Well it’s been quite some time since I last posted and obviously there have been a lot of changes in the world of Internet marketing. I’ve been meaning to post an update for quite a while – at first I was planning to make another typical New Year’s post, but that came and went. The truth of the matter is, it takes me quite a while to write these posts, and in general I’ve been working a lot less these days, so overall its been tough for me to get motivated to do it. That being said, I’m actually kind of re-energized to work on this site a little more – one reason being the reason Farmer update. Now I wasn’t really personally effected that much by the update. My hubpages traffic is down around 20% or so, but it’s not like I was planning to retire off of that income anyway. I have one other site that is a strong adsense earner that did start declining in traffic around the time of the update, but I have no real evidence that it is related, and frankly although the site is one of my best adsense earners, the topic is not sustainable forever – for the forseeable future, yes, but forever, no. So for the last few years I have been feverishly focusing on making other more sustainable adsense sites that equal the income of this particular site, and thankfully, due to these efforts, I wasn’t hit that hard. The way the update did effect me, however, was it did kind of provide a paradigm shift for me. For the last year and a half, at least, I’ve been extremely successful with article marketing as my primary SEO strategy.  Luckily, the algo update didn’t seem to have any kind of negative impact on any sites I’ve heavily SEO’d, but still, it makes me feel like I should be diversifying my efforts more anyway. Search engine traffic is a very fickle thing, so to get complacent using any particular strategy seems more and more to be a very foolish thing to do. So based on that, I have a few new projects in the works that I plan on sharing here. Not only that, I am going to try to be more organized about it so I can better share the results here and actually provide some substantive conclusions. Anyway, first, an update on my 100 EPN sites.

100 EPN Sites

This project is slowly approaching the 2 year mark. At the time I originally conceived the idea, I never would have thought that I WOULDN’T be making over 3K monthly off these sites by now.  Truth be told, it has taken an incredible amount of time, resources and trial and error to make anything of these sites.  In retrospect, the main reason I wasn’t ranking right away and making a ton of money off these sites right away was that I simply chose keywords that were too competitive to rank themselves. LUCKILY, in light of everything that has happened over the past year or so in search engine algo changes, I probably would have been screwed if I would have made 100 sites in extremely narrow niches with EMD’s (exact match domains). On the plus side, the sites probably would have ranked great coming out of the gates, and made me a LOT more money…  Additionally, I probably would have taken the income from the sites and rolled it into making even more sites and more money. That would have worked great for about the first 10 months, until last May rolled around and the MayDay update occured. At that point, a vast majority of those narrow niche sites, if not all, would have gotten penalized into oblivion and I would essentially have to start completely from scratch.

Luckily, that’s not what happened. I followed the initial Keyword Academy keyword research method of finding “Green” keywords that should produce a MINIMUM of $50/month in revenue. Since I was new to the program at the time, I didn’t realize that this type of keyword, in general, is not the same as a micro-niche keyword where you need only put up a site on an EMD and send a few links to get a #1 ranking. No, in this case, these “green” keywords are more competitive – take much more to rank for and don’t have EMD’s available.  As a result, only a very small handful of these sites are actually EMDs. Bad short term move by me, but great long term move.

So 2 years ago in August, I set out on this path. I spent a full week doing keyword research, I spent a ton of money outsourcing articles – I bought them from an American company and paid close to triple what I pay now per article. I spent a ton of money on domains, I spent a ton of money paying someone locally to help me build the sites, and I spent a massive amount of time myself setting up the sites. THEN, I spent even  more money to have backlink articles produced  – also at a premium, I spent a ton of money on an outsourcer to post the articles, I spent a ton of time posting them myself, and I spent a ton of time setting up a system for tracking everything.

When it was all said and done, I had spent tons of time and money in a span of at least 3 months getting the whole thing set up. All I had to do was sit back and watch the commissions roll in. I waited, and waited and waited for the day when everything would “click”. It didn’t come. EPN changed their payout system completely. That made things worse.   After months of waiting and waiting, I finally decided to try switching PHPBay ads for EPN widgets. I seemed to have some immediate success. So I went ahead and took the time to individually make the switch on every site. Again, I waited and waited for something to “click” and earnings to start rolling in. Again, nothing seemed to be happening. After another couple months, the widgets appeared to be performing terribly. I did some more testing and found that PHPBay wasn’t actually what caused my sites not to rank after all. So I took a few of my sites, spent a good deal of time customizing them and making them look really professional, and put PHPBay back on them. My earnings increased slightly, but frankly I didn’t have the motiviation to give all 100 of my sites a makeover, and started working on other projects last summer. I did spend some time backlinking a few select EPN sites, which also resulted in some success, but overall last summer I spent a lot of time putting several areas of my business on auto pilot, which resulted in me spending a lot more time hanging out with my friends and family and playing disc golf and basketball, rather than working.

Then fall rolled around and I got an email from EPN detailing a holiday bonus for affiliates with a chance to make a ton of money.  This completely kick started me back into working on these 100 sites again. I took a handful of them and started heavily backlinking them. Earnings went up. In November I increased my sales enough to qualify for the second highest bonus. Could have been better, but I wasn’t complaining. Then again in December I saw similar results.  Additionally, around that time I made the decision to sell most of my oldest and best earning EPN sites. It wasn’t that the sites weren’t earning at the same level anymore, or because I needed the money. The main reason I decided to sell them was I just simply felt like I needed a change. In January, the bonus season was over and things were back to normal for me without my best earning EPN sites. I kept working on backlinking and actually brought several sites into the top 3 results for their main terms, which were quite competitive.  I managed to get my earnings for January above my October earnings, which had included my previous good earning sites.

By about the first week of February, I started to notice that some of my EPN sites that I had gained top rankings for weren’t performing very well and I started looking for new ideas. Simply switching between EPN widgets and PHPBay wasn’t enough. With one site, my traffic to sales ratio was so low, that I decided to try and source the product and sell direct to the consumer. I found several hot leads, however, I decided that I didn’t know enough about how well the product would actually sell to proceed.

About that same time, I got an email back from someone I had requested a link exchange with. I actually didn’t end up exchanging links with them, but I did get a chance to see their website. The theme was shitty, however I absolutely loved the format they were using to promote their products with amazon. I had actually been playing around a lot more with Amazon on some of my micro niche sites, and had managed to raise over $50 in earnings in January, more than my previous lifetime total combined.

Rather than continue trying to source the product directly, I decided to switch my site from EPN to Amazon and borrow the format idea. This was at about 4:00 PM on a Friday. Saturday rolled around and I checked my stats, and noticed that I had made a sale within just the few hours the changes had been live. The next day rolled around, and even more sales. I actually went for about 8 days straight making at least one sale every day, and often as many as 5-10 sales – just off this one site. To this day, I think I have missed 5 or less days of making a sale with this site.

Anyway, I was super energized by this and took a handful of other EPN sites that weren’t performing that great and switched them over. These sites weren’t all ranking as high as the first site, but I still saw great results. By the end of the month I had earned around $200 via Amazon.

While all this was going on, I also made another important decision. Around the end of February, I asked my VA to go through all of my 100 sites and switch PHPBay back in for EPN widgets. For all this time, while I had fixed some of my best performing sites to re-include PHPBay, probably at the very least, 60% of the sites were still running only the EPN widgets.  This only took a couple of days, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why I didn’t do it sooner. Immediately my commissions improved. I started the month of March earning over $30 on the first day, and haven’t looked back. For the first time in probably close to 2 years, I am averaging over $30 a day for the month – HARD KNOCK ON WOOD. This income is almost strictly from my 100 EPN sites, as I have gradually phased out almost all my old EPN sites over time.  The best part is, while I’ve been working heavily on backlinking these sites, I can only really do a couple at a time, so almost all of these sites haven’t even come close to reaching their full potential.  Additionally, one of the 3 EPN sites that I switched to AdSense caught fire for about a week in Feburary and ended up bringing in over $300 for the month in adsense. Stupidly, I didn’t have any analytics on the site at the time, so I have no idea what keyword was causing this – stupid forsight, and an expensive lesson learned on my part, but overall it was a very successful February and March has been shaping up excellent. I’m actually on pace to earn well over$1000 this month from these 100 sites.

So overall, what is there to take away from this? Well, I started out way too overconfident and tried to do a project on a large scale before even bothering to test it on a small scale first. HUGE mistake. Then, I jumped to conclusions about PHPBay causing my sites not to rank… Another mistake. Then, I pretty much got bored with the project and didn’t give it the attention it really needed… Another obvious mistake.  I went in to this project pretty much expecting that if I put up a site a certain way, I could simply expect the money to roll in, and it just wasn’t the case. The only thing I did right,was I never gave up completely.  Even when it appeared almost every site was a dud, I continued to put more time and money into it, and continued trying new things. Now I have an army of sites, well aged, many of which are PR2 and PR3, and they are starting to provide some serious earnings – from several different sources.

My plan with these sites is pretty simple, I’m going to continue working on a handful of these sites at a time – that means building links until the site is #1 for its keyword, adding more helpful content to the sites to they are as beneficial to the consumer as possible, and spending time making sure each site has a custom design. This is all going to take a lot of time, and most likely by this time next year I wouldn’t be surprised if I wasn’t even halfway through the bunch, but after all these months, this project is really starting to pay off and I’m really glad I stuck with it.

Other News

The 100 EPN project is actually only one of the few things I have going on. Things have been going well with my web development business and great with my E-Commerce business. I’ve started several large authority sites which are slowly starting to earn me some money. In February, I started a project to create a large authority site – I found over 6000 keywords in my fairly specific niche. Some with traffic figures as low as  10 searches per month, but when you have over 6000 keywords, that can all add up. I put the 6000 keywords in a google spreadsheet and set my writers to work on it. Right now I got about 600 published articles in about 2 full weeks of work in February, and I intend to keep working on this until I get all 6000 keywords covered. The only thing that kind of sucks is I’m not sure how this will play in response to the Farmer update. The articles on this site are unique and written in pretty good english and are on topic, but they are a little dry information-wise.  My goal isn’t to pollute the internet… I think this site, overall will work and be helpful to people in the niche, but I am only going to try this once and wait a long time to see fully how it plays out. I also plan, if traffic picks up, to hire american writers who are enthusiasts in the niche to create really good content that isn’t even necessarily keyword targeted, but first I want to get the keyword content in and start picking up traffic.

Last but not least, I discovered that I could easily trade reviews on this site for products and services online. You may have already noticed a few. I’m definitley not selling out. Any review I post, until further notice, will only be for products I have actually used and find helpful. I will never post a review for a product I don’t like. I also don’t plan on doing any paid reviews or using affiliate links in my reviews. The good news for YOU as a reader is that  I quite like being able to do this, and while I don’t make very much money off this site, reviewing products does save me money, so overall that has highly motivated me to keep writing and additionally, try to produce more content and make it as interesting as possible.

Upcoming Stuff

First off, I am going to run an experiment where I will take one of my EPN sites that has not been heavily promoted, and try to get it ranking by ONLY using services on Fiverr. I was inspired to do this after reading a post in Backlinksforum. I have some good ideas to add, and I really want to try and see how it works. I’m really going to try hard to post the results in an informative way so that there will be some useful data to show.

Second, I am going to be starting another new authority site, and this time I am going to try to find only english writers who are experienced in the niche, so that the articles are extremely high quality, then compare the results to see how it stacks up against my other authority sites, many of which contain a lot of outsourced articles.

Third, I’m going to be trying some new things with social media. I’ve not been a huge fan of social media for traffic in the past, however, I am starting to change my mind on that a little bit, and have some strategies I want to implement. I also want to try and use it more for this site. I do plan on changing the comments to Facebook comments, and start Twitter account specifically for this site.

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