How Nettle Tea HQ Makes Money
An interesting case study, because like Expert Enough I’d say it’s kind of a cautionary tale, more so than a success story.
Nick McIntosh built this site to test out whether he could earn passive income from Google Adsense and affiliate sales.
The idea was simple; rank high for the keyword “nettle tea” through some decent articles and then get people clicking on links to actually buy the stuff.
After a couple of months of article writing, spinning and marketing, he got to #1 on Google. Adsense started to kick in and over the 6 next months (Oct to Mar) he earned about $400 in adwords off the back of roughly20,000 unique visits.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that ain’t a high ROI. ie he’s worked hard to get the visits, but just ain’t converting them into much money.
As he says, he earned about 1.5 cents per visitor.
He also spent about $700 getting the site up and the articles written, and invested 100s of hours of his own time.
Now let’s get into the lessons here and how Nick could have made this a whole lot more profitable.
Okay, so the marketing side of things he’s done really well with. That sort of traffic is phenomenal, and the result of careful keyword research and website construction.
But the product, nettle tea…it’s a low value item, one most people caneasily buy locally and thus not really a great product to get affiliate sales for, or ad clicks.
As Nick admitted himself, he should have chosen a higher value item or at least an area where people spend decent money.
The clear lesson there is keyword research will only take you so far; you still need to pick smart topics / products using commonsense and business smarts.
PS interesting side note; it’s now 2013, and I checked to see how his site is ranking using SEO Book’s Rank Checker, and it looks like it has dropped out of the rankings on Google pretty much outta sight.
This might have something to do with the fact that he built his niche site up using article marketing, as well as spinning, and we all know how this strategy (popularized by Pat Flynn) is fairing post Google’s Panda, Penguin, Duck Duck Goose, updates!
So as a reminder, always build your niche/authority sites around epically original and high quality content – which to be honest, you can’t really outsource. Otherwise you do all that work for a temporary return, and then the stream dries up completely. You lose money!
PPS I will also say this case study serves as a great reminder that micro niche sites, ie those with a few pithy articles done for $50, or thin content if you like, are no way to make a real living online.
You have to be pursuing authority or mini authority sites that would make Matt Cutts rub his belly with delight. For example, this very site you’re reading right now is a mini authority site, with about 20 articles, each of which is about 5,000 to 10,000 words.
The idea being we have a lot of quality content here, but I don’t have to get on the keyboard and smash out a new post every day. That kind of daily or every other day updating is what real authority sites like Think Traffic do – not very passive.