This post is all about the money trail…The REAL costs of converting a site to White Hat.
Be sure to check out the previous 5 posts if you haven’t read them yet.
I haven’t mentioned expenses very much in this case study.
Today, I reveal it ALL.
I mentioned that the monthly expenses were about $500 per month, which covered hosting, Private Blog Network links, and other normal overhead. Most of the $500 was for the PBN links.
The costs of converting the site to White Hat haven’t been mentioned in detail so that’s what this post is all about.
I wrote a guest post about the case study on Charles Floate’s blog. Matt Allen, from Dumb Passive Income, asked about the expenses, calling out the fact that it’s not clear if there is a positive ROI.
It is a fair claim in a world where Internet Marketers like myself don’t provide transparency into the financial realities. This is really irritating when I see the FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) marketers talk about making seven figures a month and neglect to tell you that the profits are four figures a month.
I’ll talk about the costs, then the revenue.
There are several expense categories in the project, and Rob and I did a pretty good job about what they might be. So there were few surprises.
Logistically, I paid for just about all the expenses upfront, then Rob would pay for his half of the costs at the end of the month. It was a bit tedious but helpful to see the numbers as an unofficial audit of the expenses.
Let’s look at the major sources of cost in the project so far.
We added a lot of content to the site, about 110,000 words. Most of the content was in the form of Keyword Golden Ratio compliant content. (Watch a webinar on YouTube on the topic)
Several other posts were systematically improved which yielded an increase in rankings and revenue.
I hired writers from Upwork and paid about $14 for each 800 to 1,000 word post, or about 1.55 cents per word.
New Keyword Golden Ratio Content
We added 99 new posts to the site, all KGR compliant. All that content amounted to about 94,500, at about 1.55 cents per word.
It’s staggering to think about that amount of content! Even now that it’s done.
We were able to utilize the team I already had in place for my other niche site. So it was actually easy to do.
In the chart below, Value is the number of visitors and Value Percent is the percentage of total traffic, and that’s for a 90 day stretch.
Improving Existing Content
A lot of the content on the site was bad. It wasn’t helpful and/or wasn’t written by someone that knew anything about the topic.
Nine of the original 45 posts, received about 80% of the traffic. So I applied the 80/20 rule and just worried about improving the content on those posts.
If we set out to do that for all 45 posts, it would have been overwhelming and the benefit of working on the other 36 posts would be minimal.
Here’s how we figured out which nine posts to work on… Remember in the chart below, Value is the number of visitors and Value Percent is the percentage of total traffic, and that’s for a 90 day stretch.
Editing and Content Management
The volume of content we were processing was, eh, A LOT. I don’t want to be in the business of reading a pile of content as high as a seven story building so I hired editors/content managers to help. This role was paid $9 per hour.
And for my team, the editor is the content manager – see below:
If you’re interested in the details of building such a team, and you should be, check out my post on Empire Flippers discussing How Entrepreneurs Build Teams.
The Editor/Content Manager Role does the following:
- Edits for grammar, content, and voice
- Adds images and videos
- Adds affiliate links
- Adds internal and external links
That would take me over one hour but my team can do it faster and better than me.
Plus, that would have been about 100 hours of my time! That’s two and a half weeks working full-time on content editing.
Content for Guest Posts
The content for guest posts was written by the same writers writing the content for the niche site content. So I paid the same rate as noted above, $14 per 800 to 1,000 words, or 1.55 cents per word.
The guest posting campaign had two main components:
- A fixed bid* piece heading up by an outreach manager.
- A part that I ran with two VAs (paid hourly) and writers.
Each part component completed about half the work.
*Fixed bid means I pay a price for a result, a published guest post in this case, and the number of hours or resources needed to complete that work doesn’t matter. One guest post may take one hour to get, while another takes 20 hours, and I pay the same for each. It’s how nearly all SEO work of this kind is charged for.
I started the work for replacing the PBN links with guest post with this approach.
I was hoping (oh was I hoping!) that all 45 guest posts could be done by the outreach manager.
I paid $1330 per 10 guest posts for this fixed bid portion of the campaign.
This part of the team was great to work with in that I had one contact point: the Outreach Manager. He hired Prospectors and Researchers to help out. If he needed content, he got the content from iWriter. It was a blackbox for me.
As you know, that didn’t workout well and this part of the work stalled at 22 guest posts. It was hard to deal with since the campaign started so strong. Then, it just dragged on for a while and I kept hearing excuses about what the issues were.
From a management standpoint, I did suggest new modes of operation, new techniques that I knew to be effective, and even to hire more help if he thought it would help. None of my suggestions were taken.
In January, I got off my ass and sprang into action building a small team.
At this point, we were way behind schedule with no signs of recovering without drastic action.
So, I hired two VAs to help me with a guest posting campaign. I paid them $9 per hour and used the same guest posting techniques that I’ve talked about several times.
I added a higher degree of interaction with the target blogs:
- More blog commenting
- More email interaction
And this extra care, the extra interaction made all the difference.
I was thrilled to see the progress and excellent results. My general VAs actually beat the experienced Outreach Manager hands down.
The sad part of it was that I told the Outreach Manager that more interaction with bloggers would improve the conversion rate back in October. He didn’t follow my advice so he didn’t improve the results.
Now, let’s look at the revenue over 2016 to 2017. Remember that I joined as a partner in September of 2016.
Then, the revenue in 2017.
So, the expenses are not only covered by the revenue, I’m confident that the changes we made increased the revenue a LOT.
*I don’t have the March revenue handy, but it’s about 35% lower than we would expect due to the Amazon Commission rate changes.
I acknowledge that I’m ignoring the time that Rob and I spent on the project. But I can say that both of us are busy on other projects and doing fun, non work stuff, and I know I only put in about 2-4 hours per week since starting on the project.
Coming Soon in Part 7: Amazon Commission Rate Change
We know that it’s a different landscape with Amazon after March 1, 2017 when it changed the commission structure. In part 7, I’ll tell you about:
- How We Found Out About the Change
- The Impact
- What’s Next?