#92 – 2017: The Year in Review

What you will learn

  • How we realized our blog content wasn’t working and what we did to change it.
  • Why we care more about writing honest reviews than generating affiliate revenue.
  • What happens when you allow problems to grow as the company grows.
  • Why we chose to launch one new site this year instead of five.
  • How we plan to up our game in 2018.

As we begin to close out the year, it is time to take a step back and reflect on what has happened over the past 12 months.

In our final episode of 2017, Gael and Mark review the performance of Authority Hacker, Health Ambition and the other websites in the Judgement Media portfolio to review how they have performed and outline the plans for these sites in 2018.

Authority Hacker

Perrin and the Blog

Starting with the blog, this year has really been spent trying to nail down the format.

In the past, we have tried to do every type of content but this has been narrowed down to informational and investigative/ experimental pieces.

Table of Content for the Ultimate Guide to Amazon Associates
Table of Content for the Ultimate Guide to Amazon Associates

For the blog, we do tend to do some keyword research but we go out of our way not to rehash the articles you will find in the SERPs. Instead, we’ll look to put our own unique spin on things.

In 2018, we are going to look at having a budget for experiments. We gave this a trial run in 2017 by spending $1,000 buying backlinks to test out link building services.

Over the past year we have learned some important lessons:

  • Keyword Research – make sure the content suits the audience rather than just writing content that will target a lot of traffic
  • Content Length – We tried shorter content and it didn’t work. Long and detailed content works better for us by almost every metric you can think of.

Lewis and Reviews

Over the past year we have spent a lot of money buying almost every keyword research tool, email marketing tool, outreach tool and page builder available.

We are in the lucky position that the online courses are doing so well that we don’t need the affiliate revenue that is generated by these reviews (even if it is a nice bonus).

That gives us the freedom to be truly honest in a market where it feels like everyone likes every product. We view the reviews as telling authority site owners the best tools that will help them make more money rather than an income generation tool for ourselves.

This means that we can recommend free products if we think it is the best tool available.

However, we are not trying to be negative about tools. In the most recent email reviews that Lewis compiled, he contacted each of the marketing departments and gave them the right of reply before publishing.

Best Page Builders on WordPress
Best Page Builders on WordPress

We look for each review to contain a blog post per tool, a video per tool and a round up blog post comparing each of the tools to each other and a unique test for each set of reviews.

This is a lot of work.

So, you will find that we don’t publish for a couple of months, then you will see 9 articles go live all at once (8 individual product reviews and a roundup review). I has to be this way because all the articles link to and discuss each other.

Traffic

Perrin’s blog posts and Lewis’s reviews have seen traffic double year on year since 2017.

We are now getting 70k sessions per month from around 40k unique users. It is nice to have a lot of people coming back for more but we are aware that there is still plenty of room for growth.

We can still do a better job at collecting emails but overall things are going in the right direction.

It was only in August that we started to take link building seriously for Authority Hacker. Since we started actively building links a few months ago, we have more than doubled our links.

Over the next year, Perrin will probably split his time between writing new articles and updating what we already have on the site. We will also be rebranding Authority Hacker within the next year.

Gael would also like to get back to something we were doing in the very beginning and that is releasing a short video on YouTube every week with some kind of trick or hack.

Podcast

To be honest, we haven’t really paid too much attention to the numbers when it came to the podcast. We had a feeling that it had been performing better this year than last but we had no idea just how much.

Year on year, we are up 62% in terms of listens. This is probably down to a few factors. Firstly, this is episode 52 for 2017 – which works out at one per week.

Although it is the 52nd podcast, it does not mean we have been perfect at publishing weekly. There have been times where we have skipped weeks and this number has been brought up by a couple of series where we published every day for a week.

There is huge room for improvement though. We have recently written an SOP for the podcast publishing process which will ensure that it is published at the same time every week as long as it is recorded on time.

In terms of tech, we have recently started using Zencastr, that removes the need to record the audio through Skype. This should massively improve the audio quality.

We have also started to do more research before the podcast rather than just winging it. Recently we have been experimenting with Ask Wonder to do some research before the podcast so we can be better informed and cite sources.

There does not seem to be a lot of interaction (on social media or in the comments of the show notes) with you guys so we would like to do a listener survey to get some proper feedback on what we can do better.

AH Pro and TASS

The training courses have been doing really well.

In 2016, we had our first six figure launch of AH Pro and we have managed to replicate that a couple of times in 2017.

There have been a few issues. This includes our latest launch where it seemed that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong but even this launched ended up being successful financially.

TASS has also been doing well. It was launched at the beginning of the year and we are now beginning to see some real success stories coming out of it – including Robert Botha who is now making $8,500 per month from his site.

Revenue

Since last year, our revenue has doubled but our costs have also gone up in that time. The team has grown substantially, there are general costs for tools, experiments and we have also started running Facebook ads (which is a significant outlay even though it does directly generate revenue).

Health Ambition

At the start of 2017, we decided to focus the majority of our time on Authority Hacker and really just keep Health Ambition ticking along.

So, you can imagine our surprise when we discovered that traffic is up 45% year on year (which is substantial on a site with hundreds of thousands of visitors per month).

This could be partially down to link building where we have added 2,000 linking root domains this year.

Revenue from Amazon has also grown a lot despite the cut in commissions.

Nothing has been published since July and, at the moment, there are around 500 articles ready to be published.

At the moment, there is a huge rebranding project going on with Health Ambition. This includes starting again from a fresh Wordpress install and uploading, editing and reformatting every article on the site. When you add in the articles waiting to go live, this totals around 1,500 articles.

We are also going to completely redo the products on Health Ambition using the lessons that have been learned from Authority Hacker.

Adding up all of these things, we think there is a possibility to grow this site to 6 figures per month one day.

The Rest of the Portfolio

Over the past year, we have started on additional site.

This has been a bit of an adventure. The initial plan was to create a bare bones site and grow it out but the niche that was chosen requires a bit more effort than that.

So, we got all of the content written and then decided it wasn’t up to the required standard. This led to us re-writing all of the content. Twice.

Overall though, things are going well. We are at the stage where the record traffic numbers are being broken on an almost daily basis. The site is also very organized. This makes it so much easier to work on than something like Health Ambition where everything is all over the place.

TASS Case Study Site

This was built in a matter of days simply to be a live case study for TASS but it now ranks first for a whole heap of keywords and is making money without much effort.

So, it seems like a wasted opportunity not to grow this site now. An added bonus is that it also works as a great case study for TASS.

General Business

Next year, the big goal is to up our game on all fronts. We want to build sites that are not easy for our competitors to copy.

The means real branding and tech that is future proof.

We are starting to feel the growing pains as a business. Mark is really trying to do what he can to nip our problems in the bud rather than letting them grow with the company and reaching a point where it becomes a major project to fix issues.

A major win was moving accounting from a local UK company to Bean Ninjas who specialize in accounting services for businesses like ours.

So, that rounds up the final podcast of 2017. Thank you to each and everyone of you who has listened throughout the year. We will be back early in 2018 with some tips and tricks about how to keep your new year resolutions.

And, if one of those resolutions is to start your first site, it is worth checking out our beginners course, TASS, for a step by step guide on how to do that.

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10 Comments

  1. Hi,

    Doesn’t look like the rating system is working in iTunes, I rated it and left a comment but it is not showing up ?

    Also noticed there hasn’t been a comment for a while, so might not be working.

    Are you guys aware of any issues ?

  2. Hey Danny!

    Enjoyed the podcast show. I love the blog here, and the content you guys have been sharing so far. I’ve learned a lot here this year.

    One important thing when building a blog online, in a niche market, is the type of content you put out. You have to stick out and become a blogger that always shares unique and epic content. Once people know that about you they will always want to read your next piece of content.

    Content is what runs a blog. And not only a blog, but the entire internet runs on information!

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Cheers guys! :D

  3. I remember a while I ago I read something about “how to get more traffic” while using the same post, by just using a table of content. I think (cannot remember who wrote the article: I think it was either Gael or Perrin) they were writing about using this on Health Ambition. Can you help me find this post? If not, what table content do you recommend? And do you use a lot yourself?

  4. Loyal listener to the podcast here — just wanted to leave a comment and let you guys know it’s not for naught! Your podcast is pretty much the only IM podcast I regularly listen to just because it’s already so valuable. Looking forward to joining AH Pro next launch :)

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