Outdoor Site 2021 Annual Recap

mushfiq sarker

The outdoor site, acquired in April 2020 has had a full 12-months of seasonal ownership giving me the data to analyze what did and did not work. 

The site generated $49,735 in total revenue in 2021. Operationally, the site requires at most 2 articles per month with an annual cost of $1,200 (actual costs were higher as covered below).

Here is the overall site recap since acquisition:

  • Purchased in April 2020 for $23,000 from Flippa. The site was earning $300/mo.
  • 60,000+ pageviews per month on average depending on the time of year
  • AHREFs DR of 52 with backlinks from NY Times, Wikihow, Wikipedia, NY Post, Marketwatch, and 2,000 other niche relevant referring domains
  • Website has been active since 2010
  • Two dedicated writers who are niche experts

Check out the past case studies for this site here. Let’s get into the annual recap!

๐Ÿ’ฐ Annual Valuation & Achievements

The site earned $49,735 in 2021. This is the breakdown in averages for valuation purposes:

  • L3M = $4,970 
  • L6M = $4,227 
  • L12M = $4,145 

According to the website valuation framework, this site deserves a minimum valuation multiple of 37X due to being over 10+ years old and having multiple revenue streams. 

This equates to a valuation of $153,365 to $168,701. The site was purchased for $23,000 in April 2020.

The site achieved the following in 2021:

  • 336,333 words of content added across 204 articles
  • 13 different revenue streams
  • Ranking for 44K keywords
  • Obtained 5 backlinks from e-commerce guest posts (read about that here)
  • Performed CRO on top 200 articles with traffic

Let’s digest the website metrics next.

๐Ÿ“Š Annual Website Metrics

AHREFs Breakdown

Here is the AHREFs overview:

ahrefs breakdown 2021

Traffic Breakdown

To analyze the traffic, I put the site through the EasyDiligence.io due diligence dashboard to see traffic trends and metrics. Check it out below:

traffic breakdown 2021

The site generated a total of 840,630 pageviews with a bounce rate of 73%. The pages are highly diversified, with the top page getting 4.78%; I usually recommend less than 15% to any one specific page. 

The time on the page is healthy at 5 minutes.  If I was acquiring this site today, the metrics all pass with flying colors. 

Revenue vs Cost Breakdown

Check out the graphical breakdown month over month:

outdoor site p l

This equates to the following:

  • Revenue: $49,735
  • Costs: $14,334
  • Profit: $35,401

Here is the breakdown of costs:

  • Content: $6,409
  • Software/Hosting: $200
  • Virtual Assistants/Operator: $6,164
  • New website design (December 2021): $1,560

Surprisingly, the content was not the majority of my costs. This is primarily because I’ve hired cost-effective niche expert writers (after a ton of trial and error). One of my writers is at $40/article, and another at $30/article; I do not pay per word.

Net Margin (71%) vs Operational Margins (97%) for Content Sites

A niche content website has two stages: growth and operations. You can invest in content, social media growth, on-page SEO, backlinks, and more to grow the website during the growth phase.

However, standard operations do not require all of these efforts. A site just needs consistent content of around two articles per month to remain โ€œfreshโ€ for a prolonged period.

Therefore, my actual profit margin was 71% annually; however, if I took my โ€œfoot off the pedal,โ€ the site could operate on a 97% profit margin.

๐Ÿ“ˆ What Was Successful in 2021?

13 Diversified Revenue Streams

This site is one of the most diversified websites in my portfolio.

There are 13 different programs that bring in revenue monthly. These can be organized into four categories: (1) Amazon Associates, (2) Display Ads, (3) Private Affiliate Partnership, and (4) Affiliate Networks.

This is the breakdown of revenues on a percentage basis:

  1. Amazon Associates: 37%
  2. Display Ads: 20%
  3. Private Affiliate Partnership: 16%
  4. Affiliate Networks: 26%

The site has diversified away from Amazon Associates, bringing in the most revenue. Thatโ€™s a win!

2 Successful Content Silos โ†’ 14.70% Traffic

I targetted two silos in 2021. One of the silos brought in 63,668 pageviews (approximately 8% of total traffic), and another brought in 57,025 (about 6.7% of total traffic). These were both extremely successful.

For these two silos, I hired an expert writer whom I found on Upwork. Here were his stats:

  • 64 articles
  • 134,008 words
  • $1,920 in total costs ($30/article)

His content alone brought in $10,474 in revenue, or 21% of the total revenues. The ROI on this writer has been excellent. The goal is to continue to have him write content in these silos, and also give him a raise!

Hired a Website Operator

As I continue to grow my websites portfolio and grow The Website Flip site, I need to outsource day-to-day operations. I hired a website operator to take over the day-to-day management.

At a high level, these are his tasks:

  • Perform keyword research
  • Manage writers
  • Perform CRO
  • Executed on strategies that we come up with (e.g., content audit)

I did a more detailed write-up on hiring a website operator with a job description. Check that out.

The operator joined in mid-November 2021 and has really freed up my time to focus on other acquisitions and websites in my portfolio. I pay him $500/mo to manage this site.

Also, make sure to read the case study where a website operator on another site I own increased revenues by 96%.

Full Website Redesign

In December 2021, I did a significant redesign of the site. The cost of this was $1,560 to outsource to a web developer. I also spent about 15 hours of my own time preparing the new design.

The whole projected included the following:

  1. Moving from GeneratePress to Carbonate Theme
  2. Disabling unnecessary plugins
  3. Removing over 100+ articles through a content audit
  4. Merging articles together with 301 redirects

I am a strong proponent of using GeneratePress to put together sites. However, I found the Carbonate theme to have the design that I really liked. This is why it was chosen.

I ran a single article post through GTMetrix. Here is the old design which received a grade of B with a performance score of 83%:

gtmetrix old

Here is the new design that received a score of A with a performance score of 100%:

gtmetrix new design

Overall, itโ€™s too early to tell if the redesign will have an improvement on organic traffic and/or conversion rates. The site was designed to ensure a better user experience. 

๐Ÿ“‰ What Failed in 2021?

75+ Articles Failed To Rank โ†’ Bad Writer, Weak Process

One of my writers wrote 105 articles totaling 164,315 words in 2021 alone. This write charges a fixed $40/article thus Iโ€™ve spent $4,200 on him.

The writer is a niche expert and has several books written to showcase his expertise. His writing shows expertise but he does not like to follow an outline. He writes as he pleases. 

This is an issue because I am unable to give him an SEO-focused outline to follow.

Going forward, I will give him a minimal amount of articles that are โ€œexpertiseโ€ focused to ensure Google EAT and hire others to write SEO-focused content.

Takeaway: If you have multiple authors, always make sure to audit their content to see if they are bringing in traffic. If not, best to let them go or revamp your processes.

Traffic Down from December 2020 Google Core Update

The site was receiving well over 100,000 page views per month in 2020. However, since the December 2020 Google Core Update, the site has not recovered. It has hovered around 60,000 to 65,000 pageviews.

This can be graphically seen as follows:

google core update 2020

In 2022, the hope is to bring this traffic back through optimizing existing content, adding SEO-focused content, and adding more backlinks to inner pages.

Takeaways: Many sites were impacted by this notorious Google Update. I am yet to see a site that has recovered fully. This is just the way things are.

Email Marketing Campaigns โ†’ $6,568 of Lost Revenue

After acquiring the site in 2020, there was a big focus on email marketing. This niche lends itself well to emails. The site generated $6,568 from this traffic channel in 6 months of 2020 when it was actively pursued.

However, through 2021, the site was on autopilot with a 32 email drip campaign set up on Aweber. This did not lend itself to many sales.

Therefore, the email campaign was paused, and in 2022, the focus will not be on collecting emails any further.

Takeaway: Always make sure to segment your revenues from different traffic sources. Many people bundle all revenues together, unaware of which sources bring in revenue. I was able to go through my data and pinpoint that emails were not worth the effort.

๐Ÿ’ก Plans for 2022

This site will remain in my portfolio. Therefore, I have big plans to grow this site. At a high level, here are the ideas.

1. Analyze Impact of New Site Design: the new design will need 30-45 days to be indexed and see its outcome. The goal is to keep the same traffic levels at least. In Q1 2022, I will be monitoring the site traffic.

2. Double Down on Content โ†’ Hire 2 Writers: I have a catalog of writers in this niche that Iโ€™ve worked within the past. I will be reaching out to two of them to get them back on board. They charge higher rates at 4-5 cents/word, but now the site can sustain that level of investment.

3. Acquire Competitors โ†’ Sub-$50,000: I am actively looking for more sites in this niche. Since I know what works in this niche, acquiring my competitors is in my best interest. My budget is sub $50,000 per site.

4. Build a Display Ad Strategy: Traditional display ads, e.g., via Ezoic, brings in a low RPM of $7 in this niche. However, brands are willing to pay me more for advertising. For example, one brand paid $500 for one banner ad spot for 1 week, whereas I earned $450 for that same month via display ads. Direct advertising is the way to go with this site.

5. Build Automation Tools: There are many tools I need to build to keep an โ€œeyeโ€ on this site. For example, Iโ€™d like to make a tool to bring in URLs of each writer and check traffic regularly. This will allow me to see which writers are bringing in traffic.


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Wrap Up

In theory, I could let this site sit on autopilot and collect roughly $4,000 per month. However, with a domain authority of 52 and aged since 2010, I think the site has much more room for growth.

2022 will be the year to scale this site. 

If I cannot scale it, I can think about selling it in early 2023. Only time will tell.

For further reading, check out the past case studies for this site here.

mushfiq sarker

Analyzed by Mushfiq Sarker

Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 218+ website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. He is the founder of The Website Flip. Check out all Mushfiq's articles, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

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