Starting From Scratch – Summer Update 2017

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Jim started working on his niche site in February 2016 and it’s all been documented in the Starting from Scratch Case Study. The goal is to start from nothing and hit $2,000 per month — See all the posts here.

He’ll have a record month in June.

This update covers:

  • Weird Metrics (that don’t actually matter)
  • A plan to double traffic.
  • What he’s doing to battle seasonality.
  • High Touch Outreach…(Look for the link about scholarships)

Here is Jim with his summer update…

Summer has been good to me so far, not as good as I hope it gets but good nonetheless.

May saw record numbers in all categories:

  • Clicks
  • Conversion
  • Earnings

June has paced May pretty closely and should be just above in earnings.

Weird Data From SEM Rush

I’ve had an interesting experience with one of the major website audit tools out there (SEM Rush) and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was happening.

  • I was losing keywords and quickly.
  • My rank (in this tool) was dropping.
  • The reported traffic was down.

Meanwhile, a site that I haven’t touched since November of last year was soaring in all of those areas… I had no idea what’s going on.

I was adding more content, getting more guest posts up, doing all things that we know we need to do but nothing seemed to help.

Then, after sitting down with Doug and chatting about it, I came to realize that all of these tools are just putting out varied data, no two are the same in terms of reporting.

So, long story short, I stopped caring so much about what metric I saw that didn’t meet my expectations.

I’m doing what needs to be done, the work will pay off. Stop looking for validation of your hard work from a tool that’s imperfect.

 Doug’s Note: Yeah, a lot of metrics don’t matter. I look at too many metrics from tools to this day. We get a little spike of dopamine when we look at results and if they aren’t good, we may get stressed out. For the record, the metrics that matter are:

  • Revenue
  • Traffic

You shouldn’t care about approximations from tools if you actually have the real data.

The ACTUAL Traffic data from Google Analytics and WordPress Jetpack show the traffic is increasing:


You can see the weekly traffic is going up over the last 7 months or so. GREAT!blank

Doug’s Note: SEM Rush is actually AWESOME as a keyword research tool. You can see what keywords you’re ranking for and what your competitors are ranking for, too. Check out my video demo of SEM Rush. I’m an affiliate and if you sign up I get a commission. Try SEM Rush FREE for 14 days, just enter your credit card and cancel before you’re charged after 14 days.

Two New Strategies

Strategy has largely remained the same with 2 new ideas that I’m running with right now.

If you read the last update post and in particular the comments you may have seen one that read something like this:

“You’ve got enough content up. Why not just focus on optimization of your current articles?”

Now, I’ve got pretty good conversion, a little over 10% this month, but I still had (and am finding more and more) tons of Keyword Golden Ratio (KGR) content for my site.

I couldn’t, in good conscience, just let the money sit there so I put together a list of 100 of my best KGR keywords and hired a writer for all of them, set up in 5 article batches.

It will take him some time to get the all done but I’d rather have quality over speed any day.

So, for now all of my future articles are being produced by a good writer who I hired for a bulk rate of $18/1,200 words.  I’ll take that as a win.

Double Content

I’ve got 83 posts on the site and I’m on track to do about $800 in June

What I’m getting at is this; If I can more than double my content and keep or improve my conversion rate I should see more than double my current profits… ceterus parabus, blah blah blah.

Right now, I’ve got 83 posts on the site and I’m on track to do about $800 in June.

With the new 100 articles, some are focused on my main theme and around 70% of them are aimed at taking care of any seasonality of my site.  So, with everything being equal I want to double my profits next summer.

High Touch Outreach

Now back to my point of the comment on the last post.  I thought “Okay, I’ll add all of my low hanging fruit, all the juicy KGR stuff that I’ve got right now and then focus all of my efforts on optimizing and really ramping up rankings.”  Which brings me to my other point of attention.

In talking with Doug, he’s always been a fan of what we like to call “High Touch” outreach and it’s something I like doing.

Doug’s Note: High Touch is a new approach I tried for Project Go White Hat. You just correspond with people more and build a relationship. It takes longer, but after I started getting pitches emailed to me using my own templates I knew I had to change things up.

If you saw one of the latest videos on the “Scholarship Backlink” method and he mentioned bulk emailing potential schools and seeing if they’d link back.  Now, in the HT method you wouldn’t email, you’d call them, talk to a real person and make it personal.

I’ve started doing what I call a Light High Touch for certain articles on the site, still email but a direct line to place or manufacturers that I review.

Say I write an article on the best places to drink in Minneapolis and feature 3 spots on this list. I’d send each place an email saying how I really like their establishment and featured them on my recent post and see if they’d be interested in posting a link to article on their site.

Sure, maybe it’s a little cumbersome but the, yet unproven, conversion rate should be a lot higher.

So, that’s what I’ve been working on and will continue to work on.  Until next time.

Back to Doug…

Jim is hitting record revenue and he’s publish more content to address the seasonality issue. I like the constant effort and flexibility.

Should Jim be further in his niche site journey, i.e. closer to $2,000/month?

Maybe…but if you recall he launched an FBA business a while back so he’s just working on his site part time. And FBA has big revenue potential.

As a data point, Dave Fox hit about $2,000 per month in 12-14 months, then $5,000 in 18 months. By the way, look for an update from Dave in the next couple weeks! His sites are still doing really well.

  • How do you think Jim is doing so far?
  • What do you think he should focus on to get from $800/month to $2,000/month?

About the Author: Doug Cunnington is the founder of Niche Site Project. He shows people how to create Affiliate Sites using project management and a proven, repeatable framework. Doug loves creating systems, using templates, and brewing beer (but usually not at the same time).

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This makes their service perfect for both beginners wondering where to start, through to experienced portfolio owners looking to scale their operations

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mike McLeish

    Awesome job Jim! Starting to get some really nice monthly income. I can’t wait until mines around that much.

    I like your outreach approach. I’ve been contacting local businesses/manufacturers as well and it’s going really well.

    From the responses I get it doesn’t seem like something many guys have tried before.

    All the best on your goal!

    • Totally, Mike. I think most people are scared to send emails, and terrified of talking to people.
      I expect your accent really charms the businesses. 🙂 Boosts your conversion rate.

    • Jim

      Thanks Mike! Yeah, it’s great to see some returns on a lot of hard work. Glad to see you’ve been getting good results with a more personal outreach approach!

  • Glad to see I’m not the only one with the semrush problem. Same exact thing happened to me! Thanks for the update.

    • Jim

      You bet Jared! Keep hustling!

  • Hey Jim and Doug,

    Great work Jim! I love seeing these kind of posts that take the actionable advice and turn it into a game plan with results!

    Congrats on your progress.

    I have also struggled with some tools to find accurate data. After combining ahrefs, SEMRush, search console and Google Analytics data, I end up with a pretty good idea of my traffic and where I sit with the competition.

    I am currently on the same path as you, adding new KGR content and optimizing previous content. Once I rank in the top 10-20 for a keyword, I try to optimize off-page more to push me up (well in theory).

    Also, with the HT outreach method, I could see why you would get a much better response rate. People are much more responsive when you actually speak to them; there is so much spam it’s almost refreshing to hear from a genuine individual that wants to talk you like a human, whether it’s email or phone.

    Thanks a bunch for the post you guys!



    • Jim

      Hey Jeff. Yeah, I’ve found it’s best combining all the different sources that I can find to get a clearer picture of where I’m at. Really, it all comes down to doing the work that you know will pay off in the long run while trying to worry less about daily serp changes… emphasis on “trying”. Good luck!

  • Marry Collin

    Awesome job Jim!

    I had follow you when you begin, an now i want to ask you one question, hope get the reply!!!

    You said “I put together a list of 100 of my best KGR keywords and hired a writer for all of them, set up in 5 article batches.”

    Does that mean you group about 20 keywords into one article? Can you explain more to me how to do this?

    if could, show for me see one example about this case.

    Thank Jim.

    • Jim

      Hi. What I mean is this; I hire a writer for a big job of 100 articles and then give them 5 articles, each with their own focus keyword, at a time. With this approach I’ll have 20 batches of 5 articles each to get the final 100 articles back. I focus on 1 keyword phrase per article rather than trying to target multiple.

  • Hi Doug,

    Using Expired Domain for money site is that risky?

    • Hey Balaji, Sort of risky but if it’s a clean domain, then it’s fine.