It’s time for a quick recap of August!
Since my Ecommerce websites are finally getting to the end of their life, I’ve had a lot more time on my hands to work on some things that were long overdue.
August was a special month as I worked on slightly different things, and I thought I could make it even more interesting for this blog by sharing additional information about most of the affiliate websites that I currently run.
I’ll be sharing a quick overview of each website, its past performance, current performance, and plans for the future.
Overall this was still a negative month as I keep losing money on these projects, but during August I did the ground work for one of my website that could be paying off big time within a few months. More about this below.
With that being said, let’s jump right in.
WS1 Website (Launched 2013)
WS1 is my first try at an authority site. This website was launched in 2013. The monetization is mostly Amazon, and I later added some Adsense units to squeeze a few extra bucks out of the informational pages.
The idea behind this website was to become an authority in its particular niche by producing a mix of informational articles and product reviews.
The industry is already well-established with some major players running magazines for over 50 years, so I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy win.
To be honest, I didn’t really know what I was doing at this time because I wasn’t very familiar with content marketing. I ended up spending a fair amount of money on content that was of average quality.
The website never really took off and it’s been somewhat stable for a few years now. Keep in mind that I haven’t added any new content to this website for at least 3 years.
For some odd reason, Google started giving some love to this website since the end of the first quarter. I’m not exactly sure why, since I haven’t made any change recently and didn’t publish any new content, but I’m not going to refuse a couple extra hundred dollars each month for work that was done almost 5 years ago.
WS2 Website (Launched 2015)
WS2 was originally supposed to be a joint venture with a friend of mine. We started working on a digital product for a niche that didn’t even exist 10 years ago. My friend got busy with other projects so I kept working on this product on my own.
The product ended up being a total bust, but to support the product launch, I started this information website at the beginning of 2015.
To my surprise, I quickly snatched all number 1 ranks in Google for the keywords I was targeting, with absolutely zero link building. The niche was so new that there was zero competition and I was filling an information gap.
Based on the revenue numbers of 2017 (that were covering the content cost and then some), I decided to expand the website in three related niches.
I published the content in March and April of 2018… And instead of growing, traffic crashed! Bummer.
In July, the website made just over $5. That was kinda depressing.
In order to improve the traffic I receive from Google, I spent a couple of days doing some on-page SEO: namely adding Schema.org markup, and making a few changes to the way I manage authors information.
At this point, I’m leaving this website on complete autopilot and maybe for an unknown reason Google will start giving it some love at some point in the future.
WS3 Website (Launched 2015)
This content website has been one of my most ambitious projects to date. It is monetized 100% with Amazon affiliate program.
It all started with a set of 23 niche websites that I launched at the beginning of 2015. These were all following the exact same content strategy with a mix of information articles and product reviews.
They all had a good start, and I decided to merge all the niche sites into one big authority website after a few months.
The growth throughout 2015 was steady and I quickly reached a few hundred dollar per month in revenue.
Then in 2016, the website blew up.
In April 2016, the website hit its first thousand dollar month. In May 2016, it was already over $2.3k revenue. In June 2016, it hit over $3k in revenue. And in August 2016, it was already making over $4.6k in revenue.
At that time I made what I consider to be one of my biggest mistakes for the past few years: I didn’t see the signs that something bad was happening.
If I had paid close attention to the numbers, I would have noticed the signs and I could have sold this website for over $95,000 to a more seasonned SEO specialist who would have known how to put the website back on the right track.
I kept pushing the same type of content month after month, and unfortunately, I was hit by several algorithm updates. Month after month, the traffic from Google was decreasing, and since I couldn’t tie it to a particular update, I had no idea how to fix it.
Throughtout 2017 and the first half of 2018 the traffic has been going down, with more significant decrease after each Google update, until the traffic from Google was virtually zero.
And then, July 2018 happened. The site (that was once worth $95k) made a whopping $23.58 in revenue. The traffic from Google is non-existent, and most of the traffic now comes from Bing and Yahoo.
The website that was averaging $60 per thousand visitors during its prime, made $6.37 per thousand visitors in July.
It’s been the wake up call I was waiting for. I figured I have nothing to lose by making big changes to this website since it’s making so little money anyway. It can’t really get any worse.
I spent a few days reading through article after article about the most recent Google updates to see what changes I could make to this website. Then I spent almost the entire month applying my plan of action.
I had quite a number of articles that were targeting slightly different variations of the same keywords or very closely related keywords. I have decided to consolidate all that content in as few extremely powerful pages as possible. That meant reviewing over 600 different articles, and reorganizing all the content in just over 80 articles. That was a painfully time-consuming process!
After I was done with the content, I followed the new Google guidelines regarding E.A.T. (expertise, authority, and trust) to improve the website layout and show to the website visitors that it’s a trustworthy website.
Now that this whole process is over, I expect the traffic to drop even more: Bing and Yahoo might not like the changes I made and I will most likely lose some rankings with them.
The upside is that, hopefully, Google will notice the changes that were made, and they will start sending traffic to this website again. That being said, I expect it to take at least 2 or 3 months (if ever) before I start getting some traffic from Google again.
What’s been great about WS3 during August is that I am already seeing a dramatic improvement in the revenue per thousand visitors compared to previous month.
Hopefully the Yahoo/Bing traffic drop won’t be so big that it negates all the improvement I’ve done in terms of conversion rate.
WS4 Website (Launched 2018)
This website is still my main focus for this year. I have some writers and an editor working to product stellar-quality content every single week. My job consists mainly in overseeing their work and reviewing articles before they go live.
I also do a fair bit of research to come up with the content plan that my team will follow and strategize the website growth for the future.
As I said in my previous updates, I have a very strict “zero link building” plan for this website. Google is telling us webmasters that building links for the purpose of manipulating search results is bad. If you take this candidly, it means that ALL link building is bad.
So the idea is to see if you can get a website to rank in 2018 without building a single link, or if Google is being completely hypocritical about the whole situation and link building is essential for all websites.
Let’s take a look at the progress so far…
481 people visited this website last month. These visitors were converted into $123.79 in revenue. This means that this website had a decent $257.36 revenue per thousand visitors.
It may seem like a drop compared to previous month, but I’d like to point out that in July I sold a high ticket product that brought over $100.00 in a single referral. It was a freak event so this month is definitely not a let down. I’m very pleased with the traffic growth and revenue numbers.
The revenue per thousand visitors is pretty high compared to what I was seeing with my previous projects, but with less than 500 visitors, this number can fluctuate a lot. I’ll wait until the website receives a few thousand visitors per month to see at what RPM it stabilizes.
I’ve also decided to start sharing information directly from Google Webmaster Tools with you. This way you will see exactly how WS4 is doing in Google search results.
In August, this website had 33,369 impressions on Google. These impressions resulted in 239 clicks, which means an average click-through rate of 0.72%. The average position in Google results pages was 57.8.
While I’m very excited to see this kind of growth in terms of visibility on Google, I don’t think it will keep going at this rate. From my experience with previous websites, I can tell you that after the “honeymoon phase” with Google is over, growth tends to become more linear. We’ll see how it goes in the next few months.
The following chart shows the cumulated revenue and expenses to date for each month. Additionally, it shows the current website value as well as the return on investment before and after selling the website (if I decide to sell it).
From the start of this project until the end of last month, this website generated $324.32 in revenue. I spent $6,532.06 since this website’s inception, which means a net loss of $6,207.74. In other words, that’s a 95% loss so far.
However, by using a conservative 25x multiplier on the average revenue of the past 3 months, we can calculate this website value: $2,538.17. By selling this website, I would reduce my loss to $3,669.57 (over $300 less than the previous month). That would be a 56% loss on my investment (14% improvement over the previous month).
Of course I’m still years away from a potential sale for this website, but I’m keeping track of these numbers to know the trend, as well as the evolution month after month.
What about the money?
Here is a breakdown of the money flow for my various projects.
To make this report easier to understand, I’m using a simple color code: green numbers are positive, red numbers are negative.
Please keep in mind that these figures may not be 100% accurate due to various factors such as refund requests and network adjustments. The terms for each payment may also vary. As a result these numbers may differ from the actual payments issued and received.
|Email Marketing||-$205.00||▲ $5.00|
|Cost of Goods||-$188.75||▲ $105.76|
|Payment Fees||-$38.26||▲ $27.01|
|Content Sites||$331.50||▲ $124.67|
|Sponsored Blog Posts||$0.00||-/-|
Against all odds, my ecommerce projects still generated some profit last month, so they get to live another month before I pull the plug. At this point, I just spend a few minutes each week to fulfill orders and to answer customer questions.
To be honest, August was not as bad as I was expecting it to be. I lost “only” $413.07 mostly because my spending decreased significantly compared to July.
What’s happening next?
The plan for September is just more of the same: produce great content for WS4, make sure it’s properly indexed by Google, work on my on-page SEO, and see if the traffic follows.
I’m also thinking of doing some freelance work to cover more of my costs. If I move forward with freelance jobs, I will be talking more about the whole process of finding clients online in the next few months.
Stay tuned for the next update!