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The Official Journal for this Journey is on the BuilderSociety Forum. I may make reference to threads or members of that community in this post. You can read the full thread/journal here.
I did it. I’m back with my first update. It only took 9 years to get to this point. I’m here, I’m finally at month one. Yay!
In truth, I’m writing this just after I finished the BASELINE post that I just posted. I’ve been sitting on the results for almost a month at this point because I put off writing the “intro” for so long.
Without any more blabbering, here’s the update:
TL:DR; & Summary
I’m finally building up one of my “simmer sites” that I’ve had for over 9 years. I’ll focus on content for the first year – with a goal of 400 articles by next September. No intentional monetization, link building, or promotion will happen until year two. 80% of content will be informational & 20% will be affiliate content. The end goal is 1500 articles. The “Finish Line” for this project is a valuation of $1M.
September 2021: I published 18 articles, earned a couple of bucks, and got just under 800 pageviews to my posts. I’m still deep in the red, but I have a plan.
I’ll post the images from my tracking spreadsheet as well as update my milestone tracker. Below will be some commentary and journaling on each update.
Results for September
- Articles Published: 18
- Total Words: 38,679
- Articles “in Progress”: 10
- Pageviews (note: I don’t count traffic to the homepage or category pages): 780
- Revenue: $2.45
- RPM: $3.14
- Expenses: $1,093 (total investment budget is $20K – once I hit that I have to work on my own or fund content production from revenue)
- Valuation: -$22K @37X – I’m trying to track this on a trailing 6 months of profit just to see where it stands. BTW, that’s a negative $22K. LOL.
How did the Month Go & What did I do?
I was able to publish 18 articles this month. I started with 6 posts total (which I’ll be cleaning up and getting to 100% in the coming months or 301’ing to new articles on similar topics) and a total of 4,496 words on the site. That was a total of around 750 words per article.
The new content I’m publishing has an average word count of 2,150 words.
I have 10 articles already completed that I’m editing/optimizing in October. I posted 8 of them “as is” when I got them to let them age, but I’m wondering if that’s a good idea now. I’m trying this new concept of “finishing what I start”. I’m not sure if that’s a better trait to have than the potential benefit from publishing content ASAP (see question below).
Most of the content I order is around 1400 words per article. I add quite a bit to most articles during “editing” it takes a lot of time and I’d really like to speed it up (aka outsource it) but am resisting the urge now. I run it all through Frase.io for optimization. This ensures the content gets published to my standards (Mantra: No Crap Gets Published), saves a bit of money, and helps me streamline my processes.
One thing I’ve been lacking this whole time was a good process. Because I’ve never done the work required myself, I had no idea how to outsource it properly. I didn’t have a good “conveyor belt” to order content, get it back, edit & add content, then publish it.
Learn Before You Outsource
I thought I had built a process last year, but it was clunky and frustrating once I tried to use it. It was modeled after the process that Anne uses from yeys.com but it required that I learn how to use ClickUp, create a process and use it going forward. It sounded good but when I tried to set it up it got too complex really fast… and now it sits there without a single person using it.
That’s the difference between conceptual “best practices” and actually doing the work. I’m going through the pain now so I can build a process that works for me.
My new process is getting dialed in. By early next year, I think I’ll be at a point where I’ll consider outsourcing a portion to a VA. If I have the money. I’m also figuring out how to best create my briefs so I get the content back in the format I want and my editing time has come down significantly.
Linkbuilding Using 301 Redirects… Already?
As for expenses this month… before I really had any direction on this site I was looking for “more shortcuts” so bought a bunch of expired domains (7 of them) at auction in the same niche. Some of them are relevant and have decent authority/backlinks still. All of them get a little traffic and are still indexed. But I don’t know what to do with them (question below). Any help would be appreciated.
My forecasts for the coming months are in a lighter gray on the image in the stat chart. If I don’t spend anything else on this project until April (besides the commitment to WordAgents subscription), I’ll come in at just over $20K investment. ($20,233) That’s in line with my budget and all I can spend out of my own pocket. I track expenses & content investment separately on the spreadsheet. Once I spend it all, it has to stand on its own feet.
I’ll keep up with my WordAgents subscription ($1080/month for 20K words) but I won’t allow myself to use that content on this site unless it can pay its own way. I’ll order content for my other sites.
(Let’s be honest, this is an artificial barrier I’ve self-imposed. Honestly, if I want to use the words I pay for, to add more content, I will. My total investment will go up but, what else will I do with the words?!? I break my budget and end up with more content… and a better asset. Seems like a good reason to just keep going. Since I don’t really have any control over where the site will be in April 2022, I’ll figure out what to do at that point.)
Making Some Money Early
As for Revenue/monetization: I already have an existing Ezoic account, so I added this site during the first week of September. By the 11th it was already set up and earned a bit of money. It’s not much, but it’s going.
I’m not very happy with Ezoic. I think it slows down the site and adds way too many placeholders. But I’ve never had a site get big enough to move to another platform. I’d rather earn a little now and get my visitors used to seeing ads in the content. Maybe if it gets enough traffic the AI can learn better and my feelings about it will improve. I want to like it. What they say in their pitch sounds great but I haven’t seen it yet.
Finally, while I’m not focused on affiliate content yet, I do have it already set up on my associates’ account and have added some product links in content where it makes sense. I got three clicks to Amazon in September. No sales yet.
Tools I Already Own
I do pay for Lasso and AAWP which I’ll use once I get going a bit (I plan on using Lasso to add t-shirt boxes in my info content to promote my own stuff that’s on Amazon already). Also, if I come up with a physical product in this niche, I’d like to eventually create it and sell it through the site. I don’t count the cost of Lasso or AAWP as expenses for this site since I already pay for it.
Come to think of it, I installed LinkWhisper as well since I already pay for that on my other site too. Those expenses will be shared once this site starts earning a little more. (This mule needs to learn to walk before it starts running & before I start loading the saddlebags)
Milestones for the Month:
- Total Posts: 24 (“over 10” milestone)
- One-Month Pageviews: 780 (“over 500” milestone)
- One-Day $: $0.30/day (“over .01” milestone)
These are fun to see but everything on this list is a byproduct of the work I do on the things I can control. The only thing on the milestone list that I have direct control over is the number of articles. Everything else happens because of that. I’ll continue to focus on content.
Goals for October
- Published Articles: 42
- (Preview): Since October is almost over at this point, I can give a preview: I have 36 articles to optimize and edit. There are 12 more on order and being written and, unfortunately, only three published so far. I have to edit/publish an average of 7 each day for the rest of the month in order to stay on track with my goal publishing schedule… wish me luck!
Questions for Those Who Know:
- Expired/Dropped Domains. What should I do with these? I could give stats if that would help… but for now, I’m thinking I will 301 redirect two of them directly to a category page. The rest will be rebuilt, resurrected (I’ll use Frase to “paraphrase” the old content I get from Archive.org so there aren’t any copyright issues), and redirected in a few months. I want to see if they get any viable traffic before I 301 any traffic to articles I’ve had written already. Should I wait to see if it’s good or just redirect them now?
- Similar to what MinstrelJunkie said in one of his posts, I realized that I can order most of my content now since I have almost 180 articles-worth of words already purchased. I could publish it as soon as I get it back so it starts to “age”. Then optimize & edit it when I get to it (within 3-4 weeks ideally). Is this a dumb idea? Would Google see a major change in the first month that a post is live as a bad thing? Or would it be new enough that it wouldn’t matter? Keep in mind, a lot of the content I publish is getting impressions in the first week & most are coming out of the gate in position 40 or 50…
How do you know if it’s working?
- If articles rank in the top 50 right out of the gate, does that mean there’s some level of trust from Google already? What about on page two? I don’t have anything ranking on page 1 yet – at least not anything of consequence – I have some longtails on page one. Does this mean Google and I are at the “passing notes stage”? Once I see more on page one, I’ll ask her out and I know we’ll get to third base in no time! (I’m assuming Google is a girl)
Should I add a Forum in the future?
- One of the biggest sites in my niche (but not a direct competitor) started as a Forum then branched out to some News, Interviews, and “features”. They seem to be doing well. Should I do a forum after I get bigger? Or should I just continue to source my post ideas from their forum (and fish for backlinks)? I ran a small forum at one point and really enjoyed it, but it’s another one of those time sucks that I’d only justify doing if I did this full time.
What’s the most you’ve paid for an article or the biggest article you’ve outsourced?
- I ask because I just paid $300 for a big pillar article. It’s only about ½ of what I need but I freaked out when I realized it’d probably go well over 6000 words of “deep” research… so I only commissioned part of it and I’ll finish the rest.
That’s it for now. I do realize the irony in saying that forums, Reddit, Discord and other groups are a waste of time – while at the same time hoping that people will read my updates and answer some of my questions. I guess it is what it is
Until next time…