So the first month of 2010 has come and gone. I’m going to try to make an effort to do a post like this at the end of each month. The purpose will be to look back on the previous month, and look ahead to the new month – and specifically set some short term goals for each month, and take a look at the 2010 goals I set at the beginning of January and see how my progress is going. A lot – LOT of bloggers do the typical New Year’s resolution post every year, and pretty much forget about it. I fully intend to revisit my 10 resolutions every month and make sure I do everything I can to fulfill all of them. Not only that, but I want to start setting some short term goals for each month as well, so that I stay moving in the right direction.

First a look back on January. Wow, what a crazy month. I started the month out extremely sick – to the point where I couldn’t hardly work at all. I’m not the type of person to get sick a lot, but I think it has something to do with having small kids – they pick stuff up easily and bring it home. Whatever the reason, I caught something that stuck with me for about 3 weeks, dating to the last week of December. Throughout that 3 weeks, I maybe only had a handful of days where I was at work and feeling 100%. So it was a pretty big setback starting out the year – to say the least. Especially since I was feeling really positive about starting the year out on a good note. When I finally did start feeling good again, and got back to work, I had several setbacks that I had to spend quite a bit of time addressing and also were mentally straining. Overall, I would say I didn’ t even get close to being back on my normal schedule until halfway through January. Once I did get back to normal, things started moving along again. I made some great strides with my SEO efforts on several sites – for clients, and my own personal properties, and I finally purchased and started working with Micro Niche Finder, which I have been planning to do for quite a while. My Adsense income skyrocketed in December – particularly due to a large site I have that does incredibly well on Christmas day, so I was expecting it, but the good thing is, I carried those good numbers into January, and desipte my one good performer calming down, my earnings have stayed consistent and my total for January will be fairly close to my December total, which I consider a HUGE step in the right direction – especially as I continue to add more niche snipers that should help me in that area as well.

Last Sunday I was completely devastated by the Vikings loss to the Saints. I’m not a Minnesota homer, but I’ve been a huge Vikings fan since the mid 90’s. I follow the NFL and NBA closely and I’ve been die hard Celtics fan for over 10 years. I was probably the only person in Minnesota who was ecstatic about KG getting traded to Boston a couple years back. Anyway, I’ve been an equally huge fan of the Vikings, and the buzz and excitement through the entire month of January was crazy, and it culminated with the game on Sunday night. I’ve personally been through the hardest loss of all time – the 1998 loss to the Falcons in the NFC Championship and also the 41-0 thrashing in the 2000 Championship game against the Giants. Amazingly, before the game, I was extremely cautiously optimistic – I have learned that the Vikings have almost a Red Sox or Cubs “aura” where they will lead you along just enough to break your heart at the last minute, so I didn’t necessarily expect a win. The thing that killed me was the way they lost the game – they played great, and have every opportunity to put it away, and they just couldn’t do it. Needless to say, it was a really tough loss to swallow and this entire last week has been rough for me – much worse than I thought it would be. But I can’t take anything away from the Saints, and I think it will be an exciting Super Bowl. The only reason I’m mentioning this at all, is because it was a big part of what’s been going on around here this month. Now I’m ready to move on and shift my focus back to something I CAN control – making money.

SO – now I’m going to revisit my 10 goals I set at the beginng of the month, and report on the progress of each one.

1. Reach $50/Day in AdSense Earnings

Making good progress here. Pre-December, I was probably averaging right around $20/day. January average is probably slightly over $30/day. December was higher, but December is the best month, so I’m not going to count that. I strongly think that adding these new niche snipers can get me to $50/day by the end of second quarter this year, and I also have a few other things I’m working on that will help a lot as well.

2. Reach $50/Day in EPN Earnings

EPN is so frustrating from just about every angle that I hate even talking about it at this point. This month actually went OK for me. November and December were a huge disappointment, and I started this month with my EPC in the TANK. The reason – stupid bot clicks starting around Christmas and going for about 2 weeks totally screwed me over (I think). I had to update PHP bay on 100 sites, and I made the mistake of waiting too long to do so, and it tanked my EPC – it was as low as .02 for a couple days.  I started the month at .05, gradually climbed back up to a respectable EPC, and funny, within the last two days my EPC took a dive again FOR NO APPARENT REASON. Honestly, I really have no clue this time. The saddest thing at all, is the SHOCKING disparity between my earnings, ebay’s earnings and the gross merchandise sold. It’s really incredible to me what they are doing with this system, and I honestly have no motivation to continue actively promoting their products.

That being said – I’m not giving up on my 100 EPN sites.  February will mark the 6 month period for many of the 100 sites, and the general consensus is that between month 6-9 is the most common sandboxing timeframe. I’m NOT expecting my sites to come out of the sandbox in February, but I believe the day that they will come out of the sandbox is getting closer. I’ll say this – if they aren’t out of the sandbox by June, I will be very surprised, and I think that’s a pretty conservative estimate.

So this particular goal, I am not really working towards right now. I’m mostly banking on the fact that some time, within the first half of 2010, my sites will come out of the sandbox and should hopefully propel me well past this goal. If not, then it probably wasn’t meant to be in the first place. Sad thing is, at this time last year I was right on the cusp of $50/day from EPN, and so much negative shit has happened since then – from EPN changes to penalties from G, it’s been a big mountain for me to climb. The good thing is, I still am earning between 10-20/day from EPN, and my AdSense has been growing.

3. Reach $200/Month in Amazon Earnings

I’m quite a way off from this. In fact, I checked my Amazon stats a couple weeks ago and realized I had FINALLY made my first commission – 0.60. You have to start somewhere. I was planning on promoting Amazon heavier at the end of 09, but just wasn’t ready, and I still have a lot to learn about Amazon. What I WANT to do, is get on track with my AdSense snipers, hit my $50/month goal, then pump out 10 snipers using Amazon instead of Adsense and see if I can make it all work. I’m not necessarily expecting to reach $200/month from Amazon in the first half of this year, but it is a possibility, and I can definitely see the potential. Any new stuff I would have done with EPN is definitely going to be centered on Amazon instead now.

4. Lose 20 Pounds in the next 2 Months

Coming along good on this one. I really hit a setback being sick for the first 2 weeks of the month. On Saturday, January 1st, when I wrote my long resolution post, I was extremely gung-ho about starting on a more strict routine. I woke up the following Monday deathly sick, and bascially didn’t get any exercise at all for about the first half of the month. Luckily, I didn’t do TOO bad with watching what I ate – especially since I was eating a lot of soup, so I stayed on the right track. I didn’t really get back into exercising until last Monday, but I’m happy to say that I’ve exercised every day so far this week for at least 30 minutes. For the month of January, I lost a total of about 7 pounds. Not bad, all things considered. Next week, I’m going to try to double my efforts and exercise at least 60 minutes a day, and continue on eating healthy. I’m pretty sure I can reach my goal – but 13 pounds in 30 days will take some work. We’ll see…

5. Complete a Web Development Project I’ve Been Planning for 6 Months

I got no real work done on this in January. This is something that’s been on my list for a good 3-4 months at least, probably more, really, and I just always seem to find other things to prioritize over it. Here’s a small preview of the project: I’m going to start a web design company specifically targeting the resort industry – as in Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes, there is a shocking amount of resorts. I’m going to provide a budget website package consisting of a choice between a handful of quality pre-fab templates, which can be customized, and also offer custom design options and marketing. I know I can absolutely crush this market. The main thing that is preventing me from starting is I really want to have good quality templates for my budget package, as well as a really nice custom design for the main site.

I have no formal graphic design training whatsoever, but I have been desigining sites myself for about 5 years. In that time I’ve come up with some really nice stuff, so I know I can do design – the main problem is it takes me a really long time to create a design. For example, I might end up spending 16 hours just getting inspired enough to get to work in Photoshop, and then the whole design and coding process is just brutal after that.

I’ve also considered outsourcing the design part of the project, but I don’t know if it’s the best place to invest my capital at this point. My goal for February on this is to get SOMETHING done. I don’t know what yet, but I want to at least get this moving. Resort season in MN really gets into full effect in May, so I’m slowly missing the boat for what I would consider prime selling time this season, but there’s maybe a chance I can still salvage it for this year.

The great thing is, I have a couple other lucrative verticals ready to go if this works, so I really think I might be on to something with this. I mostly just have to buckle down and get to work.

6. Get My E-Commerce Site into the Top 5 in Google for a Very Competitive Keyword I’ve Been Targeting

This has been going really well for me. I have 3 main keywords I’m targeting. The MAIN one, which I specifically made this goal for, reached as high as position 10 this month, which is on the first page. Now it’s shifting a lot between position 10-20. I don’t expect this to get done overnight, but I do fully believe I can make this one happen this year. I’ve gotten my 3 main keywords all into the top 30 this month, where 2 months ago none of them were in the top 100, so I’m on the right track for sure.

7. Double Daily Organic Traffic to My E-Commerce Site

This ties right in with #6, and it’s been coming right along. Traffic right now is up 29% since last month (overall), so I’m fairly close to reaching my goal on this one already. I think within 2-3 months I’ll be able to call this one a success.

8. 20 x New Micro Niche Sites

Moving right along  on this as well. I’ve got 4 new sites fully deployed and launched this month, and I’ve got the content ready and the sites all set up for another 8, which should completely be finished by Tuesday of next week at the latest. That only leaves 8 left, which I fully expect will be complete by the end of February.

9. Get a Really Nice Sound System Installed in My Lincoln Town Car

Had absolutely no time to work on this in January, mostly due to the fact I was sick for so long, and then it took me quite a while to get caught up in my work, and most of my free time was spent enjoying the NFL playoffs. I think there is a strong possibility this will happen this month – not only has my schedule loosened a lot, but it’s also my Birthday at the end of the month, so I might be able to convince my wife to hook me up. We’ll see what happens.

10. Post at Least 156 New Posts on This Site

I’m on a nice pace so far. Hopefully everyone has enjoyed my increased posting so far. At times, it’s really a bitch to try to think of things to write about. I started the Freebie Friday posts, so that gives me sort of something to post at least once weekly, although that can be tough too – I don’t want it to get lame after a while. I want to try to keep thinking of things like the Freebie Friday, and my End of the Month recap that will give me a set thing to post about, so I can keep the posts coming. So far I think I’ve done better than expected – I’ve seen a ton of bloggers with resolutions to “dedicate more time to their site”, “post more on their site”, etc, etc. I really want to stick myself to this one and make it happen. I think posting here helps me just as much as my readers, by helping me stay focused, and accountable. Since I started my 100 EPN site challenge and recording the results, I really feel my productivity went up. I strongly doubt that if I hadn’t posted anything regarding the EPN sites here, I wouldn’t have ever got to 100.

February Goals

Whew. That was really a mouthful. Now on to my February goals.

1.  Get at least two of the goals above completed

I know for a fact that nothing is stopping me from completing the micro niche sites. I also think I should be able to complete my goal of losing 20 pounds in two months, and I also think I can get my new sound system knocked out. The other goals are a little more long term, and may take 2-3 more months to really complete, but for now, I think knocking 2 out is a reasonable goal, and I should easily hit this one.

2. Use MNF to find 100 topics for automotive site

I hinted at this before – I’ve got an automotive site with an aged domain and PR. I want to find 100 low competition automotive topics and do 100 new articles on that site – I’ll treat each page as a separate niche site, and see what happens. I would like to try to get to a point where I can use this approach effectively so that I can focus on making authority sites instead of sniper sites. The snipers cost more to maintain and are more of a pain in the ass to manage. Once I have this site done, and my first 20 micro snipers done, I can compare the results between the two and make a battle plan for March and April.

3. Get SOMETHING done on my resort web design business

I talked about this above.  I registered the domain damn near 6 months ago and threw up a page, so it’s been marinating and all ready to go. I think I would like to either get the design done for the site itself, or complete one of the templates. Either way, it’s going to be some work, but I hope I can make time to get it done.

4. Get 1 of my first 6 micro niche snipers ranked in the top 3 for its main keyword

This really shouldn’t be too hard for me since I’ve already got two of them in the top 10. Really, I would like to see at least one of these get to #1,

5. Accomplish 4 other low priority tasks

I’m all about lists and using lists to get things done. I’ve got to the point where now, I keep an immediate list here on my desk of tasks I need to do, as well as a second list, which are all tasks that I’ve transferred from list to list for months, and they never get done because they are all low priority tasks. This includes things like – working on old domains/sites, trying new SEO methods, etc. I’ve got 9 things on the list right now – one of them is work on resort web design project, so I’m not counting that one. There are 8 other things on the list – most have to do with updating or reformating some old, forgotten sites. I want to cut that list in half, and hopefully have it completely off my desk by the end of march. Most of these tasks shouldn’t take that long, so I think it’s totally doable, and not only that, some of these older sites can potentially make me some nice extra income if I redo them.

Conclusion

Well, it’s taken a lot of time out of my day today to write this post, but I think it will ultimately be worth it. I’ve really been benefiting from making myself accountable for these goals, and working towards them, so I’m hoping that revisiting them and setting short term goals will help even more.

Overall, January has been full of ups and downs for me. It started out slow, and I had quite a few setbacks. I’m ending the month in a funk from the Vikings loss.  On the plus side, my affiliate income is up, I learned a few things, and I’m getting quite a bit of new work in from my regular web design business. Overall, it was a good month. I’m really really hoping that things settle down for me in February, and I can really focus on getting my work done and crushing these tasks in front of me.

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