Case Study: ONE Site from Start to Profit

I took Lynn Terry’s advice to heart. She suggests that we take ONE site from start to profit before breaking out into other niches or ideas. She goes even further to say you should maximize that one site as far as you can before moving on.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy to actually follow good advice like that. Why? Because it can be hard to stay focused and committed to one project. Especially in the beginning when you are not yet seeing the fruits of your labors. Plus there are so many new shiny ideas that tease us every day.

But I know that Lynn speaks from years of successful experience and has a real tried-and-true foundation. So for the past two years my husband, Dave, and I have been following her advice with promising results. (Thanks, Lynn!)

Lynn says: “Start with a topic or a market, and do keyword research”

Two years ago Dave and I realized we wanted to create a business online together. What interested us most was developing a niche website that generates a passive income. Since we knew that we wanted to build our online business together, we looked for a niche that we both enjoyed.

We each wrote a list of things we enjoy. His list had fly fishing, woodworking and hiking on it. Mine had quilting, crafts, grandma stuff on it. So back to the drawing board because we both wanted to love what we were working on.

After some collaboration we came up with three ideas that we both enjoyed.  So we followed a structured process of doing market and keyword research for a couple weeks. We were looking for validation that any of our three ideas would be viable for an online business. We soon realized that one of our niche ideas was a good pick for us. Our chosen niche was “front porches”.

When we first shared with people that we were building a niche site about front porches – well, most scratched their heads and gave us funny looks. Porches? Huh? What could you write about? Even the two of us wondered in the beginning how much there was to say about a porch.

But our keyword research showed us that there were plenty of topics to write about related to porches. So, armed with that data and a good dose of faith, we were ready to commit to porches. The nice thing is that we both love front porches on a home – and always have. In fact, it dawned upon us that we once bought a home just because we loved the screened porch.

Lynn says: “Create a website or blog, and target every single keyword phrase that is relevant.”

Before we ever chose our domain name or wrote a single word of content, we developed a blueprint for our site.  The blueprint was based upon our list of good keywords. So, in effect, we created a detailed plan for our site navigation and content using keywords that we knew we could get to rank in the search engines.

Based upon our keyword list, we knew which keyword phrases would become Tier 2 pages.  So, for example, “front porch designs” is a Tier 2 page on our site. Using our keywords, we drilled down further to come up with Tier 3 pages for each Tier 2. So, for example, “craftsman-style porch”, “country porches”, “small porches”, and “contemporary porches” all fall under “front porch designs”.

Our keyword list is like our bible – every piece of content that we write is based upon a very good keyword phrase.

In December of 2008, we chose our domain name “” and also created our home page.

Lynn says: “Create quality content, and optimize each page or post.”

In January 2009 we wrote our first 20 optimized pages. And for the first twelve months, we really focused on writing content. Each page was optimized for a keyword phrase. By the end of the first year we had over 250 pages of content written. So here is how our traffic and content looked like for the first year or so:

Month Pages of optimized content written Pageviews for the month Comments
December 2008 1 n/a Published home page
January 2009 25 3,000
February 2009 45 4,000
March 2009 60 10,000
April 2009 85 33,000 We began monetizing at this point and getting backlinks.
May 2009 100 56,000
June 2009 120 79,000
July 2009 140 85,000
Sept 2009 150 109,000
November 2009 230 130,000
Fast forward to…May 2010 350+ pages 315,000 I left behind my corporate day job!

We continued to write more good content in 2010. We now have over 400 pages of optimized content. Our site visitors can contribute to our site. Their contributions automatically create web pages for us.

Lynn says: “Get quality backlinks so that it can get indexed and begin ranking in the major search engines”

In April of 2009 we started exchanging links with sites similar to ours. Additionally, we both began writing articles for Together we’ve written about 80 articles. That’s not a ton, but just from EzineArticles along we’ve received about 14,000 visits to our site from the articles. We repurpose some of our articles into slide shows and we’ve also created videos for more content and back links. We have 6,000 back links and we will continue to build back links.

Lynn says: “Your website is not finished until you’ve targeted every keyword phrase related to your topic, and you have a Top 3 ranking for each of them.”

Admittedly we have a long ways to go with this. Just when we think we’ve targeted about all the best keyword phrases, we find more. And there is truly an endless supply of long-tail keywords that we can write about.  Google Analytics report says that in 2010 our site was found for 229,312 keywords. That is a lot!

Lynn says: “From start to profit”

We did not earn a penny from our website until several months after we began creating it. The reason? It was intentional. We wanted to get some good traffic and great content out there before we monetized our site in anyway. Once we started earning income, it has steadily increased (with a few seasonal fluctuations in the winter months). Most of our income is generated by advertising, but we also earn commissions on affiliate sales and our goal is to increase our income in this area.

In May of 2010 I was able to leave my corporate job because our site was steadily earning a consistent income for us. Up to this point, I was a full-time Project Manager and truly burning the midnight oil. By being very focused and persistent (plus putting in a LOT of hours), we have a niche site that will generate passive income for the long term. Nothing rocket science about what we have done. It all just requires a great deal of focus and stick-with-it-ness.

Choosing a niche that you enjoy is probably the most important thing. Then do your research to ensure it is a viable niche that will generate income for you – if that is your goal. The rest, as Lynn says, is to "see it through to maximum potential". We have a lot of plans for our site for 2011 and beyond. It’s very fun to wake up, go to our kitchen table and write about porches.

We now have an authority site on porches. We are often referenced on eHow and other home sites. We spent about 7 weeks in 2010 just traveling around the country to see different kinds of porches and take pictures for our website. We work hard to bring our site visitors the answers to their questions.


About the Author: Mary Morris  is the co-creator of  - a site all about Front Porch Designs , porch ideas and oodles of porch pictures.  Learn about how to build a porch and be inspired by our porch decorating ideas, too. Sign up to receive our porch ideas in your in-box.


About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. Clay Franklin says

    Wonderful Article Mary.
    I love your Site and seeing success from Lynn's tutelage.
    I am so impressed you have been able to leave your "job" and work together with your husband on a project. I'm curious what the onclick code is like is used on "Brian's Site". Is to track the clicks on the links on the site for analysis?
    Your article is very inspirational. Thank you very much. I have my work cut out for me to stay focused on one site from start to profit and then to maximize the profits.

  2. Hi Clay,
    I appreciate your compliments very much. We use "onclick" code in our outgoing links so that we can track how often external links are clicked on. We don't have this code in all of our external links (wish we would have) but definitely in the ones that we are actively watching.

    So for example, for advertisers on our site, we can see how many clicks their sites are getting in our Google Analytics. It's very helpful information to us - and sometimes very surprising, too. We can let our advertisers know how many visitors are coming to their site from ours. They may have that data as well, but it's good for us to have our own data.

    Thank you, Clay. I like your Internet Marketer's Wish List Gift Ideas....nice blog....Mary

  3. Very inspirational and you are really blessed. We know it's not
    easy to achieve your success. What really inspire me is you and
    your hubby worked hard for it. This is the best story that i ever
    heard.. congrats! keep on posting!

    • Mary of Front Porch Ideas says

      Thank you, Dorothy! I am very fortunate to have my husband as my best friend and business partner. We work well together and utilize each other strengths. I appreciate your comments very much and wish you the very best with your Kids Birthday Party Places. That sounds like fun.

  4. Who would've thought that you could make money from a site about front porches, there's an endless list of micro niches to profit from.

  5. Lynn Brown says

    Very inspiring Mary and shows that if you focus and have clarity your efforts for online business success is attainable. Lots of effort, and what I call the 3 D's - Desire, Devotion & Determination will help anyone wanting to make money online. I'm curious Mary what skill sets you and your partner brought into your joint venture.

    • Mary of Front Porch Ideas says

      Hi Lynn,
      Thanks for your sweet comment. You asked what skill sets we each brought to the table. Dave enjoys writing, gathering information, and he's the "idea" guy. He's also very goal oriented and keeps me on task. LOL

      I am the analytical side of our business. While I do love to write content and do keyword research, I'm the one that does all the analysis on our traffic and does more of the 'look and feel' of our site. I also like to socialize with bloggers and do guest posts (like this one!). Clearly, if there is a construction question about a porch, Dave will be the one to answer it. And if our computers are acting up or we have a technical problem on our site, then I am the one working on it.

      We work well together. It's pretty funny. We notice that we have almost exactly the same body language when we sit and work together. It's way too funny. He'll put his hand on his chin and then I do the same without even thinking about it. Way too funny.

      Thank you, Lynn.
      My best to you,

  6. Michelle Rudge says

    Ohhhh Mary!!!! I learnt about SBI back in 2004 I think. I bought it, I found an awesome niche on travel to New Zealand (my home country and something I LOVE talking about) and started writing my content. But I stopped! Because it all became too much like consistent and sustained effort. Not hard, not tricky, just consistent.
    Well, after consistent and sustained effort working at a JOB, I finally know that I'd rather put all that effort into something that builds a business for me, rather than just providing me with a paycheck. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Hi Michelle,
      Thanks for sharing about your SBI experience. Just think where you could be one, two or three years from now if you could work at it steadily? It is sooo worth it. And how fun it would be to talk about what you love every day. Wouldn't it be great to travel to New Zealand and write it off as a business expense? Do what you love and love what you do.
      My best,

  7. Thank-you Mary! Your article was very informative and has pointed me in the right direction. Especially, in regards to keyword optimization in the article writing. Much thanks for sharing your story!

    • Thanks for commenting, Dave. Keyword optimization is amazingly important in the niche world. Good keywords are my bread and butter 😀

  8. If people can focus and implement things into action rather dreaming about earning money via Sky-high niches, they will see the success. And people like you again and again prove how the real success is achieved. I appreciate for sharing this!

  9. Very nice post, Carol. Thank you very much.

  10. Hi Mary,

    I love hearing inspirational stories like your. It help me continue my affiliate marketing journey.

    You mentioned good keywords are your secret. But what else are you doing to market you business. eZine, ...

    • Mary of Front Porch Ideas says

      Hi Daniel,
      That's a great question. Thank you. We write articles, write guest posts, create videos, we do links exchanges with quality related sites, create slide shows on and we have a presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

      We are going to be doing podcasts this year. We received some nice podcasting equipment for a gift from our son's family, so we will be putting it to work for us. We also create newsletters for our site and other giveaways. Oh, we have also run porch decorating contests on our site - which creates interest and fun for our site visitors.

      We are currently writing an e-book that we will be selling. We both comment on blogs and forums as time permits. I think I covered most everything.

      The only thing that we have NOT done is pay for any advertising. Everything has been 'no cost to us' except for several directories where we are listed for a nominal fee.

      My best wishes to you with your affiliate marketing journey....Mary

  11. Rhonda Page says

    I read your article over and over, and found it to be very inspirational. Your plan and blueprint is so specific, and clearly you worked so hard every single day. How do you and your husband share responsibility for your site? Thank you for being so honest and I look forward to meeting yo very much.

    • Mary of Front Porch Ideas says

      Hi Rhonda,
      Thank you for your nice comment. That's a fun question to answer. Dave writes much of our content and he answers most of the reader's questions. Dave has a background in woodworking, building furniture and he's very handy with just about everything. He is also the one who gathers photos for our site. I do more of the "look and feel" of our site, the google analytics, the google adsense campaign, the backlinks and the analysis of our site traffic. We both love keyword research so we share that. I work at keeping our computers running 🙂 We now have 3 laptops and honestly, there is usually something silly going on with one of them. We just work together at our kitchen table (or on the road!). Our entire business consists of our laptops, our coffee cups, a printer, two cameras, a flip video camera and some notebooks for capturing our to-do list and such. We have a bag that contains extension cords and a tripod for when we are "working" on the road. We keep track of our income and expenses on an excel spreadsheet. It's honestly about the easiest business (from a record keeping perspective) that you could have. Guess I am rambling on. Thanks, Rhonda!

  12. Very inspirational and you are really blessed. We know it’s not
    easy to achieve your success. What really inspire me is you and
    your hubby worked hard for it.

  13. There are so many opportunities on the internet that it seems we should try them all. However, when it gets down to it, focusing all your attention on a single project is what works - well done on your success.

  14. candace fisher says

    Hi Mary,
    Thanks for your useful, usable,case study. You mentioned your previous profession as a project manager. Regarding your new online enterprise, do you use a particular project management software for your online busines? If so, will you share that info? Microsoft Project and Basecamp are two programs I know of. The former is used by very large corporations, perhaps not suitable for a smallish or mid-size company? If any, what project management software package would you recommed to keep on-line business efforts managed and trackable? And,why do you consider it,or them, a good fit?
    Thank You,
    Candace Fisher

    • Mary of Front Porch Ideas says

      Hi Candace,
      Thanks for your comments and question. Yes, I was a Project Manager for several years. I do not use any project manager software in my work from home. I have to admit I was not ever very fond of PM software - and that's probably one reason I was not super fond of being a PM. But I do love to be organized even though I am not always that way.

      My hubby and I just use an excel spreadsheet to track our goals and relevant tasks. I have a journal where I write my daily notes. Likewise, we use an excel spreadsheet to track our income and expenses. But because it's just the two of us, it works fine. It's not scientific at all actually.

      We laugh sometimes about the simplicity of our business. We could do the record keeping on a napkin! We don't, but it's that simple.

      Another tool we use is Google Calendar. In addition to entering appointments on our calendar, we also enter tasks so they don't slip from our minds. I hope this answers your question.

      My best,

  15. Thanks so much for your great inspirational article! Im really amazed by your sense of focus and determination. I was so encouraged by the fact that you followed Lynn's recommendations and achieved great results. I liked your strategy - primarily creating high quality content and then dealing with monetization. Once again, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I have taken lessons out of them! All the very best for the future.

  16. candace fisher says

    Hi Mary,
    Thanks for your reply regarding project management softwware. Your approach to creating a substantial amount of OPTIMIZED content and using a blueprint for navigation decisions as the foundation for building the website makes so much sense. To me SEO and copywriting can't be separated. And, navigation/usability considerations can make or break a site even if ranks highly on the search engines. Did you and your husband utilize wireframes to mock up and tweek your layout prior to commiting to your finished site? Did you conduct any kind of usability testing?

    • Mary of Front Porch Ideas says

      Hi Candace,
      You are most welcome to contact me via our website at I would be happy to email you the hierarchical spreadsheet that we used to create our blueprint. It will not have data in it, but you will be able to see exactly what I mean. To answer your question, I believe that our blueprint served as a type of "wireframe" that you mentioned.

      We created our blueprint after we did extensive keyword research. The results of our keyword research led us to laying out our site blueprint. We did not conduct any usability testing.

      We then created optimized content from the blueprint. And we published our content as we completed it. That is an important point that might not be clear in my guest post.

      So in the beginning we just had our home page published (and it was not very attractive). Then we had two pages, then we had three pages, and so on. One page at a time. So our site was very small and very incomplete in the beginning. But that was ok. By getting it out there a page at a time, it started getting indexed by the search engines and traffic began coming.

      Had we waited to publish a big bunch of pages at the same time, we would have lost all that time when some of the pages could have been indexed by the search engines.

      I hope I have answered your questions, Candace. Please contact me at our site if you would like me to email you the spreadsheet.

      My best,

  17. I really enjoyed this Mary...seeing how you took a micro niche and made it into a viable business...awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  18. For me, it is not easy to start a new business due to different businesses that are already popular. however, there is a higher possibility that a new business will have a good reputation if they will be able to make use of an effective strategy to grab the attention of the customers.

    • Mary of Front Porch Ideas says

      Hi Mark,
      I believe there is plenty of opportunities for niche sites. Just create great original content that your readers will enjoy and value. Too often people quit too quickly.

  19. Thanks so much for your great inspirational article! Im really amazed by your sense of focus and determination. I was so encouraged by the fact that you followed Lynn’s recommendations and achieved great results. I liked your strategy – primarily creating high quality content and then dealing with monetization. Once again, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I have taken lessons out of them! All the very best for the future.

  20. Mary of Front Porch Ideas says

    Thank you very much! I like sharing our story because it's real and it's achievable. My husband and I have so much fun with our business. I wish you all the best, too!

  21. Reading this post a while back is what inspired me to create my site. I love to travel and I knew that in order to be successful then my business had to be travel related. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    • Mary of Front Porch Ideas says

      Way to go, Tai. I wish you much success with your travel site. It's wonderful working on something you are passionate about...don't ever forget about the importance of using good keywords as you build your excellent content.

  22. Thanks for this case study. I think many people get discouraged during the early days of blogging (or publishing content). Thanks for publishing those numbers. It shows that even though it takes time, if you stick to your goals and work hard, anything is possible.

  23. Wim Heylen says

    Hi, i'm from Belgium and i read today this post from Mary Morris. Thx for sharing this with us. Keep the faith and focus for the project where you working on is the spirit.

    Greatings from Belgum,
    Wim heylen

  24. Hi,

    I agree and disagree with Lynn Terry. It's good to keep focused on a project and make it work BUT if you are in a bad niche (too competitive, not enough commercial, etc...) no matter how long you spend on your niche it will be a loss of time. So maybe sometimes several niches is better.

  25. Thanks for the case study. The table showing pages and site visits was very helpful. I am just starting out and learning as I go. I like the focus on quality pages and keywords. I may have to re-think a few things.
    Cheers. Brent

Leave a Reply


Get My Internet Business & Smart Marketing Diaries - Free!