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One Year of SEO: Abject Misery (Year of the Lemmings Update feat. BowTiedLemmings)
Lemmings reports live from the Pit of Despair
Tetra here. Today’s guest post is another update from the always entertaining BowTiedLemmings, an SEO beginner who just completed his first year as an affiliate site owner.
He’s currently in the Pit of Despair, a phase that everyone goes through multiple times (no exceptions).
Lemmings’ first guest post - SEO Results From a Beginner Who Started From Zero - was a smash hit. If you haven’t read it yet I would start there before reading today’s article.
He started out optimistic. Things have changed quite a bit since then.
I’ll let Lemmings take it over from here. Prepare to be depressed (and laugh your ass off at his writing style).
One year ago I began a journey that would change the course of human history. I began my first SEO Affiliate Website. I know what you are thinking, ‘Lemmings you have not changed the course of human history,’ and you might be right.
But when you get to 20k clicks on your website, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Each day something like 300 people go to my website and read my articles and take action based on the words I have written (or my Pakistani writer has written). Can you say the same?
Note: I know now that 300 clicks/day ain’t shit. But it ain’t nothing either. Took a lot of work to get to that point. I got 0 clicks/day for 6 months, lol.
And so it begins…
That start day is actually a lie. I created the website about a month before that… The true created day was…
And so it actually began…
You see, I created the website on Jun 6, 2022. I started writing some articles and what not… and then I quit. I was not feeling it. I didn’t understand some of the concepts, I couldn’t get the website theme to look how I wanted it to (perfect), and the lucrative AI Software wasn’t writing articles how I expected it to (they were trash)...
You mean I’d actually have to write articles?! Fuck that. Rather be a brokie.
I unpublished the site. I spent the next few weeks partying and enjoying my summer. I had something like 30 people living in my house at that time (won’t explain) and it was an absolute shit show every single day.
In fact, that month was actually one of the best months of my entire life. My Dad was still alive. I was surrounded by people I love. All was right in the world.
And then I got COVID for like the 8th time despite getting the jab, lol. IKIKIK. When you get COVID, no one wants to be around you. I was stuck in a room. Bored. I opened up my laptop. I began again…
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A Change In Mindset
This time was different. I was still frustrated with everything from theme to writing to learning SEO, but I told myself, ‘It’s okay. Commit to one year. If nothing happens, then you can quit but at least you can say you tried.’
That mental shift was all I needed to start putting in some real and lasting effort. Not only did it remove the wanting everything now millennial curse I was born with, but it also allowed me to ignore distractions.
Before I would jump from copywriting to dropshipping to website design to Amazon FBA to whatever. Now I would stick with SEO and I would stick with one website despite every fiber in my being telling me to jump around. Not only that, but I would stick to SEO even if I saw no results for a year. I expected absolutely nothing to happen.
As it turns out, so much happened that I literally surprised myself. But for the most part, the last year was pure misery with a few glimmers of hope that would push me to keep going.
“I’m sure you’re probably laughing at the idea that anyone would believe that SEO is anything less than a long, dull slog with an uncertain outcome. You know what’s up because you’re grinding day in and day out. There’s nothing easy about this life.” - BowTiedTetra
Why was it miserable? Take a look at the screenshots below…
Clicks Per Day Over Time
July 28, 2022
Jan 1, 2023
July 16, 2023
It took me six months of work to get 6 clicks in a day on the website. And whose to say those clicks weren’t my own? Once you start getting more clicks in a day say 100 - 200, to now 300, you are now cursed because when clicks are 322 one day and then 264 the next you can’t help but think your website is starting to fail.
This is the curse of the noob SEO. They ride the day to day so hard that they forget it’s a month to month, quarter to quarter type of thing. The success I’m having now isn’t because of the work I did this month - no, it’s the work I did three months ago. So long as you are trending upward, and there are no obvious google smack downs, things are ok.
Clicks Per Quarter
July 28, 2022 - Dec 31, 2022 (Q3, Q4)
Jan 1, 2023 - Mar 31, 2023 (Q1)
Apr 1, 2023 - Jun 30, 2023 (Q2)
All Time Clicks
All time (Taken on July 18, 2023)
I know what you are thinking, ‘Lemmings must be riiiiiich!’ Nah, lol. As it turns out, 24.4k clicks ain’t shit. It’s even less if you can’t convert. And even though I’ve had a few promising months the last few months, I am still overwhelmingly in the red.
That being said, I do expect to have a few positive months before the end of the year and that’s because I’m slowly narrowing in on the minimum amount I need to spend to keep the machine going. But more on that later.
How Did We Get Here?
The general progression of my posting schedule was as follows. I started with one post per week. Once I got to having enough posts for one to two months, I realized that posting one post per week was way too easy, especially since most of the pros were posting at least one per day (some even more).
So, I started writing more. I pushed it to two posts per week. ‘Damn, that’s a lot of work!’ I thought! Of course, you then get to having enough posts for a month or two and start to think, ‘What more can I do?’ I actually kept it at two posts per week for almost 6 months before making the inevitable jump to 3x/week.
Now, since the end of April, I’ve been pushing out 1 article every other day. Sometimes I use a writer to help, sometimes I don't. Either way, I haven’t missed this mark since April, and I will likely hold here until the end of the year unless more profits start coming in.
The most important part is staying consistent. Once you get to a certain schedule, you either maintain that schedule or evolve. Never fall back.
I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve bought most of my backlinks, and very inconsistently. I’d try to do at least something every month starting around October - November. And that usually meant buying them. Sometimes it would be 5, sometimes it would be 10. Occasionally, it would be nothing.
I did HARO for a while before I stopped. I was blasting out HAROs every single night and occasionally, I’d get a 79 DR nofollow link. I’ll be getting back into HARO, and other outreach soon. But for now, I’m buying 3 - 4 links per month. I’ll be holding here for the rest of the year as well unless the budget increases and I hire a VA to blast through HARO.
First question anyone will ask is, ‘How much are you making?’ At the moment, not much, but you need to understand that I am still a beginner. You also need to understand that I’ve thrown everything into this for one reason and one reason only: to learn. I’m not just referring to what I put into content, I’m talking about courses, audits, mentor calls, random backlinks, guest posts, etc.
What I did is not what you should or need to do with your website, should you make the retarded decision to start one. I know people who are just writing four posts a week with only Surfer and they are doing better than me, ranking wise.
So with that in mind, here are my bare minimum expenses (currently):
Surfer SEO: $120
Content: $500 - $1000 (not required)
Backlinks: $500 (just started)
That’s $1320 to $1820 per month. I am not making $1320 to $1820 per month. Should be noted that for most of the year, my only recurring expenses were Surfer and Ahrefs. I’ve only recently tried a more aggressive content and backlink strategy.
Let me say this before you beginners ruin for your life: you do not need to spend this amount of money. I know people who just have Surfer that write 4+ articles a week and do nothing else, and they are doing better than me. However, at a certain level it’s budget warfare. Some people can publish 30 to 90 articles in a month and conquer topical authority out the gate.
So, realistically, I was being too lazy at times. I should not have hired a writer for ‘easy’ keywords. Why am I hiring someone to write 1500 words on a topic that will only get me a few hundred hits a month? This was dumb.
The most fun you can have with SEO is finding keywords that you can rank. The least fun is writing the articles. I definitely shirked some work this year and that has cost me. But looking back, I could’ve written every article myself if I was a bit more dedicated.
After months and months of writing about the same shit, you are going to get bored and miserable and dread opening Surfer again for what feels like a hopeless endeavor. One way to relieve that pain is to hire a writer but I got carried away with it at times, lol.
That Last Good Day
Now, I would like to say, there was that one good day. One of my affiliate programs pays on a monthly basis which I was not aware of at the time. Back in June, I got 27 commission notifications in one day which was more money than a day's worth of work.
This was a crazy feeling. Of course, it was a lie because I actually made all that money over the course of the month - but because of how they paid out, and because of how they sent notifications, it was crazy to me.
My confidence levels increased exponentially. I thought ‘If I can do this amount in one day, I can definitely get to that amount in no time.’ It made perfect sense because I was almost there.
This was also the last good day of my SEO journey. I finished July and didn’t get the same amount of money. I figured, I’d wait until August so that my website can be a raging success story as everything has been.
1 Year of SEO: Fat, Rich Lemming
But it all came crashing down…
The End of Lemmings?
The Smackdown (Taken on August 21, 2023)
Nothing any SEO guru tells you, including Tetra, can prepare you for the amount of mental suffering that comes with a crash like this. And the funny thing is - I know this crash is tiny compared to huge websites.
I can literally imagine massive websites or brands crashing in rankings and overnight losing hundreds of thousands in revenue. I’m actually laughing at them thinking about how much that must suck.
But this is still painful.
While I almost hit $1k/month before, now I’m gettin basically nothing. I used to have over a hundreds of keywords in Top 10, now its like 14.
My identity warped into this cocky motherfucker who thrived on the fact that I’m basically kicking the shit out of anyone on Jungle Twitter doing beginner SEO. I felt like I actually knew SEO - now, I feel like I don’t know anything.
This crash was so bad I basically deleted my twitter. I used the latest Jungle drama as a reason to rug everything. I have this little bitch in the back of my mind always looking for a way out, and he won.
It’s one thing to start with the expectations of nothing but seeing massive results. It’s quite another to be on a fast rise to the top, only to be kicked back down to the dirt.
I told my writer that I won’t be giving her work anytime soon. I’m back on the frontlines writing damn near every article. I even deleted my Twitter so that I could focus solely on the website to reclaim my lost ground.
But it hasn’t happened that way…
I’ve become less productive. Lost. Ambitionless. Goalless. Without the Jungle, the drive is not there. I thought leaving would make me tougher, but I’m like a huge pussy now, lol.
I’ve been watching tons of YouTube videos. There is no rabbit hole left untouched. The earth is flat, I know it. Dinosaurs aren’t real. Kermit the Frog rules the world. I drink booze and don’t go to the gym. I ate an entire can of pringles the other day. It was really good. The normies around me see absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. But inside, I’m like a strange hodgepodge of emotions. Mostly just depressed.
The only way for me to get out of this mess is to let Lemmings take back over. Not kick him out. He’s the only one crazy enough for this kind of thing.
When I put away Lemmings, I put away the egotistical, psychopathic part of my personality that pushes me to win.
This probably sounds like some crazy alter ego type of shit and that’s exactly what it is… the whole year has been a battle between Normie just trying to be happy brah stay in bed relax brah ehh we worked out a few times this week brah what’s wrong with a couple drinks brahh we make enough money already brahh we are tired we are lazy brahhh it’s okay if we miss an article brah we’ve done enough brahhh let’s find God and go to church brahhhh it’s okay brah..
And Lemmings who says
Shut the fuck up you faggot.
We’ve got work to do.