Moving Forward Again…

It’s been a few months since I put out a “Worm Farming Secrets”
case study update, so there’s no time like the present.

Many thought the project was over, but no, it’s not.

It’s simply remained static for reasons that will be explained
below. I’ll also fill you on results obtained to date including
sales, site statistics, search engine positions and more.

BTW – if you’ve just joined us since last time, you can catch
up on the total project to date here…

…I am sharing everything (including the kitchen sink) about
how I take a brand new niche business from idea to profitable
online business step-by-step. It’s proven to be extremely popular
because I’m sharing techniques you can see first hand that
actually produce results, and you can them brainstorm ways to
implement them into your own online marketing action plan.

And all at no cost…

Before I begin however, I want to mention two things;
~ We still have memberships available to…

…check out the testimonials page to see results realized
by existing members to date. We’ve also just recently
initiated an advertising partnership with Jupiter Media
( to deliver an additional 7 million monthly text
link impressions to the “Authority X” website itself (amongst
numerous other network developments). As a result there has never
been a better time to join the “Better Than Backlinks” family…
~ Earn Recurring Commissions…

If you market to a webmaster / online business owner audience,
then please do consider joining the “Better Than Backlinks”
partner program. You can find complete details here…

…partners have been seeing excellent results to date, and a few
have already set themselves up with $2,000+ monthly recurring
partnership commissions.
…ok, so returning to the “Worm Farming Secrets” case study
update. I guess the best place to begin is to explain why there
hasn’t been an update for two odd months now. There is one main
reason for this and that’s because the primary product we’ve
been developing to sell from the site is *still* uncompleted.

To try and keep a long story short, the original Ghostwriter we
employed to create the core product we plan on selling from…

…after almost 2 months of overshooting estimated delivery times,
came through with a less than satisfactory end product. There is
no way I would’ve been comfortable to be associated with selling
it as the core product.

As a result, I did not pay the writer the additional $1,500 owed
on the project (recall a $500 down payment was already made – you
can read more about that in the “Filling In The Blanks” section
on the project update website).

BTW – I should mention that the writer invited me NOT to pay
the additional $1,500 due to the numerous delays, of which I
certainly obliged due to the situation and end result.

It’s a simple as that really. Without the core product ready, I
did not want to do a mass scale marketing roll out (launch an
affiliate program, promote too heavily to leads etc).

Now normally I would’ve sorted this situation out much sooner but
as most of you already know, this case study and entire project
was setup as a learning mechanism for you… and at completely
no cost. With it not being core to our business, and other things
coming up that were, it was knocked down the priority list as my
attention and time was required elsewhere.

I have been doing things here and there in relation to the project
which I will share with you today but nothing so major that I
thought a case study update was warranted. Although there have
been many very interesting smaller developments as you’re about
to read about…
~~~ Project Statistics Update ~~~
First let’s look at some interesting statistics related to the
project. Please keep in mind that basically everything on the
front-end of the website (in terms of marketing) has remained
static since the last update.

No additional link building has been going on, no additional
advertising (I actually stopped the AdWords campaign) etc.

Nothing directly intentional to further promote the website as
far as we are concerned anyway (other websites may have deiced
to link to the site as a natural progression of finding it in
the search engines however).

I want to mention that because search engine positions have
improved to the point where we are now dominating this niche
for most related keyword terms.

And with nothing else going on I want you to understand this
has largely been a result of the website simply *maturing* and
becoming more *aged* in the search engine indexes. So here are
the current search engine positions for the two most targeted
keyword terms related to this niche market…

Search Engine Positions:

Term = Worm Farming

Google = #2
Yahoo = #2
MSN = #1

Term = Vermiculture

Google = #11
Yahoo = #6
MSN = #2

…I’m not going to list them all as there are hundreds (many
longer tailed versions of “worm farming”, such as “worm farming
techniques”, “commercial worm farming” and so forth. Please feel
free to check these for yourself. And again, if you’ve joined us,
since the last update, everything we’ve done to achieve these
results (and those still to be mentioned) is contained within the
project update website…

…although you may not have been monitoring these, I have of
course, and the “worm farming” result is most interesting. It
took several months to mature to the point where it made it into
the top 3 results, again simply due to the website having matured.
Prior to that it was hovering around the 3rd and 2nd page results.

Again, things take time in the search engines (although unlike in
this case, where I stopped, you should always be continuing to
build your incoming links and not sitting around waiting to see
what will happen as a result of your previous efforts).
Here are the traffic statistics of the website as at Friday
August 10th when I decided to check them…

Website Statistics Overall

Month Uniques Total

Feb 07 1,157 1,469
Mar 07 2,646 3,472
Apr 07 6,774 8,978
May 07 6,147 8,862
Jun 07 6,177 8,736
Jul 07 4,895 6,404
Aug 07 1,432 1,691

…where uniques are unique visitors, and total are all visitors
to the website in the given month. Let’s break that down to
the “Daily Average” for each month also…

Month Daily Average

Feb 07 52
Mar 07 112
Apr 07 299
May 07 285
Jun 07 291
Jul 07 206
Aug 07 190 (First 10 Days Average)

…I’m sure you’ll agree these are pretty nice numbers for a
small site, in a small market, and right now we are not paying
for advertising. The majority of traffic is arriving via the
search engine listings (over 80%).

You will notice that there was a slight decrease after June.

This is because we paused the adwords campaign we were running
to generate newsletter leads. This was only due to the fact
that we had anticipated making sales at that point and starting
to make a return on our investment. This comes back to the
whole Ghostwriter issue mentioned at the start. We will certainly
be unpausing the adwords campaign once we are ready for the
large marketing roll out however.
Here are newsletter subscriber numbers as at Friday August 10th
when I decided to check them…

Total Current Newsletter Subscribers = 4,480

Breakdown of sources:

Main Site = 2,114
Adwords = 1,771
MSAdCenter = 230
Cloaked Sites = 365

…where “Main Site” are people subscribing from the main website
arriving from any source of traffic, other than the latter three
also listed above.
Here are sales numbers as at Friday August 10th when I decided
to check them…

Sales To Date:

2 sales  @ $97
26 sales @ $67
Total 28 = $1899.00 (Gross Revenue)

…where 1 subscription was cancelled with no reason for the
cancellation specified nor refund requested. All sales recur
annually @ $27.

Yes, although we don’t have the core product ready we are actually
selling which I’ll talk more about shortly. First let’s look at
expenditure and see where we are at in relation to revenue…

* Domain Name: $8
* Annual Hosting: $100
* Ghost Writer Deposit: $500 (Original Writer)
* New Ghost Writer Deposit: $1,000 (+$2,000 Due On Completion)
* Newsletter Writer: $1,950 (13 issues at $150 per issue)
* PPC Advertising: $1,360 (Primarily Adwords)
* Scripts: $120 (Purchased Membership Management)

Total Expenditure: $5,038

…this currently puts us in the negative of…

Net Revenue = -$3,139

Now before we go on I should mention that I am NOT recommending
that anyone putt’s themselves in that position if they cannot
financially afford to do so.

I’m happy with the result so far considering we haven’t started
selling aggressively, and putting it into the overall context of
the sole purpose of the project being to educate you in the
techniques used to market the site and take it to profit.

Also the fact that if we hadn’t had the delays with the
Ghostwriter we could’ve rolled faster towards turning that into
a positive… but such is life. Depending on my own personal
time availability when the core product has been completed,
(due at the end of August) I look forward to seeing how fast we
can turn that into a positive.

It does continue to shift in that direction week by week as
expenditure is now fixed at $150 per week, and sales are covering
that expenditure and clearing a small profit. Not bad considering
how static the project currently is.
~~~ Progress Not Yet Mentioned & Moving Forward ~~~

Right, so in the above expenditure list you will notice I’m
paying a newsletter writer $150 per week to create the “Worm
Farming Secrets” newsletter.

If you recall, I have no “worm farming” knowledge myself (well
certainly didn’t before beginning the project), and as a result
have employed someone who does have real world experience.

He’s also an excellent writer.

This person joined the “Worm Farming Secrets” newsletter list
as a result of marketing techniques use to date (if I recall
correctly he found the site via Adwords), and become very active
in the discussion forums that used to be freely available on the
website (prior to locking them up into the private membership
area in preparation for sales).

Being so active in the forum and reading his responses to others’
questions, I was pretty impressed with his knowledge. And to cut
a long story short I approached him via email and asked if he
might be interested in writing the newsletter each week. The rest
is history and every week I’m sent a ready to publish newsletter
to send out to the 4,000+ readers.

The best part is I don’t even tell him what to write about.

If you recall, one of the primary reasons of starting the Adwords
campaign we did way back when, was to generate more leads in the
form of newsletter readers. When they subscribe they are asked
to include a specific question (if they have one). You can see
the whole setup here…

…these questions provided key market research information.

Information that we are using to develop the core product, and
also to produce the newsletter. The newsletter itself is in the
format of two specific questions answered in depth every week
and generally runs around 5 pages in length. We have collected
well over 300 different questions which gives the writer plenty
of ammunition to work with (as you can imagine) and to date he
has produced 13 individual issues for us.

It’s also for that reason that the project itself become static
in terms of marketing. I wanted to see if this person would be
a better candidate for taking over the Ghostwriting aspects and
creating the core product rather than employing a writer with
no practical experience. Turns out, with some discussions and
payment negotiations, that’s what’s currently happening and the
core product is due to be completed at the end of this month.

In the expenditure list previously provided, that relates to the
$1,000 down payment made to the new writer. A further $2,000 is
due at completion of the product bringing the total cost to $3,000
for the core product (expected to be around 150-200 pages).

Now this person wasn’t the first person I approached in the
worming industry (if you want to call it that ;-0). I actually
approached several people who were the most active in the forums
AND who were actually providing quality advice to other forum
members. Those that showed they knew what they were talking about,
could express it clearly, and that had an obvious passion for
the topic.

Most were not interested but this person was. We are now good
friends and have a great working relationship. So at the end of
the day, even though we had initial problems with the original
Ghostwriter, waiting it out for a while to see what developed
with the newsletter writer has proven to be one very smart
decision. I know we’re going to up with a high quality product
that provides the customers with real world useful advice and
guidance based on actual experience and nothing beats that.

So what else has happened?

Well as I said, we are making sales.

I decided to run with the membership website model as originally
discussed earlier on in the project case study, rather than
selling a one time product.

Obviously the recurring revenue was the driving force behind
the decision, especially considering the backend products for
this market are quite limited (in what I can provide, or source
to provide profitably, anyway).

To do this we are running a combination of and to manage the membership aspects. Amember takes care
of the payment aspects, and drupal is the “Content Management
System” (CMS) used to organize, publish and deliver the content
to paid members. In addition to this, the newsletter itself is
being published using “Autoresponse Plus 3″ as already mentioned.

Now the above system works ok but it’s pretty clunky and I’m not
sure if I would run with it again. Whilst everything talks to
everything else ok, and the whole process is automated, it
creates a lot of unnecessary steps for members that would not exist
if it were one streamlined application. Nethertheless, I did
look at some alternatives and this was the option I decided to
run with in the end.

It was also very low cost. Amember is around $120, and Drupal
is an open source CMS so has no cost associated with it (other
than a learning curve which wasn’t all that bad).

In a future update, perhaps next week, I will create a short
video that will walk you through a quick tour of the setup and
give you a look inside the actual members area.

On that note, what exactly are we selling.

Well whilst we were waiting for the original ghostwriter to
complete the product, we had scoured the internet to look for
any suitable material that we could pad the membership area out
with, as bonus material for members (on top of the core product
and the professional edition of the newsletter).

The professional edition of the newsletter (for paid members
only) contains the two questions answered in full, where as the
free version sent to all newsletter readers contains only the
first question and half of the answer to second question. This
means that every time an issue is sent out to readers, they are
enticed to become a member and the format has been working
very well.

We did find a lot of useful worm farming related material. Many
from environment and government agencies, and from numerous
other sources. This was complied into the membership area if it
meet out quality standards and we had permission to use it.

In addition to that material, we also had several hundred
discussion forum posts from the original freely available forums.
This content (and all members who contributed to the original
forums) were converted over to the private membership area.

So all and all, before the core product was even finished we had
hundreds of pages of useful worm farming related content to
provide members with. As a result, and anticipating the end
product would be completed within a week or two (which we know
didn’t happen), I started offering presales.

The price for membership was set at $97 for the first 12 months,
and $27 per year thereafter to retain membership. Pre-sales
offered the first year membership for $67 and $27 per year
thereafter. This is the current pricing structure of the website.

To date no one has complained that the core product is not
ready yet which is an excellent sign that there is already
substantial value for these members. Once ready, we should have
a very valuable asset on hand.

In terms of pricing, there is no real reason why the above is
what I decided to run with. Again, without being able to launch
aggressively I cannot begin accurate price testing yet. Early
indications would suggest that lowering the initial membership
fee would increase conversions, but how that would equate to
more or less revenue is anyone’s guess until we being testing
this. This will be one of the first things we do when we are
ready to roll the core product out.

So that’s really where the project stands at the current time.

I just wanted to fill you in as I expect to be putting more
updates out on a regular basis once things are moving forward
again. In the next few weeks I’ll create that video I mentioned
to walk you around the inside of the membership area (obviously
I can’t allow 30,000+ readers in there to poke about as actual
members) so a video is the next best alternative.

I will also explain the current format of the “free newsletter”
itself, the one sent to all readers, in more depth. I’ll explain
how it has been laid out and the components we’re using to
convert these leads into actual customers. It’s not perfect so
I’ll talk about that too.

If you have any questions related to the project as a whole to
date, please feel free to reply to this email. I will endeavor
to answer as many as possible but please be aware my time is
extremely limited. Also, if you have just joined the project be
sure you have gone through everything here…

…because you might just find the answer you’re looking for on
the project update website. Have a great week and I’ll be in
touch again soon with another update. In the meantime be sure
you’ve checked out…


Duncan Carver