$100,000 Challenge on QuickSprout: The Full Story by Neil Patel
Because I’m a big believer in continuous education, I read a lot of articles online. I’ve been using Feedly for years to aggregate all the websites I follow.
Spending 2 hours a day reading blogs to satisfy my curiosity can be a little redundant.
Besides reading more on Medium, a platform where content is more original than the average blog, a blog series caught my attention: The $100,000 Challenge.
After writing a blog about how anyone can make $100,000 a month in revenue within 12 months, Neil decided to launch a nutrition blog to prove it was possible, and share his journey.
In his monthly updates, Neil takes us through every details:
- Content creation
- Traffic generated
- Social media promotion and ads
- SEO strategy
- Recruiting a professional nutritionist
- Selling physical goods on Amazon
If you’re catching up on the series, it’s tricky to read it from the start since Neil hasn’t organized it yet.
This is why I thought I would aggregate all the posts in this article. I‘m sure this will be useful to some of you!
If you’re only interested in the links to the original blog posts, and not in my comments/summary, feel free to go to the bottom of this article!
Neil announces he launched a nutrition blog on April 1st, and tells how he has generated 35k visitors in 2 weeks, and gained 50k+ fans on Facebook within 30 days.
At the time, Neil was still managing everything on his own.
It’s not my name that gives me the advantage — it’s my experience. I’m probably better than most marketers are at building links, running social media campaigns, and writing content.
For the second month, visits drop a little. Neil realized 38% of unique visitors were coming from Quicksprout. He decides to stop linking to the nutrition blog in his series.
He also announces he hired Mike, a certified nutritionist, as the face of the blog. I assume that happened mainly for legal reasons and a lack of time.
Neil also mentions how he’s realigning his strategy to grow the business.
[Mike’s] content looks good; Caroline’s hand-drawn image performed well; and the Facebook group is growing. We aren’t focusing on shout-out-for-shout-outs anymore as Mike needs to focus on the content quality and picking the right topics, but once we nail that down, we will start growing our fan page again.
Besides the traffic being steady, Neil is confident as all signals are pointing in the right direction.
After taking a big hit due to a drop in traffic coming from Facebook, he decided to focus on search.
When you look at the search volume for these phrases, you’ll notice that the volume is really low. So instead, I had Mike shift his focus toward writing on topics that were more mainstream and would pick up more search traffic in the long run.
Neil is not too worried about the overall traffic drop. He’s pretty happy about the increase of search traffic.
He’s thinking about monetization but selling ad space on his site wouldn’t be enough. Neil needs to think outside the box to start generating revenue. So, he thinks about white-labelling existing supplements, a product that relates to the topic of his blog.
Neil tells us why he wants to focus on selling his future product on Amazon.
I am planning on leveraging the NutritionSecrets community to help drive reviews. We know that once a product hits 400 to 500 solid reviews, it becomes easy to generate $70,000 to $150,000 a month in revenue, assuming you are picking products in a popular vertical.
Traffic is back up! As Neil says, SEO takes time.
It’s been like this for years. Typically, every time I start a new blog, it usually takes 6 to 7 months for search traffic to really kick in.
Neil also mentions he hasn’t found a company that will let them white-label a “fish oil” product on their terms as they’d like to get paid on every sale without paying upfront. This is why Neil is considering monetizing the site through e-books and a course.
In addition to having one of their Facebook post going viral, search traffic has seen a 45% increase over August.
Neil takes the time to share some of his social media tactics, and finally announces they are launching a fish supplement.
He also mentions some tweaks to come to bring more traffic.
Overall, September was a fairly good month. Mike’s doing an excellent job producing content, but he needs to do more when it comes to building links. He also needs to expand his social outreach efforts, which should help bring traction to the blog.
In addition to going through the usual explanations of the traffic ups and downs, Neil takes us behind the scenes of his monetization of the blog by selling his product on Amazon.
Here are some elements of his plan to success:
- Analyzing the competition to found the ideal price point.
- Focusing on getting more positive reviews while following Amazon’s terms of service (paying people to leave reviews isn’t allowed).
- Tweaking the copy of the product page as it impacts sales.
- Improve the label design once the product generates more sales.
The goal by the end of November is to generate 30 reviews. By the end of December, we want to have 300 reviews. And by the end of January, we want to have 600 reviews for our product on our Amazon page. If we can hit those numbers, there should be enough traction for the product to generate close to $100,000 in monthly sales.
Search traffic now represents 62.29% of total traffic. Neil actually shares an interesting tactic I should try on this blog.
We have built a few EDU links and GOV links by just doing backlink checks on our competitors using Ahrefs and then begging those people to link to our site.
Regarding revenue, their supplement is getting more reviews. The only thing is most of them are posted by people who got the product at a discounted rate. Neil isn’t making profit yet.
December is known as being slow due to the holidays. Neil’s nutrition blog still got decent traffic, but the returning visitor count is low. This was mainly due to a poor lead generation strategy.
Neil is known to utilize pop-ups across is multiple websites. I’m personally not a fan of this strategy. Even though it can be effective, I think it’s too disruptive from a user experience stand point. I’d rather focus on generating leads by providing value.
The other issue with pop-ups is that they’re not mobile-friendly. This is a huge downside as smartphones are now the main source of traffic for most websites.
In the conclusion, Neil tells us more about what’s next.
The big focus over the next 30 days is going to be fine-tuning the site to be more like Quick Sprout and NeilPatel.com when it comes to optimizing for conversions and email collection.
Nine months later, Neil is finally getting close to his goal: $100,000 in monthly revenue.
But Neil also knows one thing: Revenue ≠ Profit.
That’s especially true when you see the breakdown of his expenses for the month:
- Fish oil — $56,401.91 (including Amazon fees, shipping to Amazon for Prime and any coupon-related expenses)
- Aweber — $69
- Designer — $750 (made changes to the website, including linking to the product)
- Hosting — $249
- Mike — free (Mike doesn’t get paid, but he owns a percentage of the blog)
- Ads — $9,481.29 (We’ve been testing ads, and in the following updates, I will show you the screenshots and share the lessons we learned from running the ads. Overall, they haven’t been performing too well from a profit margin standpoint.)
- Accounting — $185 (we are now paying a bookkeeper to help out with the books)
- Lawyer fees — $2,000 (this is to get rid of people selling our product with our label on Amazon. We are sending them seize and desist orders.)
That brings the total of the expenses to $69,136.20. That means our profit was $7,190.70.
Neil finally tells us how to find someone to help produce tangible products! The person he uses is Austin Song, who has facilities in Cleveland, Ohio. According to Neil, Austin is busy and won’t do the same deal again… #FAIL.
You can tell this blog series became a burden for Neil. He has used the same structure for the past three months. Neil still displays great transparency by giving us all the numbers and sharing some emails he has sent to NutritionSecrets’ readers, but at this point this doesn’t provide any value.
As a marketer, I would have loved to get in-depth explanations of the behind the scenes as far as business and marketing strategy go. This contrasts with Neil’s usual long-form posts. Anyways, there you have it! One year later, Neil Patel proves the $100,000 is possible with a revenue of $121,492.65 for March.
Overall, the $100,000 challenge was fun, but I wouldn’t do it again. It’s just too much work with everything I have going on.
Neil proves anyone could make $100,000 a month in revenue within 12 months, but you can tell he wasn’t passionate about this experiment.
Neil took a lot of heat early on when his readers told him he had an unfair advantage when using his other websites to link to his new blog. He since chose not to do that anymore.
Still, I believe Neil has an advantage since he’s an entrepreneur who has launched multiple successful online businesses.
Neil is an expert. He’s not “anyone”.
I’ve been so interested in this blog series that following through Neil’s path was one of my marketing resolutions for 2016.
The goal was to emulate his strategy to launch an online business in a different niche.
One month later, I realized it wasn’t for me yet. It requires a lot of time and resources I don’t have at this point of my life. Or maybe I’m not ballsy enough to try it…
This year, I’d rather focus my energy on writing on a regular basis.
All the links to the $100,00 Challenge, as promised!