DAB Case Studies: Mentees, Niches, Rules and Timelines

Welcome to the launch of the first Digital Asset Builders case study (studies)! You either found us by happenstance or are unlucky enough that Jason or Mark suckered you into following along as we help a few people build digital businesses.

If you don’t know either of us, we are just two regular guys that started doing SEO, or Search Engine Optimization over the last several years. I started in 2013, Mark started a couple years before that. Mark and I have both built digital businesses that gain organic traffic from various sources (mostly Google) which we then monetize.

We get this traffic by producing high-quality content that Google and our readers love. We write ourselves, and we also hire writers to produce content that will attract visitors through Google’s organic search.

Once these digital businesses have been built, they can be held and improved upon, or sold. Mark sold his last website in 2017, while I exited one in late 2018, and another in mid-2019. Neither of us started off building sites with the plan to sell them, it just worked out that way. Quality websites are not easy to build. But they are one of the most fun ways to build wealth creation that either of us has experienced.

Both of us have new projects we work on that take up 80-85% of our time, and Digital Asset Builders is just something fun we’ve decided to do together.

What’s The Case Study About and Why Do it?

Mark and I launched the Digital Asset Builders Facebook Group and website in April of 2020. We decided to launch the Facebook group to start talking about what we do and let the group help influence the direction we were going.

No big plans, we just said “let’s start” and figure out what’s next. Within a week, we posted a poll for suggestions, and the overwhelming majority of people said they want to see us build competing case study content-based websites with beginners, over the next 12-18 months.

So here we are.

Mark and I will be each be coaching our “Mentees” to build a profitable digital asset (content-based websites) over the next 18 months. Mark and I have picked our coaching candidates and we have started doing market research. We’ve also already held some coaching calls too. You might be wondering “why” we are doing this, to begin with. Fair question.

Mark and I have helped several people over the years, mostly via instant messages, Zoom calls, chats, etc. We’ve both decided we might as well just put something together for everyone to follow along. This way we save ourselves some time, but can also help more people in the process.

While we will be documenting the majority of what we do, we won’t be sharing every little tip. At some point during this study, we may have some type of service, software, or coaching offer. But right now that’s not our focus.

Case Study Rules

We decided early on that we needed a set of rules to work within to keep it entirely fair.

This prevents someone from coming in with a lot of capital and buying their way into profitability. To keep things fair, we want to show that this is an opportunity available to everyone (although not everyone will be successful), we’ve set some limitations for each of us to operate within.

Here they are:

  1. Case study to be run for 18 months.
  2. Brand new site, on a brand new, never owned domain.
  3. $1,000 per month Maximum budget for all purposes (content, social, outreach)
  4. Earnings can be reinvested. If the site makes $300, $1,300 can be spent that month.
  5. 150 articles minimum at the end of 12 months (average of 12-13 per month).
  6. Participants have access to our SEO tools (Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, SurferSEO, etc.)
  7. One hourly call mandatory per week between Jason/Trent & Necole, Mark/Nathan
  8. Mentees will have unlimited email and IM access to us.
  9. Monthly progress update on stats, earnings, etc.
  10. Reveal high-level market, but not the niche. Think “Sports” instead of “Kayaking.”
  11. Exact URL/Domain not revealed until after year one, if at all (owner discretion).

In addition to everything you’ve seen above, Mark and I will also be building a case study along with our mentees, following the EXACT same processes and guidelines. So you are looking at 3 websites being built over 18 months, a heck of a lot of work, sleepless nights, likely lots of beer or wine and late-night chats/working sessions.

What’s Considered a Success?

This is a highly subjective question. Mark and I both value our time around $100 +/- a few bucks an hour, depending on the project.

This project is likely going to take about 15 hours per week, over 78 weeks (18 months). With that math, you are looking at 1,170 hours. That’s 117K in total time spent at a valuation of $100 an hour over 18 months.

Using that figure, plus $1,000 a month for 18 months, this asset will have sweat equity and monetary investment of around $135,000 or more. This equates to a website that has a historical earnings record of around $4,500 a month, based on a 30-month multiplier over the last six months.

Our mentees will likely outsource some of the work later in the process, lowering the hours worked. And their time right now would likely carry a lower valuation, given that they are just starting out.

Let’s cut that cost down to $50 an hour as our benchmark instead. This works out to about 104k a year in salary for a 40 hour a week job.

Now our break-even based on monetary investment and human time is about $76.5k. This equates to a website making about $2,500 per month historically, with the same 30-month multiplier over the last six months.

Add in the knowledge that these folks will gain during this process, and I think this is a very good benchmark for financial success.

The bottom line is this. Success is somewhat subjective, depending on your view. The people we coach can leverage these websites they build into much bigger businesses, so it’s tough to put a price on that. As of now, we all only have one goal, build highly profitable websites over the next 18 months.

How Often Will We Report?

We plan on reporting traffic, revenue, growth, etc. on a monthly basis. You’ll get weekly tidbits, hacks, and more by joining the Facebook group. We also plan to have an email list that we will encourage you to sign up for at some point.

But for now, you’ll be getting monthly updates here, and frequent knowledge shares in our Facebook group. Stay tuned to make sure you don’t miss an update.

About the Coachees/Mentees/Students!

We’ve asked each mentee to put together a little snippet about themselves. This way everyone following along can understand where they come from and who they are.

We are very transparent, and want people to know we are starting with a completely blank canvas! Let’s take a look at our mentees you’ll be following along with over the next 18 months.

Trent & Necole Akers (Working With Jason)

I met Trent and Necole about a year ago. We lived across the street from them in Arizona, and our kids are around the same age. We had a few neighborhood BBQ’s, but we never really dug into SEO. I talked a little about my sites, and what I did, but we never really took it much further than that.

Trent & Necole, Tell us a little about yourselves.

Trent graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Business Management Degree beginning his career managing a branch of Wells Fargo Financial. Trent eventually transitioned to his current role as a Recruiting Manager leading a team of recruiters who fulfill all hiring needs for the Southwest division of Wells Fargo. 

Fun fact, I (Jason Wilson) worked at Wells Fargo Financial as well back in 2004 to 2006. I never met Trent, but I did meet some other guy named Spencer Haws I ended up working with that’s a pretty successful marketer! Trent worked about 10 miles from our office, but we never actually met. We still know a lot of the same people. It’s a small world!

Necole graduated from Northern Arizona University with a dual major in Public Relations and Advertising. Right out of college, Necole took a leadership development role with Wells Fargo and quickly realized she had a passion for technology. As a result, she took a job in Technology and never looked back! Necole is currently the Assistant Vice President of Compliance, Process and Service Management overseeing 400+ annual regulatory and compliance reviews for international and domestic data centers. 

Trent and Necole are high school sweethearts who have been married for 15 years, and they have two beautiful children. Necole is a self-professed bookworm, loves her Peloton and Crossfit. Trent is a huge football fan (Go Raiders!) who loves woodworking, building and DYI projects. They currently reside in Gilbert, Arizona.

Why Do You Want to be Part of This?

Necole has battled with an autoimmune disease her entire adult life, that at times can be debilitating. In addition, late last year Necole received a diagnosis of a BRCA 2 gene mutation that requires constant monitoring with several Oncologists and also carries a high probability of several major surgeries in the future.

The Akers family truly need an alternative income option that would give Necole the ability to leave corporate America in order to balance both her health and being a Momma of two. 

When the opportunity to work with Jason arose, we felt this was a great opportunity to learn how to be successful in building a business from the ground up!

Tell us about your hopes and ambitions.

Our goal is to make enough income from site-building to allow Necole to leave corporate America. We look forward to working towards making our dream a reality!

Chosen Market: Food

Nathan Coplestone (Working With Mark)

Profile pic of Nathan Coplestone

Nathan and Mark have known each other a few years. They are both engineers, and Mark has been talking about websites with Nathan for a while.

Nathan was hand-picked by Mark when we started this process, so the pressure’s on!

Nathan, Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Nathan Coplestone, I’m 29 years old and live in Bedfordshire Great Britain with my wife Kirsty and two kids Grace and Jack.

I currently work as a mechanical design engineer in new product development for a company who manufactures X-ray inspection equipment for quality assurance of food products. I got into engineering straight from school after completing my A-levels.

University wasn’t for me I went for a four year apprenticeship to train to become an electromechanical fitter, assembling and wiring special purpose machinery. Following the completion of my apprenticeship I was offered an opportunity to move into the design office and learn to use various CAD tools to design machinery.

Around this time I began a tough 6 year stint, studying part time in the evenings and weekends, to complete an engineering bachelor’s degree in energy and sustainability. I completed that last September and graduated with first class honours.

I’m currently exploring opportunities to move into the renewable energy sector, however it’s not proving as easy as I’d hoped 6 years ago! 

Despite the challenges I faced spending 20+ hours a week studying while also raising a family and working 40 hours, since finishing it feels as though there’s a void that needs to be filled.

The same thirst for knowledge that made me so interested in engineering is driving me to take on another challenge, for the last 6 months I’ve been trying to decide what. Should I study something to further my engineering career? Is it really worth further investment of my time?

How did you meet Mark?

I’ve known Mark for about three years now, become really good friends over the last 2, and throughout that time he hasn’t shut up about websites.

Although I’ve always been interested, while studying I never had the time to learn wtf he was talking about half the time. But hearing his love and passion for his work had me intrigued. I’ll be honest the financial success and work independence is also appealing.

So after spending the first 10 years of my life studying engineering, I figure it’s time to learn something new. Being an engineer by trade also, Mark regularly tells me the kind of logical thinking and problem-solving skills inherent of working as an engineer should guide me in developing the skills and techniques required throughout the process of building a site and SEO.

With a little bit of luck, I hope this will mean I enjoy the learning curve the next 18 months will bring as much as I’ve enjoyed learning about engineering.

Tell us about your hopes and ambitions.

From this process my ambition is to be able to develop skills that allow me to diversify my sources of income.

So one day I may be able to work as a freelance design engineer and build websites on the side. Sometimes just do one, sometimes both and hopefully for some period of time neither. Just generally give me the flexibility to provide a good living for me and my family on my own terms.

If everything went really well I’d like to see more of the world taking my wife and kids with me, make memories that will stay with us all for our lifetimes.

What about shorter term goals?

So shorter terms goals, by the end of year 1 I’d like to have built up enough revenue that I can have the confidence to leave full-time employment as a design engineer. I’d like to further pursue freelance work with the confidence that if I struggle to find work, I can still pay the mortgage and feed the kids.

This will also give me the flexibility to devote more time to working on a website if that proves to be a more profitable way to spend my time. Looking slightly further forward to year 3, it’s nice to think that by this point I could be making enough money from digital assets that I don’t need a day job.

However, even if this is the case I like to think I’d continue to work as an engineer in some capacity, just picking up the odd freelance job as and when it pops up. This could just be because I’ve spent the last 10 years studying engineering, or maybe it’s because I don’t yet have the skills and confidence to rely on a digital asset for income. Only time will tell.

Chosen Market: Home

What’s Next For The Case Studies?

We are committed to updating the site here once per month with the help of those being coached. This will be in addition to anything we share along the way, which includes the tips and tricks you already see on the site.

We will be sharing additional content, including videos in the Facebook Group, so make sure you join if you haven’t already. Over the next few weeks, we will be diving into keyword research, content creation, hiring writers & more. Stay tuned.

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