Project G: From $0 to $100K Challenge and Our First Commission! (Month 2)
Welcome to our Project G Challenge, where we (Richard and Zarina) share everything we do to try to go from $0 to $100K per month within a year.
If you’re new here, read this post first.
As we’ve shared in the month 1 post, we’re in a very expensive and competitive niche, which has the potential of bringing us high commissions.
In this post, we’ll be covering the Month 2 progress, which wasn’t without setbacks. (And a drama of sorts!)
Spoiler alert: We managed to earn our first commission. YAY!
Lastly, we were stoked to see how popular our first post was, so we decided to prepare something special for you at the end of the article.
So, grab a coffee, and let’s get started!
In our first post, we shared that for this project, we had 7 people involved who do what they are best at.
There have been a couple of changes, the reasons for which will be discussed later.
So meet the current team and their roles:
- Richard (Founder): KW research
- Zarina (Founder): Article editing
- Kate (Junior Editor): Light article editing
- Martin (Designer): Custom graphs, featured images, etc.
- Joseph (Designer): YouTube thumbnails
Mary (Writer): Article writing
- Eric (Writer): Article writing
- Kyle (Voice Actor): Voiceovers
- Sonny (Video Editor): Faceless YouTube videos
We no longer work with Mary because we are convinced she was using AI tools to write content, which Richard and I are completely against. Details will be in the next section.
And we’ve hired Sonny, a part-time video editor, who already seems to be doing a great job.
(We recommend OnlineJobs.ph for finding affordable talent from the Philippines.)
I’ve also invited my writer Kate to be a junior editor for the new project. She deals with formatting and repetition before I (Zarina) get to the articles.
Generally, I’m extremely picky with the editing, but because we use articles as scripts for podcast episodes and videos, I put extra effort to make sure that the voiced-over text is pleasant to the human ear too.
As you can see, our approach was to hire people and let everyone do what they do best. But as we mentioned in our first post, if you’re a newbie, you don’t have to have an entire team.
Many people start as “solopreneurs” and have built successful websites on their own.
In fact, we recommend you start on your own if you’re a beginner – you need to learn all the ins and outs of the business before you start outsourcing.
Start with the Wealthy Affiliate training platform.
This is where both of us started when we built our own websites, which earn us full-time income (and allow us to invest into Project G).
The first big setback we experienced so far is with our former writer, Mary.
As we mentioned before, we use WriterAccess.com for hiring writers.
While you can generally find excellent writers on this platform, with the AI madness going on, many freelancers use AI tools to increase their earnings with less work.
And that’s exactly what happened to us.
At the start of our working relationship with Mary, we thought ”Wow, she’s very quick, and the articles are very intelligently structured”.
But after a few articles, Zarina noticed some weird repetition, and it was strange enough to a point where we decided to invest in an AI detection tool and here’s what we discovered:
This is a screenshot of the intro of one of the posts, and this has been a consistent theme with her other articles. But not enough to judge, right?
Let’s have a look at the screenshot of one fairly big section of one of the articles:
At this point you may argue that it’s also not enough evidence, right?
Here’s one more screenshot of Mary’s article scan and its score:
Let me tell you that we did an incredible amount of scans, and most of the results made me wanna cry. The majority of them were showing a huge % on the AI side.
Believe me, I (Zarina) was the last person to jump into conclusions and reluctant to believe this ugly truth.
I even reached out to the co-founder of Wealthy Affiliate directly (who has 20 years of experience in the industry) and asked for his advice.
He confirmed that, based on his experience, Originality.ai is the best/accurate AI detection tool so far.
After the multiple screenshots that I sent to him, he also confirmed that, indeed, Mary has used AI to write the articles for us.
We kept on scanning multiple pieces of content from Mary and other people to make sure we have enough evidence for the WriterAccess management.
For comparison, here’s what Eric’s (our second writer) content looks like:
And another post of his:
Scanning Eric’s results were consistently original.
The lowest number I remember was 85% human, but most were in high 90s, and even 100% humanly written (according to the tool).
Needless to say, we were PISSED.
Here’s our initial reaction to Mary’s content:
So as you can see, we weren’t too happy about this. But this can happen to anyone, even on a high-profile platform like WriterAccess.
So obviously, we ‘fired’ Mary and asked the platform management for a refund for all the articles she wrote.
What surprised us even more was the WriterAccess’ decision, despite their policy/claim that they are against AI written content.
Not only they refused to refund us, but instead tried covering up for their writer, even after we took time to scan all her articles and send proof to them.
Take a look:
My response to her was that I’ve even talked to industry experts and got their opinion on the situation and I’ve added that their proposition for rewrites doesn’t work because:
1) I’ve spent DAYS to scrupulously edit the article myself before publishing (and believe me, I’m extremely picky and spend hours on making sure it’s top-top all around),
2) Then I had to rewrite the articles and waste hours AGAIN after I found out about AI tools possibly being used because I was afraid our 2-month old website would be punished instantly for alleged AI content.
We kept asking for a refund, and instead they tried to blame it on us by suggesting we “auto-approved” and didn’t submit within 10 days after accepting the articles:
And instead of them digging deep and looking into their own writer, I had to defend myself why I haven’t reached out within the 10-day period:
We even explained how AI content could’ve ruined our website had we not noticed – Google would eventually catch up to AI-generated content and can even blacklist your website.
And they still didn’t care.
At this time, we’re still deciding whether or not we should continue working with them, but one thing is certain – if you ever use this platform, be prepared that the WriterAccess platform might not be on client’s side.
Lastly, AI content is on the rise, so make sure to scan ALL of your articles to avoid any potential issues.
There are some free tools on the web, so you have no reason not to.
Watch this video on how AI content is killing online businesses:
We used Originality AI detection tool. It’s not free, but it’s VERY affordable and pretty accurate (from our experience).
We’d love to hear YOUR opinion about the whole Mary/WriterAccess situation:
- What’s your position on AI written content?
- Do you believe we’re being unreasonable or is WA really covering up for their writer?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
February 2023: Goals & Process
As you’ve probably understood from our first report post, we are very ambitious with our overall goal and mini-monthly goals as well.
What we didn’t account for is burning out by mid-February and running into a serious setback around that time as well (with Mary).
Here’s a visual checklist of what our goals were for the second month of this year:
And here are our actual results:
Amount of articles
Our goal was to publish 12 posts in February, but we didn’t account for 3 things:
Us burning out, having have to deal with the AI content issue and rewrites, and the month being the shortest in the year.
You can’t even imagine how pissed off I was about having to do rewrites of the articles submitted by Mary.
Such a waste of time, money, and mental energy. I still get annoyed thinking about that.
In any case, we were able to publish 8 articles, which I’d say is good with everything that was going on this month.
As you can see from this screenshot, we’ve published:
- 2 reviews
- 6 info/question type of posts
Since our website is pretty new, at the beginning, we wanted to focus more on informational articles without affiliate links to gain Google’s trust.
Last month, Richard and I considered branching out to TikTok and Instagram by publishing short format content.
However, after thinking more about it, we’ve decided that these platforms are not worth it. We know our niche audience, and they simply don’t hang out on Instagram or TikTok.
So why waste our time and energy, right?
Speaking of knowing your audience, here’s a clip from FRIENDS show for laughs:
So we changed our plan to Twitter and Pinterest instead.
Our Twitter account is up and running, and for now, we’re simply going to tweet all our content, including YouTube videos, Podcasts, and articles.
We haven’t gotten around to setting up a Pinterest account.
This is something that we’ll have to do in March.
When we were creating a plan, YouTube channel was absolutely a part of it.
And we haven’t regretted our decision.
It’s a great platform to leverage because videos are likely to rank sooner than website posts, and in general, it’s a good idea to diversify.
There was just one “but”.
We have the perfect voiceover guy, but we needed to hire an editor. Around mid-February, we hired one and were able to publish 4 videos.
(We recommend OnlineJobs.ph for finding affordable talent from the Philippines.)
On top of that, we used a ‘remix’ feature on YouTube to create 5 shorts from our own videos. This was mostly done to get more eyeballs on our channel.
Seems like what we did was working:
We also gained a few subs.
Richard and I thought that perhaps we should go even further and publish our content on other video platforms as well (we’ll discuss those in our Discord group, more on that later).
As you may remember, our focus was to branch out and build a brand.
And that included creating a podcast channel and sharing the voiceovers (based on articles) there. And then embedding these episodes on website posts.
In February, we published 6 episodes.
We also connected our Buzzsprout podcast to other directories so that people can also find us on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcast, etc.
And started gaining momentum here as well:
We don’t really think that people actually click on our links in the episode descriptions; however, we believe that it’s a great idea to build a brand.
Besides, you must first give if you want to get.
The more quality content you pump out, the more likely people will notice you, trust you, and choose to buy from/through you.
Paid ads & leads
Even though we did paid ads end of January, we only did it to “dip our toes in the water”.
It’s a good idea to first make money using the methods we’re familiar with and only then learn new ways to make money by investing money.
What happened to the January leads we got?
They were failed/unqualified.
However, we did gain one qualified lead from one of the video platforms we published on.
And on February 21, we made our first money!
Of course, $200 is not a lot of money, but after so much work, feeling burnt out, and being annoyed with the whole AI content, we NEEDED this.
Here’s the proof:
The majority of visitors came from the paid ads that were still running the first couple of days of February.
Another reason why we didn’t meet our content goals was that we also focused on building a team and creating a better system for us all to work together more efficiently.
We had mini-training for Kate, who would act as a junior editor.
We hired a video editor, who needed a bit of getting used to our style and level of quality. Richard and Martin helped Sonny with video elements that he needed help with.
Kyle was asked to submit at least 2-3 voiceovers/week in advance so that the video editor doesn’t sit around waiting for these.
And last but not least, we created a Trello visual board for better team organization and efficiency.
Each team member has their own column with the tasks to do and then once finished, these tasks are moved to the next person’s column.
Personally, it helped me (Zarina) not get overwhelmed having have to remember everything and be in touch with everyone about their tasks.
Having a Trello board allowed me to let go of control a little bit.
Highly recommend putting the time to build a system/structure, ESPECIALLY if you’re working with a team!
Thoughts about goals
Even though we didn’t meet our exact goals we set out a month ago, we certainly have done a great job!
We kept building a better structure, a better foundation, a better team, and better content, despite the setbacks we’ve experienced.
Luckily, we made our first $200 this month, so it was a much needed boost of motivation and helped us push forward.
Second Month Expenses
In January 2023, we spent $2135.10 in total (or $1067.55 each).
In February 2023, however, we spent less because we didn’t invest in paid ads. Our total expenses were $1801.78 (or $900.89 each).
A couple of things to note:
1) We paid for the articles submitted, doesn’t mean we publish them in the same month.
2) Again, don’t get scared to see such big expenses for the first two months of a website that doesn’t earn anything.
As we mentioned earlier, you can do this all by yourself – both Zarina and I have built our websites ourselves.
We just decided to hire professionals to produce the best content possible and speed everything up.
Second Month Stats & Earnings
Here is the exciting part of our post:
How did we do this month? Is Uncle G starting to push our content up the ranks?
Well, not really. But it’s still too early to expect high traffic.
(At this point, we’re experiencing the Google dance where some of our articles show up in SERPs and then disappear before reappearing again later.)
Here’s a screenshot from our Search Console:
As you can see, organic traffic is pretty much non-existent still, but again, that’s expected. Remember that we’re only on month 2 in a super competitive niche.
What’s great though is our traffic in general (from different channels/mediums).
Have a look:
A total of 419 total page views for February – not too shabby!
Last but not least:
Video content is a big part of our content strategy, and our YouTube numbers are excellent, considering we’re still just 2 months in:
As you can see, we had 3,000 views (compared to 116 views in January), and 23 new subscribers, ending the month with 37 total subscribers.
If you’re new to affiliate marketing, you probably think these are low numbers. And they’re low, but for the niche we’re in and the competition, this is amazing.
Remember, just one sale can earn as AT LEAST $5,000.
Summary For February
Here’s the part of the article that those with limited time will appreciate.
Summary time with all the important numbers.
Summary for February 2023
Website organic clicks
Again, down a significant amount, but with how the traffic is picking up, we should be in profit very soon.
I predicted our first sale to happen on March 12th, so stay tuned for the next post! 🙂
Something Special For YOU
Before we get into our plans for next month and wrap up the article, I now want to discuss the something special we prepared for you.
As I mentioned before, we were pleasantly surprised by how popular Project G challenge has become among fellow content creators.
Our first post got hundreds of visits, and both me and Zarina received a lot of messages from you asking about details, niches, strategies, etc.
So that’s why we decided that those of you who’re going to sign up to Wealthy Affiliate through us, will get access to our private Discord group.
We’re currently working on the ins and outs of it to offer the best user experience, but the server will be ready on the 15th of March.
You’ll get direct access to me and Zarina to help you out at the start of your journey.
There, we’ll share even more resources, proven strategies, tips & tricks that we use on our 5-figure websites and this Project G.
On top of that, for a select few action takers, we’ll be uncovering the niche we chose for Project G, along with the exact strategies we use to achieve our $100k/mo goal.
This being said, if you want to follow in our footsteps and learn how the money is made online, click here to get started today, 100% RISK-FREE.
Once you join, Zarina will automatically be added as your free ‘coach’ within the system.
In case you didn’t know:
Wealthy Affiliate is the very place that changed our life and it’s our #1 recommended training community for beginners.
The beauty of it is that you can test-drive the entire platform for free!
Anyway, once you decide this is something you want to do, we’ll send you a message with access to our Discord server, and you’ll have two full-time affiliate marketers personally helping you on your journey.
Look forward to seeing you there!
Project G Plans for March 2023
So, what are our goals for the upcoming month?
The first couple of months was about laying the groundwork and building the systems, and now that we’ve done majority of the work, we’ll focus more on publishing quality content across all platforms.
Have a look at this screenshot:
The list of goals might increase later in the month, depending on how fast we’ll move forward.
However, with the Mary situation out of the way and not wasting physical and mental energy on it, we’re confident we’ll get better at regular publishing for this month.
Stay tuned for March results!
Tools/Resources We Use and Recommend
Our evergreen section of monthly posts is updated, with one major change.
Wealthy Affiliate – Online business community and training platform.
We just have to share this one.
This is where we started our journey, this is what we owe our success to, and most importantly, this is where we found each other and many other good friends.
Astra Pro – Fast and easy-to-use WordPress theme.
We did a lot of research on themes going into this project. We wanted something fast and highly customizable.
Astra Pro, coupled with Elementor, fits the bill perfectly.
LinkWhisper – Smart, fast, and easy-to-use plugin for internal links.
If you’re a pretty experienced affiliate marketer with one or more established websites, we encourage you to check it out.
It’s an impressive tool created by Spencer Haws (the founder of Niche Pursuits), and we didn’t realize just how much it would save time when doing internal linking.
Doing smart internal links is important for SEO purposes, and this plugin can potentially help you improve your Google rankings.
To hire the best freelancers to streamline your workflow. As mentioned before, we’ve tried many platforms for hiring freelancers, but WriterAccess is by far the best one. It’s a bit more expensive than others, but they make sure you get professional-level content.
After what happened (the AI incident) and WriterAccess covering up for their writer instead of refunding us, we can’t recommend this platform anymore.
OnlineJobs.ph – To hire affordable freelancers from the Philippines.
On the other hand, if you want to hire someone for cheap, OnlineJobs is amazing for that.
On this platform, you’ll be able to hire full-time video editors and writers for around $700 a month or designers for $300-400.
For comparison purposes, a full-time video editor or writer would cost you at least a couple thousand dollars in the US.
This is because the cost of living and wage rates in the Philippines are MUCH lower than in North America. So $700 is considered to be a pretty great full-time salary.
Note: When hiring, be mindful that every profession has different rates and that, in some cases, you’d have to train them (for example, writers).
NitroPack.io – All-in-one speed optimization for your website.
With the recent additions of the Core Web Vitals, your website’s speed is more important than ever before.
We’ve had some performance issues for a while, but by adding NitroPack (they have a free plan for up to 5000 page views/mo), everything was solved, and all of our websites are soooo fast now.
Absolutely loving this one.
Originality.ai – AI content checker/detection tool.
As we mentioned in this post, AI tools for writing content are VERY popular among freelancers, so make sure to scan every single article for AI-generated content.
We like originality.ai for its simplicity, affordability, and accuracy.
Alrighty, guys, that’s the summary for Project G in February.
Some pretty exciting numbers and our first earnings!
As well as some setbacks – but that’s what makes it worth it in the end.
As always, let us know your thoughts on our progress – we love hearing from you!