I’ve been badly needing to update my progress on my personal 100 EPN sites in 30 days challenge. I last posted about this after I got the first 20 sites deployed. Unfortunately, it took me a lot longer than I initially anticipated, and other work related issues over the next two weeks, or so, caused me to fall way behind.
So you’re probably thinking I’m going to fall way short of my original goal of 100 sites in 30 days.
Actually, I caught my second wind this week and it’s going to be a race to the finish line. I got my second batch of content in right around the time I completed the first 20 sites, and was forced to sit on it for about two weeks while I was busy doing regular work for my web development company (day job, so to speak). So it really killed me that I had all this content sitting here and ready to go, pretty much costing me money by sitting in my inbox.
This week I got things back on track. The second batch of 20 sites has been deployed, and I have the content for the 3rd batch here, and ready to go – so I will likely have the third batch of 20 sites completed within the next two days. That will leave me with 40 more sites to go. The content for sites 60-80 is for certain going to be ready before the end of August, with the possibility of the the remaining content for sites 81-100 also being complete before that time as well.
So despite the fact that I got way behind, I will at least have 80 of the sites complete by the end of the month, and if the last 20 spill over into September, it will only be by a couple days.
Overall, I’m pretty happy that it’s actually coming to fruition. It’s been a grueling amount of work, and that doesn’t even include the content which I’ve fully outsourced.
The number 1 most challenging thing about this project is the keyword research. I’ve been following a completely new method for keyword research that is much more strict than my previous method. I literally spent 2 full work days doing research for the first 40 niches. Now, I’ve gotten it down to a science and can do it a little faster. Keyword research is always going to be the big variable in the niche site business, so I’m feeling really good about the niches I’ve selected, and also how far I’ve come since I started the research for my first 20 niches.
One thing that also made the research increasingly difficult is the format of site I’m using. Before, I could go after almost any product related keyword and slap up pages of product listings on ebay. A good example would be a keyword like – Abercrombie Clothing. When you do a niche site in the old style, you could literally have hundreds of product pages and format the entire site like a real e-commerce site – have pages for sizes, men’s and womens, pants, shirts, shoes, etc. This kind of thing would have worked stellar with my old system, and I had some very successful sites using that format in the past. The new format I’m using is a little different. I have far fewer auction listings, as few as 5 total per page, including sidebar links… So with a very broad term like Abercrombie Clothing, it would be really hard to display a diverse enough selection in the 5 auction listings to appeal to all the demographics of traffic I would receive for a keyword like that. Basically, it made me have to dial way in on products, and make sure that I would be in niches where if a visitor comes to my site, the EPN ads will be laser targeted and relevant to all the traffic coming through. I think overall this is going to be really effective, and set me way apart from typical EPN affiliate sites, so I’m banking on some real long term results with these, and hopefully the extra care I’ve put into providing quality content on each site, and keeping everything completely white hat will get me there.
Update on first 20 sites
Luckily I did at least get those first 20 sites up quickly which has allowed them a couple weeks to “marinate” like I mentioned in my previous update, and I’ve been able to get a good feel for how everythinng is going so far. The sites began making money within the first 5 days in very small amounts, then the following week the numbers started getting bigger daily. Here’s a screenshot with a SMALL sample of a few of the 20 sites (heavily redacted):
I’m not going to be quitting my day job any time soo with these kinds of numbers, but the main thing I want to draw attention to is the number of clicks and EPC. I’ve only got one site that’s made money so far and has an EPC under 0.10, and it has a lot of clicks and sells a relatively inexpensive product, so I’m not surprised. But overall, of the sites that have made money so far, the numbers above are basically what I’m seeing – a fairly modest amount of clicks combined with a nice EPC.
What I can conclude from that, is so far, my method seems to be working. Visitors are coming to the site, finding highly targeted ads for the exact product they’re looking for, and clicking through to eBay to make a purchase.
The overall traffic for the sites varies – probably between 0-7 visits per day, on average, with a couple of the sites getting well over 10 visits per day, and 2 or 3 getting 15-25 visits per day. The niches I selected for the first 20 sites are not super long-tail, and the main keyword for each site will take a long time to rank for. In batch 41-60, I chose more long-tail and less competitive keywords which I’m expecting to see a good portion of that batch ranking for relatively quickly. So it will be interesting to see how everything stacks up.
The promotion I put into this first batch of sites so far has been pretty light. I did a round of social bookmarking submissions off the bat to make sure everything got indexed, which has seemed to pay off so far. I’ve submitted a good chunk of the 20 to manual directories (250 each), and I’ve submitted Ezines for 2 of the sites so far. So overall, not a whole lot of promotion – in fact, I’m glad to see the amount of earnings I’ve got so far ~$30 in 2 weeks from 20 sites, considering how little promotion I’ve done so far.
I actually wish I would have gotten more sites up earlier so I would have a better chance of recouping my outsourcing expenses in September. I was originally planning on trying to get all 100 sites done in the first 2 weeks, and earn a small chunk back in August, then earn a minimum of $1000 from these sites in September, which would cover a decent portion of the startup costs. At this point, it’s looking highly unlikely that I’ll reach $1000 from these sites in September, but it may still be close. The only real downfall is that I can’t start promoting sites 21-100 too heavily early on because I don’t want to bombard any of these sites with too many links early on, since the domains are all brand new. Luckily I will be able to focus a lot on sites 1-20 early in September and hopefully increase their earnings quite a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised to still reach at least the $500 mark in September and hopefully be on pace for at least $1500 in October, then reach the ultimate goal of $5000/month in November and December when online shopping really heats up.
One big variable is the switch to Quality Click Pricing, so I will be keeping a close eye on that.
Also, one thing I recently found – I set each site up with a unique Campaign ID which helps me a lot with reporting, but makes it difficult to create a report specifically showing the details for the campaigns involved with this challenge – hence the crappy screenshot above. If anyone has any suggestions on a better method for generating specific reports for a segment of my campaigns, I would be extremely glad to hear it.
Stay tuned, as I will post another update soon.