Anyone follow my Worm Farming case study last year?

by dcmarketer 15 replies
Hi Guys,

Last year I did a case study going from an idea to online (niche) business and showing what I did every step of the way. This was sent free to my newsletter readers and the end result was that I now have the leading site in the worm farming industry...

Worm Farming Secrets

...it received some excellent feedback from newsletter readers (and was syndicated quite a bit) and I'm considering doing it again. The first case study was based on the fact that I would only use old school website marketing techniques in order to get the site ranked first for it's primary keyword phrase... just to show people that what works then (1999) still works now and you can get results if you just remain focused.

I know a lot of you here followed it and was wondering if you would like me to do it again. I already have my eye on a new niche - slightly tougher but it would be a good learning experience for anyone following it.

The only concern I would have is that when I give such information away so freely and publicly, especially when I start using marketing techniques that "the righteous" don't quite agree with, things can get pretty nasty to the point of people trying to sabotage the project.

This happened with the worm project (wont mention how) but they weren't successful. So I was thinking perhaps I could do the step-by-step thing, but lock up such techniques that might not be wise to mention publicly and share them only with people that wish to pay a small amount to follow the entire true progression of the project (if I get into the slightly "gray hat" side of things) if you see what I am saying.

What do you think?

Best...

Duncan
#main internet marketing discussion forum #case #farming #follow #study #worm #year
  • Profile picture of the author Scott Ames
    I like it. I would love to follow a new one. I didn't get to see the worm project.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin McNally
    Duncan, that case study was worth much more than most paid ebooks that have been released recently, please feel free to start another one.

    Real case studies with step by step actions and results have far more value than most other projects and I was surprised that you revealed so much. Heck, I even managed to make an affiliate sale for your worm farming secrets and that is certainly a niche I have never considered before !
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    • Profile picture of the author PotPieGirl
      Originally Posted by Kevin McNally View Post

      Duncan, that case study was worth much more than most paid ebooks that have been released recently, please feel free to start another one.

      Real case studies with step by step actions and results have far more value than most other projects and I was surprised that you revealed so much.

      I totally agree with Kevin. That worm farm case study was flat-out awesome! Please do another one!

      Jennifer
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  • Profile picture of the author write-stuff
    Hehehe... I remember a scare back in the 80's. This rumor got started that, because the price of beef had gone way up, McDonald's was supplimenting their hamburger mix with worms. Nobody seemed to realize that worms cost way more per pound than cow!
    - Russ
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  • Profile picture of the author dcmarketer
    lol - you forgot to mention that they cost more because they are a lot more tastier than McD's burgers too ;-0

    Thanks for the feedback Kevin. Going to send a close up to the worm farming project this week as I actually never got around to closing and still get asked about it weekly.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ron Killian
    That must have been an interesting project. Talk about a unique niche. I wish I would have known about it to follow it.

    When I was younger I sort of trying worm farming, was fun until the bed flooded. Actually my grandfather was going to go big, had these big concrete tanks and even the packaging (cups). Guess his partner didn't work out or something, he died when I was young.

    Here's a thought also, a case study with say a narrow niche like you did and use it to bleed or cross over into another big niche as well? Seems worms would be a good cross over for fishing, for example. just a thought.
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  • Profile picture of the author getsmartt
    Count me in...looks interesting
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    • Profile picture of the author bobsstuff
      WOW! That takes me back. I volunteered to work for free on a worm farm to get the experience. Mid 1970s. I was in So Calif and wanted to move to Oregon. My wife had relatives in Coos Bay. We almost bought a worm farm in Bandon, just steps from the ocean.

      The owner said not to worry about the little snakes, they kept the spiders down. LOL

      I even put worm bins in my back yard in So Cal, and introduced worms.
      I guess I got involved in other things and that never came to pass.

      HOWEVER, we did get a free baby billy goat from the worm farmer I worked for. Tract house and a goat for a pet (in the suburbs).
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  • Profile picture of the author dcmarketer
    Not sure about home snail farming although I have looked at it in the past...as a niche that is, not cause I'm hungry for snails ;-0
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  • Profile picture of the author dcmarketer
    You'd be amazed at how wide and varied the people are that have an interest in worm farming. I have young people, I've had members pass away on me, and they're all interested for a bunch of different reasons. I would sell the site off (or get someone in there to work it properly) if I didn't find it quite enjoyable for the small amount of time I put into it.
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  • Profile picture of the author IMChick
    I just filled in my info in your opt in box for the newsletter. I am SO SORRY that I missed the case study, and I agree, another, please! Or maybe a re-run of this one?
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  • Profile picture of the author dcmarketer
    Hi Guys,

    For anyone that's interested, here is the closing of the worm project that I sent out overnight. Some nice information there (my inbox is flooded with replies)...

    Best...

    Dunan



    It's been a long time since I sent you an update on the "worm
    farming secrets" project I began a year ago as a case study for
    you to follow along with.

    For anyone that has recently joined the newsletter; last year I
    decided to show readers step-by-step my process of going from an
    idea right through to a solid online niche business. It was very
    well received and many said it was better than several of the
    paid courses they have brought. I guess it was because I was
    showing every step as a progression when it occurred and the
    techniques were not complicated at all. It was also delivered
    freely to all readers so you couldn't beat the price ;-0

    Well, I still receive emails weekly asking what happened to the
    project so I thought I would do an update.

    Probably the last for this specific case study as I've gotten a
    bit too far behind in updating you and it's lost its momentum.

    However I'm seriously considering doing it again for you in more
    detail, on an entirely new project, so you can replicate what I'm
    doing for your own projects... to follow and work along side me.
    The outcome would be that you would end up with your own decent
    niche website that's doing well if you just do the same things.
    Keyword being "do" of course. BUT... I want your feedback on that
    because I am still undecided.


    Anyway, let's round off the "Worm Farming Secrets" project;

    I'm not going to get exact with all of the numbers because it
    will take far too long to dig through them all, so rough
    estimates will have to do. Hope that's cool.

    Firstly the site is still the number one site in Google (and
    others) for it's targeted keyword phrase "worm farming" (and many
    other related terms).

    Feel free to go check it out - the case study domain is...

    Worm Farming Secrets

    ..in case you're trying to spot it in the search engines.

    Let me log into the Google Analytics account for it and see what
    traffic has been like so we can get accurate with those numbers
    at least, hold on...

    Ok, well I was about to sample some data here but instead I've
    just exported a complete PDF overview of the stats since I've had
    Google Analytics running on the site (July 7th 2008 up until
    today).

    You can download it here if you're interested...

    http://www.onlinemarketingtoday.com/wfs-stats.pdf

    You'll see the site receives around 130-200 unique visitors per
    day when there are no major fluctuations happening. Not massive
    numbers by any stretch of the imagination (given that it
    dominates with it's SEO), but this is a very specific niche
    market... and a very small one at that.

    Over time however we now have well over 10,000 readers to the
    worm farming newsletter and have 337 paid members to the
    membership site.

    Just a quick recap to where we left off last time -

    I had employed a writer to produce the "how to manual" we are
    selling at a cost of $5,000 (quite costly but the end product was
    good), and he is also on a weekly salary of $200 to produce the
    newsletter for the site. Other expenditure included;

    * Google Adwords to generate leads (not doing it at the moment
    for no other reason than I'm lazy)

    * $100 per month for the membership management system we're using
    - talk more about that soon.

    * $200 spent on a logo contest to create the website branding -
    one time payment.

    * $300 spent on outsourcing "affiliate mustering" - talk more
    about that soon, also a one time payment.

    ...so all up to date (including the weekly newsletter cost) the
    entire project expenditure has been around $9,000 give or take a
    bit (and not including my time which I donated to the project as
    a learning experience for you).

    If you missed the middle of the project, the majority of that
    expenditure related to adwords lead generation, producing the
    "how to manual" (the unique product) and the continual newsletter
    writing fee. It also wasn't all spent at once of course... income
    was coming in at the same time which was re-invested back into
    the project. We would've also made a lot more sales but the
    product took 6 months to complete (long story there) so for the
    first 9 months of the project we weren't actually selling
    anything.

    Right now the site produces around $300-$500 per week and
    fluctuates between those quite wildly.

    The only fixed costs are $100 p/m for the membership management
    system, and $200 p/w for the writer, so that works out to be $225
    per week (the writer got a pay raise from $150 to $200 per week a
    few months back - he's a good guy and produces great quality
    material).

    This means each week the net profit is anywhere between $0-$275.

    Now I know that doesn't sound like a lot (and it isn't) but put
    it into perspective with the following...

    * I spend a maximum of 30 minutes per week on the site - usually
    around 15 minutes if I'm being completely honest. This is to edit
    and send the newsletter (that the writer sends to me) out to the
    actual readers, It also includes very minimal time spent on
    customer support / payment issues.

    * I haven't done any other marketing on the site since the last
    update went out - probably more than 12 months ago (with the
    exception of the affiliate mustering which I'll talk about soon).

    ...when you keep those things in mind, and if this was a full
    time project for me (or if I even devoted just a few hours per
    week to it really), that could easily be increased. It could be
    increased a lot... but again, this was only ever designed to be a
    case study as a teaching aid - it's not my primary online
    business.

    Just so you know how slack I've been on the project...

    I don't even have an email follow up system in place for people
    that subscribe to the newsletter (to convert them into paying
    members etc) - I simply rely on the newsletter doing that each
    week (and it does). I haven't done any real price testing, the
    sales letter sucks and needs reworking, I haven't bothered to get
    the adwords campaign going again, never done any press releases,
    I don't worry about social bookmarking, don't submit articles to
    directories or other publications... I could go on and on but I
    think you get the idea.

    So this project, in terms of marketing, is probably running at
    around 10% of what it's capable of in terms of solid and regular
    revenue generation weekly.

    It's best week brought in about $3,400 in membership sales.

    Worm farming, go figure.

    There was nothing magical here.

    I was just bored and simply offered a $37 special on membership
    (usually $67) to newsletter readers. Just under 100 readers took
    us up on the offer. The special ran for a week and they were
    emailed about it when it began, in the mid week newsletter as a
    reminder, and 24 hours before it ended. So exposed to it 3 times
    in total.

    (I'm actually running this same special again right now - 6
    months after the other. It was my 29th last Saturday so I thought
    I would give them a birthday special. In two days - one and a
    half really - another 30 odd readers have taken advantage of
    it... and I would expect it to get very close to 100 again by the
    weeks end - but I wont include these in the sales numbers).

    So all in all, 18 months (?) after the project began, the site
    has grossed around $15,000, or an approximate $6,000 net
    profit... and it continues to produce it's small weekly net
    without any further effort on my behalf aside from that 15
    minutes weekly.

    Again, if this had more of my focus (or someone else's) it
    could've done this much sooner... but I've already gone on about
    that and I'm happy with the beer money this brings in at the
    moment ;-0

    So this really shows the beauty of what happens when you have...

    A) High organic search engine rankings. These are no cost
    rankings producing regular, targeted visitors at no cost.

    B) A well developed mailing list that is sent high quality
    information.

    ...this is primarily what is responsible for all of the revenue
    generation to date, and the continual weekly revenue.

    It should also highlight to anyone out their struggling to remain
    focused on what works... you don't need to always jump into the
    latest marketing technique.

    This whole project was done by...

    * Registering the domain.
    * Putting a newsletter lead generation form up as the front end
    website (optimized with related keyword terms).
    * Building incoming links to the website.
    * Using Adwords to generate immediate leads to the newsletter.
    * Having a ghost writer produce the product.
    * Selling that product to the mailing list.

    ...that is the very basic summary anyway and I'm not going over
    the whole project again in this letter ;-0

    Ok what else.

    There have been a few developments since the last update which
    I'll go over now to round it off...

    * New Membership Management System
    * Started Selling Live Worms via Drop Shipper.
    * Affiliate Mustering.

    ...I'll start with...

    * Affiliate Mustering *

    What I am referring to here is that I knocked up a standard email
    to personalize and send to potential affiliates / partners that
    might want to link to the website and earn commissions on
    referrals.

    I won't include it here because it will take a while to dig up,
    but basically it offered them a no cost membership for their
    personal use and review and an offer to link to the site to earn
    commissions should they like the website (but not conditional on
    the first).

    I can't remember the exact stats here but it cost me $300 to
    outsource this task to an Indian IT company that does similar
    tasks for me.

    For that they contacted around 600 different webmasters with the
    standard issue (but personalized) email. I had them on a per
    email sent basis, and also gave them a small override on all
    sales the people they brought in would make ($2 per sale) as an
    additional incentive. This worked well and it brought in about 40
    new affiliates. Only 5 are very active and making sales.

    Most of the rest all link to the site which is only a good thing
    for exposure. I had also planned on doing this monthly (having
    the outsource team do the same volume of emails monthly) but got
    side tracked on the whole thing.

    Scary letting someone else email people on your behalf right?

    No way, not if you find the right people, and even if you were to
    do this yourself you would be hard pressed not to receive at
    least one spam complaint from some nutball out there.

    I really should get the guys back onto this task... they have
    been hounding me to start again but after they finished on the
    first keyword list I sent them (they were manually going through
    the search engines pulling out sites related to those terms and
    contacting the owner), well that's when I side tracked and have
    just never come back to it.

    * Started Selling Live Worms via Drop Shipper *

    ...yes there is a company out there that will drop ship worms for
    me ;-0

    It just made sense to start selling live worms to people that
    needed them to start their farms.

    An order is placed and paid for, details are emailed to me, I
    then CC it to the drop shipper who sends the order off to the
    customer with my branding on it (and his return address
    considering I'm based in New Zealand and I can only offer this to
    people in the US and Canada). At the end of the month he sends me
    a bill for his part of the sales and that's how simple that is.

    Granted we don't make much per sale. About $10 for a basic order,
    but it's money for jam... worm jam.

    The site produces around 2-3 orders per week of the good stuff as
    an average, and the net on this end is more if the order is
    larger. From memory the biggest single order so far has been for
    around $180 of live worms, of which around $50 was profit on this
    end. The site does rank pretty well (in the top 10-30) for terms
    like "buy tiger worms", "buy red worms", "buy european
    nightcrawlers" etc, but I could do even better on these rankings
    if I put some time into them... getting some more incoming links
    from external sites and linking to the specific pages more from
    the other internal website pages.

    Sales also seem to be picking up every month which is nice - I
    only introduced this a few months ago and haven't really pushed
    it (just a standard ad in the newsletter).

    * New Membership Management System *

    I also switched the site over to a new membership management
    system back in January this year.

    The site is now running using...

    iGrOOps Membership Sites

    After all of that time, I am still 50/50 on whether I like this
    system / service... and to be honest... I would be leaning more
    towards NOT using it again (and potentially switching this site
    to something else if I could be bothered). Having said that,
    it's because I like to have total control - incase I ever need to
    (or want to) do something else outside of the system bounds.

    With Igroops nothing is hosted on your own hosting account, you
    simply point your domain to their servers, so you are entirely
    limited to what their system is currently capable of.

    For someone that doesn't want to do ANY of technical stuff, it
    would be a good option to start with and I would recommend it. It
    works for sure and you can do well with it.

    For me however, it's limited when trying to do more advanced
    online marketing and little things annoy the crap out of me
    (probably another reason why I don't get more stuck into this
    site).

    What I mean by that is, well this week for example, when I sent
    the special offer out to newsletter readers, I couldn't filter
    the mailing list to exclude those people that were already
    members.

    This means that anyone that ordered in the past few weeks at full
    price will contact me to get a rebate on the current special
    because they feel hard done by - which I give of course and it
    doesn't bother me... but if a simple feature to filter members
    vs. newsletter readers was included before mailing, I wouldn't
    have to.

    Also with any email that's sent out you can't actually
    personalize the subject field... AND... the subject field MUST
    include the name of your igroop.

    In my case every email that's sent contains [wormfarming] at the
    start of the subject line, followed by whatever else I want to
    put in it. When I asked if this could be removed I was told it
    was better to include it because it looks LESS like spam. That
    people are more likely to think their first name in the subject
    field is going to be spam, rather than something included in
    square brackets like that. Now I don't know about you but all of
    my spam filters put [SPAM] at the start of the subject of emails
    it thinks to be spam... so go figure that out.

    I could go on about these little peeves but again, for anyone
    that wants a system that does work (obviously it's making us
    money) then it could be a good option for you and at a reasonable
    price to.



    ...so anyway, that's ultimately the past 6-8 months with the worm
    farming project.

    I remember the very first email I sent about it.

    One guy replied telling me I was crazy, that no one was searching
    for information on that, and it couldn't be done. Granted, it
    isn't going to be a 7 figure earner anytime soon, but it could
    certainly replace someone's day job if they focused on it, even
    part time, and actually did some additional continual marketing.

    So that brings me to the big question.

    What you like me to do this again so you can follow along, in
    more detail, using more marketing techniques and with at least
    weekly updates and daily action plans that you can implement?

    I already have a few niche markets in mind (not as obscure as
    worm farming) which are also more competitive and should prove
    just as, if not more, interesting. But I have no domains
    registered yet, so it would be a totally new project once again.

    My only concern is that I'm not sure if I could be totally honest
    and up front about "some" of the techniques I *might* choose to
    implement with the project... at least publicly anyway.

    I want to be.

    However I found with the worm farming project there were just
    some people out to "get me" for whatever self righteous reasons
    they had. Maybe they get off on trying to see other people
    fail... who knows.

    Particularly in relation to the fact that I had purchased text
    link advertising for that project at one stage and some people
    took offense to this "horrible terrible sin"... even going to the
    extent of reporting it to Google (a lot of good that did, as it
    turns out).

    So it's a bit of a catch 22 for me, particularly as I would want
    to extend the marketing techniques used for the new project, some
    of which may or may not hit a similar nerve with the self
    righteous police.

    And on the other hand I want to be completely up front so you can
    see exactly what works.

    The only way I can see to get around this would be to attach a
    small cost and not make the entire thing completely public like
    last time. It would at least eliminate those people not serious
    enough to invest money in their online business and marketing
    education, and would ensure I'm committing 100% of my time only
    to those people.

    So let me know what you think, if this would interest you, and
    how much you would be prepared to invest to follow along.

    This wouldn't include one on one personal consultation given the
    value of my time and the number of people I would expect to be
    interested in this, but we could certainly get a private
    discussion group going dedicated to the case study.

    You would be able to ask any questions you like in private, and
    also discuss your own projects that your working on at the same
    time, with both myself and with other readers.

    The more people that would be interested, the more inclined I would
    be to do this... and of course the lower the cost I could deliver
    it for.

    So if you are interested, let's do a quick survey right now...

    Duncan Carvers' - New Case Study Survey...

    ...it will take less than 30 seconds.

    Either way, hope you've found this email interesting ;-0

    Hope you have a great week...

    Duncan Carver
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  • Profile picture of the author Takuya Hikichi
    Duncan,

    I got that in email from you today and have been reading it. Thanks for doing that.

    It was a nice wake up call for what I could see someone producing very good content in newsletters.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bishop81
    I remember seeing something about this before, but had completely forgotten about it. I'm definitely interested in seeing the new case study!
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