Case Study 8: Why is my Website Not Making Money? Here’s What You’ll Need to do.

websitenotmakingmoneyIf there is a list of the top 5 or 3 questions people who own websites ask, it’s why their site is not making any money. A page that makes you a full time income doesn’t just make itself. It takes time, testing and patience to develop, but that can take years to understand. That needs to be way shorter…

Most of the time what we learn, we learn from experience, but instead of you learning from your own mistakes, let me share with you one of my own using a website that I’ve been working on off and on for a few years. It’s made a few $100 dollars, but those are actually terrible results, considering it could have made so much more.

Why would a case study show a “failure”?

Well because failures are what actually lead to success and I’ve recently made serious changes on the site that have made sales improve substantially. Instead of the $100 or so that was made over the course of a year, nearly a $100 was made in the past week.

That is a seriously tremendous improvement. Making in 7 days what was once made in 365 days says a lot and if I can scale, why can’t that number go even higher? I’ll share everything I’ve done to do this, but also help you identify the symptoms of why the site you currently have or plan on making isn’t making any money and what you can do to fix it.

I want everything to be very clear when I explain this to everyone so we need to be at the same starting point. 

Your checklist: The 4 things you need to do to have your website start making money.

I want you to have these 4 things set up. Some of them are extra tutorials that are only going to help you. If you don’t, you’ll need to get to work.

If you want to share with me your website so I can check it out, go ahead, but if I see that you don’t have those 4 things in place, I’m going to tell you to go back and read this article and everything else I told you to do..

1. You will need to have a niche site that’s at least a few weeks old.

New sites are always going to struggle to make money at first. They won’t rank well on Google, they won’t get a lot of traffic, but you don’t have to worry about this. Worry about getting new content on your site…

2. Make sure you have a Google analytics account and have it coded on your site.

The information this program gives us going to be essential to us in the future. In this post, I’m really going to be diving deep into the data analytics gave me and how it’s helped me make smarter changes to my site. 

3. Make sure you have at least 50 pages or posts on your site.

Each page and post should have 1,000 words each (at least) and as I keep saying: write good content! This is very tough to get to and it’s going to seriously be one of the biggest obstacles you’re going to have to overcome as a website owner, especially if you can’t afford to pay for traffic. 

When you hit this obstacle, just know that there’s SO much stuff you can put on your site in the form of product reviews. Review products of every nature that are directly related to your niche. You can also read that tutorial I just linked for more awesome ideas.

4. Have your website set up so you can sell the maximum amount. To do that, I recommend you thoroughly read case study 7.

What’s interesting is that this case study (8) and the one in that tutorial (7) are very similar, but that one is more of a “what happens when you do things right” vs this one where we have a site that clearly has problems and how I’m slowly changing things to make it look like the one in case study 7. I recommend you use this case study and 7 together to really help you in creating an ideal website that makes good money.

Took care of those 4 things? Good, now let’s move into the case study:

Our case study begins with a website that HAS all these 4 things in place, yet despite that, it still isn’t making good money. Here’s a few facts about the site:

It’s a dieting website which is really a pretty broad niche topic, but it can work.

It gets around 150 visitors on average a day (14 day report):

casestudy8trafficreport

There are 59 posts and 2 pages (61 in total) and most of them fulfill the 1,000 word count. Most of the content is just me reviewing diet plans and I promote maybe 5 different diet plans on it, where 2 of them are most promoted. 

70% of the visitors I get are from organic searches which is what I want. This is the traffic I seek to make me money on the site:

casestudy8organic

Quick site history:

Over the 2 years I’ve had this site, I have been forced to promote different things because one or more circumstances happened:

I was promoting a diet that was paying me on average $30 per sale and while I wasn’t making many sales with the site in the first year, the program eventually changed it’s policy and I would only be paid $0.50 a sale! I had to change my promotion to something else. 

I then started mainly promoting 2 diets which paid around $30 as well, but one was promoted around 70% of the time on my site, while the other was 30%. I had more belief that the 70% one would make more sales. 

Over a course of many months, the diet which was promoted 70% of the time was not making a lot of sales. If I look back, it had to have been less than 5 sales over 6 months which does pay for it’s expenses, but it’s still horrible because it’s really no major income. 

However, I noticed that the other one which was promoted 30% of the time actually made a few more sales. Apparently, it was just selling better. 

I wasn’t focusing on this site as much as I should have, but it’s my own fault.

Issues the site had which needed to be fixed ASAP:

Even though I had 61 overall articles on my site, around 90% of all my traffic was coming to maybe 5 or 6 different pages. I knew this thanks to Google analytics, but here’s what I neglected to do which I should really be hitting my head over…

Most of those pages were linking to my original promotion which was paying me $0.50 per sale! My neglect in updating those pages to link to my new promotions was me missing out on making money. All those 50 cent sales (there weren’t a lot of them) could have easily been $30 or more! I updated them all eventually, but it wasn’t easy to do that not just to those posts, but every single one. 

One of the BIG problems was then solved…

The surge in traffic to my biggest page (the one that was being promoted 70% of the time) was very big and I felt this would correct the problems and help me get more sales. 

But it didn’t…

After looking over the numbers on my page (not Google analytics), I saw out of the number of people landing on the page where I was selling the diet, maybe about 5-6% were actually clicking on my affiliate link. That’s really a terrible number to have and based on the case study 7, click through of around 30% are VERY possible. 

Google analytics told me the average amount of time people were on that page was 2:30. For a page promoting something, I think that’s awesome, but if it’s that long and 5-6% are clicking to see the product and maybe buy it, it shows me that they are interested in the content, but NOT enough to click through.

So the problem I saw here was that I was NOT linking to the product page enough. I added more links, waited about a week. Things did improve and that 5-6% went up just a little bit, but the sales were still stale. 

I decided to change the actual wording of my page and a few times, even erased the whole page and re-wrote it entirely. But the 2 or 3 times I did then and re-tested, it still didn’t show much changes. 

But the thing with testing is that you need to keep poking around until you get something and after seeing that thiscasestudy8sales particular diet was just not selling, I decided to change my promotion to that 30% diet one…which would then become the primary diet being sold on the site. 

Over a period of a 7 days, I then had 3 sales from that diet, which made a little over $80. Oh, I need to update that number, it’s actually over a $100 now in 9 days since as I was writing, another sale came in, making 4 in total: $108.65 (Yellow stars = sales for that product).

Finally, a breakthrough that should have happened at least a year ago! 1 sale on it’s own is NOT an indication of future success, but several sales shows consistency and these results are showing MUCH more promise than anything else I’ve ever done with the site, which as you’ve read wasn’t much.

 

My final thoughts and what you need to do with your site this very moment:

As many mistakes that I have made, the biggest was NOT taking action with the site and that was mostly because I was more focused on my main one, but the amount of money I could have made if I had worked on this earlier really is eye opening and sad if you think about it. All those days with 0’s turning to something is really uplifting!

Do the 4 things that I advised above , especially the things in case study 7 and when you have it all done, keep writing. 

Your site can ALWAYS be improved upon. Use the statistics you get from Google analytics with stats from your site on how often people click on what to narrow down how you can change/improve things to make more money.

With the diet site, my problem besides lack of action was first that I didn’t link enough to it and then I simply had a program that just wasn’t selling well and even when I tried to change how I was promoting it, it still didn’t work. This may also show that the program being sold wasn’t doing a good job of promoting, but it happens.

BUT because I had clues from my other program selling a little bit (the 30% one), the point which worked was linking everything on my site to that. This is what finally showed the best results so far.

Just because the site has made 4 sales so far doesn’t mean this trend will continue. Anything can happen where things can go stale again, but if that happens, there could be a whole list of other reasons for that.

Now that I have my formula for success on that site, the goal is to keep improving upon it. More traffic needs to come to my site and more needs to go to that specific promotion. 

You have to do these same things on your site too, but ONLY after you handle the 4 other things first. Before you make any changes to your site or whatever you’re promoting, you need to have hard data to support if you need to change anything and hard data comes from having real traffic come to your site and analyzing through Google analytics where it’s going and if there’s money being made. Only make changes AFTER you have this data in place.

7/20/15: An important update to this case study:

The previous sales report prior to this update showed 4 sales up until 7/8/15. After that, I’d like to share the results that occurred and another VERY important breakthrough I had:

casestudy8salesupdate

Our last report ended after 7/8/15 an from 7/9/15-7/13/15, there were NO sales. Then we had 5 sales occur. You will see days with multiple sales, I labeled as 2 stars. The one for $115.61 was 1 person making a purchase and buying all the up-sells, which still signifies 1 sale, making a total of 5 sales. 

From 7/9/15-7/19/15, the website received 1,204 visits of which 234 (almost 20%) went to the page which promotes the product that makes the sales. Considering we monitor the conversion rate of just the page where the sale is made, we have 1 in 46 visitors buying. That’s about a 2-3% conversion rate.

That’s not good, although it’s much better than before. As I’ve said many times, testing is key to increasing conversions, so what I did was, I went back to my review page that promotes the product, looked over it again and found several faults which could have impacted sales:

Fault 1: The vendor of the program I was selling changed his title and what type of results people would get. I did not do this on my review page so anyone who lands on it and visits the vendor site will see 2 different numbers. That will confuse them.

I changed the numbers to fit what was shown on the vendor’s page. Now the relevancy flows much better. 

Fault 2: I felt the review could have been improved upon so I decided to erase most of the content and re-write it in a shorter way. The review has officially gone up since 7/20/15. For the next week, I will monitor how this change affects conversions.

I don’t ever recommend changing content on your site, especially if it’s already indexed and ranked on search engines, but it’s better to do this on landing pages that are selling something. You might as well… 

Just try not to change the pages which lead to the landing page, otherwise it can cause a re-index to happen. If I ever need to change content on a page, all I will usually do is just ADD more content, leaving the old, already indexed still up so it won’t falter my rankings.

There’s only really 2 outcomes that can happen from this test:

1. The site’s conversion improves. Anything 1% or higher will indicate my new page is converting better and it will remain that way until a new test has to come.

2. If the conversion rate drops, I will consider replacing the new review with the old one (the one that had a 2-3% conversion rate), except the only difference is if that’s going to happen, the numbers that I talked about being different on my page vs what the vendor says will be the same so it may end up being better.

I’ll post an update on 7/28/15. The fact that we already have a review page that’s converting is excellent. It’s made over $300 in a matter of 19 days and we can always go back to it. I actually kept a lot of the old content intact because I felt it would be most helpful to read.

The promised update 1 day early, 7/27/15:

Well 7 days have gone by and to my surprise, the new review I put up actually only made 1 sale. Out of 1,000+ visitors who came to my site and only about 200+ entering my page where I make the sale with only 1 sale coming out of this, it turned out that either my new review wasn’t as good as I thought or perhaps it was just a bad week.

Remember, with my old review, I had several days where no sales were made. This could also be happening here, but I decided to change the review back to the old one, run that for a week, then switch back to the new one and run that for another week. 

It is very important that I keep testing to find the clue. I’ve had projects before like this case study where I made a page I though had a horrible set up and yet it ended up breaking 6 figures. And I’ve had many pages which I though were going to do well that ended up not doing so. 

There will be times in marketing where what you see working or not working will just not make any sense to you. But as long as you have that 1 thing that’s working, then keep doing it while making minor changes and seeing how that affects sales.

Have a site you want me to check out?

Leave a comment with your questions below and I’ll take a look at your site! 

honest review

17 Comments

  1. Josh

    Vitaliy. Thank you so much for this article. I have two websites that I’ve recently launched and I’m working on the content, but this is exactly the information that I was looking for as to refining pages and posts as they progress from here.

    Question for you based on your experience in this space. Do you think there is any money in recommending books for personal development niche sites?

    The reason I ask is because it seems to be pretty low $ and % commissions anywhere that I look, so the traffic would have to be very high to get a decent conversion of sales to generate any kind of real income any other thoughts on a better way to approach that niche?

    Thanks for all your hard work, looking forward to keeping in touch and maybe we can collaborate on some projects and case studies in the future.

    Josh

    • Vitaliy

      Hi Josh, you don’t really have to just rely on selling books, consider these other promotional options for better commissions. Also, that topic isn’t exactly a type of niche I’d go into. What I’m trying to say here is that it’s better to focus on something more specific within “personal development” and promote from there.

  2. OSOTB

    Sorry if it seems like I’m stalking your website since I keep commenting, but I’m just finding it to be extremely helpful. Right now I know I don’t have the four essential things (I’m working on my number of posts) but I know this is going to be extremely helpful once I’m up to speed.

    I also had a quick question: in the first paragraph of your third point, what do you mean by that?

    • Vitaliy

      The paid traffic comment? That’s in reference to placing ads on search engines to get traffic, and I’ve written about how it differs from SEO here.

  3. Nate Glick

    Wow! Very detailed and very well broken down. I am still pretty new to affiliate marketing so all this information was awesome. Kind of gives me a guide to go by from this point forward. And it also shows shows that you cannot expect results over night, website development simply takes time. Thanks for the excellent breakdown!

    • Vitaliy

      Until your experience grows to where you see where and how sales occur on a site, you will always have to begin with low expectations of them Nate, but remember, no matter if you’re new or not, I already explained that traffic has to be your main priority, then worry about the money and doing the things like I did in this case study to slowly reach the point where it’s making sales.

  4. Anne W

    Hey there, I’ve been taking a look at your website and all these tips are really really useful, they’re something not everyone teaches you, so I was really glad to be able to learn all these things, thanks a lot 😀

    I’ve been working on a website from February this year, the niche is Home Decor. I mainly write about interior design ideas and advice, I also review a lot of products and try to promote them, so I’m just hoping that my site goes in the right direction.

    In case you want to take a look at it, it’s homeofartt.com. I’m actually really curious what you think about it, I have the feeling you won’t like it too much haha.

    I say this because I’ve seen you consider content more important than everything else, and yeah I agree it’s true, but in a Home Decor niche I really need a lot of images.

    I’m extremely curious what you’d think about it, so when you have any free time, please check it out and tell me what you think. 🙂

    • Vitaliy

      The site is beautiful Anne and I looked through your content and saw that you were doing everything right with keywords and good content. Your niche is broad but with the way you’re writing and seeing how you obviously know this topic well, you will see have amazing results.

      I recommend you move into writing more product reviews and if you do, I think this post is perfect for your niche.

      Concerning images, have you purchased them and/or do you own them?

      • Anne W

        Thanks, I’m really happy to hear this.

        I am already reviewing some Amazon bestsellers, but I have trouble ranking them well. The QSR is very little, most of the times under 10, but all of the sites ranked over me are companies than are selling the actual product.

        So I don’t really think I could out ranks those sites, that’s why I don’t have that much traffic. The products I review have hundreds of monthly searches, so if I could at least get on the first page, it would be a huge difference.

        Do you have any idea how I could do this? Or it’s just about waiting?

        About the images, most are from free sites like Pixaby or Flickr. And as far as I know that’s okay.

        • Vitaliy

          Even if they outrank you, you can still hit the 1st page and get traffic from that Anne so I would keep targeting those kinds of keywords. In addition, if you can, find and use other variations of the keyword within your content that also has low QSR. Your site will eventually grow to where it will get many impressions for several types of similar keywords.

          And if you have money, you should also do PPC on Bing for those products you review.

  5. lb

    Incredible article. I know I’ve sure learned a lot from it. That being said I have a lot of work ahead of me to do.

    I know that my post aren’t near as long as you suggest they be, however, I just did a new post this morning that I think is the length I’m to aim for. I’m sure your busy, but If you wouldn’t mind taking a peek at my site and giving me feedback on it, I would really appreciate it: just4dogs.org

    Thanks in advance and I will watch for your reply/recommendations.

    • Vitaliy

      Your content is very well written and besides there being more need for content, here’s a few things I saw (very similar to Kenn’s site on mobile phones):

      1. Your niche is dogs in general? That is not a niche. You should focus your content entirely, for now on a niche topic with dogs. For example:

      Taking care of a specific dog breed. If you have a dog, mixed breed or not, start there.
      Best toys for dogs.
      Healthy living tips, food and advice for dogs.

      There’s 3 different niche topics from which you could find A LOT of different keywords.

      Once your site starts to see good search engine traffic come in, you can begin to broaden your topics and expand more into the general dog topic. For now I’d pick one of the niches above or any other you can think of and make all content reflect that topic.

      2. I would replace that ad you have on the site with a picture of you and your dog and link that to your about me page, which I would add more content and pictures to. You’re trying to appeal to dog owners here and the best way to make that connection is for them to see you and your dog on your site quickly.

      To do this, head over to widgets and find something called “image widget”. If you don’t see it, download the plug in, it’s free. That will allow you to place an image and link it to any area you want. I would edit that image and add a little text where you say “Hi, my name is…and I love dogs, read my bio” and link that to the about me page.

  6. Jay

    This case study was extremely helpful. All of the steps that you took to improve the sales on your pages were exactly what I would have done, not even realizing that the product just doesn’t sale! It made me realize how important it is to test, tweak, and test and tweak until something comes through. But first, I need to work on the four steps you mentioned!

    Great article, keep it up!

  7. Kenn

    Hi Vitaly,
    Great article you have here; I’m in the very early stages of site creation and I only recently got approved for AdSense. Would you mind having a look at my site and assessing if I’m on the right track?

    go-mobilenow.com

    Thanks alot.

    • Vitaliy

      Hi Kenn, I looked over the site and it visually looks very good. The site needs more content though, a lot more. Also I’m not sure if the niche you have is mobile phones or smart phones. In any case, it needs to be identified early on in the site. If you decide to promote a brand of mobile phones, that would be a good niche where I would start.

      If you head in that direction, stick to phones of a specific brand for now and do reviews on them. I’d even go further and make videos where you discuss these phones and what you think of them if it’s possible.

      Finally I think the site already has TOO many ads. Check out the case study 7. You’ll see I put up a picture of a website that has 3 banner ads just like the one you have right now. These ads from what I currently see are not mobile phone ads, but things that are different. I’d remove them because I see them as a distraction to your audience.

      These are the things I’d add/change 🙂

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