This post was written by Casey Botticello about his experience leveraging KoalaWriter to create a highly profitable content site.
Our Black Friday sale is live – you can get 45% off credit packs here!
In January 2023, I launched a blog driven primarily by AI-generated content. In under a year, the site soared from zero to 500,000 monthly pageviews, becoming both a passion project and a source of nearly $15,000 in October 2023 from display ads. This is an overview of my year-long journey creating and scaling my latest blog using Koala!
As the founder of Blogging Guide, I’ve built many income producing sites from scratch, had the chance to work with countless bloggers, and consulted for some of the largest digital publishing platforms for freelance writers. During that time though, blogging has changed immensely.
One constant throughout my journey toward making a full time living online was embracing new technology as it emerged. While intimidating, it is often the key to success. This is definitely true for generative AI when applied to blogging.
Toward the end of 2022, ChatGPT was released, and I quickly began to rethink how I produced content.
Previously, I either personally wrote all my content, or I outsourced the work to a team of freelance writers. I had basically become a hands-on editor for my small digital publishing business.
However, with the leap forward in generative AI content, it became clear that it was possible to scale my content creation exponentially, and leverage my existing knowledge of how to monetize a blog.
I spent nearly all of November and December 2022 learning about and experimenting with various AI writing tools. While ChatGPT was extremely useful, I was determined to find a tool that included a series of more complex prompts, allowing me to generate an entire longform article (or at least a large portion of one).
While I knew I didn’t have the software experience to build such a tool, I made a point to stay current on the steady stream of AI related news. My bet was that someone would create a tool, allowing me to supercharge my content production on a brand new site.
There was an ongoing discussion on the FatStacks forum about AI sites and creative ideas for leveraging the OpenAI API. Browsing the forum posts from Connor (who would soon create Koala), I could tell he knew a lot about blogging and had the software development experience to put together a seamless tool that would allow bloggers to create an entire article with one click.
When Koala was released, I was one of the first to try it, and ultimately became one of the first paying users.
KoalaWriter is a tool that allows digital publishers to create high-quality SEO-optimized articles using GPT-4. It combines SERP analysis with real-time data, making it an excellent tool for writers.
Building the Site
In January of 2023, I started documenting my new AI case study on Blogging Guide.
The goal was to scale this site to 50,000 sessions in order to apply for Mediavine (a premium display ad network which would help me monetize my site). Based on previous sites I’ve built, I assumed this would conservatively take 18-24 months using a fresh domain.
I already owned a domain that was catchy and brandable but had never hosted a site before (fresh domain). The site name worked for a promising topic cluster of keywords that I had noticed a few months ago. And without Koala, I’m sure it would have remained an idea on the backburner as I was busy with my other 20+ sites!
The site ended up growing much more quickly than I expected, primarily due to my ability to rapidly produce high quality drafts with KoalaWriter. I then manually edited and fact checked these articles before publishing.
So how do you build a successful blog with AI-generated content from Koala? Read on to find out!
Steps for Building a Successful AI-Powered Site with KoalaWriter
The initial steps for building an AI generated blog are similar to that of a traditional blog consisting of articles written by you or outsourced to freelanced writers.
Step 1. Niche Selection
A successful blog begins with proper niche selection. As a blogger, you should consider different topics that you are either interested in or have some level of expertise in.
While I wasn’t a formal expert in my niche (technology and equipment), I did have a fair amount of experience with the products I’d discuss and insights I could offer readers. I also knew I had access to the products so I could show high quality original photos in my articles.
Tip: When picking a niche for a blog that will consist primarily of AI generated content, don’t just pick a niche that interests you. Pick a niche that allows you to leverage your AI writing tool.
This usually means choosing a blog niche that:
- is as narrow as possible. AI writing tools tend to write a consensus opinion unless otherwise prompted, so the more specific the topic, the less fluff your article will have.
- contains lots of factual content. Content that remains relatively constant is usually best for AI writing tools as it reduces the overall rate of innacuracies.
- has relatively low competition. Specifically, make sure that the pages you are trying to outrank aren’t super high in terms of domain authority.
The power in using an AI writing tool like Koala is that anyone can increase their content velocity (especially in the early stages of a site), build topical authority (by covering a specific set of topics much faster and in more detail than the typical blogger), and reallocate their content budget (spend some of the money you’re saving on writers on visuals, link building, etc.):
Step 2. Keyword Research and Organic Traffic Validation
Many bloggers dream of reaching the top of Google’s search results quickly. Achieving this requires diligent keyword research and mastering SEO, which can be a lengthy process, sometimes taking months or even years to grasp fully.
Koala, however, has a built-in advantage—it generates content that’s SEO-optimized right from the start.
While Koala can churn out fantastic articles, it’s still crucial to have the skills for keyword research and assess if there’s enough potential traffic to justify creating a piece. Keyword research is a fundamental task for most bloggers, and even if you’re new to blogging, there are various keyword research tools available to help you estimate search volume effectively.
Tip: One of Koala’s biggest strengths is the low cost to produce articles. The precise cost depends on both the article length and your Koala plan, but most articles I produced averaged under $1 per article. These are articles that a native English speaking writer (with some subject matter expertise) would charge at least $50 for! Use this asymmetry to your advantage, and cover a topic much more comprehensively than you normally would. There is no need to debate whether certain articles will justify the cost, since you can cover all the promising keywords you discover during your keyword research.
Step 3. Content Production
Now, it’s time to whip up some content for your blog! If you’re using an AI tool like Koala, you’ve got some nifty options at your fingertips. You can fine-tune your prompts and tweak your article settings. Then, simply hit the “Create Article” button, and within just a few minutes, voilà, you’ve got yourself a complete article.
Koala makes it even more convenient by offering two modes. You can create articles one at a time, which allows you to preview and customize an auto-generated article outline before the tool starts writing. Alternatively, you can go for the bulk production option.
As far as what settings I use in Koala, the answer is it varies depending on the content. GPT-4 currently costs 5x the credits that GPT-3.5 costs, so I use GPT-4 on my buyer guide pages, pillar posts, or other content that I know will get a disproportionate amount of traffic.
That said, GPT-3.5 will work for 99% of posts in many niches. Part of using KoalaWriter effectively is making sure that you’re applying the correct level of technology to the corresponding complexity of a post. This allows you to spend far less time developing one-off custom prompts to optimize each post.
There are some KoalaWriter users who have an elaborate set of prompts, and this can definitely be useful.
Some prompts I’ve used successfully include:
- Avoid using technical terms or jargon. This prompt is useful if your topic has lots of industry jargon and you are producing content for a broader audience.
- Make sure the content shows ____ in a positive/ negative light. This prompt is useful if you want to create content (such as a review) where you don’t want the AI system to equivocate or try to offer a “balanced” overview (which the system defaults to regardless of topic).
- Paragraphs should contain no more than _____ sentences. This prompt is useful if you are getting overly long paragraphs or you want to keep the article style less formal.
Tip: While the bulk feature is a big time saver, you should only use it after testing a few sample articles in the same topic cluster or articles that share a similar structure. Otherwise you won’t have the chance to fine tune the article settings or add your own custom prompts. If you have the time, use the KoalaWriter outline editor for as many of your articles as possible. You will end up with much less fluff and the total amount of editing required will drop significantly.
Step 4. Editing Your Article
Now, when I was documenting my case study, I liked to call my site a “heavily edited AI blog.” That’s because I noticed some folks sharing their experiences of posting AI content directly to their blogs without any editing, and let’s just say, the results weren’t great.
As for how much editing I actually did, it varied from article to article. But in many cases, I intentionally generated a bit more content than needed. It’s easier to work with an AI draft and trim the excess or shuffle sections around. This way, many of the articles were still predominantly AI-generated but organized to perfection.
It’s also super important to fact-check your articles. Other AI writing tools like ChatGPT are notorious for AI hallucinations (where AI systems generate incorrect facts due to their limited training data).
KoalaWriter is far more accurate in my experience, since it pulls in real-time data. Most blog niches cover some type of content that relies on having the latest available data, so this alone is a huge reason why I used KoalaWriter.
Still, fact-checking is a must to keep things accurate and reliable. You should not be generating content using an AI writing tool and publishing it without reviewing it in detail. That’s partially why I refer to this model of blogging as “heavily edited AI content.”
Tip: Add some of your own original writing to an article, even if it’s just in the introduction, conclusion, or other key sections in your blog post. This can go a long way toward making the content match your brand voice. Also, one area where AI writing tools still lag behind human writers is writing catchy introductory paragraphs. I would always suggest heavily editing or rewriting those from scratch.
5. Adding Custom Media
Nowadays, in most niches, relying solely on text in your articles just won’t cut it anymore. A top-notch article usually features at least one of the following elements: original photography, a custom infographic, embedded videos (especially if they’re from your own YouTube channel), or some free downloadable goodies for your readers.
My personal recipe for success heavily relies on this step. While AI writing tools excel at creating long, cost-effective, and well-structured articles, they can come off a bit bland if you don’t spice them up with some supporting media. It’s all about keeping your audience engaged and your content vibrant.
Tip: Even if you don’t want to create tons of visual content yourself, it is much cheaper to outsource graphic design compared to high quality writing. Although soon you may be able to use Koala for this as well! Koala has been adding new features regularly, such as unique AI generated images and embedded YouTube videos.
As I mentioned earlier, I had actually bought the domain for this site a few years back, but had never used it (fresh domain). While I was figuring out what to do with it in late 2022 I added a few basic pages to allow it to start indexing. I then started adding new posts on January 1st, 2023. I added 29 new articles in the first month.
Critically, I made sure these first 10-20 articles were written by me or one of my writers. The hope was that by seeding the site with several ultra-high quality articles (for relatively low competition keywords), that Google would almost be “forced” to index these posts quickly.
While these initial posts would not drive much traffic, they helped Google understand what my site was about and helped me rank on the first page for some very low competition keywords.
I was also careful not to flood the site with content (written by me or by Koala). Content velocity is important, but you don’t need to cram all your content production into a single month. This seemed like a potential red flag that Google could easily check for (not to mention Google hadn’t clarified its stance on AI generated content).
But once Google clarified their stance on AI generated content in February (they are fine with it, assuming it’s still high quality helpful content), I began ramping up production of the heavily edited AI articles:
One of the signs that your AI blog is on the right track early on, is if Google is indexing your posts. You may have to manually submit some of these posts in Google Search Console. I did this on a daily basis to make sure all my content was being crawled early on.
By the end of March (100+ total posts on blog), I reached the point where Google would typically index my new AI generated posts within 24 hours (without manually submitting URLs).
In April I published a staggering 120 posts! Keep in mind, I was working on this site in my spare time, while continuing to write content for my portfolio of niche sites.
The site growth was strong and surprisingly steady once I started hitting my publishing stride in May/June.
Traffic decreased slightly after June, but continued on its previous growth trajectory throughout August:
If you are a blogger, this chart is probably extra impressive when you consider that this site survived several major Google algorithm updates during this time period.
I think this is one of the more interesting findings of this case study: Google is genuinely fine with AI generated content when used in the right way (adding value for readers). And the fact that AI writing tools such as Koala allow you to produce content at such a large scale, means you can definitely accelerate the growth of your blog.
But how does this translate into earnings?
This site was monetized with Mediavine, a display ad network popular with many bloggers. The site was approved for Mediavine mid May (so that’s the first month of any income):
While I was thrilled to get into Mediavine, the site was a long way from making 5 figures per month. But still, this first bit of revenue was very motivating, so I kept publishing content.
My earnings hovered between $2,000 and $3,000 per month in June, July and August:
The major leap came in September as my traffic continued its strong growth trajectory, and I earned over $8,000 that month.
In October, due to continued traffic growth and an increase in RPMs (the amount bloggers are paid per thousand pageviews), I reached a staggering $14,934 in monthly revenue. And it appears November may be even higher based on the first few days of data so far (you can see all monthly updates of the case study here).
While those numbers are impressive, it’s essential to clarify that they represent revenue, not profit. However, in this case, it’s worth noting that Koala has played a significant role in reducing the cost of content production.
When you tally up all the expenses, including Koala credits, the writers who briefly assisted in the initial month, domain name acquisition, hosting, and a few miscellaneous costs, the total expenses for running this site in its first year come to a modest $7,500 (with about a third of this amount going towards securing the brandable domain name).
In comparison, many bloggers who still rely on traditional writers could easily find themselves spending well over $100,000 to produce content of a similar caliber. Unless you already have a large, well-trained team of writers at your disposal, achieving such a prolific content output in a short time would be a daunting task.
As for the site’s future, it needs a bit more time to mature, likely another six months, before most marketplaces would accept it. However, if the current cash flow remains at this level, it’s highly likely that it would sell for at least $400,000. But for now, I have no immediate plans to part ways with it. It’s become a rewarding and enjoyable project, a highly profitable blog, and I’ve successfully built a thriving community around the site in a relatively short span of time.
Even for someone with extensive experience in creating high-quality blog content, Koala has been nothing short of a game-changer!
While the site’s growth and earnings have far exceeded my initial goals, I want to make it clear that buying Koala won’t magically generate money. Koala is capable of producing astonishingly good content, but achieving success still requires identifying the right niche, devising a monetization strategy for your site, and carefully reviewing and manually editing each article.
While editing well structured content is much faster than writing it entirely from scratch, it still requires time and effort.
Today, the blogging landscape is undergoing a seismic shift. This disruption brings forth an opportunity for newcomers who can leverage new technology within established business models. Koala has consistently outperformed other AI writing tools because it was tailored to meet the specific needs of bloggers and digital publishers.
If you want to learn more about my journey building this site (and others), you can read the whole series on Blogging Guide (which I plan to keep updating!). If you want to learn more about starting a blog, I’d suggest signing up for my award-winning Substack newsletter. If you have any questions you can always reach out to me directly through my personal site.