page title icon Outdoor Site Case Study #5 (August 2020, Part 2/2): Site Update

This is the August 2020 update for my Outdoor site. Make sure to check out the Part 1 update on building an Agency, July 2020 update, or check out a list of all case study updates here.

These are the topics that I will discuss in this update:

  • Traffic and earnings stats for August
  • August improvements
  • Planned improvements for September 2020

Let’s get to it.


📈 Highlights

  • Overall traffic is up ~12%!
  • Revenue was $6,969 (Comparable to $7,539.53 in July)
  • Email list brought in $1,171.53 (compared to $2,802.8 in July)
  • 30 new articles added
  • Continued optimizing top pages
  • New shoulder niches identified
  • Display ad provider is being tested

📊 Traffic Stats for August

Here is a comparison between August and July 2020:

  • Organic Search: 2.87% increase (37,909 in August vs 36,850 in July)
  • Social: 28.54% increase (7,548 in August vs 5,872 in July vs 3,486 visitors in June)

Content is ranking slowly but surely. Social media is paying off with a huge boost in traffic.

Social Traffic

Here is a breakdown of traffic by source:

Visitors by source:

  • Facebook: 5,165 (vs 3,142 in July)
  • Twitter: 9
  • Pinterest: 2,207
  • Reddit: 13

Facebook is doing wonders. This is primarily because of my strategy to grow a network of sites and assets with the purchase of Facebook groups. I covered that topic in Part 1 which you can read.

My social media expert is sharing relevant content using Hootsuite a few times a day to each page and group to drive traffic.


💰 P&L in August

  • Revenue$6,969
    • Comparable to $7,539 in July 2020
  • Costs: $3,194 (compared to $1,874 in May 2020)
  • Profit: $3,194 (compared to $5,664 in May 2020)

For the costs, I spent $1,598 on content, $100 on my VA fees, $350 on social media VA fees, $400 on software subscription fees, and $627 on acquiring assets for the website.

Revenue Breakdown

Here is the %-based revenue breakdown for the site so far. We can compare this month-by-month to see how my site is doing in terms of diversification.

Let’s compare that to July 2020:

Some thoughts around the revenue breakdown:

  • Email – Blasts, Email – Campaign, Email – Campaign – PDF: I’ve segmented my email revenue streams into three categories. The first is Email – Blasts which are done 3 times a week; this is where I test different emails to a subset of 15,000 subscribers to see what converts. Email-Campaign is the automated email sequence that gets sent to new subscribers. The new addition is Email – Campaign – PDF where on the first landing page where I give away a freebie, I’ve created two extra PDFs that showcase offers in my niche. I am hoping to generate revenue upfront for the subscribers and it’s working.
  • Brand – Social Shoutouts: I get paid via brands to do a quick social shoutout to my social profiles. Easy money!

The rest is self-explanatory (I hope) and I will cover in the next sections briefly…

Other Affiliates vs Amazon

In my previous case study, I shared metrics on my diversification to other affiliates. This is what I wrote before:

In July 2020, my Other Affiliate revenue was 35.3% ($2,607) compared to Amazon Associates which was 18.3% ($1,352). 

Let’s do the same calculation for August:

In August 2020, my Other Affiliate revenue was 43% ($2,998) compared to Amazon Associates which was 19.3% ($1,346). 

It’s working! Slowly diversifying and increasing the “pie”!

Email Campaign vs Email Blasts

The idea is to automate the email campaign to a large set of emails so it’s all automated. Currently, I have 37 emails in the campaign. The revenue breakdown in August was:

  • Email Campaigns: $425.63
  • Email Campaign – PDF: $49.19
  • Email Blasts: $691.71

The email blasts take effort. A TON of effort. I have to write emails that convert, find affiliate offers, create the HTML email, schedule, and monitor.

However, it’s worth it if and only if I see my email campaign numbers go up since that’s all automated.

As I find successful emails in my blasts, I put them into the campaign since I know they convert. It’s a two-pronged strategy that’s been working.

The new addition in Email Campaign – PDF where I give affiliate offers from the get-go. It’s optional if they download that PDF or not so I am not being pushy. Of all new subscribers, $49.19 was earned. The goal with this is to recoup upfront any costs of gaining new subscribers. If I can do that, then I know the remaining campaign is pure profit.

The goal is to get to an “unlimited” set of automated emails where eventually I am pushing my own products, affiliate products, and of course, traffic back to my site


📅 August Improvements

🤝 Mutual Partnerships for E-Books

The third-prong of any authority site is selling your own products (physical or digital)

Instead of creating my own digital products, I found a fellow e-commerce store in my niche. They are a small mom and pop store based out of Colorado. They have a set of e-books in PDF format that they sell on their store along with physical goods they manufacture here in the US.

Initially, the discussion was around paying for e-book rights. The cost ranged from $400-$1,200 per e-book. Rightfully so, they were quality and battle-tested.

Eventually, we realized that his e-commerce business needed advertising so we just did a trade!

I struck a deal with the owner for the following:

  • 6 E-books to me: I will get 6 of his e-books and full rights to do with it as I please (edit, sell commercially, etc).
  • Advertising to them: on two pages of my site, I will post their products for sale in my buying guides

We signed a clear cut contract that laid out exactly what the two parties received so there was no opportunity for disputes.

This was an extremely SIMPLE and risk-free way for me to get niche-relevant e-books that I could now sell on my site!

Takeaway: Find such stores/blogs in your niche. Reach out and ask to buy or trade for assets. It works!

🏪 New WooCommerce Store

With these new assets, I now needed to put up a store. I was contemplating hard on whether to open a Shopify vs Woocommerce store.

Here were my requirements:

  1. Store in the same domain under a subdirectory: I needed SEO benefits to pass on to the store. With a DR 50 website, it made no sense to spin-up a new domain, or a subdomain and start anew. I needed the store to be domain.com/shop/
  2. Ability to upsell, downsell, and cross-sell products
  3. Multiple payment gateways
  4. Low cost: this e-commerce store will slowly scale up as it’s not a primary focus so I did not want to have a large bill monthly with no revenue coming in from this arm of the business

At a high-level, these were the requirements. I honed down on WooCommerce for the following reasons:

  • Shopify does not work with a subdirectory. It would need to be a subdomain like shop.domain.com OR a new domain altogether. This would also mean a new theme and design.
  • Shopify has a monthly fee, WooCommerce does not
  • WooCommerce is very customizable via plugins, HTML/CSS, etc., and Shopify is not

The main killer was the subdirectory. If you cannot pass link juice naturally to your e-commerce store and also provide a seamless experience so the user does not have to leave your site, then it’s not worth it (in my opinion)

All in all, now that the platform is set up with all the right plugins, payment gateways, etc., I can start adding in the e-books one at a time. That will be the goal over the next few months.

💬 Facebook Group Partnership —> Email Subscribers

My goal is to increase my email list as it’s a sustainable asset

The most natural way to do that is via email signups on the website itself.

However, that only scales with how much traffic you get, and the process of getting more traffic from search engines is slow.

How could I speed up my email subscribers? Partnering with Facebook group owners! Read more about this strategy here.

The process is simple:

  • Facebook group membership questions: In return for a new member’s email, I give them freebies
  • Facebook group announcement pinned post: The first post in the group is pinned with a link to a landing page where the user can sign up to my list.

We ran this partnership for part of August and the email subscribers were as follows:

  • Membership questions: 840 subscribers
  • Pinned post: 231

To essential rent these spots from the owner of the group, I paid $100. My per subscriber cost is $0.09/subscriber. This was only run for a partial month though since I struct the deal in mid-August. Overall, there will be even more subscribers!

These email subscribers get added to be Email Campaign. The goal is to see overtime whether they convert into sales. If I make more than $100, I am happy to keep this deal going!

Takeaway: If you have an email sequence that’s automated, your goal should be to add more subscribers. Reach out to Facebook group owners in your niche, and ask to do a partnership!

Side note: I wanted to buy this group initially from the owner. He quoted me $10,000 due to crazy growth. The group has 35,000 members. If you remember in Part 1 of the case study, I bought another group with 55,000 members for $2,500. The price was outrageous and funny enough the $100/mo deal we struck was exactly what I would have done anyway if I purchased the group. Much cheaper! The owner just didn’t really want to sell but rather do a partnership. Be creative!

🆕 New Shoulder Niches?

I have a dedicated writer that churns out quality content in the main niche of the site. He practices exactly what he writes about so the quality is amazing.

I give him a list of titles, and he picks the ones he wants to do. He is picky but I know that if he chooses on, it will get done perfectly.

He currently has 40 articles in his pipeline for the main topic on the site.

I am not venturing into shoulder niches where I am seeing traction… There are two such niches where I rank for articles that were done by previous owners.

Here is a great graphic on an example of shoulder niches in the Pest Control topic:

Credit: TheSeoProject.org

I am currently mapping out the content for these niches:

  • Shoulder Niche 1: lot’s of high-ticket products with lucrative affiliate commissions. Mapped out 100 topics or so in this niche. One of my other writers is an expert in the topic so he will get assigned a bunch of these
  • Shoulder Niche 2: lots of content possibilities. Not product-focused. More informational. Will have to monetize via informational products and display ads. Will add a variety of info content on my site. I need to find an expert in these topics as my writers are both overloaded and are not experts in this new niche.

How do I find shoulder niches?

I don’t purposefully look for them. I follow my competitors and other similar sites in my niche.

I find the other “Amazon Associate” niche sites that rank for these keywords and just reverse engineer their keywords using AHREFs. I know that I can outrank these sites easily.

Since I have the systems in place, all I have to do is the keyword research, content outlines, and hiring of a writer. The other process is are all automated.

I will be keeping track of these keywords using rank tracking tool to see how they do over time. Will keep you all posted!

🆕 New Display Ad Service

I am doing a test with a smaller ad company. It’s not Ezoic, MediaVine, or AdThrive. MediaVine and AdThrive rejected my site as it does not fit their policies. Ezoic slaps on a ton of ads and kills user experience.

When this company reached out to me, I was ecstatic. Their ads load fast. They look great.

Pros:

  • Ads look great
  • Loads fast
  • Relevant
  • I can set my target CPMs (that does not happen with Ezoic or others)

Cons:

  • They reduce CPMs to make a profit without notifying me
  • They are not automated like Ezoic, etc. It’s one ad placement at a time
  • A lot of communication to discuss strategy

I like that I can state my target CPMs. They try to hit that. The first ad I added was at the very bottom of posts similar to Related Posts. It’s 6 images that users can click.

The CPM target I wanted was as follows:

  • US Desktop: $12 CPM
  • US Tablet: $6 CPM
  • US Mobile: $12 CPM

They agreed. Those are amazing CPM for an ad not above the fold!

After testing for a few days, they dropped CPMs to $2.5. The reason was that their advertisers were not making a profit. Their algorithms dictated they need to drop to make a profit.

Rightly so, I was not happy. They pushed that over time the goal is to raise CPMs so I stuck with it.

Currently, the CPMs are hovering around $5. Not my target but not bad for that spot on the page in my opinion.

Here is a graph of the CPM curve for the last 30 days:

Let’s see what happens over time. I am currently negotiating a vew more ad spots on the site.

The beauty of this is that EACH ad block is a new revenue stream at a specified CPM, whereas with Ezoic and others, you get a blended CPM from all ad blocks. I cannot control each ad blocks CPM with Ezoic but I can with these guys. This is unique and more money for me.


📆 Plans for September 2020

I have big plans for September. Here they are:

  • Content: put out another 30-50 articles (more if possible)
  • Email marketing: continue improving and automating
  • Facebook Groups Email subscribers: monitor profitability of the new email subscribers
  • Shoulder niche research and content: start outlining, planning, and getting content for these niches
  • Improve conversions on top pages: improve CTAs, and add popups for offers on top traffic pages
  • Hands-on product reviews: My main writer loves to review actual products. The plan is to send him the top converting products and have him do dedicated articles on those.

Wrap Up

That was a long update! Lots going on. I really appreciate whoever reads to the end 🙂

That wraps up August 2020. Let me know if any questions via comments!




Analyzed by Mushfiq S

Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 175 website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. Learn more about Mushfiq.


Leave a Comment