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When should you reduce adding posts (& the April report)
There’s so much going on with my life these days; it’s mind-boggling. Not everything is directly related to our business, but it’s hectic all the same.
Just to give you a glimpse of what’s going on here.
The business keeps growing. We added four new sites to our portfolio this month and recruited 40 new writers. Currently publishing content at the rate of more than 600 posts a month.
We’re planning a relocation to the US this summer. We’ve recently applied for an investor’s visa, following a few busy months during which we set up a company in the US and switched our business to a new format of accounting.
I’m still the one who comes up with most of the post topics for our websites. In preparation for the up-and-coming move, I’m working on creating a massive “topics buffer” that will sustain our operations for at least two months while I’m busy with the move.
Ok, some days it feels more like this –
And while covid is pretty much over here in Israel, the local conflict quickly raised its ugly head. I won’t get into the politics of it here. Just sharing that we’ve been hit with dozens of rocket attacks over the past three days. Whenever the air raid goes off on my phone app (and outside), we all have to rush to the sheltered room, wait for the blasts and then give it a few more minutes to make sure it’s all over before getting back to whatever we were doing.
Our sheltered room is the office, so daytime attacks don’t bother me now that my kids and husband are home. Unfortunately, we’ve had attacks several times every night for the past couple of nights. And a big one today while I was finally getting a quick afternoon nap.
Point in case: I’m so tired I’m reduced to using gif’s to describe the feeling.
With everything that’s going on here, I’m having a hard time coming up with thorough guides for Yeys. Trying to stick with my decision to post here at least once a month, I decided to try something new: Answering questions from readers, focusing on one question at a time.
I’ll address the first question today: At What Point Would You Reduce Or Cease Adding New Posts?
And as always, I’ll also add a quick report letting you know how our business was doing in April
Table of Contents
- At what point would you reduce or cease adding new posts?
- When do we slow down content production
- When do we stop producing content
- So, at what point should you reduce or stop producing content
- April 2021 in numbers – the monthly report section
- Expenses in April 2021
- The bottom line
I’m a member of Morten Storgaard’s Passive Income Geek course forums. A fellow student (hi Ash!) sent me a bunch of questions after reading this blog. Since I didn’t have the time to properly answer them privately, I suggested turning them into a blog post.
It’s a win-win. I get to generate content here without having to think about a new topic, Ash gets an answer, and if there’s anyone out there who’s interested, they’re welcome to read it too!
As always, these are just my own opinions, based on my limited experience. Your mileage may vary.
At what point would you reduce or cease adding new posts?
The nutshell version: With a large enough niche, I see no reason to reduce or stop adding new posts on an established successful site.
Let’s break this answer down a little bit.
As long as I think that the content stands a good chance of ranking within a few months and generating an average of 300-400 pageviews per post and the RPM is decent (over $25), we’re going to keep adding content to the site.
Consider the numbers.
Assuming a $25 RPM and 300 monthly pageviews, each post will be making $7.5 a month on average. Within a year, the post is paid for and it starts turning a profit (that’s taking into account the 2-3 months it’ll take the content to rank).
What do I consider to be an established site
We refrain from active link building at this point. Without building links, our sites take time to gain Google’s trust. As the sites slowly collect backlinks from very long-tail (and low search volume) topics, posts take some time to rank.
Some people call it the sandbox effect. Others can’t stand the term. Whatever.
Call it what you will; with a new site with no backlinks, we see that most of the content takes 6-9 months to fully rank. We always start news sites off with a bulk of at least 100 posts. In our experience so far, within 9 months to one year, content usually begins to rank faster. That’s when we consider a site to be established.
A faster return on investment
We strive to invest around $30,000 each month into content creation. It’s a risky business, so we try to balance the risk by making sure most of that content ranks fast and begins to generate revenue.
Not only do we not reduce or stop adding content to established sites, but we actually boost them with more and more content.
It’s a self-perpetuating system.
The more content in an established site, the stronger it becomes. Those added posts collect more backlinks over time, and a stronger link profile means more content ranks, and usually faster.
When do we slow down content production
At this point we have a portfolio of websites, several of them established.
We try to get at least 80% of our new posts (around 500 a month) into established sites. That way we can see a return on investment within a few months.
But what about the new sites?
Generally speaking, unless we’re super confident about a niche (doesn’t happen often), we use the following strategy –
- Publish 100-120 posts, shooting for a good mix of topics.
- Wait for the site to be six months old and assess
- If the site does well compared to other sites of the same age – start adding more content.
- Otherwise, wait another three months and assess again.
We usually launch new sites in batches of two to four at once. Some sites do better than others, and we can focus on those.
So yeah, we slow down publishing new posts on sites with 100-120 posts and under 6-9 months old. We pick it up once we see “success signals” and think the sites are on their way out of the sandbox and have good potential.
What “success signals” we’re looking for
We assess two parameters: traffic per post and RPM.
Traffic per post gives us a good indication of the search volume in the niche and how difficult it is to rank. We don’t just look at the averages. We analyze rankings to see whether posts succeeded or failed because of ranking issues or lack of search volume.
RPM is important too. High revenue per 1000 views can sometimes balance out low search volumes.
And of course, it’s important to consider seasonality too. For example, we know that RPM’s are higher during the last quarter of the year and lower during the first one. We would also avoid judging a ski site based on the latest stats from July. Seasonality is important and sometimes even crucial.
We keep track of historical data for every one of our sites, with charts that show traffic per post along time. That allows us to assess new sites and compare traffic to the same point in our established sites’ “life cycle.”
When do we stop producing content
There are two scenarios that make us stop adding more content.
1. The ROI on the site is too low
Some sites just don’t make it. Either the content doesn’t generate enough traffic, or the RPM is too low. Sometimes it’s both.
The traffic is usually too low because the niche is too competitive. That’s the case with our YMYL experiment site. 100 posts just weren’t enough to create a center of gravity, and the site is getting minimal traction compared to our other sites.
We usually get good RPM’s with our sites, but should a site make an overall RPM of under $15 (including from Amazon), we won’t be adding new content to that as well.
Keep in mind that we have a large portfolio and a limited number of posts we can publish each month. We prioritize the sites based on the expected ROI and in some cases, it just makes sense to stop investing in less successful sites.
2. The niche is too small and we’ve covered everything
We have a couple of smaller sites in our portfolio. One dealing with a small pet, and the other with a specific pet product. Each of them has 100-120 posts, and we’re not adding more at the moment.
By “covering everything,” I don’t mean we’ve answered every question out there about the topic. It’s just that we definitely grabbed all of the juicy low-hanging fruit. There’s not a lot of that going around in a small niche, and we’ve covered that.
Adding more content at this point will probably deliver a smaller ROI compared to our other sites.
The larger the niche, the better, in that respect. We can keep on producing posts with large topics. Consider something like “hobbies” as a niche. Or “tech.” You could post thousands of topics going after longtail queries with enough potential traffic. It’s going to be a while before you begin scratching the bottom of that barrel.
So, at what point should you reduce or stop producing content
Let me circle back to the original question.
Ultimately, the answer depends on the number of sites you own and how much content you produce every month.
Try to produce as much content as you can. Then add most of the content to your established site or sites. Doing so means you’ll get your ROI faster, thus reducing the risk to your investment.
Don’t have an established site? Chances are you’re new to this game and are probably only publishing a few posts every month. In that case, build your first site up to 120 posts. If you’re working at the rate of 10 posts per month, by that point, you should have an established site on your hands.
If you’re a bit faster and produce 15-20 posts per month, I would consider adding a second site at the 100-120 point.
By the way, IMHO, publishing only a few posts every month is the way to go if you’re inexperienced. I don’t think you should rush things and invest more money into content before you’re sure that you have the right niche and the right kind of content.
April 2021 in numbers – the monthly report section
In case you’re new to this blog, here’s the mandatory recap (which keeps getting adjusted month to month – this biz is dynamic!) –
I’m Anne, and together with my husband, we own and manage a portfolio of 19 content websites. Our team includes three editors, six VA’s, and over 90 freelance writers. We publish around 500 new posts every month.
During 2019 and 2020, I published detailed traffic and revenue reports, detailing our journey from making zilch (and losing quite a bit) to the current point. I no longer publish detailed reports simply because I don’t have the time for that anymore. Instead, I try to publish one post on Yeys every month where I tuck an overview of the previous month’s stats at the end of that post.
Overall, we’re on a continued trajectory of growth. Nothing super exciting, just the result of the continued investment in content.
Traffic on the niche/content sites went up from 1,424,949 pageviews to 1,499,438. Very close to the 1.5 million pageviews point! We have an additional forums site that we’re keeping out of this chart because it has different traffic patterns. That site brings in an additional 1.3 million pageviews every month.
As you can imagine, revenue was up as well, from $55,320 to $58,885. I’ll switch to using this chart for revenue, as it normalizes the revenue to 30 day periods. This chart shows how smooth revenue growth is, with a small bump in November and December (the months with the highest average RPM in the market).
We had hoped to break the $60K barrier in April, but that didn’t happen. As I said, the numbers aren’t very exciting, all in all. I was actually hoping for them to be somewhat higher. But I guess I shouldn’t complain – most businesses would love to have such nice and steady growth charts.
Expenses in April 2021
I’m not very good at tracking our exact expenses. Instead, I just provide an estimate in these reports.
As you may recall, March was bad in terms of publishing new posts. We went down to a pitiful number of 275 published posts. We’ve increased that number in April, all the way up to 379. I’m happy to say we’re picking up more steam in May.
We factor in a cost of $70 per post. That number includes writer fees, editing fees, and VA’s fees. In April, that came to a total of $26,530.
As for ongoing expenses (hosting, software, and general business expenses), we estimate those at around $3K per month.
The bottom line
So, how much money did we end up making?
$58,885 in revenue
~$3,000 in ongoing expenses (not including content)
Content investment: $26,530
Money “in the bank” $29,355.
While our profit went up, we also invested more in content. Overall, we’re taking home about the same amount as we did last month, which is fine. Increasing the investment is what we’re after at this point.
This mini report concludes today’s post.
Leave me a comment if you have any feedback about this post. I’d love to hear what others think about how to pace content production on websites.
I apologize in advance if it’s taking me a few days to get around to the comments. Just super busy here. I do try to go over comments at least once a week and respond to every question.
And stay safe in this turbulent world of ours!
We will be praying for you and your family – Greg and Darlene
Thank you, we appreciate that. I hope things calm down here soon. Too much suffering, on both sides.
Thank you, Anne!
Your posts are highly informative and beyond inspiring – simply gr8 and simply the best!
Keep up your amazing work!
My prayers are with you.
Thank you, and thanks for the questions!
Great info! I really enjoy all your insights. I was also planning on building a site up to 100 articles and then let it sit, good to know you do the same!
I’ve got a question for you: Do you publish your articles on new sites in bulk? I have heard several people mention that bulk-publishing articles on a new site gets it out of the sandbox much faster. Some people see almost 100.000 pageviews on the site after only 12-15 months. With bulk publishing, I mean publishing the majority of the articles all at once.
Hmmm interesting. I think that it usually takes us 3 months to publish the initial bulk. That’s enough to get the site out of the sandbox a year later. It’s a gradual process, beginning at around three months. 100K pageviews from 100 articles is super high though. I don’t see how that can happen with a site unless there was some intensive link building too, or maybe a very special niche? 1,000 pageviews per post is very high, even for an established site.
Thanks for your response! 1000 pageviews per article per month is really high, I agree. The part about bulk publishing wasn’t really linked to my part about 100 articles. I’m certainly not in a situation where I can bulk publish hundreds of articles a month.
The cases where I had heard of people getting out of the sandbox much quicker, they published a few hundred posts in a short timespan.
600 posts a month.. wow.. that’s amazing! I always look forward to your updates – so inspiring!
It’s definitely challenging! It’s what we’re shooting for, and actually haven’t managed to achieve just yet. Maybe May will be the month for it.
Thanks Anne for the very informative and motivational content, have been following your blog about a year now while starting off on my publishing career and your stats on website growth are just becoming a reality to me as I am now celebrating a first successful website from the two I lunched, plan on lunching more, all thanks to you for the inspiration.
Thank you so much for this lovely comment! Sorry I’m late responding, it’s been a crazy month here (hoping to get to blog about that today). That’s great news on your site making it! You made my day!
Love your reports Anne!
Not sure if you’ve discussed this in other posts, but would be interested in knowing the % of income sources (like 40% ads, 30% affiliates, etc.) if you have that information and/or if you’re diversifying further.
I used to mention that in the detailed reports. Overall, it’s around 10% Amazon affiliates and the rest is display ads (Mediavine, Adthrive and Ezoic). I think diversifying more would be smart. Either with info products or possibly even something like dropshipping or an Amazon store. Or possibly just creating sites for sale. I think one of these may happen in 2022.
Long time lurker and just wanted to say your growth over the years has been nothing short of amazing and inspiring. This is one of my favorite blogs on the internet. Keep it up!
Thank you so much! Sorry for the late reply too. I hope to get to blog today about the crazy times we have here now.
Praying you and your loved ones are OK Anne! I stumbled across your site recently and it’s super helpful content here! I’m looking to launch my 2nd niche site around the topic of hair. However, I’m having a really hard time figuring out how to go about images. Specifically, I want to showcase different hairstyles similar to what sites like Buzzfeed do with posts like “26 summer hairstyles for short hair”. Is there a way to safely use images I find in spaces such as Reddit threads, Flickr etc.?
Thank you so much for the prayers and good wishes! As far as I know, the safest route would be to buy stock photos. Assuming this is too expensive or that you can’t find good ones, then embedding from Instagram and Pinterest should be safe too. Instagram is probably safer than Pinterest because with Instagram it’s usually the owner of the photo who shared it (not always though).
I wouldn’t grab photos off Reddit, Flickr, or any other user-generated content site. These sites enjoy the safe harbor protections of the DMCA so they won’t be sued over allowing users to upload photos they don’t own. However, your blog won’t have the same protection, so copyright trolls could come after you and ask for thousands of dollars per photo. What you could do instead is contact the photo owner and ask for permission to use it. If you do that, make sure that you are in fact contacting the owner of the photo (this should usually be the photographer). And hang on to those emails, you may need the proof for written permission someday.
I’m not a lawyer, just someone who’s got a couple of copyright trolling emails in the past and was very very happy to have had proof of purchase for the photos. Good luck with your site!
With publishing so many posts on your blogs, do you ever do a content audit and delete posts that appear to have completely missed the mark in the eyes of Google and you don’t think can be improved much.
On a side note, do you periodically review posts and improve them or adjust them based on traffic data in GSC?
(Hope you are keeping safe and well after recent troubles).
Great question. So far we haven’t actively deleted posts, except for a small test that took place three months ago. We have yet to assess if it had any impact. As for improving posts, we have yet to get that to be worthwhile. We had a couple of rounds of testing, trying various methods to scale. When we test, it’s usually a/b testing. We select a group of posts with similar attributes and then randomly divide them into a test group and a control group. We work on the test group and then compare the results with the test group. Posts always go up and down the serp’s, for various reasons, and so far, the control groups seemed to have done about the same as our test groups.
I hope that makes sense. The bottom line is that we don’t invest much into updating and improving posts. We only do that with content that’s clearly not evergreen and needs to be updated because things change (i.e. best tv shows to watch this year).
Anne – this is amazing. I am in awe and also super-inspired. On a practical level – are each of your posts keyword researched etc? Or are some of them Pinterest type listicles etc? Just wondering if you do a heavy keyword research system before passing on the keywords/outlines to your writers. If so, I imagine that would be a massive job.
We target search engine traffic first and foremost. Some of our posts are visual in nature but still keyword researched to lure in that Google traffic. Listicles work for Google traffic too, as a content format. We have an editing team and they do the heavy lifting of the in-depth keyword research before the tasks go out to writers. I just focus on the main topic.
Not sure I’m clear or if it’s a typo… Did you mean May when you said:
“In March, that came to a total of $26,530.”
or are you posting numbers a couple months after ?
I try to post once a month to share the previous month’s stats. I copy and paste the format sometimes, and then *should* be changing the name of the month. So yeah, a typo, sorry! I’ll fix that now and thanks for pointing it out.
Also, I just realized the title of the post was confusing. I posted in May and the report was about our April numbers. I adjusted the title now to say “April Report”.
How do you go about tracking? Do you have a sheet for each site where you track traffic, revenue, RPM etc. that you imported from external sources?
Do you start a completely new sheet for every new year as it can get quiet messy with mature Websites?
Do you have a mastersheet where the most important info from all website info gathered then?
I really wonder how you keep an overview without spending the whole time gathering data, prepping and organizing it.
It certainly gets challenging with mature sites with thousands of posts, and multiple sites at that. Fortunately, I don’t do all the work myself. My husband is a spreadsheet geek and he creates very robust spreadsheets for each site. They all feed a central mastersheet where I can see the bigger picture at any given time.