7 months ago I started a new article series on a site.
I thought it had great potential.
When the smoke cleared it tallied up to around 40 articles. I hired a good writer with experience and knowledge specifically on the topic from the Problogger job board.
The articles are great. I couldn’t write better.
The keyword difficulty wasn’t terribly high for many of them.
The competition is niche sites and not mega brands. I’m not going toe-to-toe with serious authority (not that I wouldn’t but this was another justification for this series).
It’s a series of reviews and comparisons. The writer paid for and used every service which wasn’t cheap in itself. By using all services she had a very good understanding which were good and which were bad.
The topics, while a modest frolic from the site’s main topics are relevant to the site. I’ve ranked a lot of content on other sites that veered further from existing topics.
These articles are published on a site with DR 50+.
I went at this series textbook style.
The primary monetization method is affiliate links although I have some ads on the posts as well.
Total cost for that series came in around $7,000.
To date I’ve earned $180 from the affiliate links.
This is probably my biggest failure in a long time.
I’m hoping it’s premature to come to any conclusion about this effort but each month the writing on the wall gets more clear.
It’s possible these articles start earning in 6 to 12 months. I’m hoping they do but at this point it’s not looking good. The really low difficulty keywords should be earning something daily or weekly at this point.
What does this tell me?
It reinforces that sometimes things don’t work no matter how much of an effort you put into planning, research and execution.
Does this mean I give up on the site?
No, not at all. The site ranks for plenty of other keywords and earns well. It just means this is one series that didn’t work out but others have and others will.
If you think the above is bad, consider my smartwatch niche endeavor.
I publish smartwatch reviews, comparisons and best of articles. I buy every smartwatch covered. That amounts to almost every smartwatch on the market. Come Fall when most brands launch new models, I’ll buy most of them.
The reviews are awesome. The comparisons are awesome. The best-of articles are awesome.
My writer tests each watch for about a week before writing about them. He’s tested so many smartwatches that he knows smartwatches more than most people.
He takes many photos for each article.
He’s able to point out nuanced differences across many brands.
All in all the content is really, really good.
And yet rankings elude me for the most part. The entire series gets okay traffic but it hasn’t hit the jackpot yet.
Because it’s ridiculously competitive. I’m up against CNet, TechRadar, Wareable.com and many other behemoths. It’s a terrible niche in that regard. But if it ever picks up steam, the potential is very, very good.
Surprisingly the affiliate commissions are non-existent (I get some traffic to my articles and rarely earn a commission).
And yet I can’t help myself from continuing with the niche. It’s akin to a passion project because I love smartwatches. I’m already looking forward to getting the next generation of smartwatches.
I could expand into fitness trackers but I don’t see the point of fitness trackers if you can have a smartwatch. I’m in the minority since fitness trackers generally have higher search volume.
Smartwatches is a pet project that I’ll keep going with.
What does this tell you?
Even if you do everything right with an article or series, it won’t always work out.
This content publishing business is a numbers game.
Above I set out two examples of failures to illustrate that no matter how long anyone has blogged and how much authority a site may have, not all articles will succeed.
Fortunately it’s not all doom and gloom.
Across my niche sites I have many highly successful article series. All told, my sites pull in 100,000 to 115,000 daily visitors so something is working.
I believe that if you do everything right from good keyword research to content execution the odds are well in your favor but they’re odds.
Odds mean that you won’t bat 100.
If 40% of your content is a success you will have a successful site.
Probably a 20% content success rate would result in a successful site.
Those small percentage of articles that succeed make up for the higher percentage that fail.
I really shouldn’t be surprised about the above 2 “failed” results because when I look at all my sites and all my content, more content failed than succeeded.
The reason the two above stung so much is I invested above-average amount of money into them.
I thought I had found excellent opportunities.
These things happen.
I’m already onto the next article series.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.