Today, I have somebody joining me as a guest on a podcast, his name is Scott Williams from BloggingTrainer.com.
Scott’s story is pretty interesting because like many of you, he has tried and failed to build a few niche websites and his luck changed when he decided, “you know what, instead of trying to build everything from scratch, I’m going to go out and buy a website that’s already making money so that I can use that website and learn from.
He invested some money, about $28,000, to buy a website making about $1,000 dollars back in October 2016, so just a few months ago, 4 or 5 months ago. That has turned out to be a great investment for him so far.
The site as of January 2017 is making about $2200 per month. Scott has done very well, he’s doubled the revenue of that website. During this interview, we’re going to dive into what’s working well for him, what he did to revamp the website and make it perform better, and then of course what he’s done now in terms of link building and outreach and a few other things in between so hopefully you enjoy the interview.
Read the Full Transcript
Spencer: Hey everyone! Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. . Today, I have somebody joining me as a guest on a podcast, his name is Scott Williams.
Scott’s story is pretty interesting because like many of you, he has tried and failed to build a few niche websites and his luck changed when he decided you know what, instead of trying and building everything from scratch, I’m going to go out and I’m going to buy a website that’s already making money so that I can use that website and learn from what’ working on that website, why is it doing so well?
He invested some money, about $28,000, to buy a website making about $1,000 dollars back in October 2016, so just a few months ago, 4 or 5 months ago. That has turned out to be a great investment for him so far. The site as of January 2017 is making about $2200 per month. Scott has done very well, he’s doubled the revenue of that website. During this interview, we’re going to dive into what’s working well for him, what he did to revamp the website and make it perform better, and then of course what he’s done now in terms of link building and outreach and a few other things in between so hopefully you enjoy the interview. Hey Scott, welcome to the Niche Pursuits Podcast.
Scott: Hey, thanks a lot Spencer, glad to be here.
Spencer: Yup, it’s good to have you on here as well. What I love is that I’ve been doing a few interviews with Niche Pursuits podcast listeners and readers that are having some success with their niche sites and you certainly fit into that category, and we’re going to jump into that. But before we do, can you give us an idea of your professional background, what you either do for work now or previous to building websites.
Scott: Yeah, in the past I’ve done a lot of sales. I was a door to door salesman for security alarms and financial services net marketing company. Got my real estate license which I still have, I’m still active in, so I still do that. I’m pretty decent in sales, it makes some good money but the hassle of sale just gets to you sometimes and I just want an area where I can get out of that. I kind of take no’s personally sometimes, and you’re not supposed to.
I also went back to school, got a graphic design degree. I learned a lot about web design, user experience design, really just how to communicate visually. During school, my dad owned a business and he let me work for him a little bit during school and after. I helped him with his internet marketing for his websites. We actually created a small little ecommerce site which was kind of fun. That’s was kind of my first exposure in building websites, but that’s kind of my background before all that happened.
Spencer: Give us a timeline, maybe not a timeline but when was the first sort of ecommerce site that you mentioned, when did you build that?
Scott: That was probably about five years ago. He owned a hearing aid company, he wanted a site that talked more about earplugs and selling earplugs, really anything about the ears. The domain was cheapearplugstore.com and we made like $200 each month without doing any SEO or link building or anything because I had no idea what any of that even was. We just built it and tried to see what would happened and we actually made a little of money.
He sold the business in 2015 and the company wanted that website as well but they’re doing nothing with it. That was probably my first one.
Spencer: Yup, but that gave you some good experience.
Scott: It did.
Spencer: Where did you kind of go from there as far as your online business? What other websites did you built, ventures that you pursued that led you to where you are now?
Scott: I built four websites total, probably one after the other. Thinking like oh yeah that ecommerce site did good, this is easy. That definitely isn’t the case. I built four, had no success on the four, made no money on those four, and kind of gave up a little bit but then I started following blogs like you and some other people. They were great, they kind of motivated me a little bit more. Finally, I was just like you know what, I just need to just buy one. I don’t think something that a lot of people jump to, like oh I’m going to go spend $30,000 after failing on four that were free. That’s the step that I decide to take and it kind of worked out for me.
Spencer: That is interesting because I do think a lot of people have the same sort of genesis story that they try a couple of websites and maybe they don’t perform that well. That certainly was my story as well, I built a few websites that never really went anywhere but I cut the bug and luckily I stuck with it and I kept building but I never bought. Take us through that decision, at least to get started, I have purchased websites now but early on that never crossed my mind. What sort of led you to that decision to buying such a big website?
Scott: I know a guy down here, I don’t if you know him, Kurt Christianson. He does a lot of seminars for internet marketing I think. He talked to me about how he got started and he’s like, “I used to buy websites, but that was like a long time ago.” After I had failed on the four, that kind of popped into my mind and I was like I’m going to look into that.
I kind of looked into that a little bit and what was attractive about it was if I could get a website that’s already making some money, maybe I can see how it works on the back end. Maybe I can see the inner workings of the successful sites that’s gained traction in Google and I could really see how it all works and what I’m doing wrong and what I need to do there. That’s really what led me to buy one. I did a lot of research, keyword research because I gained a lot of knowledge in all my research to figure out how to do that and what a good site would be. That was all knowledge because I had no experience, I kind of got lucky I feel like and got a really good one that could grow.
Spencer: Where did you find the site?
Scott: We went through Empire Flippers.
Scott: I looked a lot of different ones like Flippa and things like that but Empire Flippers I felt most confident about, so we went with them.
Spencer: How much was the site making when you purchased it, and if you don’t mind sharing what did you pay for site?
Scott: I bought the site the first week of October, it was about $1,000 a month is what it was averaging. They had a 28 times multiplier, so it was about $28,000 and some change. I forget the exact. That was about $28,000 and it was averaging $1,000.
Spencer: So when you say October, just this previous October 2016?
Scott: Yeah, four months ago.
Spencer: And you keep saying we, is that you and a partner?
Scott: Yeah, my dad helped me out in there, I didn’t have the full $30,000. I got a nice little personal loan from him and he helped me out.
Spencer: Very cool. No, that’s awesome. It’s been four months, the site was making $1,000 a month, and how’s the site doing now?
Scott: It’s doing great. In November, I doubled it, it made over $2,000. In December, it peaked at $3,200, thanks to the holidays of course. Then in, January it just finished at around $2,200.
Spencer: Hey, that’s great. That’s a really good sign. Obviously at November and December there’s going to be a bump there due to the holidays, but seeing the January, it’s still over double what it did in October, I would say that’s excellent. What do you think the reasons are for that? What have you done to increase the earnings there?
Scott: Yeah, that’s a good question. When I bought the site, because of my graphic design knowledge and user experience knowledge, I did a lot of visual design changes because I know that doing that, just to make it look professional, and if you have a good logo it converts better. Since I didn’t know a whole ton about SEO but I still knew a little bit, I didn’t do that yet. I did a lot of just redesigning, making page flow better, user experience better, I saw a bump immediately just after that. That was a good sign.
Spencer: Interesting, let’s dive into that a little bit to give us a better idea. You mentioned logo and some graphic design. Did you also change the layout and how the site flowed itself?
Scott: The logo definitely, I always try to do that because I like to get a better identity. I treat the website like its own identity and I feel like the logo is that face. I always change that, but I also definitely change the pages and flow and have really good content on those posts to make sure that they’re flowing really nice for the reader and that it doesn’t look just like this academic paper, or they get bored and then they leave.
I make sure that there’s buttons and there’s easy ways for them to click those buttons and that they’re not spammy either. Just make it look real, like a real site that someone wants to read and that it flows. It’s easy for them to scan and go through.
Spencer: Absolutely, I agree with that, that can go a long way. We’re not going to share the domain on the podcast, like we talked about before. I can see the domain, you shared it with me privately. I’m kind of looking at the overall layout and feel of the website. And it is, it’s great. I see that, at least in the couple of articles that I’ve clicked on, you’re utilizing sort of comparison charts that are fairly typical I guess for Amazon affiliate sites. Were those in place before or is that something that you added after?
Scott: They were, but they didn’t look very good. I just kind of revamped them and there were really small pictures in them which I kind of took out because they can view the pictures bigger later. I added a check price button so that they could actually click through because there wasn’t anything to click on the old comparison tables. It was losing a lot of probably the conversion there because there just wasn’t any experience for them to click through.
Spencer: Interesting, do you remember what they were using before if it was like a tablepress plug-in or something like that?
Scott: When I bought it, it had Thrive content builder I think. They just used one of the tables that were inside of that. I just continued with that and just added on with those tables, but I do have Table Press on there which Table Press works great. For some of them, I have Table Press working on the pages and for some I’m just using the thrive table on the content builder.
Spencer: Very cool, that’s awesome. You’ve purchased the one site, the other site that you built from scratch haven’t really taken off too much at this point. Is that correct?
Scott: That is correct. Mainly because of my lack of knowledge but I’m going to get busy and get them going and we’ll see how they do.
Spencer: What’s the plan going forward with the site that you purchased? What is your plan to grow it even further?
Scott: I want to make it an authority site. I want to just grow and expand it like crazy. I hired a virtual assistant and she’s going to do a lot for me to leverage my time. I can’t do it all myself if I want to grow a lot and fast. She is doing a lot of outreach for me for guest posting and things like that. She’s also writing some content, and she’s kind of managing some of my flow and getting some block comments in on other people’s pages just for outreach and a little bit of social media.
I do a lot of the optimization and I’m also doing some outreach there and for link building opportunities and things like that. That’s kind of my first step into growing. I’m definitely going to add more posts and keywords and just lots of link building.
Spencer: I would like to dive into link building strategies here in a second, but since you’ve purchased a site, have you added content and if so how much have you added?
Scott: Yeah, I have. I’ve probably added on average about 6 posts a month, about 24 new. Some informational, some commercial to get people to click through Amazon. I’ve added quite a bit just so I can get my keyword count up so I can get more ranks.
Spencer: Do you remember how many articles the site had before?
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Scott: Yeah, it had about 60 I think?
Spencer: So you’ve increased it by a third or so?
Spencer: That’s awesome. I’m a big fan of content so I would encourage you to keep that up. Find new low competition keywords, try to be consistent about putting out great content because it really is fairly simple, right? If you’re trying to rank for more keywords, you probably are going to rank for more keywords as long as you’re giving readers what they want and of course what Google wants which is high quality content and reviews of the things you’ve already got. I would definitely encourage you to continue to build out content and do that keyword research.
The other thing that I do want to ask about is link building, what link building strategies have worked well for you on the site?
Scott: The top one right now is guest posting, I know that it’s slow and it’s tedious and it’s hard work, but it’s something that I feel like is really valuable especially if I get some good guest posts with good sites. I get a 4% conversion rate, I don’t know if that’s good or not based on what I do. I’ve averaged to 100. I’ve gotten a lot of guest posts which has been great and those have been really quality ones.
I’ve been trying to avoid black hat stuff, I’m kind of scared of it, especially PBN. I bought the site and it had a small PBN but I didn’t know much about it. I’d like to do more research on that since sometimes you see what the benefits are in there. But for now, just trying to stay white hat and guest posting for sure is the number one for now.
Spencer: Yeah, I agree. I think avoiding PBN is a good idea, at least that’s what I would recommend and trying to stay as white hat as possible. I know a lot of people love sort of grey hat or PBN type things but I think in the long run if you’re really trying to build a sustainable website and a sustainable business, just do things that Google approves of that you know are going to work long term and you don’t have to worry about anything.
The other sort of benefit is that if you ever decide to go and resell this website. If you decide, you know what this makes $3,000 a month, I can triple my money, let’s just sell this thing. You’ll get a higher multiple if you don’t have a PBN involved because there’s some risk there. Empire Flippers tend to disclose that to buyers and they say “Hey, there’s a PBN and the multiple as usual is a little bit lower.” You can command a higher price if you do everything white hat.
Spencer: Guest hosting, how are you finding sites to reach out to?
Scott: I’m using a book, I think they’re called bullion search things where you put site, colon, and then just the website. I’ll do that at the domain and then I’ll put guest post or write for us and just do a lot of different ways to try and search for those.
Instead of just leaving the search to just to let it be, I’ll actually go to the tools in Google and do a timeframe rather than open ended. Who’s doing this forever? I kind of go for like the last month first for that specific and see what comes up and searches for the last month, which has been really good for blog commenting which I kind of appreciate it because they’re a little bit more recent. I’ve been doing that to find and I just outreach everybody that I can through email. I’ll do some pretty outreach a little bit, kind of like them on Facebook, pat them on the back a little and do some comments and then outreach to see if they will let me guest post on theirs too. That seems to work very well.
Spencer: Yeah, it sound like it’s all fairly manual process, are you using any tools to help you along the way?
Scott: No, it’s all manual and probably slower than it should be. But it’s all manual.
Spencer: Hey, that’s okay. It seems like you’ve gotten a few links that way and the site’s growing. Right?
Spencer: There are certainly tools if you decided to do more outreach or to do it on a larger scale. There’s tools that will help you email people like GMass is sort of a way to email lots of people a similar thing at once through Gmail. There’s other tools that can maybe help you find contact information like Buzz Streams for websites. It sounds like you’re probably visiting every website, you’re seeing if they have a contact page or an email listed somewhere right?
Spencer: That can be time consuming as well.
Spencer: There’s tools like Buzzstream that you basically just plug on the URL and it will find the contact information for you and it saves a little bit of time.
Scott: Oh yeah, probably tons of time.
Spencer: Any other link building strategies that you’re using right now besides blog commenting and guest posting?
Scott: No, I’m actually starting a scholarship program. I’ve heard some good things about that. I’ve heard that it’s kind of an old process but I’d like to see if it works or not. I’m just kind of testing. That’s one thing that I’ve kind of learned online, you just kind of test and see what works for you. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing a little bit, just testing stuff out and see if it works, given the stuff is kind of an old strategy. I’m doing the scholarship thing to see if that’s going to work or not.
Spencer: Yeah, that can be a good one, it’s one that I’ve done in the past for sure. You can absolutely get links from great .edu domains. Sometimes, it’s questionable whether or not how valuable that link is. I think it can depend. If you’re listed on a scholarship page that has 500 other scholarships on that page, maybe your link isn’t that valuable, right?
Scott: Right, yeah.
Spencer: But, other time you’re listed on a page that has a little bit more authority and that can be valuable. It can be hit and miss at times but I think it’s absolutely worth testing out because it’s a great outreach tool, something that you can say, “Hey, we’re doing a scholarship.” People are usually willing to listen to that.
Spencer: When you look at what you’ve done in the last four months, you purchased a site, you’ve added content, you done some link building, you’ve done some design changes. If there was one thing that you think has been the most effective, what would that be?
Scott: Probably the guest posting actually, because I got a lot of immediate traffic from guest posts which was great, which led to a few sells. That was good and then I know that in the long term my domain will have more authority as it grows and gets more of those links there. I think that’s probably been the most effective, the guest posting.
Spencer: Cool! Yeah. That is something that I don’t know always think about and maybe a lot of other people don’t think about is that you can get that direct traffic. Hopefully if you’re posting on the site that actually has readers, actually gets traffic, there can be a lot of direct clicks coming over to your site. That’s awesome. Very good. Any other tips for building or buying niche sites that you’d like to share that’s worked for you?
Scott: Yes, because I had some failures in the past and then I get to see how this works, the tip or the value that I’d probably like to share that has affected me the most is actually following, because I’m still learning, right? Just following one mentor, or one or two. Preferably one, or a blogger that teaches the stuff when you’re really just starting out or just trying to figure out what to do if you’re kind of in a slump.
I feel like it’s easy to get pulled in multiple directions which I definitely have done. When I tried to do that and apply lots of different strategies from different sources, it just gets crazy and it’s backfired. The tip that I’d say is to follow one guy, one mentor, or whoever and learn from them. Do what they do and then get some success and then move on to the next and maybe apply some new strategies after that. That’s my goal anyway, just to continue to do that until I’ve perfected those things or at least come close and then move on.
Spencer: That’s a great tip. I think a lot of people, especially people just starting out, can have that information overload. They’re trying to read everything, listen to every podcast. They can get stuck, they’re not sure, they have 50 different ideas and they’re not sure where to start. I agree, I think just finding one or two people that their strategy seems to work and sticking with that and sort of developing a plan and trying to focus. I think that’s a great reminder for everybody.
I maybe going to turn the tables just a little bit, do you have any final questions for me, anything you’d like to ask me about either your new site or building sites or anything in general?
Scott: Yes, thanks for turning the tables, I wish I would have prepared some questions. I’ll throw some stuff out there. For somebody new like me, I have a little bit of experience like building and designing them, but really making money has only been a four month thing thanks to buying it. If I wanted to start a new one or things like that, what would be too many website to do? Should I just focus on this one until it starts making my desired income, should I work on this and also maybe build one from scratch? What’s your advice there?
Spencer: Well, that is a great question. I think it comes down to how well you think you can set-up systems and how much money you’re willing to invest in your business. If you’re willing to reinvest essentially every penny that’s coming in from the site that you purchased, you probably have enough funds there where you can hire, I think you already mentioned hiring a VA right? You could hire one or even two VA’s to be doing a lot of work for you.
I think when you’re starting out, I think focusing on one website is probably the best strategy. Once that starts to see some traction, it’s making $200 to $300 per month for people, then maybe move on to the next website.
I think at this point, you will be fine going out and starting one more website and just focusing on those two until you see the second website start getting some traction, making $200, $300, $500 per month and putting some sort of VA or system in place where they’re doing a lot of the manual labor and then you can move on and start another one. That would be my advice on that.
Scott: Okay great, thanks a lot.
Spencer: I sometimes have this problem for myself, because I have several websites that I’m working on and I think what can I handle now, and it comes down to how much am I willing to invest, am I willing to hire somebody else to help me out? I don’t have a lot of time at this point to do all the work myself. Sometimes it comes down to that, what are you willing to invest and what are you willing to risk. Great tips for what you’ve learned buying and building out the website. I think we pretty much covered everything that I wanted to cover. Do you have anything else that you’d like to share or any parting words of wisdom or anything like that?
Scott: I think just the last thing is to just do it, that’s something that has taught me just to go for it. I think stop waiting for a perfect program to come out or more time to come in your life to start. I think a lot of people are like when I talk to, they’re like, “Oh, I don’t have a lot of time, I just want to do this.” And they end up watching a show on Netflix. Nothing will change unless you do, if you want something you gotta get out and do it and go work hard until it works. One last plug out there to go out and do it.
Spencer: Everybody go out there, take action, I agree. I think that’s excellent advice. Scott, thanks for being on the podcast.
Scott: Yeah, thanks a lot.
Spencer: If people do want to get in touch with you, is there any way that they can do that?
Scott: Yeah, I have a personal site that people can contact me through there and it’s not much. It’s just there for me where I keep notes on there. I use it as a way to gather a lot of info and remember stuff. I’m going to make a tracking system for my success later, but for now it’s just there, people can go there, its bloggingtrainer.com. They can contact me there if they’d like.
Spencer: Perfect. So bloggingtrainer.com, if you want to get in touch with Scott you can do that. Like I said, Scott thank you so much for being on the podcast and thank you everybody for listening.