First of all I would like to say that I like this cadence of sending website update two times every year. Some people do them every month but I am realizing that I tend to waste a lot of time talking about doing some of this stuff rather than just doing it. I do think the end of the year is the best time to sit down and think about what to do “next year” so I have been thinking and this is what I am thinking….
2021 Was a Good Year for The Company
When I sat down last January I had setup two goals for the company. One was to average $500/month, and the other was to hit a high of $2,000 for a month. Well we only hit one of the goals but I am happy to say that we hit the one that we needed to hit. I actually did a pretty good job of hitting the one that mattered – the average month I hit was $700. Now my final month numbers are still coming in for the year but my best month will be coming in closer to $1,500 rather than $2,000. Still, I think that I am pretty happy with the results and hitting a consistent monthly revenue is WAY more important to me than hitting a one time high month.
The websites have experienced tremendous growth. It is fabulous that I am able to look back at the year and see that the plan is working and that this whole internet marketing thing is legit and works well. When I set the goals up back in January I really felt like they were pretty optimistic as it was $260 per month so the sites MORE THAN DOUBLED what they used to be earning, and then we exceeded the goal numbers! So when looking back at what we actually did I do want to figure out a little bit what WAS the plan exactly? Since this is going to establish what the heck I do next year I think it’s certainly worth taking a look at:
2021 Plan Takeaways
Focus on the Biggest Winners
I mentioned the Pareto Principle (80/20) the other update and I really feel like following this is pretty important. My two big sites are the boat site and the snowmobile site, and when you look at the number of website visitors the numbers are insane compared to the other websites, so we focused on building these up first and foremost.
Remove Myself as the Bottleneck
I feel like this was the number one thing that helped both the topside revenue as well as my sanity. Sitting down to upload articles is tough work, and with the increase in the number of authors and production I feel like this could have really slowed down the plan. My new editor is doing excellent work and I feel like I wouldn’t be able to do this without her. Additionally, giving up this scope of work to someone else has really forced me to write up a “standard operating procedure” and that can really take it to the next step of scaling the entire operation. Now that I do have more free time I should think about the next thing that I can spend my time doing that will really up my game.
Nurture the Next “Biggest Winners”
I stated earlier that I need to keep growing my set of websites. If I continue to just work on my “big two” sites then I won’t be able to scale like I want to or need to. So I did want to continue focusing on growing the next “big” sites so that the amount of big sites within our portfolio grows.
Looking Toward 2022
I am going to follow the same strategies as before. I think the only difference is that I am going to try and refine what that means in terms of the actual sites that are in our portfolio. I need to choose what I am going to ask our writers to do and what does that mean for what I need to focus my attention on?
Writing Staff Strategy
Here is what I am going to ask our writers to do: Increase article count on the top 2 websites – snowmobile and boats, by 50 each, as well as increase the next three largest websites (aquarium, capital, homegear) by 50 each as well. Finally, I just want to touch up the next set of sites to see if they can get out of the “google sandbox” or not. They previously saw growth but I think that at least 2 of them were a little bit too much geared toward affiliate marketing and got hit by the google affiliate penalty earlier this year.
I have been reading and listening a lot about affiliate marketing strategies lately, so I am hopeful that I would be able to put some of what I learned to good use this year. Now I normally have no problem throwing “stuff” against the wall but I really do feel like I finally have a team of people helping me out so my time will truly be spent performing strategic moves rather than writing really anything, ever again. What does that mean? Great question. I don’t know if I know but let’s try and spell it out:
The team is going to write approximately 400 new articles and update 200 articles so keyword research will definitely be key to our success. I am planning on continuing to use longtailpro for keyword research (mainly now because it is inexpensive) but I definitely want to try and take it an extra step or two. When going new articles I am definitely going to dig into the SERP competition to confirm that I have an actual shot at the topic (i.e. don’t go up against a main brand for the brand’s search term), and I really want to stay non-competitive in terms of KC. It seems to me like if I can rank in top 3 for non-competitive it is 10x better than being way out there for other terms. I am going to consider suggesting sub-topics on articles if I can to get as much “bang for my buck” as I can.
For existing article updates I heard a very interesting podcast from the guys at nichewebsite.builders about the “tomb raiding” approach as they called it so I definitely want to try using that approach to suggest edits for the writers moving forward.
I have mentioned this in the past but I really appreciate what Mushfiq created with easywins.io and what Spencer Haws created with linkwhisper.com. I really feel like being able to return to the original content that was created on each one of our sites and “optimizing” it to start gaining traction against our competitors (because really that is what we are doing) has been and will continue to be a huge part of our company’s success moving forward. I have 12 sites that are in some sort of organization and so I can’t ignore all of the work that has been done to date creating content and setting something up that has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of people. It has been a shame in the past for me to allow some of these sites to shrink in the past and would be in the future if I am not putting enough work into these sites to maintain a strong growth curve. Many people have a “find and flip” strategy for websites but I feel like I am kind of in it for the long term and I am hoping that I can use my own websites as “flips” and my continued growth of knowledge to continue growing every site and make each one (or the majority) it’s own successful “mini business”. As I ask our writers to bolster article counts and update articles I am going to follow up with them and try and optimize the articles as well as the linking (i.e. linkwhisper) amongst the articles in the each topic cluster to really try and knock it out of the park.
It is frustrating that it’s so slow but in continuing to scale the business I still believe it’s important to keep new sites coming in. Currently to me that means starting new sites from scratch. I did purchase another site earlier last year and I am very excited about how it goes but I really do think that continuing to start new sites from scratch in areas that I am interested in will truly start to help our business get to where it needs to be in order to be more of a time saver than a time suck. For 2022 that means setting up the lagoon site and POTENTIALLY the local site, although I think that one will be a little more of a challenge because I am going to have to find a good local person to write the review articles for me. We shall see how everything goes!
Short Term Goals
Now, I have been looking at the 2021 results compared to the 2020 results and I figure that there are a couple of different ways to look at it.
Linearly – Increase Earnings by $5,300
If I think of it as “linear” growth then the additional $5,300 earned means that if we put the same amount of work into the projects then we should be able to earn the same amount of growth next year (2022) over last year, or bumps it up to about $13,600.
Quadratic – Increase Earnings by $13,104
If I think if it as growth equal to a “quadratic” equation or constant growth rate based on percentage growth then we are talking about about a $13,000 bump or coming in closer to $21,000 total for the year. Now this growth rate would be incredibly more exciting! It’s hard to think that we would be approaching these kind of numbers and I do understand that trying to “extrapolate” the numbers is pretty nuts and dangerous and not always based on reality but at the same time we were “crazy” to dream hitting the numbers we did this year but we DID hit the numbers!
2022 Affiliate Marketing Revenue Number Goals
So with the two models thrown out above I do feel like I have to set some goals as to what we are going to do this year. I did want to set them low and realistic but after speaking with my wife (the boss) I tried to reset our expectations a little bit and try and reach a little higher! Here we go: We want to hit a revenue of $15,000 next year. To hit that we will need to hit an average of $1,250/month. With the seasonality of some of my biggest performing websites I think that means we should see a month in there that exceeds $3,000. I think hitting this goal will really mean that it’s more of a blend of linear and quadratic growth and not just a linear growth. If we exceed the growth by a lot (say $20,000) then it would be REALLY exciting and this method of income will be TOTALLY legit. The only catch that I haven’t talked about yet is how do I balance costs vs. revenue? We currently have been a top end focused business but I do always want to keep the same goal of not exceeding my revenue with my costs. If I am spending more money than what I am making then it’s a pretty risky proposition considering that some of my sites could (and have) vaporized in a second. I feel like I had a good jumpstart to this whole thing by doubling down and taking out a business loan to kickstart it but at this time I don’t think that I can handle putting over $10k into these sites annually and make it worth it. I am definitely going to keep an eye on epmv to make sure that as we continue to scale our numbers we are not going at a cost of the earnings per 1,000 readers.
That is all I’ve got today. Good luck with all of your investments and I hope that this post is helpful for you. It is certainly helpful for me to get my act together so good luck and wish us luck as well! It is tough for me to actually dream about the possibilities of making this happen but if I stop now then I will have no other hope of relaxing and making the best of my short time on earth as I continue to only get older!