May was an interesting month for my site: BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com, and I think you will find this income report just as interesting (sure hope so). In addition to having a bit of drama this month, my site also posted its highest earning month ever!
As you know, I have documented every step of building this site from the very beginning. If you would like to review what I did before the site was created, how I found the keywords to target, and how I built the site, you can read all about it and more on the niche site project overview page here.
So, today I am going to cover all the traffic stats, earnings details, amount of time I've put into this site, and so much more. The nerd inside of you is going to love all these numbers! So, lets jump right into it.
When I set out on this niche site project journey, my goal was to earn $500/month after its 3rd full month in existence. Well, May was that month! So, did I hit my $500 earnings goal?
Amazon Earnings for BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com during May 2013:
What a great month! I was SO close to hitting my $500 goal, but I'm still thrilled with $474.76 in earnings! Would you be disappointed with a site earning $475/month and that is fairly passive at this point? Neither would I.
As you can see, my site generated 194 sales on Amazon for knives or other products. Because of this, I was able to hit the 7% commission tier on Amazon Associates.
Like my income report from last month, I thought you might find it interesting to see some of the items that people are buying through my site. Here are just a couple of screenshots that show some of the actual purchases made in May.
As you can see from the screenshots, a lot of knives were ordered, and MANY more were purchased than what these screenshots show. However, I obviously get paid when someone buys ANYTHING off Amazon; which is why you see things like fire-starters or other camping gear. So, even though I don't send anyone to Amazon to buy a stainless steel outdoor cup; if they do, I still get paid.
So, overall, I earned $474.76 in May!
Perhaps even more exciting than nearly earning $500 in the month of May from this one niche site (I own MANY more); is the fact that bestsurvivalknifeguide.com has now officially turned profitable! I have spent more on this niche site than I normally would, simply because I wanted to ensure that it was successful (since it was so public).
Here is a breakdown of the TOTAL EXPENSES since inception and TOTAL INCOME since inception:
- Domain name with Privacy: $10
- Hosting with Bluehost: $23.80 (4 months at $5.95/mth). However, I also can share this hosting account with other sites, so the true expense is spread out with lots of sites.
- Articles: $425. There are currently 24 articles on the site. (So, that’s an average of $17.71/article…yes this is more than I usually pay).
- Link Building: $244. A big part of the influence for my overall link building strategy came from the Link Building course called Point Blank SEO. I highly recommend it if you want to do your own link building or learn more about how a good link building strategy should work.
- Graphics: $50
- I am using the Niche Website Theme (which I created) on my niche site. Since I already own the product, I’m not putting it as an expense. However, its currently being sold at a discount right here.
- I am using the EasyAzon Plugin to add Amazon affiliate links to my site (makes it faster and easier to manage). However, I already owned this, so I'm not adding this as an expense.
TOTAL EXPENSES: $750.80
Now for the Revenue:
TOTAL REVENUE: $914.74
OVERALL NET PROFIT: $163.94
Now, $163.94 is nothing to call Grandma about; however, it is exciting when you start to realize how passive this website has become for me. I believe that I spent no more than 2 hours total in the month of May doing anything to BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com. In fact, here's everything I did:
- Removed email opt-in form and added a couple of Amazon widgets – 30 minutes
- Edited and posted a few articles (these were already well written by my author) – 30 minutes
- Made Edits to Comparison Chart and made it 15 total knives instead of 10 on the homepage (I already had all the data from before) – 30 minutes
- Thinking about site, checking reports, or other – 30 minutes
Honestly, I did not do much with my site in May; and I have no intention of spending much more time than a couple of hours a month (hopefully less) in the future. This is now a fairly passive project for me.
My Earnings Per Hour
When I shared a spreadsheet that I use a few weeks ago, to project earnings for niche site, a common complaint that I got was that it did not include a calculation for my own time. Its not that I don't value my own time, because I do very much. But as a solo-entrepreneur, the amount in profits left over is what I can use to figure out how much I'm making on an hourly basis.
Overall, I have spent around 20 hours on BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com. Most of that came up front in researching keywords to target and creating the unique comparison chart. And more correctly, the time was NOT spent creating the chart (that was done with a simple WordPress plugin called TablePress), the time was spent gathering the data for the chart – because you can't find all the data I found in one spot anywhere else.
So, the net profit of $163.93 divided by 20 hours is $8.20/hour. Yep, that's a pretty lame wage…BUT it obviously is going to get better.
Let's predict that I spend 2 hours each month for the next 3 months on this site…or 6 total hours. Lets also predict that the site PROFITS $375 each of the next 3 months. (I'm throwing in $100/mth of expenses each month for articles or other…so $475 in earnings minus $100 in expenses). This would be an additional $1,125 in PROFITS over then next 3 months.
And to clarify, I actually expect the earnings to be more than they were this month, so I think this is a conservative prediction.
Now my earnings per hour becomes a little nicer…$49.57 per hour!
And if the trend continues for an entire year (which I expect it to), my earnings per hour becomes $106/hour! And the truth is that it could be MUCH higher than that based on how much the site actually earns. In all reality, the earnings per month should continue to increase as I continue to add more content. In addition, I don't think I will actually be spending 2 hours each month on this site; but I put that in the calculation as a buffer.
I have MANY sites that I spend exactly ZERO hours on each month that earn consistently month after month whether I do anything or not.
My bestsurvivalknifeguide.com site is now entering its mostly passive stage. Yes, I will continue to do things with the site (as explained below), but the hard work is over.
During the month of May, my niche site had a total of 23,704 visits. Here's an image showing where that traffic came from:
Over 63% of the traffic was from search engines, while nearly 33% was from direct traffic (mostly from people like you 🙂 ). Obviously, the overall traffic was also affected by my blog readers going directly to my site or searching for the site by typing in “best survival knife”.
So, I think its important to look at all the “natural” traffic I got from other keywords. Overall, here are the top 10 keywords that drove traffic to my site:
Obviously, you will see the “not provided”; which accounts for 64.10% of the Search traffic. This means that Google won't tell me the keywords from these people because they were logged into their Google account at the time of the search. For privacy reasons, they only list “not provided” for people who are logged in and searching.
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So, in total, I received traffic from 1,267 DIFFERENT keywords in the month May (the image above is just 10 of those). And if the “not provided” category was displayed, I actually got traffic from WAY more than 1,267 keywords…but unfortunately Google doesn't provided that data.
Last month I got traffic from 1,083 keywords; so I'm getting traffic from 184 more keywords than last month. SWEET!
Here's an image with just a few more of the keywords people are using to find my site:
As you can see, traffic is coming from all kinds of keywords…a win for great content!
And here's a look at the SEARCH ENGINE TRAFFIC growth since inception (this does NOT include direct traffic, referrals, etc).
Now that's what I call a hockey stick! The growth in organic traffic month after month has been outstanding!
Worried About Competition?
I recently wrote a blog post about a competitor that outranked me for the keyword, “best survival knife”. Since that blog post, the creator (Paul “Knife”) of that site has contacted me and revealed that he is indeed a reader of my blog and got the idea for his site…from me.
I obviously already knew this, but it was nice that he acknowledged that and contacted me.
I asked him to share some of his traffic and income stats with me. He did. Lets just say that his earnings is MUCH less than my site. I suspect the reason for this is because he site is not being found for as many keywords as mine, and I'd like to think because my site is better.
So, even though he ranks #1 for my primary keyword of Best Survival Knife; its very possible that people leave his site and come to mine because my comparison chart and depth of content is much better. And then of course, he ranks no where for the 1,200 OTHER keywords that I do rank for.
Am I worried about this competition? Nope. Not at all. In fact, if I never rank #1 again for the term “best survival knife”…that would be just fine with me.
I will most certainly continue to focus on creating quality content, and may add some social signals, etc to get back the #1 spot…but either way, the site is going to be just fine.
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Paul “Knife” (the creator of the competing site) actually offered to delete his site; but I don't think I will have him do that. I'm going to just let it be, and focus on what I can do better.
This is the last post I expect to discuss my competitor directly. We are both aware of each other, but my original strategy has not changed at all.
Plans Going Forward
I have plans to continue adding more content to the site. I have a great author that I found on Elance.com. I have contracted to have him write about 20 additional knife reviews over the next few months. So, I will be adding around 1 to 2 articles a week for the next few months.
In addition, I will most likely activate the Digg Digg Social Sharing plugin on my site to get more social sharing (hopefully). I should have done this from the beginning. I am still debating whether I will connect my Google+ author profile…I'll think about this for a few more days. If I do, it will be my real Google+ Profile here.
I may also test out some different Amazon widgets or add additional banners or text links to increase sales even more. However, I'll be sure to not add TOO much advertising as to scare visitors away.
What I didn't do…
I should also mention that during the month of April and part of July I was collecting email addresses. I think having an email list could be very valuable in this niche, but I was not finding any good affiliate offers that I could get behind. I found a couple on clickbank that I just didn't feel were good enough for me to promote.
Overall, I had picked up about 100 people on the opt-in form…so nothing too exciting.
In addition, I saw a noticeable uptick in sales when I removed the email opt-in form and added the Amazon widget that you now see on the site here:
So, I'm keeping the widget for now – as opposed to gathering emails. That could change down the road, but for now I'm satisfied.
And finally, I may try to acquire a few more back-links…but if I do, it will only be a few here or there. I will either simply leave comments on related blogs or contact a few survival site owners and see if we can work something out. I don't expect to spend more than an hour total doing this though.
I don't want to go spend a bunch of money to simply try to boost my site from #2 to #1 in Google – its just not worth it right now. AND my site may overtake the #1 spot “naturally” anyway. So, we'll see how the month of June goes!
Overall, I think I've given a pretty in-depth look at the traffic, earnings, and more for my site: bestsurvivalknifeguide.com. However, I know there are minute details that perhaps you are curious about, and I'm more than happy to answer those questions.
I would love to hear any thoughts, comments, or questions that you might have. I look forward to your comments!