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How To Build A Successful Blog From Scratch: Nine Month Update


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If you read my first update, you’ll know I’ve started a new authority site case study with both a site that I am building and one that my student is building. In my last update, I talked about how the sites were performing seven months in.

In this update, I focus on how both sites are performing nine months in and what we are doing to increase success. What is exciting is that the Amazon Australia affiliate program finally opened at this point for my site. I also found a problem with how we are approaching Leanna’s site. Keep reading so you can avoid this yourself!

I also want to remind you that this case study isn’t just about how to build a successful blog from scratch but also to show that you don’t need much time. Neither of us are working on our blogs anywhere close to full time. You don’t have to work a zillion hours to grow a profitable blog as long as you can be patient!

Ready?

If you haven’t read my last update, make sure you read it now here before continuing.

Want to start your own  site? Click here to download my New Blog Checklist. It tells you what to concentrate on in the beginning to set you up for SEO success so you don’t need to spend all your time online.

how to build a successful blog from scratch nine months in

Site 1: Nine months in

In my previous updates, I covered:

  • The monetisation strategy behind my new blog
  • Buying my domain name and creating my blog
  • Getting “starter content” up on my blog
  • Reserving my social media channels
  • Getting the site looking ok
  • Link building
  • Email list building
  • Starting to publish buying guides and making keyword plans
  • Outsourcing and publishing more buying guides and adding more easy content
  • Adding and improving Google AdSense
  • Adding eBay affiliate links

Want to see all these steps so you can follow them yourself?

Click here to download my FREE New Blog Checklist.

My strategy

Between the seven and nine month updates, I:

  • Added Amazon AU links – this affiliate program finally opened!
  • Added more content
  • Grew more links (ALWAYS!)

I re-started outsourcing content with Amazon AU opening. It was frustrating to have so many great buying guides doing well that would normally make a lot of affiliate commissions but have them not make much at all because affiliate marketing (and online shopping) is really behind here in Australia.

To be honest, it is still frustrating six months later. The site is making a lot more money at this point but it is still very low compared to what a similar site in the US or UK would make.

Part of me does not care as I am patient and I am happy to play a longer game because I strongly believe sooner or later Australia will catch up in regards to online shopping and affiliate programs. However, it does not make for such an interesting case study!!

In the last couple of updates, my traffic had gone up dramatically. In this one, it has stabilised somewhat.

I have two videos which will show you my exact progress, what I’ve done, my traffic and how much I was making from early May and early June which is when the site was 7.5 months and 8.5 months old.

7.5 month video update

8.5 month video update

My next steps were:

  • Adding more content
  • Adding more links (ALWAYS!)

Note that the following table is at the nine month mark whereas the video is a couple of weeks behind this so the numbers don’t match perfectly.

Month 9 Traffic And Earnings

Traffic: 16,431 users (up from 14,529)

Earnings : AUD$375 ($127 Amazon AU, $1 Amazon US, $126 AdSense, $121 eBay – up from $304)

Costs: AUD$663 (up from $450)

(I outsourced four articles in month 9 – you could do easily do this yourself by working 10 hours a week on the site)

Site 2: Nine months in

Site 2 is being built by DNW community member, Leanna.

She has two big goals for her site:

  1. To become THE authority site on her region of the US
  2. To make a full time income from her blog starting with affiliate marketing

Unlike my site, Site 1, which I started in September 2017 so I am giving updates on how it was performing nine months in, Leanna is working on this site now and is nine months into building it RIGHT NOW.

Leanna is still focused on two things:

  1. Building links
  2. Writing articles to keywords. Some of these are based on ones that will convert well as affiliate articles and some are based on building her site up to be the authority on her region.

She has also started growing her email list and is starting to think about social media.

She is doing a great job and already has about 120 links published and many more she is waiting on. She has 35 keyword researched posts. However, only 13 of these are really affiliate focused and 4 written to attract high affiliate conversions by focusing on reader intent (more about what this means here).

To give you an idea how much time this is taking, she is currently working about 10 hours a week BUT she is still taking it slow with her new baby.

In writing this update, I did uncover a problem with how we are approaching Leanna’s site and this is a misunderstanding over buying guides and what they are.

A buying guide is a product focused post comparing different options for a certain type of product. This is an example.

These types of articles work really well as they are really focused on attracting readers with a strong buying intent – they come to your article already wanting to buy something, you tell them what and give them a handy affiliate link.  I don’t know any other type of article that works so well.

When Leanna and I talked about what buying guides she had, she was including all articles that relate to products, so including ones that don’t necessarily attract readers with a buying intent which has lead to us not making the income gains we were hoping for with Black Friday and Christmas.

My recommendation to Leanna was to write one buying guide then one article about Nebraska so we meet both her goals above. We are behind on this now, so she is going to focus on getting more buying guides up.

It’s really important that if you want to increase affiliate income that you really understand reader intent and what types of articles will attract the right reader intent.

While any article with an affiliate link can make money, the really powerful ones that will make you money quickly are ones that really align reader intent (with a focus on readers who want to buy), the content in the article and the affiliate link. I call this the affiliate marketing sweet spot and you can read more about it here.

You will notice below that traffic has stalled. I actually see this as growth as, seasonally, it’s not the time of year that people are looking up Nebraska. So since there isn’t negative growth, I take that as growth.

On the upside, Leanna has been getting some benefits from her blog. She sold her first sponsored post and is starting to receive sponsored travel (so experiences at no charge in return for promotion).

Month 9 Traffic And Earnings

Traffic: 1758 users (exactly the same as last update)

Earnings:  US$202 (up from US$41 – $150 of this is from a sponsored post)

Costs: $12

(KeySearch subscription – keyword research tool)

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How is my blog progressing at 15 months?

It’s going great!

I have broken the $2000 mark. I was surprised to find a great increase in sales around Black Friday as I didn’t think that was a thing in Australia yet, but it seems that it is!

Sales are also much higher in the lead up to Christmas. Straight after Christmas is the biggest sales period of the year in Australia so I’m hoping for a huge December!

With all of this, conversions in Amazon AU are finally over 1%. It’s still crazy low though. I would get over 10% on Amazon US at this time of year. I just try to remember that that means there is a lot of room to grow!

A second site I started mid this year focusing on Australia is also starting to make a few hundred a month from Amazon as well.

We also performed an annual update last month which is something I always do on all sites. All posts performing in Google (so getting at least a few hundred hits per month) are updated for new keywords (using this process) and to make sure they are awesome and up-to-date. We also add content to them to make them even better.

Straight away my traffic went up for the first time in awhile as that site has sat on a plateau most of this year. I highly recommend you do the same!

I hope this update has inspired you and shown you what is possible.

I also hope it helps you understand what solid steps you can take with a new blog to start growing it in the least time possible.

You can have blogging success.

I’ll show you 🙂

Click here to subscribe and never miss an update.

You can read our 12 month update here and more posts on my case studies and niche sites here.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this case study in the comments below or let me know in the DNW Facebook group!

About the Author

Sharon Gourlay is passionate about working online and helping others to follow in her footsteps. She left Australia with her young family at the end of 2014 determined to grow an online business. She succeeded and now supports her family of 5 to live their dream lifestyle.

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