Welcome to my 5th update of my case study that pits against each other two different approaches to building sites: a ready made one that I have bought from Human Proof Designs versus one that I built myself from scratch.
It’s been almost 15 months since the blogs were launched and we can finally talk about some income generated by both! Yay!
We’re going to talk about this and other thoughts I have about this somewhat unfair competition in today’s article.
But most importantly – all the way to the end – I will talk about a game changing plugin that improves PageSpeed tremendously. You probably heard of it already – it’s called WP-Rocket – but you’ll see today how amazing it really is!
But even so, the results are really interesting – so let’s not waste a single second and instead let’s check out how things changed since the previous update!
Case Study Details
In November 2019, I decided to buy a ready made site and, at the same time, build a site from scratch myself.
I wanted to spend the exact same amount of money on both and see which one is more profitable and easy to run/create/manage.
I bought my ready-made site for $1,280 from Human Proof Designs (during a promo they held) as it was in a pet niche that I had some major interest in. The site I built from scratch is in the home appliance niche.
The goal was to invest $1,500 in both websites and see which one performs best and basically decide if it’s lucrative to either buy or build websites for $1,500 and try to flip them for profit (or keep them for some monthly income).
You can check out the previous episodes in this series below:
Update Number 5
15 months have started since I launched the two blogs and unfortunately I didn’t really put much effort into them.
But I can say that in the past three months, I put the most time into the blogs, with one of them being the actual focus – and the other mostly ignored.
Surprisingly (or not), they also started to generate some income, as traffic kept going up for both. We’re talking about minimal amounts of money, but for the minimal amount of work that I put in, it’s really good.
But let’s see how things changed compared to the previous three months!
Traffic & numbers
Let’s start with a quick overview of both sites! The number are total, not averages (and compared to the numbers of the previous update).
1. Ready-made site
Published Articles: 18 (+4)
Sessions: 896 (+160)
Organic users: 751 (+160)
Costs: $1,280 (+0)
Earnings: $6.75 (+6.75)
2. Self-made site
Published articles: 29 (+13)
Sessions: 1,980 (-827)
Organic users: 1,599 (-668)
Costs: $476.40 (+206)
As you can see, both websites managed to generate the first sets of money: the ready-made site from affiliate only, while the self-made site from AdSense only. We’ll go a bit more in depth below.
Things to note
Ready made site
Despite the fact that I wasn’t able to publish as many new articles as I initially wanted, things are looking surprisingly well, as it already sold a few products on Amazon. Check out the earnings:
Even though I am not very happy about the # of returned items, we still have an amazing conversion rate of 25%. It makes sense, because the affiliate articles on the site target some very long tail and precise keywords.
It’s interesting to note, though, that the commissions came from an article that I published, not one of the articles that came with the site. These have to be updated as well, because they’re titled “Best XX of 2020” – but who has time for all these? Ha!
I also applied to Google AdSense with this site, which was rejected as it doesn’t have enough content. Makes sense, especially since traffic is relatively low too. I will try again after I hit 25 articles.
I personally wrote the three new articles that I published (plus updated one old article). I am really happy to see that the trend of the previous three months continues and more articles are starting to get traffic, so we don’t have a single one bringing most of it:
People are spending a fair amount of time on the site too, which is really encouraging.
There is still little love from Google for this blog, as Bing remains the main traffic provider with 33% of the organic traffic, similar to the previous numbers. Google grew a little to 26% but I find this really, really odd.
There is growth, and this is all that matters to me now. We also sold a few items, so it’s definitely doable. I personally believe that this blog can end up making $500 per month by the end of the year (only if I can post enough articles).
But for a 15 month-old blog with 18 articles published and no link building done, things are going as they should in my opinion and I am reasonably pleased with it.
Finally, here is an overview of the traffic for the past three months:
Self Made Site
I was a bit surprised to see that this one was accepted by AdSense. With minimal traffic, the earnings can’t be great – but at the moment, I am happy with the small amounts of money it makes.
Here is how it did since being accepted:
Ads went live here on December 23, so we’re only talking about around 1.5 months of traffic and revenue. Which is not bad, coming from less than 1,500 page views.
For some reason, I am always happy to see a new site starting to produce money, even if the amount is laughable if we look at the big picture. But it’s still that first $1 that you make with a site that makes you so happy – sort of a proof that whatever you’re doing is working.
I published quite a few articles since the last update, as you saw – 11 of them outsourced and 2 written by myself. I plan to only publish outsourced content here.
The new article didn’t start to rank. I only pushed most of them in the previous month (two were published today, for example) so they still didn’t make any difference.
But we’re starting to see a nice spread between the articles in terms of traffic, which is delightful:
Compared to the last update, when one article was responsible for 62% of the traffic, we now have a more even spread. However, part of that is because the top article lost its rankings and brought in far less people.
This is partly because the article, which was the top search result, was pushed by Google right under the “People also ask” widget – and the first question is, believe it or not, the actual search term.
It was also ranking well for a very similar search term (and, strange enough, was getting clicks too!) although it was completely useless for that search term. Google understood that.
But it’s a very small site with little authority, so nothing to complain about here. I am upset that traffic dropped as a result instead of going up, but I am also sure that the new influx of articles will start ranking sooner rather than later and fix that.
I will continue working on informational articles as opposed to buying guides simply because my writer isn’t that good at writing affiliate articles and I end up editing 80% of the final draft. This takes time, so it will be put on hold.
There are also 0 visits and 0 clicks to Amazon from it. I did target some really high volume, high competition keywords as I wanted to see if there’s any chance to rank. So, far – none.
Here is a look at this blog’s traffic for the past three months:
I honestly think that this is the type of progress you can expect if you follow a similar route to mine.
I am starting to believe, though, that for those who have at least some experience, building a blog from scratch is cheaper and the best way to go. Of course, you need to know some basic keyword research things and be ready to set up your blog… but if you do these, you can get a lot more for your money.
I paid $1,280 for the ready made blog, which only came with 10 articles, out of which only 2 were in the top 10 since the last update and only responsible for around 3% of the traffic (both informational articles).
On the other hand, I paid under $500 so far for the self-made blog, most of it being content (at around $20 to $25 a piece). That is around 50 articles for the same amount of money. If you do your keyword research right, you end up with bigger gains, at least in theory.
But we’ll see how this goes in the future. It would’ve been nice to be able to have similar amounts of articles to even up the playing field, but this is the current situation. We’ll have to deal with it.
Finally, just yesterday I decided to work even more on improving the PageSpeed of the blogs. This is something that I did in the past three months, but now I took it to the next level.
I actually decided to purchase a WP Rocket membership to boost up the PageSpeed of all my blogs. When you have a ton of them (and most on cheap hosting), you need all the help you can get.
And, boy, did WP Rocket make a difference! If you remember from the last update, my Ready Made Blog was scoring around 70 on PageSpeed Insights, while the self-made blog hovered around 80 (and this was before placing AdSense ads, which negatively impact the scores).
Yesterday I put WP Rocket on them on them both and here is what happened:
Ready Made Site Pagespeed Boost
Self Made Site Pagespeed Boost
BOOM! All green, baby! An absolutely amazing feature and I really hope that this will help the rankings at least a bit. Really excited to see the results!
And all I did was install the WP Rocket plugin (affiliate link), activate it and then turn on all the options… and we were all set! The best part is that it replaced three plugins that I was using (WP Super Cache, Autoptimize and Lazy Load).
I have installed WP Rocket on this blog also, so you can test out the scores in real time. I was so pleased that I actually installed it on all my blogs. It’s a game changer as you can see for yourself!
Plans for the future
It’s time to be honest now and admit that I won’t really be able to focus too much on the development of these blogs. I want to, but at the moment it’s not viable.
I still plan to get them both to 50 articles each and see where they go to from there… but as much as I’d like to do that as fast as possible, it will probably be a long while before it will happen.
So probably a rate of 10-15 articles every 3 months is the best I can hope for. Hopefully enough to give some fuel to the projects and see then earn a bit more.