The Great British Blog Off [Case Study: Day 1]

I spoke to a fellow blogging friend a while ago and told him I was thinking of starting a site in the pet niche for the first time.

He mentioned that he was also interested in starting a new pet site (he’s had some success in the niche previously) and that we could start them both at the same time to act as motivation buddies. Brilliant!

We agreed that we’d have a mull over some ideas and kick-off our sites on 1st April 2021.

A few days before D-day, he said he had another British blogging friend who was interested in taking part in our challenge and so I couldn’t resist christening it… “The Great British Blog Off”.

This should be a fun case study to write up to see how three experienced bloggers will approach starting out in the same niche.

So, let’s start by introducing the cast: Amy, Mike and myself (Pete).

Introducing Amy 👋

Amy’s Professional Background:

I trained as a teacher and taught humanities in secondary schools until my mid-30s. I then made a career change to a digital marketing consultant. I now work just 3 days a week in my main job as my sites are starting to take off.

How many “niche” websites have you created?

I started my first site in 2015 and have made about 12 niche sites so far in areas of travel, business and fashion. In 2020 Coronavirus killed the travel blogs off literally overnight, so I branched into dog blogs to diversify as a result of the pandemic.

And moving on to The Great British Blog Off… tell us about how and why you’ve chosen your domain and niche.

It’s a brand new domain! I wanted something clean and without spammy backlinks, so I decided to start from scratch. It had to be something to do with Jack Russells as I have owned four of them in my life and the research is looking positive!

I found a high number of low competition search terms on Jack Russells so it made sense as a keyword domain. I wanted the .com domain which had gone, so I went for the .co.uk and I am going to have a UK focus with secondary traffic from USA.

How much content will you be creating?

My plan is to launch with 5 articles straight away and then publish a blog a day for the first 3 months solid. That will take me to 100 articles by summer after starting it in April. I use keysearch.co for my keyword research.

It will be a mix of informative training articles specific to Jack Russells and product reviews such as dog toys. I have a low budget so I will be writing the bulk of it myself to begin with and then outsource say 50% to maintain my publishing schedule.

I can comfortably invest about £200 a month, but I would prefer to spend this on advertising (mainly Facebook ads) to grow the blog with instant traffic, rather than ploughing 100% of the budget on content.

Because I love Jack Russells and have owned so many, writing the content will be quick and easy for me. If I have a full day devoted to writing I can easily churn out 5-8 blogs a day.

What’s your plan for building links?

I like to do guest posting and blogger outreach naturally if I can. I sometimes use fiverr.com but check the quality of the blog first to avoid spam. I tend to avoid PBN’s as it’s kind of a grey area, but I do have another dog blog that I will give myself the odd backlink from. I like to work collaboratively with other bloggers and do ‘three-way link swapping’ which is much better than direct link swaps which are against the Google guidelines. We stagger it too so that it is not an immediate swap.

What theme will you be using and why?

It has to be a free theme initially, because I don’t start investing large amounts of cash in a site until it’s earning.

I will go for a simple free theme such as Ashe or Radiate to start with. Both of these themes are slick, easy to work with and have a nice banner. They are in the top free themes for 2021 according to aThemes. They are fast loading and good for SEO.

Around 6 months into the project I may do a redesign with a paid theme. I like to use the Pro version of Generate Press, so may switch to that further down the line. It’s very customisable, simple and effective. A lot of my other websites are on GP.

What’s your plan for monetising the site?

I am absolutely monetising immediately – not making money from the start is a mistake I have made with previous blogs.

I am a member of Ezoic and once you have one site on there with over 10k page views you can add any new ones as and when you like. They only really check your traffic on the first blog. This will start to bring in Advertising income straight away. I never bother with Adwords anymore as Google Ads just pay far too little.

Once the traffic gets higher I will consider Mediavine or Adthrive (if it reaches 50k-100k monthly sessions).

I am also an Amazon Affiliate and will use affiliate marketing for the sale of dog products such as leads, beds, toys and dog food. So essentially it’s a hybrid model that should start earning pretty quickly.

Introducing Mike 👋

Mike’s Professional Background:

I was a UX designer at Auto Trader for 7 years. I then started blogs on the side that replaced my daily income at work and quit to become full time.

How many “niche” websites have you created?

I started my first site in 2013 and have made about 20 sites since. A lot have been failures with maybe 7 being winners.

And moving on to The Great British Blog Off… tell us about how and why you’ve chosen your domain and niche.

It’s a new domain. I chose it as there didn’t seem to be as many big sites around this breed. Tricky to say if its brandable vs keyword. I would say 50/50.

How much content will you be creating?

I want to get to 100 articles as fast as possible. Maybe 30 for the first month if my writer can keep up. My other big dog site has 200 articles, so 200 is my goal. I will go back and improve some older articles when I reach 200 rather than churning out more.

In terms of keywords, I will do random search based around the main keyword, e.g. best harness for beagles. I will look at who’s ranking currently and run them through Ahrefs. I then look at how old their domain is and how strong it is. If it’s a new domain or weak domain, I will steal all their keyword ideas and create better content than them.

I’ll be outsourcing all the writing. I pay my writer $8.50 per 500 words. I feel this is really cheap and I won’t think about a budget due to the low costs. I will do all the design and WordPress work so there are no fees for that.

What’s your plan for building links?

I will outreach to links and resource pages to try and get included on those. This will be the first stage.

I will use Fiverr.com to find cheap dog blogs for will pay for links. Usually these are niche edits rather than guest posts. Its easier for them, faster for me and saves getting new articles written.

I won’t use any of my own PBN’s but will use other peoples if they are offered to me. But I won’t focus on building links until I get to 100 articles.

What theme will you be using and why?

I’ll be using a Generate Press theme. Its easy, fast and I already have a subscription.

What’s your plan for monetising the site?

My other dog site is on Mediavine. I don’t think this one will ever be big enough for that. I won’t put ads on straight away but I will put Amazon on there from day 1.

Introducing Me (Pete) 👋

Pete’s Professional Background:

I started out in content writing at a digital marketing agency in 2012, which introduced him to SEO and digital marketing. I then worked as a freelance copywriter for six years but now spend the majority of time working on my primary site in a lifestyle niche, as well a sports site and a few smaller projects.

How many “niche” websites have you created?

In terms of domains being bought… probably like 50! In terms of websites with actual content, it’s more like 2.5. I started my first site in 2012 and that site is now what I focus 80% of my energy on. Although I’ve had it for nearly a decade, it wasn’t until 2019 that I actually started applying a consistent strategy and it’s grown significantly in the last couple of years and I hope it continues to.

That site now accounts for 60% of my income and 80% of my time. I also run a sports site, although that’s mostly outsourced, and a miniscule third site which has been an (unsuccessful) experiment in buying an existing domain and slapping some outsourced content on it one time.

And moving on to The Great British Blog Off… tell us about how and why you’ve chosen your domain and niche.

The reason I wanted to start a dog blog is because I have three dogs and a decent amount of knowledge on the area. I also wanted to see if I can use the lessons I’ve learned from nine years on my main site and get this new site to the same level within two years.

I bought a new .com keyword-focussed domain that gets a good amount of search and is closely related to the breed I’m focusing on.

How much content will you be creating?

I’m going to look to build authority in the niche by writing response posts related to my breed (e.g. “Why does [breed] ______?).

I’ll use Google Auto-Complete, Answer the Public and Ahrefs to find these opportunities, then I will run these searches to see which have least competition (i.e. only forum discussions on the topic).

As my background is in writing, I’m going to produce the first few posts, but will look to outsource the content to an agency when the standard and voice has been set.

I’ll be looking to publish at least 10 posts per month for the first three months.

What’s your plan for building links?

Link building isn’t really a priority for me.

That said, I also bought two relevant expired domains (DA 18 .com for $100 and DA 15 .co.uk domain for $40) and redirected them to my new domain to help speed up indexing.

My focus will be on getting the site content spot on and providing real value for visitors. I’ll add a couple of relevant links from some other sites I own and will look to reply to any relevant HARO requests when they come in, but that’s about it.

I won’t be doing any other outreach unless a I spot a good opportunity for a guest post or something similar.

What theme will you be using and why?

I already have Generate Press Premium, so I’m going to pick out a pretty theme from this.

What’s your plan for monetising the site?

I might pop in the odd Amazon or affiliate link, but that will be about it to start with.

When the traffic start picking up I’ll add AdSense or Ezoic and then when the site gets more established I’ll start writing more buying guides (e.g. Best Dog Toys) and affiliate links to other dog related products.

One of my key focuses from day one is to build a build an email list.

So, that’s us.

May The Great British Blog Off… commence!

I’ll be providing updates on this on the 2nd of every month.

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