This week we analyze a 7-year-old homesteading site, PracticalSelfReliance.com. The site receives about 360,000+ organic traffic per month (Ahrefs estimate) plus a lot more from social media referrals.
Ashley, the owner, has done a great job of building a comprehensive resource for living off-grid as a homesteader with hundreds of useful guides based on first-hand experience.
In this review, we look at what the site does very well and identify areas of improvement that could elevate this brand to become even more successful.
This is what I cover in this report:
- Website overview
- Major highlights
- Competitor overview
- Easy wins to increase revenue and/or traffic
- Actionable takeaways you can apply
Let’s get into it!
✅ Website Overview & Highlights
Organic traffic has been up and down over the years but has experienced strong growth since the start of 2023 and is currently at an all-time high at 365k organic traffic per month.
The site probably receives a huge amount of traffic from its strong Pinterest presence with over 10 million monthly views.
This site doesn’t appear to have been impacted by the September Helpful Content Update which may be due to several favorable factors like in-depth expert content, a highly engaged audience, and many links from high authority media sites.
The site was created by Ashley Adamant, an off-grid homesteader in Vermont.
The main topics covered include food preservation, permaculture, foraging, winemaking, and living off-grid.
Practical Self Reliance started around 2017 and steadily added content over the next 7 years with about 800 total articles.
Based on the popularity of her canning articles, Ashely started a separate site dedicated to the topic of canning at CreativeCanning.com.
One unique tactic that this site used was to reprint content from a published book with permission. This reprinted article about “how to make soap” generates an estimated 6k monthly traffic and probably earns additional revenue from Amazon sales of the book that was excerpted.
The site has kept the design minimal since the beginning, using the Foodie Pro WordPress theme without a logo. This simple design works well for this audience who care more about substance than style, however, a more professional design could improve the user experience and branding.
- 5,400 referring domains
- Pinterest account with 138k followers and 10 million monthly views
- About 800 expert-written articles with original photos
Why is this site winning?
- A large natural link profile including high authority links like Buzzfeed, Atlas Obscura, How Stuff Works, Life Hacker, and Wikipedia.
- The author demonstrates strong subject matter expertise and writes very helpful and in-depth guides on a lot of different topics related to homesteading.
- The author adds a lot of original photos that add authenticity to the guides and reviews.
Top 3 Competitors
Here are similar competitors targeting many of the same keywords.
- SimplyCanning.com – A site focused on food preservation techniques (54k organic traffic Ahrefs).
- EdibleWildFood.com – A site all about foraging for edible plants that grow in the wild (35k organic traffic Ahrefs).
- GrowAGoodlife.com – An informational site with info products that covers growing and preserving food (146k organic traffic Ahrefs).
Let’s get into the easy wins to grow this specific website.
🔥 5 Easy Wins To Grow This Website
There are opportunities to significantly grow this brand. I break down the following easy wins:
- Negotiate higher affiliate commission rates
- Improve CRO of buying guides
- Add more buying guides
- Send more frequent email newsletters
- Repurpose written tutorials for YouTube
Let’s get into it!
➡️ Win #1: Negotiate Higher Affiliate Commissions Rates
Often, affiliate sites leave a lot of money on the table by not attempting to negotiate higher affiliate commissions. Affiliate managers at companies are often willing to offer a higher commission rate than the default rate that everyone gets, especially if you can provide some good reasons.
This site has some very in-depth buying guides with original photos that receive a lot of traffic and affiliate sales.
The owner can email the affiliate manager to ask for an increase in the affiliate commission rate of products that they sell. A rate increase of just a few percentage points can increase monthly revenue by hundreds of dollars.
For example, one of the most popular buying guides on the site is the article “Best MRE Meals” and Ahrefs shows that it ranks #3 for “best mre”. The owner can use the popularity of this article, the high Google rankings, and past sales numbers as reasons to support their request for a higher commission rate.
To increase the chances of getting a commission rate increase they could offer additional value to the company such as more prominent placement on the page, a dedicated popup, social media blasts, or email blasts.
➡️ Win #2: Improve CRO of Buying Guides
The buying guides on this site are very well written and detailed with great original photos of the featured products.
However, some improvements can be made to the CRO to increase affiliate clicks and immediately increase revenue.
For example, the buying guide about portable power stations includes an abundance of helpful information but could have more calls to action.
One CRO improvement would be to have a call to action button right below the product image with text like “Check the Lowest Price” or “Check Current Price”. Additionally, the image itself could be linked to the product for anyone who clicks on the image to learn more.
They could also add a comparison table to the top of the article with the top choice and budget pick. This would make it easy for the reader who is in a hurry to quickly learn which product is recommended without having to read through the article.
Other tactics that could work well include a popup window that links to a specific affiliate product and quote boxes/call-out boxes that provide a specific product recommendation in large text (“e.g., I recommend the X as the best product for Y”).
➡️ Win #3: Add More Buying Guides
This site ranks for over 200,000 keywords on Google, however, there are just a handful of buying guides on the site. Of the top 100 pages in Ahrefs, only 3 pages appeared to be buying guides (3% commercial articles vs 97% informational articles).
With the very strong authority that this site has built up in the homesteading niche, there is a great opportunity to add more buying guides about many different products related to homesteading.
This site has a great advantage over smaller affiliate sites because they can link to the commercial pages from relevant informational pages that already have a lot of traffic and links. The site also has good topical authority that should transfer over to articles about homesteading related products such as fermenting equipment, dehydrators, canning supplies, and more.
➡️ Win #4: Send More Frequent Email Newsletters
The site has collected about 50k email addresses from a form on the sidebar but appears to be underutilizing this valuable asset.
We signed up for the free version of the newsletter in August and received about 1 email per month. The owner appears to be publishing just one monthly update which means that the email list is highly underutilized.
An email subscriber audience is valuable in the homesteading niche because many people are willing to spend a lot of money to participate in the homesteading lifestyle. There is a good opportunity to recommend useful info products and essential equipment needed to “go off the grid”
If time is limited, a possible solution is to create a welcome email sequence of dozens of emails that a new subscriber would receive. They could also hire a writer to repurpose popular articles into email newsletters or create roundup emails that curate articles on the site that help solve a specific problem or need for homesteaders.
➡️ Win #5: Repurpose Written Tutorials for YouTube
There are many helpful in-depth tutorials on this site where the information could be repurposed for video content.
As a top homesteading site on Google and Pinterest, it makes sense to invest in building an audience on YouTube.
Currently, Ashley’s YouTube channel has 215 subscribers and just 2 videos but several YouTube shorts.
Although it is a large time investment, there is already a ton of great written content that can be repurposed. There are also options to save time like hiring a scriptwriter and video producer to create faceless videos in the beginning.
A large YouTube presence can unlock a profitable revenue stream, especially from sponsorships. While YouTube ad revenue is decent, the largest revenue opportunity is from sponsorships by brands in the niche.
Additionally, the videos can be added to articles on the site to increase visitor time on page. A portion of the hundreds of thousands of monthly website visitors can be converted into YouTube subscribers which will help the brand grow on a new platform.
👉 Actionable Takeaways
Here are actionable takeaways that you can apply to your niche website today:
- One of the highest value uses of time for niche site owners is to email affiliate managers to negotiate for higher affiliate commission rates.
- Check for opportunities to add more calls to action on buying guides that will stand out and encourage a higher click-through rate.
- Look for opportunities to repurpose a large library of helpful articles such as rewriting the text for email newsletters or video content.