Podcast 45: August Income Report and Update on My Website Projects

By Spencer Haws |

A few days ago I shared the monthly income report for a few sites that I purchased this year.  The site buying case study is one that I've learned quite a bit from and has helped expand my business.

In total, I've now bought 4 sites this year, and as you can see from the what I've learned from spending $37,100 on buying sites, I've been able to do pretty well!

Today, I'm sharing a podcast that Perrin and I recorded to review our monthly earnings from just a couple of sites along with a discussion of what else we have going on in our business.

During the course of the podcast we discuss:

Overall, I hope you enjoy the podcast as Perrin and I give an update on our current business.

As always, if you have any additional questions or comments, please leave them below.

Listen to the Podcast

Podcasts | 49 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

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James Blews

Great info guys. I want to say this, even though it’s been said before, while we celebrate the successes, I really appreciate you both talking about any failures that occur.

Thanks for another great update! Continued success to you both:)

Spencer Haws

Thanks James!


Hi Spencer,

Enjoyed the podcast today. I’m really more interested in the the authority, white hat website info so I’ll be following closely as you start to reveal more and more strategies and successes that you have going forward with your authority site.

I’m also curious as to what you’ve been seeing in your numbers as you’ve started to publish podcasts more consistently. Are your numbers growing exponentially on your blog and on your podcast?

Thanks again for sharing all this great info.

Spencer Haws

Hey Greg, thanks for mentioning that your are interested in hearing how the regular podcast has been going! I will say that the downloads have increased, but not exponentially. I have not seen a major impact on my blog…however, I do plan on doing a full blog post soon (in the next month?) that discusses in detail all of these numbers and my thoughts.


Nice podcast guys.

In relation to the new sites that you’ve purchased an then added content too. I was wondering if you have a certain new content velocity for the sites? E.g. one new post a day for a month?

Spencer Haws

When I first bought the sites, we added about 10 to 15 articles in the first month. The velocity after that just depends, could be 1 a week or 15 a month. Depends on size, earnings, etc of each site.



Just wondering where you are sourcing your content from for the authority site.?

Also, are you writing any of it yourselves?

Thanks and Good Luck


Spencer Haws

We hired an author from our personal network. Perrin does write some of the content as well.

Jeremy Brown

Spencer or Perrin:
You guys mentioned towards the end of the podcast that you guys were knocking out 3k word posts for your new authority site per day.
Do you guys have any tips on how you guys are getting this done so quickly?
I like to write my own content, but I struggle doing it in a timely fashion.
I have a couple of sites that I am running right now that I have been writing longer 1k – 5k. Surprisingly I have been ranking over time for long tail keywords just with longer posts.
Could you guys maybe point me somewhere that can help me write content more efficiently?

Thanks for all the good stuff you guys put out! Niche Pursuits has helped me out more than any other site out there. You guys really know your stuff and your podcast is a pleasure to listen to on my long commutes.
Thanks again , Jeremy

Spencer Haws

Hey Jerry, here’s a video that Perrin did with some tips for finding and writing content quickly: Hope that helps.

Babatunde Yusuf

Can one rank to first page of Google with 500 – 1000 contents without any backlink for a 3- 4 long tail keywords. If yes, Explain Please. If no? Explain more on it. Please, Spencer.

Kevin @ Website Hike

From my knowledge, your chances are slim. However if you find a keyword that is EXTREMELY untapped then yes, you can. I mean that keyword has to have no websites targeting it, nor any juice links and Page authority of 20 or less. In all honesty these are hard to find, however it is not impossible.

Granted this is IMO so what I know could be wrong, but this is just from my knowledge that I have acquired from others.


Hey guys! Just wondering if any of your sites have ever gotten hit with a manual penalty for thin content. I have a niche site that is similar to Perrin’s shaving site that got hit with a thin content penalty last week. It’s obviously in a completely different niche than Perrin’s site but I used the same theme (I changed so many things that it honestly doesn’t look like the same theme except for the menus) and added a ton of informative, helpful articles. I’d say that 3/4 of the articles do not contain any affiliate links at all. The site was doing great and was making over $2,000 a month until it mysteriously fell from 3rd to 57th for the main keyword last week. On Saturday night, I checked my webmaster account to find that it got slapped with the penalty. I deleted a few of the shorter review articles, added 3 or 4 high quality articles and changed the homepage to a generic blog type page. I submitted a reconsideration request on Tuesday but got word yesterday that it was denied. I also found out yesterday that 3 more of my niche sites got slapped with the same penalty. The only thing I can think of is that either they were all in the same webmaster account so Google just slapped that penalty on all of my sites or that they found the Rank Hero sites and just slapped all the sites using Rank Hero since I used it to rank all of my sites. That’s why I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced this penalty recently. I started another site a few weeks ago and haven’t started backlinking it yet. It is not in my webmaster account and is on a separate hosting account. When I do decide to start backlinking it, I don’t want to use Rank Hero if it is going to expose the site to a Google penalty.

Spencer Haws

Yes, I have heard of others getting the “thin content” penalty over the past week or so. And today some of my sites were hit with the same penalty. I don’t know the exact cause, but it appears to be a PBN penalty of sorts. For this reason Rank Hero is not accepting new customers right now. I’ll post more on the blog as I have details; but for now I would avoid PBNs of any sort; including Rank Hero.


Same. Exactly the same situation.


It’s not a “thin content” penalty, it’s a PBN penalty, aka Rank Hero.

Check out APS, it’s gone.


Hi, Spencer and Ally (and probably many, many more readers!)—

I got hit by the “thin content” manual penalty as well—*every site* in my GWM account received the penalty. There’s a little more talk about it over here:

Spencer, I have a question—all of the sites that got penalized were using AdSense. Is my AdSense account at risk because these sites received a manual penalty? And is it safe to use my AdSense account on other non-penalized sites?

Also, is it safe to continue to use the GWM account where all my sites got penalized? I’m worried that Google will see any sites added to the account as untrustworthy. How do you go about getting another GWM account?

Spencer—I imagine you’ll be writing about this is the near future! Looking forward to reading your thoughts.


Spencer Haws

I will be writing about this on Monday or Tuesday. I have several sites in my wmt and adsense account and only some got hit. So, google is only hitting sites that truly used pbn links or actually have thin content. So, Google isn’t arbitrarily linking sites together and just hitting them all. So, yes you can use the same WMT and Adsense account, in my opinion (I am).

Alistair Cochrane

I would worry about it a little.

I think in my case they did hit pretty arbitrarily.

I can see from my analytics they visited only 2 money sites, but they hit 10 partial match domains in my WMT several of which had no links at all.

Of course they could assess a domain without visiting, i.e. by looking at the high number of outbound links to amazon. But if that’s how they do it why visit the 2 sites at all.

The did ignore other sites in my WMT that had branded domains. They even ignored 1 branded domain money site that had “thin content” and affiliate links.

They also visually inspected a partial match domain that was actually an eCommerce site and even though it had PBN links they gave it a pass.

I wouldn’t be shocked if they used adsense accounts to link together domain ownership in the future, and i certainly won’t have my sites in the same analytics or wmt again because there is nothing to be gained from it.

Needs must, but if you build a portfolio of niche sites all using the same adsense account then you are essentially telling google… here are all the websites I own.

On the evidence of what just happened if you using some technique that google does not like then you are exposing yourself to being wiped out in the future.

Risk is unavoidable though ) There is always the need to balance risk with taking action so Spencer is probably right to continue. )


Thank you, Spencer and Alistair—

Spencer, I appreciate your parsing that out for me. That logic makes sense. But I wonder if there were site-specific penalties that were handed out (such as what you experienced), and also full-account penalties (which might be what I received). When I looked in my WMT messages, I received “manual action” notes for sites that I had deleted from the WMT account months ago—very, very strange.

Looking forward to reading your thoughts.


Spencer Haws

That does seem odd, but can’t speak to it specifically as I haven’t seen anything like that on my end.


this site was 3rd in google and now its on page 5


Hi, Spencer

You guys should talk about your massive PBN used for apennyshaved and similar ‘grooming’ sites getting pretty much totally deindexed. I just had one of my networks of about 60 sites get deindexed overnight. Although it was only an investment of $400 to $500, it would be an interesting topic to make a podcast about how Google is now finding and smashing ‘private’ blog networks.

Spencer Haws

Give us a few days to figure out more details, and of course I’ll share what I learn.

John J. Ziemba

Hey guys. Good podcast.

I’m especially interested in your experiences with Pinterest since I I recently got into it and added a copu boars for my 2 authority sites.

Also interested in your comments about authority sites an link building, how it’s changed with all the Google critter updates..

BTW Kudos to Perrin. He adds a warm, friendly element to the podcast and asks a lot of questions I woul dif I was thre doing the podcast.

Spencer Haws

Thanks for the feedback John!

Derek Smith

If it is a PBN, it is not really shocking at all. For those who have been in this game for a while, we’ve seen it before with other linkbuilding tactics. Time to adapt & change, perhaps invest in some older sites with real backlinks.

Spencer Haws



Hey Spencer,

Interesting podcast as always. You mentioned that you’ve been looking for a quick way to pin new images and found a chrome plugin for that. I’ve also been looking for something similar and found a plugin called ‘Pinterest Automatic Pin WordPress Plugin’ ($15 on This plugin will automatically pin all images from your post so it you might find it helpful. Just a tip.


Seems that commercial PBN are dead – I also built a site along with Perrins (diff niche) that used RH links and now its gone.

Everyone is responsible for their own actions but how do you feel that you used Perrins site as a prime example of using a commercial PBN (such as RH) to rank only for lots of others to do the same and in turn lose their sites/earnings?

My site was built on the techniques you have taught and has tanked and although i can simply get rid as its only 1 site – many others i have spoken too have built 10-15 sites using RH.

Its easy for you to move on and blame it on the world of SEO – live by the sword attitude but while we count the costs you count the dollars earned from RH?

Alistair Cochrane

Spencer and Perrin provide a great service in putting out the content they do and I hope they continue to do so for a long time to come.

A Penny Shaved was a great case study that helped a lot of people as was the survival knife case study before it. The linking method was an important part of that case study.

It should have been clear to anyone that using Rank Hero came with risks.

As you say you are responsible for your own actions and I think you are being a bit unfair.

I got hit too and it was a sore one )) but any errors that led it happening were all mine.


Any type of link building is risky. It’s part of the game and you have to be stubborn to really be successful in SEO. I’ve been through this before. I used Build My Rank a few years ago and it worked great – until all of my sites were wiped out in one swoop. I understood the risks when I signed up for Rank Hero. If I could go back and do it again, I would still use RH. I’ve tried other ways to rank websites – article marketing, Web 2.0, software submission, forum signatures, comments, directory links, etc, and the only thing I’ve found that really works is PBNs. I’ve never tried outreach because I hate bugging other webmasters and begging them to give me a link. Sounds like too much work but I might try it in the future. I love how easy Rank Hero is to use though. My 6 Amazon sites were started in November and were making $1,800 a month since February and the income was growing each month – I made over $2,000 last month. If Rank Hero rebuilt the network, I would still use them, maybe not link to my newest site because it’s more of an authority type site that I’m trying to keep as white hat as possible, but for redoing my Amazon sites. I don’t blame anyone for my sites getting the manual penalty except myself. It was a mistake that I made and was worth it. I think next time, I’m going to diversify my sites by not putting them on the same host and avoiding GWT/Analytics. And maybe try a few different PBN services. Not all PBNs were hit so using a few different services would help prevent all of my sites getting penalized at one time.

Also, I’m looking forward to some case studies here and on other sites about how to recover from this thin content penalty. Hopefully we can recover our sites before the Christmas shopping season.

Kevin @ Website Hike

I see your point John, and it sucks that your websites got taken down. 🙁

This is all in my opinion, I do not speak for Spencer or Perrin here… SEO constantly changes, what they teach did work, and now SEO is changing because of Google. Do you think they like losing their website rankings? They are not counting dollars anymore because their service isn’t working anymore (from what I know of) so how could they be counting dollars if clients know that it doesn’t work anymore?

On top of that, I am sure they are upset as well that their websites in RH are probably being de-indexed… do you think they like that as well?

They may have more money to invest with, but this doesn’t mean they like losing their websites, and it also doesn’t mean that what they were teaching is wrong. IT was right at the time, and now things have changed. Stay up to the times and constantly change, then you will succeed. Although if you want to blame others for your losses and not take action for yourself then you are kind of screwed because nobody can hold your hand through everything and make decisions for you.

End rant. 🙂



In plenty of other articles throughout this website, Spencer has spoken as to the risks of using a PBN and has been quite open about how risky SEO/Niche site building is in general.

Yes, he put together RH for commercial use and THEY used RH as well for their sites so it’s not like they weren’t affected by it being de-indexed. The risks were made very clear and when you purchased credits on RH and use it for your sites, you took on those risks.

It’s understandable to be upset but if you want to blame someone blame Google for de-indexing them.

It sucks to have your sites affected, and I’m sorry that you’re feeling the effects of RH being hit as well as others that have been hit by it but there are NO gaurantees in SEO because you’re playing a game with Google.

Personally, I still plan to use PBN’s (I’ve never used a commercial one) to a certain extent on my sites but I’m also changing how I build the PBN sites as well as manage them. I had 3 sites de-indexed from my network so they didn’t just target sites from the RH network.


Nice income report Spencer and Perrin,

I would like to say THANK you very much Spencer for all the posts you shared to us especially creating a niche site i’m finally going to break the $1,000 mark this month.

Its still september 20, yet my earnings is already $980

This earning and knowledge comes directly from you and Doug Cunnington.. again thank you both..

Kevin @ Website Hike

Ayyyye! Congrats John 😀 Keep going dude!


@ Spencer / Perrin:

what happend to your shaver site ??

I looked yesterday on google, but a penny shaved was on page 5



To my knowledge it was hit with a penalty for using RH essentially.

Spencer Haws

Read comments above…will also do a more in-depth post on Mon or Tues.


Hey Spencer,
I still had 5 credits in my account on RankHero when it closed.
I got in touch with your support team but nobody replied. I hope it’s all fine… When are you going to refund this?


Spencer Haws

We’ll be in touch with you and all RH customers this week via email.


Hi All,

I understand that many have got hit by the recent PBN wipeout by google. I have something to share.

I have about 4 sites all using RH and at first, I thought my site will be trouble too. So i went to check my rankings again and found that 1 of my site rankings drop about 1 – 2 position and 2 of the sites increase in ranking by 10+ positions. The last one did not move much.

I went on to WMT and there are no “thin content” for all the sites (I am praying they will not come).

At this point I want to explain that I do not only use RH as the primary source of links. I have use several others source of links. I do not know if that is the reason that my sites was not hit with “thin content”.

I will continue to monitor and share any new findings here. I am also looking forward for Spencer post on this issue and hope RH can revive.



I used RH for just one of my sites.

I’m assuming that site got hit, and I had about 10 other sites in my webmaster tools, all of them got hit. Most of these sites have hundreds of pages of quality content and only natural backlinks, but because they were tied to the same WMT they got the “thin content” penalty.

Reconsideration requests already denied, with no additional explanation. I’ve literally invested everything thing I’ve had into these sites, working 60 hours a week with my day job and writing and formatting sites in my spare time. I’m ruined.

Hope you all can make a full recovery, I’ve got a lot of soul searching to do myself.


Hang in there, Robert! My situation is identical to yours. I’ve worked incredibly hard over the last 18 months, built quality websites (my day job is in publishing, so I’m pretty confident of my abilities), and I had *every single site* in my WMT account penalized. Since Thursday, my AdSense income has dropped, literally, to $0.00.

So I also feel exactly the same way you do: pretty depressed. I had finally gotten to a point where my sites were paying a lot of my bills, and all that suddenly disappeared (and things are pretty tight again). There’s the financial pain of it, but also the disappointment of it—to see your work disappear.

But keep in mind: this is a temporary problem. You live, you learn, your rebuild. You’ve acquired all the skills you need to build and rank sites. Crash and burn is part of the game.

And besides—forget Google! Are you going to let some all-knowing, all-powerful mega-company worth billions of dollars push you around?

Ok, bad pep talk. Forget that last part.

Spencer, do you think you would be able to write about insuring your web properties by creating different AdSense and WMT accounts? You wrote a very helpful post in 2012 about getting kicked out of AdSense and how you got back in. If you could update that post or re-start that conversation—I imagine that would provide a lot of value to your readers (and certainly for Robert and me!).

Spencer Haws

Robert, I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with them sharing a WMT account. I say this because I have some sites hit and other not, all in the same WMT.


It could be possible that both assertions are true—that Robert got an account-wide penalty but Spencer did not, and Spencer instead had specific sites in his WMT penalized.

Either way, I am very, very reticent to add a new site to a WMT account that has had every site in it penalized.


It has to be Spencer, or the use of adsense. I had three new sites with zero backlinking done and zero affiliate links, all hit with the “thin content” penalty. Only two things they all had in common, shared WMT and an adsense box. This content was nothing to sneeze at, and the sites were beautifully themed, branded, and constructed well.

Thanks for the words of encouragement Matthew! I’m picking up the pieces and trying to salvage what I can, I am obviously not the only one going through this, Spencer, Perrin, and many others are as well. The problem now is finding the time to fix all of this, and then after that time investment there is still the damn google sandbox. Let the tears flow



I have a hand full of sites too, 1 of them has 10 RH links pointed at it and recieved a unnatural linkpattern penalty but that allready happend like 2 months ago Could it be that google allready spotted RH a few months ago? I dont know,…The other sites ae using PBN links as well but not from RH and they are not penalized (yet). and al my sites share the same WMT acount and adsense as well so no probems in that area for me. It’s a scary thought though.

I got into building niche sites because i came across a video from Trent Dyrsmid about 2 years ago, 3 Months after i started he quit and when i asked him why he replied,… I m sick of Google pushing me around and its getting harder and harder to rank. It’s a neverending fight. I am starting to see his point clearer and clearer every month since then…

I am not ready to give up though. Spencer always motivates me with his posts and podcasts, It is a battle in which you can choose to use risky tactics like PBN’s I certainly dont think anyone should blame Spencer and RH , he cleary warns every reader or listener for the possible risks involved.

The totaly white hat approach is the safest i guess but it seems tyring and de-motivating because it takes so long. For those people that want to speed up the process (me). Maybe buying established websites is an option. The big problem for me with that is,… How do i thoroughly investigate a site before i buy it? I am hoping you can do a podcast or post on it Spencer, And then there’s the thought of buying a website with Blackat links pointing to it and get it penalized a few weeks later. Ouch that would really hurt since were talking about thousands of dollars here.

Anyways, I appreciate Spencer’s open and honest opnions of what he thinks is going on in this sometimes horrible world of seo he is pulling me through lol and hope for his sake that the 12 “smaller” niche sites he and Perring build out are not affected.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Higgins. I just posted about the new PBN update that addresses a bit of what you’ve talked about in your comment:

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