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$1,000 Challenge: Update 2

Thanks again to those following along. We’re starting to move into the more interesting aspects of building a niche site.

We are at about 160 entries so far.  I am still aiming for about 250 unique entries, so hopefully the word continues to spread.

If you have yet to enter, you can do so here –

*The Entry Period for This Contest is Now Closed

And now, on to the next part of getting this site built out.

It’s Time to Spend Some Money

Fair warning to those that have read past the introduction. I am going to cover a lot here, so this might be one of the longer updates.

The reason for this is unlike in the previous update where my main focus was on one thing, keyword research, this part of the process requires managing more than one task.

My main goals at this time are:

  • Order Content
  • Pick and buy a domain
  • Pick and buy hosting
  • Order some additional content for link building

Let’s take a look at these one-by-one.

Outsourcing 99% of the Content

I can already hear the haters. “99%! I thought you were outsourcing this entire site!”


I previously stated I will be outsourcing MOST of the work. But, as I am very limited with this budget to both build a site from nothing and do some SEO before it’s time to give it away, I need to roll up my sleeves and do a little of the work.

I will be outsourcing all of the money page content. I won’t be outsourcing the “About” page or any of those other basic supporting pages.

After drawing up a basic breakdown of my budget, I know approximately what I have to spend. This also let’s me weigh my options for where to order.

  1. I can try my luck at finding a good writer on a freelancing site like Upwork.
  2. I can use a content-centric service platform like iWriter.
  3. I can use a writing service aimed specifically at creating content for this kind of niche affiliate site, like what Human Proof Designs offers.

There is no right or wrong here, but I do feel some options fit what I need for this challenge better than others. Here’s a quick look at what I feel are pros and cons of each service and how they fit my current needs.

Upwork – You have most likely heard of Upwork, but if not, it’s basically a massive freelancing platform. You can find developers, virtual assistants, graphic designers, and yes, even writers.

  • You can find a ton of writers, and you can outsource your work to one writer or an entire team.
  • It can take a lot of time to find a writer or writers that you’re comfortable with, and the better writers can get expensive.

iWriter – iWriter is platform dedicated to content. You can order content re-writes, press releases, blog content, and even e-books.

  • The big selling point here is that it’s a site full of nothing but writers. There are also different price points depending on the quality of content you want.
  • The quality of the writers is very hit or miss and the higher rated writers can get pretty expensive.

Human Proof Designs – The crew over at HPD are mostly known for their pre-built affiliate sites, but they offer some useful services as well – content is one of them.

  • The service is very specific to my current needs as it’s not a general freelancer site or content platform, but a service aimed directly at content for affiliate sites. The prices are also very attractive.
  • If you go for the biggest package, it can take a little more time getting you content than if you outsourced your order to a large team of writers.

I have used all three of the options above in the past, and while Upwork and iWriter have their places, for this I feel Human Proof Designs is the best fit.

First of all, I really like the fact that I don’t have to spend time interviewing and sorting through a bunch of different writers. That makes getting the order placed and worked on a lot easier.

Next, having used them in the past, I know the content is well-written and perfect for product review type posts. Also, it’s formatted well meaning the copy is very web friendly with small paragraphs and lots of headings.

And last but not least, the prices are awesome! Since I am on a very tight budget, they are too attractive to pass up.

There are four preset pricing packages:

  • 8,000 words for $199
  • 16,000 words for $349
  • 20,000 words for $399
  • 24,000 words for $450

You can ask for custom packages too if you need more.

I REALLY wanted to order the 24,000 word option as the pricing is great. But, as I still need to buy a domain, hosting, a theme, and pay for off-page work, I went with the 16,000 word option.

Click here to read more about the HPD content services. 

Choosing & Buying a Domain

Now that the main keyword research is done and the content is ordered, I need to wait a few weeks to get my articles. This is the perfect time to do some prep work.

I need a domain to put all of this content on.

I don’t really like exact match domains, but if that’s your thing, don’t let me steer you away from them. I just prefer a mix of a partial match and branded domain name.

The two main reasons are:

  1. I can get a little more aggressive with the anchor text on my link building
  2. I can expand the site easier if it shows a lot of promise

I almost always use Namecheap as they are reasonably priced and have great customer service. If you are building a site while following along, don’t for get to use Namecheap’s August coupon code: DOGDAY8

It will only save you about $1, but every dollar counts and there’s no reason to not use it.

I managed to find a nice brandable PMD .com. For whatever it’s worth, I still prefer .com over other extensions, so I do spend some extra time brainstorming site names and seeing what’s available.

Choosing & Buying Hosting

Having content on the way and a domain name to attach it to is great, but I need to get all of this hosted somewhere.

There is a mind-numbing amount of hosting options out there. I have and still use a lot of them. I usually don’t only stick to one host.

For this project I have decided to go with a shared hosting plan to help keep the cost down. I wanted a host that was reliable though and has good service because the last thing I need is choppy uptime.

I ended up using a StartUp plan from SiteGround.

The promo price is $3.95  month. That equates to $47.40 for a year.

Aside from a 99.9% uptime promise and quality support, they have stuck with the better hosts in the business to provide free SSL certificates. I don’t think you absolutely must have https to rank, but for a new site, there’s no reason not to get it.

Additional Content

As I stated earlier, it’s going to take a few weeks to get my content from HPD. This is a perfect time to get some link building content written as well.

Part of my gray hat link building strategy is going to be using some web 2.0 sites. It’s nothing new, and it’s not the most powerful type of link. But, beggars cannot be choosers.

I like to use web 2.0’s a little early on to kick my link building into a more serious phase, but we’ll go into that later.

For now, I need to get some content for these things.

The primary reason why I am doing this now is twofold:

  1. As stated before, the money content takes time to get written, so it’s better to do something during that time than to do nothing
  2. I can get the content and create some 2.0 sites early on to let them index and age a bit before I link out from them

Now the next logical question is, where do I get the content and 2.0 sites?

The quick and easy way is to use a popular service like the Hoth. They have mini plans for as low as $60 and larger plans for up to $250. I have used both, and honestly prefer the larger plan as I feel it’s more bang for your buck.

  • This is a truly DFY (done for you) service, so you don’t need to spend much time doing any of the work.
  • The content is spun, which is a turn off for some people.

Unfortunately for me, even the mini plan is going to cut too deeply into my projected budget. That means, I have to go even cheaper.

Another option is to go to Upwork and order some short 300-500 words posts on similar topics to what your niche site is built around. That’s exactly what I am going to do.

I am aiming at spending about $35 and I hope I can get 8 pieces of content for this price. This will make about 4 or 5 small web 2.0 sites for me to build links from later on.

Keep in mind, it’s not going to be stellar content, but as it’s a batch and the word counts are short, I should be able to find a writer that will agree to the terms.

  • The Upwork content will be original content.
  • This is only content. I will need to either pay a VA to set up the 2.0 sites and publish the content, or I’ll have to do it myself.

As of writing this post, I am leaning toward the Upwork option mainly due to my budget.

In Summary

I have ordered content, bought a domain, bought hosting, and am about to order some content I’ll later use in link building.

The Good – We’re really making progress now. Due to taking the time to do my keyword research last week, I feel the path forward is pretty clear.

The Bad – I can already feel the pinch of the budget. I couldn’t order as much content as I wanted. I also probably need to cut corners on my 2.0 sites.

Money Spent – We are now jumping right in to spending some of the $1,000 budget. So far the costs are:

That comes to a total of $441 spent, which leaves me with $559.

Time Spent – For my initial work I said I spent about 5 hours on keyword research. I spent about an additional hour reviewing my research and organizing my keywords for the content order. And, I spent about an hour looking for a domain name and setting up the orders for everything discussed in this post.

That sets the current total time put in to about 7 hours.

Next Step – I need to make sure my 2.0 content gets written, get my hosting set up, and spend a little time picking a theme for the new site.

I love and appreciate all the feedback you have given thus far, so please, keep it up. Let me know your thoughts below.