How Emil Shour Made $250k in his Agency’s Second Year While Growing Niche Sites & More
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Are you dreaming of launching your own profitable online business? If so, you need to listen to this week's episode of the Niche Pursuits podcast!
Emil Shor joins us to share how he levereages his SEO and website-building expertise to grow a business that's largely outsourced.
He left work as an in-house SEO and started his own agency in 2021. And with the smart and crafty business structure he's used from the start (which he touches on), he's enjoying big profits while living and working on his own terms.
There are a ton of nuggets of wisdom here:
- He emphasizes the importance for niche site owners to build quality links to establish a brand that's better protected from Google updates.
- He suggests choosing the easiest keywords to build a cluster within a niche rather than just going after the lowest competition keywords.
- He reveals his strategy for creating assets and investments outside of his agency.
- He highlights the criteria he uses to choose which sites to buy.
- And a whole lot more...
Emil provides valuable insights for those looking to start their own online businesses. And his advice can help you achieve long-term rankings in search and potentially fast-track you to success.
So, if you want to learn the secrets of building profitable online businesses, don't miss it!
Topics Emil Shour Covers
- His background in SEO
- Starting his own agency
- How his agency is set up
- Pros & cons of being an in-house marketer vs business owner
- Revenue numbers
- Building his sites on the side
- Acquiring a site
- Topic clustering
- Content growth strategy
- Tips for buying a site
- Digital PR campaign
- Niche sites vs brand sites
- Gambling in the parenting niche
- Balancing agency work while growing niche sites
- Plans for the future
- And much more...
Links & Resources
- Catalyst Content - SEO-Focused Content Agency by Emil Shour
- Seeking Profit
- emilshour on Twitter
- Fat Stacks Blog
This Episode is Sponsored by Search Intelligence & Nichesites.com
Watch The Interview
Read The Transcription
Jared: All right. Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman, and today we have Emil Shour on. Emil, welcome.
Emil: Thanks man. Appreciate you having me on.
Jared: Yeah, thanks so much for joining. It's, um, as we were saying before we got started recording, I'm, I'm so used to having guests from all over the world.
Which is what makes this industry, uh, this industry so fascinating and fun that we, our community is, is based everywhere, uh, and is truly probably one of the, one of the first global ones. But man, we're practicing each other's backyard. I mean, you're just up the, up the freeway from me. .
Emil: That's right, man.
We're both, uh, so cow guys. It's weird. I usually say sunny Southern California, but we've had rain every single week for like months, and I'm, I'm scared that we're starting to pay too much for not awesome weather.
Jared: I tell everyone I would like a refund on my Sunshine tax I paid this year because I did not get my value outta that one this year.
For real. It's, it's been a weird. So, let's see. You've got a lot going on. You're the founder of Catalyst Content, which is an agency, um, uh, that, that does a lot of SEO work. You are the host of the Seeking Profit podcast, which is pretty new and really good. I might add, I've enjoyed several of the episodes I've listened to there.
Uh, and then you're also website builder on the side. , did I leave anything out or does that pretty much round out where you're at? Right.
Emil: That is everything. You make me sound cooler than I think I am by rattling all those things off. But yeah, I have, uh, too many things on my plate is what it sounds like.
Jared: Well, you're clearly doing a good job managing them and juggling them. Why don't, um, you know, I ask everyone to kind of bring us up to speed on where things are at right now. I I want to dive into your agency cuz you have a unique model. Um, and I think a lot of people listening would get a lot of, uh, out of hearing that.
And then obviously we wanna talk about your websites that you're, . Um, but maybe catch us up to a good launching point for today. Tell us about who you are and, and your background.
Emil: Yeah, so professional like marketing background. I've worked in marketing for like eight plus years. Worked at a couple different VC back startups.
Um, headed up demand generation for those, which is basically traffic and conversions is, is what that means. Um, , you know, my strong suit was always seo and I always had other people on my team doing ads, email marketing, all these different other channels. But SEO was always like really my strong suit. And even when I was in house, I was consulting on the side and couple years ago, decided to jump out and start my own agency.
Like a lot of people probably listening, you know, I've always wanted to start a business, didn't know exactly what, and I was like, man, I have this, this marketable skill I've seen a lot. You know, I've hired a lot of agencies in-house and a lot of 'em have a really low bar and they don't do a good job.
And especially from an SEO perspective, like so many SEO agencies, like they just give the industry a bad name. And so I think working internally, I kind of got to see the gaps and see, you know, if I was doing this, how would I do it? How would I make it a better service for for companies? And then, yeah, two years ago I decided to just hop out on my own and.
Yeah, it's been a wild ride since
Jared: starting a business is no small task. . Yeah. Uh, I've done it a couple times and I joke about how you'd think it would get easier, and maybe it does for some people, but it never did for me. Um, how, like, how did you, um, navigate some of the challenges with starting a business off, like finding clients, getting systems in place, finding people to work
Emil: with that sort.
Yeah, it's funny, like your problems never get easier. They just become different problems through every stage. Uh, you know, like I think client acquisition is probably the hardest thing when, when you're first starting out. The other thing is, you know, I had a good playbook. I had a good operational mindset from doing it in-house and for some clients on the side.
So the biggest thing was finding clients. And so when I was ready to, to jump out, I think like I gave myself a month or two to basically build up a small client base on the. I reached out to current clients, friends. I had, you know, luckily I'd been working in-house and I had tried to network with a lot of other marketers for, for years, and so I had a nice little network and I just reached out to a bunch of people and just said, Hey, I'm, I'm doing this.
I'm jumping out on my own. This is what I'm offering. Do you know anyone? And luckily, you know, I had a couple people. Referred me to others, got a nice little client base going and, and jumped out. Honestly, one of the things that helped me the most, and I kind of knew this, when I was ready to leave the company I was at, I was the only person doing the thing I was doing at that company.
And so it was very, very successful, like really good SEO program at a company called Roofstock. And so when I left, I had pitched the CMO on. Hey, I'm starting an agency, but I'd love to continue supporting you guys. And I had a really good relationship with my boss and so like they became one of my early clients and that helped tremendously too.
Jared: That is probably key, because at least you walk out the door with a good relationship intact and you can kind of springboard off having a little bit of a client base at that point.
Emil: Yeah, and I, yeah, I like knew the systems, I knew the company I. everything. Cause I had built the program, so, you know, for them it felt like a really easy transition and it worked out really well for both of us.
Jared: What, what kind of structure does your agency have right now? Are you guys, you know, a kind of a large scale team in-house outsource model? Like how do you guys go about organizing the team and then deploying, um, the different deliver? .
Emil: Yeah, so I have, um, you know, a lot of agencies will either hire full-time or part-time.
I've kind of set it up where everyone I work with is contracted out. So writers, uh, I have an editor who is like the main person on my team who I like, keep close and try to keep as not internal as possible, but she needs to be close and know all my customers and how we like to edit things and all that.
So, writers, editor, I have someone who does link building, but that's all out. And the reason I like that is it, it always gives me the flexibility to go up and down with people as needed, right? So, you know, one of the hardest things about starting a business, you know, you get payroll going and you lose a client or two, like, man, you're, you're stressing about payroll and how am I gonna pay everyone and pay myself?
This kind of kept it flexible where. , uh, we get more work. I get more people on board. We have less work, either less people or they just, you know, have less work. So, um, I also have liked that model a lot because it keeps it so I don't have to really scale the business for it to work. Like I can have 5, 6, 7 clients and have it be a really good, profitable business.
Uh, and you know, one of the things I, I tell people I work with, You know, you get to work with me. A lot of times you come into an agency and they, they may kick you down to like someone who's fresh outta college who doesn't really know what they're doing, and so they're kind of learning on your dime. But I've been doing this for a plus years, and you get to work directly with me.
I do all strategy, I do all like project management and stuff, so it's kind of this weird hybrid between like a consultant and an agency where we can deliver, but I'm also consulting and offering strategy
Jared: that's, uh, great. I, I, I mean one of the big drawbacks. I know businesses have, working with agencies is that they don't always work with the same person throughout the process, and the person they maybe connected with on the way in is not the person who they talk with month over month, which isn't the same person who's looking over their reports.
And so there's this kind of disconnect.
Emil: Right, exactly. Exactly. ,
Jared: what are the, are there any drawbacks to that model? I mean, uh, you, you sold me on the upsides pretty well, What are, what, especially as, uh, payrolls do for my agency tomorrow, what, what are the, what are the downsides of any downsides of that
Well, hopefully, hopefully you guys weren't affected by that whole SVB fiasco and, uh, you know, weren't stressing out too hard. But, no, no, thank goodness. Good, good. Uh, there's, there's tons of downside there. . You know, let's say we get a new client on board, sometimes I have to go find a new writer. Like, I think when you have in-house writers, you get to train them, they get to work across various clients.
I, I've, like, when I started, I took this approach where I was like, okay, I'm gonna find a, uh, a writer who knows this industry. So we have an accounting, uh, software client, for example. Okay, I'm gonna go find an accountant who does writing on the side who can actually speak to this audience. And so what you start to find is, It's really hard to scale that when you start getting more and more clients.
Uh, I need to figure out a way to like have a couple writers who are just really good and can be trained on that client and that client's audience versus like, you know, this kind of weird model where I go and find a writer per client that I've done
Jared: you. It sounds like the model gives you a lot of flexibility and then, you know, also has some inherent additional work.
Sometimes maybe. Trying to overly summarize
Emil: it. . Yeah, exactly. Onboarding becomes a little bit more challenging with this model. Um, you know, ramping everybody up versus when you have an in-house team, you know, you have a playbook. It's, I think, much easier to onboard. It's less, probably less stressful for you to onboard a client than it is for me.
Jared: See, you've done in-house, right? Yeah. You worked at an agency, I believe you said an agency. Um, prior to this, you're now no
Emil: agency, just, uh, inside a.
Jared: Inside of companies. Yeah. So, but you've done SEO in-house. Yes. I guess is probably the best way to put it. Yep. And then you now run an agency yourself. What are like, what are the, the upsides at ve and I, I'm kind of thinking of the person that's listening right now that's thinking, you know, I work in-house doing seo.
Should I do it, uh, for, should I do it on my own as an agency? Um, you know, we just had, uh, uh, Sean Hill on the podcast, uh, a month or two ago, and he's doing s. Full-time, uh, in-house for a company. Um, and then the person who's thinking about maybe moving from in-house to running their own agency. Like what, for someone who's been on both sides, what do you think the upsides and the downsides are to each?
Emil: Yeah. So the upside is if you, if you get really good, um, and you feel like you can go out and sell you, your up upside's just higher, right? There's only so much you can make as an SEO manager. Uh, especially if you're like an individual contributor, your ceiling for pay is capped, then you usually go on a manager and then you have to manage people if you like that.
So it's just, there is a ladder that's kind of set for you, and your earnings may be capped, but if you feel like you can sell and you feel like you can do this work really well, like you can just earn a lot more going out on your own. The cons, man, it's, you know, this, it's. Such an emotional game like three months ago, my pipeline completely dry all of a sudden, right?
Like 20, 22, amazing year. I feel like I was turning down people left and right. And then the economy contracts, people are holding their marketing budgets tighter and so it messes with your head. Especially the first time you go through that like down period, you, you know, you start to question like, was this the right move?
Am I really built for this? Did I just get lucky? So there. You're just playing this mental game with yourself all the time. Um, which is any business owner, right. Agency or not. It's, it's like mastering an emotional game.
Jared: I totally feel everything you're saying. It is. And, and again, having been doing business of some sort for a long time, it's just, it's, it's like you said, like it's just, it's kind of constant, you know?
Um, within the last month, I've had an incredible. For business and a really, really hard week for business. And they've both existed in the exact same month, .
Emil: Right, right. Same, same. It's been a couple good weeks. And then, you know, I'm, you send out a, a couple of, uh, what is it called, proposals. And you're like, man, we're about to get going.
And then people start ghosting you and you're, it's, it's constant, constant, like ups and downs. And like you said, even in the same.
Jared: There certainly is a lot of value to being able to, you know, if you have the ability to work doing seo, uh, or marketing in general. By the way, the same things apply to, to marketing in general.
Yeah. Um, but if you can do it for an in-house, you can learn a lot and also not have the risk associated with. You know, having your own agency or your own company where, you know, you're a little bit more results dependent for your income. So yeah, I can see there being a lot of upside there and, um, there are times where I kind of wish I had taken that approach.
So, so yeah, that's well shared. Um, let's see. Where's, so where, where is your agency at right now? Any numbers you're comfortable sharing, just so people can kind of understand what this model can, you know, where it kind of gets. .
Emil: Yeah. So last year, I don't think I've actually shared this anywhere, but I'm happy to share it here.
Last year, uh, I think the agency profited around 250 K. Like I was saying, 2022 was a, a really good year. Yeah. Uh, I don't think I will match that this year, just given what's going on. And, you know, there's a lot of these, I work with a lot of tech companies that are laying people off. Their marketing budgets are harder, so it's just, it's a different game this year than it will be last year.
Yeah. Last year was a good
Jared: year. That's great. Um, even a little bit of a downturn from that is still a great year. So Congrats. And that's, that's on your second year in, that's
Emil: frankly, that's phenomenal. So I know I, well done. I feel like it was, like I said, a lucky year. I'm, I'm just hoping to like, you know, produce that consistently is the, is the big challenge I think for me.
Jared: So, uh, as we kind of alluded to at the outset, that's not the only thing you're doing. As a matter of fact, it's only one of many things that you're doing. I. , um, I'm gonna ask about the podcast on the, uh, on, at the end. Okay. I, I just decided right now. Okay. I wanna talk about your websites you're building on the side.
Yeah. Um, because obviously we, we talk to a lot of people here who are building websites as a side hustle, or is there full-time gig? What got you into building websites and I Was it like chicken or the egg here? You know, was it the agency was always the precursor and then because you got good at the agency, you started building.
Or did the websites come first and the agency was something that came out of the fact that you knew how to build websites?
Emil: Yeah, it was, uh, I started the agency and so years ago I started investing in rental properties, not in California, because as you and I know, very cost prohibitive, it's hard to make money.
So I was actually buying rental properties in like the Midwest, getting a property manager and just, uh, you know, owning 'em passive. Rental properties aren't passive. But, um, you know, I'd always been do a whole podcast on that . Yeah. For real. So, you know, I'd always, I've always liked the idea of owning assets.
The agency, to me, the way I have it structured, it's not, I don't really view it as an asset. It's not sellable. Right. Cuz it's really me and contractors. So, you know, there's some agencies that are set up where it's an asset, it can be sold, but mine wasn't. So I was like, man, what am I doing that's gonna build up assets that are investments?
And so I kind. , I think I ran into John Dykstras blog Somehow Fat Stacks like late one night on the couch and realizing like, oh my God, you can make how much from display ads now. Like I, I remember way back in the ad sense days where people were earning nothing, right? Like nothing. And I was like, man, this guy's making 80 k a month off of display ads.
And so I just, I went down the rabbit hole. I think I bought his course and. , uh, I just made the leap. I'm like, man, if I'm doing this for clients, I should be building my own stuff as well. Like I have the ability, it's, it's different for client stuff. You need to get conversions, you need to get customers on, on the website side, you can really just monetize eyeballs.
So it's like a different SEO game, but I've feel like I've been decent at both of those. Um, so I just started building up my own stuff. Wanted to like have my own assets that, you know, truly felt like assets bringing in. , um, yeah,
Jared: I'm just looking over our notes right here. Yeah. You have three sites now.
Yeah. Um, you know, and they're all at different phases and different journeys. Uh, let's, I mean, I wanna spend the bulk of the time talking about kinda the bigger one, but. It sounds like the first site you started, um, you know, did well out, has done well. I mean, and that's rare, by the way. I don't think many people, their first site kind of really goes anywhere.
Yeah. I think, uh, for a lot of us, it's, we make all the mistakes and maybe we forget to reregister the domain or something happens and it just fades away into the distance. What was the process like getting going and, and getting that first cycle in?
Emil: Yeah. Luckily, you know, again, I've had, I have a background in seo.
I think that gave me a leg up. I didn't have to like learn with the first site. It was more so learning how to monetize traffic in a different way and finding just low competition keywords that don't necessarily need, uh, conversion intent behind them. Um, so yeah, I just started that site. I, I kind of gave myself a 5K budget.
I was like, all right, 5k. I can easily invest that into a site and we'll see what happens. So I quickly built, I think, 40 articles to the. Uh, I paid a VA in the Philippines, who I've known for years, who helps me with link building, paid him to, you know, build links. I think we did like 20 links, and that was like my 5K budget, 40 articles, 20 links, and I just let it sit there.
And I went after like really random terms that just had really low competition. Had a bunch of other sites that had low domain ratings ranking for those keywords. Uh, let it sit for six, seven months and all of a sudden, you know, it just rises out of the, out of nothing goes like 1000 page views a month.
The next month it does six. The next month it does 16. The next it does like 30 without me really touching it, all of a sudden it just, it just woke up. So, mm-hmm. , I feel like part of it was luck. Part of it was, you know, I'm just choosing the right keywords and again, knowing SEO and having a process and, you know, just using that budget and, and working the process.
Jared: I'm guessing. Did you follow the a. a similar approach that you take with your agency where you, you've kind of outsourced all the work, but you headed up the strategy, you did the, the strategic parts, and then had people writing, had
Emil: people building links. Exactly. So find, find writers on Upwork who know about the topic, who can write about it.
Well, uh, and I'm just, I'm doing keyword research and creating briefs, which are just an outline of what I want the person to cover because, you know, again, as an SEO, I know how to. Top 10 results. Figure out what needs to be covered, where are the gaps, what else can I do? What's a unique angle to help me rank in Google and just outsourcing all the actual work.
Jared: So where's that site at now you said about 40 articles, about 20 links. You let it sit, started getting page views. I mean, I, if I, if I paste myself correctly, you started that somewhere in 2021 and we're recording. You know, beginning of 2023 ish, first quarter of 2023. So, uh, what, what's going on with the site
Yeah, you were right. I started in May of 2021. Okay. Uh, you know, now it's kind of on, on, uh, autopilot. Like I do a little bit of keyword research, send it to the writer. I have a VA who uploads it into WordPress. I just do a final review. It probably takes me like two hours. That thing made tw 1200 bucks last month between Amazon affiliated and ads probably.
80% of that is, is ads, 80, 90%. And then the rest of the, uh, revenue is Amazon. And it'll probably do similar, maybe a little bit more this month. So not bad. That's a little side for not much work anymore. And
Jared: I mean, have you taken your eye off that, like, in terms of, doesn't sound like you're putting a ton of content onto it anymore.
It sounds like after you got that first initial batch live, you've sort of autopilot it or just done a little
Emil: bit every. Yeah, so I'm, I'm basically just doing, I have it four articles a month is my, is my goal mainly because that costs me like 200, 2 50 and you know, I get to just pocket a thousand bucks.
I don't think this. Site is like long term going to be a killer. I just kind of, you know, a thousand bucks, I'll cash flow a thousand bucks until either a Google update or maybe I'll sell it at some point if it kind of just maintains and grows slowly. I just, I know off of working internally, client sites, whatever, if you just let us site sit, it starts to decay.
You just need to. , you know, your eye on it. Keep fresh content, update some old stuff if it really needs it, or else they just decay. So you know, you gotta pay a little, play a little defense too.
Jared: You kind of teased where I was going with that. Cause I, I wanted to ask, obviously you have other sites and so at some point, again, I'm gonna guess like late 2021, early 2022, you started to say, okay, this site isn't my, I'm gonna put my priority towards another site or two.
I, I'm always fascinated to hear why that is. Right? Like, why does somebody move on from a site? Yeah. You talked about the, the, the ceiling of this site, maybe not being as high, but are there other reasons and, and again, how can people who are thinking of starting another site or wanting to move on, how do they decide when the right time is to split their focus or move on from one project to the.
Emil: Yeah, so this one, this one was kind of a unique situation. It was towards, it was like September, October of 2021. Site wasn't getting any traffic really. I was, I'd spent my 5K on just letting it sit. A friend of mine who I used to work with, uh, at a startup years ago, he had this site that he had started in like 20 15, 20 16.
Worked on it nights and weekends, was an awesome site. He had 14 articles and this. would average 30 to 60, maybe even 70,000 page views a month. You know, it's, it's a sports site, so it's, se has some seasonality and he hadn't touched it in years, and it's kept either maintaining or growing. So to me, I just know, I'm like, man, Google likes this site.
He hasn't touched it in years, and it's still like growing some. So I just, I knew this site had a ton of potential. It was, it was done really well. He created all 14 articles. They were, they. done really well, and I tried to buy it off my friend, and he, he wanted, you know, he put so much time and energy and money into it that he kind of wanted this ridiculous valuation, even though it was, it was making like a hundred bucks a month off of.
you get passive core sales. And I was like, man, I, I can't pay you like 30, 40 grand for this thing that makes a hundred bucks a month. . Yeah. So we ended up, we ended up just doing like a partnership deal where he retained 20% equity, uh, and cash flow. So either monthly cash flow or when we sell it, you know, he gets a 20% stake and I took 80% without, uh, having to pay him anything.
And man, that's, that's, so that's my main site. I. , uh, would it be helpful to just talk about like what we, what I did after acquiring it, or Please do.
Jared: Yeah. And the timeframe helps a lot too because it's, it's, it's great. Like you didn't, you didn't actually say it, but you had almost moved into this deal before your first site had really hit that growth trajectory.
Right, exactly. Um, but then this second site sounds like such an amazing opportunity and so it makes total sense that you wanted to jump on it.
Emil: Yeah, and it was also the niche I was start. I just, I knew that niche or I felt that that niche had a very affluent audience and would just be more likely to like monetize better, right?
Like advertisers, they knew who, if your site is getting, you know, like tech sites, that's why they earn so much is because, you know, tech people usually affluent or spend a lot of money, whatever they advertisers pay more. Your affiliate deals are better. All that stuff. So I kind of just was like, I feel like this site has a lot of.
And I want to invest a lot of money in it. So, uh, 2021, I end up, you know, having to lay the foundation going and finding writers who know about this topic, training them all this stuff. Fast forward to 2022, end up creating 300. We got to like 50 articles by the end of 2021. And then 2022 was like heavy reinvestment year.
I, we got to 350 articles basically by the end of the year. So 300 articles in a year. . So, and the numbers, if we wanna talk about like what it did in revenue. So we had 58 K in revenue for that site. Expenses came out to 34 K. So 24 K in profit on that site last year. Mm-hmm. .
Jared: Mm-hmm . And that probably came on the backside of spending all that money on the content up
Exactly like the first six months of the year. It's like, you know, 8 90, 1320, 300 3500 4k, and then 5,700. And then you start July 6500 6957, 58, 7200 8100. So like you said, back half of the year, it's really just starting to pick up traffic. Hit like a hundred fifty, a hundred seventy five by the end of the year.
So it just exploded after all that. ,
Jared: it's, it's, there's so many different things I wanna ask you about, because in essence, you bought an age domain Yep. That already had a substantial amount of traffic. And, um, you know, I, I, one of the problems with buying an age domain or working off of an age domain can be that it takes a little while for Google to kind of recr it and for, um, your new content.
Get picked up and figured out by Google. I'm, I'm using loose tumors on purpose. Yeah. But you know, this site, it was, it's such a weird dichotomy. It was getting a ton of traffic, but it hadn't had an article published in a long time. Did you find that the content was kind of getting traction quickly? Uh, or was it a really, really, really long slogged until you started seeing Google even, you know, really pick up a lot of the articles and give them, um, and, and give them a lot of.
Emil: so like, let's even, let's just pull some numbers. So by March of 2022 we had 90 articles. Uh, actually let's look at February cuz then we can compare year over year. So February we had 71 articles on the site, uh, and pages were 40,000, where I think the previous February in 2021, before I had acquired the site, uh, I think it was like 30,000.
So, created a ton of con It just, I think it's more so what you're talking about took a while this. 20, 23, February, we had 360 articles and then 172,000 pages. So even with a site that had traction, I think the fact that it hadn't had any new content in a while, and I was starting to diversify into more affiliate best of type articles, like just different styles of verticals, it still took a while for that engine to turn on where, I mean, you've seen it, right?
Like there's a point where a site. seen so favor favorably that you publish an article and literally two weeks later you're number five. Number four, like you're just in Google as good graces and they really like anything to publish and you're, you're moving fast.
Jared: Before we jump into the podcast, I wanted to let you know that today's episode is sponsored by Search Intelligence.
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Jared: If you want similar link building PR campaigns for your. Head to search-intelligence.co.uk and get in touch with them now. So what was the strategy with the content when you came in? Um, you talked about kind of how you targeted these kind of buyer terms maybe later on down the journey.
What was the approach when you, you came into a site that had, I think you said 14 articles, so kind of. I don't wanna say like a brand new site, but from a content perspective, you certainly hadn't saturated the, uh, the niche yet. The topic .
Emil: Yeah. Yeah. What's funny is those 14 were actually pretty competitive terms.
They just have so much search volume and so many long tails that, uh, it still did insane, you know, in a traffic per article. What I started doing was going for more long tail stuff. Mm-hmm. and. Different clusters, whereas the, the 14 were just random topics that covered a, a good breadth of topics within the niche.
I was like, all right, you know, it, there's like a little cluster here of keywords that have low competition. Let's write five or 10 of those, see how they perform. Let's try another five or 10 in this different cluster on this topic. And so you start to see is after six months, nine months, whatever. Google loves you for that topic.
What, like some topics you may not have hit other ones, they just, they think you're authoritative enough and they rank all those variations of, of, uh, clusters within that, you know, topic. So that was kind of, that's usually my approach is let's hit a different, couple different clusters that seem to have, uh, keyword, you know, keyword difficulty.
I don't care as much. I want to more associate sites that don't have a ton of authority ranking.
Jared: I've asked this question many times before. Um, you're alluding to which direction you went, but I kinda wanna hear you flush it out a bit. Yeah. Um, you know, you talked about going after low competition keywords.
You, you talked about that a lot with your first website. You, you mentioned it here. You've also talked about kind of topical silos, really going after clusters rather than just going after perhaps the lowest competition keywords in your niche. Mm-hmm. , you know, cuz a website, you know, when you start doing keyword research for a.
You can look at the broad niche as a whole and find a lot of really low competition keywords, and they're all related to the the broader niche, but they might not all be in the exact same cluster, or you can go, Nope, I'm not gonna worry as much about how easy each keyword is. I'm gonna zero in on this cluster and I'm gonna write everything about this cluster first before I move on to something else.
do you have opinions about which approach to go with? Did you go after a specific one there? Did you sprinkle both in?
Emil: I think it was more of a hybrid. So I would look at a cluster and sometimes half of the keywords in it were hard to rank for because they had the higher volume and you know, the bigger sites are picking 'em up and they don't go after the stuff that's like 300 searches a month.
So I would, I wouldn't cover the whole cluster. I would choose the easiest to rank within it, like the five easiest. See how I did there. And then if I have good authority, Google's ranking me for those. I'm gonna go back to it later and cover the rest of them.
Jared: Yep. Smart. So you kind of lay down a footprint in each of the clusters and then sit back and kind of watch which one Google gives you the most love for, and then zero in on that one.
Emil: Exactly. Mm-hmm. . And then, you know, over time it, I think it changes. It's like you have a couple writers on board. You start to see what they're naturally good at writing, and you start to feed them topics within that, uh, you know, them being experienced in that, that niche, that topic. You can ask them what products they use and you can just have them start knocking out reviews for those.
Um, so yeah, it kind of evolves, but early on it's, it's fine clusters and then choose the easiest one within it to kind of, to see if you can build up authority in that or, yeah. Mm-hmm. ,
Jared: well, let's catch up to where that site is today. Like maybe anything you're comfortable sharing in terms of page views or, um, uh, revenue or, uh, yeah.
Well, you know, you know all the numbers that, that people like to hear .
Emil: Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, I did, I figured you would ask me that. So I did a little bit of math looking at the last six months. Our average revenue is about 30, uh, 6,700 and. , uh, again, seasonal and we're out of season and we're moving into the season, so that number should be good.
I'm hoping for as long as, you know, knock on wood, no major Google update, which, you know, let's, let's be real, we're gonna turn this off and probably have a Google update this afternoon. Uh, actually what launched
Jared: this morning, but who's keeping back? Oh, did it?
Emil: Uh, yeah, of course it did. Uh, my, my goal or just looking at year over year, I think we can get to 10 k plus.
pretty soon here. So, and that was on, so the last month we did 6,700 in revenue on 172,000 page views. Okay.
Jared: How are those, um, split in terms of the page views or just the articles in general? Or is it, um, is it a lot of affiliate targeted pages? You know, like reviews, buying guides, um, are you monetizing with, uh, ads on informational.
Emil: Yeah. So I have, uh, right now two-thirds, so 67% of the revenue is coming in from ads. So we use adri. The other one-third, 23 per or 33% is coming from affiliate, either, it's mostly Amazon. We just picked up one direct affiliate because, uh, they really liked us and gave us good terms. And so I was like, all right, let's try 'em out.
See how that goes. Mm-hmm. , uh, we actually, so I do, I still put ads on. My affiliate articles cause mm-hmm. , a lot of people don't convert on those. I actually just, so I worked with, with Adri to create a, a different layout structure for affiliate ads. So like I, a lot of times you see ads show up within the text of like talking about a product within a list and it's kind of, it's not the greatest experience.
And so what I had them do is like, we created a a header type or header class, and when that's in there, they only put ads above. H two s or certain H three. So that is just a little bit cleaner. It has less ads and hopefully we just get more conversions on the actual products. And then on info content, you know, it's, it's much more adene, I would say.
Jared: Yep, yep. Um, that's great, man. So that, I mean, I'm just doing a little backwards back in the napkin math. I mean, you've. A site that's probably worth, I don't know, somewhere in the $250,000 range in just over a year. Um, congratulations. That's wonderful.
Emil: Thanks, man. Yeah, it's, uh, it's nice to have a head start and I'm, I'm happy to talk about, like, should you start a fresh site?
Should you pick up, you know, clearly I, I probably have a bias now after going through this site and starting one from scratch, but. Um, yeah. Yeah. It's worth,
Jared: yeah, one that's probably worth 35, 40, 50,000. And I think I know what you're gonna say on this.
Emil: Yeah. Yeah. I, I mean, part of it is, again, lucky, uh, I think it's hard to find a good aged site, but when you do, you know, the, as you can see here, there's a lot of opportunity.
Jared: Uh, it's so funny you mentioned that because, um, I've just been talking recently about, um, a website that we've grown quite a. , uh, on my side, and it started with somewhat of a similar story. I mean, they're not all the same, but it was a, a very, an older website that, you know, so it was an age domain, but it had a lot of content and it actually was a bit of an authority in its space rather than just being a, a drop domain that you pick up because the backlink profiles good.
You're kind of trying to repurpose. So there's probably something to that in your story. I know, you know, I've worked with some major domains before and this is the most successful one I've had, and it really did. A true authority in Google's eyes about some of the topics that were still live on that page.
Emil: Yeah. I would be, I think at this point, very hesitant to like go to Otis or something else and just pick up or from an auction and pick up like an age domain that really hasn't been active. It just whatever. It got some links back in the day, but you really have to play this revival game and hope you're in.
Google's good graces versus this was a site yet, hadn't been touched in a while, but it was still there. It had good content. And it was getting traffic, like it was very clear to me that, uh, Google liked it, just the owner, you know, was focusing on different things and neglecting it. And so like, I think it's, it's the needle in the haystack, and that's the ultimate thing to find is can you find a site that someone's been was working on?
They put a lot of a love and attention to, but just don't have time anymore. And you can scoop it up.
Jared: It it, I mean, in essence, this site sort of fell in your lap. And I, I don't, I'm being very broad struck by saying, Obviously it's your network of connections, your experience in this industry that allowed you to kind of be available when it, the conversation needed to happen.
But, um, you know, I'm trying to think about the person that says, yeah, that's the kind of site I would like to get started on. Um, what are some things that people can look for, especially not necessarily being able to see the backend analytics or the traffic on these. That, um, that you had the luxury of seen here?
Like what are some things people could look for if they wanted to go down the route you went down with this site?
Emil: Uh, that's a good question. I do feel like I got really lucky. Um, I knew someone who, you know, just happened to follow my lap, worked out for him too, right? He's basically doing nothing and now he owns 20% of a, the cash flow on the site and then if it sells, um, you know, I've heard a lot of people.
being active in Facebook groups or different communities. Uh, people post stuff like this. Like, Hey, I have this site that I'm looking to sell. I've been working on the site. I just don't have time. I think for the most part you find, uh, these really good deals and sites that people have been working on in love in these, you know, dark communities.
I know people find him on marketplaces too, I think. You know, they're public. You're going up against people who really know what they're doing. They know how to bid on it. They, they know the value of it, maybe more so than I would have at the time. So I think getting in communities, talking to people, seeing if any, you know, even just asking, Hey, is anyone interested in selling a site that they've been working on the site for?
Whatever. You know, I know other people who've kind of done the same thing. Maybe they've built up their Twitter network and then they post, I'm looking to acquire a site. You know, they maybe. , the three things they're looking for in a site. You know, um, Ryan Deran, I think you, you know him off Twitter as well.
He, he picked up a site from, uh, I think in the gaming niche and he picked it off, off, off somebody who actually came with the acquisition and now they're writing for the site. So it's like you got the best of both worlds. You got the person who like was giving it all the love and attention you get to pay them for writing versus maybe they had a hard time monetizing it and you're the seo and you know how to.
the aqua hire. That's the best. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I want one of those next, honestly.
Jared: Yeah. , well you, you're, you're getting my mouth. Uh, my mouth's watering as you thought in the possibilities of these kind of things. Cuz you're right. I mean, starting a a fresh site on a fresh domain is, um, there's, there's a, there's a ramp up, there's a timeframe that you have to be patient Yeah.
With it. And then Yeah. Buying an age domain that you kinda like what you talked about. One where you have to Revit. , uh, there's, there's a gamble there, and then there's a waiting game there. And so, you know, uh, certainly there's some drawbacks. If you buy a site and the content isn't awesome, but you, you really kind of hit a home run with this one.
You got a site that Google loved content was good and had just been, uh, ignored and under monetized. You're able to get a really good deal on it and then just pour gasoline on a, on a fire that was ready to start.
Emil: Yeah. Yeah. I think a lot of luck, like obviously I'm not gonna. A lot of the work that went into nights, weekends, whatever, working on the side, you know, agency is my main thing.
This is like the side hustle for now. Uh, but yes, I feel like I got super lucky in just finding the right thing where, you know, I saw it had a lot of opportunity and I knew the person who owned it, so it just made it a lot easier. . So lemme ask
Jared: you a couple more questions about some of the, the details if I could.
Yeah, I mean we've really gone into it on the content side and um, yeah, hit me. Uh, it's so funny cuz it makes sense on paper when you look back on it. It's like, oh yeah, got this side and, you know, poured 300 articles into it and now making a bunch of money. But the mental side of putting that many articles on a site and having it not really go anywhere yet is Yeah, like there.
I'd like to have a moment of silence for probably the mental anguish you were going through doing that . But, um, luckily,
Emil: honestly, it started earning, it was like three to four months of me pouring a lot of money in without it doing anything. And then by mo month four or five, it was at least breaking even to cover my content cost.
So I sh I should mention that. .
Jared: Well, that's good that, that, that, that, that quells a little bit of the emotional, um, you know, like expenditure that you probably had to make. Right. Um, you know, what about, um, what about the link side of things We didn't talk about? If this site had a lot of links coming into it.
Sometimes these older websites have picked up a lot of links and so the link building. side of growth isn't as, um, as big of a deal. Yeah. At other times, maybe, you know, you really get a site that doesn't have any links and, and that might be something you need to turn to. What have you done for link building for this
Yeah, so early on when I got it, um, had a couple hundred, I think the DR was like a 2020 something. Um, , I started using my VA in the Philippines to build links. You know, they're like niche edit, not amazing quality, but they're links we make, you know, we have a couple of guardrails in place to make sure that these sites, uh, have some organic traffic going to them.
So, you know, Google hasn't, you know this as well as I know it's very easy to, to, to game hfs, to have a 60, 70 DR on a site that literally gets no traffic. Mm-hmm. . So we have some more guardrails to, to make sure that. that the site actually gets some traffic. Uh, but most of my money went into content in the beginning and then mm-hmm.
actually midway through last year. I'm thinking like, okay, what moat can I try to build here? Like, I am mostly relying on Google traffic. Like that's the game I play. I know a lot of niche site people are talking about diversification, email, social channels. I'm like, I kind of go the other way. I'm not going to diversify yet.
this is the one thing I know the best. Mm-hmm. , I'll go up with the ship, I'll go down with it. But like for me, going in five, you know, newsletters, social, all these things spreads me thin and I don't really, I'm not gonna be good at five things. I can try to just be really good at one. So what's my SEO mode?
I'm like, you know, I know the game content and links hadn't really built awesome, awesome links yet. So I think it was like July or August of last year, I spent 5,000 bucks on a digital PR campaign, which is basically, , you know, you have a, I have this agency I work with for some clients and I had them basically do it for this site, Ukraine article, data backed, you know, kind of clickbaity, but has really good content stats, all this like original research.
Um, and they go out and syndicated to a network of like local news sites. , bigger publications see those and pick it up and they all, the agency also goes and like pitches these publications on covering the story. And so I think we scooped up, I don't know, couple hundred syndicated links, which syndicated links.
There's debate on if that does anything. But we got like, I don't know, 40 or 50 original pickups. I think it was. Around 10 ish, 70 plus Dr. I forget. Some of the sites was like biz journals, SFGate, some of these like big sites that have good authority linking to this thing on our site. So, you know, link building is huge.
I don't think enough niche site builder, everyone's like, oh, I'd rather pour $5,000 in the content. I'm saying, look man, I, I've seen this game work out. The people who have the, the strongest sight, the best links, they usually weather the most storms over the long term. Long term. So I'm investing in some link building as well.
Jared: That is, um, probably a little bit of a different approach than a lot of, uh, you know, niche website builders certainly would go about. Yeah. And it seems like it's something that you prioritize pretty early. I mean, you were building some other. Kind of individual links, right? But you went after this approach and you were almost building a moat while you're still building the castle.
If I could borrow the analogy, , right? Um, you know, you're still getting a lot of traffic. Uh, uh, you're still sorry, building a lot of content to get that traffic while also building this moat. Um, Is that something like, what else can we learn from that? I mean, a lot of people might say, Hmm, I'll wait to do that until I've got all the traffic and I've got all the revenue.
You went a different direction. Like what can we learn from that?
Emil: Yeah, so I, as an agency owner, I get to work with different sites, and you probably see it too, niche sites get smacked way harder in updates than brand. And yeah. Why tur? Why
Jared: if I had to go through the emotional turmoil Yeah. And the tumultuous turmoil of an.
on the client side, like you have to on the niche website side. I don't think I'd ha, I don't think I'd be alive anymore. Right. Like they're just so much more stable on the client side. Same.
Emil: Yeah, exactly. And it's, I agree. If I saw a client side lose 50%, oh my gosh, my ego would be destroyed. Like, I know the game I'm playing with my sites, but client sites, it's a different feeling.
Um, totally. So I try to look at like, why, why does that happen? , you know, it's like what everyone says they're building a brand. Okay, but in search, like what does that mean for search? They get a lot of good quality links. They get a lot of publications talking about them. There's like real domains, real quality domains linking to them, talking about them, whatever they're getting, people searching for their brand name, things like that.
So what I'm trying to do while I'm not investing in like the whole brand side of newsletter and all this stuff, I do know. , good quality links are never a bad thing to invest in. And so I see it on the brand, on the client side, and so I'm trying to apply that to, you know, the big money making niche sites that I own.
I probably wouldn't do that for the first site I started just yet because it doesn't quite earn enough and I don't think the potential is there. Mm-hmm. . But for this one that was earning, you know, at the time I did that $5,000 campaign, it was, it was earning. , it wasn't any good. It was like five, 6,000 bucks a month.
It was like, it was a single month investment at that point. Yeah. Yeah. That month was negative because we invested $3,200 in writing as well. But you know, you average it out over the year and it's fine. Yeah, yeah.
Jared: Yeah. I, I love what you said there. It's such a good way to frame it. I mean, um, you know, one of our clients.
I have to email them every week and say, Hey, I, I see you were on two more podcasts. Can you ask them to, um, include a backlink? Yeah. , you know, like they're natively building their brand and the backlink strategy is secondary. We're, we're trying to keep up with the other brand components, whereas I feel like you're right, A lot of niche websites owners would be like, Hmm, I'm only going on that podcast if I can get a link out of it.
That's really the only value that podcast has for me. You know, it almost flips it on its head a bit. I love the way you
Emil: positioned it. Yeah. Yeah, that's, I've gone through that too, man. I feel. So,
Jared: um, you have a third site somewhere in here. Um, you know, uh, where did you have time to start a third site? Tell us a little bit about it.
We're running a little low on time, so, um, hopefully you haven't, you know, generated another $20,000 a month from this site and we have another hour ahead of us, like . I'm being facetious, but you do have a third side where, where did you start this and, and kind of, you know, where's that one at? Yeah, so
Emil: this one I started October of last year.
I think the only reason I started was because at the beginning of 2020, I wrote a goal of start or buy a new site, and I was like, I just wanted to check it off. And from the first two sites, I feel like I learned some stuff and I was like, all right, let's try to diversify with a third site. It's, uh, in the parenting niche, which, you know, a lot of people have mentioned on Twitter.
They're like, I would not touch parenting or mommy blogs with a 10 foot pole. Like, be I get Why? Because mommy bloggers, you know, there's a term for mommy bloggers. No one. It's not like any other type of blogger really has a name. I mean, maybe recipe bloggers, but, uh, my bet, and we'll see how this plays out.
I may be a fool. I may be not a fool. My bet is a lot of mommy bloggers are creating sites based on like passion and interest. Whereas again, I'm taking an SEO driven approach, seeing if I can find, you know, the same, same way I've built these other sites. Can I find these little nooks and crannies where uh, I can compete and.
outsource content to good, uh, people who know this industry, who know mom, like, we have one writer who is Montessori educated and she has like a master's in Montessori education, so like, clearly knows what she's talking about. The other one, she's mom of three, just a great writer and so I'm just taking a gamble.
I'm, uh, same process. I put like five 6K in that we've built, like I went a little harder on this one. I went like 50, 60 article. and doing some, you know, 20 back links and seeing what we get. So that one is in the, the seed marination phase, and we'll see what, what happens with that one. Uh, Spencer
Jared: owned a mommy blog for a couple years.
Um Oh really? And it was fun. Follow, went along on that. I think he sold it. I he did sell it, I think. I think.
Emil: Do you know what? Just keep up more. Did he do well or was it like he just ran up against, it was just too hard to rank in, in that space. .
Jared: Well, given that we're live and recording, and I'm not a hundred percent sure, I don't want to say Okay.
I think he did all right. I think he sold that one around the time that he sold his, um, niche site Project Foresight. Okay. But again, I think it was around that time, so, um, and I remember, I do remember him sharing about a lot of the challenges he had at that industry. Right. Because it's so different and unlike any other industry.
And, and when you said that, that's what sparked my memory of, of what Spencer had when he was up against, with.
Emil: Yeah, we'll see. Um, I'm just gonna let this site sit, see what it does for the next couple months. If it starts to do the same thing with the first site, I'll go back and start reinvesting, you know, get some ads up on it, reinvest revenue into creating more content.
If it doesn't really go anywhere, I don't know, maybe I'll sell it as a starter site and, and, uh, go buy a site like we've talked about someone who just has a good site that's been ignored for a while. Right,
Jared: right. So, I mean, 20, 23 and beyond, I. Uh, what are the, what are the plans like circling back full circle here?
You know, big picture, that was the word I was looking for. Big picture, like you got an agency doing very well, maybe expecting a little bit of a downturn in 2023. Mainly just cuz of where the global economy might be. You've got these websites that are kicking off and doing really well going into the year.
I mean, are you gonna continue to invest in these. Sell site, um, expand more on the agency and go harder there. I'm just so curious. You have, you have a lot of, lot of different options on the table to pursue. Yeah,
Emil: I'm, um, I'm trying not to use like a marker to say this is where we're headed. I'm kind of, it's nice.
I've made a couple bets. The agency I think will always be there. The nice thing about these sites is, you know, earlier this year, business was slow. I got to put more energy. the content sites. And so when, when agency client stuff picks up, I focus a little less on client sites or on on my personal sites.
So I like the balance of having 'em both. I think the main site still has a ton of potential. This year will be the year of we created so much content and I feel like we've improved the structure and the way we do thi you know, over time you develop like new templates for your affiliate articles or different.
So right now I'm actually in the process of not creating a ton of new content, but going back and improving a lot of the affiliate, uh, affiliate focused content. So this will be the year of slow growth in terms of new content. I don't just want to do another 300 articles, but really like optimize everything we have and improve it.
Make sure it's up to standard. And that we're monetizing what we have as well as we can, and then we will, we'll see. I don't know. We'll see where that takes us.
Jared: Yeah. Yeah. I, I didn't get a chance to ask you about some of the, some of the more nuances, right? Like updating content and, um, you know, e a t or, you know, these kind of nuanced things that are important.
But, you know, obviously they, there's a time and a place for them.
Emil: Yeah. Yeah. I agree.
Jared: Yeah. Amidst all this, you decided to start a podcast as well, , which I've cut a couple episodes. It's great. It's with, um, it's, it's with a former, uh, guest we've had on before here as well, which was a great podcast episode.
Um, you know, what are you guys, what are you guys talking about on that podcast? What are the focuses?
Emil: Yeah, so Andrew Biebert, who's, uh, my co-host on Seeking Profit, he owns, uh, lasso, which is a tool. Affiliate marketers. He approached me like a couple four months ago and he is like, Hey, what do you think about starting a podcast?
I really wanted to, and, uh, you know, things were a little slow towards the end of the year. I'm like, okay, sure. Why not? Why not add another thing to my plate? Uh, you know, we, the, the things we're trying to do with this one is really go internal on our business, and as we test things and try things. , we're just sharing that with the audience, internal operations, how we do certain things, how we find writers, how we create content briefs, what we look for, insights.
So just diving deep into our own businesses. And then Andrew gets to see a lot of big sites through his clients that customers at Lasso. So, you know, without mentioning them, we get to like, pick out what they're doing and, and share that with the audience. So, um, you know, another great resource. I, I love your podcast.
I listen to it every. , you know, awesome guests and you get to kind of see what different people are doing. And ours is, uh, you know, doing something. We're just more introspective on like, what's going on in our businesses and stuff like that.
Jared: Yeah, it's super in depth. Yeah. The couple I listened to were really in depth.
I lo I love that. Uh, thanks man. Well, we'll include a note. Uh, we'll include a, a link, sorry, in the show notes. For the podcast as well. And, um, you're pretty active on Twitter. Uh, that's where you and I kind of have gotten connected. What's your handle on
Emil: Twitter? Yeah, I'm, uh, at Amil Shore, which no one can probably figure out how to spell.
So that's, uh, E M I l S H O U R.
Jared: Perfect. Okay. We'll get all that in the show notes. I, um, it's, uh, this was fun. You have a lot going on . You have a lot going on. I love it. Um, we probably, going back to your analogy, we. , uh, definitely covered the breadth of the topics, but I feel like we could have gone in depth on any of them.
Any of the four or five things you have going on, we probably could have gone in depth on each of those for an hour each, but, um, but maybe we'll do a part two down the road. Yeah, so thanks, uh, thanks for coming on board. Hey, I'm excited to see what 2023 and beyond looks like. You have a lot of different, you know, different plate spinning and you, but you clearly have a good handle and a good grasp on which ones, um, are the priorities at different times.
So, congrats on your success and your growth in the last year or two and, um, long may it.
Emil: Thanks, man. I appreciate that. I'm, I'm following in your footsteps. You're doing the same thing. You've got the agency, you've got this podcast, and you've got your own site. So, you know, we're, we're both juggling similar things here.
Jared: are strikingly, um, uncanny, uh, obvious Yeah. In many ways, which I only sort of knew and, uh, I half knew before we got in the podcast, but yeah, no, you and I are, and we're just, you know, 90 miles away from each other, so,
Emil: yeah. Yeah, my brother-in-laws live in San Diego, so I, you know, go there down there with my family once or twice a year.
So let's meet up, let's hang
Jared: out. You got it. Yeah, I'd like, I started the podcast with Man, everyone is all over the world and it's so awesome. But I don't see enough people in person I know in this industry, so that would be great. Same. Well, well, until that happens, I mean, it's been, uh, it's been great talking and, uh, we'll catch up with you again
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