The Challenge: From $50/Month to $600/Month in Five Months – May (the challenge is over!)

davenicosia-durkangroup-workspaceI’ve made myself a challenge. I will be attempting to take my online revenue from $50/month all the way up to $600/month within 5 months. I started this challenge on January 1, 2014 and it ended on May 31. 2014. You see in 2013 I started making about $50 a month in revenue rather consistently, and now I’m ready to take it to the next level. I need this to be my full time job and I need it to happen as fast as possible. I’m willing to put in the effort and hard work it will take, and this challenge will help me to jump start my progress.

This goal is Phase One: Seed Money in my overall long term plan to work for myself. After I reach it, I will use that money to fuel Phase Two of my plan, which we’ll get into when it’s time.

* The image to the right is my desk at my day job

May Overall Results

So after a stellar April – May ended up not so good revenue-wise! I’m really glad that I reached my goal last month, because I sure didn’t this month! The month actually started out really good, looking to be my best month to date but then halfway through the month I lost some rankings on my main site. More about that below…

So even though my revenue for May was down, I’m still REALLY excited about everything as a whole. I still made some decent passive income, all my sites are doing okay, and I’ve been investing a lot more money into building out my sites. I’m outsourcing all of my niche site content now (never on this site!!) and I like where I’m positioned. It’s still a large step up from where I was 6 months ago and I’m extremely excited about the upcoming months!

May Revenue –  $321.32

Here’s What I Accomplished with Each Niche Site in May

Niche Site #1

Ahh … niche site #1 … my money site … my baby … you had to let me down this month!! (shakes fist). This site was doing great until about halfway through the month when my rankings for my main keyword dropped from #1 to #4 – resulting in a loss of 40% of my traffic. Aside from the loss in traffic, it seemed like my Amazon conversion rate was much lower (around 3% compared to my usual 6% – 9%). So I took a look at the Google Keyword Planner and saw that May was actually the lowest month for total searches for many of my keywords. I guess May is just the low month in my niche anyways.

I looked into my decrease in rankings across my site, and it turns out that I only lost a few spots on a few big keywords, so I’m still in good shape overall. It just so happens that the larger keywords I dropped a few spots for were also my high traffic and money keywords! I’m still confident that I will see the rankings and numbers come back. I’m in it for the long haul on this site. I think it has the potential to make a few thousand dollars a month.

So May was a good month for this site despite the rankings drop and earnings drop. The reason I say that is that I added 16 high quality full product reviews to the site! (my goal from last month was to add 10) That brings my total reviews up to 30 on this site. That’s enough to fill out my buyer’s guide and feel confident that I have a decent sized great site that I’m proud to show people in related niches when I start reaching out.

The Future of Niche Site #1 – This is where I will be putting in most of my time and resources for the rest of this year. I’ll be going full force on Niche Site #1 and I’m confident that I’ll surpass the revenue that I was at last month in time.

My First Giveaway – Right at the end of May I spent almost $200 buying three of the top products in my niche. First I’m going to take tons of pictures and do a thorough real review of all 3 products. Then after that I’m going to run a sweepstakes and give all three items away. To promote my giveaway I’m going to reach out to a few hundred related blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts to let them know about it, and that it might be great for their audience. I’ll also be setting up a popup window on my site to promote it to all my organic and referral visitors. My goal here is to get a bunch of natural backlinks and create a lot of buzz around my site and brand.

That will be phase one of my outreach program designed to attract natural real backlinks.

I was also thinking about other ways to get my #1 rankings back and improve my overall site rankings, and I decided that rather than focusing on link building (except for my giveaway), I’m going to focus on improving my content. That will be Phase two – improving my current content. Now I think I have really good content on my site already – but it can always be better! Now that I have 30 full product reviews and 5 other good information pages, it’s time to take this site to the next level and dominate in my niche.

Niche Site #2

So I was doing some basic blog commenting on this site in the first of of May, but then when I saw the Google updates being rolled out I stopped working on this site to let it ride for a few weeks to see how it fared with the updates. I did have one 700 word article outsourced for this site but haven’t had a chance to get it up yet. Other than that I’m holding off on working on this site for a few more weeks while I focus on other things.

The Future of Niche Site #2 – I know this niche has a lot of potential, so I’m going to start having outsourced content published bi-weekly on the site. I’ll also be tossing a few PBN backlinks at it from Lightning Rank or something to try to give it a boost. I probably won’t talk about this site much on my blog though, unless it really starts taking off.

Niche Site #3

Just like Niche Site #2, I let up on working on this site when the Google Panda 4.0 and Google Spam Algorithm updates rolled out. I did add two new outsourced articles right at the end of May though.

The Future of Niche Site #3 – I’ve already made 3 commissions on this site, even when I’m only averaging 3 – 5 visitors a day. My plans for this site is to start adding outsourced content regularly, and adding some PBN backlinks. Simple enough. Just like the last site, I probably won’t talk much about this site on my blog unless I start seeing some good results.

Niche Site #4

Niche site #4 has pretty much the same fate as niche site #3. I stopped backlinking during the Google updates, and I added 1 new outsourced article to the site.

The Future of Niche Site #4 – Moving forward, I’m just going to keep adding content to the site and a few PBN links. If the site starts to show promise, get traffic, and make some commissions I’ll start focusing on it more.


I reached my goal of making $600 in one month a month early! That felt really good, even though I saw the large drop in revenue this month. I believe that my drop in revenue is temporary and I fully expect to get my numbers back up soon. I’m having all of my niche site content outsourced now, so already I’m seeing the benefits of outsourcing. I was able to publish 19 new pieces of high quality content in May, which is the most I’ve ever put out in one month.

I really enjoyed putting myself up to this challenge. By doing that publicly it really forced me to work hard at it so I didn’t look like a lazy slacker! When I started Niche Site #1 it was making about $40/month and I had just recovered from a Google penalty. Traffic was still under 100 visitors a day but I had a feeling it was about to take off. I had put 8 months of hard work into it before I even made my first $100 from it. I believe that I might not have worked hard enough and gotten enough done to reach my goal in four months if I didn’t put myself to the challenge.

Major Lessons Learned with This Challenge

So now that my challenge is over, I wanted to reflect a bit on how it helped me in my overall long term goals. I can honestly say that conducting and documenting this challenge has helped my in many different ways.

  1. First off, knowing that people have been following along keeps me accountable and working towards my goals. I want to have great results to show you guys!
  2. The second big lesson I learned was that I have a lot less time than I would like to work on these sites and build my business. Now that I’m outsourcing all of my niche site content, I should be able to get more done on every site than in the previous months. I just started outsourcing the content in April, so it didn’t really have time to affect my results for this challenge
  3. Third, that I really love talking about, documenting, and sharing my struggles, victories, setbacks & progress on building my own business and becoming financially and location independent. The response has been overwhelmingly great and Ill definitely be putting a lot more into this blog in the coming months.
  4. Fourth,  I realized that it’s a lot harder to work on 4 sites as once than I anticipated! It doesn’t help that over the last two months I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life that has been getting in my way of working on growing my business. That’s one reason I’m really happy that I can outsource my content creation now, so even in months when my available time to work on my sites is lean, I’ll still get a lot done. In months that I can work a lot on my sites … look out!
  5. Fifth, that website earnings can be very volatile! This month I had my second lowest earnings since I started the challenge. All because of dropping 2 or 3 rankings for 6 keywords. That can happen when you go from #1 to #3 – it had a huge effect on my revenue.

The Challenge is Over, So Now What?

I’ve really had a lot of fun writing these monthly updates, so I thought “why stop just because my challenge is over?” April 2014 was my first Monthly Business, Traffic & Income Report, and I plan on putting one out each and every month. I really loved how the challenge kept me working hard and I really did feel accountable to those following along.

By the way, thanks a million to all of you who did follow along! My traffic here at the blog is on the rise and I’ve gotten a lot of great questions in the comments and private emails I’ve received. I’m really stoked that so many people are actually interested in following along with me. That definitely inspires me to keep going and step up the quality, quantity, and usefulness of what I post here.

Thanks for following my challenge, please check out my income reports if you want to continue doing so!

Earnings for May 2014 and Reaching My Goal of $600/ month Revenue by May 31, 2014

Month Niche Site #1 Niche Site #2 Niche Site #3 Niche Site #4 Total Revenue
January $104.99 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $104.99 
February $392.88 $0.00 $12.02 $0.00 $404.90 
March $391.67 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $391.67
May $607.37 $0.00 $5.29 $0.00 $612.66
May $321.32 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $321.32


Table of Contents

18 comments on “The Challenge: From $50/Month to $600/Month in Five Months – May (the challenge is over!)

  1. Adam Roseland on

    Great work Dave. Love the part about being held accountable because people are following along. One of the main reasons I haven’t done the income report thing is because I am worried it would require too much work and didn’t want to piss anyone off if I stopped doing it.

    • Dave on

      Thanks Adam. Rockin’ it in Eastern Pennsylvania! I was worried too that it would be too much work, but ultimately I decided it will help me stay on track, keep me accountable, and help inspire others to follow their dreams like we are. Not to mention the fact that income reports are hot right now! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t doing it for the exposure too! 😉

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Adam!

  2. Josh Escusa on

    Great job hitting that mark a month early. My income last month has seen a bit of a drop because I’m re-structuring my focus, but I plan to hit some really big numbers before the year is over 🙂

    BTW, I received your email and I’ve been trying to email you back again, not sure if it’s going through. You gotta get that fixed Dave!

  3. Santel on

    Congratulation Dave,

    My income is still not increased yet. I wish I could earn 1K by the end of this year. Maybe it is not going to happen. I focus only on one niche site at a time. Since I now have two kids, it is really difficult to have time to write. I also outsourcing the contents.

    I think I will start another new niche site because the current one that I am working on don’t have enough potential for the future. It is about movie. I have some traffic to the site but I think people don’t have movie anymore …

    • Dave on

      Thanks Santel! It’s definitely hard to gain traction in this business, but I think the key is to keep working hard, keep learning, and never give up. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of a site that you put a lot into, I’ve had to do it many times, but once you get that site that works, you won’t feel bad anymore!

    • Dave on

      Thank you Sujit! If you’ve read my story, then you know that I was stuck at around $20 – $50 for a long time. Keep working hard and you’ll get there. I know I still have a long way to go, but I have big plans and I’m seeing it through no matter what. Stop by again!

  4. Andy Baldacci on

    Hey Dave! It was smart of you to notice that it was your rankings on money keywords that took the hit, but what makes you confident that the rankings will come back? I’m new at this so I am definitely not saying they wont, but I am just wondering what specifically is giving you that confidence.

    From my newbie view, I feel that extra content is good if it improves your rankings, but so far that doesnt seem to be the case. It seems like if it hasnt helped so far, it may be time to try something different like more serious link building efforts.

    I’ve been doing tons of reading, but just starting to dip my toes in to actually acting on that reading, so I really am here to learn, and you have achieved strong results quite fast, so I am interested to hear your thoughts.


    • Dave on

      Hi Andy, thanks for stopping by!

      I’m confident that the rankings will come back because I dropped from #1 only to #3 – #4, so I know Google still likes my site. I do plan on getting some new backlinks in the form of social links, and I’m growing the site into a large authority site.

      One thing I think you’re off a bit about, is that I’m not adding extra content to improve my rankings for those keywords, but to rank for new longtail keywords to bring in more traffic. All of the longtails I’m writing for are buyers related searches.

      Also when I add content, I find it takes about 3 months to start ranking so the benefits of anything I added recently won’t be felt for a while yet. It’s a long term strategy that I’m using to build a large authoritative site that Google and my visitors love. I think this site can make a few thousand per month when it grows large enough. Time will tell I suppose!

      thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Please sign up for my list if you want to get updates when I publish new articles. I have some big things in the works right now and my list is going to benefit the most form it!

  5. Rich | on

    You worked on your site for 8 months before earning any commissions? Now THAT takes focus and discipline; yet it seems to have been worth it for you.

    Here’s hoping you get that ranking back for NS1 and it’ll be a great summer for you 🙂

    • Dave on

      Thanks Rich!

      I’m not sure where you got that I worked for 8 months before making any commissions, I don’t remember saying that. If I did please point me to where so I can correct it!

      On Niche Site #1, I started having commissions trickle in after about 8 weeks after I launched it.

      Thanks for the comment and please stop by again. I’ve got some really big things in the works.

  6. Peter on

    Great work Dave, I like your approach. Happy to see that you seem to be getting value from your outsourced articles. How long are they normally and how much do you usually pay for an article?

    Getting there with a couple of my sites. Not quite at the $600 a month yet but getting close. Cheers

    • Dave on

      Thanks Peter! The articles that I’m buying are about 700 – 800 words long and I pay about $20 per article. These are written by my favorite 4 star writers on I pay for top quality because I only want the best on my money sites. If you sign up to my email list I share my 3 favorite writers.

      I am always looking for new writers at lower costs though. Overall quality wins over price for me.

  7. Derek Smith on

    Nice site Dave, just found you online. I am glad that you give honest updates on your niche site income. Many people building these sites don’t realize that it is very hard work to make a couple of hundred bucks, because we hear all these fake stories of people making tens of thousands of dollars. I think that it is good you pay a little extra for the content, it will definitely help in the long run.


    • Dave on

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Derek! I definitely try to keep it real here. Building money generating sites is a TON of hard work and trial’n’error. There’s a reason more people aren’t successful at it, it’s HARD to learn. It definitely gets easier as you gain experience though.

      I think one thing that frustrates a lot of newbies is that they follow all of the “rules” for a certain method or tutorial, and then don’t get any results. They’re confused because they did everything the tutorial said to do but it’s not making money! They don’t understand that this is completely normal, there are SO MANY CONSIDERATIONS that it takes to make it work well, and most of us go through this in the early stages.

      If you want to be serious about making a decent amount of money online, be prepared to focus on it for at least a year or two without even seeing great results. Learn all you can online, but remember that there is no substitute for actual experience.

      Think about this…

      Do you think you could look up a few YouTube tutorials, spend a month or two learning, and then be an efficient auto mechanic? Probably not. So what would make somebody think they could do the same for internet marketing and be a successful internet marketer?

      Internet marketing is a HIGHLY COMPLEX industry that has no set rules and changes almost weekly. Most people don’t have what it takes to pull it off.

      Do you know what kind of person can make it? One who is willing to spend a few hundred hours over a few months learning and working as hard as they can, just to figure out that they have it all wrong, and need to start over form scratch – and rather than freak out over lost time and effort, they cut their losses, learn their lessons, and start over again with their held high and more motivation than ever!

      I have a feeling most people are not like that.

      Failure? What’s that? Sorry, I don’t know, you’ll have to ask somebody else. Ive never experienced failure, just setbacks.

      Sorry for the rant…

      Take care and stop back again!

  8. Adam Beckett on

    Hi Dave, well done after all that hard work you deserve it.

    I’m putting out a few mini sites that rank well on Bing quite quickly, most flunk but there are some winners in there. Budget £21 for each. I guess by sharing ideas we’ll all get there in the end !

    • Dave on

      Thanks for stopping by Adam! It’s definitely been a long hard journey but for myself, once I started trying to build truly “awesome” sites and focused – that’s when I started to really find success. I’m getting much closer to going full time but I’m still quite a way off!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *