This is the 6th 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.
Both blogs have gone live 19 months ago and, even though I was pretty excited at first about this, the lack of time to invest in either project prevented me from actually getting things done as they should.
However, since these two websites are still part of my portfolio and I still update them every now and then, I guess it’s interesting to see their progress.
Especially since now, for the 6th update, we have some income to talk about, an increase in traffic and more. This proves that blogging can still be lucrative, even if you don’t really invest a lot of time into it.
As long as you get the job done well (as I have mostly done), you will have some success. But without actually focusing on a project and investing in it as necessarily, you won’t see amazing results.
So yes, this is not a “get rich quick” scheme, but a realistic view on how you could approach blogging and be successful. You will see in today’s article that both routes are viable.
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).
In this series, I am sharing my results with you.
You can check out the previous episodes in this series below:
- Case Study Episode 1
- Case Study Episode 2
- Case Study Episode 3
- Case Study Episode 4
- Case Study Episode 5
Update Number 6
Starting to sound like a broken record, but neither of these two sites were my main focus during the past 4 months since the previous update.
There was a bit more activity with the site I built from scratch, as I basically have a writer that can produce decent content for it and whenever I remember about that I commission a batch of 5 articles.
But both websites are aged well now and even though they are nowhere near anything I would call successful, we have some encouraging results.
The best part is that the domains have now aged and I hope that whenever I find the time to really publish articles and take care of them, they will start ranking faster. But even so, with minimal work (probably 4-6 hours were put in total in both websites in the past 4 months), the results are good.
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: 20 (+2)
Sessions: 2,227 (+1,331)
Organic users: 2,052 (+1,301)
Costs: $1,320 (+40)
Earnings: $9.28 (+2.53)
2. Self-made site
Published articles: 49 (+20)
Sessions: 4,698 (+2,718)
Organic users: 4,305 (+2,706)
Costs: $1,136.40 (+660)
Earnings: $44.16 (+34.44)
Let’s get a bit more in depth with each site and talk about progress and why I consider these numbers, despite all things, encouraging.
Things to note
Ready made site
Basically, the site stood there with no new articles for the entire duration since the previous update as the two newly published articles were published yesterday, so they had absolutely no impact.
The blog is only monetized through Amazon (AdSense rejected it when I first applied with 15 articles stating that it needs more content) and it made $2.53 in affiliate sales.
I only have one affiliate article (out of a total of three) that is actually getting any traffic, so things are not extremely horrible all things considered.
What I like the most is the fact that Search Engine traffic is starting to pick up and the sources of organic traffic now look as I expect them to, with Google as the top source:
If you remember from the previous updates, the top traffic source here was Bing. It has now been greatly beaten by Google as the content on the site aged.
Traffic has been steadily growing (but slowly as no new content was added, nor any links built), which is always a good thing. Also, the latest Google updates in early June seem to have affected it positively, seeing a minor boost (but it’s too early to celebrate).
In terms of pages that bring traffic, things are mostly the same with one page being responsible for around 59% of the total traffic:
I don’t really like to see this, but with 18 articles ranking (as the two new ones were published yesterday), it’s understandable.
The best part is that the affiliate article is the 4th one in the chart above, with some decent time spent on-page. It’s not converting as well as I initially hoped but it’s understandable as the type of products that I recommend there are easier to be purchased physically (and their costs are really low).
Here is an overview of the traffic for the past few months:
All in all, for a website that I basically ignored completely in the past 4 months, things are not that bad. Only if I could find time to really care for it a bit.
I do have a list of low competition (but also low volume) keywords that could bring in some extra views, but no time to write the articles themselves, nor time to find a freelancer to write them.
Since this is related to a specific pet, understanding of the niche (actually owning that particular pet) would be a must for them to be able to write solid articles. I tried with these two new articles with a generic freelancer and even though well documented, the articles clearly let you understand that they are don’t have that first hand experience with the topic.
Self Made Site
Now, here is where I spent a bit more time and did some “crazy” things. I sometimes just follow an impulse – and usually that’s the wrong thing to do.
It was the case here when I jumped in to buy a site on Flippa for $480, in a closely related niche, planning to build it up and get rich. Of course, I have no time for that and decided to 301 redirect the bought blog to this one and move all its articles there.
As a result, I ended up with a few extra articles, plus commissioned a few extra from my freelancer and ended up with 20 new articles in 4 months, which is not bad at all.
And there was a bit of an increase in traffic, with some of the top pages now coming from the site I bought and redirected:
I was hoping for a more impressive jump, to be honest. Traffic to the articles I redirected dropped a bit, which is understandable: my domain has a lower authority score and the previous domain was niched to this specific product, while my own is just barely related.
Still, the old blog was getting just some 20ish visitors per day, so it’s not a huge loss or anything, but I was actually hoping for better results.
I redirected the domain almost one month ago, so maybe it still needs some time to pick up and generate more traffic. But overall, you can see that traffic did increase afterwards and kept the upward trend.
And this one is also making some serious money. I’m joking, but at least it’s making some, mainly from AdSense.
Since almost all the articles here are purely informational, I don’t have high expectations from Amazon, but even so it managed to produce some affiliate income – exclusively from articles from the site I redirected. Here’s how things stand:
Amazon revenue: $9.39
AdSense revenue: $34.77 (28.68 Eur in reality)
So this blog has started to generate around $10 per month, which is a decent start for 49 articles, most of which are still not properly aged (under 6 months).
Still, looking at the big picture, this is definitely not where you’d like to be after 19 months. But at the same time, consider that I probably spent some 20, maybe 30 hours on this site since it launched, so it’s not that bad.
Had I worked on any of these daily, I am sure they would’ve been hitting at least $50 per day.
Anyway, back to reality! Let’s take a look at the top 10 articles that bring traffic to this site:
This is what I like to see in general: not a single article bringing in most traffic, but somewhat of an even split. We still have the top 3 articles responsible for 57% of the visits, but it’s better than just one.
Another good thing is that one of the articles from the site I redirected is in the top 10v (the one at #6), with some already making their way in the top 20. These are all more affiliate-driven articles so hopefully we’ll see more movement in this area in the next update.
19 months in and the results are anything but impressive. But I personally would consider them pretty much regular based on the amount of work I actually put in the websites.
I have built no links and I have spent a minimal amount of time working on them (mainly just posting content, mostly outsourced). As a result, the earnings are what you’d expect them to be: minimal.
So the days when you could release 5-page websites and make some nice money are long gone. Blogging is more difficult and unless you are serious about it, you won’t get big results.
I still believe that affiliate sites have the potential of giving you more earnings that the ad-monetized ones, even if you monetize them with premium ad networks like Ezoic or Mediavine.
But I still prefer the ad-based websites simply because the affiliate ones are so boring to create (at least if you follow the classic formula and go for the traditional reviews, top lists and “best x for y” type of posts).
But all in all, there is no real difference, in my opinion, between the site I made and the ready-made one. The latter does give you an advantage of getting a few months in and faster out of the Google sandbox, but it is also more expensive.
Still, if you’re a complete beginner and have zero experience, it’s worth paying a premium just to see how articles should be written and to have the website itself setup, installed and running.
I repeat, I got mine from Human Proof Designs and it’s really worth buying if you’re just starting up.
But if you are experienced and/or you like to write or have at lest a person that could handle writing for you, you might be better off just doing the whole thing yourself and save a few bucks in the process.
But all in all, no matter which route you pick, you can expect results to be similar. $10 per month after 19 months if you put minimal work or a lot more if you focus your time and creativity on the website.
All in all, this is a case study that I will continue to update for now, even though I don’t think I will actually be able to focus too much on either websites. But it’s still interesting to see how much these types of sites can grow – those that are mostly ignored, have 0 link building and just age naturally, providing decent quality articles.
It’s been an interesting ride so far and I can only hope that it will continue to be like this in the future also.