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Well, to say time has flown by would be an understatement, and this case study update is long overdue.
When we started this case study we had some very firm goals. We didn’t have a lot to report back on in August as we had both Nathan, Trent and Necole learning SEO basics and figuring out how to optimize a website.
If you’ve been following along since the beginning, here are our first few updates, along with our guidelines.
The aim of this post is to update what’s been happening since month two.
Mark and I have been coaching candidates that are new to affiliate marketing and website building, that have no online internet marketing experience.
Before starting this case study in May, none of them had ever touched WordPress before. Mark and I are also building out a case study site together.
The case study spans 18 months, and we are officially closing out month 5 here in October.
Nobody can spend more than $1,000 per month on the website, through the duration of the case study. Once the sites are earning, each participant is allowed to reinvest those profits back into growth.
Case Study Content Goals
All three sites are officially now live, with Google Analytics and Search Console installed.
Each site has been designed, styled, and is traffic-ready. Nathan’s site as well as Trent & Necole’s all look pretty polished. I actually think their sites look a little better than the one Mark and I built!
We set the expectations up front for each coaching candidate/candidates that we’d be expecting 12 articles published per month. That means that each site would have 60 articles live by the end of October. We still have 10 days left for the month of October, so how’d we do?
Nathan: 23 Published Articles
Trent & Necole: 32 Published Articles
Mark & Jason: 22 Published Articles, 19 in Draft, 10 Being Written
Every single one of us has fallen short here.
While we didn’t say it upfront, both Mark and I somewhat expected that these case study sites (minus ours) would lag behind a bit, which is why this study is 18 months and not 12.
Unless you don’t have obligations (Nathan, Trent, and Necole all have kids and full-time jobs), then it’s very difficult to crank out that much content. Especially if you aren’t maximizing your budget.
Mark and I have also been considering a different direction for our own case study site, but I’ll talk a little bit more about that in our update section.
Also, we didn’t take into account word count of the articles. Many of the articles myself and Mark have posted, as well as Nathan have been long buying guides and product roundups (‘best x’ type content) which average 3k to 5k words each, longer than average, hence resulting in fewer actual articles.
Mark and Jason: Why’d You Miss?
Mark and I have hit our $1,000 spend limit every single month. We’ve both contributed to writing for the site. We’ve also outsourced most of our spend to WordAgents. We will likely be looking to hire a regular writer for our site in November.
Trent and Necole have been writing themselves while having WordAgents also chip in to fill in gaps.
Nathan has a mix of hired writers from Problogger, as well as been writing some of his own content.
Mark and I have less of an excuse. We will be making up for lost time in November and December. Honestly, it’s come down to juggling priorities. We both have several sites, each of which has taken more of our time than we’d admittedly liked it to have.
Mark has also spent an insane amount of time putting together SOPs and writing Macros to make our Link Building process more efficient when we start doing outreach.
But the bottom line, is that you can’t build a Digital Asset without the ASSETS.
To be fair, each person has come a very long way with their knowledge. Nathan, Trent, and Necole have had to learn every part of building out a website in a very compressed period of time. All of us have met every single week for the last 3 months, we just haven’t blogged about it.
I think all 3 coaching candidates have also hit some rough spots. Between competitor analysis, and misjudging keyword competition, this resulted in some content management tweaks. Now that the wrinkles have been ironed out there, it’s time to get these sites moving.
While I don’t have a budget number for you, I can tell you that Mark and I are the only ones that have maxed their budget each month. So both Trent, Necole and Nathan have the ability to bring some of that back budget forward and catch up if they choose.
Mark & Jason’s Update
For Mark and I, our partnership has been solid. We both agree probably 95% on how a site should be built, and what we are doing. So we don’t waste much time quibbling over site building basics, design, etc…
Mark and I have lost some time discussing the direction for our case study site.
I stumbled across a site that we may be able to acquire in our niche. The site needs a full rehab, and bolting that onto ours would make for quite an interesting twist on our case study.
While this goes against what we originally said we’d do, we are strongly considering it. But it’s going to take a WHOLE lot of work.
DAB is just for fun right now. We don’t have a product to sell at this time, and aren’t concerned about making money here in DAB from the case studies. We ARE however, concerned about being profitable on our own case study.
Mark and I are already $5k in on this site, so we are giving the other site a hard look. It could be a very smart acquisition, but it will take a huge amount of time to clean that site up and process the redirects appropriately.
It’s earning money now, but the traffic trend is markedly down, so we’d have to rehabilitate a considerable amount of content to push it to our site.
I want to reiterate that this strategy is still TBD. If we decide to pull the trigger, we’ll be writing about it in the next update. Right now we just don’t know if we want to put in the time on a restructure, versus just building our site from scratch.
Outside of that, our next 60 days is fairly easy. Content + Social Promotion + Links. That’s it. We’ve laid the groundwork, now it’s time to finish publishing all our outstanding content, and get the site moving.
Trent & Necole’s Update
Throughout October we have been focused on polishing our website. The biggest news over the past 60 days is our site is officially live!
After we crawled our website with Ahrefs & Jason’s help, we found a few areas to improve our content depth and internal linking. The most significant item we have been focused on this month is pausing the creation of new content.
We were so concerned with keeping up with the goal of 12 articles per month, that we let that dictate our content schedule, and that landed us in a bit of hot water. We ordered some content and wrote some ourselves that wasn’t quite as deep as the query would have called for.
So, we decided to put a hold on new content and make sure all that content we had put on the site would be viewed as extremely high quality, and truly provide the searcher the information they are looking for.
To do this, we needed to add more content to certain pieces, naturally increasing the word count on specific articles. We have also focused on finding additional opportunities to add more internal and external links where appropriate.
We only have to adjust 5 more articles, which will happen before the end of the month. The site’s not completely indexed yet, so those updates will likely happen before the pages are even crawled by Google.
Jason continues to be a great mentor and sounding board for all our questions. We meet every Saturday to discuss the next steps and we walk away weekly with to-do items. Jason recently walked us through installing Google Analytics and Google Search Console. As we begin to gain traffic to our site we are excited to learn more about how we can leverage this information.
Over the next 30 days, our primary focus is on CONTENT, CONTENT, and more CONTENT. We will also be setting up our social profiles and applying for our Amazon Associates account.
We are ready to hit November head-on and are focused on reaching our monthly content goal!
So it’s been like 8 weeks(?) since we last posted an update. It’s been a pretty busy 8 weeks with a rush to complete the site, post my first 10 articles, and go live with the site.
I managed to post my first 10 articles and go live with the site in the last week of August. It’s been much the same since having now published a total of 23 articles with a total of 73k words.
I’ve got another 5 in the pipeline, which I should be getting up over the next couple of weeks, adding another 20k words to the count.
I’ve only had one meeting with Mark in the last month to go over setting up and using Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Otherwise, I’ve been mainly on content creation, so haven’t required many meetings, just the regular stream of questions over messenger.
One issue I’ve continued to have is finding info content that’s fairly easy to rank for and also gets good traffic. This has been a challenge, so we’ve had to think it through in more detail.
We’ve started working on an idea for something slightly different to a normal blog post. Leveraging some of the skills I’ve developed as an engineer to produce some original, valuable content to attract links and traffic.
On the whole, the last 2 months have been a grind churning out content.
On the upside, I made my first affiliate commission when the site had been live for about 4 weeks.
A grand total of $5.41!
November and December Goals
Instead of telling you that we’ll be back in November with an Update and coming up short, It’ll likely be December before we publish again related to the case study.
November is around the corner, and there’s going to be Thanksgiving in the US, as well as Black Friday, which most of us with sites are looking forward to.
The goal will be to try and publish again the first week of December as our last update before the new year. The goals for the month of November and December are easy.
Content + Links.
I’m not sure all of us (or any of us, for that matter) will hit 72 articles by the end of December. But we have the time, and some of us have the budget to get there.
Next update will likely carry with it a cost/expense analysis for a little bit more transparency as well. We can tell you that we are sticking to budget, but it’s probably a good idea for us to document and showcase it as well.
Hope you’ve enjoyed, time to get moving!