Could Investing $100,000 In Blog Content All at Once Pay Off? I Crunch the Numbers

Old street in Trastevere, Rome

Quaint street in Trastevere, Rome

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

But could a massive website be built in a day or a few months with a $100K budget and pay off?

I was thinking about that recently.

I started doing some rough calculations in my head.  The math started to hurt my brain, so I busted out a spreadsheet and started plugging in numbers.

It was a fun exercise.  Of course the answer is “it depends”.  Sorry, a person can stop being a practicing lawyer but you can’t take the lawyer out of the person.  “It depends” is the classic lawyer response to pretty much any question.

It depends on many variables and scenarios.

For fun, I set out a bunch of possible scenarios below to get an idea as to what could happen if you dropped a $100,000 on content in an afternoon.

Disclaimer:  Please note that this blog post is based on a lot of assumptions and is merely speculation at best.  The most accomplished blogger could end up losing money starting a new website.  There are many variables at play.  The figures and projections set out below are merely speculative scenarios at best.  Please don’t read this and then whip out your credit card and blow $100K on articles, links or a new website unless you’re absolutely swimming in cash and $100K is petty cash to you.

Here’s my analysis as to whether blowing $100,000 on content could be a worthwhile investment.  It’s just for fun; don’t take it seriously.

Step 1: Calculate the current revenue per article per month

The first step is figuring out roughly how much your content earns per article, per month.

Gross monthly revenue / total number of articles

Example: $15,000 / 1,000 = $15 per month per article.

Note: If you have some content that is not up to current standards, you may want to reduce your total article count by the number of substandard articles.  Most sites have older content not up to current standards that may not perform as well.

Also, it’s very difficult to get an exact revenue figure per article.  You’ll get at best a ballpark figure.  Remember, this entire process is based on many assumptions.

Step 2: Determine the average total cost per article

This involves a few calculations.

Cost for the content

If you’re contemplating investing $100K into content, you should know what the content will cost based on current content costs.  If you don’t have these figures pinned down, you may want to think twice before spending $100K.

Cost per article = Average number of words per article x cost per word.

Example:  2,500 words at $30 per 1,000 words is $75 per article.  I set out several writing services and options here.

IMPORTANT:  I would stipulate with your writing source that you do not pay for content until it’s done.  This amount of content won’t be delivered overnight.  You want to keep the time value of money in mind.  If your service requires payment up front, negotiate partial payments.

Content formatting cost

You must include the cost of getting your content on your site.  It’s not likely you’ll want to format that much content.  You need it on your site(s) as fast as possible once you pay for it.

One solution is to use a content service that also formats content for you.  Textbroker is one such service.  However, your cost per article will be much higher than if you typically don’t currently use a managed service.

Another option is to hire and train 10 VAs on a temporary basis.  My VAs can publish 2.5 articles per shift.  That includes finding and formatting a good number of images.  If your content does not require many images, they can do quite a bit more.

  • VA hourly rate: $2.50
  • Number of hours per shift: 8
  • Cost per VA per shift: $20
  • Number of articles a VA can fully format and publish per shift: 6
  • Cost per formatted and published article:  $20 / 6 = $3.33

Note: 6 articles per shift may be an absurdly low estimate or way too optimistic.  It depends on your formatting requirements.  If you do custom formatting with a page builder, 6 articles per VA per shift is way too optimistic. Same thing if you need 15 images optimized and formatted.  Again, if you’re contemplating an order of this magnitude, you likely know how many articles your VAs can format and publish per shift.

Cost of Images

You’ll very likely include at least one image per article. Perhaps more, depending on the niche.  If you have a free source, that’s great.

If you use stock images, you need to include it as a cost.

A Shutterstock monthly subscription for 750 images costs $249.  That’s $.33 per image.  Assuming 3 images per article, that’s another $1.00 cost per article.

Total article cost

Total cost per 2,500 word article:  $75 (the article) + $3.33 (formatting) + $1 (images) = $79.30 per article.

Step 3: How many articles can you order on a $100,000 budget?

With a set budget of $100,000 at an average cost of $79.30 per article, you can order 1,261 articles.

Step 4: Return on Investment (ROI)

This step is very inexact.  There are too many variables and assumptions.  Whenever you do revenue projections include low projections as well.  Base your decisions on the most likely outcome, but ensure you’re objective and not too optimistic.

Sample Revenue Projection #1 (very optimistic – not likely at all)

Average revenue per article per month in the long run:  $15

The following assumes all 1,261 articles are published… in reality they will be published in chunks over time.

  • 0 to 3 months: Content is being written, formatted and published – $0 revenue
  • 3 to 6 months: All content is published. Some is starting to earn.  $.25 per article per month = $1,261 x $.75 = $945 in revenue.
  • 6 to 9 months:  Content is picking up steam.  This is where revenue projections are guesses at best.  $3 per article per month:  $9 x 1,261 = $11,349
  • 9 to 12 months: Content is increasing in revenue: $8 per article per month: $24 x 1,261 = $30,264
  • 12 to 15 months: $10 per article per month: $30 x 1,261 = $37,830
  • 15 to 18 months: $12 per article per month: $36 x 1,261 = $45,396
  • 18 to 21 months: $13 per article per month: $39 x 1,261 = $49,179
  • 21 to 24 months: $14 per article per month: $42 x 1,261 = $52,962
  • 24 to 27 months: $15 per article per month: $45 x 1,261 = 56,745

Breakeven point: 15 to 18 months. FYI, I did not account for opportunity cost of investing the $100,000 in alternative investments.  This would delay the breakeven point.

Website value:  At the 24 to 27 month period, the site would be worth roughly $1.5 million.

Sample Revenue Projection #2 (optimistic)

Again, assumes all 1,261 articles are published.

Average revenue per article per month in the long run:  $10

  • 0 to 3 months: Content is being written, formatted and published – $0 revenue
  • 3 to 6 months: All content is published. Some is starting to earn.  $.15 per article per month = $1,261 x $.45 = $567 in revenue.
  • 6 to 9 months:  Content is picking up steam.  This is where revenue projections are guesses at best.  $2 per article per month:  $6 x 1,261 = $7,566
  • 9 to 12 months: Content is increasing in revenue: $5 per article per month: $15 x 1,261 = $18,915
  • 12 to 15 months: $7 per article per month: $21 x 1,261 = $26,481
  • 15 to 18 months: $8 per article per month: $24 x 1,261 = $30,264
  • 18 to 21 months: $8 per article per month: $24 x 1,261 = $30,264
  • 21 to 24 months: $9 per article per month: $27 x 1,261 = $34,047
  • 24 to 27 months: $10 per article per month: $30 x 1,261 = $37,830

Breakeven point: At the 21 to 24 month period.  FYI, I did not account for opportunity cost of investing the $100,000 in alternative investments.  This would delay the breakeven point.

Website value:  at the 24 to 27 month point, the site would be worth roughly $1 million.

Sample Revenue Projection #3 (somewhat optimistic)

Again, assumes all 1,261 articles are published.

Average revenue per article per month in the long run:  $5

  • 0 to 3 months: Content is being written, formatted and published – $0 revenue
  • 3 to 6 months: All content is published. Some is starting to earn.  $.05 per article per month = $1,261 x $.15 = $189.15 in revenue.
  • 6 to 9 months:  Content is picking up steam.  This is where revenue projections are guesses at best.  $.50 per article per month:  $1.50 x 1,261 = $1,891.50
  • 9 to 12 months: Content is increasing in revenue: $1 per article per month: $3.00 x 1,261 = $3,783
  • 12 to 15 months: $1.50 per article per month: $4.50 x 1,261 = $5,674
  • 15 to 18 months: $2 per article per month: $6 x 1,261 = $7,566
  • 18 to 21 months: $2.50 per article per month: $7.50 x 1,261 = $9,457
  • 21 to 24 months: $3.00 per article per month: $9 x 1,261 = $11,349
  • 24 to 27 months: $4 per article per month: $12 x 1,261 = $15,132
  • 27 to 30 months: $5 per article per month:  $15 x 1,261 = $18,915
  • 30 to 33 months:  $5 per article per month:  $15 x 1,261 = $18,915
  • 33 to 36 months:  $5 per article per month:  $15 x 1,261 = $18,915

Breakeven point: At the 33 to 36 month period.  FYI, I did not account for opportunity cost of investing the $100,000 in alternative investments.  This would delay the breakeven point.

Sample Revenue Projection #3 (not very optimistic)

Again, assumes all 1,261 articles are published.

Average revenue per article per month in the long run:  $1

  • 0 to 3 months: Content is being written, formatted and published – $0 revenue
  • 3 to 6 months: All content is published. Some is starting to earn.  $.0 per article per month = $0 revenue.
  • 6 to 9 months:  Content is picking up steam.  This is where revenue projections are guesses at best.  $.10 per article per month:  $1.50 x 1,261 = $378,3
  • 9 to 12 months: Content is increasing in revenue: $.20 per article per month: $.60 x 1,261 = $756.60
  • 12 to 15 months: $.30 per article per month: $.90 x 1,261 = $1,134.90
  • 15 to 18 months: $.40 per article per month: $1.20 x 1,261 = $1,513
  • 18 to 21 months: $.50 per article per month: $1.50 x 1,261 = $1,891
  • 21 to 24 months: $.60 per article per month: $1.80 x 1,261 = $2,269
  • 24 to 27 months: $.70 per article per month: $2.10 x 1,261 = $2,648
  • 27 to 30 months: $.80 per article per month:  $2.40 x 1,261 = $3,026
  • 30 to 33 months:  $.90 per article per month:  $2.70 x 1,261 = $3,404
  • 33 to 36 months:  $1.00 per article per month:  $3.00 x 1,261 = $3,783

Breakeven point: Well beyond 3 years… somewhere around the 5 year mark.  FYI, I did not account for opportunity cost of investing the $100,000 in alternative investments.  This would delay the breakeven point.

Website value at the 36 month mark would be approximately $100,000.

This scenario would still out-earn investing in a mutual fund, index fund or ETF that earns 6% annual return.

NOTE:  you would definitely want to put together several revenue projection timelines together to get some best and worst case scenarios.

Asset Value

Because the new content generates revenue, it’s an asset that can be sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 35 times net monthly income.

Using the revenue timeline figures above, the $56,745 monthly revenue would be worth over $1 million.

Other Variables to Keep In Mind

Project duration:

You don’t earn until content is live on the site.  You must accept that it will take time from the date you place the massive $100K order to when it’s all published.

You might be able to get all the content done in 2 months.  Then your VAs need to format it.

At 6 articles per shift, a VA can format and publish 30 articles per week.

10 VAs can do 300 per week.

That means if you hire 10 VAs, formatting alone will take 4 weeks.

That means it will take 3 months to get all content published.

Are there sufficient keywords?

You would need to enter a good0-sized niche for there to be sufficient keywords to cover with this much content.  Or else launch multiple websites.  You’ll want a top-notch keyword research tool such as SEMRush or Ahrefs for the keyword planning.

Avoid keyword cannibalization:

Publishing this much content at one time would require a great deal of keyword and topic planning.  You’d want to avoid keyword cannibalization which when two or more articles target the same keyword.  Of course any niche site will have articles that go after the same keyword, but you want to ensure all topics are unique.  For example, a dog blog will naturally have many articles with “dog” in the titles.  That doesn’t mean they’re duplicate content.

Ensure quality control:

The more people you employ or have involved, the more you have to supervise.  You cannot assume your ordered content is good.  You can’t assume your VAs are not making mistakes.  Your job would be quality control at every stage of the content publishing process.

Invest in link building:

You might opt to portion a percentage of the budget on building links.  I would probably invest a bit into links, but not all that much.  However, some bloggers believe you get a bigger bang for your buck investing more into links.  That would be a judgement call.

Google algo updates are a real risk:

There are many risks with an endeavor like this.  A big one is that at any time for any site a Google organic search update could reduce and/or decimate all traffic to a site.  It’s a real risk you must be aware of.

Would it be better to buy a site with part of the budget?

I’ve only bought one site in my life.  I bought it about 3 years ago for $10K.  I did nothing with it for 3 years.  8 months ago I figured out what to do with it (or at least try).  I published some test content targeting fairly long tail keywords.  It ranked pretty fast.  5 months ago I ramped it up since the test content worked.  I started publishing daily.  Now that site earns approximately $1,500 per month and is growing fast.

The point is that I was able to get to $1,500 per month very quickly once I had a plan with an aged site; much faster than if I had started with a fresh domain.

When I bought it, it was 8 years old and had a ton of good content with a 2,000 inbound links.  It was a very good site but made no money.

If I were to drop $100,000 at once in content, I’d much rather do so with an aged site that has some authority.  Even if the $10,000 to $20,000 cost for the site would reduce new content investment by the purchase price, I believe, based on my experience, that the $100K investment would pay off much faster.

However, the biggest problem with buying a site is finding a good one.  There is not a lot of inventory for quality content sites these days.  You certainly don’t want to buy a dud if you’re also going to load it up with tens of thousands of dollars of content.  You would need to do your due diligence and be very selective.  But if the right site was available, in my view, it would be worth apportioning a part of the $100K into buying the site.

It’s a big risk no matter how you look at it

This post materialized out of my musing about what I would do with proceeds of a big site sale.  I started doing some math in my head whether dropping a huge amount of money into content at one time on a new site would pay off.

The above analysis emerged from this thought.

I want to make it very clear that there are many variables involved here and that spending any amount of money on a new or existing site has risk.  You may never earn a penny back.  Anything could happen.

Moreover, I’ve built up many successful niche sites over the years and while I’ve had even more failures, I do have some experience with doing this.  Someone who has never published a website would be prudent to proceed much more slowly.

Am I going to invest $100,000 in content all at once?

Not now.  It’s more risk than I’m willing to take on at this point for any given month.  $10K, yes.  $100K, no.

However, over the course of the next 18 to 24 months, I’ll likely invest $100K in content.  I have 8 niche sites that could easily absorb that much content.

I have a great monthly workflow right now for all my sites which doesn’t require this level of investment.

There is one scenario where I would do it, though.  That is if I sold a site for a lot of money.  Instead of paying taxes on the proceeds, I’d invest it in content.

 



What do you think? Leave a comment!

  • Dave says:

    I did this and I can say that your last scenario is the closest to my actual numbers. It takes a long time in some niches.. just part of the game but better that than give it to the taxman.

    • Jon says:

      Hey Dave,

      You actually dropped somewhere in the neighborhood of $100K on content all at once? That’s quite something.

      • Dave says:

        Not $100k but very close, plus my cost per article is roughly half of what you are paying so I got a mountain of content.

        • Jon says:

          Hey Dave,

          that’s amazing. Even if you ended up with the lower ROI scenario, that’s not a terrible return. Much better than investing it (unless of course a penny stock strikes it rich). Did the site continue to grow into a sustainable business?

    • Anne says:

      Thanks for sharing that, Dave. I think the key here is giving the site time. I don’t expect content to reach its peak rankings before a year has passed. I’d love to hear where you are now on that timeline – has all of your content been out there for at least 6-9 months?

  • Paolo says:

    Before reading this, I thought, why bother when I don’t even have $100,000 to spend? But I still learned something which is, this method, if done right, still out-earns mutual fund, index fund, ETF, or other more mainstream types of passive investments. Of course this business still requires a good amount of work, but still! Thanks Jon!

    • Jon says:

      Hey Paolo,

      Yeah, even in a not-so-good scenario, it turns out to still be a very good outcome ROI-wise in relation to other investment opportunities. Of course, it’s more work than merely buying stocks. It’s also risky in that it could earn even less than the lowest-earning scenario I set out above.

  • Vijay says:

    It’s not to take as fun but serious thing and I am sure one can get to that point pretty fast. For the calculation, in another way, how to execute this strategy, I remember this article https://sankardatti.com/zero-to-25m-seo-visitors/

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