This is the November 2020 update for my Outdoor case study site. Check out the October 2020 update, and archive of past updates here.
These are the topics that I will discuss in this update:
- Traffic and earnings stats for November
- Impact to earnings due to seasonality and a paused affiliate program
- New shoulder niche site launched!
- Google Analytics automation updates and plans
- Planned improvements for December 2020
Let’s get to it.
- Investment breakeven achieved!
- Revenue was $4,271 (comparable to $6,250 in October)
- 40 new articles added (compared to 70 in October)
- Launched NEW shoulder niche site!
- One automation tool finished. Another in the works.
- Affiliate program shut down. Loss of $1,000 per month!
📊 Traffic Stats for November
Here is a comparison of all traffic between November and October 2020:
The large peak was for Amazon Prime Day which skewed the results. Even with that peak in October, November still was ahead in terms of the number of new users.
I will be starting to track specifically the organic traffic growth month over month. Let’s look at November vs October:
Our organic traffic was up by 10% in November. The traffic is up because of the holiday season. However, my earnings are actually down. This is a result of the conversion rates being in this vertical overall.
💰 Profit and Loss
Here is the P&L chart to date:
- Revenue: $4,271
- Costs: $1,930
- Profit: $2,340
For the costs, I spent $1,255 on content, $353 on my VA fees, $300 on social media VA fees, and $22 on purchasing gear for my writers to review.
Investment breakeven achieved (!)
The site to date made $23,806 in profit. I purchased the site in March 2020 for $23,000. I’ve officially recouped all of my initial purchase capital!
How long did it take? Approximately, 9 months with putting in more than 50% of revenue monthly back into the site.
Here is a visual representation of the journey:
Monthly revenue breakdown
Here is the percentage-based revenue breakdown for the site:
This month overall was lower revenue due to a few major reasons. However, display ads ramping up has helped bridge the loss of revenue. Display ads are interesting because they do not follow typical conversion rates.
Q4 display ad RPMs are always higher but there is always a baseline in a niche that will be maintained throughout the year. That’s a huge plus for using ads.
📅 November Happenings
👎 Temporary pause of an affiliate network
An affiliate network that I’ve been promoting which generated about $1,000/mo average has “paused” their program until further notice. Here is the notice I receive:
Again, we are just affiliates. We have zero control over these things. That’s why I continuously preach DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY, and DIVERSIFY.
Not only do you need to diversify across your portfolio to many sites, but also within each site to many revenue streams.
If this network was my only revenue stream, my website asset would be worth $0 today overnight.
The network has since then emailed and said they will be opening up the platform soon. I am assuming January to February 2021.
📈 Display Ads: Split Test Results
I was doing a split test for the end of article ad spot between Newor Media vs Lockerdome. The verdict is out: I am keeping LockerDome.
Lockerdome was getting $2.31 CPM. NeworMedia at $2.46 CPM.
Newor has the highest CPM but the way pageviews are calculated is different. Locker pays out on ALL visits to the page. Newor does some sort of filtering and focuses on the visitors that actually saw the ad. This means I am getting paid in terms of revenue more with LockerDome as opposed to Newor
Verdict: Lockerdome wins.
🆕 Launched New Shoulder Niche Site(!)
Yes! This happened.
I usually do not launch new sites due to them being a “startup” and taking a while to get up to the traffic levels where it makes sense. However, this time it was different.
My reasoning for starting this site:
- Vertical play: It’s in the same vertical as my main outdoor site
- Writers: Same writers will write. Much easier to conform to Google EAT as I have an A-class team in place. One of my writers sent me 150 topics that he could write in this shoulder niche. How could I say no!
- Traffic: can promote to same social profiles to drive traffic immediately. Over time, organic traffic will pick up 🤞
- Monetization: simpler because I learned from this outdoor site what works
I am building out an authority portfolio in this vertical and thus, I am OK with waiting the 12-24 months it may take to scale this site up.
The progress has been great so far:
- The new site has been designed and built (outsourced)
- 15 articles posted (outsourced)
- Social media profiles created and being grown (outsourced)
- Another 100+ articles ready to be written (outsourced)
I plan to spend $5,000 to get this site fully loaded with content over the next 3-6 months. Stay tuned!
🤖 Automation #1: Find Unoptimized Pages with Traffic
I hired a Google Sheets developer from Upwork to automate tasks that I do regularly.
The first task was to shortlist website pages that have not been optimized for earnings. Specifically:
- Analyze the top 250 pages getting page views. Pull traffic data into Google Sheets.
- If a page has more than a specific number of visits (e.g., 50 over the last 30 days), shortlist it
- Check shortlist against another list of already optimized pages (I keep this list up to date)
- Create a master list of pages that need to be update
This runs daily. I get a master list of articles daily that are moving up in traffic. I then copy this over to Trello and assign it to my team to optimize for revenue (i.e., add custom comparison tables, product boxes, contextual links, etc).
Recently, the tool found 12 pages that I missed to optimize. One of them received 455 pageviews last 30 days!
In the past, I used to this by hand within Google Analytics and had to remember or physically cross-check articles to see if they were optimized. I also did this monthly leading to lost revenue.
Now it’s all real-time and automated.
🤖 Automation #2: Pages with Declining Traffic Trends
I re-hired the same developer to build out my next automation. My idea was as follows:
This automation will analyze hundreds of pages in Google Analytics and monitor the pageview trends to see if a page is decaying in the organic traffic.
Most of us track overall website growth in Google Analytics, Ahrefs, among others. However, as some pages grow in traffic, others decline due to lack of updates, new search intent, technical issues, among other things.
As growth investors, we focus on overall growth but may forget that old articles are “dying”. This tool will automatically calculate, track, and notify me of traffic decays (hopefully)
The developer will be processing and getting the traffic numbers into Google Sheets. I will be adding the filtering, process, and data analytics to the automation. I have a data science/analytics background in my day job (Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering so should be simple).
📆 Plans for December 2020
Here are the planned improvements:
- Hire a Website Operations Manager on a fixed salary: it’s time to get someone on-board that can handle 80% of the day-to-day so I can focus fully on growth.
- Put out another 50+ articles
- Improve conversion on new pages getting traffic
- Analyze the impact of December Google Core Update (see an overall update in this article)
- Plan for 2021
Now that I’ve recouped my initial capital, I can test out-of-the-box strategies to see what moves the needle even more. I will be reporting back monthly on these findings.