Live Case Study: Watch Me Grow A New Site To $150,000 In 18 Months Or Less

Live Case Study: Watch Me Grow a New Site to $150,000 in 18 Months or Less

zero to hero case study

I get a lot of requests from potential clients to show some proof that we know how to build and grow content sites.

Even though I usually send them a handful of sites from our portfolio, it sometimes isn’t enough.

That got me thinking. How can I showcase our skills and make it fun at the same time?

It’s easy:

I’ll create a case study in which people will root for me to fail :).

Let me explain…

As you probably know, we build, among the other things, done-for-you affiliate sites. That service breaks down into two segments:

  • Custom sites - the client picks a niche, and we build the website just for him. It's a custom job that can either be hands-on or off for the client.
  • Turnkey sites - content sites that are already made. If the client finds something he likes, he can own it within a couple of hours.

That said, I decided to take one of our turnkey sites, a premium one (worth $3,999), grow it, and share the whole process with you.

You’re probably asking, “why would I root for you to fail?

Live Case Study: Watch Me Grow a New Site to $150,000 in 18 Months or Less 1

Ha! Here’s why:

The goal of this case study is to take this new site and scale it to a point where it’s valued at least $150,000 after 18 months. We’ll keep it simple and use a standard 30x valuation (last six months). That means that the site should be making $5,000 by month #12 or #13.

What happens if I fail?

If I fail, I’ll randomly pick one person from the email list, and he or she will become a new owner of that site.

Keep in mind that I’ll invest a lot of time and money into the site. It’ll probably be making a lot of money by the end of month #18, so the new owner will have a solid asset in his portfolio (if I fail)!

Sounds interesting?

You bet!

So, here’s the deal:

Let’s start by outlining the current status of the site.

  • it’s in the hobby niche
  • the site is built on an aged domain with a relevant backlink profile
  • it’s one month old
  • it has 20,000 published words
  • it’s already ranking for a small number of keywords
  • I installed Google Analytics/Clicky and added the site to the Search Console today
  • zero revenue so far
ahfrefs referring domains
ahrefs ranking keywords
google analytics report
Live Case Study: Watch Me Grow a New Site to $150,000 in 18 Months or Less 2

What I'll do to grow the site?

I’ll be going at this pretty hard.ย 

It’s definitely a challenge, and I plan to invest a lot of time and effort in matching/exceeding the goals I’ve set for the project. That said, here’s the general plan:

  • do keyword research like a m*fo
  • develop a content strategy and start adding new content
  • run an ongoing link building campaign
  • when traffic starts rolling in, do CRO on our top posts
  • rinse and repeat

Here's what you can expect from me:

  • regular monthly updates showcasing the progress and what I’ve done during the previous month
  • plans for the next month
  • I’ll be bringing in guests from the industry who will confirm the authenticity of the project and verify that everything’s as I described it.
  • I probably won’t reveal the domain to the general public, but that might change

I’ll grow the site using all the techniques we use for our own and clients’ websites. You can learn more about those techniques in our Authority SEO course.

It’s a solid mix of keeping everything as simple as possible and mixing in some advanced concepts. But more on that later.

Still with me?

Great!

If you’d like to follow along and join the raffle (if I fail, of course), you’ll need to sign up to the e-mail list. You can do that below:

Join the live case study

Enter your name and email below and I'll let you know whenever I publish an update + you'll enter the raffle to win the website if I fail to hit my goal.

To be completely honest, I’m a bit nervous. Didn’t think that I’ll be building sites from scratch any time soon. But it’s really exciting. I love the process, and I’m sure you’ll find it helpful (of at least you’ll laugh at me in the end).

Keep an eye out for my first update (September 1st).

If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the comment box below, and I’ll personally reply very quickly.

If not, help me spread the word by sharing the case study with your peers.

Let’s crush it!

84 thoughts on “Live Case Study: Watch Me Grow a New Site to $150,000 in 18 Months or Less”

      1. Hi Andrej,
        This is really great things to be with your process on live case study…

        I have seen few live one so looking yours proven process and also looking what you have unique & different which gives better result…

        Catch you soon with your first strategy post.

      2. Omg Andrej, this is sooo exciting I will be your no. 1 fan and I will hope you succeed There is no better way to learn something than to watch someone else do it.

    1. Andrej Ilisin

      Thanks for stopping by, Tony. Writers for content sites? We have an awesome team that’s been working with us for a long time now. The only platform I can recommend for hiring writers is ProBlogger. But you’ll need to be very selective and prepare to pay a bit higher than you’re used to.

      1. Hi Andrej, I am here rooting for your success.
        Quick question, what will be your on going link building strategy ? Pbn, guest posts?

        Thanks.

        1. Andrej Ilisin

          Well, thank you, Juan ๐Ÿ™‚

          It’s going to be a mix of a lot of different things. I’ll elaborate in the next update.

      2. Interesting and looking for your success. Will you be sharing the steps you followed and tools used as you on every update?

        Thanks!

        1. Andrej Ilisin

          Thank you.

          Steps, yeah, but the toolbox is pretty simple – Ahrefs, Surfer… that’s about it ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. I will be rooting for your success. I want to learn how you are going to do that and I will follow the same for my site.

  2. Sounds good Andrej,

    Interested in the nuances in your process. Looking forward to seeing what obstacles you might hit with such an ambitious figure and how you’ll overcome them.

  3. Hey anderej,
    Came to know about you and been following since the rankxl acquisition.. Great stuff..

    Just thinking..
    How about you make this an open or semi-open challenge.. I also want to participate in a challenging project like this.. I’ll also get my own domain name, and try to grow a site from scratch to profitability in 18months..

    What do you think?

    1. Andrej Ilisin

      Thanks, mate. Feel free to jump in and do your thing on the ‘side’, but I really don’t have the time to moderate such a challenge. This one’s going to be pretty demanding by itself.

    1. Andrej Ilisin

      Affiliate offers (probably not amazon, due to the niche) and display ads on info posts. We’ll start with Adsense, then Ezoic, and then Mediavine as we grow. Plus direct sponsorships and selling ad space as the traffic grows.

  4. Hi Andrej,
    There are a lot of backlinks already for a month old site. Were they acquired naturally or is that something you are giving precedence to?

    Best wishes for the site!

      1. Hey Andrej – do you recreate the old pages with the links pointing at them or do you redirect all of the old pages to home page?

        Thanks!

        1. Andrej Ilisin

          I usually recreate all the old URLs that have incoming backlinks that are Follow (paging Nick Eubanks if he sees this :P). Sending everything to the homepage will end up diluting the link juice due to Google treating those as soft 404s.

  5. Hello Andrej,
    I have been a fan of ranxl.com until you bought the whole thing.
    But I this new challenge is looking like it is going to change my perception about you and your new team.
    Well I just signed up. Can’t wait for the next update and finally see how you pull this one off.
    Wishing you the best though.

  6. Hello Andrej this sounds awesome, I’m looking forward to seeing you succeed with your live case study and learning whatever I can from it.

  7. This is definitely going to be demanding. I wish you all the best. Plus I’m looking forward to your next article on your personal blog.

  8. Looking forward to seeing this develop!
    I’m starting a new site soon as well so will compare with what you do – I havent built any new sites in quite a few years…

    1. Andrej Ilisin

      Good stuff! Same here. Haven’t built a site from scratch since January last year. It’s going to be fun ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Hi Andrej, this should be interesting.

    QQ did the domain drop before you bought it or did you manage to get it before it dropped?

    Thanks

  10. Do you have a budget for this project? 4k for the premium turnkey site & $340 for the domain, from your experience, how much more do you think it will take to grow to a site worth $150K?

    1. Andrej Ilisin

      The aged domain is a part of our Premium turnkey package. I’ll use our own resources for the link building/content creation, so it’s tough to put a price tag on that. But, if I had to guess, it’s going to take between $15-20k more to get there.

  11. Scott Lindsay

    Looking forward to this Andrej.

    What auction do you use to buy aged domains? What metrics do you look at on an aged domain to make sure it’s a quality domain?

    Thanks!

    Scott

    1. Andrej Ilisin

      Glad to hear that, Scott.

      As much as I’d love to answer your questions, It’d take way more than one comment to do so. I’ll probably do a write-up on that in a couple of months.

  12. Andrej,

    I have been following your growth for a minute now and am very excited to see this project.

    I have some unique, exact match if you ever want more challenges

  13. Hey Andrej,

    Looking forward to your progress. Your outline above has an appearance of simplicity. Rinse and Repeat. I like that.

    Thanks for doing this!

    -js

    1. Andrej Ilisin

      For sure. No reason to complicate things when the easy/simple stuff will do the trick 90% of the time.

  14. Hey Andrej,

    Nice to see you’re doing this. I’m on the third month of growing my niche site (documenting the progress on my site). Will be going head to head with you on the side.

    Cheers!

  15. This is an awesome task!!! Your updates will help a lot for those that want to try this out too!!!

    Superb motivation Andrej

  16. Perfect timing! I’ve just purchased an affiliate site at the same stage and need to take it from here… Will be following like a hawk! Thanks…

  17. Sounds great! Looking forward to your next updates and learn from that. I also start some niche site by using auction domain to compare with the normal route (start with a new domain). But the first benefit is no need to wait 2 months for out of the sandbox and start building more links to boost organic traffic.

    1. Andrej Ilisin

      Good luck, Kimi! Getting an aged domain is definitely worth it nowadays. Just be careful to choose the one with super-relevant backlink profile.

  18. Thanks – it will be great to see how do you go… ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have a newbie question: You say in your challenge outline “…do CRO on our top posts”. What does that mean?

  19. This is great, I am starting my first ever niche website soon and can’t wait for your updates, they will help a lot.
    Wishing you success on this, I want to learn how you achieve this goal.

  20. Baber Siddiqui

    Very nice Andrej, it’s interesting, I’m currently at the same scenario to take a site to $5k in 12th month. Currently at 5th month and site has started making money, I’ll possibly by hitting $5k earlier or in 12th month and surely will be flipping in 18th month after maintaining. So hoping for the best for you and myself as well.

    Good Luck!

  21. I love case studies, they recharge my batteries. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I hope you get the point and make $ 5.000 per month, if It not, I hope I get the site LOL.
    I will follow your journey along the way, What is good to the process is showing the site, I know this is something that could be complicated but should be a way to do it and not compromise the project.
    Jesus Here!

    1. Andrej Ilisin

      Hi Jesus, thanks for stopping by.

      I (95%) won’t be sharing the URL publicly. There’s no need for that. A couple of people from the industry will get the URL so they will be able to confirm everything for ya.

  22. Hi Andrej,
    I was wondering if you would be willing to up the challenge.
    It’s one thing to build your own site to $100K but it requires a different set of skills to get someone else to do the same.
    I have a blog, 1 year 8 months old, 1,500 monthly views, $300-$1200 monthly earnings. I want to get it up to $5,000 per month. It comes from software tutorials like Thrive Themes and I feel I hit a ceiling. You can see my earnings if you click at my link.
    I have no other job (I was fired), this is what I do. Currently I live in central Europe, in a country where that is the monthly wage.
    I don’t expect you to do the work instead of me – I just expect guidance and you could publish my results as part of your case study.
    I am not a superman and I suck at outreach, like most people do.
    Would you take the challenge?

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for the offer, Peter.

      Unfortunately, I, nor my team, don’t have the time to do something like that ‘on the side’. If you’d like us to take you on as a client, feel free to reach out to me via email and I’ll take a closer look at your situation.

  23. Hey Andrej, I’m very curious to find out more info on your content strategy. I’ll be following along with “pure glee” every step of the way! Good luck

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