This is the September 2020 update for my Outdoor case study site. Check out the August 2020 update, and archive of past updates here.
These are the topics that I will discuss in this update:
- Traffic and earnings stats for September
- Improvements complete
- Agency update —> hired a Brand Manager
- Planned improvements for October 2020
Let’s get to it.
- Revenue was $6,320 (Comparable to $6,969 in August)
- Email list brought in $1,267.67 (compared to $1,172 in August)
- 50 new articles added(!) (compared to 30 in August)
- Shoulder niche content is being pushed hard
- Display ads are ramping up
- Three new writers added to the team
- New Brand Manager hired
- E-commerce products were not uploaded and optimized
- Monetization of Facebook Groups did not happen; not enough time
📊 Traffic Stats for August
Here is a comparison between August and July 2020:
You’ll see a slight dip in traffic. Bear in mind this site is in the outdoor niche so there will be seasonality. I expect my net traffic to improve over time, but seasonality may keep it down until the warmer months of 2021.
Here is a breakdown of traffic by source:
- Facebook: 2,501 (compared to 5,165 in August)
- Twitter: 0
- Pinterest: 967 (compared to 2,207 in August)
- Reddit: 9
In August we had a few pins (i.e., 2-3) that generated a lot of traffic. Some of the content resonated well with the audience. That did not happen in September. It will take time to figure out what content works best and optimize for it.
While I would love a ton of traffic via social media, it’s simply a bonus. Will optimize but the focus is on organic traffic rather than via social media.
💰 P&L in August
Here is the post-acquisition P&L chart:
- Revenue: $6,319.78
- Comparable to $6,969 in August 2020
- Costs: $2,673 (compared to $3,194 in August 2020)
- Profit: $ 3,647 (compared to $3,194 in August 2020)
For the costs, I spent $1,483 on content, $460 on my VA fees, $400 on social media VA fees, $100 on software subscription fees, and $174 on purchasing gear for my writers to review.
When will I break even? One to two months(!)
The site to date made $18,161 in profit. I purchased the site in May 2020 for $23,000.
Fingers crossed. There’s still a month or two more to recoup the initial upfront capital.
Monthly revenue breakdown
Here is the percentage-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 this to August:
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 August 2020, my Other Affiliate revenue was 43% ($2,998) compared to Amazon Associates which was 19.3% ($1,346).
Let’s do the same calculation for September:
In August 2020, my Other Affiliate revenue was 49.3% ($3,104) compared to Amazon Associates which was 24.1% ($1,518).
It’s looking good. The affiliate revenue as a whole is increasing.
Email Campaign vs Email Blasts
I added 6 more automated emails in my campaign that gets dripped out to subscribers.
The revenue breakdown in September was:
- Email Campaigns: $380 (compared to $425.63)
- Email Campaign – PDF: $45.50 (compared to $49.19)
- Email Blasts: $837.52 (compared to $691.71)
I added 1,528 subscribers at a 1.92% conversion rate from my on-page traffic.
One stand-out figure in the revenue is my Email Campaign that brought in $380 vs $425 last month. Why is it lower even though my subscriber count went up?
Aweber = Bad Customer Service
Long story… Aweber decided to disable my campaigns from September 19 to the first week of October without notifying me. I had no idea that for more than 10+ days NO emails were being sent out to my subscribers.
Once I reached out to Aweber support, they said it was a technical glitch and the engineers disabled my campaign.
I most likely missed out on at least $150-$250 revenue from my campaigns because of this.
I am contemplating switching over to ConvertKit or other more modern email marketing providers. It’s a huge undertaking so we will see.
📅 September Improvements & Issues
👎 Google Indexing Issues Slowed Things Down
Check out the image below my rank tracking tool showing one of my keywords:
This is my rank tracker which tracks my top keywords every 6-hours. The page went from #1 to off the Google Index. I had to go into Google Search Console (GSC) and re-index the page. Immediately, it jumped back up to #1.
Google was and still is having active indexing issues. Make sure to monitor your top pages using a SERP ranker, like SerpRobot so you can catch these issues live.
This explains the decrease in traffic in September vs August.
🔥 Content in Shoulder Niches
In the last month’s case study, I stated the following:
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.
In September, I assigned 30 articles to the writer who is an expert within the shoulder niche. He charges a flat $30 per article regardless of length.
Here are the SERP rankings for these keywords that he is writing for:
Over the last 30 days, I’ve already taken the top 3 positions for 7 keywords, and the top 10 for 14 more. Many of them were just posted so it will take time to move up.
The shoulder niche products range from $150-$1,000. They can be found on Amazon and ShareASale network. Amazon pays 3%, whereas the brands on ShareASale pay 5%. I promote both locations side by side so the user can pick where they want to buy from.
This shoulder niche has some big players. I’ve reviewed many of these sites that come up for sale and then generate $10,000-$40,000 when these keywords start ranking. This will be lucrative.
Stay tuned on the progress!
📈 Display Ads Ramping Up
Last month, I stated I was testing a new advertising provider.
The CPMs were hovering around the $5 mark that has ramped up to $7. I’m very happy with that knowing that the ads are at the bottom of the post, quick to load, and relevant to the audience (i.e., it’s not cookie-based).
Here are the stats for September:
Here are what the ads look like:
These are 6 different images linking to the advertisers. Some of them are interactive. I place these ads right before the Author box on my site.
The advertiser I am using is LockerDome. If you would like an introduction, leave a comment or send me an email. They do not accept all sites but if you have the right site, it will work out well.
✍️ Added more writers
My goal is to ramp up the site for the holiday period. For that, I need to increase content output.
In September, I added 3 more writers to my team. The structure with all my writers now is as follows:
- Main Writer ($40): He is the expert. He was getting paid $30/article but I bumped him up to $40/article at the beginning of the month
- Writer #2 ($30): subject matter expert on shoulder niche
- Writer #3 (3 cents/word): subject expert on another shoulder niche
- Agency (2 cents/word): only used for bulk work that needs to be done quickly
- 🆕 Writer #4 (4 cents/word): writer ghostwrites for big publications in the niche
- 🆕 Writer #5 ($30): new person that actually was a writer for the dating/relationship site. He has experience in the outdoor niche as well
- 🆕 Writer #6 ($40): an expert but only does a few articles a month
All in all, I manage a team of 7 now for one site.
The goal is to put out more than 100+ articles per month for the next 6 months.
⭐ Hands-on product reviews
I believe an authority site should have hands-on reviews with quality pictures, potentially a unique video, and a unique write-up.
I spent $174 on purchasing gear for my main writer to review. The process was simple:
- I order the gear and have it shipped to his home.
- He takes pictures, tests the product, and writes up an article for the $40 article fee.
- He does a video as well for an additional fee of $35.
I only do videos for select products, not all. He does not charge me extra to do a hands-on review and I respect that. I am fronting the capital to purchase the gear, and paying for the writing so I should not have to pay more for testing the gear.
I purchased about 5 pieces of gear for very low competition keywords. These will rank within the next couple of months.
Google’s Expertise, Authority and Trust can be built not only with author expertise, but also the quality of hands-on content, unique images, and videos.
📊 Optimizing Top Pages with Product Popups
I always analyze the top organic traffic pages at the beginning of each month to identify “quick win” pages I can optimize with a better product, popups, or call-to-action buttons.
I found a few pages where I was getting traffic but had my email opt-in forms popping up.
I designed a popup in OptinMonster to show ONLY on the specific product page. It looked like the following:
The popup would show up 30 seconds after someone visits the site or tries to leave the page. I let this experiment run through all of September.
Here are the results:
The popup specifically received 13 unique clicks with 2 sales at a 16.7% conversion rate — an excellent result.
This also is a high-priced product at $300 with 10% commissions so that was an additional $60 in revenue.
If you have a high-converting product with high commission potential, optimize the page by adding product-based popups using OptinMonster (or other such tools).
🏗️ Outdoor Agency Update: How’s that going…
I mentioned in a previous case study update here, that I will be branching out and “opening” an agency in the outdoor niche.
I recently hired a Brand Manager. He is on a commission structure. The following is what he will do:
- Find brands in the outdoor niche that are actively promoting via ads, social, email, etc.
- Reach out with a proposal
- Handle customer service, posting on social, media creation, payment collection, etc.
In return, I pay him a 30% commission on each sale he brings in.
This is another big win for me. I can focus on the big picture of the business and he can handle the agency part.
We are pitching the following options to brands:
- Banner advertisements: Banner ads at specific places on the site such as the right sidebar, article-specific banners, etc.
- Social Shoutouts on our Facebook Page (180K+ followers), 3 Facebook Groups (60K+ Members), 2 Pinterest Profiles (500K+ monthly views), Twitter (8K+ followers), and Instagram(1K+ followers).
- Email blast: Email blast to our highly engaged list with more than 17,000 subscribers
- Hands-on product review: Includes an article on site with links, product box, hands-on images by an expert with social shoutout included.
Each of these is priced differently and the brand can choose a-la-carte or a package (discounts provided for packages).
The Brand Manager will be reaching out to brands starting in October. Stay tuned!
📆 Plans for October 2020
Display ad optimization
I will be testing the following networks simultaneously:
- NeworMedia display ads
- Ex.co (Playbuzz) video ads
- Google Adsense Link Units (maybe)
I’ve been accepted to each of these. I picked them because they do not slow down page speed (unlike Ezoic) and they provide relatively high RPMs.
The idea is to strategically place these on the site, let them sit for 3-5 weeks for RPMs to settle, and then optimize.
Other planned improvements
- Put out another 30-50 articles (more if possible)
- Email marketing campaigns and email blast
- Shoulder niche research and content
That wraps up September 2020. Let me know if you have any questions via the comments!