Site 1: The Journey So Far [Month 1 to 7]

If you haven’t done so already, then make sure you check out my introduction to Site 1. This will briefly (and vaguely) explain what Site 1 is about and what my aims are with this site.

At the start of 2020, before I started ProfitSeekingSites, I finally decided to Just Start, courtesy of the r/JustStart community on Reddit, with building a niche website that was to be monetised through display ads. In August 2020, I decided to start ProfitSeekingSites so that I could document my progress with my growing collection of niche websites.

This post is to fill in the gap between launching Site 1 and launching ProfitSeekingSites. It will cover the first 7 months of my first site:

Prelaunch: Choosing a Niche

Before I started the site, I needed to come up with an actual niche. This is the area that a lot of people seem to struggle with most and it can often feel like you’ve hit a roadblock before you’ve even started which instantly leads to procrastination. But it’s really not that difficult.

Forget about competitors. Forget about volume. Forget about buyer-intent. Instead, focus on the stuff you like in general. Do you like cooking? Do you enjoy going camping? Are you an avid-photographer? Are you into backgammon or chess? Do you love upcycling furniture? You know yourself best and you know what you like. So grab a notepad and jot down everything and anything you like – no matter how niche or obscure it might seem.

Now you’ve got your list, come up with some common questions in those niches you often end up asking yourself. Perhaps you’re into camping and often find yourself asking ‘can you camp in XYZ?’ Do this for all your niches. Now head over to your favourite keyword research tool and enter these core questions. Going on the above, I’d head over to SEMRush and enter ‘can you camp in’ and let SEMRush spit out a load of keywords as shown below:

SEMRush Results

OK, the volume isn’t huge but if you wanted to start a brand new site on camping then you instantly have a list of precise questions you can easily write 1,000+ words on. 320 searches a month is hardly going to set your bank account on fire, but remember these volumes are estimates and you’ll often find yourself ranking for other related keywords.

To determine the difficulty of ranking, I simply Google the search term and look at the results on page 1. Are there sites directly targeting the keyword or is it full of Quora results and forums? If the latter, then there’s a huge chance you’ll get your brand new site ranking.

With Site 1, this is the exact approach I have taken. I have chosen a topic I am interested in. I’ve then come up with a common question that’s asked in this niche and answered it over and over again.

Month 1 [Jan]: Kickstart

Month 1 was quite hectic. I’d finally settled on a niche so I went ahead and bought a domain and set up hosting and WordPress through SiteGround (who I use for all my hosting). I then uploaded GeneratePress, picked a theme from their Site Library and made a few tweaks to the design.

I used Coolors, a colour scheme generator, to randomly generate a colour scheme. I kept refreshing until I found one I liked. I then headed over to Fiverr to buy a logo. I know you can probably create a logo for free in Canva but I tend to overthink things like a logo so prefer to outsource it so I can just forget about it and upload when it’s sorted. I’ve used this designer a handful of times. He’s not the cheapest on Fiverr but always follows my criteria and the end result is always great.

It can be hard to avoid, but in the first few months (and even first year) the design of your niche site really isn’t that important. OK, it mustn’t look like it was designed in the 90s and must be easy to navigate but you’re not looking to win a design award. Keep your life simple and just upload a ready-to-go theme to WordPress and then focus on the content.

That’s exactly what I did in January. I wrote just under 26,000 words across 26 articles. I usually aim for roughly 25 articles in month 1 of any new site and 25,000 words. This, I find, is enough content to get the attention of Google.

WordPress Plugins

A few people have asked what WordPress plugins I upload when I first start a site so figured it would make sense to include this in month 1 of site 1:

WPMU– WPMU Dev is pretty much the core of all my WordPress plugins. I just like the way it offers all-in-one functionality. I use SmartCrawl Pro for SEO optimisation, Hummingbird for site speed optimisation, Smush Pro for image optimisation, Snapshot Pro for site backups and Defender Pro for site security. What more could you want!

Classic Editor – I’m sure there are people out there who like the new WordPress editor but I don’t. That’s why I always install the Classic Editor plugin to revert back to the old school way of writing posts. I just find I’m more productive with the classic editor. With over 5 million installs – I don’t think I’m the only one!

Easy Table of Contents – I always add a table of contents to my posts to jump to subheadings in my content. Generally speaking, my subheadings are longtail keywords/related questions which also get searches on Google. I’ve found that Google will often pick up the links from the table of contents and use them either as Site Links or in the related question sections in the SERPs. It’s actually the table of contents plugin I’m using above.

MonsterInsights – I use the free version of MonsterInsights to add Google Analytics to the site. It shows an overview of traffic on the dashboard but also excludes any site admins from traffic stats which is essential for having accurate traffic stats.

Month 2 [Feb]: Month Off

No, really!

Generally, with any new site, I like to populate it with 25 or so articles before letting it sit to give Google time to get it ranked. So, in February, I did absolutely nothing on the site. There’s nothing to report here because I really didn’t do a thing. No writing. No outreach. No plugin updates. No design tweaks. Nothing.

Month 3 [Mar]: More Content

Now that I had let the site sit for a month, Google had indexed pretty much every post and the majority were sitting at the top of page 2 – not bad for no backlinks and no outreach! So March was about trying to build the content up a little more. I try to aim for 5 posts per week (one every day Monday to Friday) but I struggled to achieve that in March disappointingly. I did, however, still manage to add 14 articles to the site.

I did nothing else on the site besides writing good-quality content for the whole of March but that didn’t stop the traffic creeping up for the month and I ended up with over 1,300 sessions. Here’s how the traffic grew over the course of the month:

Traffic In March

Month 4 [Apr]: Lockdown

In the UK, we were now fully into lockdown so I thought I’d take this time to actually get my head down and get some content up on the site. In April, it was more of the same – more writing, not much else. I added a further 28 articles to the site throughout the month of April to bring the total number of articles on the site up to 68. Not too bad in the space of 4 months with 1 month off.

This update is short and sweet but that’s simply down to the fact that there really is nothing to report. It was just a case of getting more content added.

Month 5 [May]: Add Related Questions

Although I only wrote 6 articles in May, what I did do is go through each and every article on the site and add a ‘related questions’ section. I had a H2 subheading labelled “Other Questions About XYZ” and then H3 subheadings below this with related questions and answers in the hope of ranking for some obscure, low-volume long-tail queries.

All I did was head over to SEMRush and plug in the main question I was answering. It would then spit out a handful of related questions for me to answer. I did no competitor research. I simply answered the questions as it helped me increase the word count of the current content on site whilst I targeted more keywords.

For example, if I had written a post titled “How to Make Iced Coffee” I’d plug this complete title into SEMRush. It would then provide a list of keyword variations, a list of related questions and a list of related keywords. I always go for related questions as they tend to make sense and are easy to answer. Here are the results from SEMRush:

SEMRush Iced Coffee

Plenty of keywords to get stuck into there for a related question section!

Month 6 [Jun]: 10k In Sight!

My first goal with Site 1 was to grow it to 10,000 users per month. 10,000 is the point in which I can send an application off to Ezoic and would be a huge leap in revenue (hopefully) from the cents I was earning on Adsense.

So my goal in June was much of the same. More content. More keyword research. I’ve still not done any form of outreach for any backlinks whatsoever. Some might not agree with this approach but my view is that, ultimately, it comes down to content. It’s one of the major ranking factors and the one I will continue to focus the majority of my time on.

By the end of June, here’s how my traffic has grown since launching the site back at the start of 2020:

Traffic Jan to Jun

In June, that meant I had achieved 10,314 sessions and 11,931 pageviews. It was time to submit my application to Ezoic…

Month 7 [Jul]: Ezoic Approval

By the end of June, I had done it. I had hit 10,000 sessions. It was my first and foremost goal with Site 1 and it was this target that allowed me to submit an application to Ezoic. That’s exactly what I did.

It took me all of 5 minutes to submit my application and then I was asked to send over a couple of screenshots from Google Analytics before I was approved. It all happened in the space of a few days. I’ve heard nightmarish stories from other site owners who have claimed it has taken them weeks and months to get approval. In all honesty, it was almost too easy.

I then began going through all the settings on Ezoic. Honestly, if you’re new to Ezoic it can be a minefield. There are so many options to turn on/off that I actually go fed up initially and decided to not bother. It was frustrating the hell out of me.

And that’s when my account manager reached out to see how I was getting on.

I confessed that I was getting a bit fed up with setting things up and that’s when he offered to set it all up for me. Every ad placement, every split test, every optimisation. He did the lot. I was apprehensive about joining Ezoic. This just goes to show I had no reason to be.

So How Did Ezoic Perform?

On Adsense, I was earning roughly £0.72 RPM (approximately $0.92 RPM). Dire. I know. Between 6th July when Ezoic went live and the 31st July, my ePMV averaged to $5.11. That’s an increase of around 450%! Here are my full stats for this period from Ezoic:

Ezoic EPM

My Adsense optimisation was non-existent. I just grabbed a couple of ad codes from Adsense and stuck them on the site to see if it would earn something – I fully appreciate I could have been earning a little more from Adsense. But 450% more?

If you visit Site 1 now, there’s no denying that there are ads… Quite a lot of them. Initially, I did freak out a little. It can be quite overwhelming seeing the site you’ve spent months building become a little uglier. But my traffic is increasing, bounce rate has remained the same, pages/session has remained the same but revenue is up hugely. Does it really matter if the site is now not quite as pretty as it once was?

Overview

Below you can see a complete breakdown of how things went in terms of traffic, content and revenue:

MonthSessionsWordsArticlesRevenue
Jan 2027925,94326$0.01
Feb 2020700$0.11
Mar 201,34511,86614$0.72
Apr 204,23524,07128$2.29
May 207,1544,2936$1.75
Jun 2010,31416,97521$3.27
Jul 2013,85133,12441$60.24

The site has gone from nothing to generating over 13,000 unique sessions and $60 in revenue in the space of just 7 months – all for the cost of just a domain. Now that momentum is with me, I’m hopeful that I can grow both the traffic and revenue at a far greater pace going into the latter stages of 2020. The next aim will be to achieve $100 per month in consistent revenue.

Going Forward…

There’s quite a lot of content in this post. I know. But it’s here to give you a quick rundown of what I have done so far and where I have got to. From now on, I’ll be posting shorter but monthly updates of Site 1 to keep you in the loop with how things are moving forward.

I’ll share any experiments I run and the results I achieve with those experiments. I’ll share the highs and the lows. I’ll explain what’s working and what’s not. It’s going to be a lot of same – churning out content of decent quality to get as many rankings in the SERPs as I possibly can around this one question. Hopefully, you can take something away from this site.

Any questions just fire away in the comments section below:

2 thoughts on “Site 1: The Journey So Far [Month 1 to 7]”

  1. Great read ! I’m attempting to do the same from next month – do you pay for ahrefs?

    New to all this so still trying to find a niche etc. Maybe we can help each other or something.

    Good luck

    Reply
    • I don’t actually use Ahrefs. Instead, I use SEMRush and it’s what I have always used.

      When looking for a niche, don’t overthink it. Pick something you enjoy and just go for it. Worst case is you’ll learn plenty and the best case is the site takes off.

      Reply

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