April was a good month. I worked like an animal and made good progress on all my projects. In this report I’ll share everything I did, what worked and what failed. If you are new here, I recommend you check out my March Income Report for context. Otherwise, let’s get straight into it.
My collectible coin website
What happened in April
In April I continued to publish more content on my coin website.
My writer, based in Thailand, added more content to 30 existing coin pages. These coin pages were previously about 200 words long. They now have closer to 300 words on them. They are now the most detailed coin descriptions available online. Nobody has bothered writing this kind of content in this much depth before.
My writer also published one very long (3,000 word) post on the Beatrix Potter 50p coin collection. The purpose of this post is to establish our authority on this topic and to act as a “hub” that links out to all the dedicated coin pages.
Google seems to be liking this strategy – all key metrics for the site have improved since last month:
|Key Metric||March 19||April 19||MoM %|
|Impressions on Google||6,500||20,400||+212%|
|Clicks to the site||52||139||+167%|
Impressions on Google’s search result page (how often my listing appears in search results) are growing most: +212% vs last month. There was a peak at 1,700 impressions on a single day and it has since stabilized at 1,000 impressions per day.
Clicks (i.e traffic) to the site are also growing, almost tripling versus last month. In March, Google sent me 52 visitors. In April, about 139.
The number of keywords indexed by Google also jumped from 283 to 679, meaning a greater number of search queries trigger my site to appear in the search results.
Overall I’m very satisfied with the progress. There’s traction and all metrics are going in the right direction. I need to be patient and continue building the site.
This is my favourite part of any project: seeing early traction and results. A few weeks ago there was nothing. Now the site is “alive” and on track to get several hundred organic (free!) visits in May.
The writer I am working with is now well versed in this space and understands what I’m looking for. Publishing more content is straightforward. I write a high-level brief, drop it on our Trello board, and wait for her to come back with a draft. Read it, make some comments. She edits and publishes.
I invested $360 in this site this month. Income is still zero.
Total investment for the site in April is $360. It breaks down as follows
|Summary PnL||March 19||April 19||MoM %|
|– Hosting cost||-$10||-$10||0%|
|– Content writing cost||-$350||-$350||0%|
As you can see, costs in April were similar to March. I’m keeping costs under tight control as the site is not making any money yet. The priority is to grow traffic. I will look at monetising the traffic once the site reaches 30 visits a day and I’m not there yet. The site is still in “investment phase”.
Plans for May: rinse and repeat
So far the content strategy seems to be working. In May, the plan is to rinse and repeat and publish more content. I have prepared a list of 30 new coins that I would like to cover: these coins are more niche and have less search volume than the one’s already covered.
For example: the “princess diana 5 pound coin” only gets 100 searches per month in the UK. Compare that to the “mrs tiggy winkle 50p” that gets 18,000 searches per month
Hopefully the smaller coins are also less competitive and I will quickly rank in the top position on Google.
I also plan to publish another “long form” 3,000 word post as part of ongoing authority-building work.
In May I’m also excited to start building links. The site doesn’t have a single backlink (apart from this blog perhaps). This is likely impacting how Google perceives the site. Links are still a strong signal for Google. In theory, I should get more traffic if the site gets some backlinks.
The link building strategy I have in mind … will it work?
I have noticed that my competitors get links from news sites covering “coin worth” stories. Tabloids in the UK are obsessed with this stuff. It plays into some kind of national fantasy that you could become rich by finding an insanely valuable coin in your spare change.
My idea involves building my own “coin price index”. It will be some sort of synthetic index that will measure how valuable a specific coin is. Each month I will update the index and reach out to journalists with a story. If they are interested they will publish something and hopefully also link back to the site.
I like this strategy because it is scalable. If it works it could create a flow of link opportunities in the future.
This is a big piece of work, but it feels worthwhile. I’m excited to see how this plays out. Will traffic hockey-stick when I get a few links? Stick around and let’s find out next month!
Amazon Affiliate site
April was so painful.
I recently acquired an Amazon affiliate site. Read “Why I bought an Amazon affiliate site for $45,000” for context.
In April I spent most of my free time on this site – about 15 hours each week. It was painful because:
- I know nothing about car mechanics, so needed to do a lot of basic research myself
- It’s a technical topic – which means finding good writers is harder. I tested 5 writers in April.
- I’m doing all the grunt work myself (keyword research, briefing writers, reviewing drafts, publishing and formatting the article). This is not sustainable.
I won’t be working with Americans writers
I tested a range of writers this month. Initially, I focussed on US-based writers who highlight experience with “automobile” and “car mechanics” in their Upwork profile. I quickly realised this wasn’t going to work out.
The US-based writers I interacted with were demanding and entitled. One writer accepted to work for me, then suddenly cancelled the contract without explaining why. When I enquired, she replied: “I realised you were an amazon affiliate site, and I don’t enjoy writing for that kind of site”. When I asked another US writer if we could talk on Skype, he replied “I don’t do voice calls, so no.” Another writer invoiced me 3 hours of work, when I expected the task to take 1 hour.
As you would expect, US-based writers are also significantly more expensive. Writers with “car mechanic” experience charge $40-$70 per hour.
Instead, I’ve started working with writers in Eastern Europe and South East Asia. I have one guy based in Croatia and one lady in the Philippines. Their English is not perfect – I will need to find someone to edit it – but they are hungry for work and very motivated. I pay them $15-$18 per hour. As long as I keep the instructions very clear, I think this could work.
I need to hire a project manager
I realised this month that if I want to scale the site, I will need to hire a project manager. Publishing 20 articles per month (the run-rate I’m targeting) is a big task. There’s the research work (identifying what topics to write about and what keywords are most attractive), writing the brief for the writer, following up on questions the writer might have, reviewing the draft, doing a couple back and forth to ensure the content is good enough, then finding images, formatting and publishing on wordpress etc. It’s a lot of work man!
I don’t want to be spending 15 hours a week managing this – so I am going to hire a project manager to supervise it all. Now that I have a better understanding of the space and content process, it’s time to outsource the grunt work. I will let you know next month how that goes.
I’m testing strategies to get backlinks
Another project I kicked off in April is link-building. We created a page called “Useful Resources”. This page lists repair shops and mechanics across the US. We hired someone on Upwork and outlined a step by step process to reach out to hundreds of repair shops by email. The outreach message goes something like “Hi, we are a popular website dedicated to truck enthusiasts. Would you like to be listed on our Repair Shop Directory for free? In exchange, all we ask is that you link to our website“. This is a volume game. 99% of people we reached out didn’t reply. But 2 or 3 have linked back to us already. You can see below an example. I’m super excited about this. At the moment, the “cost per link” is high: about $50 per link. But it’s only the beginning and once we optimise the strategy, that cost should go down a lot.
Good news – we are now cranking out content!
In April we published our first pieces of content since acquiring the blog in March. We published two “in-depth articles”: one comparing different types of engines, another one explaining how to ensure optimal maintenance for your truck. We also published our first product review post. We used a paid plugin called AAWP to make a professional-looking comparison table. See below how it looks on desktop. For a one-off payment of $44, I think it’s really worth it.
In April the site generated $2,175 in revenue, 3% more than the previous month
In April we didn’t make any major changes to the site. The work mainly involved recruiting the team and building processes. I’m happy performance is stable and revenue is at its highest ever.
|Summary PnL||March 19||April 19|
|– Hosting cost||-$20||-$20|
|– Content writing cost||-$303||-$924|
|– Link building cost||-$304|
|– Software & Tools||-$50||-$100|
We accelerated content production in April and that’s reflected in the “content writing cost” line. In May I hope to be spending at least twice that amount on content. Overall the site generated a profit of $827. In the coming months I want to aggressively scale this site. I don’t plan on making a profit and want to reinvest everything in growth.
Overall – I’m feeling good about the progress of this site. The foundations for future growth are being laid. I expect to share some growth next month. Stay tuned.
This is the blog you are reading now. I mentioned last month wanting to get 10 subscribers to my newsletter. Thanks to a good friend who shared the blog with a few close friends, I smashed the monthly target in less than 48 hours. Thanks JK 🙂
Knowing that people are now reading this blog has given me a massive boost in motivation. Peer accountability is powerful. Some really smart folks are following my journey and I don’t want to disappoint.
On a personal note
Time to get back into crypto?
After making some money in 2017 and losing some money in 2018 (like everybody), I’m back in the crypto game. Since January, I’ve been buying bitcoin again.
What convinced me is the steady growth in transactions. The chart below shows the number of daily bitcoin transactions. You can see a slump in Jan 2018 as the price crashed. However the number of transactions has increased steadily ever since. Today, there are almost as many transactions as in Dec 2017, at the peak of the bubble. The price however is only $5,500 – just a fraction of what it was at its peak: $20,000.
I don’t know what people are using bitcoin for. Probably not for buying stuff. Maybe they think it’s a good store of value, like digital gold. Whatever the reason, it’s clear bitcoin is not “dead” as many have claimed. Adoption is growing fast.
So I bought myself some BTC on Coinbase and saved them in my offline Ledger Nano S for extra security.
Look, before you judge me. I know it’s a gamble, but there are reasons to believe the price will increase. Here’s my 2 cents on the subject:
- After the 2017 bubble and the 2018 crash, transaction volume is back to all-time-high. Adoption is growing. More demand will push price up.
- There will never be more than 21 million coins – the supply is mathematically capped. No funny increase in supply, no QE, no printing bitcoin to pay off government debt or finance wars.
- Sentiment is turning bullish very quickly. Faster than I expected. On April 1st, the price of bitcoin jumped 20%. Journalists instantly started writing how bitcoin could be worth “[x] million by year [x]”. History is repeating itself.
- In a year, the rate of bitcoin inflation will halve – this happens every 4 years. The reduced supply will create upward momentum. Imagine if half of all gold mines closed next year. With less new supply hitting the market, the price of gold would increase.
Don’t have a clue what I’m talking about but it sounds kinda interesting? This is the best book I have ever read on the topic. I highly recommend it.
Time to sign off.
Thanks for hanging out with me again. Ping me below if you have any questions. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter if you enjoy this kind of stuff.