Justin Cooke

August 2, 2011

We finally broke $10,000!!  Much of it came from auction sales, but it was still an incredible month.  Probably even more importantly, we’ve had some great learning experiences and communication with investors, buyers, and readers like you.  We’ve begun a few tests including themes, different monetization methods, etc. but, unfortunately, we won’t know more about how those tests play out for a few months.  We did get a chance to have an interesting phone conversation and a few skype chats with Chris Guthrie and would definitely recommend taking a look at his blog when you get a chance…really bright guy with some great ideas, for sure.

Our AdSense earnings are up over the previous month by more than 20% and we had our best day so far on July 13, 2011 at $150.91.  We ended up with a daily average of $109.40 which is great…our first month with over $100 per day passive on average!  As we continue to move forward, evolve, and grow…I find that I’ve backed out of the process quite a bit.  It’s always a strange (and slightly uncomfortable?) feeling, handing over the reigns of something you know intimately.  It’s necessary when you plan to grow, outsource, etc. but it can be a bit stressful letting other people take over and run with a project.  We’ve now taken ourselves completely out of Part 1 of our keyword research strategy and are still personally involved in about 50% of Part 2.  This is great as it’s allowed us to free up our time to try out new tools, run new tests, etc.

I mentioned last month a project we were looking to get involved with and we’d had several conversations about but, unfortunately, talks kind of fizzled out with them.  The group was Cute Girls Of Davao if anyone was interested.  As of today, they have over 51,000 Facebook likes and a huge following.  Their basic idea is to promote a local competition with some of the “cutest” girls in Davao through photos with prizes, acknowledgement, etc.  This obviously drives a huge male following, but what I found interesting was that the girls were quite interested/engaged as well in recruiting friends to vote for them.  Their organic connection and following is quite amazing…I’ll be interested to see if they can continue that trend in Manila, Cebu, etc.  While you may put it off as non-monetizable Philippines traffic, I’d say that quite a few of their likes came from foreigners both inside and outside the country, so I do think there’s some money to be made there if they can convert the FB traffic to their own site.

Adsense

While the month went well overall, we did have some setbacks with our passive income this month.  We increased from $93.43 per day to $109.40 per day, but this was quite a bit lower than the $125 or so I’d projected.  A part of this came from the fact that we sold off 3 auctions earning well over $11 per day, but we did realize some of that income during the month AND it’s still lower than it would be if we hadn’t earned anything during the month with those sold sites.  If you take a look at our averages per site, you’ll see that our February sites are doing great, our March and April sites are slightly under-performing, while our May sites are considerably down. (Expected $6.16 per site but only earned $3.87 per site).

While not terribly alarming, I definitely wanted to get to the bottom of the issue and see where the leak is.  Did we change our KW research?  Did we pick poorly-converting niches?  I looked at CTR and CPC for the months in question and found them to be performing as expected or better.  Ultimately, it was a traffic problem that was causing the lower-than-expected earnings.  The good news is that the sites are all indexed and moving up in the rankings…just not as quickly as we’d anticipated.  (And had seen with Dec/Jan/Feb sites)  I knew we’d fallen a bit behind with backlinks, but was surprised to find just how behind we were!  (Next to nothing from mid-March on!)

This wasn’t completely unexpected…one of the problems with backlinks is that you tend to add more, do more, etc. and it’s awfully hard to judge what’s working and what’s not.  I wanted to see how well our sites would rank with minimal backlinking and so I really didn’t press the issue on getting caught up.  Because of that, we were falling further and further behind.  I’m 90% sure i’ve isolated the problem in looking at our sites across the board and a few groups of sites in particular, but the question now is…how do we fix?

Joe had mentioned we could halt production for a couple of weeks and switch a majority of agents over to backlinking the sites to give them a chance to catch up.  I’m not sure that’s the best idea, though, as the sites are still moving along quite well and I’d like to continue pressing forward on that end.  Ultimately, I think we’re better off stopping the bleeding by making sure we have the staff to keep caught up moving forward and outsource the catching up.  Switching our production team over to backlinking efforts would be counter-productive, as our backlinks are heavily content-based and I don’t think some of our production team could really be effective in that area anyway.  I’ve adjusted our predictions a bit, based on our lower July earnings and a less-aggressive growth strategy to make sure we’re growing all of the pieces together.

Flippa

We had another great month selling some of our sites at auction, as you can see with the screenshots above.  Not including the BuyItNow options seems to be the most fair (and profitable) way for us sell our sites, but we’ve had multiple requests to include a BuyItNow option in the next auction and we’re going to try it out again.  One of the reasons it’s good to NOT include the BIN is the additional exposure we get for this blog.  By allowing the auctions to continue on until there’s no more bidding, we’re able to significantly increase our exposure here.  We’ve had quite a few questions as to why we do so well with our auctions and decided to write a post about our site flipping secrets that’s been pretty popular.

We finally had our first reader buy one of our auctions with the last auction sold!  He took advantage of the $100 off and the additional 5 pages of content that we’re working on right now for him.  It’s great to see readers bidding and sort-of justifies our efforts in branding ourselves.

Affiliates:

As some of you have noticed and pointed out, we’ve done a half-hearted attempt to monetize via Clickbank (Anyone else convert really well there?) and some affiliate sites.  I’m not a huge fan of info products in general, but I think we’ll revisit Clickbank sometime in the future and continue to focus on what works.  What has been working for us is ABC leads.  We turned over two sites to the ABC affiliate program that had made a total of $74.75 the previous 60 days and ultimately made us $100 the next 40 days.  It’s an improvement, but the effort on our part to look at individual sites to switch monetization to seems quite burdensome and I’m not convinced it’s worth it, even if you’re able to make slight improvements here or there.  It would be much better to create the site with a particular affiliate in mind, test conversions and revenue, and then swap in AdSense to compare.  Starting from a site with AdSense and converting simply takes up too much time, I think.  The other test we did on six sites went from earning $170.15 the previous 60 days to earning $0 during the next 40 day period…ouch!  We’ve since cancelled that test and put AdSense back on the sites a couple of days ago.

We had 3 additional Market Samurai sales this month.  While we think it’s by FAR the most comprehensive keyword tool out there, we’ve had some problems with it in the last couple of weeks.  We’re not able to use the Keyword Research module when coming from IP’s here in the Philippines.  Unfortunately, the reps from MS were not able to recreate the problem and, apparently, it’s working for most people in the US.  We’re able to use it from our US server, but that situation is less than ideal.  We’ve been taking a look at Spencer’s LongTailPro from NichePursuits.com.  While it’s still in beta, it is much faster than MS (when Market Samurai was working!) even if it’s less robust.  We’ve been talking to him about a REALLY cool feature we’d like to see him add, where you’re able to estimate a keyword’s value to you monthly based on your own set of criteria. (with a default based on his estimates here)  That would be a neat trick even MS doesn’t have.  (They have their own SEOV, but it’s not based on critieria you set…or anything realistic!)

Summary:

Sites created: 135 (116 last month)

AdSense Earnings: $3,391.25 ($2,802.82 last month)

Flippa Sales: $6,600 ($4,795 last month)

Affiliate Sales: $189.68 ($96.56 last month)

Total: $10,180.93 ($7,694.38 last month)


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Discussion
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  1. […] was in June, July, and August that we finally made our money back on initial investments and became profitable, […]

  2. Troels Johannesen says:

    Hello guys.

    It looks pretty good and I have read almost all of your posts/articles , I was just wondering what is your average cost pr site? (That include, domain, content, seo, etc)

    Thanks

    /TJ

  3. Kevin Kim says:

    Wow… that’s really amazing earning. I wonder how you did such great work.

  4. Wow, excellent work. That’s a killer month with Flippa. I have noticed your listings get a lot of action, do you find some of your sales/bids are coming from repeat buyers?

    • Justin says:

      Thanks, Andrew!

      We’ve only had 1 repeat buyer at this point, but we do get repeat bidders. We had a few bidders that were repeats that said they would have paid more, but just wanted to make sure they were able to win the auction, which is why we included a BIN on the last auction. (Something we typically don’t recommend doing)

      By the way, really interested to see how your SaaS project works out. We’d really like to go down the same route, primarily because we’re looking to build some tools for ourselves and we think that kind of work is “fun”…so will be following along.

      For anyone that hasn’t seen his site, check out http://www.passiveprofiteer.com/ with Andrew…it’s definitely worth a look!

  5. […] #3 Adsense Flippers – $10,180.93 […]

  6. Chris says:

    Have you guys tried out the Clickbump theme? I particularly like the installer you can get with it called Jumpstart Pro. It’s such a pain to configure all the plugins and site settings and delete the example posts, etc. Also, I like the SEO pluging they have to check if you did all the SEO optimization and it suggests other LSI words you could use in your articles to make your article more targeted. The reason I ask is because I’m sure you came across it when you were looking at the CTR theme. Also, I’ve heard the Heatmap theme mentioned. Like you I’m using the prosense theme, but I’d like to try a different one. Also, I’m finding the site setup very tedious, so maybe the Jumpstart Pro installer would help. Any thoughts?

    • Joe says:

      I’ve heard of Clickbump, but have not tried it out. I will give you one piece of advice — don’t get too caught up with tools and features. Focus on keyword research, building sites, quality content, and link building. Tools can help you get those things done, but sometimes they become a distraction to getting up a large amount of sites. And a large amount of sites is what you need to be successful in micro niche internet marketing. In the beginning, we did everything manually and simply added tools as needed. If your production numbers are low, don’t focus so much on getting the latest and greatest tool to automate things.

    • Justin says:

      Hey Chris,

      I first heard of Clickbump after reading XFactor’s insanely long thread regarding niche sites on the WF. I’ve read through a bit of Clickbump’s thread as well.

      Unbeknownst to Joe I think, I actually purchased the Clickbump engine and the “premium” theme for Xfactor’s authority sites. We’re testing out larger authority-type sites and I wanted the WP template.

      I really don’t like the niche site themes actually because it seems like EVERYONE is using the same theme there, but he did put quite a bit of work into building the back-end of WP. I didn’t pickup Jumpstart Pro, though.

  7. I was wondering why I was getting some traffic from your site…thanks for the mention! And YES, I do plan on adding the feature to Long Tail Pro that you have mentioned. It will take some time, because we are still in beta for the core functions – but I do appreciate your input.

    You guys are rocking it with adsense. This post makes me want to get my but in gear or you are going to surpass me soon in adsense earnings!

    • Justin says:

      No problem…big fan of yours, Spencer!

      Will be a really cool add-on to LTP. Nice speaking with you today. We are trying to catch you…but your Passive Income from AdSense is still WAY up there, lol…we’re working on it!

  8. Lisa says:

    Justin and Joe – you guys are just amazing!

    The amount and depth of the information that you are willing to share with us is just unbelievable. And it’s such an incredible inspiration!

    I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write these blog posts and tell us exactly what’s going on with your niche site business.

    I’ve had adsense sites almost since they created adsense, but I’ve never taken it to the level you guys have…until now :) I’ve been so inspired by the both of you that I’m really working hard on putting a virtual team into place with the goal of cranking out 100 sites/month. I’m at about 50 right now and in 3-4 months I should have my first set of sites to sell on Flippa. I’m pretty much using your blog as a business plan…lol

    What I love about this business though is that it is so abundant, there is more than enough for everyone and we’ll never run out of niches because they just keep inventing more stuff.

    Thanks again and please don’t stop telling us all your juicy insider information!

    • Justin says:

      Wow, Lisa, it’s comments like yours that let us know we’re really on the right track!

      You know, I didn’t always think giving a bunch of information away was the best thing to do. I thought that if you had something good, something that was working well, etc. you keep quiet about it and take it as far as you can. What I’m finding, though, is that even if you give everything away…for free…there are so many people that don’t follow through…

      For those that do (like you), when it starts working out for you, you’ll be really excited and could possibly be an “evangelist” for us….telling others about our journey and bringing more people together. Ultimately, that opens the door to many more business possibilities and deals avaialable!

      Thanks again!

  9. eagle says:

    For tracking rankings you could use a tool called rank tracker from link-assistant.com/rank-tracker/. You can also use it for generating a massive list of kw, then copy/paste those kw that really matter into MS for further research. If one will use it just for research, the free version will do just find, for rankings go with the paid version, the cheaper one will do it because with the paid one you can schedule your projects to update rankings. I think the tool is about 100$ then after 6 months another $50/year (which is written in small letters so if anyone is reading this…be careful what you pay). They run a promo these days. This tool is actually much faster than MS and also has more sources for generating kw, not just google adsense, if that makes any sense.
    I’m not connected with the above tool in anyway, I just find it more useful for tracking rankings and kw research than MS.
    My partner and I have about 300 sites in the adult vertical and I keep them sorted alphabetically, like all domains starting with A, in the A folder. The same, for all sites starting with A, I’ve set a schedule job to update their rankings once/week. Drop me a line if you need any sort of help with it.

    For adsense stats, go to niftystats.com, see how that works for you. The free version you can download statistics for 15 programs, which will do for you if you plan to check only google adsense.

    Keep up the good work, I’ve been reading your blog and what you’re doing its partially what I do in the adult niche but I’m starting to think that your thing might be better and a breath of fresh air might be a good change.

  10. domain says:

    Ok I understand where you guys are coming from and makes sense. I, you guys trying maxamize roi.

    I haven’t emailed you guys.

    I will check Flippa and see what you have for sale and non tm issues in domain names and sites.

    I want to get my feet wet. For me I know domains. You guys know sites and search engines.

    I want to diversify my profits in producing sites but been burned 2 years ago By these ego driven site maker and seo experts.

    You guys seem as if you do good work and down to earth. Congratulations in growing your business and cash flow. That’s what its about.

    I have some knowledge to sites and search but trying determine to start off scratch and form sites or buy existing ones or both.

    I am not a baller. Just someone who is trying to maxamize my roi and like how you are.

    Seems Flippa is working for you. Keep doing what your doing. Seems private site selling is your main objective which I understand and you want a bidding frenzy on Flippa vs say a 20 month multiple in a private transaction.

    Will keep following you and keep up the good work.

  11. domains says:

    @justin-so your turning away future customers of yours that want to put money in your pockets? ok.. I wanted to buy your websites privately, then asked about forming a few sites for me for cash. (back to drawing board and do the screening process LOL)

    no partnerships.. i need to diversify my income some and less on domain names if that makes sense.

    either way-keep up the good work. let me know when you decide on flippa i guess this month

    cheers everyone and to go fortunes everyone

    • Joe says:

      Picture it like this — Justin and I own a car factory and sell off either a large quantity of cars or a high price tag vehicle quite frequently. Someone comes to us and wants to buy one car made to his specifications only once. Our factory just can’t handle those types of orders at the moment.

      Now perhaps we would benefit from changing our model and offering smaller packages to the more casual customer, but we simply don’t have the time or resources to do this right now.

      I assume you contacted us via email, but I can’t seem to find anything about your proposed deal. Can you email us again using the contact form so I can verify the details? If it’s something that makes sense we will definitely do it!

    • Justin says:

      Sorry, I really didn’t mean to be short or dismissive with you, if that’s how you took it. It’s just that we’ve been asked to sell sites privately quite often and, in general, it’s hard for us to have it make sense unless it’s on a larger scale. Even then, we lose out on the awesome exposure having our sites get a ton of views on Flippa. Even with the Flippa fees, it’s totally worth the exposure.

      In comparing small scale to larger scale, consider this:

      Option 1: If we sell two sites, on average, those site would sell for $440 let’s say. (20x) There’s around $80 of cost for the two sites combined, not to mention Joe or I’s time, leaving $360 in profit. There’s probably 8 hours combined worth of work to discuss, sell, and transfer the sites, putting us at $45/hour.

      Option 2: If we sell ten sites, on average, those sites would sell for $2,200. $400 in cost leaves $1,800 left over. There’s probably only 10 hours worth of work involved there, putting us at $180/hour.

      Since there’s quite a bit of demand for Option 2 and Joe and I have a limited amount of time, it makes more sense to go with that. If Option 2 were unavailable, “capped out” or we had quite a bit more time, we would probably go with Option #1 as well.

      I hope that makes sense?

  12. aldo says:

    Maybe mixing it with click bank products could be a good option, very easy to implement and also could target lots of different products from the same niche.

    • Joe says:

      Well, I am going to use Walter’s suggestion and start hunting for sites that make sense for this model. Stay tuned!

  13. Jon says:

    You guys are crushing it. Keep up the awesome work.

    What’s even more impressive than the revenue over 8 months’ time is your willingness to be so interactive in the comments. How refreshing.

    Thanks for all that you do!

    -Jon

    • Joe says:

      No problem Jon, thanks for stopping by. Openness, honestly and responsiveness will always be the cornerstones of our values here. It’s just the best way to do it.

  14. Walter says:

    One more jealous person here!

    About testing the affiliate marketing part, don’t just exchange adsense for affiliate offers. Leave adsense on your sites. You have perfectly good sites that rank very well and solid by now. You might want to try and just add pages dedicated to a Clickbank product which is related to your niche.

    Your site will have some sort of authority because of their age and rank. You will have a good chance to easily rank the page with the affiliate offer just because of the quality and trust of the site. (not kidding!)

    Your main income will be adsense and hopefully some extra through clickbank sales. You might even strike a little gold mine with some luck and see the clickbank sales overshadow the adsense income.

    Your (our :p) writer Kapsco also has a gig that delivers 2 excellent clickbank products reviews.

    If this is still too much of a hassle for you guys, I’ll supply everything..including my CB aff ID :p

    • Joe says:

      LOL, thanks Walter. We’ve always been thinking that mixing AdSense and affiliate offers would lead to less revenue, but it is interesting that you’re saying differently. Perhaps I need to test through it on a few sites and compare. After all, we have enough data now that things are pretty stable and predictable. So a test makes sense.

    • Justin says:

      Hey Walter,

      Really good suggestion. Joe and I’s opinion on this previously has been this: Either affiliate sales OR AdSense is going to have a higher RPM on the site…so whichever one it is should be the one you go with, right?

      I’ve been thinking about this recently, though. With some of the true “authority” sites, you’re probably doing your readers/searchers a disservice by not offering both. If you’re targeting buyers keywords for AdSense they probably want to buy something…it would be good to give them the option to do so, right? Wouldn’t that lead to a better user experience?

      I’m working on larger “authority” type sites now as a test. I really think adding a products section makes sense and will give the searchers in the niches I’m targeting a better overall experience. Thanks for the tip, Walter!

      • Walter says:

        In a way Joe is right. You don’t want to mix affiliate sales with adsense but it can work the other way around.

        If I make a site targeted at a clickbank product, there will be no adsense on it. Unless it proves to be a dud..then spam it with adsense and leave it. Actually the whole concept of the site will be different to an adsense site.

        However, an adsense site can contain pages which cover a clickbank product related to the niche. These pages can still show adsense but I tend to take out the prominent ones. A page like this would be titled with a targeted key phrase for the product of course.
        I’ve had pages like this pop up immediately on the first page in Google for low competitive keywords just because the adsense site scores strong itself and has authority. Even a 5 page site can function as such an authority site.

        Works the same for amazon. If you think the product or product group is worth it.. go ahead. Make the outlinks nofollow and _blank. People landed straight to the review page might continue to read the rest of the site’s content.

        I’d like to see you sell some of your sites with 3 revenue streams on Flippa. Should make for some interesting figures, I guess :)

        • Joe says:

          I see what you’re saying Walter. I am going to hunt through our library for sites that make sense and add a few affiliate only pages. Or at least AdSense “light”. ;-)

  15. aldo says:

    Justin i agree with you on the part that you are saying that the CTR depends on the niche…

    I have a site that average 35 , min 28 max 48 visits per day with a few articles but the CTR makes me feel bad.

    So i think that the niche or the way of approaching it makes the differences.

    • Joe says:

      Worst of all it is almost most impossible to plan for CTR. No tool is going to be able to tell you the CTR for a particular niche, so you have to stick with keywords that have an intent to purchase. Phrases that contain “cheap”, “buy online”, or “on sale” are good examples.

      Avoid general information articles (i.e. history) or things that are of an artistic nature (i.e. painters).

      Do you have any tips for avoiding low CTR niches?

      • aldo says:

        I would like to, but im testing different stuff.

        And after reading your comment my website is not to purchase at all… so wrong site for adsense i think.

    • Walter says:

      If your niche is somewhat informational, try to end your article leaving the reader to want to know more or somewhat with a question and put a 468×60 text only banner right under it.
      Maybe that will trigger some clicks.

      I think it’s a bummer though that if a person is in any way logged in to a google account, he will be shown ads which aren’t relevant to the content of the site that he’s reading. For example.. I searched for waterbeds weeks ago and still get ads for them everywhere I go :/

      • Justin says:

        I know, right? We were considering a trip to Bangkok in September for a few days with a quick hop over to Cambodia to check out Angkor Wat and we’re both getting ads about Bangkok hotels and flights on a regular basis!

        Not sure it’s a bad thing though…our CTR is a bit lower on interest-based ads, but our CPC is more than double in looking at May-July statistics. It makes me wish MORE people were logged in! heh.

        It’s something to think about, actually. When targeting niches you should also probably consider demographics.

  16. Tyler says:

    Congrats on the 10k barrier guys.. that’s big money where I come from!

    I’ve come to a roadblock in my own efforts as I can only afford so many domains at once and being that the initial domains are essentially “out of pocket” until you start profiting, it does present a barrier for those without access to additional business funds.

    So instead of just sitting here waiting until I can afford more domains I figure I can write some content to fund my future domain purchases, but I don’t feel like getting ripped off by Fiverr with their fee’s and what not.

    If anyone wants these type of articles written i’m happy to do private jobs for anyone with payment thru Paypal.

    I look at it like this.. I just need to get the domains purchased and up as soon as possible so that the aging process can begin. If that means I need to write for others to get their content started and my domains purchased, that just helps everyone in the end.

    [email protected] for anyone that wants some content written asap!

    • Joe says:

      Hey Tyler,

      We understand not wanting to come out of pocket too much, especially if you are unsure that the process will work and make money long term. I say start slow (like it seems you are) and build out your sites. Take that extra time to write content for your own sites and focus on link building efforts. It takes a few months to realize the results, but it is well worth the wait.

      Should you run into any technical roadblocks, feel free to contact us for some advice. Or just stop by for inspiration! ;-)

    • Justin says:

      Tyler,

      If I didn’t have the initial investment money, I think that’s the EXACT route I’d take too. It lets you dip your toes in, get some practice, and earn some money to reinvest in your business.

  17. domain says:

    Ok. Thanks.

    Trying do some business you guys lol but not getting the type of answers I want to hear lol.

    But its awesome in what your doing.

    Thanks.

    • Joe says:

      Sorry domain, but we have become very selective about the projects we get involved with. Time has become very precious, but we are always open to listening to a good idea. Please don’t take it personally if we turn you down though!

    • Justin says:

      Sorry about that! I’m trying to follow the “Hell Yeah!…or No” policy (love that post!) I read from Derek Sivers…it feels a bit weird, but at least it keeps me somewhat focused! hehe

  18. domain says:

    Hi

    Thanks in the reply. Pretty interesting stuff.

    While I agree with adsense and mass produce- I meant was more in the lines of less reliance on google. Test other ppc programs out there.

    I notice you guys own an outsourcing company and taking on customers. Feel free to email me and give me the details on wordpress and costs for sites.

    Keep on rolling and good luck in August. Any ideas what your going be auctioning off in August and revenue related sites?

    • Justin says:

      Ahhh…so you mean PayPerClick from Bing or Facebook and live on the arbitrage between what we get in clicks via AdSense and our ad spend?

      It’s an interesting idea…I know other people have been successful there. I think, though, that would probably be more effective with really aggressive sites, right? Sites about car insurance, real estate, education, etc? The game then becomes finding some really low-hanging fruit in the PPClick game and getting the much higher CPC’s on the AdSense clicks. We’d have to have different sites for that though, I think…sites with higher CPC.

      Our outsourcing company is primarily related to mid-sized businesses in the US, UK, and Australia and not meant for the individual IMer. We’d like to setup a process to utilize our crew that way, but haven’t found a way that makes sense yet.

      We should have two auctions in August. One more 4-6 site auction and then another with maybe 15-20 sites? Not sure yet…but we’ll probably put the next auction out around the middle of August.

  19. aldo says:

    Where do you recommend buying articles from?

    • Justin says:

      We buy articles from Fiverr, but I’m not sure this would be the best option for someone starting out and doing it themselves. There’s a fairly high “failure to deliver” rate when dealing with new content writers there. Also, the editing can be quite heavy with some providers. Even though you can get primary articles for $5 and secondary articles for $2.50, you might be better off paying up to $10/$6 respectively if you have a 100% deliver rate, less editing/checking to do for spun content, etc.

  20. aldo says:

    What about the themes?

    from your experience after having lots of site launched and tested what is the best theme in your opinion?

    • Justin says:

      We haven’t received enough data on CTR Theme yet, but it’s looking promising. Honestly, what we’ve found is that niche selection plays a much larger role in CTR than WP theme selection does. For the most part, if you go with any of the relatively plain, standard AdSense ready themes that are available you’ll probably be ok.

      I found a great thread on the WF a while back talking about someone going over his 18 months of experience and testing with AdSense. He came to an interesting conclusion as we have that the time testing themes could be better applied to getting out more content…that will make you more than swapping themes will.

  21. Halfdan says:

    I wasn’t allowed to reply anymore, so I’ll make a new comment here :p

    Great idea on the Warrior thread! Hopefully, that’ll inspire one or two.

    As far as I could see, you’re always testing new writers, but the review-less ones tend to not deliver? Are good writers on Fiverr really that rare? I wouldn’t know as I’ve been shamelessly stealing yours untill now, but I am to find some myself sooner or later as well.

    • Justin says:

      I was talking to our Content Managers about it today. They used to order 2-3 articles from new writers, but the delivery was so bad that they’ve dropped it to 1 so that they’re not spinning their wheels with people who won’t deliver.

      They’ve gone to attempting to contact unproven writers beforehand so that they can have a brief back-and-forth to boost their confidence.

      You know…I’ll say this…if it was ME having to order content on Fiverr as they are now, I think you might be better off ordering from an extremely reliable source at even $8-$10 per primary article and $4 – $6 per secondary article. You might get away with a higher delivery rate and less editing. If you’re ordering a ton from Fiverr, do the math on how long it takes you to check/edit/reorder and then estimate the time it would take you if it was well organized, no editing necessary, etc. and you’ll get an idea as to what it might be worth paying for you…

  22. domain says:

    Interesting post and want to say congratulations

    Been following you few days and we have similar interests in many ways.

    Keep on rolling along and best of all its learning by testing things.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way

    1. Why rely so much on google adsense and google search engines(they can change things whenever) and impact your business model over night imo. Yes I agree good quality sites will do fine and shit domains on content sites.

    2. Impressive numbers and margins. Love the self funded route and I do this with domain names.

    3. When you say website costs and etc- can you share who you would recommend? No bs and broken promises how “seo team will get you on first page of google in 7 days and etc

    4. Do you allow private purchases of your inventory and do you keep things private amongst your customers if they were to buy names in private. No Flippa and etc.

    Keep up the good work and awesome job! If you wish to email me in private-feel free on sites in future.

    • Justin says:

      Hey Jeff, no problem at all!

      1. We go with AdSense because it’s easier than picking out the particular affiliate offers. We have a team of people that build the sites and if we had to use affiliate offers, Joe and I would have to spend a considerable amount of time picking through the affiliates…AdSense is scalable. We don’t particularly optimize for Google search only…it’s just that it’s where the traffic is! We get found on Yahoo/Bing as well, but there are simply more people searching on Google.

      2. Thanks! The reinvestment strategy is key, I think. If you don’t need the funds to eat, pay rent, etc. it’s a great route to take, we think.

      3. We do it all ourselves with our team. We haven’t used anyone else and so I can’t say how they would perform. We use tools and a few services for backlinks, but nothing out of the ordinary there.

      4. We get quite a few requests for this, actually. 99% of the time we say no, unfortunately, but we ARE testing out a pre-purchase scenario with one guy right now. The price was right and, honestly, we just kind of liked the guy and thought it would be good to test it out with him.

      The problem with private sales is 2-fold on our end. A) The buyer wants to pay less than we’d get at auction (Or it’s so low-volume or such a low budget it’s not worth our time) and B) We lose the exposure that public auctions get.

      I understand about what you’re saying in keeping the sites “private” that way and not having a gazillion people try to copy the sites, attack the niche, etc. We’ve been dealing with that a bit but, honestly, the people that are trying to copy our sites, theme, niches exactly are spinning their wheels. Worst case, they knock us down one slot across the niches. Truth be known…it’s probably more work…they could just find their OWN niches with their own unique stuff and it would be easier. (sigh)

  23. JJ says:

    Thanks for the detailed reply Justin!

    I guess I’m just getting a lil anxious, the 30 sites have been online for about 2 weeks now. A few seem have had early successes making it to page two or bottom of page 1 within the first week of doing some small backlinking. As I’ve pumped out even more backlinks most of the sites seem to be dropped in their SERPS and some even disappearing. I know this tend to happen to a lot of websites that aren’t established yet “google dance” they call it.

    But anyway the point I’m making is that these 30 sites combined are doing an average of around $0.50 cents a day as a total. That is combined earnings not individual site averages.

    1. My understand is from your above post that your sites each on average where earning around $0.57 for the month..correct? (so my averages are more or less inline with when you started out it would appear)

    2. Do you think its too early for me to re-adjust anything yet? Either my backlinking or keywords I’m going after. Or its more wise to give it that 60 day window? (which is a long time by the way lol)

    3. I don’t mind waiting it out for now, since I can just keep myself busy building more niche sites ( my goal is 100 more built by the end of august) But what if I was somehow doing something wrong lol 2 months wasted plus 130 sites that aren’t earning. How did you handle the uncertainty of your plan of action?

    4. Did you keep on full steam ahead even without any early successes?

    5. Everyday I get up I check the rankings of all the keywords via rank tracker…bad habit? How often do you guys check the rankings?

    6. If you had a couple thousand dollars to invest..lets say $5k, and you had to restart from scratch and didn’t own an outsourcing company, how would you spend it?

    Thanks again!

    • Justin says:

      Hey JJ,

      It sounds like your sites are starting off strong…it’s just a little early and you’re nervous!

      1. That’s correct. Please keep in mind the way we track, too. I’m saying that the sites we’ll purchase URL’s for in August should make around $0.57 each, on average, for August. That’s for AUGUST…not 30 days from the date at which the site went up.

      2. I would definitely look at a 60 day window. It is quite a bit of time…just put your head down, trust the process, and hammer out sites. You’ll make mistakes, most likely, but they shouldn’t be too costly. If you make only a couple of sites…wait 2-3 months…make a couple more…etc. the rewards hardly seem worth it. You’re more careful, but fortune favors the bold!

      3. See my answer to #2! I made the mistake of targeting broad and not exact match for the first couple of weeks…caught it…but you’re right, there are other things you can miss too. If you do make a mistake…even if it’s costly…chalk it up to a good learning experience. There’s really no such thing as a sure thing in business…that little bit of risk is enough to keep most people out anyway…which might be good for the rest of us!

      4. Yes we did…to my own dismay and the slight scoffing/mocking of my business partner! :-) Seriously, head-down…eye on the prize…don’t be discouraged and stick with that for 2-3 months to start seeing the fruits of the labor.

      5. Not so much with rankings. We use Market Samurai to check rankings in bulk (25 sites per group) but it’s not a main focus. I’m a bit obsessive with AdSense checking…it’s a real time waster for me, unfortunately. Even when I’m out and about I’m refreshing on my phone…bad habit!

      6. If you wanted to invest in THIS process:

      First: Knock it out start to finish myself 20-30 times manually.
      Second: Find out what tools I needed that would save me a bunch of time and that I’d ACTUALLY use and buy those.
      Third: Document the most repetitive processes or repeatable processes and hire a VA to take over sections to save myself time.
      Fourth: Scale it up!

    • Kevin says:

      JJ, keep your head up and keep pumping out the sites. Watching your sites rank in the 50’s and 100’s is definitely painful, especially when you’re starting out and unsure of what the end result will be. It does take time….30-90 day window is about right, some earlier, some later. Slow and steady backlinks, nothing overboard. Like Justin said, trust the process. It’s working for them, it’s also working for me, and countless others.

      As you go along, you will make mistakes, but you will learn from those mistakes and make sure to avoid it the next time. I’ve been there…

      Kevin

  24. aldo says:

    Good Job Guys.

    In my Opinion the hardest and crucial task on this business is research and build backlinks. Content is not that hard since there is lots of writers that could write with SEO.

    But having the correct Backlinks structure is a pain… and much more since Google is changing the rules of the game very often.

    From my experience having secondary content that could drive nice traffic can really really increase the earnings.

    In my Case i’m stuck in the part of making my traffic to click more often , i have a nice bounce rate , they stay more than 1.5min on site and visit different pages but not going to ads…

    I’m in the process of fixing this little issue.

    • Justin says:

      Hey Aldo,

      I really wonder about the content part. I know IMers that spend obscene amounts of money on high-level content and they do it because it’s WORTH it…they make many X back on that investment. I do wonder if we used GREAT writers at additional cost if we’d see a return on that investment. It seems a bit overkill, though, with these niche sites…

  25. Really awesome guys. Your Income Reports and this blog in general, is a great inspiration. We’re still building up our network of sites. We’re raising capital to put back into building more sites to speed things up, but we’re doing as much as we can at the moment.

    I’ve got some questions about the spreadsheet I’d like to send your way if you guys don’t mind. I’m trying to get organized, because I know that has a lot to do with staying consistent and tracking progress. If it’s not too much trouble! Thanks!

    • Justin says:

      Thanks, Kenny!

      No problem about the spreadsheet email…Joe’s talking about doing an “organization” post here in the next week or two that might help out a bit.

      Once you get the ball rolling, you’ve got passive income you can dump for an influx of cash and it’s really easy to balance everything out…it’s just getting the first sites going that puts you out of pocket, heh. Stick with it!

  26. Lemuel says:

    congratulations for a job well done.

    I’m hoping that I will get there soon.

    Question for you?
    How much do you spend in 1 site?

    Thanks.

    • Justin says:

      Hey Lemuel…thanks for stopping by!

      Not including my time or Joe’s…the sites cost roughly $40 each to build. We’re going to be adding some costs with backlinking, but plan to keep the sites under $50, on average.

  27. JJ says:

    Hi,

    1. I’m curious, how long did it take before your first niche sites started earning $5 dollars a month, $10, $15?

    2. Have any of them got to $30 a month or more? If so how long did that take?

    3. Generally for your niche sites how long does it take you to get ranked onto page 1 with your article marketing?

    Great blog I’ve been reading and really interested in you’re posts. I’ve built about 30 niche sites and have begun doing backlinking. Much more backlinking then what you have described for your sites. I’m trying to get an idea of what my realistic expectations and time frame ranges should be.

    Thanks in advance for any info!

    If anyone else wants to reply with their opinions, you are more then welcome to aswell.

    • Justin says:

      Hey JJ…let me respond to your questions:

      1. Here are our averages, across the board:

      1st month: $0.57
      2nd month: $3.43
      3rd month: $6.16
      4th month: $9.70
      etc.

      Those are averages…some do much better…others do much worse.

      2. Yes…considerably more. Our best niche site made $218.77 in the last 30 days. For that site, the URL was purchased in April with the site setup in May.

      3. Roughly 80% of our sites are ultimately ranked on the first page for their main keyword. I’m guessing a bit here, but probably 50-60% make the first page inside of 60 days?

      I would say that your efforts on backlinking might be better spent on creating more sites if you’re just starting off. If you create a bunch of backlinks and it works…you won’t know which were effective and which weren’t…making the cost of your sites, on average, higher than they need to be.

      I’m not 100% sure on that, though…another strategy could be to do EVERYTHING you can to get the sites earning initially. Once you’ve found success…slowly pull away from some of the costs and see which sticks until you get down to the lowest cost for the highest return.

  28. Halfdan says:

    Well done on the progress so far – and thanks for putting together these income reports, even though they’re a pain. I know a lot of people like me really enjoy reading them – thanks alot for that!

    I amazed that you can build +100 sites a month. I’ve been – all inspired by you – building 31 sites for the last month or so alone (with Fiverr content). Thanks for being such a huge inspiration – I’m looking forward to read august income report! =)

    • Justin says:

      Awesome, Halfdan!

      Are you building these sites for a Denmark audience or for a US/UK audience?

      Funny story – I was looking through the communication in one of our Fiverr accounts and saw that one of our Content Managers was chatting with a content provider. There was a (joking) complaint about this “Halfdan guy” taking our good writers! lol

      • Halfdan says:

        Haha, I didn’t exactly see that one coming! For the 10 sites I bought domains for yesterday, I let one guy have 20 orders and another 10 – I’m sorry for making your writers temporarily unavailable, but you really are an amazing inspiration! ;-)

        I’ve build around 10 sites for the danish audience. Unfortunately, the creation in Denmark can’t be compared to the US / UK audience. We don’t exactly have this kind of niches. A site I recently made for UK visitors has 1.3k exacts / month – the same keyword, even though it’s pretty universal, has less than 20 in Denmark. I did manage to build one site, though, whicih is placed as #1 in Google on the most used term for fighting ants. That site has been making around 10$ / day steadily for 1½ month, but will decrease once the ants start decreasing due to colder weather.

        The 31 I mentioned in the comment above are all US / UK.

        Maybe I should try building sites in french..

        • Justin says:

          Yeah, I laughed a bit when I saw it, hehe. I was doing training with the Content Managers just a few minutes and told them about our exchange and they thought it was funny as well. They did say the lack of resources sometimes on Fiverr does hold them back…sounds like there’s a gap for content writers on Fiverr!

          Pretend for a minute that you could speak/write in any language. For this niche site process, the ultimate situation would be one in which there’s a high ratio of advertisers as compared to seo’s/IMers. Someone could really take advantage of that gap by exploiting the language in which that situation exists. It’s beyond us…but something for you multilinguals to think about!

          • Halfdan says:

            The lack of good writing ressources definitly is the bottleneck in the proces. Besides the waiting time between creating a site and linkbuilding it, of course. I bet a quite a few writers are annoyed with Fiverr taking 20 % of their earnings though, as a reason why theres a lack.

            Have you seen the movie Limitless? If so, tell me if you ever acquire some NZT! ;-)
            We all need to find the perfect combination of UK/US visitors and Denmark – we have little competition here (everything is relative, but compared to US it is little), but we have no niches. I’m fluent in french, which is why I’ll try exploring the market there sooner or later. I’ll let you know if that’s worth a mention. I bet theres french writers on Fiverr too! :)

          • Justin says:

            I just made a mention of the “content crisis” on Fiverr: http://www.warriorforum.com/adsense-ppc-seo-discussion-forum/425971-gap-market-content-writers-fiverr.html

            Partly, I wanted to know if other people had the same issues…the other thing I was hoping was that some broke soon-to-be content writers will jump at the opportunity!

            What’s scarce for us provides opportunity for others…hope some people jump at it! hehe

  29. Goodness! Over 10K!? Congrats! You’re tenacity and systematic approach is inspiring. I’ve been following your blog for about 2 months now and I can say that you’re earnings growth has just been monumental.

    I’d be interested in seeing what gross profit margin and net income look like.

    • Justin says:

      Hey guys!

      Thanks! I LOVE the detail in your wealth reports and hope you can look past some of my estimations here!

      Gross Margin:
      Our average site right now (including domain, content, site setup, backlinks, man-hours, etc) costs right around $40.00. Since we’ve been falling behind a bit with off-page seo, we’re expecting that to go up to around $45 – $50 per site in the future, most likely. That does not include my time or Joe’s time or any costs associated with maintaining this blog. Our average site makes right around $11 per month and we regularly sell for 20x earnings, putting our gross margin at a really high 75% – 80%. (This does NOT include any of the AdSense revenue earned before the sale, which for the first 6 months, on average, comes out to around $40 while the sites are getting up to speed)

      Net Income:
      As we’ve mentioned, part of the reason we sell sites is to reinvest so that we can continue to increase production without coming out of pocket. With our high margins, this reinvestment strategy seems to pay off quite nicely. Consider this…we’re able to sell two sites after 6 months for around $220 on average (Plus the $40 or so they made in AdSense or so, comes out to $260, approximately) We’re then able to take the sale of those two sites and build out 6 more ($40 x 6 = $240) At the end of those six months, those 6 sites should be worth approximately $1,500…taking our initial $80 investment to a full $1,500 inside of 12 months!

      Well that’s the plan…here’s how it looks in practice:
      With an average cost of $40 per site and 135 sites built this month, our production cost was $5,400. There are some additional monthly expenses for some of the services we have, so let’s say it’s $6,000 total. Remember, that doesn’t account for our time on the project. If you take out the website flips, we still wouldn’t be even, because of increased production each month. If we’d stayed at the 50 sites/month when we started, our costs would only be around $2,000 – $2,500 per month. It’s a way for us to scale and reinvest the money into a high-margin business that we control…pretty cool, eh?

  30. Scott says:

    Congratulations!

    I’ve been following your site while building my own small AdSense farm. My biggest problem has been coming up with a good SEO strategy that doesn’t take too much of my time, or money. But I am seeing some results with what I’m trying, and am looking forward to the time when I can start scaling up.

    • Justin says:

      Awesome, Scott!

      With backlinking…the best strategy (we think) is to “do the minimum”. If you start off with a TON of backlinks to all of your sites, you won’t know what was effective, what wasn’t, etc. and you’ll feel obligated to include all of those sources and cost moving forward.

      If you stick to the minimum…you can slowly add more until you arrive at a rankings and cost structure that makes sense.

  31. Steve says:

    Hi

    Always great to read income reports :-)

    Did you build 135 sites in one month or just increase to that number from the previous month?

    regards

    • Justin says:

      Hello, Steve.

      The 135 are new sites, built in July. We started off in December, 2010 building out around 50 a month and have ramped up from there.

  32. Nicole says:

    Great job as usual guys. I’ve been looking forward to this monthly dose of inspiration. It’s amazing to me what you’ve been able to do in only 8 months. From $0 to $10,000 a month is pretty amazing! Thanks for sharing.

    • Justin says:

      Great to hear, Nicole. It’s kind of a pain to put together, but the feedback and appreciation makes it totally worth it! hehe

  33. Your results are so impressive, I am very jealous. I would like to create at least one site that is dedicated to adsense but I am not sure what type of keywords I should be looking at. Is it true that I shoudn’t bother with products that can be purchased online from Amazon etc.

    Any advice would be gratefully appreciated. Have a great August.

    Tiptopcat :)

    • Justin says:

      Hey there!

      I don’t know…I think it’s ok to target products that are available on Amazon for AdSense. What would the reason be for not picking those niches…because they’re oversaturated with Amazon sites or something?

      Whether you can buy it on Amazon or not is really not even something we look at when creating the sites…it’s simply based on the numbers and our estimate as to whether we can rank the site or not, really.

  34. Kevin says:

    Was waiting for this income report, guys. Nice freakin’ job. Adsense is such a winner for you that spending the time finding a site to switch monetization to is probably more trouble that it’s worth. Just keep on keepin’ on. I really enjoy reading your posts, they’re very down to earth and always make complete sense.

    Kevin

    • Justin says:

      Kevin,

      That’s totally what we’re thinking too. Let’s say that the niche sites that ARE doing better above end up going from $37/month to $75/month (when we reach the 60 days) Was it really worth the effort/energy to make that happen? That’s not something we can give to the team…Joe and I have to do it directly…ugh.

      For those of you who START monetizing differently (Amazon, Clickbank, etc.) I think it might be a smart idea to start off targeting whatever you’re on and then testing AdSense…you don’t have to search around, just slap the code on instead of the affiliate stuff and see how it works out. If it’s better, leave it…if worse…go back, right?

      • Kevin says:

        Justin, you said you fell behind on your link building. Was that because you changed your link building strategy? Can you point me to where you discussed what you do to rank your micro niche sites…I know for the most part they take little backlinks, but the key is to be patient for the 30-90 day period, right?

        (I’ve used a couple services on Fiverr…should I trust them?)

        • Justin says:

          Kevin,

          We didn’t change our linkbuilding strategy…we simply neglected it in favor of scaling up site production! We were pushing our team to push out more and more sites without adding people/resources. (Partly because we were testing their inefficiency and partly because we weren’t really sure whether our linkbuilding was valuable or worth it or not)

          I don’t think we have an actual post on our linkbuilding strategies, but it’s definitely sprinkled throughout the site in comments, as part of our emails to our subscribers, etc. We really should get around to laying that out…since we’ll be catching up on that over the next two months or so, it’s probably a good opportunity to do so!

      • The sheer madness of dealing with different codes, plugins, formats, and other options from all these different affiliates drives me up all wall. Oh yeah, then you still have to pick a product that “kind of” matches your niche site and hope after someone clicks on the ad, they actually buy something so you can get paid. Talk about not worth it.

        AdSense is great. Google takes care of everything. Plus I feel closer to the money. Visitors click, we get paid.

        Now if someone could actually create a service with a plugin that scans your content then looks for related affiliate links which are dynamically added to your site, that would be money. Still in the end, I bet revenue comes out to be even.

    • Jeff says:

      I agree that sticking with adsense seems like the best way.

      Plus, when you post on Flippa you can state that no other affiliate sources has been tested. That way there is some income potential above just adsense for individuals willing to spend the money buying a site…..

      just my 3 cents.

      • Justin says:

        Jeff,

        Interesting point…that’s one of the reasons people buy from us…they’re really good at monetization and know they can double or triple earnings with a few tweaks.

        I guess if we figured that out, we could retain that additional revenue ourselves…but stick with what you’re good at, right?

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