Case Study & Income Report #6 [June 2020 edition]

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It’s been 10 days since I’ve done any work on my sites because I just moved from Amsterdam to The Hague. And my sites just kept on bringing in them sweet monies…that’s the benefit of creating sites like this.

So, if seeing these income reports isn’t enough motivation for working on sites, then knowing that I spent 10 days not working (but still earning) should do the trick. I actually spent around two weeks in total not working because my birthday was last month and I took some extra time off for that.

Honestly, being able to take several weeks off while still earning is the biggest benefit of having sites that bring in revenue. And why I keep doing this!

Now, let’s see how the month shaped up with me only working around 50% of the month.

Remember, the sites in this report are only a portion of my portfolio and not the only sites that bring in revenue.

**And as always, I’m an affiliate marketer and this post contains affiliate links, meaning I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

What Happened In June

I spent a lot of time packing and trying to enjoy the things about Amsterdam that I knew I’d miss with my move to the Hague. Like the canal view from my (now old) apartment.

 

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But the new apartment has its perks as well. Like being so close to the sea that I can see it from my living room.

 

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Plus, the wifi is faster! As soon as my new desk and chair arrive, I expect to be able to crank out even more work on my sites since this area of The Hague is much calmer than my previous location in Amsterdam.

Other than my move, the big news of the month that affected me (and maybe you) was Mediavine raising their traffic requirements I had four sites that met the previous threshold for additional sites…but I drug my feet on it and didn’t apply in time.

Oh, and I discovered that one of my sites DID get hit by the big May core algo update. But I don’t really have time to deal with that until maybe later in July.

The Sites – June Update

In case you missed it in the announcement post, or just can’t remember, I’ll be recapping the basics of each site before I give you the details on what the month looked like for each site.

Site #1

Here’s what you should know about this site:
  • Niche: Professional services
  • Monetization: display ads + info products + sponsorships/direct ads
  • Income Goal: I’ll be happy with $2,000/mo but I think it has the potential for low to mid to high four figures monthly (if not more).
  • Growth Plan: HARO, joining niche relevant groups/forums for traffic leaking, ebooks/books, social media marketing. This will be a large site/brand.
  • The case study angle: building a successful non-affiliate site

For this new site, I spent my time focused on HARO link building and I outsourced some content for the site to Word Agents. I’ve used Word Agents for other sites in the past with good results, so I’m confident that they can deliver the kind of quality content that this site needs.

Now I’m up to 10 live posts on this site, which is an okay amount for this early in the game. Honestly, I’m not personally interested in this niche, which means that I’m going to be outsourcing more and more of the content for it.

In terms of links, I’ve had two more DR 80+ links go live from HARO. There may be others out there, but these are the ones that I know of.

And that order I placed at SerpLogic back in April for 15 links got fulfilled last month. The links are all high DA/DR, but lots of them are community blog sort of posts – so, those ones are garbage.

Some of those ones aren’t even indexed more than a month after going live – and yes, this happens when you buy links (even from the really popular places).

All in, I paid $98 per link for these and the links that are not garbage make up for the garbage ones.

The influx of links is helping with the keyword rankings. I’ve now got several keywords in the top 50, and here’s what my best keyword looks like:

ahrefs keyword movement

Unfortunately though, I’m only ranking for the homepage of the site so far. So, I’m hoping that by the next update there will be some keywords from the posts.

Nothing really to report in terms of traffic because only one person arrived via organic search.

New posts for this site: eight

New links for this site: 19 (I think)

Summary for site #1: The site now has ten live articles and lots of new backlinks. Still only ranking keywords for the homepage. Will be outsourcing more content in July.

Site #2

Here’s what you should know about this site:
  • Niche: Transportation
  • Monetization: affiliate (Amazon + others) + display ads
  • Income Goal: I’ll be happy with $1000/mo but I think it has the potential for mid four figures monthly based on a conversation I had with someone in this niche.
  • History: Site has been earning steadily and is profitable. It was sitting, neglected, when I decided to pick it back up this year.
  • Growth Plan: hit it with lots of informational articles to optimize content for ad money (first goal = Ezoic and eventually Mediavine). I also need to update old content & utilize more non-Amazon affiliates with longer cookies. I may end up testing Pinterest on this site to see how it performs.
  • The case study angle: prioritizing links over content + expanding beyond Amazon + beyond Google traffic

Traffic is still rising on this site, which is good because I’m not really doing anything other than sending links to it slowly. I still haven’t even updated old posts.

I ordered one new link from NO-BS, which went live in June, and the previous link I’d ordered for this site (also from them) went live in June as well.

So, I think the combination of the two new links + people getting back to some sense of normal in the US explains the rise in traffic. Though it’s only around 600 more people than the previous month.

New posts for this site: zero

New links for this site: two (one to an info post, one to a money post)

site 2 june traffic

Fortunately, this month’s traffic rise also resulted in an income rise as well. This is actually the highest income over the past six months.

Total income for this site last month: $124.23

The income for this site is a mixture of AdSense and Amazon affiliate. I use AAWP for the Amazon links on this site.

Summary for site #2: Income is up and traffic is up. Two new guest post links went live.

Site #3

Here’s what you should know about this site:
  • Niche: Health/Fitness
  • Monetization: affiliate (Amazon + others) + display ads (and maybe products?)
  • Income Goal: I haven’t decided what I’ll be happy with yet for this one – maybe $5000? But I do know this site has five-figure potential.
  • History: Site has been earning steadily and is profitable. It is somewhat seasonal, though the niche is evergreen.
  • Growth Plan: Hit it with lots of informational articles to optimize content for ad money. This site has enough traffic for Ezoic, but I’m holding out to qualify for Mediavine. I also need to update old content & utilize more non-Amazon affiliates with longer cookies/higher paying offers. HARO is the only link building that I currently have planned for this site.
  • The case study angle: prioritizing content over links + building a mailing list + monetization diversification + alternative traffic growth

Well, I knew this was going to happen sooner rather than later, but the big news for this site is that income is down. What’s interesting about that is that the traffic is basically the same as the previous month.

Though, the income decline could be a result of a lot of the equipment that I promote being out of stock.

All things considered though, I feel like the income drop could have been worse. With that in mind, I’m okay with where things are currently at.

New posts for this site: 20

It’s a mix of money posts and informational ones. Though I’d guess than only 20% of the new posts are money posts.

Average word count for these is a bit higher than last month at closer to 1,700 words.

site 3 june traffic

With traffic remaining pretty stagnant, this site meets the new Mediavine traffic requirements. However, I’m not yet applying because I want to make sure that I get approved.

You see, someone in my private Facebook group mentioned getting declined and being told it was because her top 10 posts were to centered on the same topic. I have that same issue on this site, so I’m working on diversifying that a bit before applying.

Pinterest traffic to this site is still growing, with it making up almost 12% of total traffic last month.

All I’m doing with Pinterest is using Tailwind with the Tribes Power-Up that gives me access to 10 tribes. I only login to Tailwind when I publish a new post, meaning that it’s super low effort.

New links for this site: zero!

I didn’t even respond to any HAROs for this site last month.

Total income for this site last month: $4,304.02

Yeah, that almost two grand drop hurts a bit, but I was expecting it. Last month’s income is a mix of AdSense, Amazon affiliate, and other affiliates. I use the AAWP plugin on this site as well.

The income drop with traffic remaining stagnant means that the overall RPM also dropped to around $95.

Summary for site #3: Expected income drop happened, but traffic remained about the same. Met the new Mediavine requirements but holding off on applying while I work on building out a new content silo.

Site #4

Here’s what you should know about this site:
  • Niche: Lifestyle
  • Monetization: display ads + affiliates + products + info products (+ possibility for real world business offshoot)
  • Income Goal: I think I’ll be happy with $2500/mo but I know of a few people in this niche making $20K+/month.
  • Growth Plan: Right now I’m all about content creation. Next up is traffic diversification and this niche does well on Pinterest. For link building, I haven’t decided yet. There are a lot of guest posting opportunities in this niche though.
  • The case study angle: mega authority site from day one to mega status –> building a brand from the beginning with long term growth focus on diversifying traffic + monetization

Minimal effort again on this one, but since we just hit month six I’ll likely start to ramp things up on it. And, I’m now at 20 live posts, which is a good number to be at for a low effort attempt so far.

And organic traffic has picked up slightly (almost 3% increase, according to Google Analytics). Ahrefs shows that it’s ranking for almost 100 keywords right now, with the best ranking being a featured snippet.

site 4 traffic

Like I’ve mentioned previously, this topic/niche took a dive in interest with Covid-19 and it’s still not  yet started picking up properly. Regardless, I’m still planning on picking up the pace with this one.

New posts for this site: two

New links for this site: zero

Total income for this site last month: $0.00

Still haven’t created the social accounts for this site, and still haven’t monetized it at all.

Summary for site #4: Slight traffic increase, rankings on the rise, and got the site up to 20 posts.

New Expenses For June 2020

If you want to know about any recurring expenses or previous expenses, then refer to February’s report in this section.

Here’s new expenses for the sites for June:

Site #1

  • $7.00 Digital Ocean droplet at Cloudways (two sites on this server, so I split out the cost for just this site)
  • $348 for content at Word Agents ($0.06/word)

site one monies

Going forward the expenses are going to continue to rise as I outsource more and more content. Honestly, I’m not even sure if this site will be profitable by years end!

Site #2

  • $6.50 Vultr server at Cloudways (two sites on this server, so I split out the cost for just this site)
  • $189.00 on guest post from Nobs.link

site 2 monies

Site #3

  • $126.75 for one article via Writer Access ($0.036/word)
  • $199.35 for one article pitched by a freelance writer ($0.05/word)
  • $420 for several articles from one of my longtime writers ($0.03/word)
  • $17 hosting with BigScoots (last month of promo code pricing)

site 3 monies

Not much to say here other than I focused on a big content push, hence big expenses for it.

Site #4

  • $6.50 Vultr server at Cloudways (two sites on this server, so I split out the cost for just this site)

site 4 monies

I wrote the new content for this site, so no content expenses. I’ll likely continue writing the content for this one for quite a while because I’m interested in the niche.

You’ll notice a new expense for hosting. That’s because I finally move it off the old shared hosting account and onto a new Vultr server at Cloudways with another site.

Final Thoughts & Summary

Despite earnings for this little collection of sites being down a bit, I’m still satisfied with where things are at. Since I was expecting the revenue decline for site #3 it doesn’t sting as much as it normally would.

However, now that I’ve tasted having Site #3 at the $6,000 monthly earnings mark, I’m super focused on getting back to that amount. Hence the big content push I did last month.

Granted, we’re already a week into July and I have done zero work thus far…so we’ll see how much I get done by the next update 😉

Quick summary for the month:

all sites monies

And remember, these four sites are only a portion of my portfolio 🙂 I also want to remind you that sites #2 and #3 were existing sites that were already earning and ranking before starting this whole thing.

Got any questions? Requests for other data in future updates? Let me know.

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3 thoughts on “Case Study & Income Report #6 [June 2020 edition]”

  1. I always look forward to these updates Shawna. Since you have a good amount of sites in your portfolio. Do you plan to sell any of them this year?

    I currently have 5 sites in my portfolio. I would like to sell one a year and keep the others for cash flow. Use that cash to invest on another existing site and save the rest. Then rinse and repeat.

    Also how are you managing with the COVID crisis over there in Europe while attempting to move around?

    Reply
    • Hey Samuel,
      I actually sold a few big sites last year, so I don’t have any that I’m really targeting to sell this year. I do have a few neglected sites in the $50-$100/mo range that I might end up getting rid of before year’s end to reduce my number of sites, but that’s probably it.

      Instead I’ve been looking at my portfolio to see if there are sites that I can combine to reduce my overall site load. I’m at 22 sites currently, but will be combining a few to get down to 16. But normally, I do what you’re talking about and flip a few sites each year. I’ve just decided to hold onto sites a bit longer now.

      In regards to COVID over here, the Netherlands is not really acting like the rest of Europe in terms of precautions. Masks are only required on public transit, but they’re not really enforcing it and on my last train ride moving my stuff to the new apt. there was an obviously sick dude not wearing a mask.

      I’ve been trying to live like a hermit cause I do not want to get sick (and I’ve heard terrible things about the healthcare in this country that makes me want to avoid hospital stays), but changing apartments made being out in crowds inevitable. Luckily, the new place is in a much less crowded area than my previous apartment so I can go out and not encounter people. So, now I’m back to only interacting with the grocery delivery guy 🙂

      Reply
  2. Hey Shawna!

    Thanks so much for the shoutout – I really appreciate it.

    I love these types of posts. I find that, regardless of how long I’ve been in the game, I always pick up useful tidbits here and there.

    I’d love to read more about your experiences with NOBS. Specifically, regarding how well their links move the needle for you and if you feel that you’re getting a good value.

    Reply

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