I don’t normally start with this but bloody hell has February been a month to remember. No, unfortunately I haven’t won the lottery though if I did I’d certainly help out all of the pals on the Pursue FIRE slack channel for being so helpful with advice regarding various Financial Independence topics. But instead, I’m been stupidly busy (so much so that my drive for FIRE grows ever stronger). Just before I start, I’d like to say a special thanks to Jo from Firethe9to5 who provided some very insightful comments on the BTL property market (as I had a few questions about looking into purchasing a flat on a Buy to Let (BTL) mortgage). It’s so helpful to be able to speak to people in the same boat as you, looking to retire early as it does create this fab community environment helping everyone achieve their own goal.

What’s been occurring?

Well work has been keeping me pretty busy recently. I work in the SEO industry, maintaining and closely following Google’s algorithmic fluctuations and since August of 2018, Google has become very volatile. In-fact so volatile that fluctuations have occurred in such sporadic and no meaningful or trend based manner. What this essentially means is that Google has updated their algorithm somewhere and unfortunately found themselves to be reverting back changes via A/B split tests. They of course won’t mention it, but when you review over 600 websites and understand the various patterns across those sites, you can begin to formulate a picture of what Google are looking out for.

In some ways or another, they really pulled a boo-boo when it came to ranking websites. For example, let’s take the search phrase “garage doors surrey”. The behaviour (i.e. the intent) of a user who’s searching for this phrase will tend to be orientated around someone who is looking for a service related to Garage Doors and given that they’ve searched a specific location, illustrates intent revolving around a company that is local to them. However, with Google being Google, we found ourselves back in September battling against Pinterest, an image sharing social media website, ranking in the first 5 positions for this phrase…. Of course, Google’s relevancy algorithm should be delivering results based on the users search intent – it’s their primary objective / goal. Placing 5 ranking pages for ‘Pinterest’ for this kind of search phrase is clearly a screw up. Fortunately, since then, rankings have improved and our clients have seen good results, but it has only just started to settle down as of end of February.

So a few grey hairs later and lots of all-nighters, we’re back to original ranking results for many of our clients back in August-18. Thanks Google…. (you may notice a trend that I’m not particularly a friend of Google’s – they paint themselves a decent picture, whilst in-essence, making close to $1,000 per second through Google AdWords worldwide (based on a few years worth of financial data) that is unfortunately all they care about. Not the small businesses that tend to provide significant support for many countries globally.

New Side Hustle: Amazon Affiliate Store   

A new business venture indeed! With the idea of building up multi-revenue streams of passive income (EW is fantastic and I do enjoy the premise of it / tracking / monitoring, but it does require some time to be sunk into it to make it really grow) I’m looking into building an Amazon Affiliate store, which we’re aiming to set live by the end of February. I won’t reveal the niche of the Amazon site yet (it’s unfortunately nothing too interesting!) – but we are looking to launch two websites – one to target UK markets and another US markets to measure the response / outcome of each.

Currently we’re awaiting Amazon API feed access for US markets which is proving much more difficult compared to that of obtaining access for the UK version which seemed to be only a phone call and hey presto, we were in. Instead the US require at-least 3 qualifying Amazon US sales to allow access to their Product Advertising API Feed – it’s probably because Amazon have received so many requests and they needed to place some sort of financial gain / barrier in place to separate the ones that were serious in giving Amazon Affiliate Marketing a go.

So anyway, what’s been occurring? Well the design of the website is practically complete and the content loading is now being implemented for all of the various products. We do unfortunately need to re-write all of the content that has been ported across from Amazon onto the website – a factor of one of Google’s content algorithms (Panda) which reduces ranking for websites that have ‘duplicate’ content copied from another. This is a pretty laborious task unfortunately and requires lots re-writes and re-edits to differentiate the content enough to dip under Google’s content algorithm.

Following on from this and depending on the success of this website (SEO to follow suit upon the site going live) I’m going to blog about the journey to hopefully provide some insight into what I do and my plan to see the website grow.

Amazon Affiliates on average pay around 7% commission for referral sales. The products that I’m selling range from £99.99 up to £700 – so only a few sales per month is enough to pay for the phone bill / electricity bill etc (particularly sales for the higher end products). However, I’m not looking to achieve just a few sales and the selection / niche industry selection is critical to ensure sales can increase – What I mean by this, is if you’re looking to go down the route of an Amazon Affiliate store, I wouldn’t recommend going for an industry that is saturated to the high-end! Something like Weight Loss Supplements has been done over and over again. Selecting something niche that receives a decent amount of searches per month is critical to seeing the success of this affiliate marketing.

Up and Coming

I’m going to do my usual financial update at the end of February to record the finances of February. So far my savings rate is on track as I continue to cut back (of course not to extreme levels that I’m living on rice and beans!) but things like ‘washing the car’ which I’ve done once a month saves £15 – or equivalently £180 per year if I do it buy hand.

All these small tips and tricks and just putting in that extra time and effort really does go a long way to help save those extra pennies thus reducing monthly outgoings!

Until then folks touch base soon!