I had the last two weeks this month totally free with no work commitments. So, I should have gotten a lot of writing done. But I didn’t.
To be honest, I was totally burnt out. I still am a little, but feeling like I’m coming out of is a tad. The main issue is that I can’t get out of this house and head to a library or cafe to do my work. The Coronavirus issues make that pretty hard. So I’m stuck trying to motivate myself from home.
Let’s hope I can get back into a writing rhythm.
First Half of the Month: Surfer SEO Trial
Because I was so burnt out from writing, I decided to spend the first half of the month trialing Surfer SEO. I was pretty convinced by the idea of correlational SEO. This involves trying to mimic the articles on the front page on Google. Match their word count, keyword density, LSI phrases, etc. In theory, if Google is just an algorithm, by copying the top pages, you are matching the content that Google is rewarding. Therefore, you move up the rankings in the algorithm … right?
Well, perhaps not.
I found 21 poor performing articles. I got Surfer to analyze the SERPs and tell me how to match the SERPs. Then, I took the advice of Surfer and got all my artigles in the “green” (a little like Yoast, but more granular and specific to the keyword).
Then I waited.
The test is only 15 days old now, and I’m going to write until day 30 before I release the full study. But for now, I can’t see much movement to be honest. From this experience, I don’t think I’ll be going out and buying Surfer too soon.
Don’t get me wrong – it was really nice to have that data. REALLY nice. And I might get the $29 Hobby plan just to optimize my SEO while writing because I still think the theory is sound. It just didn’t work out.
There are plenty of reasons for this, such as:
- My internal linking wasn’t optimized
- I don’t have enough inbound links to the articles
- My Domain Authority might be too low compared to competitors
But to be honest, I don’t get why some of these articles just aren’t even in the top 200 in the SERPs, even though they are optimized to match the top articles in the SERPs. Maybe Google had already passed judgement on these pages? Maybe it’s too late for them to rank.
I’ll release the full case study mid-June, with a video and blog post breaking it all down.
A Month of Preparation for the Next Phase
The second half of the month was productive, but in the way where you go “I did a lot but there’s nothing to show for it”. I guess my measure of “success” is mainly how many articles I pumped out in a month. And on that measure, this month was a fail. But on other measures, I did some good things and really challenged myself to step up.
1. Identifying Bottlenecks & Buying New Content
I paused, reflected, and tried to identify that one thing that was holding me back from stepping up to the next level.
A few months ago I realized that one thing was outreach. I spent so much time on outreach that it was holding me back from writing. So I hired an outreach agency to do my outreach for me.
It really helped.
And now, I think I found that next bottleneck: content creation.
I just can’t keep pumping out 30 articles a month on my own. It’s exhausting.
So I bit the bullet and started buying content.
Finding good writers is hard. The iWriter content I’ve gotten back so far is really sub-par. But I’m reluctant to go above paying 2c a word at the moment. The price will just add up too fast. I’ll try buyselltext next and let you know how I go. They charge 2.5c a word.
Someone also contacted me and offered to write for me. I was hesitant at first, but now I’ve got high hopes he’ll be able to help me out.
At the end of the day, this is all part of my reinvestment plan: reinvest 100% of profits this year (at least) to get big, big growth.
2. Starting 3 New Sites
I also finally got around to starting 3 new sites. Two of them will be display ad sites and one will be an affiliate site. I’m excited about this.
Site 3 is going to be another Amazon Affiliate site. It’s in a niche I thought would be super competitive, but looking at the SERPs, it’s suprisingly not (using my DA/PA method). So, I’m going for it. Big time. I’m getting my writer who reached out to me to write at least 4 product reviews a month (10,000 words a month), and I’ll try to write some each month too. I want to get this one up to 50 articles before the sandbox ends.
This is a display ad niche. Honestly, this is a niche that’s weird, obscure, and may generate pennies in ad revenue. But I thought – heck – let’s give it a shot. I’ll learn a thing or two and it may surprise me. I’m buying all the content for this site and expecting to pay about $2000 on content by the time the dust settles. That’s one month’s revenue, so looking at it like that, it’s not all that much.
If at the 12 month mark it us bringing in $200 a month in display ad revenue, it’ll pay itself off before long. Of course, I do hope it’ll make me more than that.
My main concern is that I might have to invest quite a bit of money into outreach to ensure it’s got a nice base of links – and that might blow out the expenditure for this site.
I had originally intended to add content as a new silo to Site 1, but given that Site 1 gets hit by every update ever … I thought starting a new, more niched-down site will diversify the risk. It’ll end up having about 150 articles on it, and I intend most of them to be outsourced. These articles will cost me a little more money as they’re going to be a little longer.
The reason I’m optimistic about this site is that I know I should be able to get at least $10 EPMV for this content. I don’t think I’ll be able to get to Mediavine, because it’ll have only about 40% US traffic. How do I know this? Because I’m already ranking #1 for several of this sort of content on Site 1, so I have data to back up this decision.
And y’all know how much I love data.
Let’s Talk Income
In June 2020, I brought in $2,271.93.
That’s my best month yet – by over $500! It’s also about 25% of the way to my goal of $10K a month. HUGE.
There were two big drivers for this growth:
- Site 2’s affiliate revenue doubled as articles aged in.
- Site 1’s EPMV jumped from $6.63 to $8.05
Here’s the T on Site 1:
- Age: 15 Months
- Pages: 247
- Traffic this Month: 172,568 sessions / 196,303 PVs
- Display Ad Income: $1,306.98
- Display Ad EPMV: $8.05
- Amazon Affiliate Income: $161.59
- Other Affiliate Income: $21.40
- Total Revenue: $1498.02
As I predicted last month, Site 1’s traffic dropped back down under 200,000 PVs. I’m heading into the low season for that niche. But thank god for the EMPV jump, because my revenue actually increased despite losing somewhere close to 40,000 visitors in just one month.
An EPMV of $8 is awesome for this site. I didn’t think I’d see that for this site, after being down in the $4.20 range for so long. To be fair, 15% of that goes to Ezoic Premium fees, so the real EPMV was closer to $6.80, but that’s still significantly better than previous months.
Even my affiliate income rose of this site. This site’s affiliate income is an afterthought most of the time. There are 2 main products driving that affiliate income, and I really need to get around to building some supporting content around those two product reviews to hopefully boost the topical relevancy for both.
Now for some proof:
My site speed crashed this month. Not sure why – it crashed before I moved from Kinsta to WPX, and stayed steady when I switch to WPX mid-month. I assume it’s got something to do with new Ezoic scripts bulking up the site even more. But that’s a total guess.
One additional thing to note is that the site has recovered a little from the May 4th carnage. It’s about halfway back toward its peak. There hasn’t been a corresponding traffic growth, but I think that’s because it’s low season for the niche. The other explanation is I may have lost a lot of longtail phrases.
Here’s the peak rankings, rankings after May 4th, and current rankings. See how I’m almost back to 62 articles in the Top 3, but my average position is still well down from the peak of 35:
May 4 Carnage:
Site 2 doubled in revenue despite not much traffic growth (interesting!):
- Age: 11 Months (5 since content push)
- Pages: 77
- Traffic this Month: 7270 session / 8295 PVs
- Amazon Affiliate Income: $781.96
- Total Revenue: $ 781.96
As you can see this site is totally an Amazon play. It continued its trajectory of doubling revenue month-on-month (last month it made $330). I’m really pleased about this. I guess I have two main ambitions for this site: over 10,000 sessions and over $1,000 a month. There’s not much I am doing to drive that though, as the site’s almost done. I’ve got 12 more pages to add and that’d be about it for this site.
Here’s the proof:
(That’s US only – I also made additional pocket change from the Canada and UK stores).
Conclusion: Looking Forward to July
This month, I’m going to (once again) hope and pray for some growth, but expect revenue to flatten out. But hey, what do I know? So just off the cuff, my guess is:
- Site 1: Continued fall due to Summer low season, hopefully revenue will stay steady.
- Site 2: No idea! If it stays steady I’ll be happy.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got a big content reinvestment plan that now involves writers. Here’s how I’m reinvesting this month:
|Backlink (Site 2) – Guest Post||$99|
|Backlink (Site 2) – Guest Post||$99|
|Backlink (Site 2) – Niche Edit||$80|
|Backlink (Site 1) – Guest Post||$99|
|Backlink (Site 1) – Guest Post||$99|
|In-House Writer – 4 x Articles for Site 3 (2500 words)||$250|
|iWriter – 10 x Articles for Site 4 (1000 words)||$202|
|iWriter – 10 x Articles for Site 5 (1500 words)||$320|
|Service Fees Total||$255|
|Total Projected Cost for July||$1503|