Last month, I spent my time working on a joint venture project, redesigning Flexibility Is Freedom (built on GeneratePress instead of Elementor), and shifting towards a portfolio approach for my next stage of growth.
Revenue hasn't changed much in the last 3 months, down ~80% from $1,000+ levels in Q4 2020.
In January, I invested in additional guest posts from SEOButler, but in February decided to pause all content and link building to focus on new projects.
While I haven't given up on this project, I recognize that I've been working on it for 2+ years now and it's time to expand my asset portfolio and breadth of experience.
For example, I worked on a joint venture project this month in a different industry, and it was very refreshing to not see Healthline.com in the #1 spot of every search query 😆.
(that's essentially my keyword research process: if Healthline ain't there, it's golden! 👍)
Niche Research: Back to Basics
I spent the last two weeks of February on the most important part of building an affiliate website: niche selection.
Back in 2018, I followed the niche selection process in The Authority Site System.
This time around, however, I'm more experienced and aware of industry trends, such as Google's 2018 Medic Update which had a massive impact on YMYL-related websites.
Here's how I've been kickstarting my research and brainstorming process:
Keyword + Competitor Research: I start with a "seed keyword" of the industry and browse both informational and commercial keywords to find the top competitors. Then I use Ahrefs Site Explorer to check out their traffic trends and backlink profiles - especially if they were impacted by Google Updates - and whether they've managed to consistently grow traffic.
Comparable Transactions: Using comparable transactions ("comps") is the most common and often most effective method of valuing an asset. I browsed recent sales on Flippa and Empire Flippers to learn about different industries and business models. It's a goldmine of data since sellers are required to provide historical operating and financial results.
Affiliate Networks: The last step is to browse affiliate programs on the major affiliate networks. It's a good way to benchmark EPC as well - average order value, conversion rate, and commission rate are all publicly available. A high-quality affiliate program makes your life so much easier!
Portfolio Approach: Building The Next Batch
Looking back on my last few years, every year had a particular "theme", whether it was:
Starting out (2018)
Ramping up (2019)
Growing revenue (2020)
This year (2021), it's all all about portfolio management.
I've learned a lot from building my first website and I now understand the "recipe" required to attract traffic and monetize effectively. The next step is to replicate this process...
I've realized (and discussed at length on my blog) the importance of asset diversification.
To create a stable income stream, you must be diversified: within digital assets (different websites, monetization methods) and across asset classes (real estate, stocks, etc.).
The portfolio provides the biggest buffer against downside risks that may permanently impair the value of a single asset (Amazon Associates rate cut, Google Updates, etc.).
To support my next batch of websites, I've made additional investments in my technology stack, including lifetime licences for a variety of application software.
Here's what I'm planning to use:
Cloudways & Breeze: my current hosting plan at Cloudways is $10/month for unlimited sites (1GB RAM, 25GB Storage) and will work nicely for my new portfolio. I still have 2+ years of hosting time at SiteGround but I don't want to go through the hassle of migrating again. I'll be using Cloudways' free Breeze plugin instead of WP Rocket for starter sites.
Oxygen Builder: an all-in-one design solution that replaces a traditional Wordpress theme and does the heavy-lifting of a page builder like Elementor or Beaver Builder. While I typically don't like page builders (they're filled with code bloat), Oxygen is lightweight and lightning-fast. At $169 for a lifetime licence (unlimited sites), it's an amazing deal! 🤩
BiQ: a mini-Ahrefs with keyword research, on-page optimization, and rank tracking - BiQ also plans to add backlinks in 2022 (they're collecting the data). I bought an unlimited licence for $245 on AppSumo as I think this will be a good investment compared to $99/mo for Ahrefs.
Nichesss & GPT-3: Nichesss (or Niches$$) is one of many GPT-3 tools that use OpenAI's API to produce high-quality natural language text that can sometimes fool a human being. I think there's potential to automate or enrich my content process as GPT-3 is a faster way to generate content ideas and produce content outlines.
Optinly: a lifetime licence for pop-ups. An excellent long-term investment at $245 compared to $29/month for OptinMonster.
Webtotem: a lifetime licence for a firewall and security plugin. It's a good replacement for WordFence Free as updates are received 30 days after the Premium version ($99/year).
ManageWP: a free plugin to help manage multiple Wordpress websites in one dashboard.
There's a few more, but you get the general idea. My focus has shifted from building one website to building multiple websites as cost-efficiently as possible.
That's it for this month!
My main goal is to launch my next batch of websites in the next few months.
Niche selection is the most difficult stage (in some sense, there's not really a "right answer") and I don't mind spending a little longer to make sure I understand the industry and niche dynamics.