This is a new case study for 2023. I occasionally select students from my Multi Profit Site course to work with me closely for one-on-one coaching. We meet often, at least monthly, to talk about what to work on, how to do it, and more. We’ll follow along monthly with Denise.
I met her at the FinCon (a creators conference) in the fall of 2022. Then, I interviewed her on my podcast. We decided she’d be a great fit for the case study series in 2023 since she recently quit her job.
This is the first installment.
Journey & Goals
I just quit my job for the second time: first time to travel the world and this time to build my own niche site empire!
As of today, I own a portfolio of six websites, a combination of blogs and niche sites. Some were acquired, and some were built from scratch. For this case study, I will focus on my two larger sites. I’ll refer to one as the Blog and the other as a Guide.
My goal for this year is to 3X the combined revenue from these two sites. Currently, they’re making just enough to cover my base expenses, so this jump would have a significant impact on my life.
It would not only allow me to maintain my current lifestyle but also provide me with the financial freedom to explore new opportunities and take more risks. And travel more, of course.
The Blog was acquired in August 2021, and the Guide in November 2022. Because of my job, I had not been able to create much content and focused on making improvements to the site’s performance and updating existing content.
Over the next several months, I will focus on creating new high-quality content, optimizing old posts for affiliates, increasing website traffic and engagement, and building my email list.
I am currently planning to write most of the content myself as I’ve found that I do a better job at ranking my posts (and I can do it incredibly fast, too!). But with a 3X increase in website income, I will be able to reinvest in the sites and hire better writers to help the sites grow faster.
Additionally, it would allow me to focus on diversifying my revenue streams with other websites, courses, and digital products and explore other areas of interest.
Overall, I am excited about this new chapter in my life, the potential of my websites, and the opportunities they will bring.
I look forward to sharing my journey and progress.
While I understand what I need to do, having an audience will keep me accountable and motivated to keep working.
So thank you in advance for following along!
This Month in a Nutshell
The past month can be summarized in one word: housekeeping.
I’ve switched the theme to Kadence WP on both websites, which was a big undertaking. It was also a scary task since changing the theme could mean a loss in rankings and traffic, which would impact my revenue.
Thankfully, I didn’t lose any revenue, and both sites are now performing better with the new Kadence theme. Traffic on the Guide website had been stagnant since I acquired it in November, but you can see the increase in the number of organic keywords at the beginning of February when I switched the theme on February 1. Then, I changed the Blog’s theme on February 28, but it looks like the beginnings of a similar trend.
Considering I did nothing but change themes, I am happy that I took the time to work on this now because I’ll have a much better foundation on which to grow.
Additionally, I’ve been taking inventory of existing content, analyzing rankings and keyword opportunities, and making improvements to Core Web Vitals.
Earnings: Site 1 — Blog
This Month: $1,565.07 (February)
The lifetime revenue begins when I acquired the site in August 2021; the Blog was about 2 years old then. About 60-75% of the income comes from Mediavine and Amazon, which are included here.
The revenue of several other affiliates is very inconsistent and spread across multiple sources—one of my goals is to try and consolidate some for easier management and tracking.
Note: Google Analytics stopped working on the website in early 2023 for about 2-3 weeks. This is why there’s a drop in traffic, but the site was alive and well during that time and continued to earn revenues, as the graph shows.
Traffic: Site 1 — Blog
This Month: 38,339 users
Lifetime: 604,362 users
This site gets between 40k and 60k visitors per month, with peaks around summer and the holidays for obvious reasons. There’s about 12% direct traffic, and the rest is split between organic and Pinterest. As far as traffic on this site, my main goal is to increase the % of organic traffic while continuing to work on Pinterest.
Earnings: Site 2 — Guide
This Month: $835.07 (February)
The lifetime revenue for Site 2 begins when I acquired it in October 2022; the Guide was about 18 months at that point. About 80% of income comes from Mediavine and the rest is mostly one other affiliate.
Traffic: Site 2 — Guide
This Month: 32,290 users
Lifetime: 122,608 users
Traffic for the Guide site is somewhat seasonal with 3 peaks during the year. It’s 92% organic traffic and highly targeted since it covers a single destination.
One of my goals is to find more effective (and lucrative) ways to engage with this audience. I also plan to add Pinterest to the Guide as it has proven to be a significant source of traffic on the Blog.
Monthly expenses for both sites are between $150-$200, depending on whether I am using keyword research tools.
Here’s a summary of the bigger recurring expenses:
- Hosting: $98/mo — all my sites are under the same account
- Email Marketing: $39/mo (blog)
- Plugins & Tools: $250/yr
- KW research tools: $50-$100/mo (only when I need it)
I’ve also frontloaded the cost of some items, like paying 2-5 years of domains and lifetime memberships to themes, plugins, and other tools that I use and like. This allows me to share resources and lower the regular expenses of all my sites.
I am not currently outsourcing writing or using VAs.
Activities & Accomplishments
Focus Area: Affiliate Revenue
In order to 3X the revenue from these two sites, affiliate income seems to be the low-hanging fruit. Despite having decent traffic, both sites could be making a lot more in affiliates—there are a lot of missed opportunities.
So, I’ve come up with a three-pronged approach:
- Add affiliate links to existing content. I will go through all the posts and add relevant affiliate links where appropriate.
- Double down on informational content that is already performing well from an affiliate standpoint. I will create new similar posts for other categories and topics.
- Create new affiliate-driven content like reviews.
I’ve already updated a couple of posts and have seen encouraging results on the Blog almost immediately.
Focus Area: Add New Content
The next obvious step to increase my revenue is to add new content. Currently, the Blog has just under 200 posts, while the Guide has about 60. My goal is to increase the number of posts by no less than 30%.
I will focus on creating new content clusters and leveraging existing posts. By grouping related content together, I hope to improve time on page, increase the number of page views per visitor, and build topical authority on key categories, all of which should lead to higher search engine rankings, more traffic, and higher RPM on my display ads.
Focus Area: Email Marketing
Both sites have a list of subscribers that I have not done a very good job of engaging with.
I plan to send 1-2 emails per week to the Blog list in addition to an evergreen list that will go out to all new subscribers. Additionally, I also want to develop a few new lead magnets targeted to specific posts or topics.
For the Guide, I only intend to create an onboarding sequence for now.
Focus Area: Pinterest
My content does really well on Pinterest. Posts that may not rank high on Google can bring in thousands of visitors to the site each month. Seasonal traffic from Pinterest is something I need to plan for and invest on.
- I have a process in place for Site 1 that can be improved.
- Site 2 currently doesn’t have an account, so it’s an important item on my to-do list to boot traffic.
Focus Area: Optimize Existing Content
Finally, I will optimize old posts. Both sites have good content that ranks well, but I know there is room for improvement.
My goal is to go up in rankings, rank for additional keywords, maximize affiliate opportunities, and replace stock images with my own photography when possible. I also want to create a better internal link system for content clusters and pillar pages.
I’ve already deleted some crappy guest posts that received zero traffic and had no topical relevance. Now, I’ll prioritize which posts to optimize first based on their popularity, affiliate potential, and how many posts already exist around the same topic.
For each post, I’ll use keyword research to identify additional keywords to target, optimize on-page elements, add affiliate links to relevant products and services, and make the photos and graphics more visually appealing and unique.
- New theme: Since I changed the theme, eliminated several plugins and made speed improvements, both sites are passing Core Web Vitals with flying colors, although there are still some improvements I need to make. I’ve also noticed a visible increase in keyword ranking, which could be a direct result.
- Affiliates: Within a few days of updating old posts with affiliates, I’ve already seen an increase in clicks. This is a sign that I’ve been leaving a lot of money on the table by not having affiliates on high-traffic posts.
What’s Not Working
- Shiny-Object Syndrome: I have a lot at stake now that I don’t have a paycheck to rely on each month. I need these websites to grow fast. And I have a LOT of ideas for how I can do it. However, this means I am constantly jumping from one thing to another and don’t always feel like I’m making the progress I should. I need a system.
On the Horizon
I am more productive with focusing on one thing at a time, so my priority next month will be to update and optimize my high-traffic posts and those ranking on pages 1 and 2.
I aim to ensure I am not missing out on affiliate opportunities and update the content to climb the rankings.
While I am working on that, I will begin creating a content plan for pillar posts and new posts to write to create strong, strategically linked content clusters.
For Site 2, I will begin implementing a Pinterest strategy and will likely hire a VA to schedule the next 3-6 months of posts.
I know this case study is supposed to be about my websites, but I feel this is relevant.
I left my job at the end of January and took a little hiatus to recharge before diving into my new gig as a blogger and affiliate marketer.
My life has changed dramatically—I sleep better, eat healthier, exercise regularly, and work much happier. My dog is happier, too.