Last month we mentioned that the Triple X Niche Case Study was now live on ViperChill. If you missed the launch then a quick summary is that three people will be tackling the same industry with three different approaches. I (Glen) am only allowed to focus on social media. Diggy (my SEO business partner) is only allowed to focus on SEO and Mr.V (a beginner to making money online) is allowed to do anything he wants.
When we originally planned the case study we each had a $1,000 budget in mind. After a lot of feedback however this was lowered to $500 for the first two months of the project; November and December. Many of you have been following the case study closely on the forums and I’m proud to announce the threads have been viewed over 40,000 times with over 30 case studies being shared there.
As promised in the first update I’m going to be sharing our respective reports in the same order so you’ll first hear about Diggy’s expenses, then mine, then Mr.V a.k.a Vladimir’s.
I’ve spent most of my budget on SEO tools due to the fact that I think on this limited budget it’s the best way to get the most results. Here is a breakdown of my expenses to date:
Domain name: $11
A domain name is necessary and while a .info domain is a lot cheaper, I went with a .com since it just seems more reputable.
Web Hosting: $14
Hostgator is definitely not the cheapest web host, but they are reliable and have good support. I could have also gotten the first month for 1 cent if I had paid more attention and searched for coupon codes. Another option would be to find $1 hosting to really get the most out of my budget, but I would not recommend $1 hosting for money sites. Suspiciously cheap hosting is often cheap for a reason.
GSA Search Engine Ranker: $99
GSA SEO Indexer: $20
GSA Captcha Breaker: $117 (after a $30 coupon)
GSA search engine ranker is an SEO tool (WARNING: auto-playing video) that can submit links to millions of sites in the form of blog comments, wiki links, web 2.0’s and many more. It’s very easy to use and very good for building tiered linking structures to backlinks you’ve already built.
The GSA indexer is necessary to get your verified links indexed by Google and others to get maximum effect as quickly as possible.
GSA Captcha Breaker is a program that solves the captchas displayed on many sites (or most sites these days) where GSA search engine ranker submits links to. This program currently has the highest solving rate of any captcha breaking software, and while it has an upfront cost it ultimately works out a lot cheaper than a service like Death by Captcha.
If you would like more information on these tools, be sure to follow my thread (stickied at the top) on the case studies forum.
10 Dedicated Proxies: $40
Private proxies are necessary for SEO tools to be able to get the best results and to avoid your IP being blocked from too many submissions. For this I used BuyProxies which gave me 10 dedicated proxy accounts for 2 months.
FCS Networker: $68 (two months access)
FCS networker is a platform that allows you to create mass web 2.0 properties for backlinking purposes. You can easily create dozens of web 2.0 properties, post multiple articles to them, schedule those articles and even build pyramid structures with web 2.0’s. The main upside is that you save dozens of hours compared to performing these actions manually.
Kontent Machine: $37 (one month)
Kontent machine generates syntax content. So rather than writing articles myself or paying to get them outsourced, I can simply generate dozens of syntax articles for my SEO tools and web 2.0 properties that is unique enough to do the trick. There is no way I could write or outsource hand-written content for all of my link campaigns, so Kontent machine is good enough for those purposes. Just so you’re aware, I wouldn’t use Kontent Machine as content for sites you actually want people to read.
.EDU Backlinks: $8
This was a special offer for a list of sites where I can build manual .edu links, which are usually considered powerful backlinks since they are from educational sources like universities. I bought this list so that I could manually build these links and the use GSA to build tiered links to these .edu links to hopefully make them strong enough to get me ranking.
As you can see most of my budget is spent on these tools and it leaves me very little money for the kind of links I really need to rank which are high PR, high authority links. This leaves me no option but to use my SEO tools to target less competitive, long tail keywords in order just to get some traffic and hopefully make sales that I can reinvest into higher quality links.
Domain Name: $10.69
For my domain name I went with something brandable since I will be relying on social media traffic and something that looks overly “SEO’d” probably wouldn’t help me to get the credibility (or the backlinks) that I’m looking for. I didn’t actually purchase this when the case study started; it’s a domain I’ve owned for about 6 months but never done anything with.
It has no prior links and has never had a website put on it previously. I bought the domain name through Namecheap since they offer free WHOIS protection.
For my hosting account I decided to go with Bluehost. Similar to the domain name this is not something I signed up for at the start of the case study since I already had a hosting account with them I’m not actively using. This fee comes out to $8.34 per month or $16.68 for the first two months since I purchased one year in advance.
After seeing other online deals out there I’m not sure if I would have chosen Bluehost again – Vladimir found a great hosting deal listed below – but I feel like I can rely on them and I have nothing negative to say about beginner webmasters using them to host their websites. They are one of the top 10 web hosts in the world after all.
WordPress Theme: $45
This was purchased from ThemeForest which I have recommended on this website numerous times. You can certainly get cheaper themes out there not only on ThemeForest but with deals on Woo Themes and other theme marketplaces. The reason I went with a theme that has a higher price point is simply because the design was exactly what I was looking for.
Keep in mind once again that unlike Diggy’s approach, it’s imperative that my site looks great and is the kind of site people would want to talk about and link to. The theme was a little pricier than I would like but I don’t regret the purchase at all.
Social Locker Plugin: $21
Every license you purchase of this plugin will set you back $21. This is basically a plugin from CodeCanyon which allows you to offer people content in return for them sharing your site via social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. As soon as they hit like or send a tweet then they will be given access to ‘locked’ content. This is a great plugin which I highly recommend if you want this kind of functionality as well.
I designed my own logo in Photoshop so there were no expenses here.
Purchasing Tweets: $5
I ordered a set amount of tweets for this service – I don’t want to say which package and out my niche site – but I did not receive all of the tweets I was promised. I did then contact the seller and ask them for a few more tweets to make it up for it. I still didn’t end up with how many tweets I ordered but I guess you can’t complain too much when you’re paying such a small amount.
Purchasing Facebook Likes: $10
I used two separate Fiverr services for this. This is to make the site look more active – social proof – because I’ll hopefully have 2,000 likes on Facebook button when they’re both complete before I do actually start promoting it.
Purchasing Google +1’s: $5
Unfortunately there weren’t any services on Fiverr which only focused on +1’s as I really wanted to get quite a few. I did get around 100 though but this social button on my site does look a lot more underutilized than the Facebook and Twitter buttons.
I purchased a PSD file from GraphicRiver which I used to show off my free giveaway that people get if they take a certain action on my website. I really wanted the graphic to look like a real item so that just from looking at what you were about to receive you could understand the inherent value that it had. I’ve been using Photoshop for a number of years but I’m really not at the stage where I could have created this from scratch so I’m happy to make odd purchases like this.
That’s just simply the domain for my website. I shared in a previous update that I had decided to include something a little more brandable rather than going for an SEO-focused domain.
WordPress Theme: $28
After a lot of research I ended up purchasing the Wildfire Theme from Themeshop. I especially liked that the design is responsive so it should look attractive whether someone is using a desktop computer or browsing my website on a more mobile device such as a phone or tablet.
Content Expenses: $32
Sadly I can’t go into too much detail about this because it would give away the niche that we’re working on. What I can say is that this content expense is not actually for the writing of the content. The expenses instead went towards purchasing certain services online which would allow me to give better advice to my audience about the solutions they’re asking for. For example, if we were in the fitness niche then consider this to be the same as if I were to buy the P90X fitness program and then review it for my site users.
Like Glen, I also used GraphicRiver to purchase a number of graphics for my homepage to make it more attractive. Though the price can add up quickly over the long-term if you keep buying graphics, for less than $20 I have managed to make my homepage look far better than I could have done myself.
Five Great Services: $0
I managed to pick up the following products for free:
Though I work on the internet full time there is one expense that I never, ever account for. That actually may be because I’m fortunate to do this full-time. It’s an expense each of us have but probably rarely factor into business expenses: Our time.
Though it may look like myself and Vladimir have been relatively cheap with this case study so far, we’ve both put a lot of hours into our websites which can’t be accounted for just yet in terms of any monetary value. As promised we have been tracking our time for various tasks – for example it took me over around 45 minutes of focused hunting before finding my WordPress Theme – and we’ll cover this in more detail on a future update.
The difference between us and Diggy is that it makes sense for Diggy to spend most of his money up front. After all, he’s focusing purely on search and has decided to take on a tactic which doesn’t really involve humans having to enjoy his content and then link to him.
For myself and Vladimir things are a little different as we have to create better resources that would hopefully get natural links and stand the test of time so that they can be great resources for months and years to come. One thing Vladimir has asked about for the remainder of his budget is where and how he could use his money in regards to high-PR links and and facets of SEO. We’ve both given him some advice on this so expect an update on that in the near future.
Vladimir has definitely had the most progress on his website so far and has created a great looking resource on his subject. As I’ve stressed a few times we’re in an industry where I think anyone would agree it’s very difficult to create natural links here (and our competition usually follow Diggy’s strategy). This means we’re really testing the “Google ideology” of whether great content and networking is enough to get you more Google presence than people who are employing shadier tactics.
This is likely the last ViperChill blog post before the Xmas and New Year holiday season so I just wanted to wish you all a great winter time. I’m heading back to England in the next 48 hours (!) to see my family who I haven’t really seen for over two years now so I’m pretty excited about that. Thank you all for following the blog this year. I’m very humbled to have such a large and supportive audience who follow the update here.
I’m already working on ways to “Wow” you for 2014…
P.S. In case you don’t follow me on Facebook (oh mah gawd) then myself and Diggy went live with a new podcast on SEO yesterday covering the most common mistakes we found people making after doing all of our free SEO consultations for Black Friday. Enjoy!