I’m blown away by this past month. The AdSense earnings of my first niche site(Niche Site #1) jumped from $235 in June to $1400 in July. The site also earned an additional $119 from a lead gen widget I added from Quinstreet. That brings the total earnings in July to $1519!
Self high five!
In May, this very niche site earned a mere $48 total earnings. Two months later, it has exploded into a four-figure website that still has more potential to grow. I never expected to hit this level of income at this point. Just over a month ago, I was still dreaming about “maybe” earning $2000 a month by the end of the year. I’m projected to reach that goal by the end of this month.
But hey, a combination of proper link building and dumb luck goes a long way. Let’s go over what happened this past month.
I’m #1 in Google!
At the end of last month, the ranking for my primary keyword was at #18. So I set a goal to secure a spot on the first page by the end of July. What happened?
Yup, definitely on the first page
Yes! Expired domains to the rescue! After sending over some more high PR link juice and tweaking the on-page SEO a bit, I hit #1 for my primary keyword sometime in the middle of July.
Ranking #1 for my primary keyword skyrocketed my traffic since the keyword is searched over 12,000 times a month. The primary keyword alone accounted for 11.42% of my visits. I expect that percentage to edge upwards even further in August since I’ll be #1 for the entire month.
Even though I’ve technically hit the #1 spot, I know that I can still improve the search traffic from my primary keyword. Whenever I search my primary keyword on my own computer or on my phone, I see a local search result take the #1 spot.
I’m convinced that by building even more page authority, I can beat those personalized results. My plan is to give my site 1-2 high PR backlinks each month. This should put me in the #1 spot, even for local searches and strengthen my back link profile for long term stability in Google(hopefully).
Aiming for a Citation Flow above 30…. and a Trust Flow above 20…
Attacking the Long Tail
One of Niche Site #1′s biggest expenses was the content. As a clueless newbie, I spent over $10 an article for my first niche site.
But Jon Haver wrote an excellent post detailing how he gets quality content on oDesk for around $2-$5 per article.
Since Niche Site #1 was so successful, it made sense to invest more into content and attack the long tail.
Using Jon’s cheap article strategy, I got over 110 articles written in the month of the July!
Fifty of those articles were for Niche Site #1. Google likes fresh content, so I’ve scheduled all 50 articles to post themselves every four days. I have so much content queued up that Niche Site #1 will have fresh content posted until the end of January 2014.
In June, Niche Site #1 was found by 1333 different keywords. In July, the total increased to 2871 keywords. With my long tail strategy in place, my site should be found by more keywords every month.
The other sixty articles I ordered were used to start my second niche site(henceforth, Niche Site #2). For Niche Site #2, I adopted the same site building philosophy as Niche Site #1:
- Aim for long term success
- Build authority with lots of content
- Strengthen back link profile with authoritative, relevant links
While I’ve received and published all articles for Niche Site #2, the site’s progress has been slow. This brings me to my failures this past month.
Niche Site #2 has had little success so far. Ordering, editing, and posting 110 pieces of content for both sites took a lot of time. Even though all 110 of those articles were outsourced, outsourcing itself is not a magic bullet. Outsourcing my work brought a new set of challenges.
The Problem with Outsourcing Cheap Articles
Using Jon’s article writing method, ideally you want to attract an American(or native English speaking) writer that’s new to oDesk and will write for cheap to get experience. Someone like a stay-at-home mom or a college student.
But even if you ask specifically for native english speakers, you’ll still hear from job applicants that sound like they’re writing you through Google Translate.
Dealing with foreign job applicants isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because of this past month, I’ve found some great writers from the Philippines and Pakistan that will write quality articles for a cheap price.
Still, 100 of my articles were written by non-native English speakers (I ended up hiring only one American writer). While Filipinos speak great English, it’s not perfect. You will find odd phrasing and word choice throughout their articles.
I’m committed to ensuring my websites give only high-quality, authentic advice. The type of advice that can only come from an actual American writer. So, I ended up editing all 100 of those articles by myself.
No Time for Back Links
Ordering, editing, and publishing 100+ articles in a single month was exhausting.
No more sloppy articles… please..
I should’ve been link building the moment I posted the home page article for Niche Site #2. But this month, I never got around to link building at all. When you order articles you have to:
- Review and hire job applicants
- Track the status of jobs in progress
- Hire replacements if your first hires fail to deliver
- Edit articles for quality
- Add images and formatting as you publish to WordPress
With all that work, in addition to a full time job, I had no time for link building. If I had started link building on time, it’s likely Niche Site #2 would’ve earned some money by now.
Slow Break Even Time
It’s safe to say Niche Site #1 is a success. It makes over four figures a month and will probably hold that level of earnings with little upkeep.
But how long did the site take to become profitable? Did it take too long to make a profit?
To answer those questions, let’s go over Niche Site #1′s total expenses and income so far..
(Disclaimer: Many of the following links are affiliate links. I earn a small commission if you make a purchase through them. So if you’ve found this report valuable, and wish to use my link then thanks in advance!)
- HostGator for Hosting: $101.82
- GoDaddy for Root Domain: $3.13
- LongTailPro for Keyword Research: $77 + Recurring $12 * 6
- Fiverr for Theme Editing and Logo: $30
- GoDaddy for Expired Domains: $334.23
- NameCheap for Expired Domains w/ anon registry: $9.79
- UpWork for Articles: $208.88
- Elance for Articles: $6.58
- IXWebhosting for Expired Domain hosting: $171.72
Total Expenses: $1015.15
- Google AdSense:$1766.16
- QuinStreet: $119
Total Revenue: $1885.16
So that’s a cumulative net profit of $870.01. Looking closely at my AdSense reports, it took about200 days to break even.
For a newbie, that’s not bad.
Still, if Google decided to penalize my site tomorrow, that’s almost seven months of hard work down the drain. The longer the break even time of an investment, the riskier the investment is.
Whenever, I make a niche site, I need to start focusing on getting my money back as soon as possible to mitigate the risk of Google penalties.
This month, I’ll start testing a new site building process to improve break even time. I’ll explain below.
Upcoming Plans this Month
Implementing a New Site Building Process: The MVP Method
After reading The Lean Startup by Eric Reiss , my main takeaway was the idea of an MVP or Minimum Viable Product.
What’s a Minimum Viable Product? It’s a product released to the market that has nothing more than the bare minimum features.
Just the BEAR necessities, amirite?
In other words, it’s a product that is intentionally released before it’s perfected. The idea is that you should not try to release a perfect product to the market. If you do, you’re wasting your time and resources. Often times the features or products in development aren’t even desired by your potential customers.
Rather than wasting time on the unwanted, a better methodology is to first sell an MVP to collect customer feedback and find out what they want. The process goes like this:
- Sell an MVP to the public as soon as possible
- Collect feedback from customers
- Develop and implement only the features that the customers asked for
- Sell an improved version of your product with the highly requested features
I can adopt these same principles to niche site building. For Niche Site’s #1 and #2, I’ve spent a ton of time trying to build an “authority.” I order over 50 pages of content to start, then make small(but time consuming) tweaks on all of the articles.
But am I wasting too much time, effort, and money, before I validate a site’s success and profitability?
For the month of August, I plan to develop three to five “MVP” sites. The MVP sites will only include the bare necessities:
- 20 Articles
- An AdSense Theme
- No personal editing on articles
- No logo
Once I collect more data on these MVP sites and analyze their potential profitability, then I’ll decide which sites are worth my time to develop.
Now, I’m still committed to quality. After last month, I’ve built up a rolodex of dependable, high-quality writers. I have the option to assign jobs only to the writers I’ve enjoyed working with best. Again, I want to free up my time, and working only with my vetted writers will save a lot of headaches.
Expanding my Outsourcing
Time has been the biggest bottleneck holding back my income growth. Editing and publishing polished articles consumed too much of my time in July.
I’ve decided to hire a Content Manager for my successful sites like Niche Site #1. Someone who can edit, publish, and even order new articles for me.
To find the right person for the job, I went to oDesk. Luckily, I was able to find an American freelancer who was new to oDesk, but very knowledgable about Niche Site #1′s topic material. This made her very cheap to work with. I started her off with a simple editing job for Niche Site #1, and she’s done a fantastic job.
My plan is to transition her into a Content Manager position for both Niche Site #1 and even #2. Since both of these sites will earn four figures a month, I don’t mind paying her a couple hundred a month to take care of the articles for me. Especially since she would do an even better job than I would, given her expertise in the industry.
Paying More Attention to You!
I’m really happy to see this blog’s growing readership. I didn’t expect the level of feedback I’ve received from all of you. Thanks for all the comments, and even the emails I’ve received!
If you’ve e-mailed me and haven’t yet received a reply, then I do apologize. The e-mails are forwarded to an inbox that I never use, and I’m just reading through most of them now(I had no idea anyone would even e-mail me). If you haven’t yet received a reply to your e-mail, then I’m on it now!
As thanks for your support and kind words, I would like to dedicate my next post to the topic that you, the readers, want to see the most. Most of your comments and e-mails were around these three topics:
- Expired Domains
- My AdSense Theme
- A “Challenge” of some sort
Since I still work full time, I want to make sure that my next posts cover the topic that you most want to read about. Here are the options for my next post:
- Expired Domain Guide – A detailed post covering the methods I’ve used to find expired domains, how I set them up and where I host them. Note that I’m still refining my process here, and this will likely take the longest to make.
- AdSense Theme Review – I’m a huge fan of the AdSense theme I’m using. It’s looks professional and dramatically increased conversion in July. I could write a post detailing how I set up the theme, which AdSense blocks I use, and how to customize the theme even further.
- Niche Site Challenge – Some of you have “challenged” me with online income challenges like “First to make $1000 a month” or “First to make $2000 a month”. Very interesting idea, but I’ve already surpassed those goals!
Still, I liked the idea of a Niche Site Challenge, and I’ve been playing with more creative rules. My problem with a “First to X dollars a month” challenge is that it doesn’t necessarily reward the niche site builder with the best process.
After all, some guy can just go out and spend a thousand dollars to buy links for his money sites, but that isn’t necessarily the most cost-effective way to build a niche site.
Fry is pretty good at the SEO
I’m toying with some challenge ideas involving the MVP method, but of course, I wouldn’t mind hearing your ideas in the comments. It would be fun to host a challenge with other niche site builders, so please leave a comment if you have an idea for a challenge!