Even though I don’t really have a ton of time on my hands for new projects, I had an unexpected opportunity at the end of the previous year to get my hands on a ready-made blog in a niche that I always wanted to get into.
Soon after, I decided to turn one solid domain that I had owned for years into an affiliate blog (tried to sell it but nobody was willing to match my asking price).
And since both these things happened roughly at the same time (in late November 2019), I decided to start this case study and see which of the two new blogs will perform better: the new site or the ready made blog.
I plan to share the journey and its results in the months to come so that you can have a clearer opinion on whether it’s worth buying one of those ready-made niche blogs or you’re best doing all the work yourself.
Ready Made Blog details
This blog purchase was – like many things that I do – unplanned. I follow a website called Human Proof Designs for quite some time now and they offer all sorts of of ready-made sites.
I won’t really go into a ton of details about their service as this is not the point of the article, but they do offer newly made sites, as well as aged affiliate sites, authority websites and all sorts of other custom options.
They had this Black Friday discount (of around 20% off if I remember correctly) and a brand new site that was in a niche that I was really interested in, so I decided to take advantage of the offer – for a bit over $1,000 I got my ready made blog in a niche that I wanted to get into for a couple of years already:
The transaction was smooth and nice and within a couple of days the new blog was in my possession. Here is what I got for the money:
- The domain transferred to my Namecheap account, as well as hosting on thier servers for 12 months
- Premium WordPress theme (Performag by Thrive), fully customized
- Professional logo
- Ebook to use as magnet for email subscriptions
- List of keywords for future articles (it was actually missing when I purchased the blog, but I contacted support and they sent it over)
- 9 published articles.
The existing posts were a mix of informational pieces (4 of them, around 800 words, answering some very specific questions), 3 in-depth reviews of single products (also around 800 words each) and 2 longer form best of lists (one around 3,000 and one around 2,000 words).
This was a brand new website – it appeared to be one month old based on the date of publication of the first article and it had almost zero traffic (2 organic visitors in the last week of November, actually) – but this was to be expected as this is the case of all new websites.
I wasn’t insanely happy with the price I paid for it, as it ends up at around $100 per article, but for somebody who doesn’t have experience, a premium theme, a tool for doing keyword research and time to set everything up, the cost is not that high.
There are few businesses that you can start on such a low budget – but chances of it turning into a full time job that pays all expenses are also slim for those who have no experience.
Either way, back to the blog itself, there had been no link building done, the articles and the domain itself were not aged, so it was basically a brand new blog. We’ll see if this will turn into something, as I do plan to work a bit on the site and hopefully make it better.
Since acquiring this ready-made site, I added two new articles: one affiliate (1,887 words) and one informational article (1,027 words). I did no link building, no promotion for this blog and basically just let it sit there.
My approach to building blogs is very white hat – which means that I don’t do PBNs, I don’t buy links and don’t do anything unnatural, so it will probably take a while until this blog takes off.
This is not necessarily the best approach – as the November 2019 Google Update hit most of my blogs and hit them hard, but at least risks are minimal compared to going against the rules.
Self-Made Blog details
I had this domain – a kind of a one word domain in the home niche – that I owned since 2010 or something like that. I tried to sell it for a few thousand, but nobody was interested in it. So I decided to turn it into a blog and see if I can make some nice money off it.
I took this decision with the plan of creating this case study, actually, planning to do everything by myself AND spend the same amount of money on the blog. So with a budget of $1,000, I started to work a bit on it.
I already had the domain, I had my new favorite theme – Generatepress Premium – installed and customized it a little, I wrote the main pages, installed plugins and personally wrote three high quality articles (or so I consider them): 2 informational (700 and 1,000 words), and one affiliate “best of” type of article (2,100 words)
Again, I did no link building, no promotion or anything… I did spend some time doing a bit of keyword research and I have a list of maybe 20 articles that would be perfect for the website, but apart from that, not much.
I would say that I spent, all in all, around 10 hours setting everything up, doing the minimal keyword research that I did and writing the articles. But with somebody with zero experience, just installing WordPress, configuring the plugins and customizing the theme can take up to 10 hours.
I am planning to actually hire somebody to write the content for the blog since the niche itself is not one that I am really attracted by – and I tried finding writers on some VA groups on Facebook but without any luck. So I might end up having to write the articles myself, which was definitely not planned.
It is really strange, because the articles that I need are very, very simple articles that require minimal research. I was surprised to see so few people willing to write. I am trying to keep the budget low, but still wasn’t expecting this.
So I will probably have to move on to platforms like Upwork – last time I used them I couldn’t pay via PayPal and that is a big con for me. Maybe they changed – I’ll do my research and see.
First Update (Two Months In)
I will update the stats below every few months in future case studies to show progress (or lack of it):
1. Ready-made site
Published Articles: 11
Organic visits: 4
Profits: – $1,038
2. Self-made site
Published articles: 3
Organic visits: 4
Costs: just my time
Here are the organic traffic stats for these past couple of months on the ready-made site:
And here are for the self-made blog:
Now it’s worth mentioning that they are not launching on completely equal terms. The domain that I had owned for the self-made blog was in my possession for over 10 years. Even though it had no content on it, it probably helps a bit.
Also, the articles in the ready-made blog are targeting more competitive keywords than the others. I would also say that the quality of my articles is better – while the ready-made blog doesn’t have poorly written articles, they are written without any passion and it’s clear that they’re done by somebody who didn’t have any experience in the niche.
While this might not be obvious for somebody in a similar situation, since the ready made blog’s niche is one of my hobbies, it was crystal clear that the person writing the articles had limited knowledge and especially experience in the said niche.
The articles themselves are accurate and without any technical problems, but they lack personality and miss that particular something that makes them really good.
Plans for the next month
My plan is to add content to both websites, as well as build some comment links and a social presence. The plans for each blog is the following:
- create a Facebook page, a Twitter page and Pinterest.
- create more content: ideally 3 new articles (outsource, ideally)
- build some comment links (right now, both websites are in their early days and getting a guest post or two is really difficult. I will, instead, do some old school commenting on a few blogs – 3 niche relevant for each domain)
Starting a blog is always slow process – especially now with the latest Google updates and added challenges for new websites to rank.
Even more, the fact that I am not fully focusing 100% of my efforts on building these websites will probably make progress even slower. But it is something that I always wanted to test: how difficult it is now to start fresh.
I am of the opinion that, if you have the money to spend, it’s best if you tried to buy a website instead – Flippa, for example, has some low cost blogs available. This way, you get an aged domain, some articles written and maybe already some rankings.
With new websites – be them ready made or self-made, you start from scratch. The advantage here is that you know exactly what has been done (especially in terms of link building), so you have full confidence that your project is 100% white hat if that is the route you want to follow.
I also purchased blogs in the past – and every site that I purchased (I paid around $500 on average) didn’t make the money back. So going for a more established website doesn’t guarantee profits if you don’t put in the work.
But all in all, it’s a nice experiment that will teach me one important lesson: should I spend time finding a niche and creating a website for scratch or pay extra for a ready made website that’s got at least some of the early problems fixed? We’ll soon find out.
If you have additional comments or questions, don’t hesitate to let me know!