Niche Pursuits http://www.nichepursuits.com Find Business Ideas, Niche Websites, and much more! Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:55:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1Things and Things and Things! Niche Pursuits no Niche Pursuits sample@email.com sample@email.com (Niche Pursuits) Sample Podcast about Sample Things Niche Pursuits http://www.nichepursuits.com/wp-content/images/niche-pursuits-podcast-cover.jpghttp://www.nichepursuits.com Richland, WA I Just Sold My Pinterest Site! Income Report and Lessons Learnedhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/just-sold-pinterest-site-income-report-lessons-learned/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/just-sold-pinterest-site-income-report-lessons-learned/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:55:27 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4918 I began 2014 with several goals, including a goal to spend $25k on buying sites.  I accomplished that goal earlier this year as reported here. However, the real goal I suppose is to get some of that money back now! … Continued

The post I Just Sold My Pinterest Site! Income Report and Lessons Learned appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
I began 2014 with several goals, including a goal to spend $25k on buying sites.  I accomplished that goal earlier this year as reported here.

However, the real goal I suppose is to get some of that money back now!

If you have been following along with my buying and selling websites case study this year, you will know that I’ve purchased 4 sites total.  I’m now happy to report that I recently sold one of those sites!

Today I want to jump into my journey with this site, why I sold it, and how much money I made.  In addition, I throw in a few lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

1 site down, 3 to go.

Let’s do this.

A Quick Background on This Pinterest Site

I bought a website on Flippa back in January of this year for $2,100.  The main reason I bought this site (and others) was to learn the ropes with a smaller site, so I could then move up the value chain and potentially purchase larger sites.

The site I purchased is in the crafting niche and gets most of its traffic from Pinterest.  Out of respect for the new owner, I will not be revealing the domain.

The site was monetized with Media.net (and a other smaller networks) because the site was banned from Google Adsense before I bought it.  (I knew it was banned before I bought it, and you can read my discussion with Google Adsense here).

The site also never performed well in Google.  Most of the content is curated and not very unique.  As a result, the site never got any traffic from Google.

We attempted writing original content for a brief period, but we saw no results…no love from Google.  Instead, I decided to just double down on the Pinterest marketing and let it ride.

Basically, I hired a guy for very cheap to curate content and pictures, and then to pin those images on Pinterest.

The site regularly got 2k to 3k visitors a day.  In fact, here’s a Google Analytics screenshot:

pinall

The traffic has remained fairly constant for the most part, and so has the earnings.

In my last income report, I shared that the site had made a total of $2,050.87 through the end of September.  I’ll jump more into the numbers you want to see below.

Overall, I just didn’t feel good about putting a ton more effort into such a low earning site.  I wasn’t seeing a huge increase in earnings and so I felt like I had learned my lesson and wanted to just sell it off.  So, I did!

How I Sold the Site…and How Much

It should come as no surprise that I decided to sell the site through the Empire Flippers Marketplace.  I’ve sold one other site previously through their marketplace and I got full asking price in under 24 hours.

The process was very smooth with my second site as well.

Basically, the Empire Flippers ask for income data and screenshots over the past 90 days, access to Google analytics, and ask a few other questions.  Once they manually review the site, they get it up and listed for 20 times monthly earnings.

So, after calculating all income and expenses, my Pinterest site was listed for $4,221.

I had several people interested in buying the site right away, and answered a few questions from potential buyers.  After only a couple of days, the site was sold!

After fees and everything, my take home amount was $3,587.35.  I was very happy with that price!

The Empire Flippers also make the post sale very easy.  They transfer the site for you and take care of everything!  I just had to answer a couple of short emails and basically wait for my wire transfer to come in (a couple of days).

I’ve now had 2 successful site sales through the Empire Flippers and I plan on doing more in the future.  The process is fairly easy and the service is great.  And at the end of the day, both of my sites have sold quickly for full asking prices, so it works.

Did I Make Any Money?

Now I want to share the income and expenses from this site and determine what the actual net income from this site was.

First, let me share what the earnings and traffic has been like since my last income report.

earningsfinal

As you can see the income for October was up a bit, and November was shaping up to be a great month as well.  The site was sold during November, so these are only partial numbers for the month.

Now for the big reveal, let’s look at the cumulative earnings and traffic stats for the entire time that I owned the site!

pinfinal

In total, the site earned $2,517.43 while I owned it.  This is more than the $2,100 that it cost me to buy the site…so I was already doing pretty well before I sold it!

So, when you take into account my cumulative earnings AND the income I generated from the sale, my total revenue for this site was: $6,738.43.  Not bad for a little side project.

However, as you know there’s more to the equation than just revenue.  Let’s take a look at the expenses.

In fact, I broke down all the income and expenses in a nice little income statement.

Here’s the income statement:

netincome1

After the cost to purchase the site, virtual assistant cost (content curation and pinning images), and selling fees…my total net income is $3,698.98.  It’s always nice to come out on the right side of that equation.

I’m super happy that I was able to earn a little bit of money with this site, and it’s moved me further along the process of becoming even better at buying and selling sites.

Now, I can already hear a few of you saying, “But that’s not your true income…what about your time costs??”

Yes, I had to put in some of my own time.  If I were to guess, I would say I put somewhere around 10 to 15 hours of my own time.  Perrin probably put in 20 to 30 hours.  So, at the high end Perrin and I put around 45 hours of work into this site.  That’s feels high to me, but let’s go with 45 hours.

If we divide $3,698.98 by 45 hours, that will give us how much money we earned for each hour of work.  That calculation shows that Perrin and I earned $82.20 per hour.

Last time I checked the real world, that’s a pretty decent hourly wage.

Overall, I’m happy with the little bit of money made, but more importantly I learned a couple of valuable lessons.

Lessons Learned

First, I learned that the amount of time required on a small site vs. a medium sized site is not much different.  Because this site was never a big earner, I never wanted to put a significant amount of time into it.

In addition, little tweaks like changing the theme and ad layouts took just as much time on small site like this as it would on a larger site.  In other words, my time would have been better spent if I was working on a site that had more significant revenue.

Second, I learned that it’s difficult to scale in areas that you are not familiar with.  I’ve never owned a site that got most of its traffic from Pinterest before.  I had never pinned an image in my life!

As a result, I found it difficult to learn Pinterest marketing quickly and effectively enough to make a big impact on this site.  I hired a VA to do all the pinning for me, and that seemed to keep the traffic at least steady.  However, any significant growth in traffic would have required a much greater effort on my part.

Now I know that I should stick with the types of sites that I’m more familiar with.  In addition, I’ll focus on sites with higher revenues.

Your Thoughts

I do have 3 other sites that I purchased this year.  I may sell off another one before the end of the year; I’m not sure.

However, my experience so far with buying and selling sites is encouraging!  Despite a couple of setbacks (like getting hit with the PBN update), I still feel like I’m going to turn a profit overall.

I’ll keep you posted as I decide to sell any additional sites.

As always, I’d love to hear any thoughts or questions that you guys have in regards to this site or anything else.

The post I Just Sold My Pinterest Site! Income Report and Lessons Learned appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
http://www.nichepursuits.com/just-sold-pinterest-site-income-report-lessons-learned/feed/ 14
6 Ways to Create Content that Engages and Convertshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/6-ways-create-content-engages-converts/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/6-ways-create-content-engages-converts/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 20:24:47 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4898 For all the things I totally stink at, I can at least write! I’ve been a professional writer for about a decade. I’ve published over 1,000 monetized articles online. A good chunk of those made money for me (and even … Continued

The post 6 Ways to Create Content that Engages and Converts appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
For all the things I totally stink at, I can at least write!

I’ve been a professional writer for about a decade. I’ve published over 1,000 monetized articles online. A good chunk of those made money for me (and even more, I’m sorry to say, made money for other people!).

I also worked at a global consulting firm, where I worked on content teams writing all sorts of stuff for some of the biggest brands in the world. We’re talking 7-figure content contracts here. Those are high stakes, man, and if you’re not writing stuff that moves people to action, you aren’t doing your job.

When I started applying those techniques to niche sites, learned a really valuable lesson: great content doesn’t just attract links; it seriously boosts both engagement and conversion.

With my first niche site, aPennyShaved, 40-50% of my overall traffic clicked affiliate links, and some pages had conversion rates that were even higher—up to 70%.

I was also generating shares, comments, likes and tweets. And really, a lot of sites do that, but keep this in mind: my site was small, monetized niche site with affiliate products on every page. Engaging an audience with that type of site ain’t easy, my friends.

I’m not trying to brag here.

Just saying… writing’s my thing. And I wanted to give you guys a small guide for writing killer content that engages and converts.

Really, Perrin? Why should I be THIS worried about content?

Here’s the business case for great content.

Whether you’re outsourcing your content or writing it yourself, getting highly engaging content on your site is one of the highest-value activities for any business.

It’s probably a lot more important than a lot of the things you’re already spending time on.

Most of the time, amazing content that converts visitors into customers will be much, much more valuable than any link, Facebook post, or tweet.

Think of it this way: It’s much more valuable to convert 40% of 100 visitors than it is to convert 5% of 500 visitors. And because it’s much easier get 100 visitors than it is to get 500, great content can drastically strengthen your bottom line, especially at the early stages of a business.

In other words, writing A+ content is one of the best ways to boost your revenue per visitor.

I really can’t stress this enough. I see lots of sites from lots of Niche Pursuits readers. A good chunk of these sites have great traffic but aren’t making much money. With these sites, it’s almost always the case that the content—in some form or another—just isn’t up to par. Bad content is one of the most common reasons sites stagnate.

Why? Because if you have crappy content, people won’t trust you. It’s like going to the doctor’s office and seeing the staff in tank-tops. It’s a massive, loud signal that says, “I’m not a professional.”

So let’s make a long story short here. If you have great content, you’ll convert a lot more visitors, and you’ll probably build a loyal audience at the same time. If you have bad content, people will run away from your site and never come back. Easy choice, eh?

In a nutshell, here’s what a great piece of content looks like…

I’m going to dig into each of these (and more) in detail below, but if you’re a little impatient, and you’re itching to create some stellar articles, here’s a quick checklist you can use.

Good content should…

  • Look great
  • Be highly skimmable
  • Be highly relevant
  • Appear ruthlessly professional
  • Have a fun casual tone (most of the time)
  • Be very visually interesting
  • Use data
  • Employ calls to action
  • Be A/B tested—a LOT

That’s a super quick and dirty version. Feel free to bookmark this page, so you can pull up that list the next time you (or your writers) sit down to draft an article.

Let’s dive into some of these.

LESSON 1: Your content (and website) should look clean and well-designed.

When Niche Pursuits changed its site design, our conversions increased by almost 200%. Seriously.

It bums me out so hard when I see people skipping this. Some people just don’t care how their site looks. Don’t be one of them!

I can’t tell you how many niche sites I’ve seen with the default WordPress theme. I’ve seen even more with green and purple color schemes.

I’m not kidding.

I really want you to take this seriously. If you have an ugly theme, a crappy header from Fiverr, a wackadoo color scheme, a logo done in Microsoft Paint, and a layout that doesn’t make sense… your site might just be ugly. And, while you might make some money, you probably won’t be making the heaps we all dream about. Unbecoming sites are hard to scale.

Why? Same reason as above: people don’t trust ugly sites.

Here’s why it bums me out so hard: there’s just no excuse to have an ugly website in 2014. Buying a premium theme from ThemeForrest is only $47.

Buying an entire suite of incredible, beautiful themes from ThriveThemes is only $120 per year. So even if you don’t have any design expertise, please… either buy a good theme or turn your site over to a qualified Web designer.

I’m not going to show any example of ugly sites, since I don’t want to hurt anyone’s business. But here are some examples of beautiful, functional sites from Thrive:

 

Nice blog 1

 

Nice blog 2

 

Nice blog 3

Nice, huh? These weren’t one-off designs done for some big brand. You can just go buy them right here. There’s no excuse NOT to have a professional site!

LESSON 2: Your content should be highly skimmable and formatted for readers with short attention spans.

As much as I love to think that there are a bunch of people coming to my blog to read my fantastic writing, it’s just not the case. Well, some do. But most don’t. That’s typically not how internet searchers work (depending on the market of course; some audiences love to read all the juicy details).

Most people, when searching for something in Google, are looking for something. When they find it, they’ll click to the next thing and move on. My writing is very low on the list of things they care about.

That’s not to say that the actual writing isn’t important; it is. The point is that you have to be speedy about giving searchers what they want. You do that by making content skimmable.

What does “skimmable” look like? Here’s how I do it.

Skimmable content has a top-down structure with important information up top. If you’ve ever read a newspaper or taken a journalism class, you’ll know the structure I’m talking about.

When you read news pieces at major publications, the most important point of the story is in the first paragraph. You don’t usually need to go that far, but you should definitely be putting your main point in the introduction.

Is your article about using yoga to combat insomnia? Then in the first few paragraphs, you should at some point say something like, “Doing yoga for a long time both exhausts you and releases melatonin, which can help you sleep” (I have no idea if that’s true; this is just an example).

In the article you’re reading right now, I do that in the fourth paragraph, when I say, “great content doesn’t just attract links; it seriously boost both engagement and conversion.” Shortly after (and also near the top), I also provide a checklist for people who don’t want to read this monster.

Skimmable content should tell a story in its headings. When most people skim an article, they’re going to be looking almost entirely at the headings. Then, if they find a heading that catches their eye, they’ll stop and read that section in more detail.

Obviously, for this reason, you need your headings to make sense. Beyond that, though, it’s good if your headings actually tell the story of your article.

I don’t mean this literally. Like, if someone were to only read your headings, they would make a literal miniature story. Not like that. I meant that people should be able to follow your thought process only by reading your headings.

So, as a general rule, I like to make my headings full sentences. You don’t have to, but I usually feel like it creates a better feeling of movement for people reading through an article—and even more of a sense of movement for people skimming it.

Skimmable content has lots of breaks. Readers on the Web have short attention spans, and you have to work around that. The good news is that this is really easy to do. In fact, there are basically three things to keep in mind here.

First, you want to keep most of your sentences short. You don’t want them all to be short, or you’ll end up sounding like a robot. But you want about two thirds of them to be on the sort side.

If possible, it’s a good idea to break content up with visual elements (more on this below). Not only does it help a reader skim, but it also makes your content feel about a thousand times more interesting.

Finally, you want your paragraphs to be short. This is probably the most important one of the group, since some markets aren’t conducive to lots of images, and some markets require detailed, technical sentences. Paragraph length can make up for that. As a general rule, keep them under 5 lines.

You can also add tiny one-sentence paragraphs for emphasis.

Here’s a good example of all this stuff: I’ve always approached formatting from a best-practices standpoint, and these are habits I developed over 10 years of writing for the Web. I’ve never specifically tested formatting and skimmability, though.

If you want to see how drastically formatting can increase the value of a page, go read Gael Breton’s post about formatting on Authority Hacker. He increased the traffic to his page by a whopping 9,275% only by reformatting it.

Here are some more great examples of posts with excellent formatting from people who truly understand it (I just went to their blogs and grabbed random posts):

LESSON 3: Your tone should be casual, friendly and personal.

This is one of the reasons content services aren’t worth it.

It’s very difficult to achieve a truly personal tone unless you (or a great, dedicated writer) are writing the content. It’s also why you should spend time and money hiring a great writer.

And I’ve had plenty of arguments about this. Some people think that different markets require different types of writing. For example, say your site is about plumbing supplies. Don’t you just want to give the facts and get out of there? Who cares how personal your tone is?

In my experience, it absolutely does not matter what you’re talking about. It does not matter what you’re selling. It does not matter how much jargon your audience uses.

Someone talking to you like a friend is always going to be more engaging. I’d rather read a blog about plumbing supplies written by a funny plumber who comes across as genuine, friendly and trustworthy than a plumbing supplies blog written by a faceless, generic Fiverr writer. Wouldn’t you?

This is just sales, guys.

It’s building rapport. It’s empathy. It’s showing your audience there’s a human back here behind the curtain.

Plus, you’ll have a lot more fun writing this way.

Writing in this kind of tone is often just an approach—a feeling—than a bunch of rules. However, you do need to keep in mind that a good tone includes these elements:

  • Friendly
  • Respects the audience
  • Uses the first and second person (“I” and “you”)

Lots of the bloggers you probably already read are doing this, but if you want to see a really amazing example of impeccable tone, read Mr. Money Mustache’s blog. He takes something typically “boring” and makes it an absolute riot to read.

LESSON 4: Your writing should include strong, relevant, interesting visual elements—and especially calls to action.

Visual elements are one of the most important elements in any blog post.

Even in markets in which visual elements don’t seem as important, you should be including them. For example, our new authority site is in an extremely information-heavy market. Lots of data. Lots of dense, technical sources. We still try to pop in a couple great visual elements.

Why? First, great visual elements make you appear much more professional. Just a few elements instantly makes any blog post look like it’s been crafted with a lot more care than a text-only post—and this is especially true for elements that obviously took you time to create. It shows effort, and it makes you look like you do this for a living.

Secondly, it drastically boost engagement and sends quality signals to google. Adding good visual elements improves all kinds of good metrics, but especially time-on-site and bounce rate.

Here’s a list of good visual elements you can use (just make sure they make sense):

  • Featured images with text overlays
  • Product tables
  • Content boxes
  • Call outs
  • Video
  • Visual quotes and testimonials
  • Infographics
  • Charts and graphs
  • Maps
  • Image-based section dividers

Usually, unless your site is already making tons of money, no one blog post is going to be important enough to hire a designer. So you should use whichever of these (1) makes sense for your blog and (2) is easy for you to find and create.

For example, to create great featured images, just find buy a good stock image for a few bucks, pop it into PowerPoint, and add a few text boxes. For infographics, use a tool like Piktochart. For charts and graphs, either use Excel (Spencer’s favorite!) or find ones already created and credit the author.

For stuff like content boxes, product tables, visual quotes and testimonials, I usually use Thrive Content Builder. It’s literally drag-and-drop, and you only need one plugin.

Since I’d never be able to do it justice, here a video demo of some of the insane things you can create with Thrive Content Builder:

If you’re interested, the guys at Thrive set up a discount for Niche Pursuits readers here.

Before moving on, I want to make a quick note about calls to action. There are lots of different types of calls to action, and I’ve seen plain old links work really well. However, most of my hyper-successful colleagues are using more visual calls to action, like those above.

But you really have to test what works for you blog. For example, plain old text links seem to work really well for aPennyShaved, but pop-ups seem to work really well for sites like Quicksprout. You get the idea. You need them, but it’s something you’ll have to test, which brings us to our next lesson…

LESSON 5: A/B test the crap out of your pages—especially the profitable ones.

Admittedly, this is something I’m just learning about, but it’s already proving to be extremely powerful. I started to think about this way back in the day, when I was first look at all the data I was collecting from aPennyShaved.

I went into that project with all kinds of false assumptions. One small example was that images would produce more clicks than text links. In fact, that assumption was so ingrained into my thinking that I didn’t even consider testing it.

I found out I was wrong totally by accident.

Remember this post from Niche Site Project 2? If you scroll to the bottom, you find an image of a heatmap, which I installed on a total whim and out of complete curiosity. What I saw totally took me off guard…

APS Heatmap

Who would have thought people were clicking on text links in the tables! It seems stupid, but I was honestly dumbstruck. That was the first time I thought “Holy crap, I have to test this stuff!”

And I did.

I tested several different elements against each other and found what worked for my blog. And I ended up making a lot more money. I probably could have made a bunch more if I had realized the value of A/B testing basically everything on the page.

We’re going to release a podcast with Jock from Digital Exits. Jock makes a living buying or selling high-end sites (hundreds of thousands—or even millions—of dollars). When we were talking to Jock about what he does to improve sites that are already highly profitable, his answer was pretty simple: testing and optimizing for conversions.

In fact, he said that A/B testing and conversion optimizing is one of the highest-value activities you can do for any site.

And that makes sense, right? A/B testing allows you to make more money without adding content, building links or increasing traffic.

It’s a 100% in-house activity, and the ROI can be totally ridiculous.

Again, I’ve seen some great success from my own testing, but I’m not even remotely an expert. So, like a good internet marketer, I’ll just steal from the experts for my own benefit! Here’s a list of best practices from Dan Siroker, CEO of Optimizely, after running 177,000 A/B tests.

  • Define quantifiable success metrics (clicks, revenue per visitor, etc.)
  • Explore before you refine (basically, try crazy stuff even if you don’t think it will work because you never really know)
  • Reduce choices for visitors
  • Testing the words in calls to action have big impacts

If you want to watch the video I stole this from, you can do so here. I highly recommend it.

Usually, you want to be focusing your A/B testing on the most profitable pages. First, those pages probably have the most traffic, so you can test them faster and more efficiently. Second, it’s generally easy to build on something that’s already working than to figure out why something isn’t working.

When you do test those pages, you can (and should) test basically everything, including but not limited to this stuff:

  • Layout
  • Formatting
  • Calls to action
  • Tables
  • Pop-ups
  • Price

So how do you do it?

You’ll need some tools, of course. One easy tool is Optimizely. The major benefit of Optimizely is that it works for every site. It allows you total freedom in the testing phase, which can be very powerful. However, it’s $17 per month, and it doesn’t integrate with WordPress, since it’s mostly made for businesses who have in-house developers.

If you want to test for free, I recommend using Thrive Content Builder in conjunction with Google Analytics Experiments. If you’re not sure how to do that, watch this video.

And here are some excellent guides from people who know much more about this than I do:

LESSON 6: Be interesting at all costs.

I know, I know… I make it sound so easy. But it’s easier said than done, right? What if you’re just selling plumbing supplies.

You’re right. Being interesting is hard. And I’m not just saying that. It’s one of the things that takes the longest to develop as a professional writer.

But there are ways to (1) inherently increase the interesting-ness of any piece of content and (2) test to see if the article you just wrote actually is interesting.

In addition to everything we’ve talked about so far, here are some super simple tips to make any piece of content more interesting:

  • Add data. Data is always interesting as long as you’re not heaping it on. How many of you perked up when I mentioned above that Niche Pursuits increased its conversion rate by nearly 200%? That’s the power of data. Whether it’s a super interesting snippet or a big chart, it’s hard to go wrong with data.
  • Curate the opinion of experts. Odds are you’re not the foremost expert in blogging niche. None of us are. So go find those experts and quote them! Or link to their resources. Share their videos. Bringing in information from the best sources makes your article much more interesting. You can see I’ve done that a lot with this post.
  • Use personal anecdotes. Even if you’re not a true experts, people love to hear how other people think about things. And that’s easiest to get across with personal anecdotes. Anecdotes are tiny, self-contained story-example hybrids. I’ve used those a lot in this post, too. See if you can find them.
  • Asking great questions. Maybe you don’t have all the answers. Or maybe you only have some of the answers. You can be highly interesting if you ask a good question, especially if you ask your audience directly. Take a poll. Create a quiz. Ask for opinions. It’s definitely interesting.

If you’ve written a post, and you’ve used a bunch of those things, go back, look it over, and ask yourself: “Would I want to read this?”

A penny for your thoughts…

I’m just one guy, you know. There are plenty of people, especially in this audience, who have a lot more experience making money than I do. So chime in!

What do you guys think? What are your favorite content strategies?

The post 6 Ways to Create Content that Engages and Converts appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
http://www.nichepursuits.com/6-ways-create-content-engages-converts/feed/ 33
Podcast 51: How to Create and Launch Your Own Products with Shane Melaughhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/shane-melaugh-interview/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/shane-melaugh-interview/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 22:27:19 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4889 Today, I’m excited to share with you the interview that Perrin and I did with Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes. Shane is someone that has been involved in the internet marketing space for a number of years and has seen … Continued

The post Podcast 51: How to Create and Launch Your Own Products with Shane Melaugh appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
Today, I’m excited to share with you the interview that Perrin and I did with Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes.

Shane is someone that has been involved in the internet marketing space for a number of years and has seen a lot of success.  In fact, he’s been entrepreneurial his entire life and by his own admission is probably “unemployable” at a traditional job.

Not only has he found a way to bring money in the door, but he’s become very good at creating products and building great businesses.

Perrin and I actually wanted to interview Shane because we first started using the Thrive Content builder.  We’ve been extremely impressed with how robust the WordPress tools are, but also how simple they are to use.

We decided to contact Shane after using his product and interview him about how he created and marketed Thrive themes. What you will find in this interview are the steps Shane takes to find great products ideas even in competitive markets (like WordPress tools is), how to launch these products, and how to continue to sell after the launch is completed.

Special Offer

I asked Shane if he would be willing to give my audience a special discount on Thrive Themes, and he agreed.  So, for the next 7 days, Thrive Themes is at a discounted price that you cannot get anywhere else.

To see what Thrive themes are all about and to see the discount, go here.

Podcast Overview

Below are most of the questions asked.  I jotted down the brief answers if you do not have time to listen to the entire podcast.  However, please be aware that there was more covered in the podcast and much more nuance than what is written down here.

Why did you get started as an entrepreneur?

Shane has always been interested in building things.  He wanted to build something that mattered.  And in fact he’s been involved in creating businesses since a young age and all throughout college.

He also realized that he wasn’t really employable.  He usually lost his jobs.

For this reason, almost out of necessity, he knew that he needed to make a living through business. The first time he made a commission online, he was ecstatic.

What was your first online business that supported you full-time?

His first successful online business was affiliate sites and doing ecommerce on eBay.

What kind of success are you having today?

Shane is now making all of his money from selling his own products.

Thrive Themes is his latest project.  They have over 5,000 customers and its growing at a good pace.

Almost all of the new products he’s created have been more successful than the previous one.

Potential success of affiliate sites vs. your own products?

The product business can be so much more successful.  Shane never really did more than 5 figures a month with small affiliate sites.

However, he’s now had six-figure product launches.

Why did you get into the WordPress tools business even though it’s so competitive?

Shane sees competition as a good thing.  This means there’s people spending money in the market.

He feels like he can go out and create something that is of a higher quality than existing products, even in a competitive market.  That’s always been his goal, to put in more work and create a better product than existing offerings.

In addition, for WordPress in particular, you can’t just look at the overall market.  You need to narrow what part of the market you are actually targeting.  As long as you can find a clear difference from other products in your chosen niche, you can make your mark.

Thrive content builder is a perfect example because it removes all the extra steps in the visual content editing steps when compared with the existing competition.

What type of marketing have you done to make Thrive themes so successful?

Affiliate marketing is one of the biggest marketing avenues they use.

Shane and his team put together big launches.  Basically for a certain period of time the product is available at a discounted price.

A big part of this is recruiting affiliates.  Shane approaches anyone that has written reviews of similar products or affiliate that have promoted his products in the past.

He will just reach out to them via email, and it’s a numbers game.

A launch is such a great way to kick off a product.  He wants the product to be evergreen and around for the long term.  The initial launch can give momentum that can keep the ball rolling.

For example, a launch that he did 4 years ago is still getting daily traffic…despite the fact that he removed the product 2 years ago!

How many potential affiliates do you approach?

Shane currently has about 2,000 affiliates on a mailing list that have promoted his products in the past.  So, he lets that existing list know.

Other than that it’s closer to 60 to 100 messages to attract another 20 or so larger affiliates.  So, 20 affiliates could have a HUGE impact.

What sort of discounts do you recommend for a launch?

If a discount is too big, it loses credibility.  Usually, Shane gives a discount of up to 30%, and very rarely up to 50%.

And after the launch, the price always just goes up as the product improves.

What do you use to manage and pay affiliates?

Currently Shane uses iDev a self-hosted solution, but he’s not real happy with it.  He’s also knows the owner of Zaxaa.com and its supposed to be a good solution hosted solution.

After a launch, what do you do for ongoing marketing?

They continue to add value on the product side. They get into a feedback loop by letting customers try out new features earlier and implement ideas from customers.

Another marketing tactic that works very well, is webinars for affiliates.  A live webinar tends to keep people’s attention for much longer as well.

What’s the most that you’ve made on one webinar?

On just webinar they were able to make $16k during the actual webinar.

What other tactics should people use to market their ideas other than using affiliates?

First, people with an idea need to act.  Too many people are often take too long to release their products.

Shane believes strongly in the lean startup model.

Shane’s challenge to listeners:

If you have a product idea, Shane believes you should set a deadline in 3 weeks from now to release something.  What’s the most minimal and still useful idea that you can release?  Figure that out, take action, and release something in 3 weeks.

What is Thrive Themes and what are the biggest benefits?

Their aim is to create tools that are conversion focused.  The tools that they create to accomplish this are WordPress themes and plugins.

Shane struggled for a long time to find WordPress themes and plugins that just got out of the way to allow you to create the website that converts like you want.

For example, the Thrive Content builder is a visual content editor for WordPress, but you don’t have to do it in the backend; you literally just look at your website and drop in buttons, actions, text, or whatever you want.

They also have several pre-built landing page templates and sales page templates.  This is all out of the box ready to use and looks professional.

Where can people follow along with you?

ThriveThemes.com is where Shane is right now.

Shane’s final thoughts:

Just pull the trigger and get something out the door.  Give yourself a 3 week deadline and just put something out there.  You have to do it to start getting some kind of momentum.

My Thoughts

Overall, I always find it interesting to hear how others are creating and marketing their products.  Shane has found a model that works very well in the internet marketing space, and I do believe much of this can be applied in other markets as well.

Shane also gave everyone listening a challenge and I hope some of you will take him up on that!  If you have an idea for a product, give yourself a 3 week deadline to launch SOMETHING!  We’d love to hear what your results are in 3 weeks.

Let us know in the comments if you decide to take this challenge.

In addition, Thrive themes is a product that Perrin and I are currently using for our authority project website…and we like it!

If you interested in checking out Thrive Themes at a special discounted price, go right here.

As always, I’d love to hear any thoughts or questions that you have in the comments section below.

The post Podcast 51: How to Create and Launch Your Own Products with Shane Melaugh appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
http://www.nichepursuits.com/shane-melaugh-interview/feed/ 16 marketing,product launch,shane melaugh,thrive themes Today, I'm excited to share with you the interview that Perrin and I did with Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes. - Shane is someone that has been involved in the internet marketing space for a number of years and has seen a lot of success.  In fact, Today, I'm excited to share with you the interview that Perrin and I did with Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes.Shane is someone that has been involved in the internet marketing space for a number of years and has seen a lot of success.  In fact, he's... Niche Pursuits no 55:47
How I Used 1 Blog Post to Find and Hire an Excellent Employee for Long Tail Prohttp://www.nichepursuits.com/used-1-blog-post-find-hire-excellent-employee-software-business/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/used-1-blog-post-find-hire-excellent-employee-software-business/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 19:11:52 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4875 Long Tail Pro is a great business that I started almost 4 years ago. I’ve put in a great deal of time and effort growing the revenue to where it is today (not an insignificant amount).  However, as I always … Continued

The post How I Used 1 Blog Post to Find and Hire an Excellent Employee for Long Tail Pro appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
Long Tail Pro is a great business that I started almost 4 years ago.

I’ve put in a great deal of time and effort growing the revenue to where it is today (not an insignificant amount).  However, as I always have multiple projects going on (niche sites, authority site project, and more) I’ve hit a wall for how much more time I can personally put into growing the business.

I needed help.

After considering the pros and cons of bringing in a full-time employee to help me grow the business, I finally pulled the trigger and hired someone.

Today, I want to share how I used a simple blog post to attract and eventually hire my first full-time employee for my software company.  And of course, I want to introduce you to that new hire as well!

How I Started My Hunt

I had several different routes I could have gone to find a new employee.  LinkedIn, recruiter, online job boards, hiring agencies, or other avenues could have been used.

However, I really wanted to find someone that understood the culture of Long Tail Pro, NichePursuits.com, and me.  I wanted someone that was already familiar with the software and had used it on a regular basis.

In addition, I knew that my own email list and blog readers would be the best fit for that criteria.  So, I made the decision to post the job opening with a simple blog post and email my list.

You can read the original post about the job opening here.

I wasn’t sure how many applicants I would get or what the quality of them would be.  However, I had some precedent for this as I found Perrin (my full-time employee for Niche Pursuits projects), through an application process through my blog as well.

So, how did it go?

Within 48 hours I was overwhelmed with nearly 100 applicants!

How to Pick the Qualified Applicants

With so many applicants, I needed a process for narrowing down who I would actually interview.  I decided to make the application a 3 step process:

  1. Answer first set of questions (original application) via email
  2. Answer some additional questions via email
  3. Interview via Skype

The first step in the applications process was to answer these 2 questions:

  • Why are you and your experiences a good fit for this position?
  • How would you use networking and outreach to grow the Long Tail Pro business?

Getting past the first step was fairly straight forward, if the applicant followed the directions and the English was readable and there was at least some small inkling that I thought you could handle the job, I sent the second set of questions.

About 30 to 40 people out of the 100 applicants made it to step 2.  These are the questions I sent in step 2 of the application process:

  1. A big part of the job will be producing original posts for the LongTailPro.com blog and other posts as a guest.  Can you please come up with 3 original blog post titles that would be a good fit on the LongTailPro.com blog?  We are just looking for the titles only…so please make it relevant, intriguing, and overall something that would be shareable and desirable to be read by the target audience.
  2. Can you share specific online examples of networking you’ve done or links you’ve acquired through outreach?
  3. Can you share a link to one or two articles that you’ve written that you are most proud of and displays your writing skills?
  4. Please submit your resume or link to your LinkedIn profile if it’s mostly complete.

Based on those 4 questions, I decided to interview 8 people.

I just want to say how difficult some of these decisions were!  I was blown away by how many excellent candidates applied and were interested in working with me.

As we conducted the interviews (Perrin was on the interview calls with me), it seemed like each interviewee was better than the previous one.

In fact, some of the applicants were people that had been following my blog for a couple years and I had interacted with them through blog comments and emails previously.  I felt like I already knew several of the final applicants and knew that a few of them would be a great fit.

At the end of the day, I had to make a decision based on the overall qualifications, body of work submitted by each applicant, and overall fit with Perrin and I.

The decision was not easy, but I am SO happy with the person I hired as the new Brand Manager for Long Tail Pro!

Say Hello to Jake!

jake

I would like to introduce you to Jake Cain, Brand Manager and Director of Marketing for Long Tail Pro!

Jake’s first day on the job officially was November 4th.  He has already brought a lot of fresh ideas and I’m excited about the future of my business with Jake on board.

Today, I wanted to give you a chance to meet Jake and get to know him a bit.  After all, he’s now an integral part of my business.

So, with that I am going to let introduce himself in his own words.  Here’s Jake:

Hey everybody! I’m excited to have this opportunity to work with Spencer and Perrin to help grow the Long Tail Pro brand!

I’ve lived in Cincinnati my entire life, except for the 4 years I spent at the prestigious Lee University in Cleveland, TN. My wife and I have 3 boys that are ages 3 and under. {Insert your joke about how crazy we are here}.

When I didn’t have kids, I thought that building successful websites was challenging. After all, you had to design, create, and research around a full-time job and a social life. As a parent, I’ve learned that doing keyword research is even more challenging with a small human hanging from your neck.

Jake

Keyword Research in My House

I started my first website in 2008 after taking a baseball road trip with my dad. The site was focused on helping people save money when they go to Major League games.

I learned a lot from that experience and some time later began reading Spencer’s blog and purchased Long Tail Pro. Since then, I’ve had a few other sites that have been successful and have found that I really enjoy the entire process of starting a website and watching it grow.

When Spencer posted a job opening for Long Tail Pro, it was a no-brainer for me. I had a great job, but the opportunity to do something you love and work with someone you really respect is something that doesn’t come along often.

I’m a big believer in the power of long tail keywords because I’ve seen it work first-hand. However, I know that the average small business owner has no idea what a long tail keyword is and how it can help grow their business. So I’m not working for LTP as a tech wiz on the cutting edge of the SEO industry. Instead, I’m here to communicate the message of internet marketing, and more specifically long tail keywords, in a simple, practical way.

We want new entrepreneurs and small business owners to “get it” and then show how Long Tail Pro can help them take the next step.

With that goal in mind, check out my latest post “What is a Keyword? What it Means for Your Business.” If you are reading this and are still figuring everything out, I encourage you to follow along with us at the Long Tail Pro blog and follow us on Twitter.

Your Thoughts

Overall, I’m thrilled to have Jake as part of my team now.  Not only has he already gotten a couple of great blog posts up on the Long Tail Pro blog, but he also managed to gain control of the @longtailpro twitter account that someone else had been squatting on for a long time. Woot!

Perrin, Jake, and I do our strategy calls together and it sure doesn’t feel like work to me at least.

I don’t know if using your own email list or blog will work as well to hire your first employee, but its worked exceptionally well for me.

Thanks again for following along in my journey as I grow my software business.  If you have any thoughts or questions that you’d like to discuss, let me know.  Otherwise, I hope you’ll at least welcome Jake as the newest member of my team.  Thanks!

The post How I Used 1 Blog Post to Find and Hire an Excellent Employee for Long Tail Pro appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
http://www.nichepursuits.com/used-1-blog-post-find-hire-excellent-employee-software-business/feed/ 42
The Statistical Impact of Recording a Weekly Podcasthttp://www.nichepursuits.com/statistical-impact-recording-weekly-podcast/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/statistical-impact-recording-weekly-podcast/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 17:20:17 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4843 I’ve had quite the journey with my podcast. I started recording the Niche Pursuits Podcast on April 23rd, 2012.  I’ll be honest, that I didn’t put a lot of thought or effort into recording my podcast. I started publishing a … Continued

The post The Statistical Impact of Recording a Weekly Podcast appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
I’ve had quite the journey with my podcast.

I started recording the Niche Pursuits Podcast on April 23rd, 2012.  I’ll be honest, that I didn’t put a lot of thought or effort into recording my podcast.

I started publishing a podcast simply because it was something that other people were having success with and felt like was a natural extension of my blog.  I thought if it could bring a few new readers to my blog, then great!

I had no publishing schedule.  I had no grand vision.  I don’t even think I had a good microphone.  But I did have a professional voice-over from Fiverr!!  So, that should make up for everything…right?

Despite my lack of vision and effort, my podcast did…okay.

A few months ago, I started debating whether I should even continue my podcast.  I unintentionally started a hot debate about whether or not people should start a podcast with that post.

In fact, I got an epic 2 hour tongue lashing from the mighty Cliff Ravenscraft on his podcast on why I was wrong.

Cliff can be very convincing with his level headed statements, witting banter, and hug-able personality.  As a result, I decided to not only continue recording my podcast, but to get on a WEEKLY schedule!

I began with renewed vigor recording my podcast starting on May 9th, 2014 with Episode 28.  Through the end of October, I have now released a podcast each week for the past 22 weeks and reached my 50th episode overall.

I want to take moment to pat myself on the back for that accomplishment of 22 weeks!  You have not idea what a monumental task that is until you realize most of that was during the summer when I had all 4 children at home rather than in school.

I released podcasts while we were on vacation.  I had to shew my family away and lock them out of the house (but only if my wife gave me permission :) ).  In fact, there were a few moments that live recording had to be stopped and edited out due to “family” circumstances.

So, after releasing an episode for 22 straight weeks, was it worth it?  Did my audience grow?  What was the overall impact on my business?

Today, I’m going to dive into the stats and of course share my thoughts on what happened in my business after I started recording my podcast on a weekly basis.

The Podcast Numbers

I have plenty of number to share today, so straighten your bifocals and tighten those suspenders because it’s about to get nerdy up in here.

As mentioned, I released a new podcast episode for 22 weeks from May 9th to October 28th.  This will be important to remember as we start looking at the numbers.

First, let’s look at how many downloads the Niche Pursuits podcast was getting before May 2014.

Daily Numbers – April 2012 to April 2014

libsyndaily

Here’s the same time frame in monthly totals:

412-414

As you can see from the trend lines, my podcast was indeed growing at a slow rate for the first 2 years of its existence.

Average Downloads Prior to Change – 7,626

Overall, the average number of downloads per month I was achieving from April 2012 to April 2014 was 7,626.  This is either really impressive or not impressive at all depending on who you talk to or compare to.

Let’s just say it hadn’t changed my life yet.

Now let’s take a look at my downloads after I started publishing a weekly podcast starting in April 2014.

Daily Downloads – April 2014 to October 2014

414-oct

I left the stats from April 2014 in the above screenshot to show the increase that started when I began the weekly episodes.

Here’s the same time frame in monthly totals:

monthly4-14

As you can see, clearly the number of downloads have increased significantly.  I wouldn’t call it a mind blowing increase, but still a nice increase for sure in downloads and listens.

Average Downloads After Change to Weekly – 19,106

So, my average number of monthly podcast downloads before the change to weekly episodes was 7,626 and after the change it increased to an average of 19,106

So, I’m now getting over 2.5 times as many downloads per month as I was before!

Now, let me show you the entire stats from beginning to end to give you a clearer picture of what is going on.

Here’s the daily downloads from the inception of my podcast until end of October 2014:

totaldaily

You can clearly see the permanently increase that came after May 2014 when I started releasing the weekly episodes.

Here’s the monthly stats since the life of my podcast:

allmonthly

What are the Business Results?

Overall, the number of downloads are way up and significantly so since I started releasing a weekly episode.

However, as you may have guessed, I want to dig a bit deeper about what this all means.

I’m a numbers guy, and I want the numbers to tell me how the podcast is impacting my business.  As I mentioned 6 months ago in my why you should not start a podcast post, it’s not easy to get a direct correlation between podcast downloads and business income.

Did the traffic to NichePursuits.com increase? No.

Overall, I have not noticed any increased traffic to my blog due to my podcast.  In fact, my traffic has been fairly consistent for the past several months (I should probably try harder to improve that…).

npmonthly

I included March and April 2014 to show a couple months before the weekly podcast.  The amount of visitors to NichePursuits.com has been about the same every month.

September did see an usual spike in traffic to my blog.  But that was directly due to the blog post I wrote about PBNs, which gained quite a bit of popularity and mentions.

Did I make more sales of Long Tail Pro or anything else? No.

The short answer is no.  I have not seen any impact on the bottom line of my business due to increased sales of Long Tail Pro or anything else that I can tie to my increased podcast downloads.

The traffic to LongTailPro.com has been fairly consistent as well with no increase due to my podcast.

Did my podcast jump in the rankings on iTunes?  No.

I don’t have the exact ranking of my podcast on the management and marketing Itunes page; however, I know from memory that it was ranked around position 155 or so.

Now my podcast is ranked 142 on that page (as of today).  So, I’ve moved up 10 or 15 spots, but I wouldn’t call it a jump in the rankings.

Did it Improve My Business?

I’m trying to reconcile all the effort and the clear increase in number of downloads to what the impact has been on my bottom line.  At this time, I can’t find any solid numbers that I can point to and say, “Look, that improved my business!”

However, I’ve continued to realize more and more that a podcast audience is very different than a blog audience.  Some people may never read my blog that listen to my podcast all the time.

Podcast statistics and conversions are just harder to track by nature.  In fact, I may never know how many sales I can tie back to my podcast or how many email subscribers I gained from the recordings.

2 Positive Impacts on My Business

One thing that having a podcast is definitely good for is networking and building relationships with readers.

Because I have a podcast, I can reach out to virtually anyone and ask to interview them (like Neil Patel and Rank Fishkin).  They almost always say yes.

This is a less tangible results usually.  So far I’ve networked with some great people and learned from them by asking whatever business question I want.

I don’t see sales directly from these…just yet.  Depending on the relationship, these are people that I may stay in touch with and eventually do a business deal with.

I was able to meet up with Jordan Harbinger from the Art of Charm at Rhodium Weekend a few weeks ago, and he spoke on the power and importance of networking in business.

I agree, that tremendous things can happen when connecting and building real relationships with people.  This is one of the biggest tangible benefits of running a podcast for me.

The second positive impact is allows listeners to get to know me better; which builds trust.  Again, there is no trust meter out there for me to look at, so it’s tough to know if I’m building better relationships with my audience.

However, I do know that many people are listening to my entire episodes which last up to an hour sometimes.  This is much more time than people spend on my blog on average (a few minutes usually).

Again, its somewhat of a soft metric, but I know that people are listening to me for longer periods and that builds trust.

In addition, I have heard back from several people both in person and via email that have stated that they either found me through my podcast or thoroughly enjoy my podcast and hope that I keep it up.

Is it Worth It?

So, these are some great benefits and perhaps enough for me to carry on.  However, am I crazy to wonder, Is a weekly podcast still worth it?

Perhaps my overarching flaw has always been to think that having a podcast would increase the traffic to my blog or increase the overall sales of my core business.

At this point, I can’t point to any stats that show me that my income has increased due to my podcast.

I can point to increased downloads and clearly people are enjoying the podcast.  I can point to additional relationships built with both industry leaders and my audience.

But the stats junkie in me is struggling to see the direct impact to my business.

Don’t get me wrong though, I DO believe that the podcast is building my overall personal brand.  I do think that overall the long term impact on how people view me and my personal brand has been greatly enhanced by having my podcast.

However, if I start to think about my podcast as a separate entity from my blog; perhaps that is the more interesting discussion.

Podcast Listeners are a Different Audience

First of all, I’m fairly convinced that the die hard podcast subscriber is a different audience than the die hard blog reader.  I have 2 audiences.  Yes, there is some overlap…but I think its a healthy discussion to think about them separately.

When I start to think about them as 2 audiences, then I realize that I’ve actually asked my podcast audience to do very little.  I usually mention my blog at the beginning of the podcast, but I rarely ask them to take any kind of action.

I have no calls to action for my own products.

I have no advertisements or sponsorships in the podcast.

I haven’t asked my podcast audience to really do anything!

After all, when you look at some of the bigger podcasts in my niche like Entrepreneur on Fire, Ask Pat, or Mixergy they are monetizing the podcasts with sponsorships.

Perhaps I should be doing the same thing if I want to see a direct impact on my bottom line with this part of my business.

As you can see, after 2 years of running my podcast, I’m still not 100% sure how it fits into my business or even if its had a significant impact on my business at all.

I have plenty of indirect evidence that it has led to more business from emails, blog comments, and others that I’ve talked to; but unfortunately, these “sales” don’t really show up in any statistics that I can check.

At the end of the day, I’m extremely pleased that my downloads numbers have increased since I start doing a weekly podcast, now I just need to figure out what to do with all the additional listeners.

Plans Going Forward

As you can see, I actually took last week off from releasing a podcast episode.  After 22 straight weeks, I decided to take a break and do some analysis on what the impact has been.

Now that I’ve analyzed the numbers and shared those results with you, I will indeed continue on with my podcast.

Will I release a weekly episode?  Probably a good portion of the time; however, I’m going to feel free to take weeks off whenever I need a breather.  If I start to see some real earnings or other stats that show me the podcast is increasing my bottom line, then I will get even more ambitious about doing weekly episodes.

I can now clearly see that I have a large podcast audience, and they are different from my blog audience.  The podcast is a standalone business in a way; and if I want to make money from it, I need to change my approach.

Because of this, I will start exploring sponsorships, advertisements, or other ways to monetize my podcast.  This will be an ongoing experiment.  This may be as simple as doing a better job of trying to direct people to my email list or blog.  Or it could be more involved such as offering special discounts on products or booking sponsorships for the show.

Right now the stats are telling me that my podcast is growing; but it’s not directly impacting the success of my business.  Yes, perhaps it IS impacting my business in a big way with higher trust and relationships I’ve built; however, I have very little hard evidence that I can point to that proves that is the case.

Overall, the Niche Pursuits podcast will carry on!

The stats are telling me that I’m doing something right, but perhaps I need to pivot slightly to make the impact greater.

I share all these stats and my open internal thoughts to hopefully benefit you.  I’m a real person that struggles with many of the same issues that you may be having in your business.  Both of us need to decide where our time is best spent and what is having the greatest impact in our business.  I struggle with those questions just like everyone else.

I’d love to hear any thoughts, comments, or questions that you might have below.

The post The Statistical Impact of Recording a Weekly Podcast appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
http://www.nichepursuits.com/statistical-impact-recording-weekly-podcast/feed/ 62
Authority Keyword Research Tutorial [with Video!] + SEM Rush Reviewhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/sem-rush-review-authority-keyword-research-tutorial-video/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/sem-rush-review-authority-keyword-research-tutorial-video/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 18:50:27 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4822 A while back, we made a major mindset shift—not to mention a major strategy shift in our business. We started moving away from creating lots of smaller niche sites and started focusing on one bigger “authority” site. A lot of … Continued

The post Authority Keyword Research Tutorial [with Video!] + SEM Rush Review appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
A while back, we made a major mindset shift—not to mention a major strategy shift in our business. We started moving away from creating lots of smaller niche sites and started focusing on one bigger “authority” site.

A lot of you guys started making that change, too. Some of you, like me, were hit with the PBN penalties that have been floating around, and you now want to create sites the “right” way. Many of you also realized that the profit potential is just much, much higher with authority sites than it is with smaller sites, and, to be honest, this was our primary motivation (we’re in it to win it after all!).

However, building an authority site is different than churning out dozens of niche sites. I’m not trying to scare you off here; in fact, Spencer mentioned in a recent post, “Welcome to the Authority Site Project!” that lot of stuff you’ll be doing if you build an authority site will be exactly the same.

That said, most activities will need to be tweaked. Most of the time, at the very least, the activities will need to be scaled. And nowhere is that more true than in keyword research.

In fact, I’d wager that since we’ve started focusing on one large site, the most common question we get is: How do I do keyword research for an authority site?

So today I’m going to show you. Ready?

How is keyword research different for authority sites?

I think the best way to describe keyword research for authority sites v.s. niche sites is that it’s both exactly the same and totally different.

It’s exactly the same because you’re going to be looking for all of the same data points (most of the time). But it’s different because you have to have a much more robust content strategy, and you’ll have to use a few more tools instead of just slapping some seed keywords into Long Tail Pro, grabbing the first 15 decent keywords you see, and writing articles around them.

In other words, here’s what you’re probably going to need to change when doing keyword research for an authority site:

  • You’ll need many, many more keywords. Before we ever started writing for our authority site, we had nearly 1,000 keywords. You should at least have 100.
  • You’ll have to have a much, much deeper understanding of your competitor’s keyword research and content strategies. And you’ll probably end up appropriating a lot of it.
  • A few bigger keywords. With a larger site, in the long term, you’ll be able to go after a few big targets. You’ll want to identify those targets early and write the articles as part of your launch, so they can have a year or two to age.
  • Content strategy. You’ll need to drastically expand your content strategy to incorporate different categories, types of content, linkable assets and social content. You’ll need to keep this in mind while researching, and your keywords and content strategy should be shaping each other.
  • Different tools. As much of a Long Tail Pro fanboy as I am, it’s not a Swiss army knife. You’ll need to combine Long Tail Pro with some other tools if you want to do truly authoritative keyword research. Mostly, we’ll be using SEM Rush.

Get a Free Trial of SEM Rush Here

The Basic Strategy

This is my basic strategy for finding 100+ keywords for an authority site. And I mean really basic. There’s obviously a lot that goes into keyword research at this level, but this should give you a rough idea. I really hope this section isn’t too boring, since a lot of this stuff is going to be rehashing a few of the keyword research techniques you already know. So, as much as I’m able, I’m going to avoid that. Here goes.

1. Draft rough categories for your site.

Before you start researching, you’ll want to draft some rough categories for your authority site. The number of categories you’ll have will likely be a derivative of how big your market is. Our market happens to be huge, so we only have two main categories (for money articles, anyway). In fact, we started with three “money” categories, but we had to trim it down because the first two were just yielding too many keywords.

If, say, you want to create an authority site about dogs, you might have categories on training, breeds, toys and veterinary care. Or whatever. You get the idea.

If you’re having trouble coming up with different categories, it may be an indication that you need to think a bit broader. For example, if your idea is to create a site around Smith Corona typewriters, you might have trouble coming up with a bunch of sub-categories. In that case, you could expand your site to cover all vintage typewriters and include categories on typewriter brands, typewriter repair, typewriter parts and typing technique.

I also want to note here that your categories might change as you dig into your keyword research and see what people are actually searching for, ranking for, and making money off of. In fact, it almost certainly will. Our authority site is structured totally different than I thought it would be.

These categories will be the beginning of your content strategy (which I’ll probably cover in another blog post).

And, listen: they don’t have to be super tight. They just have to roughly make sense. Here’s an example from Field & Stream, who has categories on hunting, fishing, survival, guns & gear.

If you want to see a successful site that uses categories that make even less sense, look at this old school site, which has categories for guns, motorcycles, military history, fishing, and astronomy. Oh, and SEM Reports that this site gets a few hundred thousand organic visits per day.

To be clear, I think your categories should make a lot more sense than that. I just wanted to illustrate that your categories won’t make or break your success, so you shouldn’t be afraid to cast your net a little wider than you think.

2. Get a first batch of keywords from Long Tail Pro.

I’m not going to dive into this too much. We’ve covered Long Tail Pro keyword research in detail a bunch in the past, so if you’re curious about that, feel free to check out a few of our old posts:

I do want to add, however, that you’ll want to adjust your data thresholds here. By that, I mean that if you’re going to build a large site, it’s much more okay to go for keywords with higher competition or lower search volume. Of course, you want to find as many great keywords as you can, but you can give yourself a little more leeway with a big site.

To illustrate, if I was building a laser-focused, 15-page niche site, like we used to do in the old days, I’d try to find keywords that hit these minimum metrics:

  • Local monthly search volume (LMS): 200-800
  • Keyword competitiveness (KC): 30 or below
  • CPC: $0.50
  • Advertiser competition: High
  • One primary keyword with: KC15-30, 4000+ LMS, etc.

I’d also be generally checking to make sure there weren’t too many root domains or exact-match titles in the SERPs, and I’d probably shy away from keywords that showed a lot of high-PA pages or a lot of old pages.

With an authority site, you can usually be a lot more lenient because (1) you’re going to be going after a lot more keywords, so you’ll snag a much higher volume of “accidental” long-tails, and (2) your site’s going to have a lot more authority, so you’ll be much more likely to rank for bigger keywords.

Here are the metrics I look for in keywords for an authority site:

  • LMS: Anything over 100
  • KC: Anything under 40

And that’s it! Of course, when I sit down to actually hammer out my content strategy and editorial calendar, you can bet I’ll be prioritizing the best keywords and writing those first. However, you shouldn’t be scared of slightly more difficult keywords. Your site should be able to handle it in the long run.

As for the number of keywords you should be looking for, just get as many as you can based on whatever search modifiers (e.g. “Best [X],” “Where to buy [X]”) work for your market. I’d wage most sites can easily find a few hundred keywords with Long Tail Pro alone.

3. Combine SEM Rush with Long Tail Pro to find keywords that are working well for your competition.

This is probably the single most important keyword research technique in building authority sites. Here’s why.

SEM Rush is a tool that allows you to access a bunch of data on virtually any website. You can see paid traffic, organic traffic, backlinks, and a whole host of other stuff, including… the keywords they rank for! Currently, SEM Rush is the only tool (that I know of) that can do this.

And it’s very, very valuable.

Why? Well, when you set out the build an authority site, you’re not just throwing up some content and hoping to attract some Google traffic. You are trying to be a player in a market. And if you’re going to be a player in any market, the first and most valuable step is to understand the competition.

And that’s even more important with keyword research. Why? Because if you understand your competitions keywords and content strategy, you’ll have a never-ending supply of keywords and content ideas that you know are already making money for someone else.

Looking at your competition’s keywords can also sometimes be more accurate that looking at the data from Long Tail Pro only, since some keywords that might look hard might actually not be too difficult when you really start slugging it out in the SERPs. And some of those can be pretty profitable.

If you outline good categories, find a good batch of initial keywords in Long Tail Pro, and then combine SEM Rush with Long Tail Pro to find your competition’s profitable keywords, it should be relatively easy to come up with 500+ keywords for your authority site and organize them according to their projected profitability.

How to use SEM Rush & Long Tail Pro to siphon your competition’s best keywords

Alright, folks. Let’s dive into this amazing keyword research tool combo, which, if you wield it correctly, is basically like having a keyword research super power. Of course, if you’re tired of reading, you can just watch the video below.

Here’s what you do.

1. Find a few “seed” competitors.

The first thing you’ll want to do is find a few “seed” competitors, since you have to plug something into SEM Rush to get any use out of it.

There are a lot of ways to find competitors, and, ideally, you’ll know your niche well enough to just rattle a few off the top of your head. If you don’t know, here’s one way of finding them.

Usually, you’ll want to look for about 3-5 medium-sized competitors and 3-5 large competitors.

To find medium-sized competitors, take some seed keyword that blogs in your niche would be likely to rank for and type it into google (it usually doesn’t even have to be that well-researched). Turn on MozBar. Scroll through the results and look for any blog that has a domain authority (DA) between 40 and 50. Open five or six of them. Then, look for a few sites that have really high DA (over 60), and open them.

In this example, I used the seed keyword “best hunting rifle.” I have no idea how competitive that keyword is; I just figured hunting blogs might want to rank for it.

P.S. If you’re wondering why I’m using hunting rifles, it’s because you can’t buy them on Amazon! Hopefully, I’ll avoid the inevitable tsunami of enterprising Niche Pursuits readers “leveraging” my keyword research for their benefit!

You’ll want to look for sites that have blogs and have a lot of content. You’re going to be looking for keywords, after all. So bigger is better.

However, you want to stay away from blogs that are going to be ranking for a lot of eCommerce keywords, so, as a general rule, steer clear of ecommerce stores. I’ll sometimes use an eCommerce store as a seed competitor if it has a very large blog; you just want to be sure you’re not skewing your own results by looking at eCommerce pages.

2. Start plugging those sites into SEM Rush to find more competitors.

Now that you have a few seed competitors, you can plug them into SEM Rush to find even more competitors. Really, the competitor maps are one of my favorite features of SEM Rush. If you have a market and a few seed competitors, it does basically all of the heavy lifting for you.

Check out this example. Here, I plugged in American Hunter, a medium-to-large-sized blog with a DA of 43 and about 15,000 visits/day.

To find their competitors, I first made sure I clicked “Overview” on the left-hand column.

Get a Free Trial of SEM Rush Here

And then I scrolled down to the bottom, where you’ll find a list of the site’s main competitors and the competition map.

How cool is that? I love, love, love this feature in SEM Rush. It just makes it so easy to find a really robust list of competitors. You’ll also notice that in the competitor map, you can see the relative sizes of the competitors according to how much traffic they have, which is super useful, since, if you’re having trouble finding keywords, you’ll want to know which blogs are bigger (and will thus be ranking for more keywords).

Here’s what you want to end up with: a list of five medium sized competitors and a few large competitors. However, and this is really important, you’ll want to start with the medium-sized folks first. Why? Because you’ll hopefully be able to achieve a similar authority as the medium competitors, so you’ll have about the same shot of ranking for those keywords. Big players rank for tougher keywords easier, so you’ll want to keep them in your back pocket until you have more authority.

Ideally, the competitors you find will be ranking for some different keywords, but they’ll have some overlap, too (you can see the overlap in the main competitors section under “Common Keywords”; see the screenshot above). This is a good sign, since you want to be sure these sites really are succeeding in the same market, but you want to maximize your potential keyword list.

When you have a list of competitors, you can go ahead and start sifting through their keywords!

3. Start digging through your competition’s keywords!

To me, this is the fun part. In SEM Rush, you’ll be able to see a huge list of all the keywords your competitor is ranking for. Even cooler, you’ll be able to see which keywords are bringing them the most traffic!

And that is incredibly useful, since you’ll almost certainly see that some of the keywords they’re ranking “poorly” for will still be generating great traffic. Those are the ones you may have passed on in Long Tail Pro because they looked too tough but are actually pretty profitable.

Here’s how you do it.

First, click on “Organic Research” in the left sidebar. Then, click on “Positions.” This will show you a list of all the keywords.

This is what you’ll see…

Free Trial of SEM Rush Here

There are a few things to note here. First, with a site of this size (and it isn’t even a huge site, really), you probably get thousands of keywords. Here, there are 3,822 keywords you could analyze. You’ll almost never need to go through all of them. The point is that finding 100 keywords should seem a lot easier about now!

However, I also understand that looking at that many keywords can seem daunting. Don’ sweat it. It’s typically pretty easy to sort out the good from the bad.

Here’s what I look for:

Keywords with good metrics in Long Tail Pro. If a site is ranking decently for a keyword, pop it into the “Competition Analysis” section of Long Tail Pro and take a look at the detailed data for that keyword. Remember, you can be a lot more lenient with keywords for an authority site, so you mostly just want to check to see if the KC looks good and there’s not a ton of eCommerce stores in the results. If you don’t want to do this with every keyword, since that is extremely time consuming, just focus on the keywords your competitor is ranking very well for (in the top three or so).

Any keyword they are ranking #1 for (especially for small-to-medium sites). If a site is a smaller (has a DA you could achieve yourself in a year’s time), and they are ranking #1 for a keyword, it’s probably a good keyword to go for. I still usually pop these into Long Tail Pro just to be prudent.

[TOP SECRET: This my best keyword research secret] Any keyword they’re NOT ranking well for that is still bringing in good traffic. By default, SEM Rush sorts keywords by % of traffic that keyword is bringing in. And this is where you can find some real gems. If you see a keyword that your competitor is ranking, like, #18 for, and it’s still bringing in a significant portion of their traffic, it’s usually a great keyword. These are often keywords that look super, super competitive in Long Tail Pro and have extremely high search volume.

However, ranking on p.2 for these keywords usually isn’t too tough, and snagging 2.5% of a 40,000-search keyword is the same as ranking #1 for a 1,000-search keyword. These are typically the keywords you should use for bigger, tastier targets. This is what these keywords typically look like:

  • Kind of a weird keyword
  • Ranking around p.2
  • Major search volume (at least 10,000 LMS)
  • Significant traffic (0.75% of the total traffic or more)

For these keywords, try to evaluate the competitiveness of the page on the SERPs your competitor is appearing on (p.2, p.3, etc.). Currently, no keyword research tool does that, but an easy way to get a good idea is to just find the average page authority (PA) of every result on that page. Of course, if you’re still a bit scared of a big keyword, you can always look at the title tags, site ages, juice links, etc.–same as normal.

I actually stumbled on this technique by accident. With my first site, aPennyShaved from Niche Site Project 2, I wrote tons of articles on all kinds of stuff. By best article, though–and this happened purely by accident–was an article titled “Cool Beard Styles Guide.” I ended up ranking for the keyword “beard styles,”… but get this: I wasn’t even on the first page of Google! I was ranking #17 or something, but that particular keyword has a search volume of 40,500. It ended up producing the most traffic of any article on my site (about 3,000 visits per month), including my super-link-built ones!

Here’s an example of one of these keywords:

Finally, look for pages ranking decently with poor or mediocre content and/or few external links. If you’re on the fence about a keyword, look at the page that is ranking for that keyword. How’s it look? If there’s a boatload of great content, you may want to pass. However, if it’s on a weaker page and it’s still ranking well, you can probably beat it with simple on-page SEO. Here’s an example.

I suspected this keyword might have weak content. How much can you really write about beaver meat?

And it turns out I was right…

However, not all keywords you find are going to be winners.

Here’s what you should avoid:

  • Big sites ranking for big keywords. You’re not authoritative yet. So, while you should be looking for those big keywords that are still bringing in traffic, you should typically use that technique for medium-sized sites only.
  • Big sites ranking #1 for keywords that still look tough in LTP. Those keywords in the #1 position can be very alluring, but you want to be extra careful if you’re looking at a big site. Very large, very authoritative sites can rank #1 for much more competitive keywords. So, make sure you double-check every single keyword from a big site in Long Tail Pro. You may even want to look at a few more of the metrics instead of just KC and LMS.

A few notes about the TYPE of keywords you should go for…

If you want a serious throwback, check out Spencer’s first SEM Rush video. I think this video is from 1960. You can see that a lot has changed. One of the things Spencer mentioned in that video is that when you’re checking out your competition’s keywords, you should be looking mostly at the more commercial keywords–the keywords that are going to attract buyers and generate revenue.

Nowadays, though, I prefer to look at all types of keywords. Why? Because the reality is that true authority sites don’t just write money content. They write for a real, human audience. They write about whatever their readers want to read. They focus on their customers and creating an engaging overall experience. That’s why you’ll see articles about beaver meat! True authority sites do not only write product reviews. You get the idea.

Also, as I’m sure many of you know, Google has been cracking down on “thin” affiliate content, so you’ll probably want to hedge your bets by creating lots of different types of content, anyway (not to mention higher-value affiliate content).

If you need even more reasons to write non-commercial articles, remember that most authority sites are going to be trying to get readers on an email list, and all traffic creates an opportunity to do that. Traffic also generates social shares and residual, natural links. Traffic is good, and it’s good to diversify.

So don’t be scared off by non-commercial keywords. Instead, aim to build yourself an audience.

Video Tutorial

I really want to help you guys knock your keyword research out of the park, so I also put the techniques in this blog post on video. Hope it helps!

Try SEM Rush Right Here

Conclusion and your thoughts…

Using SEM Rush to find your best, most relevant competitors—and then combining it with Long Tail Pro to siphon their best keywords—is probably the most powerful keyword research technique you can employ. Using this technique, it should be fairly easy to find 100+ keywords, and you really shouldn’t have any real trouble getting around 500.

And it’s especially true for authority sites. You need lots and lots of content for an authority site, and you really have to understand your market. SEM Rush lets you do that.

I know this is a huge topic, so if you have any questions, please shout it out in the comments!

The post Authority Keyword Research Tutorial [with Video!] + SEM Rush Review appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
http://www.nichepursuits.com/sem-rush-review-authority-keyword-research-tutorial-video/feed/ 59
4 Key Strategy Differences Between Small Niche Sites and Authority Siteshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/4-key-strategy-differences-small-niche-sites-authority-sites/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/4-key-strategy-differences-small-niche-sites-authority-sites/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 19:40:07 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4788 Before I jump into my blog post today, I first want to point out my new site design!  I started NichePursuits.com on a WordPress theme that cost me about $37 and a logo that I part paid for and part … Continued

The post 4 Key Strategy Differences Between Small Niche Sites and Authority Sites appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
Before I jump into my blog post today, I first want to point out my new site design!  I started NichePursuits.com on a WordPress theme that cost me about $37 and a logo that I part paid for and part hacked together.

That theme and logo did very well for me for about 4 years, but I’ve finally updated the site last night.  I’m very happy with the new look and some of the cool features that the site now offers.

I’ll dedicate a full post to the new design and how it impacts conversions, time on site, load time, traffic, and more.  And of course if you are reading this a few months or years after November 2014, then this intro has been completely pointless for you…my bad :)

Overall, I have been making a lot of shifts in my business.  The one that I have discussed the most is my shift from focusing on building lots of smaller niche sites to building just one larger niche site (authority site).

I’ve focused a lot of time and energy on this blog with the Niche Site Project 1 and 2.  Now that I’m focusing on an authority site, is all that information from previous projects no longer valid?  Absolutely not!

In fact, the huge majority of everything I’ve written on this blog is still very applicable.  However, there are some key differences (with link building in particular) that I want to point out.

Overall, I want to discuss what tactics and techniques still apply for both small niche sites and authority sites.  Let’s jump in…

What Still Works for Both Small Sites and Authority Sites?

When I look back at the old content I wrote for Niche Site Project 1 (my survival knife site), I was surprised to see that the content is still very applicable for the most part.  Out of the 27 posts written for that project, I wouldn’t change anything written in 24.  In other words, only 3 of the 27 posts have some information that needs to be updated.

In the second Niche Site Project (apennyshaved.com), 21 out of the 25 posts are still great information.  Basically, the only posts that are out of date is the link building posts…and this recent post pretty much sums up why.

Overall, the strategy is actually quite similar between the two.  However, there are some key differences that I will discuss below.

So, here’s a few things that have not changed.

Keyword research is still pretty much the same.  Whether you are building a small niche site or a large authority site, you still want to be finding long tail keywords that are easy to rank for.  I’ve harped on this pretty hard, and all my posts shared about keyword research are still great training ground.

For content creation, you still need to be creating valuable and original content.  This remains unchanged.  I’ve shared multiple posts on this subject in my previous projects.

You still want a brandable domain, not an exact match domain.

Believe it or not, I actually covered outreach and guest posting quite a bit in the 2nd niche site project. This type of link building still works.

So, in a nutshell nearly everything I covered in the past during the niche site projects about keyword research, content production, branding, and even some link building is still what you want to be doing for an authority site.

However, as you know, there are some key differences as well.

4 Differences Between Niche and Authority Sites

The 4 primary differences in an authority site strategy is thinking of the overall market, a couple of content changes, link building, and traffic sources.

1. Market Research

When you build an authority site, you want to make sure you are entering a market that is big enough.  This usually is not an issue; however, it definitely needs to be considered.

For example, the niche site built for niche site project one about survival knives was maybe big enough, but a shift to the overall survival market instead of just knives would have been ideal.  This shift could have been made with a simple domain change.

However, aPennyShaved.com is just fine as is for an authority site.  We picked a great market, shaving, that has lots of related products and keywords.  Don’t believe me that shaving is a big enough market to build an authority site on?  Tell that to Eric Bandholdz of BeardBrand.com that is making over $100,000 a month.

He was just on Shark Tank last week and revealed those numbers.

I’ll dive deeper in a future post about market research.  However, in a nutshell, you just want to make sure there are lots of related keywords with good search volumes.  What you don’t want to do is box your site into to only covering a topic like “best racoon bait” or some other narrow market.

2. Content Differences

I mentioned previously that keyword research for an authority site is exactly the same, and that’s true.  However, as Gael Breton mentioned in my recent podcast, only about 50% of your content might be focused on keywords.  The other 50% is likely going to be focused more on shareable topics.

Brian Dean has shared his skyscraper technique for how you can produce the other 50% of your content that is not as keyword focused.  This is a fantastic was to not only produce great content, but to also garner great white hat links.

The other key focus with content is quality for an authority site.  I have always stated this, even in my niche site projects, but its even more critical with authority sites.  You need to be creating content that will stand the test of time, and truly is valuable to the readers.

This might entail writing longer articles (Perrin and I write 3,000 word articles for our authority site project),  or it just might mean providing a better resource than is currently on the web.  For an authority site, it’s not just about trying to rank in Google, its about trying to actually help people.

3. Link Building

This is a big change.  The idea behind most smaller niche sites is to do whatever it takes to rank quickly in Google, and then move onto the next site.  For me and many others, this often involved using Private Blog Networks, link building services, or other tactics that we clearly knew Google didn’t approve of.

The draw of these link building tactics is that sometimes they work…quite well.  However, they can be short lived and have almost always ended with a penalty for me and others.  I no longer recommend using Private Blog Networks for any site, and made that quite clear in this blog post.

The name of the game is now content marketing.  Producing great content and shareable content can go a long way is getting great links.  Perrin and I have been implementing this content plus outreach strategy, and it’s working quite well.

I will most certainly be diving deeper into this subject; but for now, here’s a few resources for link building for authority sites:

The biggest change is the focus away from trying to trick Google to rank, to trying to create valuable and shareable content so that people want to link to you more naturally.

4. Traffic Sources

Another big shift with a niche site vs. an authority site is where the traffic comes from.  With a smaller niche site most people get 90% plus of their traffic from Google.  This is often the only focus: rank in Google and get that free traffic!

However, with an authority site you have the opportunity to diversify that traffic a bit.  So, even if you don’t rank as well as you’d hoped in Google, you should still be able to have plenty of site visitors.  At least that’s the goal.

Matt Paulson described his strategies in depth for getting traffic from places other than Google in our recent podcast interview.  A few traffic sources that you can tap into outside of search engines include:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Youtube
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Google News
  • Yahoo News
  • Referral Traffic
  • Paid Traffic
  • Direct Traffic
  • Email list traffic
  • Other

Perrin and I have seen some pretty nice results by just focusing a little bit on Reddit recently.  This is a huge topic that I’ll try to discuss more and more as Perrin and I get further along in our authority site project.

Overall, it’s no longer just about ranking in Google for a couple of keywords and hoping they stick.  Yes, you should still be doing keyword focused content perhaps 50% of the time, but there are so many other places you can get traffic from as well.

What’s Your Take?

I felt like it was important to compare some of the similarities and differences between a small niche site and authority site as I go forward with this project.  By no means does an authority site mean you have to forget everything you knew about building niche sites.

In fact, if you have an existing niche site, it’s very possible to work on that site and apply some of these changes to turn it into more of an authority site.  Overall, it’s time to just think a bit bigger with the market, think longer term with link building and content, and expand your traffic sources.

Perrin and I are still early on with this authority site project; however, we’ll begin sharing more specific tactics that are working for us in the near future.  Now that we have our heads pointing in the same direction for how things have changed slightly we can move forward with confidence.

As always, I’d love to hear your take on the subject.  Do you have any questions?  Any other points you would like to bring up in regards to the differences between niche and authority sites?

The post 4 Key Strategy Differences Between Small Niche Sites and Authority Sites appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
http://www.nichepursuits.com/4-key-strategy-differences-small-niche-sites-authority-sites/feed/ 95
Podcast 50: Buying and Selling Sites with Justin and Joe from EmpireFlippers.comhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-50-buying-and-selling-sites-with-justin-and-joe-from-empireflippers-com/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-50-buying-and-selling-sites-with-justin-and-joe-from-empireflippers-com/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 21:28:22 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4419 Podcast 50!  I started my podcast a couple of years ago almost as an after thought, but today I’m hitting a major milestone with 50 episodes! I’ve had a few rough moments where I considered throwing in the towel on … Continued

The post Podcast 50: Buying and Selling Sites with Justin and Joe from EmpireFlippers.com appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
Podcast 50!  I started my podcast a couple of years ago almost as an after thought, but today I’m hitting a major milestone with 50 episodes!

I’ve had a few rough moments where I considered throwing in the towel on the podcast, but I’ve stuck it out and seen some nice results.  I’ll dive into my podcast numbers in the near future, and whether my decision to start publishing weekly was a good one.

However, for now I’m excited to share an interview I did with Justin and Joe from EmpireFlippers.com.  These guys are well known for their website marketplace where all sites are listed for sale at 20 times monthly income.

I also need to mention that I just met these guys in person for the very first time last week!  We all attended the Rhodium Weekend conference in Las Vegas and got to chat business and hang out a bit.

The conference overall was great.  The presenters dove into topics ranging from buying and selling sites to how to set up systems in a business.

In fact, I was asked to present!  I shared the story of Long Tail Pro and how to bootstrap a software business without programming experience.  Justin and Joe presented on building systems with your employees.

Overall, I’m excited to present to you the interview Perrin and I did with Justin and Joe from EmpireFlippers.com.

Podcast Interview Notes

Below you will find some of the notes from the podcast interviews.  This is not a word for word transcript and doesn’t document everything covered in the interview.  To hear the entire interview, please listen to the podcast below.

How is the new Web Design for EmpireFlippers.com Going?

They are happy with the new design.  They still have a few tweaks they are working on, and its too early to tell if the new design is impacting their bottom line.

They are hearing great feedback and appears to help them with their overall brand.

Advantages of Buying vs. Building a Website

Buying is more expensive, but its one that already has been proven in the marketplace.

It’s really a question of whether you want to leverage your cash or time. Buying sites can also present alot of great strategic advantages over building sites.

Red Flags When People Are Buying Sites?

The most common are bot or fake traffic, domain de-indexed, changes to affiliate programs, and more.

You need to know what you are looking for with Google Analytics and Clicky.

You can also look for valid identities online.  Fake online identities can definitely be a red flag.

What Are Some Good Things to Look for When Buying a Site?

A great site is specific to the buyer.  Buy what you are experience in and benefits your individual business.

Are the Prices on Empire Flippers Negotiable?

Yes, if you are willing to make a reasonable offer; then all prices are negotiable.  They usually get very close to list price (20 times monthly earnings).

They are also working on a valuation tool that will be released publicly very soon.

What’s Your Opinion on the PBN Update?

None of the sites on the marketplace were hit.  But there was one site that was in transition that got hit, and so they actually returned the site to the seller.

Do You Look at Link Quality When You Vet Sites?

Yes.  They look at the quality, type, anchor text, and much more when vetting the sites.

They do accept sites that have PBN links, but they fully disclose this to any potential buyers.

Buying and Selling Sites as a Business Model

Definitely lots of interesting strategies.

Is it Possible to Sell Sites on the Empire Flippers Marketplace that I Bought Less Than 3 Months Ago?

Not usually.  You need to have 3 months of earnings history in order to list the site typically.  However, they deal with everything on a case by case basis.

They’ve been tempted to buy sites on Flippa and then sell them on their marketplace.

What Other Marketplaces are there for Buying Sites?

Flippa is the largest.  A newer one is called FreeMarket.com, this is owned by Freelancer.com and the WarriorForum.

BizBuySell.com – has a section for online properties.

Centurica.com – a curated list of brokerage listings.

The EmpireFlippers Marketplace typically targets sites under $200k.

Are You Looking for More Buyers or More Sellers?

They are typically looking for more sellers.  Right now, the more options they have for sale, the better.

How Are You Finding More Sellers?

Yes. They are moving to more high touch activities like workshops, events, and more.

They are using some retargeting ads as well.  They use AfterOffers.com.  They pay only $1 per subscriber right now.  According to their math, an email subscriber is worth close to $15.

What Else are you Working On?

Justin and Joe are looking into starting an investor program. Basically, they are looking in to buying bigger sites with investor money, and then they run the site.

They see a lot of opportunities with this investor type program.

They’ve sold or move away from everything else in their business. They no longer are involved in building websites or other side projects, they are focusing exclusively on the marketplace.

Listen to the Podcast

As always, if you enjoyed the podcast please feel free to leave a rating or review on iTunes right here.

The post Podcast 50: Buying and Selling Sites with Justin and Joe from EmpireFlippers.com appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-50-buying-and-selling-sites-with-justin-and-joe-from-empireflippers-com/feed/ 29 buying and selling sites,empire flippers,podcasts,website investing Podcast 50!  I started my podcast a couple of years ago almost as an after thought, but today I'm hitting a major milestone with 50 episodes! - I've had a few rough moments where I considered throwing in the towel on the podcast, Podcast 50!  I started my podcast a couple of years ago almost as an after thought, but today I'm hitting a major milestone with 50 episodes!I've had a few rough moments where I considered throwing in the towel on the podcast, but I've stuck it out and seen some nice results.  I'll dive into my podcast numbers in the near future, and whether my decision to start publishing weekly was a good one.However, for now I'm excited to share an interview I did with Justin and Joe from EmpireFlippers.com.  These guys are well known for their website marketplace where all sites are listed for sale at 20 times monthly income.I also need to mention that I just met these guys in person for the very first time last week!  We all attended the Rhodium Weekend conference in Las Vegas and got to chat business and hang out a bit.The conference overall was great.  The presenters dove into topics ranging from buying and selling sites to how to set up systems in a business.In fact, I was asked to present!  I shared the story of Long Tail Pro and how to bootstrap a software business without programming experience.  Justin and Joe presented on building systems with your employees.Overall, I'm excited to present to you the interview Perrin and I did with Justin and Joe from EmpireFlippers.com. Podcast Interview Notes Below you will find some of the notes from the podcast interviews.  This is not a word for word transcript and doesn't document everything covered in the interview.  To hear the entire interview, please listen to the podcast below.How is the new Web Design for EmpireFlippers.com Going?They are happy with the new design.  They still have a few tweaks they are working on, and its too early to tell if the new design is impacting their bottom line.They are hearing great feedback and appears to help them with their overall brand.Advantages of Buying vs. Building a WebsiteBuying is more expensive, but its one that already has been proven in the marketplace.It's really a question of whether you want to leverage your cash or time. Buying sites can also present alot of great strategic advantages over building sites.Red Flags When People Are Buying Sites?The most common are bot or fake traffic, domain de-indexed, changes to affiliate programs, and more.You need to know what you are looking for with Google Analytics and Clicky.You can also look for valid identities online.  Fake online identities can definitely be a red flag.What Are Some Good Things to Look for When Buying a Site?A great site is specific to the buyer.  Buy what you are experience in and benefits your individual business.Are the Prices on Empire Flippers Negotiable?Yes, if you are willing to make a reasonable offer; then all prices are negotiable.  They usually get very close to list price (20 times monthly earnings).They are also working on a valuation tool that will be released publicly very soon.What's Your Opinion on the PBN Update?None of the sites on the marketplace were hit.  But there was one site that was in transition that got hit, and so they actually returned the site to the seller.Do You Look at Link Quality When You Vet Sites?Yes.  They look at the quality, type, anchor text, and much more when vetting the sites.They do accept sites that have PBN links, but they fully disclose this to any potential buyers.Buying and Selling Sites as a Business ModelDefinitely lots of interesting strategies.Is it Possible to Sell Sites on the Empire Flippers Marketplace that I Bought Less Than 3 Months Ago?Not usually.  You need to have 3 months of earnings history in order to list the site typically.  However, they deal with everything on a case by case basis.They've been tempted to buy sites on Flippa and then sell them on their marketplace.What Other Marketplaces are there for Buying Sites?Flippa is the largest.  A newer one is called FreeMarket.com, Niche Pursuits no 54:38
Welcome to the Authority Site Project!http://www.nichepursuits.com/welcome-to-the-authority-site-project/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/welcome-to-the-authority-site-project/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:07:22 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4404 Over the past few months, Perrin have been working on a project to build out a gigantic web property.  I’ve shared brief updates on this project, but only as an aside…the “authority” project has never been the core focus on … Continued

The post Welcome to the Authority Site Project! appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
Over the past few months, Perrin have been working on a project to build out a gigantic web property.  I’ve shared brief updates on this project, but only as an aside…the “authority” project has never been the core focus on this blog.

However, its finally time to give this new project and case study the attention it deserves!

So, today I want to cover a few topics, such as, why we are doing an “authority site”, what an authority site is, what we’ve done so far, and what are plans are moving forward.

Overall, this project represents a small pivot in my business away from smaller niche sites and so I hope this post acts as a good introduction to what I expect to be doing long term.

What’s the Project All About?

If you have been following the story of Perrin and I, you will now that we have been building sites together for about a year and a half now. We went through the Niche Site Project 2 and shared how to build a niche site from the ground up.

Then when I hired Perrin at the beginning of this year, we kept building out more niche sites on our own.  However, due to the fact that it becomes increasingly difficult to build and manage a large portfolio of sites and truly give them the love and attention that they deserve; we decided to focus on just one site.

In fact, it was in June of this year that we decided we would no longer build out any additional small niche sites.  And in July we starting building our authority site.

Our decision to move away from quicker small niche sites to a longer term business was validated last month when many of our small niche sites were hit with the PBN penalty.  This was extremely painful because many of our sites tanked in Google; including aPennyShaved.com (the site from Niche Site Project 2).

However, it also gave us the confidence that the shift in our business was a smart one.  So, the Authority Site Project is all about sharing everything we are doing to build out our new authority site.  We’ll be sharing the tactics and tools we use, the lessons learned, the earnings, and perhaps someday even the domain name. :)

What is an Authority Site?

I’ll be honest, I hate the phrase “authority site”.  I only use it because its a phrase that a few in our community use and understand.  Rather than calling it an authority site, I’d rather just call it a site I actually care about; or a site I expect to actually make a full-time income with someday.

Perhaps its easier to define an authority site by what it’s not.  It’s not a churn and burn site.  It’s not a site I hope to get up to $100 a month in earnings and then quickly move onto my next project.  It’s not the kind of site I would ever risk using shady tactics to rank in Google.

Overall, it’s the kind of site that will require a lot of time and attention and is expected to become a huge property with content added regularly for the life of the site.

I was just asked yesterday via email if I thought aPennyShaved.com had become an authority site rather than a niche site.  Again, I hate the definitions of “niche” vs. “authority”…I think its a dumb game to play.  However, my answer was yes, aPennyShaved.com was becoming an authority site.

Perrin was adding regular content, and he was actively working on the site to make it into a real business.  This is not something you would do on a micro niche site.

In fact, as I look back on the Niche Site Project 2 posts, most of that still applies to an authority site!  The process of finding a market, picking keywords, writing content, and even promoting that content is still essentially the same at its core.  So, the good news is that the only blog posts that no longer apply are some (not all) of the link building posts…and if you look, I actually wrote very few posts regarding link building.

However, there ARE some differences and some additions that are required to build a truly great web property.  That’s what this project is all about…exploring some of those additional tactics to take a website to the next level.

Progress So Far?

Since we are already a few months in, I can’t give a step by step detail of everything we’ve done.  However, I do hope to provide many more detailed posts for each step of the process so that you can go back and replicate the authority site process on your own.

Here’s just some quick bullet points on things we’ve done for our site so far:

  • Picked a profitable market with nearly limitless content potential
  • Spent way too much time picking a brandable domain.  I’m happy with it though :)
  • Developed an overall vision for what we want to accomplish with the site, and how we can stand out.
  • Used Long Tail Pro to research and pick hundreds of long tail keywords that fit our target market.
  • Purchased a premium theme and hired someone to design a logo.
  • Hired an author to start writing out 3000 word articles for each of our chosen keywords.  We add 1 of these articles each weekday.
  • We also post 2 to 3 shorter news articles a day.
  • Created a Facebook and Twitter account to establish a social presence.
  • Brainstormed ideas for content that may not be keyword based, but is highly shareable and useful.
  • Created a unique page on our site that related sites in our industry will mention.  (I’ll go into more detail on this in the future).
  • Manually via email reached out to hundreds of organizations to essentially ask for links to our unique page.  We’ve received dozens of great links already using this method.
  • Published a massive resource that we expect to use as “link bait”.
  • Used Reddit and other resources to get exposure to this massive resource.  This method is working well for us.
  • We are continuing to brainstorm additional “resource” ideas or highly shareable content that we can use to get attention, traffic, and links.
  • Brainstormed kindle eBook ideas for our market.  We came up with half a dozen potential titles.
  • Perrin has now written our first Kindle eBook.  We are now hiring people to format and create a book cover.  We will likely start selling the book in the next few weeks.
  • Created a lead magnet and got email opt in forms all set up.  Creating an email list is going to be key for us.
  • Submitted our site to Google news, but got rejected.  We are certain we know the reason and it was due to a simple mistake on our end.  We’ll resubmit as soon as we are allowed to (December).
  • We’ve also started testing Facebook ads.  We are looking to build our email list.

Overall, you can see we’ve done quite a bit, and even this list doesn’t really do justice to the time and energy we’ve already put into the site.

So, how much money have we made?  None!

That’s right, none.  We’ve haven’t even tried to make any money yet.  We have no ads or any possible way to monetize our traffic at this point.  It’s all part of the plan.  We are more concerned with building a great resource before we worry too much about the money.

However, we do plan on monetizing within the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.

Although we don’t have any income to share just yet; perhaps you will be interested in seeing our traffic!

Traffic Stats

New sites take a little while to get traction.  In fact, Perrin and I have publicly discussed that we fully expect it to take a year before we make much money.  So, we are going to put a ton of effort up front for 12 months, with the hopes that it starts paying off after that.

This can be a long waiting game, but seeing traffic increases can give you confidence.

Here’s a screenshot from when our site was created until Oct. 8th:

oct8

Slow traffic growth with lots of fluctuation…pretty normal for a new site.

However, we started doing something interesting earlier this month, we started submitting some of our best content to Reddit.

This has significantly increased our traffic after Oct. 8th:

oct22

Note that the scale is 1000 to 2000 rather than 25 to 50 visitors!  We are now regularly getting a few hundred visitors a day when we submit something to Reddit.

Now here’s the entire traffic history of the site:

2014-10-22_1050

This screenshot makes it look like we weren’t getting any traffic until October!  The spikes are now so much larger, that you can barely detect the 25 or 30 unique visitors a day we were getting previously.

Check out the growth on a monthly basis:

2014-10-22_1051

This is my favorite graph.  You can clearly see that we were growing in July, August, and September.  However, you can see the huge jump in traffic we are experiencing this month; and there is still over a week left in October.

Overall, I’m pleased with the progress of our new authority site!

The Goal and Plans Moving Forward

We have lots of plans for our site down the road.  We’ll continue to add content daily and we’ll continue to promote our more shareable articles.

The purpose of this is to eventually catch the eye of Google and hopefully we’ll start ranking for all the content we’ve been adding daily.  This is a long term process, but that’s the eventual goal.

In addition, we are just starting to dive into building our email list.  This is really where most of our focus is going to be over the life of the business.  Sure, Google traffic is nice, but we want to build our email list and core audience.  Once we have this audience in place, we can produce products or promote relevant affiliate products much easier.

So, our immediate plans going forward are to focus on capturing visitors to our site with an opt in form.  In addition, we are also spending money on Facebook ads to test our ad titles, offers, and overall the fastest and cheapest way to add quality leads to our email list.

The eventual goal will be to create several useful products that we can promote and perhaps even a membership site.  Again, this is a long term goal.

We are starting with our Kindle eBook and depending on how it goes we could be writing several more.  We don’t know the exact direction our business will take, but we hope to replicate some of the success that Steve Scott has experienced with his Kindle books.

The Vision

Overall, we have significant plans for the site and we are quite excited for the project.  We really do believe that this site has the potential to grow into a stand alone business with its own employees and management.  No that’s not going to happen in the next 12 months.  However, with the right type of planning and continued success that is the long term future that we hope for.

That should make it pretty clear why I wouldn’t risk using PBNs or some other short term strategy to rank my site.  Google is part of our traffic strategy, but it could eventually be only a minor portion of our traffic (kinda like Matt Paulson and his sites discussed in our podcast interview).

We are in this for the long haul.  That’s what an authority site is all about.

Your Thoughts

Overall, I felt like it was finally time to share what our authority site project is all about!  We’ve been working on it for months, but not really given it the time and attention it deserves here on NichePursuits.com.

This new project is going to make up a significant portion of the content on Niche Pursuits for at least the next 12 months.  So, hopefully you are interested in following along!

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions below.  Today was just a quick introduction to our project; so if you have anything specific that you would like me to address in a future post, please let me know in the comments.

The post Welcome to the Authority Site Project! appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
http://www.nichepursuits.com/welcome-to-the-authority-site-project/feed/ 174
Podcast 49: How to Manage Writers Effectivelyhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-49-how-to-mange-writers-effectively/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-49-how-to-mange-writers-effectively/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:09:08 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4401 Perrin and I were able to sit down and record a podcast based on our last blog post, How to Mange Writers Effectively. When it comes to starting and running an online business, having great content is so critical.  If … Continued

The post Podcast 49: How to Manage Writers Effectively appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
Perrin and I were able to sit down and record a podcast based on our last blog post, How to Mange Writers Effectively.

When it comes to starting and running an online business, having great content is so critical.  If you are not writing the content yourself, hiring and managing writers becomes extremely important.

Because of this, Perrin and I felt like we wanted to share some of our best practices for finding, hiring, and motivating writers.

Overall, the podcast follows very closely to what we discussed in our last blog post; however, as always when Perrin and I get behind the microphone we tend to veer into other topics so I recommend you give it a listen!

One topic in particular that we covered in the podcast that was not covered in the blog post is the income potential of small “churn and burn” sites versus a larger authority site.  When it comes down to it, making over $10,000 a month is extremely rare in the case of smaller churn and burn sites.  What we mean is that someone working full time on smaller or quick hit affiliates sites almost never makes $10,000 a month or more with their combined portfolio.  If someone does make that much, they are a huge outlier and tend to get alot of attention.

On the other hand, making $10,000 a month with a large authority site is not really a big deal.  Some large online properties makes millions of dollars a year, and there are lots of publicly traded companies that are basically “authority” sites. (For example, stock ticker IACI is just a conglomerate of large online websites traded on the NASDAQ).

So, we simply discussed the mindset and goals of each business.  The churn and burn approach has an upper limit of $10,000 per month…and that rarely happens.  The long term online business approach has an upper limit of hundreds of millions of dollars a year and becoming publicly traded, and $10,000 a month is not considered a big deal.

Perrin and I are focusing on the larger business potential now.

Overall, the podcast focuses on managing writers and the importance of treating them well.

Listen to the Podcast

Enjoy the podcast?  Please leave a rating or review on iTunes here!

The post Podcast 49: How to Manage Writers Effectively appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

]]>
http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-49-how-to-mange-writers-effectively/feed/ 31 content marketing,managing writers,niche pursuits podcast,podcast Perrin and I were able to sit down and record a podcast based on our last blog post, How to Mange Writers Effectively. - When it comes to starting and running an online business, having great content is so critical. Perrin and I were able to sit down and record a podcast based on our last blog post, How to Mange Writers Effectively.When it comes to starting and running an online business, having great content is so critical.  If you are not writing the content yourself, hiring and managing writers becomes extremely important.Because of this, Perrin and I felt like we wanted to share some of our best practices for finding, hiring, and motivating writers.Overall, the podcast follows very closely to what we discussed in our last blog post; however, as always when Perrin and I get behind the microphone we tend to veer into other topics so I recommend you give it a listen!One topic in particular that we covered in the podcast that was not covered in the blog post is the income potential of small "churn and burn" sites versus a larger authority site.  When it comes down to it, making over $10,000 a month is extremely rare in the case of smaller churn and burn sites.  What we mean is that someone working full time on smaller or quick hit affiliates sites almost never makes $10,000 a month or more with their combined portfolio.  If someone does make that much, they are a huge outlier and tend to get alot of attention.On the other hand, making $10,000 a month with a large authority site is not really a big deal.  Some large online properties makes millions of dollars a year, and there are lots of publicly traded companies that are basically "authority" sites. (For example, stock ticker IACI is just a conglomerate of large online websites traded on the NASDAQ).So, we simply discussed the mindset and goals of each business.  The churn and burn approach has an upper limit of $10,000 per month...and that rarely happens.  The long term online business approach has an upper limit of hundreds of millions of dollars a year and becoming publicly traded, and $10,000 a month is not considered a big deal.Perrin and I are focusing on the larger business potential now.Overall, the podcast focuses on managing writers and the importance of treating them well. Listen to the Podcast Enjoy the podcast?  Please leave a rating or review on iTunes here! Niche Pursuits no 55:04