Well, the last income report I did for OwnTheYard.com was back in January of this year, so I figured it was time for another update!
I keep saying each time I do an income report that this just might be my last one…but apparently, it never is. Maybe this is the last one?
At some point, I'd love to be growing my sites without a spotlight on them, but the entire point of the creation of this site was a “public” niche site project, so alas, I continue to share.
As a reminder, this site was created in September of 2018 and I've been growing it ever since.
You can read all my previous income reports and other details on this case study right here.
Let's jump into the numbers.
EARNINGS FOR OWN THE YARD
Last month, Own The Yard earned a total of $5,210.27.
This is an increase over March earnings by about $600 – March was a total of $4,593.
The site has 2 revenue sources – display ads and Amazon associates income.
For display ads, I'm using Ezoic ads – which brought in a total of $2,911.77.
You can see the breakdown of Ezoic Ad Partners and Premium Ad Partners at the bottom of the screenshot.
So, the remaining revenue came from the Amazon Associates program – a total of $2,298.50 for the month.
I'm happy with over $5k in earnings!
In total, the site has now made $73,270 since I started it in 2018.
I often get asked about expenses. I gave a detailed breakdown of income vs. expenses in my last report.
In total, I've now spent roughly $49,000 on the site since its inception. However, this can be a little deceiving because the bulk of the expenses happened early on in the process of creating the over 600 articles that are now on the site.
So, I've already put about $73,270 – $49,000 = $24,270 in my pocket. But that will increase quite a bit over the next year.
I now spend less than $1,000 a month on the site.
So, my take-home profit after content creation, Pinterest management and everything during the month of April was roughly $4,200 ($5,200 minus $1,000).
I expect the site should put close to $50k net profit in my pocket each year moving forward (if it doesn't grow significantly).
Or I could decide to sell the site and pocket probably somewhere in the $150k to $160k range.
That would be in addition to the roughly $24k, I've already “profited” from the site.
OwnTheYard.com received a total of 145,898 sessions during the month of April 2021.
The majority of the traffic continues to come from Google organic traffic.
The other major driver of traffic to the site is Pinterest.
The above screenshot actually shows the entire lifespan of social traffic to the site (since 2018).
I thought you might find this interesting just to understand the seasonal nature of the niche. In the spring and summer months, lots of people are looking for backyard ideas. As a result, the traffic ebbs and flows with the seasons of the year.
I'm of course constantly on the lookout for additional content that will perform well in “non-peak” seasons. I'd prefer to have a site that performs well in the winter months as well as the summer months.
GOOGLE UPDATES AND UNNATURAL LINKS
Now, I wish I could say that everything has always gone smoothly with my site, but that has not been the case.
Last May, the site appeared to have been hit with a core algorithm update. However, it appears that the site recovered from the core update in December 2020.
Manual Action and Reconsideration Request
Then my site was hit with an unnatural links penalty.
So, on December 2nd, 2020 my site, OwnTheYard.com got a Google manual action for links in Google Search Console.
I did share this news with my email list and Facebook group when it happened (in case you missed that story).
However, I'm now happy to share that after submitting a reconsideration request and 4 long months of waiting, that manual action has been removed by Google!
Here's what happened:
I don't do a ton of link building on my sites, but I did order a shotgun skyscraper link building package from Niche Website Builders. Shortly after they started building links (a few weeks?), I got the manual action penalty.
The timing seemed suspicious. So, I asked NWB to stop building links.
However, I'm now confident that the penalty had NOTHING to do with Niche Website Builders.
I got Rick Lomas involved to help me get my link profile cleaned up and to submit a reconsideration request to Google.
As Rick reviewed my link profile, he found tons of automated and otherwise truly spammy links that were not at all related to the links that Niche Website Builders created.
Perhaps, someone built some spammy links to my site or I just got caught up in whatever automated weird spammy robot world is out there on the interwebs…
Rick and I submitted a disavow file for all these links that appeared to be spammy and submitted our reconsideration request to Google.
I guess Google has more important things to do than worry about my backyard gear site…cause it took them 4 MONTHS!
But I just got the good news about a week ago via email that Google manually reviewed my site and its link profile and officially removed the penalty.
In a way, it gives a stamp of approval for the links my site does have, which is kinda cool.
The funniest part about this experience is that I think the manual link penalty being placed and removed had zero impact on the organic traffic from Google to my site.
This penalty was likely only applied to one page, and maybe it was a page that never got much traffic anyway (they don't tell you which page has the penalty).
As you can see from the attached Google Search Console screenshot, there was not a drop when the penalty happened and there was not a big lift in traffic when the penalty was removed.
Either way, it's good to know the manual action has been removed and that a manual review of the links on Own The Yard by Google passed!
The moral of the story?
Sometimes actions by Google are not justified. Don't give up.
In my case, it required some link cleanup by submitting a disavow file.
Other times, it may require patience and waiting for the next algorithm update.
Either way, I just wanted to pass on my experience in case it might be helpful to you and your sites.
Tools and Services Used to Build the Site
In case you are wondering what I’ve used to build my site, what plugins I have, or other tools or services I’ve been using to grow, I’ve created this list for you below.
- Generate Press Premium (WordPress Theme). Super easy to use and fast loading.
- Link Whisper – To significantly speed up the process of building internal links. (This is my product that I created)
- Long Tail Pro – for some of my keyword research and rank tracking.
- Ahrefs – for additional keyword research and backlink analysis.
- SEMrush – for additional keyword research and competitor analysis.
- Big Scoots Hosting – I moved to Big Scoots for all my sites and love it. Managed WP hosting at a fraction of the cost of competitors (and my sites got faster when I moved from the more expensive options).
- Table Labs – To create beautiful product comparison tables for Amazon Associates products.
- AAWP – To create product boxes for Amazon Associates products.
- AmaLinks Pro – To create great-looking buttons, product boxes, and comparison tables for Amazon Associates.
- Genius Link – To manage all my Amazon Associates links. (Helps monitor link health, geo-target links, provide reporting, and more).
- Content Pit – Content writers that know how to do product reviews and more.
- Niche Website Builders – Did a shotgun skyscraper campaign (which I discussed above).
- Ezoic Ads – Display ad management platform that uses artificial intelligence. Also seeing good results from their Premium option and now testing out the “Leap” to speed up site.
- Yoast SEO Plugin – I use the Yoast Premium plugin.
- Upwork.com – Where I found my main writer/editor and Pinterest manager for the site.
Plans Moving Forward
Going forward, I don't have any drastic changes to my strategies.
I plan to continue to produce content on a regular basis. Some months I may be doing 20 articles a month, other months I may only be doing 1 article a week. But I do plan to continue to invest in the growth of the site.
There are thousands of additional backyard related terms that I could be producing content on. The only question is how much do I want to invest in growing the site and how long do I want to own the site.
I have to weigh the pros and cons of cashing out now vs. taking the risk that the site will continue to grow long term. This is compounded by the seeming fickleness of both Google and Amazon. Google is constantly changing its core algorithm, but so far I've generally been able to keep up.
And Amazon of course is well-known for changing its commission structure.
So, do I keep “rolling the dice” and growing this site – which has a TON more potential? Or do I take the cash and walk away?
For now, I'm going to continue growing the site and adding more content, and growing the site. But the question of when to sell the site is always in the back of my mind.
I'll keep you posted when and if that happens.
In the meantime, feel free to check out OwnTheYard.com and follow along with changes I make over the coming months. You can see the content I'm posting, how I monetize my site, and much more.
I truly hope that this in-depth case study that has now lasted for over 2 years has been beneficial to you!
When I first started, I always wished that I had a site I could look to and see exactly how much money they were making. So, I hope that my sharing of traffic stats, income reports, and EVERYTHING helps you along with your online business journey.
Want to stay up to date when I post another update or share additional tips? Be sure to get on my email newsletter list right here.