WaveMusicStudio.com - 901 visitors per month/52 posts
StorehouseBuilder.com - 139 visitors per month/42 pages

MakingMusicFun.net has attracted almost twice as many visitors as last year. From this point on I think I will limit my marketing efforts for this website, as word-of-mouth will most likely prove to be the best, and most effective, source for additional traffic.

Driving traffic to StorehouseBuilder.com has proven to be a challenge. Part of the problem is the size of the website. I want it to be an everything-you-need-and-nothing-you-don't resource for beginners interested in building passive income, so I don't want to add too many more pages. I've decided to expand the current content to include personal experiences. This should help with search engine rankings, as pages with 750-1,000 words seem to achieve better rankings than pages with only 350-500 words.

Passive Income Report
Earnings rose by 280% this year. I'm beginning to diversify my income, and I'm glad to not have too many eggs in the AdSense "basket".

Added this year:
GoDaddy.com affiliate links
Private advertiser
VibrantMedia.com In-Text ads

Adding a private advertiser has provided a significant boost in revenue. I cut out the middle man, and replaced an AdSense ad making about $35 per month for revenue from a private advertiser of $184.28 each month. From what I can see, I gave her a great price and am still profiting in a big way. I set up a PayPal subscription payment to bill her each month to make this revenue source as passive as AdSense is.

I tried Kontera on a few pages, and it seemed to pay well, though it didn't care for the fact that their ad script turned my subheadings into in-text links. I elected to wait until I could apply for Vibrant Media's program (You need at least 500,000 impressions to be excepted). In late November I added Vibrant Media's ad script to MakingMusicFun.net. My AdSense CTR's have remained the same, and my passive income rose $756 per month overnight! It looks like in-text advertising is going to work out great.

Total Monthly Earnings for Nov 2010: $4,244.31



December 2011
It's been a year of diversification and marketing for my sites, and a year of enjoying the benefits of the 12 hour days I spent over the first three years developing my sites.

Website Traffic
MakingMusicFun.net - 407,804 visitors per month/1379 pages (plus 36 teacher added profiles for Teacher Directory)
MakingArtFun.com - 21,924 visitors per month/239 pages
WaveMusicStudio.com - 973 visitors per month/70 posts
StorehouseBuilder.com - 281 visitors per month/74 pages

Website traffic has continued to grow for MakingMusicFun.net and MakingArtFun.com. I've only added a few posts to WaveMusicStudio.com this year so things are relatively the same, and I've all but given up on StorehouseBuilder.com. Sometimes the effort is not equal to the reward. Such it true about StorehouseBuilder.com. I've made my last attempt with this website, adding seven free website templates. This effort seems to be boosting traffic modestly. If I can get to 500 visitors per month, and I'm making at least $10 per month, I will keep the site. (Update: Traffic to StorehouseBuilder.com is up to 494 visitors per month now, in less than one month. The free website templates are working.) I've also added two new WordPress.com blogs that are focused on freebies, and have created an account on Pinterest.com to drive additional traffic.

I added a music teacher directory to MakingMusicFun.net this year. I'm currently offering subscriptions for free, and memberships are building. Free memberships will end in June 2012. Hopefully, I will have a few teachers in most major cities by that time. It's all about social proof with this type of product. If people think it's worth $59.95 per year, they'll pay $59.95 per year. Right now the directory is on a site that has a stronger Alexa.com ranking than the top directories. (MakingMusicFun.net currently has an Alexa.com global rank of 184,188 of 346 million websites that populate the internet as of June 2011.) However, without the teachers it doesn't look like much.

Passive Income Report
Earnings rose by 59% this year. VibrantMedia ads continue to prove themselves a good addition, though income has been erratic. I only have one private advertiser currently, and won't be looking for more. They don't seem to stick around. Probably because people come to my sites looking for free stuff, and advertisers want to sell products.

Added this year:
Music Teacher Directory

Dropped this year:
Woodwind & Brasswind affiliate links

Total Monthly Earnings for Nov 2011: $6,763.86



December 2012
I've been pursuing the passive income online thing for 5 years now, and enjoying the opportunities it provides. My wife and I take about 5 trips a year to California to visit with family (about 6 weeks of vacation). When I'm home I teach music lessons part-time, develop a few new resources each month, and take an art class on Friday. I still keep busy, though I am fortunate to have the opportunity to develop the resources that interest me and complete them with a more relaxed schedule.

Here's a report of how things are going now, and what I'm doing to get there.

Website Traffic
MakingMusicFun.net - 543,419 visitors per month/1413 pages (plus Teacher Directory)
MakingArtFun.com - 40,004 visitors per month/242 pages
WaveMusicStudio.com - 606 visitors per month/46 pages
StorehouseBuilder.com - 394 visitors per month/86 pages
MicrolightAircraftEnthusiast.com - 716 visitors per month/16 pages
WhatisRootbeer.com - 1,457 visitors per month/36 pages

My two largest sites, MakingMusicFun.net and MakingArtFun.com, have continued to grow in big ways. I was able to get a little more traffic to Storehousebuilder.com with the addition of free website templates, and I moved the whole website into a deluxe hosting package to save on hosting fees. Storehousebuilder.com doesn't make much, and because of the amount of competition in this niche, I won't add much more to it. At least now it's profitable. In marketing the other sites I have focused on link building for my keywords, adding more posts to my blogs that sometimes include links to my sites, and driving traffic with Pinterest.com.

I wanted to try to see how I could do with small niche sites, so I built two this year. MicrolightAircraftEnthusiast.com have been a good performer, though traffic is not so great in November - I think it might be too cold to fly. WhatisRootbeer.com is also doing well as far as traffic and Google ranking, though CTR and low paying ads make it barely profitable...bummer. The ads are in same place on both sites, and WIR is three times as big, though underperforms. My only guess is that people interested in ultralight aircraft are interested in getting into this expensive sport, and are clicking expensive ads searching for information. WIR is profitable so I'm just going to let it do its thing, but not invest anymore time developing the site.

Developing Products
My music teacher directory has added about 70 teachers this year. It's still struggling to get a good foothold, but its growing. I let teachers know that MakingMusicFun.net receives more traffic than the top two directories, but until I have the social proof thing going it will continue to be a challenge to add teachers. My best method so far in adding teachers has been my sweepstakes and my current try-it-free-for-a-year plan.

I also created, and held, my first annual online music festival this year - MMF! Summer Stars International Online Music Festival. Twenty-nine students participated, and I was excited by the talent I saw. My marketing started late, so the number of participating students didn't cover expenses. I'm hopeful that this next year will be profitable.

Passive Income Report
Earnings rose by 24% this year. I've rejected private advertisers because its just too much of a hassle. VibrantMedia.com in-text ads were great for two months, and then consistently poor. I tested InfoLinks.com in-text ads on MakingArtFun.com for a few months and then added them to all pages of MakingArtFun.com and MakingMusicFun.net. They're performing far better.

Added this year:
InfoLinks

Dropped this year:
Vibrant Media

Total Monthly Earnings for Nov 2012: $8,940.87



December 2013
It's year six, and things are going great! Many folks that pursue the passive income online thing often don't take advantage of the "passive" part. It often seems to be a quest for more, more, more. I love the challenge of seeing how "successful" I can be, but there is a point where the size of your income isn't making you any happier. I still add a few resources to my sites each month, but I'm also enjoying the opportunity to pursue other interests, and loving it!

Okay, here's a report of how things are going now, and what I'm doing to get there.

Website Traffic
MakingMusicFun.net - 636,644 visitors per month/1530 pages (plus Teacher Directory)
MakingArtFun.com - 40,539 visitors per month/263 pages
WaveMusicStudio.com - 638 visitors per month/46 pages
StorehouseBuilder.com - 433 visitors per month/86 pages
MicrolightAircraftEnthusiast.com - 633 visitors per month/16 pages
WhatisRootbeer.com - 602 visitors per month/36 pages

MMF! Global rank of 106,374 (This means we're in the top 107,000 sites in the world among the one billion sites that currently populate the internet.) Wow!

I redesigned my music site, MakingMusicFun.net, this year. My primary goal was to arrange the page elements in a was as to feature the music teacher directory. The directory wasn't attracting very many teachers, and often not serving them well. The new design worked, and 37 new teachers have signed up in the last four months.

Traffic to my two largest sites, MakingMusicFun.net and MakingArtFun.com, has continued to grow. I've begun to add eBooks to my music site and have had tremendous interest in them. Most of them are in the top 100 most downloaded resources on the site. I've been taking an art class for the last few years, and have enjoyed drawing and adding coloring pages to my art site this year.

My annual online music festival - MMF! Summer Stars Online Music Festival - continues this year. Sixty students participated, which was a 50% jump over last year. We also saw a small but respectable profit. Very encouraging.

My theme song continues to be: Find out who is doing the very best, and then figure out how I can do it better.

Passive Income Report
Earnings rose by 25% this year.

Total Monthly Earnings for Nov 2013: $11,244.54


December 2014
It's been seven years of building passive income on the web for me. Things are going great, and I'm continuing to invest the extra time I have, as a result of my passive income stream, in things that are most important to me. I'm in several music groups, still taking art lessons, and staying involved at church.

Okay, here's a report of how things are going now, and what I'm doing to get there.

Website Traffic
MakingMusicFun.net - 508,446 visitors per month/1566 pages (plus Teacher Directory) (36 Pages Added) Alexa.com Global Rank - 107,059
MakingArtFun.com - 35,171 visitors per month/275 pages (12 Pages Added) Alexa.com Global Rank - 1,291,836
WaveMusicStudio.com - 941 visitors per month/46 pages
StorehouseBuilder.com - 593 visitors per month/86 pages
MicrolightAircraftEnthusiast.com - 556 visitors per month/16 pages
WhatisRootbeer.com - 626 visitors per month/36 pages

iPad Apps
I have two iPad apps in Apple App store. The first one I build with a friend, and the second one I built with a guy in Bangladesh. The total cost for both was about $950. My only other expense is the Apple Developer's License for $100 per year. I sell about 3 apps each day, and make about $100 per month. I should be in the black within a month.

MMF! Piano Primer iPad App
Meet Beethoven iPad App

About a month after I published last year's report, MakingMusicFun.net set an amazing record, hitting all-time high traffic record of 750,000 visitors in the month of December, and was ranked in the top 100,000 sites on the internet according to Alexa.com. The site was also in the top .8% of the one billion websites that populated the internet at that time.

The new year followed with a few challenges. YahooVoices.com closed up shop, and took a ton of traffic with them. My WordPress.com blogs have also been declining in visitor traffic. I've been pushing hard to bring back some of the traffic through Pinterest.com. I hired someone to do some pinning for me, and I've pinned quite a bit myself. Traffic from Pinterest has tripled, but it's not quite matching what I had going. I ended this month with 17,202 pins and 5,925 followers. The big lesson I've learned about lost traffic, is that it's not just the visitors from that site that you lose. Google sees that there aren't as many visitors and drops your pages in search engine ranking, which leads to a larger drop in visitor traffic. I didn't have all my eggs in one basket, so it wasn't the end of the world, but the drop in traffic is noticeable.

My annual online music festival had 50 students participate this last summer. The participants were down a bit from last year. The kids that do participate seem to appreciate the opportunity, and I like providing the festival. I'm hoping it will grow this year, and encourage me to continue offering it.

Added this year:
Two Apps to the Apple App Store
Amazon Affilate Links

Dropped this year:
No Changes

Passive Income Report
Earnings dropped by 40% this year due to diminished traffic, lower click-through rate, hosting problems, and the featured-teacher panel which was replaced with an ad half way through the month.

Total Monthly Earnings for Nov 2014: $6,805.63



December 2015

It's been eight years now, and I'm still enjoying the benefits of the passive income streams that I've built, but this year certainly provided me with some challenges.

MakingMusicFun.net - 426,396 visitors per month/Alexa.com Global Rank - 92,866
MakingArtFun.com - 27,802 visitors per month/Alexa.com Global Rank - 1,516,396
TrafficWonker.com - 18,352 visitors per month/Alexa.com Global Rank - 785,161
WaveMusicStudio.com - 893 visitors per month
StorehouseBuilder.com - 522 visitors per month
MicrolightAircraftEnthusiast.com - 367 visitors per month
WhatisRootbeer.com - 626 visitors per month

iPad Apps
My iPad apps continue to sell, though not as strongly as they did the first year. I think it's because MMF traffic is down a bit, and not referring as many potential customers to the Apple app store. Both apps made a total income of $668.31. My only expense is the $100 for the Apple developer license so it worth keeping them going. From what I hear 50%-60% of apps are never profitable. I'm in the black, so that's good, but it's not worth building any more apps at this time.

TrafficWonker.com - Auto-Pilot Pinterest Pin Scheduler
I built a Pinterest marketing tool this year to help build referral traffic for my own sites and create a new revenue stream. So far things are going well. I attracted an additional 18,000 Pinterest visitors more than last year, and about 400 people have signed up for a free account. I'll convert it to a paid tool as soon as I reach my first 1,000 subscribers. At an average of 3 accounts added each day, and I should reach my goal by May 2016.

Ad Blocking
Ad blocking is becoming a problem for ad supported sites, and I only see the problem getting worse. It looks like the free internet will soon be a thing of the past. Within a few years is will be more like cable TV rather than network TV. We'll be paying for services, rather than getting them for free. I've decided to add a shopping cart to MMF to make up for the loss in ad revenue.

Residual Income
I added a residual income source with MusicTeachersHelper.com back in 2009. Each time a music teacher signs up for their service I make a percentage of their payment. I'm making $41 per month now for the referrals.

Summer Stars Online Music Festival
My annual online music festival had 70 students participate this last summer - up 20 student from last year and our biggest turn out to date. The teacher and kids that participate seem to appreciate the opportunity, and I like providing the festival.

Added this year:
TrafficWonker.com
MakingMusicFun.net Mobile and iPad Versions of site

Dropped this year: No changes

Passive Income Report
Earnings dropped by 25% this year due to diminished traffic and ad blocking. Pinterest is driving more traffic as a result of a focused effort. TrafficWonker.com was added as a paid product, though hasn't been monetized yet. A shopping cart for MMF is being built to add paid product revenue.

Total Monthly Earnings for Nov 2015: $5,111.33


December 2016

I'm starting my ninth year of making passive income online. It's pretty great having the freedom to decide what you'd like to work on and when you'd like to work on it.

MakingMusicFun.net - 288,663 visitors per month/Alexa.com Global Rank - 100,931
MakingArtFun.com - 16,124 visitors per month/Alexa.com Global Rank - 1,074,322
TrafficWonker.com - 14,252 visitors per month/Alexa.com Global Rank - 362,439

MakingMusicFun.net - Creative Resources for Elementary Education
With AdBlocking on the rise I needed to do something to restore my income from MMF. I added a shopping cart and currently have 102 products for sale. The products are providing more than a third of my income currently, and I'll be adding more and converting more free products to paid. The only downside is that I'll probably won't be seeing as much visitor traffic, as everything isn't free anymore.

I hired a virtual assistant this year. She's working 4 hours a week editing my paid content and posting to a new blog. She's been very helpful, and the blog is really taking off. It's been up less than 6 months, and has seen 4,230 visitors with 3,500+ clicks to MakingMusicFun.net.

I opened a store for MMF on TeachersPayTeachers.com in February, and currently have 89 products: 76 paid products and 13 freebies. Currently I'm ranked Rank 11667, which puts me in the top 25% of teacher/sellers on the site. I'm reluctant to direct too much traffic to my TpT store, as I'd rather send them to MMF. Progress is slow, but worth the effort.

It's always fun to see the videos each year for the MMF Summer Stars Online Music Festival and it provides a modest profit, though I'm wondering if I'll continue this festival. I added OptinMonster.com to capture more subscriber emails and switched to MailerLite.com - a cheaper email newsletter service - this year. The combination has been great for attracting subscribers. Perhaps a larger subscriber list will help get things going strong next year.

TrafficWonker.com - Auto-Pilot Pinterest Pin Scheduler
It's been 1 1/2 years since I launched TrafficWonker.com. It's had it's challenges, but I'm hopeful for it's value to Pinterest marketers. We had to rewrite a significant portion of the code this year to add the Pinterest API, and almost have the shopping cart complete. I've been sharing TW with teachers on the TeacherPayTeachers.com forum, and have written three marketing books for TpT teachers. I'm also pushing things along with page overlays on MMF and StorehouseBuilder. Every strategy seems to be helping. 512 people have signed up for a free account. (This number reflect the subscribers that recreated their accounts since the API update or are brand new subscribers since mid-2016.) I'll be able to give a paid member report next year. For now this number is promising, as even 100 paid members would provide approximately $800 a month in net income.

iPad Apps
This may be my last year with the apps. Gross income is averaging $20 a month. I'm entertaining the idea of free apps to help increase the visibility of MMF. The only cost would be the $99 per year for the developers license.

Residual Income
MusicTeachersHelper.com continues to be a good source of income. It's never much, but it's money that I don't do anything for - so it's always welcome.

Passive Income Report
Earnings rose by 23% this year. AdSense is still accounts for half of my income, but paid products now make up 42% of my monthly revenue, and I'll be working to drive than percentage higher this year.

Added this year:
Shopping cart to MakingMusicFun.net
Switched to MailerLite.com for my monthly newsletter
Added OptinMonster email newsletter optin forms to increase subscriber rate

Dropped this year:
GoDaddy Email Newsletter Tool - Good tool. I just got it on sale my first year.

Total Monthly Earnings for Nov 2016: $6,322.91



 
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