Case Study & Income Report #9 [September 2020 edition]

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Here we are, already making our way into the home stretch of the holiday shopping season. Are you ready? Cause I still feel so behind.

So behind.

I don’t really have anything witty to say before we get into the meat of this update as I’ve been working super hard in recent weeks and I’m just fucking tired. So, here’s a fun gif…

And now, back to seriousness for a moment.

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 September

As you already know, I took most of the month off from this site so that I could devote more time to my portfolio of sites. But the interview I did with Doug Cunnington resulted in a fuck load of emails from new readers landing in my inbox the rest of the month.

So, my plan to get a massive amount of work done on my sites didn’t quite go as planned, but I did get around 26,500 words up on the sites.

Then, I dropped just over $2K on an auction domain … and started another new site….cause I clearly don’t have enough to work on as it is.

via GIPHY

So, I’ll be sharing more details about this new site built on the auction domain experiment soon.

The Sites – September 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

So, you may remember last month that I was stuck on what I’m going to do with the content strategy I have mapped out for this site. Partly cause I’m bored with it, and partly cause I wanna speed up the monetization.

I wrote a few articles for the site myself, using keywords from my original content strategy.

But then I was like, fuck it, I’m going with some of the more emotional/clickbaity keywords and changing up my initial strategy for a bit. So, now that I have a direction again, I can get back to ramping up content.

New posts for this site: two

I’m seeing an improvement in rankings, plus one of the new articles that I wrote is already ranking on page two. And, I’ve moved up to #8 for one of my main broad keywords.

Organic traffic is still basically non-existent though.

site 1 GA

And I think those direct visits are a mix of me and people checking the site out where I’ve responded to some HAROs.

New links for this site: nope

Summary for site #1: Added a couple of posts and made up my mind about the new keyword strategy.

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

So, the link I bought in August at NO-BS for this site finally went live a little over a week ago. And, the page I sent the link to has already improved in ranking, so that’s awesome.

I’ve been doing just one link a month cause I’ve been trying to build out these sites like someone who is on a budget, that way the results are realistic. But one link a month without adding content is slow as fuck.

So, I’m gonna start ramping that shit up a bit while still trying to keep costs down.

New posts for this site: zero

New links for this site: one

site 2 trafficup

As you may be able to tell in the image above, traffic for the month is up just the tiniest bit. Around 1.25% increase for the month.

Kind of a shame that was it since the last time was a 9% growth. I did not get around to filling out the Pinterest profile though, so that’s on me.

Total income for this site last month: $105.43

This month’s income is down compared to August, but I still have no idea why August was so high. And considering how little work is being done on this site, it would be nice beer money for someone doing this as a hobby.

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 back to normal levels and traffic is slightly up. Ordered link 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: Looking to sell once I’m stable at somewhere around $7500-$8000/monthly
  • 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

Ah, this site is really frustrating. I had that amazing lockdown income and it’s kinda been falling ever since – despite the addition of content + links and good rankings.

Historically, this site does shit revenue in October before picking back up. Like really terrible, bottom of the barrel kinda money.

So, if I stay above $1,000 in October, then I’ll be stoked.

New posts for this site: 15

I outsourced 10 of these at $0.06/word and wrote the rest myself.

site 3 traffic

Despite the fresh content, overall traffic is down just over 12% to the site. Some of the keywords I rank for had the snippet just removed from the results, and I previously had the snippet.

So, I think that’s the main reason for the traffic decline. My Pinterest traffic to the site is still growing, at almost 19% now, which is interesting.

And remember, 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

Responded to a couple of HAROs, but no links yet.

Total income for this site last month: $1,998.60

Yup, a decline in income again. With dropping traffic, it’s pretty much expected.

Last month’s income is a mix of AdSense, Amazon affiliate, and other affiliates. I use the AAWP plugin on this site as well.

Summary for site #3: Traffic dropped; income dropped; and Mediavine is a no-go …for now.

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

I spent a lot of time thinking about this site in September…but never really doing much work on it. But traffic managed to increase anyways!

site 4 traffic

Needless to say, I’m happy to see this jump, but at the same time I’m kicking myself cause imagine how great this could be if I’d put in more work. Ah well, the hazards of having too many sites in your portfolio, eh?

The number of ranking keywords in Ahrefs almost doubled for this site, so I’m also pleased about that.

I’ve been thinking about my content strategy for this site, as I intended to do strictly informational content for the first year or two. But there’s so many easy money keywords…so I just might start going after those as well.

I can’t decide.

I hate writing money posts. And getting what you want when outsourcing them can be a challenge.

But they do tend to be quite profitable.

However, if I start targeting those money keywords, then I may attract the eyes of other affiliate site owners who will swoop in and steal my info keywords that I’m ranking for right now.

I know that will happen, cause that’s exactly what I’d do. But I’m not interested in building links for this site right now.

Ugh. Something to ponder, eh?

New posts for this site: two

New links for this site: zero

Total income for this site last month: $0.00

Summary for site #4: Decent traffic increase, rankings on the rise, fresh content added.

New Expenses for September 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 September:

Site #1

  • $7.00 Digital Ocean droplet at Cloudways (two sites on this server, so I split out the cost for just this site)

site 1 september

Site #2

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

site 2 september

Site #3

  • $22.45 hosting with BigScoots (this account is split with another site)
  • $939.22 for articles via Writer Access

site 3 september

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 september

Final Thoughts & Summary

It wasn’t the best month, in terms of revenue, was it? That’s just the way it goes with sites though.

Sometimes you’re up. Sometimes you’re down.

That’s why I like to have multiple sites, so that when some are down, the other are up. We hope, right?

But overall, just looking at these 4 sites things are profitable. Something would have to go VERY wrong for that to change.

Or I’d have to spend a fuckton of money on something.

Quick summary for the month:

all 4 sites september

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 have been 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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