This is the year-end December update for this outdoor portfolio. I cover the following in this month’s case study update:
- Website metrics for 2020
- Recap of improvements in 2020
- Hiring of a Website Operations Manager
- Plans for 2021
📊 Website Metrics for 2020
Profit and Loss Breakdown
Here is the P&L chart for this site post-acquisition from March 2020:
The March to December 2020 revenues, costs, and profit are as follows:
- Revenue: $48,030
- Cost: $22,086
- Profit: $25,944
Google Search Console Metrics
The Google Search data shows the true organic trends of the site. After acquisition (March 2020), the site received a bump in traffic, and then Google update hit on May 4, 2020. Since then, the site has held steady and received an earnings boost (peaked at $7,000) during the warmer months.
During these months between the May and December Google Core update, I did significant updates to the site which will be discussed below.
The site recovered in the December update and is now surpassing all past peaks!
📅 Recap of Improvements in 2020
The May update was a shocker. It did not make any sense why the site was hit. But it did provide motivation to significantly revamp the site.
This included the following changes:
600,000 Words of Content Added
A dedicated team of writers were hired for this site. The website currently has the following writers:
- Writer #1 ($40/article): An expert in the niche and the main writer. He has published 2 books on his own. A real asset to my team.
- Writer #2 ($30/article): subject matter expert on shoulder site being created in the niche
- Writer #3 ($30/article): used on articles that my main writer is not interested in. Think of him as a backfill writer.
- Agency (2 cents/word): only used for bulk work that needs to be done quickly
In December, I trimmed down a few writers that were not submitting content on time.
I used the WP Word Count plugin to check how much content was added in all of 2020. Almost 600,000 words were added across 366 articles.
More than 70% of the content is informational as opposed to commercial (i.e., buying guides). This has provided the necessary diversification in content types to showcase the website is not just a “bridge” page pushing people to affiliate offers; we are providing true value.
The consistent addition of content has propelled the site forward in the December update.
Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness improvements
The writers on this team were happy to showcase their profile picture, bios, and social media. We added an author box to each article, added their information to the About page, and ensured all of that was properly linked together.
120 Under-Performing Articles Removed
In June 2020, a content audit was performed to remove 120 articles. The process at that time was to delete any article that had less than 1 backlink and less than 365 visitors annually.
New Revenue Sources and Diversification
When we purchased the site, it was earning via Amazon Associates. We added many different revenue streams to the site. Check out the pie chart of revenue sources below for all of 2020:
Here are highlights of the key points:
- Amazon Associates is only 26% of the total revenues
- Other Affiliates is more than Amazon Associates at 36%
- Email Blasts and Email Campaigns equated to around 20% of revenues. This is too low and needs to be improved.
- Display ads equated to 7% of revenues; this is because ads were added in Q4 2020
- Amazon Private brand partnerships were less than 1% of total revenues since only one partner has been setup. I see more opportunities here to partner with brands in the long-term though.
Overall, with the type of content that is ranking on the 1st page now, the site will see a healthy run-up to the warmer months.
There were other mentionable highlights that were done to the site:
- Facebook group of 60,000 members was acquired. My social media expert is posting content in this group to drive traffic back to the site.
- 7 rights to e-books were purchased (but this has not been launched on the site yet)
- New shoulder niche site started (update below)
🆕 Hired a Website Operations Manager
While not an improvement to the website itself, this new hire deserves its own section! I hire a dedicated Website Operations Manager that will take over 80% of the workload. This person was found through my network. He is experienced with niche sites, technically-savvy, and has grit.
These are the tasks he will do for the website:
- Basic Article Formatting: Max 50 articles formatted a month for all sites in this portfolio (including shoulder niche sites). This includes adding headers, images, featured images made in Canva, categories, SEO descriptions, URL slug, and interlinking with Link Whisper, and adding product boxes, comparison tables, and in-content links with the AAWP plugin.
- Conversion Improvements: As traffic ramps up to articles, he will optimize a max of 10 articles per month with custom HTML tables, multiple affiliate programs, CTA buttons, etc.
- On-Page SEO Improvements: He will find opportunities using Google Search Console and Ahrefs for a max of 10 articles a month to find any improvements to drive more traffic. He will have access to Market Muse and Frase.io.
- Basic Pinterest management for the main site: He will pin to the existing boards to maintain the Pinterest account; no push for growth.
On a large site, these tasks take up most of the time on a daily basis. Freeing myself from these tasks will allow me more time to focus on “moving the needle” and growth strategy.
The cost for this is $500/month. Win-win for all parties!
🏗️ Plans for 2021
Overall, 2020 was the growth and stabilization stages within the lifecycle of a website flip. Typically, I would be selling this site in Q1 2021 if I was following my lifecycle theory. However, my plan is to continue growing this portfolio as I see much more opportunity.
In 2021, the focus is to build a real authority business. These are the high-level strategies that will be implemented:
Start Shoulder Niche Sites
One shoulder niche site was started in November 2020. This site was built on a fresh domain and one of the existing writers is producing bulk content for it. I’ve negotiated a per article rate of $25 and the writer is a native English writer based in the U.S.!
Here are the high-level metrics so far:
- Published content: 73,521 words across 39 articles. The average word count per article is 2,020 words.
- Content in the pipeline: 77 articles
- Website built on GeneratePress
This site is part of a long-term strategy in the outdoor vertical.
I still have to launch the e-books that I purchased rights to in August 2020. The goal is to sell the e-books for $9.99 apiece with the ability to buy all 7 for $39.99. Of course, I have to test what price point works well. I am basing my numbers off of my competitors doing the same thing.
The plan is to launch with Thrive Cart shopping cart service.
Launch Products on Amazon FBA
Once you have the commercial intent traffic (i.e., best X of Y), you can launch your own private labeled products and send visitors to your own Amazon listings.
You get the margins on the product which range range from 30-50% plus you can own the customer after that. It’s a win-win.
I will be analyzing the Amazon Associates order reports to see which kind of products are (1) being ordered frequently, (2) low price point, (3) high-margins, and (4) available on Alibaba to import and private label.
Change to Long-Form Email Marketing
I’ve learned from The Website Flip newsletter that subscribers love reading long-form content in their inbox The average marketing emails expects the reader to click a link within the email to go read the article.
Over time, your subscribers will start opening emails more and reading the content. This will open up avenues to add sponsored ads within the emails. The goal is to generate $1,000-$2,000 per month from sponsored advertisements.
This new structure will be launched by Q1 2021.
Find Recurring Revenue Streams
Content sites receive 30-35 times monthly average profits (or 2.5-3x annual revenues) valuations. SaaS businesses receive a 5-7x annual revenue valuation.
My goal is to add recurring commissions to this site by partnering with brands that have recurring customers. I can drive customers to them and in return ask for 20-30% commissions for life.
I have not proven this out so it will be an experiment.
👉 Plans for January 2021
I will be focusing on the following:
- A new content audit: The site has 750 articles and many of them need to be deleted or 301 redirects
- Research and update outdated content: My main writer is going through hundreds of articles to put together a plan for improvement.
- Start implementing the new email marketing strategy (outlined above)
That’s it for this update. With the new year beginning, I recommend every site owner to level-up their niche sites. Find something that builds a moat around your business.
This new year will be exciting for this website. Stay tuned for the updates.