It feels like forever since I’ve updated on my progress. The summer went really well for me. I got a lot of things on track, focused in on maximizing what I have in place, and I (luckily) have also been able to enjoy a little more leisure time this summer getting some much needed relaxation and spending time with friends and family. Anyway, summer is winding down, and I’m ramping up my efforts. My plan is to post an update on the various projects I’ve got going on here, and then hopefully make some more specific posts over the next couple of weeks.
100 EPN Sites
It’s now been over a year since my 100 EPN site project. Overall, the first year did not go even marginally as well as I had originally planned. I finally feel like I have a handle on things now, and it took me up until about a few weeks ago to really get to this point. If you have no idea what I’m talking about regarding this, here’s a refresher:
I started out at the end of last summer creating 100 unique, content-based EPN sites. After a few weeks, I noticed that each site basically completely dropped out of the SERPS and were receiving barely a trickle of traffic. At first, I thought they were sandboxed, then after many months of waiting I tried removing PHPBay from the sites, and realized that most of them almost immediately returned to ranking well. Then, I started seeing that the EPN widgets I replaced PHPBay with didn’t seem to convert well at all. I ran some additional tests, and found that adding a regular EPN RSS feed to my sites made them drop right back out of the SERPS again, just like they had with PHPBay. So first and foremost, one of the main things I discovered was that there is absolutely nothing PHPBay specific that was causing me any trouble.
After all of this, I was pretty much left back at square 1. I now had a large amount of sites that were actually getting traffic, but not converting many sales. One thing I knew for sure, is that a vast majority of my EPN income throughout this whole period has come from existing PHPBay sites that I already had. So I already knew for a fact that PHPBay does convert much better than EPN widgets – by far. As a result, my main goal was to try to find a way to work PHPBay BACK into as many sites as possible. My goal with the whole project was to create good quality sites that will stand the test of time and be helpful to the end user, so with this in mind, I took a handful of sites and individually reworked each one so that they have a custom, clean and professional feel – this includes logos, graphics, etc. I then re-added PHPBay to specific interior pages of my site, and used custom graphics to help direct traffic to those pages.
So far the results have been excellent. In almost every case, I didn’t see any decline in rankings, and in one case I even jumpled from position 3 to position 1 for my main keyword. In the one case where I did see a dramatic drop in rankings, I sent some new good quality links to the site until it reappeared at the top of the serps, and it is now in position #1. I’ve also enjoyed a nice bump in earnings. Truthfully, I’m still not anywhere close to where I expected to be earnings-wise from this project when I originally started, BUT since the end of July I have seen a marked improvement and I now feel that I’m on a clear path to making all of these sites a full success. The bar is pretty low – I mean I only need to get each site to earn $10/month in order to bring in $1000/month in earnings, and most of the sites I have customized so far are doing far better than that. Additionally, I have been working hard on link building for all 100 sites, as my main focus is to bring them all to fruition in regards to ranking #1 for each site’s main keyword. What I’ve found so far is that the number of links needed to achieve this can really vary – in many cases the magic number for cracking the first page is between 20 – 40 quality links, in some cases it’s been as few as 10, and in some cases it has been many more. Overall, it seems pretty doable in almost every case, it’s just a matter of continuing to send good quality links until the goal is achieved. The main drawback to the whole thing is that it takes me quite a while to fully customize each site to the point where I’m satisfied with it, and i don’t want to cut corners in this area, so it’s going to take me a while to complete all 100. At this point, I’m probably only about 10 – 15% complete on the project, but I’m trying to knock out a couple each week at a minimum. I’ve also switched 2 sites over to adsense and 1 site over to amazon because they weren’t performing that well with EPN. I don’t anticipate doing this on many more sites, but I proabably will for a few.
Micro Niche Snipers
Back in the first quarter of this year I ran a mini experiment setting up micro niche adsense sniper sites, and did have some nice success, bringing in over $100/month with the 25 sites I set up within the first couple months of the experiment. In fact, this went so well that I was extremely close to scaling up the experiment to several hundred sites. Luckily, I decided not to, and I am extremely glad that I did so. The main reason I decided not to at the time was because I didn’t want to manage another several hundred websites. My opinion on this hasn’t changed at all. In fact, there was a time when I was even considering selling off some of my 100 EPN sites for this same reason, but I thought hard about it and I didn’t think I would be able to sell them for enough to be worth the time and investment I initially put in, which is why I doubled my effort to get them all ranking at the top. Anyway, the other thing that popped up with the Micro Niche Snipers was the “Mayday Update”. I specifically remember the day when I noticed that my AdSense earnings from my micro snipers was way down from what I was used to. That’s how I first found out about the Mayday update. Luckily, it didn’t really affect any of my sites besides the 25 micro niche snipers I built, but basically all of my snipers took a huge dive in the rankings. If you don’t know about the Mayday update, it was basically an algorithm change to weed out MFA sites, and from my experience, seemed to specifically target exact match keyword domains along the lines of what I was doing with my snipers. I think the main reason they did this was because of the rampant X-Factor style adsense sites out there spamming up the SERPS.
So basically around the beginning of June, I lost about 90% of the income I had built up from these 25 sites. My solution to this was basically the same solution I used on the 100 EPN sites – make the sites look better, and send more quality links. I have just started doing this on my two best performing micro niche snipers, and over the last couple weeks I have brought them both back to pretty decent earnings again. I’ve got my EPN sites taking priority over these right now, but I plan to continue working on all 25 sites until they all reach fruition.
Around the time when I was last actively posting, I was talking about focusing all my future site building efforts on large autnority sites. I had purchased a nice expired domain name for a couple hundred dollars and have been working on developing it ever since. The site now has a really nice custom theme and graphics, pictures on every post, and a solid layout. Right now I’ve got about 40 or 50 quality articles on the site, ranging in size from 500 – 800 words in length. I’ve been making ~$10/month in adsense off of it so far, so nothing to really write home about, but I am in this one for the long haul. The one area where I tripped up, I believe, is in the link building. I actively built links to each post as I posted them, and frankly I think I just sent way too many links early on and may have gotten this site sandboxed. On the plus side, I’m still getting traffic and earnings, and it is getting a LOT better, so I’m just going to keep on posting articles and building links until I’ve got this site making over $1000/month, which I could reasonably see happening in a year’s time. I also plan to start another large authority site some time in the next couple months, and focus more on posting articles, less on building links early on, and see if it gets me to a faster start. Overall, I’ve worked really hard on this project, I’m proud of what I’ve gotten done on it over the summer, and I’m feeling REALLY positive about the direction it’s going.
This is a big area where I’ve made a lot of changes. Over the last couple years, I have used several different companies for content production. Additionally, I was getting all my content almost exclusively from www.simplythebestwriting.com for about the last year and a half. I was always satisfied with the quality, although at the same time it wasn’t anything spectacular either – just solid overall. Anyway, I did a pretty high volume of business with this guy and got my price to 0.01/per word pretty early on, which I was happy with. He treated me like a VIP customer and I was very pleased with the setup. Well come the beginning of the year, he began taking a long time to respond to my emails, taking a long time to complete projects, he didn’t want to accept PayPal anymore, and finally had the audacity to tell me that he was going to raise my prices and acted as if he were doing me some huge favor by selling me $3 articles for so long.
Well this was exactly the reality check that I needed. It made me fully realize that I was wasting my time and money building what I thought was a good long term relationship with a service provider I trusted. It’s not like I didn’t think I could get 300 word articles for $3.00 anywhere else – quite the contrary. I knew the whole time that I could easily get that kind of deal on articles, and I was really salty about the way I was treated, so I completely woke up and made a huge change to the way I was doing things.
First off, in the interim, I started getting all my articles from www.thecontentauthority.com. This is a great source for articles, especially if you need them in a hurry. Immediately I found the quality was actually far better than what I had been getting, and the turnaround time was light years better. Additionally, they have a great web based interface for placing all your orders, and their customer service is just unbelieveable. So this is a service I can truly wholeheartedly recommend. I’ve did quite a bit of business with them so far, and will continue to do so.
Second off, the biggest change I made was pulling together my own team of writers. This took me quite a bit of time to do, and I’m still working on it in some areas. I do so much work with websites and SEO that I really need a higher volume of articles than I can get from a company. I started putting together a team of full time writers a couple of months ago, and the improvement in all of my web properties and SEO projects has just been absolutely incredible. I would basically look at it like this, if you’re going to be spending over $500/month on content, you may want to strongly consider outsourcing it yourself. If you aren’t doing that much, then definitely use The Content Authority.
Things I learned this summer
I learned never to give up on any projects.
I learned to stop starting new projects while I have so many existing projects at less than 100% complete. (I haven’t started any new websites since my large authority site back in late spring).
I learned not to expect anything out of people you do business with just because of the business you’ve given them in the past.
I learned that I CAN make money off Amazon (I will cover this later).
I learned that I didn’t do nearly enough work in the first year on my 100 EPN sites, and I can do better.
I learned that I gave up on PHPBay way too easy.
I learned that SEO is much easier than I originally made it out to be. I just wasn’t working smart before.
I learned that I get a lot more work done when I wake up earlier.
Overall it was a great summer for me. I had a really rough beginning of the year, but now I’m doing better than ever and feel like I really am in control of what I’m doing now. I plan to keep on working like crazy this winter and I still have a few goals on my list I need to cross off, although I have tackled quite a few. I even managed to lose about 50 pounds this summer by eating Primal and playing plenty of basketball and disc golf.
Over the next couple weeks I HOPE to get back in the habit of regularly posting again, as I have a lot more details on various projects that I can’t possibly squeeze into this post.
Until next time…