Spencer Hawes hits $1000 in 9 months with new niche site

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I don't think it's surprisingly slow given that he entirely relied on SEO, and SEO takes time to kick in. Plus, he's more into WH SEO than BH.

For him, it was a do a wait approach.
 

CCarter

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I think this should put a lot of things into perspective about how long SEO truly takes. Doing pure white hat SEO took 9 months to make $1200 in monthly revenue, on-top of that he had Pinterest traffic within. That's fucking WAYYYYY too long. On-top of that he's got "resources" and is somewhat of an an "expert" in SEO, WTF.

There are other online marketing methods he could have employed in the meantime to generate traffic and awareness to his brand, especially if he setup a monthly budget for as little at $250 a month.

I don't know about you guys but waiting 9 months to generate "some" money is ridiculous. Either evolve or die.
 
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He should have started out with an expired domain. It's as much of a hack as there are these days.
For the record, I hit $1000 in about 8 months using the BuSo method:
https://www.buildersociety.com/threads/the-re-up-starting-over-smarter-and-better.3183/page-2#post-39565
I also did that starting out literally having zero money, a $50 laptop and only able to work 2-3 hours a day.
Now, I do face the same issues even so, as I my goal was to make $5000 a month a year after that income report and I don't. I only hit around 3K now, which is not so great and had a few months of 4K. I do estimate I will hit 5K pretty consistently at the end of the year, probably more in January.
But yeah, this is a good wakeup call imo.
 
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To be honest, it's nice to see someone who clearly knows what he is doing take a completely WH and honest approach to building a site that can be replicated without knowledge of GH or BH techniques. With this said, would it be wise for someone at the $0.00 a month mark to wait 9 months to hit the $1000.00 a month mark? Probably not in most cases.

I don't have experience building out an affiliate website but I have gathered information on the subject over the past 4 years, but judging by the reply by @CCarter above there's better ways to hit the $1000.00 a month mark than waiting for 9 months.
 

Calamari

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To be honest, it's nice to see someone who clearly knows what he is doing take a completely WH and honest approach to building a site that can be replicated without knowledge of GH or BH techniques.
I agree.

One thing I'd like to point out is he did use link building strategies that Google wouldn't approve of so I don't think we should be calling him a "white hat". He used very common gray hat techniques.

Nine months is a completely reasonable amount of time considering he relied mostly on search engine marketing.
 
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Not wonderfully inspired by the story considering he has spent over $18,000 on the site and is still $15,000 in the red (if I am reading the table correctly). The running costs (assuming he continues to pay for content) are $1,500 a month so he still needs to increase monthly income to cover costs and then wait until the site has started paying back its initial set-up costs.

Let's say it will take him 3-6 months to reach a figure at which point he is covering his costs, he then needs to reach that figure plus an additional minimum $500 a month which will take him two and a half years to get back the money he has so far invested.

So we are talking an investment of minimum $20,000 which will then go into the black at some point in the third or fourth year, assuming in that timescale that there have been no competitors marching into his niche (especially now that he has outed it)/Google ranking changes/Google algo changes.

To be fair, he says he would aim to get $40,000 in a website sale but that also depends on what happens in the meantime and I'm not sure about the metrics of his pricing.

Would be an interesting exercise to ask people here what would they do with a spare $20,000 versus what he did (personally I think I'd offer to buy a ranking 'page 2' site or purchase a category killer domain with half the money).
 

andreint

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ffs... What this guy is willing to do to make some money selling his courses...

It looks like he completely forgot what happened to his first case study and all the people who followed it - which I'm 100% sure will be the case here.

To elaborate:
1) create a case study to hype up your audience to follow your model (which is pretty bad, though). I have no issues with promoting your stuff, but cmon.
2) publicly acknowledge that you're buying links from PBN and 'guest post' providers such as Authority Builders (hundreds of people followed him and did the same exact thing)
3) build some more hype and then REVEAL the fuck*ng URL.

Don't you think guys from Google are smart enough to go through his backlink profile and nuke his site, all those AB sites, AND SITES FROM THE PEOPLE WHO PURCHASED LINKS FROM AB (and the rest of the pack). That's what happened the first time. And it's probably going to happen again.

Why share the URL? Why? Idiot.
 

Ryuzaki

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Why share the URL? Why? Idiot.
Last time he did this and shared the URL, probably 25 copy cats popped up, and someone (or several) negative SEO'd his site. I'm pretty sure I know who it was too. He's banned from this forum.

But yeah, this is definitely a loss leader to get people to buy the SaaS he's vested in, buy his plugins, buy his courses, view his site and get him affiliate commissions. That's all fine and dandy, smart even.

The problem is how he's now putting everyone else at risk, like andreint is pointing out.

Regarding the Income to Expenses ratio, yes, he may be $16k in the hole now, and it may take X amount of months to break even where he's at now, but look at this trajectory:



He would be breaking even a lot sooner (X months divided by Y) if he hadn't revealed the URL. I'd say that pretty much spells doom for the project at this point.

I also think he knows that and that this is an investment into Niche Pursuits and not this site in particular.
 
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I also think he knows that and that this is an investment into Niche Pursuits and not this site in particular.
Sure, I agree with you about his motive. But I also think there is a valid point to be made about the opportunity cost of a $20,000 investment.

Had you bought a site that you could improve with monthly earnings of $800-1,000 (not unreasonable?) or a non-monetised evergreen content site you might well be doing better than the graphic even if the hockey stick curve looks impressive.
 

andreint

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But I also think there is a valid point to be made about the opportunity cost of a $20,000 investment.
One of the last sites I built (from scratch) set me back $24k before making its first $100 in revenue. That happened 13 months later. I knowingly entered that niche and I pretty much knew what to expect, so I was/am ok with that.

Now, 19 months later, the site's on pace to hit $3k with a solid hockey stick trajectory.

That's the game.
 

DD1

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I'd say the break even point would be even further away due to the seasonality of the niche. It sounds somewhat summer-y IMO.

Dollar per dollar, the whole decision doesn't make much sense for me.

The way I see it, he is definitely trying to reinforce his authority as a guru, which makes it more complicated to put a dollar value on. Publishing the earnings screenshots can be a big vanity/validation pursuit. "Look at me, Ma, no hands!"
 
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Good discussion here. Anyway, regardless of his motives, I have to give him props for the case study.

The way I see it, he's serving his audience. And what better way to serve your audience than to provide value upfront (case study, in this case) as you warm up for a sale (his saas, plugins, course, etc).

While most BuSo members may not be intrigued with his results, I'm sure there's a section of newbs that have bought into his "value" and will be buying whatever it is that he pushes down their throats.

Whether ethical or unethical, it really depends on where you stand. The money is green on either side.

Takeway: Provide value upfront. Make sales in the backend.

About him outing AB et al, I guess it's just business. It's not like G didn't already know about AB. Reminds me of BMR (and that other thing called ALN or something) back in 2012. Word on the street is that G staff signed as customers and uncovered the network.
 

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While most BuSo members may not be intrigued with his results, I'm sure there's a section of newbs that have bought into his "value" and will be buying whatever it is that he pushes down their throats.
I always get something out of these case studies. Even if I just learn where not to buy links from, because it's where everyone else is buying links from, then it's worth it.
 

CCarter

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Would be an interesting exercise to ask people here what would they do with a spare $20,000 versus what he did (personally I think I'd offer to buy a ranking 'page 2' site or purchase a category killer domain with half the money).
I would put 100% of that into YouTube pre-roll ADs and production of videos that are targeting specific cities within the content and copy. A little secret that most people don't realize is when a user clicks "SKIP" on an AD the advertiser doesn't pay anything. So if you are clever enough you can get that 5 seconds of branding in place before they are allowed to click "SKIP".

So the game plan is this (BTW I am about to launch a campaign doing EXACTLY this for 2 operations):

1. Find the countries and cities with the target audience I am after.

2. Create Video content each with an intro stating "Hey Chicago, are you looking for XYZ", Logo and spokesperson right there on screen. I will create this customized content for each city and country I am targeting in the country's language of course.

3. Then run a video campaign against YouTube Channels using the customized level of targeting. You can even target people that Googled "Buy XYZ", then later on went to YouTube to watch videos on another topic and hit them with an AD "Hey Chicago, were you looking to Buy XYZ?"

4. Profit.

I might do a case study on this - with one or both of the operations I will be launching this initiative with, cause I have a bet with @Ryuzaki on being able to do a sick ROI with a low budget. I didn't tell him that all those "SKIP" clicks still get the branding done though. :D

YouTube is extremely cheap right now, (especially if you are targeting non-english countries), and can get specific to "30-41 females" with "income level above $100K" living in "Austin Texas" that Googled "Buy XYZ" recently. Then create content with an actress with a Texan accent that looks like the exact demographic, and start off with some crazy low budget like $200, sort of hard not to make money unless your content sucks. And even if it sucks you can create 3-10 variations of the same AD relatively cheap, Fiverr spokesperson.

Now imagine getting that level of targeted clicks for $0.10 to $0.50 - even at 3% conversion rate off of $200 spend, that's would turn $200 into at least 12 to 60 conversions, multiply by that whatever your product/service costs, lets say $50, that's $600 to $3,000 in revenue from $200 spend.

But this is only possible right now cause YouTube is EXTREMELY cheap, yet you can get super targeted like a Mofo, and create ADs literally tailored to the target audience. It's like the Adwords days where you could get $0.05 to $0.10 a click. In 5-6 years it'll be over-saturated eventually but might as well strike while the iron is hot.

On-top just think about this, YouTube gets 5 BILLION video views daily. There are videos about everything, so there is definitely videos about your niche that you can use YouTube pre-roll ADs to get in-front of.

Or you could waste 9 months with SEO. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But none of this means jack-shit without proof, so I gotta show the non-believer @Ryuzaki what's really going on.
 
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I would put 100% of that into YouTube pre-roll ADs and production of videos that are targeting specific cities within the content and copy. A little secret that most people don't realize is when a user clicks "SKIP" on an AD the advertiser doesn't pay anything. So if you are clever enough you can get that 5 seconds of branding in place before they are allowed to click "SKIP".

So the game plan is this (BTW I am about to launch a campaign doing EXACTLY this for 2 operations):

1. Find the countries and cities with the target audience I am after.

2. Create Video content each with an intro stating "Hey Chicago, are you looking for XYZ", Logo and spokesperson right there on screen. I will create this customized content for each city and country I am targeting (in the country's language of course.

3. Then run a video campaign against YouTube Channels using the customized level of targeting. You can even target people that Googled "Buy XYZ", then later on went to YouTube to watch videos on another topic and hit them with an AD "Hey Chicago, were you looking to Buy XYZ?"

4. Profit.

I might do a case study on this - with one or both of the operations I will be launching this initiative with, cause I have a bet with @Ryuzaki on being able to do a sick ROI with a low budget. I didn't tell him that all those "SKIP" clicks still get the branding done though. :D

YouTube is extremely cheap right now, (especially if you are targeting non-english countries), and can get specific to "30-41 females" with "income level above $100K" living in "Austin Texas" that Googled "Buy XYZ" recently. Then create content with an actress with a Texan accent that looks like the exact demographic, and start off with some crazy low budget like $200, sort of hard not to make money unless your content sucks. And even if it sucks you can create 3-10 variations of the same AD relatively cheap, Fiverr spokesperson.

Now imagine getting that level of targeted clicks for $0.10 to $0.50 - even at 3% conversion rate off of $200 spend, that's would turn $200 into at least 12 to 60 conversions, multiply by that whatever your product/service costs, lets say $50, that's $600 to $3,000 in revenue from $200 spend.

But this is only possible right now cause YouTube is EXTREMELY cheap, yet you can get super targeted like a Mofo, and create ADs literally tailored to the target audience. It's like the Adwords days where you could get $0.05 to $0.10 a click. In 5-6 years it'll be over-saturated eventually but might as well strike while the iron is hot.

On-top just think about this, YouTube gets 5 BILLION video views daily. There are videos about everything, so there is definitely videos about your niche that you can use YouTube pre-roll ADs to get in-front of.

Or you could waste 9 months with SEO. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But none of this means jack-shit without proof, so I gotta show the non-believer @Ryuzaki what's really going on.
This is one of the nice things about big advertisers on YouTube being so PC. Everytime there's a scandal where a prominent YouTube creator gets caught being anti-PC, advertisers leave the platform, driving ad costs down.
 
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Another podcast I follow talked about Gary V (who I don't follow) and how he'd repurpose his content to multiple channels, which is also talked about here. I think that's a great point and I think it ties into what you said.
Now, I don't think SEO is dead or anything like that, but I can see the writing on the wall, that business model of "ranking stuff in google" is going to become a lot less profitable.
I don't feel like I am doing that though. I feel like I am now doing consumer reviews of various products. I'm the only one in my new niche, who actually bothered trying the products. I took photos of them, but next up, definitely going to find some office space to fit these products and begin doing video reviews, podcasts etc. Cost? Yes, but I'd like to look into actual costs of such a setup compared to a serious linkbuilding campaign. Oh well, I'm talking, I still have 90% SEO traffic.
So I don't think posting a great review and buyers guide is really "doing SEO" at that point, but rather becoming an "amateur expert" sharing content. Then do a bit of promotion for specific SEO purposes, but everyone does that anyway.
 
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@CCarter Count me in as very interested in a YouTube case study. I have a client that has been asking me about YouTube and I'm learned more from this post than I have from anything else I've read online.
 
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Now I'm questioning whether it's still safe to use AB after this, I had invested some big money(for me) into buying backlinks from them because I saw them as the super-safe option, now I'm scared now one day those guest post sites are going to get a slap and ill feel it.

What's hilarious is AB was supposed to be the safe way to buy links from sites that have traffic and authority. Looking at it now I feel like everything is risky even outreach you don't know 100% who you're getting your outreach link from and if they are doing shady practices and accepting every link under the sun. I am feeling like now buying pbns doesn't even seem that bad since everything can get you penalized these days I even see 100% white hat sites going down, might as well take your chances and make some money off a site and if it gets hit just disavow and do a recovery.

I love Spencer he got me started in this game with niche site project 1 gave me my first 5k a month site back when it was easier(sites still alive now making 4k 1 penalty later). Because I owe my aff site career to him ill never bad mouth him, but damn it hurts to see your link source outed to thousands of readers that will either drive prices up or get the network nuked. Oh well, guess ill try that youtube method to diversify :tongue:
 
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Now I'm questioning whether it's still safe to use AB after this
I love what @Calamari said: "I always get something out of these case studies. Even if I just learn where not to buy links from, because it's where everyone else is buying links from, then it's worth it. "

Got me thinking.