The $10k Challenge Update #1

This is the first official update of the $10k Challenge. I’m still considering whether I should do this monthly or quarterly because growing organic traffic takes time so I'd like to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

Here’s what happened in the last 3 months…

Organic traffic is growing slowly but steadily


Traffic from Google has grown from literally nothing back in August to about 73 UV/day in the last 7 days.

The total traffic is higher, but I’m not including the numbers here as some of those visitors come from Cloud Living.

I did try to grow the followings on Pinterest, but quickly decided to stop because I didn’t have proper monetization for that kind of traffic at the moment.

At this early stage of the site, it’s better to double down on only one channel that I’m the most familiar with to drive faster growth.

First earnings!

The site made $22.91 last month, which was very exciting.

Because from experience I knew the fact that once a site made its first few dollars, the earnings would only continue to grow faster month after month.

All I need to do now is to patiently publish more great content and build more high-quality backlinks. Big payday is coming soon!

New content organization strategy

What I’ve done so far with content is just publishing normal WordPress blog posts targeting keywords.

But in my niche there are lots of keywords with so many relevant long-tails.

For example:

I can jam the keywords all together in a massive post like The Wire Cutter’s style. But there are hundreds of keywords, so it’s very hard to produce one article to best serve all kinds of audiences with different needs.

Instead, I divided the list into sub-groups of similar keywords and created themed content for each of those.

From now on, I’ll be posting these “best” articles as WordPress pages instead of normal blog posts for 2 reasons:

1. It’s easier to apply SEO Silo structure with pages

You can read more about this strategy here. But in short, the site and URL structure would look like this:

2. It increased the perceived value of my site

By “hiding” commercial content, my site wouldn’t look like a typical affiliate website filled with reviews anymore.

I’ll be using the blog section for publishing non-commercial informational content like:

  • Lists
  • How-to’s
  • Interviews

These types of content tend to get more social shares and backlinks which help to increase the overall authority of my website.

Link Building

I’m still experimenting with different types of outreach campaigns and haven’t gotten significant results yet.

But I’ve just hired an experienced SEO outreach specialist from Upwork to help with the campaigns so hopefully I will have some case studies to show you soon.


Overall, I’m happy with the results so far. It’s been only 3 months since I started to work on the site again and it’s already getting some promising traction.

As for expenses, I haven’t gathered all the numbers yet but I would estimate it’s around $1,500. My budget is $5000 so I still have a good amount left to invest in the site.

What do you think about the progress so far?

Do you like this being monthly or quarterly update? Let me know in the comment section.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 69 comments
Esteban - November 3, 2015


Cool challenge. I’m kind of doing the same but I really just want to reach my first 4-digit income ASAP!

I was wondering what expenses you have for creating this site besides hosting and domain purchase?



    Tung Tran - November 3, 2015

    Probably about $1500

      Esteban - November 3, 2015


      Thanks for the quick reply.

      I meant to ask what exactly you spent the money on actually not how much.

      Sorry for the confusion!


        Tung Tran - November 3, 2015

        I dont have exact numbers as I said but content was about $1000 and the rest is on link building, VAs, etc.

          Esteban - November 3, 2015


          interesting to see your approach 🙂


          Hugo - November 3, 2015

          Very interesting. Thank you for sharing. Can you say that roughly, in terms of focus, time and money you are planning to invest 2/3 in content and 1/3 in links?

          I would like to understand, based on your experience, what is the right balance between links and content.

          I have couple of small no english sites having between 10,000 – 20,000 unique visits a month (in my country). They respectively have 350 and 250 page indexed.

          I check some of the websites (the ones still alive) that you previously discussed here: They have less pages, but much more traffic. Compared to them my content is not bad, my on page SEO is good and the keyword are quite similar in terms of difficulty. I see this as a validation of the fact that links (still) matter more than content. Thoughs?


          Tung Tran - November 3, 2015

          Links are the most effective when your content is good 😀 So you can publish less pages, but make sure everything you put out is of good quality.

Dom Wells - November 3, 2015

Great stuff Tung,

Inspired me to get back on track with my 6 figure challenge site!


sree - November 3, 2015

Thanks for sharing the progress. I have a question You spent 1000$ on articles ?

Will - November 3, 2015


Juan - November 3, 2015

Hey man,

Nice update!

I am building a similar site (nutrition niche).3 months so far, i have already achieve some nice backlinks (about 50/60 RD from similar niche websites) and around 60 pieces of great content.
But i am not seeing the organic visits increase exponentially (30 a day), in how much time usually google recognizes all your DA on the searchs.

Dominique - November 3, 2015

Great to see you’re making progress Tung. And thanks for linking to that SEO Silo page, it’s an awesome resource!

Hamza Butt - November 3, 2015

Hi Tung,

I’m real excited for your new project. And I really hope you reach your goal with this site. I first got introduced to you by reading your dumbbell niche project. At that time, I was totally blank on making money with niche sites. But your case study helped a lot and over time I found people like Spenser Haws, Brian Dean and Pat Flynn which helped me in different parts of building a profitable niche sites.

2 of my first niche sites failed, as I failed to find the right niche. But I’m making money with the third one. I really didn’t had money to invest in the third project and my total investment on the third site is $14 (hosting and domain). The site is nearly 5 month old now and it made me $292 last month from the third page. And I’m hoping it’s gonna cross $1000 a month when it cracks the first page.

The only reason behind sharing my story is to let others know that you don’t need $5000 to get started. Even as little as $14 can get you going. Sure, you need to create content yourself, take SEO in your hand and add some CSS code into your free theme to make it bearable. But in the end, it could all work out.

I wish you best of luck for this project. Would stay tuned to hear more from you. And I think a quarterly update would be better than a monthly update.

    Tung Tran - November 3, 2015

    Thank for sharing Hamza! I agree it doesn’t take much to get started.

    Farhan - November 7, 2015

    I would like to know the reason of your failing in the first two niche sites.As I am newbie I want to start niche site… It will be helpful for me to be careful about the mistake.

    maki - November 22, 2015

    Hi Hamza, this is really an interesting share. Can you share what your link building strategy is or SEO efforts to get you to the 3rd page at zero costs?

Josh @ Hammerhead Domains - November 3, 2015

Great post Tung! I’m following your progress here eagerly. Congrats on getting consistent daily visitors and your first earnings. I think if you can find a reliable way to get whitehat links for affiliate sites through outreach that would be huge.

Hung Pham - November 3, 2015

Great Tung! I have built a site over one year, but the result is not good as yours. I don’t know the reason why?

Nate - November 3, 2015

Nice Tung!! Excited to see you hit 10k/m ASAP 🙂

jesse - November 3, 2015

Good Luck man .. !! You are inspiration for newbie like me.. 🙂

Luke Mitchley - November 4, 2015

Thanks for sharing your site information man. Let us know how outreach goes, i think when it comes to whether or not your campaign is a success depends on the small things.

Khokon - November 4, 2015

Great Tung!! I am a web developer with 5 years experience. I am doing freelance project. Now I am planing to have few niche site. I couldn’t fine a great niche yet but I researching keyword. Can you please suggest me where can I start as a new bid?

Thanks in Advance!!

Guillaume - November 4, 2015

Great Post !
I started my site in July, now (4 months later) we have 120 UV/day
The production of the content cost me about 160€/month (640€ for 4 month)

I do not start promoting this website on the social media as I want to see how the organic SEO trafic growth.

Shah Alom - November 4, 2015

Awesome progress and thank you for the post. Waiting for the result of your link building research …. Hope we will read about it soon …

Rocky - November 4, 2015

Hi Tung,

Good work!

How do you measure your website growth. For example, if you see an increased organic traffic, how do you know what tactics (backlinks, domain age) you did to contribute that?

Anyway, wish you best luck.


Billal Sarker - November 4, 2015

Thanks for your nice update. I’ve failed 3 times in niche sites. Because my niche keyword was not so good. And I am still facing problem to select a right keyword. Will you please give me a suggestion to get a nice niche keyword, please? Thanks again.

Robin Wiman - November 6, 2015


Nice to see an update:)

I am following you along and I’m starting to see some activity on my site as well. I thing your site is more authority than mine so far. But I’m getting there:)

Steve - November 7, 2015

Cool update 🙂 I’ve been following your blog for awhile so it’s interesting to see how this new project is taking shape. It looks like traffic-wise you’re starting to hit that point where the search engines are rewarding you for fresh and original content. Looking forward to seeing how things look in a few more months!

Mukesh Negi - November 9, 2015


Just read your old article

and its inspired me a lot now i am also planning the use same strategies. 🙂

Kani Poly - November 13, 2015

It takes quite a long time to build an article website. A big work 😀

Bill - November 17, 2015

What kind of link building are you doing?

Tùng Nguyễn - November 18, 2015

A Tùng cóc đây, chú dạo này dùng số nào đấy?

STEVEO - November 19, 2015

Tung – Love what you’re doing. I actually am jumping on board with you guys and running a niche authority site myself. I like your niche. My niche selection was a bit different. I chose a niche that I have absolutely zero interest in – probably a mistake but i’m not writing the content so I don’t care about that. It’s in the construction niche and has extremely high search volume with low competition and $5 to $8 dollar bid asks for many keywords. I don’t intend on promoting any affiliates from here as I think the niche just doesn’t have any products except maybe books. What I do like is the idea of pitching these companies ad space and also running Adsense on the site. What do you think?

Joseph - November 23, 2015

Good progress. You can try Youtube marketing, just convert your articles to videos and upload to Youtube. Good luck

Julien - November 25, 2015

Hey Tung just stumbled on your blog – loving it. Looking forward to further updates on your challenge, and I wish you luck.

– Julien

Billal Sarker - November 25, 2015

Hello, Tung,
Your nice guideline helped me much to rank a niche site. So I am more confident now for my others niche site. Doing hard work to rank more sites of mine. I personally give thank you for your nice guideline.

Benjamin - November 26, 2015

That’s some pretty quick organic movement Tung!

Very interesting challenge by the way. Love when people challenge themselves publicly.

Yeshua - December 2, 2015

Good job Tung!

I’m taking this challenge too! I just started December 1 though and my first month’s goals are conceptualization, keyword research, competitor analysis, and publishing the homepage content.

I’ll be documenting my progress too, but only after it fails or succeeds. Hope you publish updates more frequently so I can keep on being inspired.


Steveo - December 15, 2015

Wow bro I think you may have been hit with a google penalty. I just checked SEM and your site is not ranking anymore? I’ve been following this challenge watching you rank your keywords and all. Some reason today I checked it and nothing is showing?

Minh - December 29, 2015

Hi Tùng,
It would be nice to become your friend, cause im a addicted online marketer also also,
If you dont mind, add me as friend in FB, my FB is: 🙂

Robert - December 30, 2015

I’m planning the silo stuff to. Great to hear from you that it’s working 😀

RJ - February 3, 2016

I see more and more of the silo structure and it makes perfect sense. Im just curious of why it needs to be done with Pages. From my experience I have made HUGE Post and smaller post that connect anyway.

And I agree, the way you have it set up will definitely make your site look less like an amazon affiliate. Sometimes I wonder if people (who don’t build sites/ market online) notice that a site is filled with reviews.

Do you think it matters if its done with pages vs post?


    Tung Tran - February 4, 2016

    I actually abandoned pages and only do posts for now because that’d make my structure much more dynamic.

Annie - March 20, 2016

Hi Tung,

I usually don’t follow these challenges but this seems quite exciting since it’s a high target challenge plus I kinda like your writing style.

Keep up the good work and all the luck for your project. Heading towards the next update of this challenge.

Best Regards,

Shubhanshi - November 27, 2016

Hey Tung,

Great approach! Thanks for sharing all the details. I just left my job and now I’m planning to start niche based website to have some passive income. This post inspired me a lot. Thanks once again.


John - December 1, 2016

You went from 0-3 months and getting $22 in revenue. I think getting started is the most difficult phase. Is there another article you wrote on exactly what you did during this time?

Doug Beney - February 3, 2017

I’ve come back to this post multiple times as a reference. I really like the idea of using Pages instead of Posts for silo structure. Great update!

Chad - February 24, 2017

Your comment about silo structures is very intriguing. Is this something you’d recommend setting up from the beginning for a new site or only after publishing several pieces of content. Is this essentially turning blog categories into their own pages?

mazharoddin - March 10, 2017

Hi Tung,

Can you please let me know if it still possible to participate in this 10K challenge, I know you are already very nearer to your goal, but I feel participating this challenge may be helpful for me because I am just starting. Let me know if there is any chance. BTW congrats for your achievements.


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