New posts only go to subscribers via email. EXCLUSIVELY.
You can read more here or simply subscribe:
April 2020 Traffic & Revenue Report
If you’re already familiar with my business model, just use the table of contents above to skip to the juicy parts or go straight for the bottom line.
So what is this report?
Here’s a quick recap. I have a portfolio of content/niche sites. This blog – Yeys.com – is where I document my progress in detailed traffic and revenue reports. I started doing this in 2019. You can find the previous reports here.
Note: I have another large site that isn’t covered in these reports because it’s a community (forum) site. I try to keep Yeys.com dedicated to my content sites venture. Keep in mind that I am an experienced web publisher and have a constant stream of revenue, which allows me to invest in new websites. This kind of investment is not something I recommend doing if you have no reliable source of income.
My Web Publishing Strategy And Our Team
My strategy is simple –
- Find underserved queries on the Internet.
- Publish the best possible answer to the query.
Multiply this by dozens of posts a month, across several niches, scaling up by outsourcing.
I currently employ four VA’s and two editors (not all of them full-time). In addition to that, I work with 20-30 freelancers that write a total of 150+ posts per month. (If you’re curious about how I manage to produce so many posts, you can read here about my workflow).
My husband also helps, especially with strategy and analysis (that’s on top of his day job). That’s why you’ll see me using “I” and “we” interchangeably.
Introducing our portfolio
Our current portfolio strategy goes like this:
- Add one content site to the mix every quarter, launching it with 100 posts.
- Let it brew for an additional half a year, to see how the niche feels.
- If it’s going well, keep pushing content and making it into a significant authority site.
- If it doesn’t – no harm done, we have a smallish site in the portfolio that will pay for itself within a couple of years.
So, this is where we stand now –
(Potentially) Large niches sites
- Home Improvement
- Style and fashion
Small niche sites
These were “carried over” from previous years before we devised the current strategy.
- Pet Accessories blog (a specific type of accessories)
- Pets blog (specific small pet)
Traffic and Revenue for April 2020
Taking into account our entire portfolio, we had a total of 482,046 pageviews. Compared to 340,412 pageviews in March. That’s a significant increase in traffic of about 42%!
Unfortunately, the increase in revenue was more limited. With RPM/CPM rates crashing across the industry (thank you, corona!), revenue went up but not on the same scale. We had a total of $8,573 in revenue, compared to $6,891 in March. That’s an increase of about 24%. Sweet, considering how volatile April has been.
So, what happened here?
It looks like people spend more time at home these days, so they’re on the Internet a lot. They buy more as well, which is evident by the increase in Amazon sales. The first three weeks of April were magical in terms of Amazon revenue. With more traffic and more sales, we were above the $100 a day point almost every day. On some days, the revenue shot up to over $200, going up as high as $270. Compare that to an average of $80 a day in previous months. People were definitely shopping more online in April.
Unfortunately, the recent Amazon cut in commission rates meant that we were back to $80-$100 in the last week of the month. Oh well. It was nice while it lasted.
RPM rates are still low, though. About 30-40% lower across the board. Combine that with the increase in traffic, and the two effects cancel out one another, pretty much. However, the increase in Amazon fees throughout the first three weeks compensated – to some extent – for the lower RPM for display ads. So, overall, lots of strange things happening due to Covid-19, but we finished the month with a nice increase.
Ok, enough analysis. Let’s take a look at the numbers for April per blog.
The Travel Blog
Site history: This site was established in June 2016. I try to keep a personal tone in this blog, so while outsourcing the bulk of the writing, I’m the one writing the outlines, intros, and summaries for most of the posts.
Monetization: During normal times, about 75% of revenue comes from display ads, managed via Ezoic. The rest is a combination of Amazon and Booking.com affiliation fees.
The blog currently has a total of 244 posts.
This blog was doing so well up until February. March corona madness hit it hard. With people no longer flying and traveling, traffic sank, and revenue went down along with it. It fared no better in April. There does seem to be some increase in traffic
Travel is a seasonable niche, so we were expecting April to be very high in traffic and revenue. I would say the site took a hit of over 90% of potential traffic due to COVID-19.
Travel is one of the worst niches to be in right now. Fortunately, we’re evenly spread out across niches. It is sad, though, to lose one of your best sites like that.
The Automotive Blog
Site history: We started this blog in April 2018. The niche covers vehicles of various classes and types. The content is mostly informational with a few “best X of Y” product lists.
Monetization: The site makes about 75% of its revenue from display ads via Monumetric and 25% from Amazon affiliate links.
This blog currently has 671 posts, making it the largest in our portfolio.
In March, traffic began to bounce back from the March corona slump. We reached 144,455 pageviews, compared to 135,548 pageviews in March. However, revenue went down from $2,776 to $2,329.
The corona hit this niche. Fewer people going out means they use their vehicles less often. Also, they don’t go out to dealerships to buy a vehicle, so less research in that department as well. The site has a significant RV section, too closely related to travel not to be affected by the pandemic. Still, we’ve added so much content to the site over the last year that just enough of it kicked into action to push traffic up. I would have expected traffic to go over 200,000 monthly pageviews by now. Looks like it’s stalling due to the effects of COVID-19.
The slight 6% increase in traffic wasn’t enough to push revenue up. With the lower RPM rates, the site made only 83% of what it did in March.
The Home Improvement Blog
Site history: This site was launched in early 2019. The posts are a mix of informational and “how-to” posts, with inspirational picture posts and a few “X of Y” shopping guides.
Monetization: Approximately 60% display ads (Ezoic) and 40% Amazon.
The blog currently has a total of 546 posts.
A fantastic increase in both traffic and revenue this month! Traffic nearly doubled, going up from 54,831 pageviews in March to 108,321 in April. The revenue went up by half as much (around 50% increase) from $2,098 to $3,069.
This change is possibly seasonal in part, but it also probably reflects the fact that people are staying at home. Looking at your home 24/7 does make you want to fix and improve on things, now that you have the time. And as long as Amazon delivers, why not?
The Gardening Site
Site history: This site was technically launched in September 2018 as a micro-niche site but was moved to a new domain in April 2019 when we decided to cast a wider net and turn it into an authority site. The content so far has been a mix of response posts, gardening guides, inspirational photo posts, and some “Best X for Y” product posts.
Monetization: During March and most of April, the site was monetized with Google Adsense and Amazon. In the middle of April, the site was finally accepted into Mediavine. We now monetize with both Mediavine and Amazon.
The blog currently has 396 posts.
This site exploded in April! We went from 45,516 to a whopping 135,198! Revenue followed suit with $2,120 (up from $574 the previous month).
The combination of staying at home and springtime was like a magic elixir for this site. It’s taken a year and a half to get to this point, but I think we can finally say we’re out of the sandbox!
The monetization part is a bit trickier. You may recall how Ezoic kicked off the site from their system in early March? Well, we were left with nothing but Adsense and Amazon, but I wasn’t too concerned because the site didn’t have a lot of traffic. I applied to Mediavine and waited patiently. During the waiting period, I could see traffic going up and up. I just couldn’t wait to have ads on that site now that it was bringing in 4,000-5,000 pageviews a day.
Meanwhile, the Amazon revenue from the site skyrocketed. Up to April 21st, the niche had an 8% commission rate.
So, three things happened –
- Traffic went up.
- Amazon fees went down on the 21st
- Mediavine revenue kicked into action in the middle of the month.
May should be an interesting month for this site. We’ll see how revenue is doing once the dust settles, and also how much traffic will increase.
The Finance Blog
Site history: Launched in August 2019, this is an experiment in the YMYL field.
Monetization: None. The site is too small, and the traffic is too low. It does have some Amazon links in posts but not enough traffic for generating commissions.
The total number of posts at this point is 91.
Clearly, this site is having a lot of trouble, but we’re not losing hope just yet. This site is an experiment, and we won’t know how it goes until at least a year from now. The small numbers, combined with the effects of COVID-19, make it difficult to assess what’s going on at this point. I’m pretty sure there’s a YMYL block in place too. Just look at the next site (launched at around the same time).
The Style and Fashion Blog
Site history: This site was launched in September 2019 (a few weeks after the finance site). The content is a mix of response posts, guides, and lists of inspirational images.
Monetization: No display ads. Amazon links on some pages.
The number of posts now is 100.
The site had 2,865 pageviews in April. That’s an increase from 2,037 in March, but not only are these still sandbox numbers, but the growth curve has also somewhat flattened. I can only assume this is the corona at play. People who are staying at home in their slippers and trainers don’t tend to browse fashion sites.
The Pet Accessories Blog
Site history: This site was launched in March 2018. It includes high-quality guides relating to aspects of the topic (how to choose, how often to clean, etc.). We also have some “X for Y” lists.
Monetization: Display ads by Ezoic account for about half of the revenue, with Amazon bringing in the other half.
The site currently has 96 posts, but 18 of those are fairly new.
This particular site was doing very well over the summer, reaching over 40,000 pageviews a month and generating more than $2700 in revenue during August 2019. For some reason, it was hit during the October algorithm update and then again in November. December was pretty bad.
In January 2020, we saw the first signs of the site rebounding. It was holding its own in February but not much more, then went down again in early March and bounced back a little bit later in the month. April was pretty eventful, with a slight increase in traffic and revenue. Nothing to write home about.
The small pets blog
Site history: This site was launched in October 2018, and we built it up to precisely 100 posts (with the last posts added in April 2019). As for the type of content, it’s mostly response posts, but there are some tip lists and “best X of Y” posts.
Monetization: The site is monetized with a combination of display ads via Mediavine and Amazon links. About 50% of the revenue comes from each of these channels.
Traffic went up again this month, from 51,555 to 59,426 pageviews. That’s a nice 15% increase. Revenue went up by 23% from $596 to $484.
This is the site’s second month with Mediavine. We’ve added some video content to the monetization, so display RPM’s went up in the second half of the month. Unfortunately, Amazon slashing commissions in the pet niche means affiliate revenue is lower now. Overall, it’s good to see the site doing so well because it’s entirely passive at this point. We haven’t added any new content in the past 11 months.
The Kitchen Blog
Site history: This site was launched in March 2020. The plan is to build it up to precisely 100 posts. We’re going after long-tail response posts, with some tip lists and “best X of Y” posts mixed in.
Monetization: There are Amazon links in some posts but nothing else (it’s brand new).
The site surprised me by generating a total of 350 pageviews, including 91 from Google! I don’t recall ever getting Google traffic this fast with any site.
According to other web publishers, cooking is a very good niche to be in during the corona, so maybe that made Google take a closer look at the site? Either way, the unexpected wave of Google traffic is now gone. I hope there will be a second wave soon!
Expenses and Investment in April
Unlike with revenue, I can only provide estimates here. It’s just too time-consuming to try and collect every little payment out there.
The exception is the cost of written content (how much we pay writers). I calculate the cost of content by taking the overall number of words that we published and multiplying that by 3 cents (which is how much we pay writers per word). I was somewhat hesitant about content investment, especially early in April, so we ended up publishing a lower number of words.
So here’s a breakdown of our expenses in April:
$100 – hosting expenses
$400 – Software (plugins, templates, task management, SEO tools, etc.)
$300 – Stock photos
$2,000 VA fees (four VA’s)
$700 Editor fees
$288 Ezoic premium fees
That comes to a total of $9,294 (compared to $10,205 in March).
The fiscal bottom line
We had a total of $8,573 in revenue and $9,294 in expenses. That means we “made” -$721 in April. Still in the red, but wow, that’s about $3000 better than what we had last month! We’re doing better than what we had predicted in our timeline (based on conservative estimates). So, yeah, I’m happy! It looks like this business model was robust enough to withstand the corona and Jeff Bezos combined!
So, there you have it. That’s our report for April. What a crazy roller coaster this month has been!
Please leave me a comment and let me know what April has been like for you! And stay safe, always!
Awesome report and hope of readers
just few questions:
1- when you write “long-tail response posts” do you main question post where you answer a specific question?
2- I see your Income per 1000 visitors is low are trying any CRO?
3- You have a lot of website with over 100K visitors why you don’t try to move to Adthrive which has higher RPM compare to other ad networks
So glad you liked the report! To answer your questions –
1. Yes, that’s what I mean. A specific question like “do spacesuits work underwater?”
2. My revenue is about two-thirds from display ads, so CRO wouldn’t be relevant to that part. I do need to CRO my product posts, and in fact, that’s my main goal for this quarter.
3. I’ve tried applying to Adthrive with one of the sites and was rejected. They refused to say why. I asked around and looks like for my niches, RPM’s are very similar with Mediavine and Adthrive, so I’m in no rush to try Adthrive again. I may do that down the road, though. Keep in mind that most sites only just recently crossed the 100K monthly sessions point.
hopefully, you can increase your RPM
do you use Ahrefs/Semrush to find your question keyword or google suggestions and answer the public
keep the good work your website is helping me to continue this journey and hopefully, i can increase my traffic and income in the coming month as I have two websites now near the 10K mark
I’ve used all of the services you mentioned in the past. They can be good for an initial survey of a niche, IMHO, but I find that they tend to become time-consuming. Ahrefs – the one I’ve used most often – generates so many results for seed words, that you tend to filter them, just to be able to go over all of them. I usually filter by search volume of 10-200 and difficulty score.
The problem with that is that search volume is often misleading. I have posts that target queries with “zero search volume” that end up bringing in hundreds of pageviews a month. I also have posts that get to #1 for a query that’s supposed to have thousands of searches but yields only a handful. The difficulty score can also be misleading. In my opinion, without actually reviewing the top results, it’s very hard to determine how difficult they’ll be to beat.
With that in mind, I tend to stay away from these tools lately.
I agree with the misleading info from Ahref. Unless we take a closer look at the competitors on page 1, it’s hard to say if a keyword is worth targeting or not.
Sometimes, I see a lot of Google Map, Youtube results on the top positions which are not worth to outrank them since it’s better for users to follow a video instead of reading a post
Thats great Anne!
For me april was an interesting month. I sold 3 of my “bigger” websites in the same day that Amazon slashed the fees. I made the deal in the morning and got the Amazon in the evening.
I started a new website in January and I see a 500% growth in traffic, just passed 100 visitors/day which is great. I only have 45 articles on it, mostly informational. If the trend goes up I will be able to apply for Mediavine in 2 months. So let’s se how it goes. Cheers!
Thanks for checking in, George!
Wow, close call on selling those sites right in the nick of time! I’m glad the buyer didn’t back out of the deal. That’s an amazing growth rate for your new site, good luck!
Just got directed here from Jon’s email. Wish I’d found you sooner, actually, because this;
“Find underserved queries on the Internet.
Publish the best possible answer to the query.
Is exactly my business model! – I’m just a bit newer to the scene and a one-man show chugging along on a smaller scale.
It has indeed been a crazy year so far, hasn’t it. Anyway, just saying “Hi”, going to dig around and see what tips I can pick up – good day from the UK!
Thanks for stopping by and best of luck with your site!
such a detailed income report.
Planning to make one for myself as well in my blog. 🙂
Btw, where do you hire writers from?
Thanks for stopping by, Shamim!
I blogged here on how I hire writers, including where I publish the ads. Let me know when you have income reports, I’m always curious to see how others are doing too.
Sure…I will surely reach you out. I have checked some of your income reports already and curious to know that – do you just focused on covering everything from a single niche or you are just focused on a single category or tiny niche under an industry? For example – while working with Home Improvement niche, do you just cover a single niche like cleaning mops or floor care or you cover all the categories that go under home-like Bath, Kitchen, Cleaning, and all the stuff?
I have tested both; it seems like the tightly focused single niche site ranks quickly. What is your take here?
I try to create “silos” and attack them one by one. Generally speaking, I map out a list of topics when starting out a site, and I try to cover about 10-20 with the first batch of posts, so roughly 5-10 posts per topic. Later on, when the site is more established and once I’ve had some initial feedback on what works, I shoot for 20+ posts on a topic, usually working on 2-3 topics at a time.
This is super awesome Anne,
It’s my first time here, and I came from Fat Stacks email list.
Glad to see how you’re running the blogs and yes, April was also a record month for me both in traffic and earnings.
And I pray that May ends up being even better for well all.
Meanwhile, why not join Mediavine for those your bigger sites? I moved from Ezoic to Mediavine on the 1st of May, and I’m seeing over 50% increase in earnings so far. So I’m beginning to think that Mediavine will earn you more than Ezoic.
BTW: Are you actively building links for those sites? Or you’re just leveraging on content as most people I know do?
Thanks and all the best.
So glad you like the blog! To answer your questions –
Two of the sites are with Mediavine and I’m looking into moving two of the other ones there as well. I am a bit worried about working with a single ad provider (blogged about it here) but MV does seem very reliable and the revenue better. I’m not sure it’s going to be 50% for al niches, but for many, for sure.
I do close to zero link building. I have done some guest blogging 2-3 years ago for the travel blog, but that’s about it. For me, it’s too much work and risk. Focusing on content alone seems to work just as well.
Hi anne, I just discovered your blog via the newsletter from Fatstacks, great job on it and I love your level of detail in the monthly reports. I have a few questions though as I am also a publisher with many sites in my portfolio and while generating traffic comes ” easy ” to me ( I follow a similar work flow to yours ) my overall RPM across the board is very low compared to yours.
Based on the data you shared here, your RPM is around $18 for April. I use the same ad networks, Mediavine, ezoic, amazon adsense monumentic etc, and in April reached 1.3M page views but with an overall RPM of around $7.
I guess my question is do you have any specific ad layout or anything you do in order to reach a great RPM? Or you just apply and set up the ads and let it ride?
My sites are in different niches so I guess that has a major effect on it too, but still, I feel $7 is rather low and I wonder if I am missing something in terms of monetizaion.
Would love to learn about your monetization process and optimization.
Thanks for reaching out. $7RPM across the board, including display ads and affiliate revenue, does sound low to me. My guess would be this could be niche-related. I’ve heard that gaming niches, and to some extent tech niches in general – tend to have low RPM’s. For my business plan, I assume a total of $15 RPM as my benchmark, and yes, we usually go above that.
I don’t mess around with ad layout, myself. What sometimes helps is to nag your account manager for optimization. They can test and tweak things on their end, and that sometimes helps. Also, monetizing video content with Mediavine pushed my RPM rates for the sites in question by an additional $5 or so. So, I would look into that as well.
Hi Anne, i read on your post about amazon that you post amazon pictures via plugin.
Can you share the plugin name or link?
It’s actually a customized plugin that was written specifically for my needs. It covers Amazon links, as well as Pinterest and Instagram embeds.
Appreciate your report, I am just starting to have two small niche sites started,
One on a specific breed of dog 50 Post – Jan 1st
Second one on-farm Animals – 100 post – Feb 1st
I really enjoy your varied niche site direction
Keep me posted so I can learn also
God Bless Greg
Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your sites!
With all those sites, there is a lot of work to be done. I’m just curious how come you have time to produce an income report and answer all questions here. That’s amazing.
Besides, you have spent more than what you have earned from these sites. You have to believe in this business model so much that you want to expand it at the maximum level.
This is an interesting post. Thank you.
I was wary of committing to monthly reports but now that I have a template to work with, it doesn’t take me that long to produce the reports. My husband collects the data after the end of the month anyway, for our own spreadsheets. That’s where the table screenshots and the charts come from. Looking at stats and talking about them is fun, so not very difficult for me to do. I also love interacting with other web publishers, via forums or here, so that’s not a chore for me either.
I love your informative post. But to be honest, after you stated that you said you made -$721 in April, I was left with the most important questions: Why you do all work this and you are in the red? (Do you come significantly ahead at some point?) Also, how can you manage to pay your bills when you are losing money?
Yeah, I can see how that can be confusing, especially if this is the first report of mine that you’re reading. $-721 is actually a GREAT figure for us at this point. Knock on wood – not to upset the Google and Amazon deities – but I’m hoping that May will be the first month where we’ll be seeing a positive balance, after over a year and a half of investing!
Here’s the thing though. The number is negative because we keep investing in new content. If I were to stop buying content, fire the VA’s and editors, and stick to the basic hosting/software costs, we’d be making thousands of dollars in profit. So, one way to look at it is that we’re making money already and have been for months. We just choose to re-invest it (and add to that from our own funds).
Every business relies on an initial investment. There’s a reason why start-ups need investors. There aren’t many businesses that you can launch with no investment at all. I launched my first site 20 years ago and it’s taken me three years to start showing a profit. Partly because I was making mistakes, but also just because it takes time for this type of business to mature.
This also brings me to your last question. I have a solid stream of revenue from my flagship site which I don’t cover in this blog. I do mention it in the beginning of each report, to let people know that I’m not taking loans to finance the current venture. It is high-risk. Every business is. I would never recommend taking loans to do this. Fortunately, I don’t have to. We have enough coming in from the flagship site to cover the costs. Also, my husband still has his day job, so we are on solid financial ground, thankfully.
Nice report, I just wonder if it’s actually worth it with a negative balance
Thanks for stopping by, Blackwolf.
I’ll try and explain this better in future reports. The investment in content is an investment. It may actually make more sense to present it as such and show a positive balance + content investment.
Excellent read! I certainly appreciate the share.
I don’t know if this has been asked yet or not, but are you building email lists for each site? It seems like most, or all, of those niches would be a great fit for newsletters. You could put together several weekly, or more or less, email sequences and allow everything to be run on autopilot with an autoresponder.
I’m just thinking that it would provide you with a list of prospects and buyers that aren’t controlled by Google. Also, you could market anything to them rather than relying exclusively on Amazon and display ads. You can use snippets of articles to entice people to visit your site for more info, or you could do an occasional marketing sequence for a specific product.
Please keep these reports coming. 🙂
Yup, that is a topic that’s on my mind these days. I don’t want to use Mailchimp or Aweber because they’re too expensive for managing very large lists, IMO. For my flagship site, I do have a newsletter managed by Sendy (using AWS). I need to look into setting up a similar system for these sites as well. Managing a newsletter properly is more labor-intensive so apart from the technical set up I also need to come up with a way to outsource this properly to my editors. The good news is that I already have a task for that on Clickup, so hopefully, it’s going to happen sometime!
Hi, Anne. Thanks for your effort into your blog, loving it! One of the two blogs I regularly visit.
I have a question regarding your editors tho.
I am currently looking to scale my content website and is now looking to hire and editor to help me out. Although I find them to spend upwards to 30 minutes per 1000 words which results in a huge cost.
I can see that you only pay 700$ in editorial fees which is quite low for the number of words.
Do they just read through their article without much editing or how do they work?
Thank you for your kind words about my blog! To answer your question, the way we work, writers have very clear guidelines and post formats to work with. We take the time to train them at first and point out any issues as they come up. After a few posts, most writers require very little editing, if any.
The editors have a checklist to run through. They read the post once and then just check the boxes on their checklist for things like conforming to our templates, link formats, embedding media etc. These editors started out as writers, so they know the formats well, and go over everything super quickly. If we come across a writer that requires a lot of editing, then after 2-3 attempts, we part ways. This keeps editing time to around a few minutes per post on average. With 80% of the posts, the editors don’t have to fix anything. They keep a record of how long they spent working on each post, so I can review that every week. Again, if a writer requires a lot of editing, they won’t be working with us for long.
Great reports – your “portfolio approach” makes them a very enjoyable read. Also, really like your other articles too – especially the ones covering your editorial, etc. processes. Was able to get some inspiration out of those for my own processes, so thank you!
Thank you so much, Keishi!
Thank you for sharing this information