Case Study: From Backyard Enthusiast to Successful Website Owner

6 min


It’s an old story, but it’s still interesting. Spencer House is the creator of OwnTheYard, a niche site dedicated to inspiring homeowners with creative backyard design ideas. But that’s not all: Spencer’s platform also features in-depth product reviews for landscaping and backyard design enthusiasts. In this case study, we’ll cover the evolution of Spencer’s website since its inception, its innovative growth strategies, and the gradual increase in monthly revenue.

He recently sold the site for $250,000. He told about this in a podcast.

owntheyard mainpage

Setting the Stage – Initial Goals

When Spencer embarked on this venture, he set ambitious goals for himself:

  • Realize a substantial passive income within 3 months;
  • Achieve a monthly income of $500 in just 6 months;
  • Ultimately earn a remarkable $5,000 or more per month.

September 2018 – Month 1

In August 2018, Spencer purchased the domain name, laying the foundation for his dream project. The real action began in September, with the publication of 20 articles and the meticulous setup of the website. Initial costs included a mere $4.83 for domain registration through GoDaddy, $227.76 for a two-year Bluehost shared hosting package, and $12 for the website logo. Additional expenses covered essential WordPress plugins and internet connectivity. While investments were made, revenue remained elusive.

Google Analytics indicated the arrival of the first site visitor on September 7, and the site recorded 258 unique visits during the month. Spencer’s focus on long-term organic traffic was already evident, with significant contributions from Bing and limited traffic from Google. While earnings were yet to materialize, clicks from Amazon affiliates had commenced.

October 2018 – Month 2

Building on his progress, Spencer published an additional 12 articles, bringing the total count to 32. However, earnings remained elusive. Spencer’s attention turned to rigorously testing Amazon affiliate links, which were clicked a total of 32 times. Site traffic saw a slight increase to 342 visitors, with 69 coming from organic searches. Notably, much of the traffic was generated from Pinterest and other social media platforms newly introduced in October. Despite the intention for organic traffic to be the site’s primary source, it experienced a temporary dip.

November 2018 – Month 3

With determination and effort, Spencer published seven new articles, pushing the site’s content library to 39. Yet, earnings remained stagnant at $0. The initial income goal was not achieved within the intended timeframe. Encouragingly, the traffic trend was on an upswing. A marked increase in organic and overall traffic became evident, bolstering Spencer’s optimism for the future.

December 2018 – Month 4

This month marked a turning point with 11 new articles, totaling 50. Importantly, it was the debut month for earnings, as the site brought in its first $26.66. Spencer received orders for 18 items on Amazon, with seven of them shipped. The profit of $23.66 was generated from these shipped items. Spencer had also tested affiliate links by placing orders himself, but Amazon identified these as fake orders, resulting in no payments. Despite a slight drop in total traffic, mainly due to a minimal $50 investment in Facebook ads in November, organic traffic continued to improve.

lifespan of social traffic to the site (since 2018).
The above screenshot actually shows the entire lifespan of social traffic to the site (since 2018).

January 2019 – Month 5

In January 2019, Spencer published 32 new articles, totaling 82. Earnings for this month reached $6. Both organic and advertising traffic to the site showed consistent growth. Notably, the site’s presence on Pinterest continued to gain momentum, with Spencer accumulating approximately 177k views and 380 followers.

February 2019 – Month 6

In February, Spencer contributed ten new articles, bringing the total to 92. Earnings for the month rose to $15.51, with $8 earned through Amazon. During the latter half of the month, Spencer experimented with display ads, specifically through Ezoic. These ads added another $7.51 to his monthly income in just two weeks.

While the site’s momentum began to pick up around the six-month mark, it fell short of achieving its second goal – reaching a monthly income of $500.

March 2019 – Month 7

A total of 15 new articles were published, bringing the site’s content count to 107. Impressively, earnings for the month reached $128.41. The conversion rate for Amazon clicks stood at 3.62%, generating revenue of $89.25. A screenshot from Ezoic Ads revealed that informational articles on the site were generating revenue both from Ezoic Ads ($39.81) and Amazon Associates ($89.25), culminating in a total income of $128.41.

April 2019 – Month 8

In April, Spencer continued his content creation journey with an additional thirteen articles, expanding the site’s library to 120. Remarkably, this was the month where the site’s earnings took a substantial leap, reaching $565.44.

Amazon Associates contributed significantly, bringing in $494.46. On one memorable day, the site witnessed an astounding $1,700 worth of items purchased, although other days saw more modest transactions. The chart highlighted a series of shorter green bars representing orders of approximately $10 worth of merchandise. Ezoic also chipped in, with earnings totaling $70.89, while site traffic reached 10,000 users.

May 2019 – Month 9

May marked the publication of 18 new articles, expanding the site’s content to 138 articles. The site’s earnings continued to grow, reaching an impressive $740.45 for the month. Amazon Associates contributed $512.92, while Ezoic Ads brought in $227.53.

Spencer encountered a few challenges. On Amazon, around the 17th, an additional $135 in commissions was earned but not displayed in the screenshot. High-end items were sold, accumulating over $130 in affiliate commissions, but some were returned in the last few days of the month. Commissions for unsold items were removed, while a product with a $100 commission not shipped in May would be paid in June. The revenue from Ezoic totaled $227.53, bringing the site’s total earnings from display ads to $227.53.

The site’s organic traffic from Google saw significant growth, reaffirming Spencer’s commitment to the importance of long-term organic traffic generation.

June 2019 – Month 10

June witnessed the publication of 20 new articles, culminating in a total of 158 contributions to the site. This translated to an impressive $1,218.41 in earnings for the month.

July 2019 – Month 11

With the addition of six new articles, the site’s content library expanded to 164 articles. July marked a substantial increase in earnings, totaling $1,392.11 for the month.

Amazon Associates continued to be a vital revenue source, contributing $692.16. Interestingly, in July, Ezoic’s display ads generated more revenue than Amazon, signaling a shift in income sources. This shift raised some concerns for Spencer, particularly about the stagnation in Amazon’s revenue growth.

In response to monetization challenges, Spencer identified and proposed the following solutions:

  1. To address the issue of excessive ads on pages monetized with Amazon Associates, Spencer planned to reduce the number of ads displayed.
  2. He encountered problems with Table Labs, Amazon’s product comparison tables, which ceased to display. Spencer suspected this might be due to the combination of services like Cloudflare, WPRocket, and Ezoic. His solution was to disable the WP Rocket plugin to test whether it would resolve the table display problem.
  3. Spencer noticed analytics data indicating users leaving the site before it fully loaded. Slow site speed might have been the cause, potentially aggravated by an excess of Ezoic ads.

The site continued to attract the majority of its traffic from Google and Pinterest. In July, it garnered over 47,000 unique sessions, with 20,000 users arriving from Google. The journey of Spencer’s website showcases not only the challenges but also the innovative solutions and steady growth in pursuit of his financial goals.

August 2019 – Month 12

August marked the twelfth month of this remarkable journey, witnessing the publication of 15 fresh articles. This brought the total number of articles on the site to an impressive 179, resulting in a monthly income of $1,109.37. However, it’s worth noting that this income was slightly lower than the previous month, despite six months of consistent growth. A screenshot of Amazon Associates reveals this performance.

In this month, the site garnered $686.76 from Amazon Associates US and an additional $8.65 from Amazon UK, summing up to a total income of $695.41. Concurrently, Ezoic’s earnings experienced a drop, amounting to $413.96.

Interestingly, Spencer had made efforts to reduce the number of Ezoic ads displayed on his site, but it didn’t have an immediate positive impact on Amazon Associates earnings.

Owntheyard accumelates earnings

December 2019 – Site Age: 16 Months

This month, as the site reached 16 months of age, it displayed remarkable financial achievements. Amazon US brought in a whopping $1,991.96, while Amazon UK and Amazon Germany collectively contributed nearly $10 in revenue.

Ezoic’s performance in December was a bit subdued, with revenue falling by almost $100 compared to November. The EPMV, which represents revenue per 1,000 visitors to the site, saw a decrease from $21.21 to $17.54. This dip in site traffic was primarily attributed to a seasonal factor, with the peak of business occurring in the summer when people focus on enhancing their backyard spaces.

Earnings for 8 Months of 2020

The year 2020 brought forth a compelling financial trajectory:

  • January 2020: $1,297
  • February 2020: $1,498
  • March 2020: $3,195
  • April 2020: $7,212
  • May 2020: $8,290
  • June 2020: $6,770
  • July 2020: $5,122
  • August 2020: $3,304
Owntheyard audience

Conclusion

Spencer House’s two-year journey with the site yielded valuable insights:

  • Leveraging informational articles on niche sites is pivotal. This strategy enhances the potential to earn significant revenue through platforms like Ezoic or alternative Google ad programs. Industry experts recommend a minimum of 300 articles to unlock a consistent passive monthly income of over $5,000;
  • While Amazon Associates serves as a reasonable starting point, its affiliate payouts of 3 to 6 percent are comparatively lower. To maximize profitability, it’s advisable to explore more lucrative affiliate programs as the business matures.

This journey underscores the significance of adaptability and the relentless pursuit of knowledge in the dynamic landscape of online entrepreneurship.

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We’re not just a group of anonymous affiliate marketing experts; we’re a close-knit team that’s been working together for over a decade. Our journey began at the inception of this industry, where we laid the foundation for the very first verticals. If you’ve ever been intrigued by traffic arbitrage case studies, chances are you’ve already come across our work.