As some of you know, I build a lot of blogs outside of RankXL. It’s how I got started online – building and growing sites in various niches.
Until I started RankXL, I’ve been monetizing everything I built strictly with Adsense only. I didn’t collect emails, I did no email marketing, and I never even considered the idea of building and selling my own products.
But in the last few years, I’ve been moving more and more into list building and creating products, especially for niches where Adsense wasn’t the most profitable option. And it’s been working very well.
In this article, I’m going to share with you on how I increased monthly revenue to one of my blogs (not RankXL) by 5x by experimenting with different email marketing and product creation strategies.
This in itself isn’t anything special, though. The past few months I’ve seen blogs really take off in earnings by implementing list building and launching products. The real noteworthy part is that this particular site is in the most unprofitable niche I’ve ever entered.
If you’ve contemplated getting into list building and creating your own products, it’s (hopefully) going to open your eyes to how big of an impact it can make to your business.
Let’s dive in…
Before the changes
Let’s talk about the site before I made any changes to it.
This site was one of the worst sites I owned. The reason is, it’s in one of the most unprofitable niches I’ve ever worked in.
There’s little competition so it’s easy to rank and drive traffic, but it’s completely un-monetizable.
It was the easiest blog I’ve worked on growing to 100,000 visitors per month. This is the traffic stats from about 2 years ago.
But in the end, it was only making $300/month with Adsense.
If you do the math, you’ll realize that that’s pretty terrible. That’s about a 1% CTR with $0.20 CPC.
You might be thinking that optimizing CTR would easily double or even triple that number, but believe me I’ve tried. I’ve tested everything, and optimized the heck out of the site and unfortunately that’s about as high as it’ll go.
However, as much as I contemplated just selling it and forgetting about it, I opted to keep it. It’s a wonderful site to own because it’s completely passive income.
Competition is extremely low, it’s easy to pull in a lot of traffic from search. And it requires nearly zero maintenance throughout the year.
And so I left it alone and let it sit. Working on growing the traffic to it didn’t really make sense anymore. My time was better spent elsewhere where the RPM was higher.
A year went by… and I’m still dominating the search results
About a year went by since growing it to 100,000 visitors/month and $300/month in revenue.
And apart from a few hours testing out site organization, re-design, and optimization, I barely touched the site at all.
However, my rankings, traffic, and earnings didn’t drop at all. On top of that, my main competitors’ sites pretty much remained the same.
Nobody was really working on growing their sites, and there weren’t any new competitors worth worrying about.
This got me (re)interested in this site again.
This told me that I could probably dominate this niche forever (or at least for a very long time) without needing to work on growing it out, worrying about competition, or maintaining anything.
That’s seriously awesome!
Unless several major players entered the space and knocked me out of the rankings for my big keywords, I was safe. I would continue to dominate the niche as the strongest in links built and content written.
And because this niche was so unprofitable (and so difficult to monetize), I didn’t really see a flood of new competitors entering it as a high possibility.
Now, it became worth my time to focus on growing this site. It could never reach 6-figures in revenue, but I figured I could at least triple the earnings to $1000/month with some more work.
I had to figure out how I was going to 3x the revenue from $300 to $1000 per month, my new target revenue goal.
What I didn’t want to do was grow traffic. It just wasn’t worth it, and not the best move.
If everything else remained constant, to 3x my revenue meant I would have to pretty much 3x my traffic. And that’s not something I was interested in doing. That’s a ton of work (and money invested) for something that just isn’t a big enough payoff.
What would make more sense is changing monetization.
It’s already getting a lot of traffic. I just needed to find something else that worked better than what Adsense was bringing in.
First, I looked into affiliate products and Amazon.
They didn’t look very promising.
There were few physical products that sold well in this industry, and everything was very cheap at under $20. So my projected earnings with commissions wouldn’t be much more than what I was already making with Adsense.
Plus, it just wasn’t a very good niche to be pushing physical products.
It would also mean that I would have to create more content around the affiliate products I was promoting. Again, not something I wanted to do. In my mind, this site did not deserve more content published.
There were also a few digital products being sold on Clickbank that I could have become an affiliate for, but in all honestly, they were complete garbage.
They were outdated, had ugly, sleazy sales pages, and were not something I wanted to associate my site with.
After looking into a bunch of different options, nothing really stood out as a good potential candidate to 3x my revenue.
Deciding to build my own digital product instead.
I figured the best way would be for me to just create my own info product and sell it on the site.
Let me first say that this niche is terrible for products, so it wasn’t going to be an easy task.
I don’t want to give away the niche, but the nature of the topics/keywords in this niche was “visit once, consume content quickly, and leave.”
It wasn’t a topic where people wanted more information. People didn’t want “premium” content.
To give you an idea, something similar would be like the site you land on when you Google “how to take a screenshot” which I think most of us have done at least once.
You don’t stick around that site after getting the info, and it’s certainly not the kind you buy an info product from!
But… it was still worth a try. I’ve been seeing amazing results with launching products on other blogs, so I figured even a small number of sales would be a big improvement over the $300/month it was making then.
Since I was already getting a ton of traffic, I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to at least double my monthly revenue with a product that’s $30 to $50.
10 sales per month = An extra $300 to $500 per month.
Building the product
It took me 2 weeks to put together a 120 page ebook and build the sales page.
I priced the product at $39.
The problem was, I didn’t have an email list for this blog… purposely.
I decided against collecting emails for this blog because, again, the nature of the niche is to just quickly visit, get info, then leave. It wasn’t the type of site you “follow” and become a fan of.
On top of that, I published so infrequently, and I barely touched the site.
Collecting emails would immediately put my site in the red. Because the site gets so much traffic, the list would grow very quickly. The monthly plan to host such a large email list would be above the $300/month it was making.
And if selling a product doubled revenue, even that would cancel out. I would use all of it back for paying for an email service provider.
So, because of this, I didn’t use email marketing, and I decided to just place links to my product throughout my site, and create some banner ads for the sidebar.
Doing this did generate consistent sales every month.
As expected, site revenue doubled – so around $300 from Adsense, and $300 in product sales.
Conversion rates were terrible, but it was still a nice boost in total monthly revenue for this site.
It was a good outcome, but I wasn’t satisfied. I felt it could be a lot better considering the amount of traffic I was getting.
If I could get ~10 sales purely from website click-throughs, an email funnel could drastically increase sales.
Finally deciding to build an email list
After a few months, I decided to finally just experiment with building an email list.
I wouldn’t be sending out updates or doing anything to build an audience through email. It was strictly going to be for building out an evergreen sales funnel that would improve my conversion rates.
What’s an evergreen sales funnel?
Basically, it’s a way to run launches to everyone who joins your email list individually. It’s completely scheduled uniquely to each visitor.
In a regular product launch, you’re manually sending out launch emails and selling your product. Everyone gets the emails at the same time.
In an evergreen sales funnel, it’s all automated so that I don’t have to run the actual launches myself. I write the emails, set up the sequence and automation rules, and that’s it. From there, everyone who subscribes will get a series of emails starting with value-based education emails (no selling), and then be moved into the product launch sequence.
If built correctly, it can work just as well (or even better) than regular launches because everyone gets the sales pitch at just the right time – after they’re fresh out of the education sequence and at their peak interest for the topic of your funnel.
And that’s exactly what I did for this blog. I mentioned earlier that I didn’t want to collect emails on this site because I never worked on it, and it wouldn’t be profitable for me. But if an evergreen sales funnel really boosted sales, it could very well make it worth it.
Testing out scarcity elements
The reason product launches work so well is because of the scarcity element.
And there are many different ways you can add scarcity.
You can do an open/close cart where the course is only open for a limited period of time. Or you can do things like offer a discount or limited time bonuses that expire after a certain period of time.
I didn’t want to do an open/close cart because I was already making a fair bit of sales every month from cold traffic. An open/close cart would mean that the course would not be offered unless someone joined the email list.
AND… the product was low-priced, and really more of an impulse buy, so it wasn’t the best fit for an open/close launch.
And I also didn’t really want to offer a discount. I didn’t want to lower the price even more and reduce my earnings per sale.
Because the price is already so low at $39, it would have to be a really big discount to be considered attractive – 15% of $39 is still $33 = Not much of an added incentive to buy.
Creating a second product tier
So I decided to go a different route.
Instead of offering a discount for the $39 product, I would create a higher priced package and offer a discount for only the higher priced package.
That way, the earnings per sale would stay the same (or increase depending on the offer), and I would still be able to have an attractive scarcity element.
I decided to create a second, higher priced package for the same product priced at $99.
This is a strategy that I love using, and one I’m doing for almost every blog I run today. It’s one of the easiest ways to get started in creating and selling products while maximizing your revenue.
I even did this for a while on RankXL and it looked like this:
You can’t sell a book for $99. But if it’s packaged as a Complete Package with attractive bonuses added to it, then it becomes a lot more reasonable.
And that’s exactly what I created.
The ebook itself was sold for $39. The Complete Package was priced at $99 and contained the book plus 5 bonuses consisting of several shorter advanced learning guides.
Deciding on the scarcity element
Remember, I created the higher priced tier specifically for the scarcity element in the sales funnel.
Creating a higher tier alone without a sales funnel wasn’t going to increase revenue for this product by a lot. Not in this niche. A $99 product wasn’t going to sell well on its own.
Having this new tier would allow me to experiment with a lot of different scarcity elements during the evergreen launches.
Here are the options I considered:
1. Offering a $30 discount to the Complete Package – which would lower it to $69 dollars.
2. Offering the Complete Package as the same price as the Basic Package.
3. Not having a Complete Package at all, but putting all bonuses into the Basic Package, increasing the base price to $69, and offering a 40-50% discount during the launch.
4. Not having a Complete Package, but offering 5 bonuses if you purchase during the sales window.
After a little bit of experimenting, it was clear that #2 was the highest converting, and the most profitable.
During the evergreen launch period, the Complete Package would be offered for the same price as the Basic Package. So basically, they had 48 hours to grab the Complete Package at $39 instead of $99.
Now it became a really big incentive to pick it up before the deal expired.
The results after the change
A 5x increase in my monthly revenue.
First, here’s the first few months after implementing the funnel
This is when I first implemented the sales funnel, and the highest point in sales after it. The site had the highest month ever. $2700 in product sales, and roughly $300 in Adsense.
And this is the graph showing sales from all time (or at least to when this blog post was written).
Sales dipped some months when I played around with some pricing and scarcity experiments. But today monthly revenue is roughly around $1500 per month now on average.
Now, as planned, I can just leave the site alone. Although it’s a terribly unprofitable niche, I’m happy that I was able to maximize as much out of it as I could.
Traffic still hovers around 100,000 visits per month.
The funnel will continue to make sales on autopilot without me having to run launches myself throughout the year. And I (hopefully) won’t have to worry about maintaining or growing out this site to keep up with competitors.
Building an email list and launching products have been working amazing for me the last few months.
If it can increase revenue by 5x in a super unprofitable niche like this, it should tell you that it can produce some powerful results for better niches.
If it’s something that you’re interested in learning, including the evergreen sales funnels I use for my blogs, then sign up to the waitlist for my Blog Accelerator course.
Launching October 2017.