Since getting back from four weeks of travelling in Europe, I have to admit that I did not do much work on my two case study sites in October. However, I did do some “white hat” backlink testing, which I’ll share with you below. The tl;dr of this update is that the sites are still earning and at least one of them might hit that $500/month mark by the end of the year. Maybe – assuming that I spend more time on them than I have.
Before I get to the full update, let me take a moment to point this out to you — if you have VERY limited time to work on niche sites and put in the small amount of effort that I have on these two sites, then you could have earned over $2,300 so far this year. Obviously, with more work, there is more income potential. Another site I started in April has earned over $11,000 so far this year. And another site I started in January has earned over $5,500 so far this year. Those two latter new sites got more attention from me, which is obvious from the income differences compared to the case study sites. If you haven’t started a niche affiliate site, what are you waiting for?
What’s Happened Since The Last Update?
The only real action that I took on the two case study sites was to test out “white hat” link building on site #2. Since you never really know how linkbuilding efforts will go for you, I prefer to test on a single site and seeing how it works out. If successful, then I deploy to other sites. If not, I test on another site to see if I get the same result before determining if I should deploy it wide or not.
I’m sure you’ve seen all the people selling editorial links, which are also sometimes called contributor links. These links are from high authority sites like Huffington Post, Lifehack.org, Forbes, Examiner, etc. And prices range from the low hundreds to five figures!
For site #2, I decided to test out Jon Haver’s new offering of “crazy powerful links” that he offered via his email newsletter.
I opted for two links from Tier One after confirming that his HuffPo links were real from a real HuffPo blogger and not one from the contributor account that anyone can create (cause those have a problem getting indexed in Google). Cause let’s be honest – $450 is a hell of a lot cheaper than what I’ve seen most HuffPo links go for.
So, how were these links?
- Lifehack.org article links out to me and three authority sites (Wikipedia, etc). No complaints.
- Huffington Post article links out to three other niche sites + one authority site. The worst thing is that one of the niche sites it links out to is to a local pest control site, which is completely irrelevant. This was definitely not worth the money.
To give you an idea of how Jon Haver’s service compares to others, I saw someone in the Lion Zeal Marketplace group on Facebook offering Lifehack.org posts for around $100. I ordered one of those for another site of mine. That article links out four other niche/local sites plus my niche site. So, this writer pocketed a similar amount as Jon’s Lifehack.org cost, but my link was hella diluted with irrelevant, and honestly kind of spammy, sites.
My advice? Pay the premium prices that some places charge and don’t be seduced by the cheap offers you see in various Facebook groups and marketplaces.
How Effective Are Those Editorial Links?
As expected, those editorial links are high powered. However, a lot of spammy sites syndicate those articles, so you end up with a ton of backlinks using the same anchor text. That means that you need to dilute your anchor text with other backlinks if you have a relatively new site (like my site #2) that doesn’t have many backlinks in its profile.
Also on site #2, I began testing scholarship backlinks to see if they are really worth all the hype that they’ve recently gotten in the SEO community. The truth is that they are powerful, but this should only be something that you do if you have every intention of paying out on the scholarship – even if your site gets penalized. So, don’t be a dick and do this just for the link without ever intending to payout to the winner.
I’ve earned some of these links to site #2, and while I have seen a boost in the SERPs, it wasn’t like suddenly I was on page one for everything. So, don’t expect these to the be a rocket boost straight to the top of the SERPs.
Case Study Sites Status
To give you an idea of just how slowlane I’ve been building these two case study sites, let me break it down for you.
- Number of posts live as of Oct 31 = 30 posts
- Number of posts added in October = zero
- Niche: seasonal
- Number of keywords per SEMrush: 1.2K
- Backlinks: mixture of blog comments, web 2.0s, and my PBNs
- Content: mixture of outsourced and written by me
- Income status: profitable
- Number of posts live as of Oct 31 = 49 posts
- Number of posts added in October =one
- Niche: evergreen
- Backlinks: mixture of editorial, guest posts, scholarship, and web 2.0s
- Number of keywords per SEMrush: 1.9K
- Content: 100% outsourced
- Income status: still not profitable as of Oct. 31st
What happened to site #2 in October? That’s what you’re wondering, right? Remember up above when I mentioned that editorial links come with a lot of other links where the articles are syndicated by loads of other sites? Well, it seems that this site got a bit of an over-optimization penalty for all those backlinks with the same damn anchor text. Savage, eh? The November recovery actually started in late October with the scholarship backlinks that I started getting for the site.
Case Study Sites Income
For as little work as I’ve put into these two sites, I’m quite pleased with how they are earning. But, since I am getting closer to that target $500/month marker, I will start focusing more on growing that income by adding more content and more backlinks.
Case Study Site #1 Income
- April: $14.19
- May: $22.07
- June: $185.11
- July: $273.17
- August: $390.37
- September: $260.14
- October: $339.17
Case Study Site #2 Income
- March: $0.02
- April: $1.77
- May: $2.26
- June: $75.42
- July: $156.37
- August: $199.14
- September: $196.08
- October: $186.60
You can see in site #2’s income how that anchor text over-optimization penalty resulted in some income loss. Hopefully November will bring a bounce back in income and rankings. From what I’m seeing so far, that looks to be what it’s on course for.
My hope is that by adding more content to site #1, that it ends up reaching $500/month by the end of the year. I may have to throw some new PBN links at it though to speed up the process.
What’s To Come?
I’ll be adding more money posts to both sites in an attempt to gain more rankings and reach $500/month. I’ll also be testing more white hat links for site #2, and likely more PBN links will be directed at site #1.
I’ll also be busy working on my niche site course (still), which will be available in the next few months. If you want to be in the discounted beta pricing group, just message me to get on the list and you’ll be one of the first students at the lowest possible cost.
Other updates to this case study:
Hey, I’m Shawna. I make a living working from my laptop in places like London, Sydney, Dubai, Rome, Oslo, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. I share how I do some of that on this website.