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First Month’s Performance + Bigger Goals – Part 3

Welcome to the third installment in the website flipping case study! Make sure to catch up on all of the previous happenings below:

  1. The Introduction to the Case Study
  2. On the Road to Success – Part 2

The first two updates were mainly about introducing you all to the site I purchased and getting the site setup properly. In this new update, you will see how the site performed in the first full month under my ownership as well as what I’ve done since the last update. I’m super excited about the future potential of this site and I think it’ll be really cool to follow along the journey.

I hope you are all enjoying the case study so far and I appreciate everyone who has read/commented/shared it. Thank you.

Let’s get right into the new update.

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Video Update

For those of you who would rather watch the update feel free to do so below! The video is a tad on the longer side, but I had a lot to talk about 🙂

Also, make sure to subscribe to my Youtube Channel as every new case study update will be accompanied by a video.

My New Goal for the Site

In my first update, I mentioned that my goal was to have this site reach $10,000 in value within 12 months. after doing more market research I think that I set my goal too low.

My new goal is to get the site earning $1000/month in revenue February 1st, 2017

Let me explain:

I truly believe that this site has the potential to reach $1000/month after doing more research on this niche. I have found a TON of keywords and realize that there is nearly an unlimited amount of content that can be produced around this niche. I have also discovered that there isn’t a true authority in the HVAC market.

Some sites cover schools, some cover how to become certified, some cover more general information, some cover HVAC tool reviews, some cover more technical stuff, but there isn’t a place where you can find all of that information in one place. I think that I can create the ultimate resource by combining all of this information into one website.

For that reason, I am setting a very aggressive goal of reaching the $1000/month in revenue within 6 months. I chose to set a revenue goal instead of profit because there’s a very good chance that the site won’t make any profit in the first 6 months due to me reinvesting all of the profits back into the site. I feel that the revenue is a better metric to track the success of the site, at least in the beginning.

I chose 6 months as the time frame mainly because I’m not sure if it’s even possible within that time period, but by having this goal I’ll want to push extra hard to meet it.

Overall, I feel as if I can execute my plan of turning this site into the HVAC authority that it will pay off big time. This is such a lucrative niche and the potential to reach $5000/month at some point is not out of the question. With all of that being said, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here and focus on what’s important now.

Now that you’re aware of my new goal, let’s see how well the site performed in its first full month!

Traffic Stats

I took over complete ownership of this site on June 6th so there has now been over a months worth of history. Let’s see how the site has performed in its first full month.

Overall Traffic from June 6th – July 6th

1st month traffic

Overall, the traffic has been in a slight decline. Here are my thoughts as to why:

  • The first two case study updates came out near the beginning of this month so I’m guessing that the traffic saw an increase from that
  • The 301 redirects that I talked about in the 2nd update might still be working themselves out

The dips and peaks are to be expected as the traffic fluctuates depending on the day of the week. The traffic peaks on Monday and then slowly declines for the rest of the week.

Top Pages

You will see that pages in the red boxes are identical except for the random characters at the end. To fix this, I 301 redirected the page with random characters to the normal page. Since I have made this change, all of the traffic has been redirected to the real page and it looks like Google understands what I’m trying to do.

Traffic Sources

Organic search is the number one source of traffic, which to be expected. However, the high amount of direct traffic is due to this case study and I realize that. I have done my best to minimize the effect by not directly linking to the site anywhere on PiP.

Overall, the traffic has done well since the transfer from HTML to WordPress and it looks like the 301 redirects did a good job of transferring the rankings. It is still fairly early so I will continue to monitor how it performs over the next few weeks.

Financial Stats

Before I took over ownership this site was making around $120-130 per month, based on the previous 3-month average. Let’s take a look at how much it has earned in the first full month under my control.

Total Earnings from June 6th – July 6th

So far the site has surpassed the average of the previous 3 months and made a total of $205, sweet!

I’m very happy to see growth in the earnings, but I have not really done much optimizing yet. The main thing that I wanted to accomplish is to establish an average revenue baseline. Doing so will allow me to better understand what is working and what isn’t when I begin to test different monetization strategies.

With that being said, I have been using AmpedSense to split test two different ad layouts. The results from these split tests are below:

Results from Split Testing Ad Layouts

Feel free to click on the image to make it bigger.

NOTE: Due to Google’s ToS I can’t display some of the stats

I have only setup two different ad layouts to split test, but as you can see one layout is performing way better for both the desktop and mobile traffic. I want to point out that there isn’t a whole lot of data yet, so these numbers may not mean a whole lot right now. I will continue to split test these two ad layouts until more data can be collected.

Overall, the site seems to be doing well so far and I’m excited to test other monetization strategies out and see how they compare to Adsense.

Now that you’re all caught up with the traffic and earnings in the first month, let’s get into the work that I’ve so far.

Created a Basic Content Strategy

After digging deeper into this market and doing extensive keyword research I have devised a content strategy plan. I’ll be producing 3 different types of content

  1. Directory Information – Content that targets local keywords (e.g. HVAC schools in nyc)
  2. Reviews – Content that targets buyer intent keywords (e.g. best HVAC tool bags)
  3. General – Content that targets general HVAC info (e.g. HVAC formulas)

Each type of content is important if I want to create an authority site. However, some content will lend itself better to making money and that’s where I’ll start producing content. I’ll dig a bit deeper into each of these content types below.

Content Type #1 – Directory Information

This is the content that I’m most excited about.

Why?

Because it has the lowest amount of competition and will be best at converting visitors into leads. It has low competition because the keywords I’m trying to rank for are local keywords (e.g. HVAC schools in nj) instead of national (e.g. HVAC programs). When you target local keywords you eliminate 99% of the competition.

Check out the difference in competition below:

Look at the difference in keyword difficulty according to KWfinder. The two local keywords have a difficulty ranking of 29 and 30 while the national keyword (hvac programs) has a difficulty ranking of 46. Yes, the “hvac programs” keyword gets more searches, but would you rather rank #1 for keywords that get a combined 280 monthly searches or rank #5 for one keyword that gets 590 monthly searches?

Look at the average CTR for the first page of Google results:

ranking-position-CTR-2

Source

You can see that ranking 1st for keywords that get a combined 280 monthly searches would result in ~84 clicks per month. On the other hand, ranking 5th for a keyword that gets 590 monthly searches would result in only ~30 clicks per month!

Local keywords are also much more valuable to rank for. The reason being that people searching for “HVAC schools in NJ” are much more likely to convert into a lead then someone searching for “HVAC programs”.

It’s a win-win going after these local keywords and this is where the majority of my focus will be when outsourcing content, at least at the beginning.

Content Type #2 – Reviews

This content will target keywords for HVAC related products. This will be good for diversifying the revenue sources with Amazon Affiliate earnings. From what I’ve found, these keywords aren’t very competitive and will help drive traffic back to the site.

Below are a group of keywords that I’m planning on targeting in a future article:

reviewkws

Fairly easy keyword difficulty and they get a solid amount of searches as well. There are ~20-30 more of these types of articles that can be produced. I’m interested in seeing how well these articles convert.

Content Type #3 – General Information

The third and final type of content I’ll be targeting are general information articles. This content has less buyer intent and probably won’t convert well in terms of leads, however, it could help drive traffic to the site. Producing this content is lowest on the totem pole and will not be a major focus at first.

Why should I even bother with this content?

Good question.

The main reason why I want to go after this type of content is because it will help the site become an overall resource for HVAC techs. This will result in more people linking to the site naturally, which will help the site rank better for ALL keywords. Ths is a longer term play, but I think it’s worth it.

Determined the Directory Silo Structure

As I’ve talked about in previous updates, I plan on creating an HVAC school directory that will help people find schools within their state. The hope is that it will allow me to rank for local keywords and rake in the money with Quinstreet, we’ll see how that pans out.

However, the plans changed after I started doing keyword research and found MORE local keywords that I could create directories out of. Not only could I target schools by state, but I also could HVAC jobs and HVAC certificate requirements by state. I knew I wanted to create a directory for each (state schools, jobs and certificate requirements), but I didn’t know the best way to structure the directory to optimize it for ranking in Google.

Here are the different silo structures I considered:

Option #1

  • “”.com/STATE/schools
  • “”.com/STATE/jobs
  • “”.com/STATE/certificate-requirements

Option #2

  • “”.com/schools/STATE
  • “”.com/jobs/STATE
  • “”.com/certificates/STATES

Option #3

  • “”.com/STATE
    • This option I would try to rank for schools, jobs and certificate all on the same page

Each one of them made sense.

I decided to go with option #2 because I felt like it allowed for more room to rank for a wider variety of keywords. It also makes sense when you think about it in terms of a funnel, visitors move down the funnel as they get more targeted. When they reach the end of the funnel (the state pages), that’s where they will convert.

Check out the (very crappy) funnel diagram I put together below:

funnel

Not only does this structure make sense in terms of a funnel, but I also really like this structure because any page throughout the funnel can rank in Google. For example, the “.com/schools” page would be able to rank for all general keywords related to HVAC schools. Then when people land on that page they can choose the state where they want to find a school. This same idea applies to the jobs and certificate pages too.

Started Outsourcing Content Creation

I’ve started to hire people on Upwork to begin producing content for the site. Like I mentioned in past updates, I hate writing content for my websites and I always outsource it. Below I’ll walk you through the entire process that I use.

Step #1 – Post the Job

The first step in outsourcing content is to post your job and start fielding applications. You can see the title and the job description that I used below:

Title of Job

upworktitle

I always try to include the word “expert” in the title, so for this example, “HVAC expert”. I have found that this does a good job of attracting people that are truly knowledgeable about the topic. I was worried that there wasn’t going to be a very big pool of HVAC experts that are also good at writing, but I was surprised at how many applications I got. More on that in a second.

Another aspect of the title that I want to touch on is the part where I said ‘Write Content for my Blog”. This lets possible applicants know exactly what I want from them and excludes people that are HVAC experts, but may not know how to write well.

Next, let’s look at the job description I wrote:

Job Description

upworkdescription

Nothing special, but it explains all of the important information that a possible application would want to know. One thing I want to point out is where I asked the applicant to tell me their favorite color when they apply. Doing this will allow me to quickly see who read the full job description and who didn’t.

Anyone who doesn’t take the time to read the full job description is someone that I don’t want working for me and writing my content.

Step #2 – Wait 3-7 Days

After you post the job you should wait at least 3 days to allow the applicants to apply. After this time period, you should have a solid amount of people to choose from.

I had a total of 9 applicants apply for my job.

Step #3 – Filter the List

Next, read through all of the applications and widdle the list down to 3 or so solid applicants. You’ll be able to quickly spot the people that are not qualified and/or didn’t reply with their favorite color.

Step #4 – Send an Article Outline to Each Person

Next, you’ll want to send an article outline to each one of them. You can send the same outline to each or a different one to each. Sending the same outline will allow you to easily compare the final article and determine which applicant was the best. However, this also means you are paying for 3 versions of the same article. This way is best if you aren’t worried about spending the extra dollar and truly want to find the best person.

Otherwise, you can send a different article outline to each person and get back 3 different articles. This route will allow you to have 3 articles that you can use on your site, but it will be harder to compare the writers to each other. I personally went with this option and sent a unique outline to each writer.

Step #5 – Review Articles and Hire/Fire

Once get the articles back from the writers it’s time to review the quality. Read through each article and determine if it’s up to par with your standards. Hire the applicants that did a good job and give them more outlines to start working on. The people that didn’t meet your standards you can pay them for the article and tell them that you don’t need any more articles from them right now.

I sent out a total of 3 outlines to 3 different people and have gotten one article back so far. I was happy with the quality and will continue to work with this person moving forward. I’m waiting for the other two applicants to send their articles to me.

My Content Plan Moving Forward

Now that I have found at least one writer (I’m hoping for at least two) I’ll begin to start producing as much content as possible. I’ll start going after the local keywords by creating articles that target each state. The sooner I can get all 50 states completed the sooner they’ll start to bring in traffic.

It’ll be interesting to see how being this aggressive with new content will affect the traffic to the site.

I Got Accepted into Quinstreet

This took a lot longer that I had initially expected, but I have finally been accepted.

I can now start adding these lead forms to my site and testing them against Adsense. I have yet to add any of Quinstreets ads to my site as I’m still trying to figure everything out. It’s not as simple as pasting a code into your website’s pages like Adsense. I’m working my way through the training guides and trying to configure all of the settings correctly.

I’ll go into more detail surrounding Quinstreet in future updates, but I wanted to announce that I was accepted. I’m super excited to see what kind of results with Quinstreet (if I ever figure how to set it up!)

Future Plans

I have a good amount of ideas on how to grow this site (probably too many!) and I’ll get around to testing them at some point. Right now, my main focus is on the things that provide the highest ROI. Those two things right now are producing content and setting up Quinstreet.

I’ll get into back linking strategies, unique ways to rank the content and other cool stuff once I lock down the basics.

Conclusion

That’s going to bring us to the end of this update.

Overall, the site is performing well so far and I’m happy with the progress. Now it’s time to start to scale the site and turn it into the ultimate HVAC resource. I’m pumped about the potential and that you all get to follow along the journey with me.

I hope you enjoyed the 3rd update in my website flipping case study and if you did, please let me know in the comments below and by sharing it! Thanks for reading and see you next time.

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Comments

24 Comments

peter

hey Josh Thanks for the update.

I’ve been checking your site regularly for the past 2 weeks to see what progress you made on the site and I really like the fact that you go above and beyond in each blog post.

If you don’t mind me asking, I have a question about hiring freelance writers.

You said that for the job description you only got 9 people who ended up applying.
my question is : did you mention the pay rate per word somewhere in the job description ? (9 applicants sound too low, but again this is an interesting niche that requires experts as you said to get articles that provide any value and not some vague shit that anybody could put up)
how much are you going to be paying per word for the articles you will be publishing on the site.

Thanks in advance.

Josh
Josh

Hey Peter – glad to hear you’ve enjoyed the posts so far 🙂

As for your question, I don’t put the cost per work in the job description because each writer will have a different rate. And yea, 9 people is fairly low and that’s due to the niche it’s in. I don’t have an exact number for the price I’m going to be paying per word yet, but will have those details ironed out soon

Thanks for the comment,

Josh

Alan

Hi Josh, Good to see the progress on the site and look forward to hearing more 😉

Josh
Josh

Thanks Alan 🙂

New update coming soon!

Casey

Awesome post Josh! Got a question. How much did it cost to pay someone to write your content?

Josh
Josh

Thanks Casey!

I’m looking at around $30-$75 per article right now depending on the length and topic

Josh

matt

Hey Josh, not to take away from the website flipping case study but have you given up on amazon FBA or are you still doing that in the background?

Josh
Josh

Good question Matt!

I haven’t given up on it, but I have switched the majority of my focus on buying, growing and selling online businesses for now. With that being said, my Amazon FBA business still makes me money each month and I am deciding whether or not to reinvest or let it die out. Leaning towards reinvesting into a new a product though. Any new updates I’ll make sure to let you all know what happens

Josh

Ricky

Nice work, Josh. Seems like a diversified approach to building an authority site in the HVAC space. Thanks for sharing the update!

Josh
Josh

That’s the goal Ricky 🙂

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment

Josh

Websam

Excellent post!
What’s great is your ability to break down a pretty complex process into bite sized, organized steps that make sense! I’m quite sure you will hit your goals with this website and flip it for a massive profit. Looking forward to more updates.

Josh
Josh

I sure hope so 🙂

I appreciate the kind words and the comment. See on the next post!

Josh

AJ

Josh, really great info and your dedication/commitment to sharing so much about your process is appreciated! Curious, what are your plans for the blog page? Appears the last update was 2012, are you concerned at all about this being 4 years since a post and what are your plans in regard to keeping this altogether? Seems like with the great supply of steady content in the form of articles that a blog may be redundant? If you’re keeping a blog, I assume you’ll be sourcing that content as well?

Josh
Josh

Hi AJ – good questions!

I’m not too concerned that it’s been 4 years since the last post and my plans are to keep adding to the blog. I’ll try to reduce the redundancy by covering new and fresh topics. And yup, I’ll be outsourcing 100% of the content

Josh

Brant

I have been looking forward to this update and already can’t wait until the next. I’m sure you have read Pat Flynn’s niche site duel. He built a security guard niche website with a lot of the same elements that you could use. He seemed to get a lot of traffic from his state by state requirements to be a security guard. I would pursue the requirements to be a HVAC tech before the list of available schools. Thanks for your great content.

Josh
Josh

That’s awesome to hear Brant, thanks for your comment.

Great idea regarding following the same path as Pat and that’s something that I might be doing. I think both state schools and state requirements are something worth going after. Deciding which option to go after first really just depends on the ROI in terms of time and writing costs.

Thanks again for the comment,

Josh

Steve

Hey Josh,

Thanks for the update. Totally love the way you present your updates in detail. Your plans look very doable and efficient. Good luck. I have a question: Where do you find your writers? The content looks really good. And how much do you pay per 500 words?

Thank you!

Josh
Josh

Hey Steve,

Thanks for the comment!

I use Upwork for practically all of the writers I hire for all of my sites, including this one.

Josh

Grant

Hi Josh, I have been wanting to get (but not spend the money on) LongTailPro however I see that you have switched over to KWfinder. How would you compare the results from LTP and KWfinder?

Dennis

I would also like to know which tool do you think is more accurate when determining keyword competition and rankability, LTP or KWFinder?

Josh
Josh

I have found KWfinder to be best. Although, I haven’t used LTP for the past 6 months and I know there is a lot of new changes with LTP, so keep that in mind

Josh

Josh
Josh

Hey Grant,

I have really been enjoying KWfinder as it’s super quick and is easy to use. I know LTP has been going through a lot of improvements though so I’m sure both options are very good.

Josh

Andrew

Hi Josh,

Love the series! Thanks for putting this together. I was wondering if you mind sharing what plugins you use in WordPress?

Thanks!

Josh
Josh

That’s awesome to hear Andrew! And yes, I’ll include the plugins I am using in the next update. Thanks for reading and commenting

Josh


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