Growth Trifecta Case Study (May 2022)

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Welcome to May’s update! This month’s results were very similar to last month’s revenue, so things are holding steady.

Ads ticked up a little bit, but Amazon lagged April by ~$200. Between ads and Amazon revenue, my two biggest earners are still down $1,000 compared to May of last year.

Read on to learn how I’m working through my 2022 Growth Trifecta Plan. It combines a big content sprint, improving existing articles, and boosting revenue from my own products.

Let’s get into it!

The Site in a Nutshell

Whether you’ve been following along since the beginning, or are new to this case study, here are some key stats for my site.

lifetime earnings

Lifetime site earnings

Earnings

  • This Month: $5,764.03 (site) + $3,400 (writing retainer*) = $9,164.03
  • This Year: $26,695.50 (site) + $17,000 (writing retainer*) = $43,695.50
  • Lifetime: $150,023.48 (site) + $17,000 (writing retainer*) = $167,023.48

Traffic

  • This Month: 107,239
  • This Year: 519,621
  • Lifetime: 2,643,083

Expenses

  • This Month: $5,190
  • This Year: $26,177.06
  • Lifetime: $62,931.06

Note: Since expenses were high this month, I’ve added details about the biggest investments.

  • $1,000 went to my Content Manager for 20 hours of work.
  • $1,200 went to a writer for 12 hours of content cleanup and reorganization for the second course.
  • $2,200 went to Upwork writers.

*Amended: A major apparel brand within my niche discovered my site and reached out in late 2021 about collaborating. We ended up developing a relationship that became a 2022 monthly copywriting retainer. Since this income is directly the result of my site,

May Updates

Where did I spend my time (and money) for May? Let’s take a look.

(Ongoing) Affiliate Programs & Ads

In addition to the three-phase growth plan activities, I keep a close eye on affiliate and ad earnings, my primary income drivers.

As I mentioned at the top, Amazon earnings decreased from April. Ad income was slightly up. In early May, I tweaked a few ad settings too, increasing the density and adding more real estate to the side bar.

Ads earnings increased ~$125, but was down ~$300 from May 2021. Amazon was down ~$250, and down ~$650 from 2021.  

I keep hoping to see a boost in traffic and earnings given all the new content we’ve been adding to the site. But 2022 performance continues to be sluggish, particularly from Amazon affiliate income.

One small silver lining was the addition of a new affiliate program for a specific product. Though we only have two articles related to the product, there were two conversions in May for $65.

Focus Area: New Content

The main growth strategy for this year is new content generation (i.e. publishing new articles). My original 2022 goal was to tackle the following:

  • 400 new articles published by the end of June (130 published so far)
  • 25 guest posts published this year (2 published so far)
  • 50 new articles published for Q3 holiday sprint (now incorporating this into the 400 article goal)

This was a big month for publishing new content, with 55 posts going live in May.

new content

Not every piece of new content will break through, but hopefully SOME will!

Focus Area: Existing Content

My site has 614 pieces of content, which means there’s probably a LOT of untapped potential—for attracting more traffic and more earnings. That’s why one of my growth tactics for 2022 is improving existing content.

My goal is to put 100 existing articles through a consistent improvement process this year. 

As a reminder, my approach includes:

  1. Add 2-4 new FAQs to each post (source from “People Also Ask”).
  2. Refresh (or tighten up) the article intro and/or product review content.
  3. Add images to keep people on the page longer and boost ad revenue .

Want more ideas for how to improve ad revenue on existing content? Check out this helpful guide from my ad provider Mediavine.

During May, I input two new FAQs for 50 high-potential posts. Then I created second list of target FAQs for another 50 posts. Once I’ve added FAQ content to all 100 posts, I’ll go back and revisit introductions and images.

Focus Area: Selling Products

When it comes to courses, I continue to struggle to get into a groove. It may be that courses just aren’t my jam. Or, it may be that I haven’t put in the time or effort to crack the code on creating and selling them.

On a happier note, I had one full-price course sale this month, which was a nice surprise!

The good news is that content for my second course is *finally* in Teachable. I just need to edit a couple video clips, add images, and finish the sale page. We also downgraded our subscription from $120/month to $30/month. That makes me feel a lot better.

I sold 2 digital guides in May, along with a $35 affiliate commission from our Knowledge Directory and $65 from a new program. Sales from my own products totaled $166, which is 2.88% of monthly revenue.

My goal for 2022 is to reach 10% from my own products, and I’m sitting at 3.42% as of May.

Other Activities

What else was I up to this month?

  • Free E-Courses: This month, my first mini e-course went live. The goal is to build our main email list, and the final email in the series also directs folks to our paid course. We picked a topic we cover a lot, which means I could easily add Mailerlite sign-up forms to 12-15 relevant posts during the last week of May. So far, there have been 4 signups. We also created a second free e-course, so that will launch in June.
  • SERP Robot: For all those who ask why I don’t track keywords, you got your wish! I finally set up SERP Robot and loaded all my keywords.
  • Google Analytics Reports: I requested two custom reports from my developer which should get done in June. One will track 2022 content sprint articles, and the other will track existing content improvements.
  • GA4 Setup: I also requested my developer set up a second property in Google Analytics for the new GA4 (launching 2023).
  • Acquisition Site Email Series: The site we acquired *finally* sent a series of emails to their list. (They would not include the list in the sale.) The messages encouraged people to sign up for my email list and check out our course. There have been 3 new subscribers.
  • Acquisition Site Redirects: My developer set up a site-wide redirect so I can *also finally* publish the content on my domain. I just need to double-check the slugs are identical before we make them live.
  • Media Kit: I drafted a media guide in May and sent it to a brand we’ve worked with before for feedback. She had some great suggestions, and I hope to revise and finish the kit in June.
  • Staff Swaps: Unfortunately, one of my team members told me she needs to step back from her role. I’m working on reassigning social media management, outreach, and our email program.
goodbye baby

When I have to say goodbye to a beloved teammate

Parting Thoughts

Overall, I’m staying the course with my 2022 growth plan—despite not seeing much, if any traction thus far. Fingers crossed that new content will start ranking in the next month or two and lift traffic and earnings.

If income continue to plateau, I’d be hard pressed to make nearly as big of an investment in 2023. Or, at least, I would need to change where that investment goes. 

The good news is that the site is back to earning over $5,000 per month—and that’s still meaningful income.

Have thoughts about what results I may see later this year? Other ideas for things I should be working on? Comment below!

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  • Surj

    Doug – are you still doing your masterclasses this year or is that shelved?