Authority Website Case Study: Month 1 Update

New Side Hustle project: authority website

It's been 30 days since I started my new side hustle; building an authority website from scratch with the goal of making $10,000 per month.

So after 1 month, how are things going?

The Google sandbox

Back in the day (like 20 years ago), it was possible to throw up a garbage website in 30 minutes, buy a bunch of spammy links to it and stuff the website full of keywords, and rank in the #1 spot in Google's search results.

This was wildly profitable for the people doing it but a total disaster for Google and anyone who used the search engines.

You couldn't trust the search results and they changed constantly depending on who was best able to manipulate the algorithm to get their website to show up.

Google has changed a lot since then. They've gotten much better at filtering out crappy websites and making the search results more useful for their users.

One of the ways they did this was by implementing a 'sandbox'.  

The sandbox is basically just a holding area for new websites.

If your website is less than 6 months old, you're in the Google Sandbox and there isn't much you can do about it. 

Until you get out of that 6 month window, you aren't going to show up in many search results and if you do, you won't be ranked very high.

Couple that with the fact that most new sites don't have a ton of content or backlinks and it's easy to see why new sites don't show up in the search results and why I probably won't be seeing much income generated from this project for at least the first 6 months.

the results so far

With that caveat out of the way, here are my results so far.  I'll mainly be tracking these metrics:

  • Word Count - this is one of the metrics I have the most control over and is just a matter of putting in the time to create content or hire writers to do it for me.
  • Pageviews - The more pageviews you get, the more money you make, and the more affiliate/advertising companies you can work with which can mean higher payouts. 
  • Revenue - This is just the top line amount of total affiliate/advertising income.
  • Expenses - Obviously important, need to keep costs manageable so this site can turn a profit.
  • Profit - The bottom line.  This is the #1 most important thing to measure but not until the site is mature.  The costs of running a website are pretty fixed:  Your hosting, software, content creation, etc all cost the same amount each month but your revenue can grow exponentially while your costs stay the same.

Word Count

After 30 days, the total word count on all posts on my site is 16,789.

For some context, this site you're reading now has been around for a year and half and I've got about 50k words on it.

Out of the ~17k words of content, about 5k of that was outsourced through Textbroker and the other 12k was written by myself.

The content so far has been roughly a 75/25 split between affiliate content that will earn commissions through products that people buy on Amazon and the remaining 25% is informational content that is made only to teach people and answer their questions.  

There may be some light monetization but it is mostly focused on being super useful content that I can use to gain links from other sites and hopefully get some solid search rankings to help grow my traffic.

REVENUE - No revenue to report so far. I've only gotten about 5 people to click on my affiliate links and go to Amazon and none of them ended up buying anything.  This isn't surprising though.  A good conversion rate would be somewhere around 10% so I need to be getting at least 50-100 clicks to Amazon per month to see any revenue coming in.

Pageviews

In the beginning stages of a website, pageviews are going to be really low.  

Your main sources of traffic are Google and social media.  Neither of these sources are going to have a lot of traffic until you build up enough backlinks/followers to make a difference.

One thing that screws up this metric is spam bots.  Spam bots go to all websites and screw up your analytics.  Later on when you're getting a lot of pageviews they make up a small percentage of total traffic but in the beginning stages they can screw your numbers up.

Click to Enlarge

In the beginning stages of a website, pageviews are going to be really low.  

Your main sources of traffic are Google and social media.  Neither of these sources are going to have a lot of traffic until you build up enough backlinks/followers to make a difference.

One thing that screws up this metric is spam bots.  Spam bots go to all websites and screw up your analytics.  Later on when you're getting a lot of pageviews they make up a small percentage of total traffic but in the beginning stages they can screw your numbers up.

What's more interesting in this stage is where the traffic is coming from.

Out of all the pageviews to the site, I had 48 pageviews as a result of social media.  This is largely driven by some of the automation I've set up so every post I make on Instagram will repost the content to my Twitter page and Facebook.

My organic search traffic accounted for 9 pageviews which, even though it's small, is actually HUGE! New websites get no love from Google and usually don't get very little organic traffic.

Click to enlarge

I think all of the direct traffic is just me typing the domain name in to go to the site.  I got a plugin that is supposed to exclude my own visits to the website from analytics but I'm not sure it's working.

Keyword Research plan

I'm using Ahrefs to track my keyword rankings and I've focused on creating articles around very low competition keywords.

I'll go into more detail on keyword research in a separate post because it's so important and lengthy to lay out; to keep it brief, I'm looking at the keywords my competitors are ranking for and looking for anything with an Ahrefs keyword difficulty of 5 or less. 

These low competition keywords get a small number of searches per month, usually less than 300-400 per month.

The good news is that these keywords are easier to rank for because there's less competition.  

Bigger websites aren't going to spend the time and money to rank for a small keyword that only has a few hundred searches.

The bad news is that even if you rank #1 for one of these keywords, you're only going to get 1-2 visitors per day to your site as a result.

But to get the ball rolling, focusing on low competition keywords appears to be working and it's a strategy I'm going to stick to for now.  As my site gains links and grows in authority I'll start to target higher competition keywords that will have a bigger impact on traffic.

Revenue

No revenue to report so far.

I've only had about 5 people click on my affiliate links and go to Amazon and none of them ended up buying anything.  

This isn't surprising though.  

A good conversion rate would be somewhere around 10% so I need to be getting at least 50-100 clicks to Amazon per month to see any revenue coming in and have a decent sample size.

expenses

This is one area that really hurts when you have a new site.  

Making no money and shelling out for content creation and SEO tools can add up quickly.

My plan so far has been to reinvest the profits from my Amazon FBA side hustle into this project.

Even though I ran out of stock on my top selling item last month (back in stock now), I was still able to sell $5,888 worth of goods and make a profit of $1,348.

Here's a breakdown of how I reinvested that money into this new side hustle:

Hosting - $499 per year split across 12 months and the 3 sites I have hosted there comes out to about $10 per month for my authority site.

Ahrefs - $99 per month.  This tool is INCREDIBLE and even though it's expensive I'm going to continue paying for it. If you are trying to get more search traffic and don't know how to find keywords to target or how to get backlinks, Ahrefs is super useful.

Content Creation - Last month I spent about $500 to have articles created for my site.  Most of this was through Textbroker where I got varying results on quality.  Some articles were great and just needed a little tweaking. Other articles were really bad and I basically had to rewrite everything before it was good enough to post.

It really depends on the author you get.  I'm planning to have more articles written on Textbroker and just keep saving all of the best authors so I can go back to them later on with more articles.

I've also signed up for 2 posts per month through Human Proof Designs.  They promise higher quality articles and they include your affiliate links right into the article so posts are ready to go on the website as soon as they're sent over.  

Contrast this to Textbroker where I have to manually enter all of my affiliate links and tweak the content to make it meet my quality standards.

I won't get any posts from HPD until a few weeks from now but I'll do a full review of their services in my next update.  

If they can produce good articles then I'll upgrade my plan to get more articles written.  Right now I'll be paying $149 for 2 articles.  1 is focused on an informational topic and the other is an affiliate focused review article. 

If the articles are high quality then I'll probably upgrade to a more expensive plan that costs about $500 for 8 articles per month.

Total expenses for Month 1: $600 ish

Profit

Revenue: $0

Expenses: $600

Profit: $(600)

This number is going to be negative for quite a while; probably 6-12 months.  I'll continue to report it so I can track it and see how long it takes to hit break even but this is expected.

If you want to start this side hustle on your own with less money, you just need to create all of your own content. 

The great part is once a site starts making $2,000 per month you can basically hire full time content creators and really ramp up the growth in your site.  

Plans for month 2

Month 2 is just going to be more content creation.

I enjoy finding content on Instagram and posting it to help grow my social following and drive traffic so I'll keep doing that but outside of Instagram it's just content, content, content.

After another month or two of writing articles I'll work on link building.

I want to get up to at least 50 articles/50k words (whichever one comes first) before I do reach out to build links. 

The site also looks a little crappy right now so I'll have to work on the design so it's nice and presentable to attract links.

Some links on this website may earn me a small commission if you click on them at no extra cost to you. For more information please click this text to see the full affiliate disclosure.

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1 comment

  1. Thank you for writing these since I’m currently going through the same stages with my new affiliate sites. Eager to see what kind of difference adding more articles will make

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