AdSense Flippers Monthly Expenses
Starting AdSense Flippers was, from the beginning, a “side project” for us…our main business has always been our outsourcing company, TryBPO. Because of this, we were able to take risks and push boundaries that we might not have been willing to try out on our main business for fear of ruining our primary revenue source. I mention this because it compares nicely to those that have other companies or “real jobs”…you can rely on your safety net for security and really push boundaries with your online projects. In doing this, you’ll have both failures and successes and the experiences can then be applied to help grow your primary source of revenue.
Note: Joe and I have been having some serious discussions about how we can apply the marketing strategies we’ve learned here to our outsourcing business. We have a ton of ideas we’d like to see through…more on this in the coming months!
One of the great things about having AdSense Flippers “on the side” is that we haven’t been forced to rely on income from AdSense Flippers to survive. Instead, we’ve been able to reinvest much of the profit into our business: experimenting with new ideas, marketing strategies, and revenue streams that can continue to grow our company forward. To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t until a earlier this year that we’d taken any money out of the business personally. Any profits went towards growing the business or building runway for the project and/or our overall business, if needed.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Due to the fact that we have our “machine” built for the niche site process it actually takes very little of our time and we’re getting a GREAT ROI. Where we spend much more of our time is with the things that do not currently make us much money, but have long-term potential for the growth of our business.
It’s a bit counter-intuitive actually, but more on that later when we get into side-projects. Here’s an overall breakdown on our costs:
Niche Site Creation Costs
We often mention the amount of sites we built that month, but don’t mention the cost of building those sites…which is considerable. This will break down the costs for each section of the process and give you a total per-site cost on each site that we currently build.
- 1 agent hour or $2.00 (We currently spend around 50-60 agent hours per week on KW research and adding potential domains to the list and we’re selecting around 50-60 sites/week to target)
- 5 minutes – Joe’s time (Joe spends around 4-6 hours per week analyzing the first page of Google and their “Chance To Rank”).
- $8.00 from GoDaddy (with Discount Domain Club)
- 2 minutes – Joe’s time
- $5.00 Outsourced content
- 1 agent hour or $2.50 for ordering/editing/uploading (Our Content Managers are slightly more expensive due to averaging in higher-priced oDesk workers…more on that below)
- $12.00 Outsourced content
- 2 agent hours or $5.00 for ordering/editing/uploading
- 2 agent hours or $4.00
Total Costs Per Niche Site:
- $38.50 in actual spend (including agent hours)
- 7 minutes of Joe’s time per site
Please keep in mind that we’re taking advantage of the economies of scale. If we were only building 5 sites per week, our costs would likely be higher per site across the board.
Note: When we started, we were doing linkbuilding on the sites which was around $10-$15 per site. We’ve stopped building links since March, 2012 and that’s no longer included in our costs or process.
One last thing I should mention is the transfer or sale of niche sites does cost us a bit as well:
Post Sale Process:
- 1 agent hour or $1.50
- 1.5 hours of Joe’s time per SALE (This can vary pretty widely. One of the reasons we like to group sites together is that it doesn’t take much more time to sell 10 sites together as compared to 1 site, so Joe’s per/hour time is better when we sell in bulk at higher price points)
We’d noticed these costs have been sliding up in recent months. Last week, Joe went through our recurring costs and was able to cut close to $500/month in expenses we no longer needed…ouch! I’ll list out the monthly services relating to niche sites we are still currently paying for today, although this is bound to change over time. Feel free to ask about them in the comments and I’ll either explain or add/edit them later if I’ve missed any.
- SEOMoz – $99/month – We use their OpenSiteExplorer tool regularly and some of their other tools for research, tracking testing sites, etc.
- Whoosh Traffic – $179/month – We use this tool to track the ranking on all of our niche sites. It allows sub-accounts and gives us the option or emailing ranking reports to specific clients for specific sites…quite handy. Starts at $19/month
- Hostgator – $200/month approx. – We have 15 (and growing) shared servers for niche sites, a VPS for AdSense Flippers, and a US VPS that we log into to check US rankings, use tools, etc.
- ManageWP – We’ve been fans of ManageWP for some time now, but we JUST cancelled their service and are trying another option. More on that in a future post!
- GoDaddy Domain Club – $90/year – We pay this annually to get a discount on our domain purchases without having to bother to look up the latest promo or discount codes each month.
- Social Oomph – $35/month – This tool allows you to set recurring, spinnable messages to go out on a bunch of different social media platforms. We used to use this along with Ping.fm, but they recently cut out the integration between the two. We’ve kept it only because of all the content that’s on there and we do have Twitter accounts still using this service.
- oDesk – We’ve hired a few overflow Content Managers via oDesk at a higher rate than we would pay in-house. We also have some of our side-project developers and designers hired here. I’ve already baked in the Content Manager costs into the niche site creation costs above.
We constantly have additional projects that we’re working on. Some work out and some don’t, but we’ve spent plenty of time, effort, and energy here as it will allow our business to grow and adapt to an ever-changing environment. Some projects look to be or turn out to be profitable, but aren’t as in-line with our business goals as we’d like them to be and they get scrapped. Here are a few examples of things we’ve worked on or are currently in progress to give you an idea as to our costs, budget, and expectations:
Niche Site Gold
- Domain Costs – $80/month – We typically purchase around 10 domains for the project each month.
- Agent Time – 8 hours or $16/month – My assistant will prep the data for the newsletter we send out each week and I’ll fill in the intro, Chance To Rank details, etc.
- Joe’s Time – 1.5 hours/month – It’s about the same amount of time he spends on KW research and purchasing the domains, with a little extra thrown in for a little extra care and Chance To Rank explanation. We just pull out 2-3 domains each week from the batch we’ve selected for ourselves.
- Justin’s Time – 3 hours/month – I just review my assistant’s work and add some of the reasoning to the newsletter each week. It takes me about 30-40 minutes each week.
Thoughts: It might not be the best use of our time from an ROI perspective, but the value offered to readers/subscribers makes it worth it. We’ve had a ton of feedback through NicheSiteGold and know well the pain points or struggles people have when selecting a niche. It’s great being able to deep-dive with everyone on keyword research and it’s helpful for us to segment out those of our readers/listeners that are particularly interested in this topic.
- Development Costs – $3,500 approx. – This has mostly gone to our main developer, with a portion of the costs going to a development “consultant” that has helped us through some of the sticky parts with the theme.
- Project Management Costs – $3,000 approx. – Out Intern, John, has spent around two full work-months on Intellitheme. His work has really been driving the project and has saved us considerably on the development costs.
- Beta/Launch Consulting – $1,000 – Since we’d never done an end-to-end launch like this before ourselves and know someone who has, we thought it useful to bring him in as a consultant to help guide us through the process. It’s an additional cost, but as a learning exercise it’s been invaluable. Honestly, he probably would have helped us for free, but we thought it better to really get him involved and pay him for his time. Our Time – Ugh…maybe 200 hours? – Joe and I have spent considerable time on this project over the last few months.
Thoughts: We mentioned it in a recent podcast, but we are COMMITTED to seeing this project through. This will be our theme, our baby, and we plan to continue to expand the theme as we grow and move into different types of sites.
- Site/Content Costs – $1,100 approx – We purchased the domains from a broker, ordered a bunch of higher-end content, and had an ebook created for one of the sites.
- Agents Time – 20 hours or $40 – I had some of our agents help me out with the design and getting the sites up and running.
- Justin’s Time – 80 hours – I spent quite a bit of my own time with keyword research, ordering/editing the content, putting the content on the site, etc.
Thoughts: This project was an absolute failure for us monetarily. One of the sites was deindexed and the other had a ton of traffic but didn’t convert well at all. (Ultimately, the high-traffic site tanked) I thought some of the problems came from our hammering these sites with BMR links, but Joe was convinced we bought “tainted” domains from a broker. Either way, this didn’t pay off for us at all and we’ve been a bit gun-shy about diving into another authority site project. We’re more interested in testing through the expansion of our current niche site “winners”.
- Project Management – $1,000 in niche site value ($50/month) – A student/entrepreneur named Ryan reached out to asking if we needed any help with projects and we thought it would be a great fit for migrating our data from a Google Doc to the CRM. He didn’t ask for any compensation, but he did put in some real work on this project and were happy to compensate him for it.
- Agents Time – 80 hours or $160 – We had a couple of our Team Leads train with us, work on getting the data correct for migration, and then teaching their related teams how to work inside of vTiger, the CRM we’re working with.
- Our Time – 40 hours – Ryan probably saved us 60-80 hours worth of work by running the project…an excellent investment on our part.
Thoughts: Hopefully, we’ll see some cost-savings and efficiency improvements with the CRM, but the real purpose in migrating was because we had seriously outgrown the Google Docs we were working with. In addition to our two main Google Docs, our team had created several others privately to communicate and keep track of their work and it was turning into a real mess.
- Round 1 Budget – $300 – The goal is to put up some quality lenses targeting similar keywords to our niche sites. We will monetize these lenses, but the real purpose is to see if they “stick”, are high enough quality to remain on Squidoo, etc.
- Round 1 Content – $200 – We ordered 10, 1,000-1,200 word articles from a quality content writer to get the Squidoo Lenses started.
- Round 1 Agent Time – 20 hours or $40 – Creating and organizing the modules on the Lense, researching videos and images to use, etc.
- Round 1 Our Time – 40 hours – I’ve detailed the process for our agent and I’m checking/editing the lenses after they’re saved as drafts before publishing.
- Round 2 Budget – $1,000 – We’ll create 30-40 lenses that are specifically built to earn us money and track their results in the coming months.
- Round 2 Content – $600-$800 – We’ll again order $20 articles from higher-end content writers.
- Round 2 Agent Time – 60 hours or $120 – Time spent creating/editing modules for the Squidoo lenses.
- Round 2 Our Time – 100 hours – I’ll be monitoring these lenses closely, making sure they’re optimized to earn and remain live on Squidoo.
Thoughts: I’m having fun getting this project up and running and it’s a nice break from focusing on niche sites. I’m not excited about building out this process on someone else’s platform (Squidoo) but I don’t expect this to ever be much more than a side-project for us. It’s disappointing reading about all those who have lenses and earn sub-$100/month (ugh) but I read some of those same horror stories about AdSense before we started. I was interested to learn that you CAN sell Squidoo lenses, so that’s likely something we’ll add to the project if it works out. We could be expanding this project as early as 2-3 months from now, but if we’re not seeing success I’d like to wait 6-8 months before calling it quits.
AdSense Flippers Redesign
- Total Budget – $5,000 – We originally thought of this as a vanity project and weren’t excited about the financial costs and time obligations that would go into this project. Over time, we realized that if our (admittedly horrible) design was turning new readers away and making it difficult for our current readers to access our content, that’s ultimately hurting our brand. Seeing as our goal is to help others getting started, we thought this project was important enough to move on and worth a real investment.
- Conversion Review – Budget: $1,000 – We reached out to Andy Hayes about reviewing our site to build more meaningful connections with our readers. We’ll be implementing many of his tips into the new site in the coming months.
- Design Budget – $2,500 – We’re running a “blind” contest at 99designs based on the design brief we’ve created. The initial prize will be less than the budget here, but we’re expecting to work more with the winner post-contest on additional pages.
- Implementation – $1,500 – We’ll be working with John “The Intern” on implementing the new design on our site, making sure all the redirects are in place, matching up our Buy Our Sites page with the new site, etc.
Thoughts: We’re really looking to make the new site more user-friendly for new readers and to make our older content more accessible for those who have been following along for some time. If you get a chance you might want to check out our design brief on 99 designs. It might give you some insights into our strategy and conversions that are important to us. We’re happy to have this project up and running, but frustrated knowing it will be a good 3-4 months until it’s complete…ugh.
- John “The Intern” DeVries – We’ve paid John $800/month over the 8 months he’ll have been with us, but we’ve also included his room/board, travel to Cebu/Manila/Puerto Galera, etc. In that time he’s learned our process, documented it in our guide, “Building A Niche Site Empire”, ran our IntelliTheme project from idea phase through Beta, and he’s currently working on a test to expand our niche sites. In addition to his projects, he’s been a tremendous sounding board and has helped us with countless other tasks and projects we’ve needed help with. All in all he’s been tremendously valuable. He’s heading back to the US in October, but the plan is to keep him onboard and have him take over our project management needs for AdSense Flippers as we continue to move forward. We’ll be announcing another Intern position shortly and we’re expecting to see John back here in the Philippines in January or February of next year!
- LibSyn – $20/month for podcast hosting. It’s totally worth it for the statistics and analytics. We push the episodes through FeedBurner to iTunes just in case we ever need to change hosts and don’t want to deal with trying to update iTunes.
- Podcast Transcriptions – $20/episode – We’d had several requests for podcast transcriptions so I had my assistant work with someone on Fiverr to get these completed.
- Dynamite Circle – $97/quarter – We’ve made a ton of connections with the people in this group and have met quite a few of them in person here in Davao, in Singapore, in Bali, etc. We’ll be heading to Bangkok in October for a meetup with many of the DC members…should be fun!
- Aweber – $69/month – We use Aweber for all of our email lists. As of today, we currently have 7,184 email sign-ups across all of our lists and the price will increase when we break 10K. We went with Aweber as they were a “best in class” service and we’ve been very pleased with the value here.
Well…that just about wraps it up! There are definitely some older projects I didn’t include, some monthly software or expenses we’ve canceled and didn’t mention here, etc…but that should give you a pretty good idea as to how much it costs to create our niche sites, what monthly services we pay for, and the costs and budgets we have for previous and ongoing projects. Please keep in mind that all of this is subject to change over time, so even though it gives an accurate picture as to where we are today that may vary significantly as the months go by.
Now…over to you! Did we miss anything you were hoping we’d cover? Any surprises? Ideas on where you think we should be spending more…spending less? Let us know in the comments below!