Can you imagine hitting $100k per month from your niche sites?
Well it’s certainly possible as today’s guest on the Niche Pursuits podcast will show you.
Jon Dykstra from FatStacksBlog.com is back on the podcast to drop some knowledge bombs. Jon is a popular figure due to his expert knowledge and ability to make substantial monthly profits from niche blogs. And his monthly income report for last month was around the $100k mark.
The former lawyer first appeared on the podcast in 2020, sharing lots of valuable information and tips about niche site creation. Today, he’s back with more advice and tips for those looking to replicate his success.
The conversation details general topics of building niche websites in addition to some new issues and topics. Jon advises about updating content, the process he uses on his largest website, and how he is future-proofing his websites to protect his earnings. Moreover, Jon shares his content publishing calendar and details how this blends in with his updating process.
Jared (our host) asks a great question about when it’s best to sell websites compared to keeping them, which leads to an interesting reply from Jon. He shares how he approaches this with his portfolio of twenty websites.
The interview details the nitty-gritty of website creation, including keyword research, backlinks, and various other related topics, such as monetization and topical authority.
Other Topics Discussed:
- When to diversify and add websites
- One large website vs multiple sites
- Expenses and why he sees it more as an investment
- Content creation and taking it to the next level
- How he manages twenty websites
- HARO Links
- What the Mediavine rep said about the biggest earners
- User experience with ad placements
- Does he cluster topics?
- His Keywords research methods
- Keeping it simple with themes and logo
- Plus more
As the interview evolves, the topic of monetization comes up with a particular focus on display ads. Jon provides tips and advice on Mediavine and Ezoic and how he deals with ad placements to maximize revenue. He also discusses the future of display ads concerning the upcoming third-party cookie changes.
Towards the end of the interview, Jon shares his thoughts on affiliate marketing and details the purpose of his flagship course and how it can benefit those looking to build profitable niche websites.
Once again, it’s another excellent episode where note-taking is recommended. As always, enjoy the interview.
Links & Resources
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watch the interview
read the transcription
Jared: Welcome back to The Niche Pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. Today we are joined by Jon Dykstra from fat stacks blog.com. Hey John, welcome.
Jon: Hey, Jared. Thanks for having me. Good to be here.
Jared: it’s really good to have you. It’s an honor and a pleasure. And it’s been a little while, you know, you were on the Niche Pursuits podcast, although I, I had to go back, I had listed that episode a long time ago.
It was 2019, so, you know, we were kind of due for an updated version. .
Jon: Yeah. Lots, lots has happened since. But yeah, I, I recall that. So it’s, it’s good to be back. Hopefully I can add some more info and details on the today’s podcast.
Jared: Well, it was a really good one. I listened to it over the weekend. Kind of gearing up for, for today’s today’s interview.
I’ll include a link to that in the in the show that, so if people wanna go back and, and kind of hear your interview with Spencer, but maybe catches up to speed on kind of your, your role in website building, what you’re doing these days, and then what you’re doing at Fast Tax Blog. Yeah,
Jon: sure. You bet.
Well, since 2019, I’ve added sites. I’ve sold sites. My largest site has grown quite a bit. And so, you know, overall I would say my business has grown quite a bit since 2019. So that’s been, that’s been great. In terms of strategy, I would say. I am constantly evolving content production, trying to make it better.
Always balancing the cost with return on investment down the road. You know, compare content, quality expectations that actually works in ranks compared to, say, five or 10 years ago. It’s, it’s a lot different these days. It has to be better and better and better. I think that’s gonna continue. There’s people who, who disagree and say, you know, that you can get away with, with subpar content.
And, and, and probably, and there’s always exceptions, but, and it’s tempting to go down that road, but I’m, I’m gonna stay the course with what I’ve been doing because it’s, it’s worked really well. So I, I would say in terms of the overall business strategy, I’ve moved into diversifying with additional sites and, and several are doing really well and, you know, and then eventually I’ll probably sell some and trying to rotate in some, some selling sites and creating new selling sites, keeping some of them and so forth and just, Trying to diversify as much as I can.
And so far it’s working pretty good, but it is slow going. But you know, it’s, it’s the whole strategy’s been working well for me.
Jared: I’m glad you mentioned it because I think, I mean, it might be a little surprising. You’ve been doing this for a long time and you know, it kind of helps when people hear the type of numbers you’re doing.
At least it helps me when I hear how long you’ve been invested in doing this. When did you start building websites? I think your story was that you were a lawyer, Right? And then, and then ended up in websites through kind of happen.
Jon: Yeah, well, I, I was a lawyer. I was working in a, in a small firm with my dad actually, and, well, this is back when the internet was just firing up.
So we, we got a site built. I didn’t build it. I had no clue. I hired a company to do it. They built lawyer websites and I, I, I picked a, a good company. I actually did some research and found one that really sort of was progressive at the time. This was probably oh 6, 0 7, 0 8. Somewhere around there. I kind of forget, but they actually.
Suggested blogging, and they built this whole CMS platform and, and I think WordPress was around but infancy. So they had their, their own cms Oh, blogging platform that came with the site, and they showed me how to use it. It was really cool, and I, I just, I just loved it right away. And back then, I mean, it, it worked so well, like they were spot on.
The blogging started ranking for tons and tons of keywords. People were moving away from the Yellow Pages, which was traditional lawyer marketing at the time, and going online looking for lawyers. So we were, we were progressive in that. It worked really well. That just opened my eyes to the, the potential with the internet.
Ended up down the niche site, rabbit hole and, and really haven’t looked back since then. But really it started with a, with a brick and mortar. You know local business blog and search and, and the concepts are the same with, with that versus, you know, sort of a, a global information site. And so I haven’t looked back and it’s, it’s been great.
And yeah. No regrets,
Jared: man, beginning of WordPress. That’s great. You, you, just for people who might not know or who are new to John, he blogs his a lot of different things over at Fats Stacks blog, but you publish income reports, I think the last one had you at. I have my notes here, a hundred, like 109, 110,000 in revenue.
So six figures a month in revenue. Your, your costs are fairly low, you know, sub 20 k. Can you give us a little background on the nature of the ti, like how many sites you have, and you, you kind of hinted that you have one big one and then you’ve been diversifying a lot, which I, I want to talk to you about.
So maybe give us the, just the overall high level of, of what you’re working on right now so we can use that to jump into some of the details for the rest of the conversation.
Jon: Yeah, you bet. Yeah. So yeah, revenue is, is up and down around the a hundred K mark. It’s dialed back a little bit. I think Q4 is gonna be great.
So right now, currently have 20 new sites at, at all stages. I mean, I, I launched my latest one about one month ago, and so that’s my newest. And, and, and then I have, well the one that I’ve had since 2014, getting on eight years. So everywhere in between, I, you know, the big one still is a line share of the revenue.
I’m trying to balance that out. So I would say that does in between 70 and 75 K a month. Again, that goes up and down as well. And then the other ones sort of round out the balance between 15 and 20 K a month, which, which I’m quite happy about because that my d diversification strategy’s working, you know, the, while it is 19 sites all contributing to 15 to 20 K, there’s three that are in the, you know, the mid, the mid Four figure mark right now, and they have really good potential.
And so, you know, my, my revenue is slowly, slowly, painfully, slowly, but it is diversifying across multiple sites. And so, you know, it is tricky. Every time you add a site, you’re adding on a budget, a monthly budget. Now you talk about expenses, the expenses in this business really low, which I love, right?
Like, like bare bones. Like if, if I didn’t. Any content or data, anything. My, my expenses are around $7,000 with hosting and that pro, probably, probably even less than that. So in terms of their, your margins, they’re ridiculously high in this business, but it takes a few years to get there, right? Like year one is terrible, year two gets better and so forth.
Okay, So like my hosting expense, like 1400 bucks, which is a pits really compared to. That allows me to generate in revenue. Right. Okay. So, but I do spend more than that every month and I consider investment rather than an expense. Now, accounting purposes is expense, and that is content. So it is expense as an expense, but it really is an investment in the future of my sites and whether it’s a new site I launch or whether it’s putting, adding more content on existing sites.
And so I do reinvest a sizable amount of that revenue every month growing the business. And that’s been proven to be a good decision in the long run. You know, had I not launched all these new sites and poured money into them years ago, I’d still have the one site and that would be fine. But I’m more comfortable now with having multiple sites.
And, and, and I will say this because we, we debate, you know, among all of us who have niche sites and some people focus on one and make it awesome and big, and some people focus on multiple, like myself. And there’s pros and cons for both. There really is. I feel better with multiple sites, but I, I will admit, I probably could be further ahead had I put everything into one site and, and my media Vine rep and I use Media Vine for display ads has told me the biggest publishers by far with Media Vine have one site and they focus on, and, and that’s telling that that is, that actually, you know, gave me pause.
But I’m continuing with the multi-site strategy just because I feel better with that, you know, from a business perspective. But I, I suspect it’s costing me.
Jared: I wanna ask about that and less about the debate, cuz you’re right, like every other person I have on here, I do, we do kind of get into it and there’s different perspectives.
Maybe we’ll save the thoughts about which one is right, because I think it’s, you know, there’s so many factors that go into it, but on your level, for you, you’ve been able to, I’ll say from afar it sounds like continue to scale your biggest site while adding sites on, and that’s perhaps one of the bigger risks with starting a second or third or, you know, x number of projects.
Is that your main driver of revenue? What got you to that point? Takes the hit? How have you been able, what decision making do you go through? Is there a process you follow, some internal metrics you stick to? Like how are you able to continue to grow your main brand and still put time and effort into other websites?
Jon: Well, I do put the most effort of all my sites into my largest sites still, so that gets most of my attention. And I think that’s the right thing to do, basically if, you know, I think, I think the long term strategy when you’re looking to diversify with multiple sites is there’s still gonna be your, your, your main site.
And, and I really caution you not to diversify too early way till you have one site that’s earning really, really well. But I think what you need to basically do is let go. And the subsequent sites, sites, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so forth, those are going to have to be largely outsourced. You, you cannot be very hands on, let’s say 10 sites.
I’m not, okay. My, my additional sites are more or less. Completely outsourced, and I’ve plugged them into the systems I’ve set up with VAs and writers and all the rest of it, but I’m really not like hands on ’em daily. Okay. And, and again, that, that is a cost, There is a cost to that quality is not as good as if I were a hundred percent involved in it, like my first site.
But it’s a business decision and it is working. And so I continue with it in terms of, but, but at the same time it does dis, you know, distract me from my main site. And the main, the main site has. It grows in spurts, right? It’s not like this steady trajectory upward, it’s, it’s been in spurts over the years.
And so I, I have the, the good fortune of being able to see an eight year traffic trajectory and there have been significant drops, and then there are significant bumps up and then drops, and then a plateau, and then up and then down, and the downs suck. Alright? They’re no fun. The plateaus can be frustrating because you’re, you’re shoveling content onto the site and it’s not budging, but eventually it buds.
And so now I’m at the point, well, this is just, you know, the course of business with, with a large site, and I do pay a lot of attention to it, but I’m at the 0.8 years in where there’s a lot of content that needs updated. All right? It’s not like it’s a one or two year old site, which are most of my other sites, that the content’s still fairly fresh and recent.
And so I’m really doing a. A constantly a massive updating project and we’re putting, I’m putting more and more time and resources and updating than I am into new content. I still haven’t really seen any, any bump from that, but I, I think it’s necessary because it is eight years and, and, and seven years ago, I, I didn’t publish content as good as I publish today for the most part.
And so need to go back and address that.
Jared: Have you spent much time updating content on this larger site prior to, you know, recent history?
Jon: Well, I’ve done it. I’ve tried it a number of times and, you know, I’ve read a lot, a lot of blogs talk about huge success with pruning content, which, which I’ve also done recently.
That’s hard for me to do cause I paid for that content or I wrote it myself. And here I’m just gonna flat out delete it and I don’t like doing it. But I did find I think 60 articles that were junk and just had to go. I’ll probably find some more, but. I’m inclined to update it rather than delete it.
So I, I have done updating efforts several times over the, over recent years cuz I’ve read about it and people make strong cases for it. So I’ve done it, but I, I’ve tried a number of different ways and it, and it never really moved the needle. Okay. So it has been frustrating. I am currently doing it with you know, quite, quite dramatic updates.
Custom illustration is being added if they’re not there. A lot of rewrites if necessary, adding additional information if it’s been missing interlinking better if it wasn’t done as well as it should be. And so I’m doing that. It’s painstakingly slow but I have some help with that. And then I’m doing some more quick and dirty updates, trying to do more volume of keywords in the meantime for some of the other articles.
And eventually we’ll get to those. So I’m not really sure how much this is going to move. The needle and improve the traffic. It’s, it’s hard to know. So far, I haven’t had great results from it, but it is necessary and so I’m, I’m gonna do it. It’s necessary. I think for a defensive play in the long run for the site,
Jared: outsourcing new content, it, it’s challenge, but it does feel like it’s an easier process to outsource than updating content.
I mean, I’m not even sure if there really is a playbook for how to outsource updating old content. Is that something that you outsource at all? Do you have any tips for people who, like, let’s say they know that they need to make updates? Some would argue you need to just be constantly updating old content.
It’s a part of the process, but they don’t have the time necessarily to do that, and they wanna outsource that.
Jon: Well, I do have a, i, I create a spreadsheet, so, so the more in depth stuff that I’m doing, I, I have a 20 column spreadsheet that I’ve created and I’ve hired two people to. They basically full-time dedicated to doing that.
And so one person’s more of a SEO background and the other person’s more he’s from the old newspaper world used to work in print newspaper and now is basically adding the site. And so between, he doesn’t know seo, she doesn’t, she’s not really into content, but between the two of ’em, That’s, that’s the push that I’m doing.
And so it’s, it’s kind of like about a 20 point checklist of everything to check. Not every article’s gonna need to be addressed on every point, but for the most part, there’s gonna be at least 10 points that could be addressed on the article. And so we’re tracking it all for every article in this spreadsheet.
And so I, I did the first five myself, I, I, my mo with almost anything. If it’s a new type of article, if it’s a new thing that I’m doing on the site, if it’s a new illustration, a new article concept, a new process such as updating, I will actually do it myself, work out the kinks, try to figure out the best workflow, and then I’ll turn it into some sort of, So p whether, usually it’s either a video or a series of videos for a spreadsheet with a video instructions attached to that.
And so that’s, Relay information to people who are they gonna take over? So it’s basically a sheet. I actually provide the template, the, the updating template in the course. So people who are doing this, they obviously, they’re gonna tweak it for their own purposes, but it’s, it’s a good starting point I think.
And so that’s how I’m doing it. And so, so far the content is improved dramatically cuz I’m spot checking it. But again, I haven’t really seen the bumps that other people have. So, Yeah, I mean, there you go. But this, this business is really long term. This started only four months ago. I expect to have the site for years and grow it.
And so, you know, I have to have that 2, 3, 4, 5 year.
Jared: It sounds like if I’m recapping, and I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, but cuz there are several approaches to updating old content one of them would have you maybe by using software and by using you know, keyword density and these types of things, you try to look at the top articles and optimize according to it.
For you, it sounds like you’re going a little bit of a different approach. You’re saying here’s my, maybe my new standard, here’s my 20 point checklist of what we now as a organization believe is the best a article could be, and updating content looks like going through and making sure that all of those 20 points are in line with our updated standards, if you will.
Jon: Yeah, that’s, that’s exactly it. I, I, the only, the SEO person, what she is doing is she’s digging through the Google search console data for every, for every URL she’s looking at, she’s pulling up the keywords. That need to be added to the content, and she might just put it in where it can be or order some more content so that we can add those keywords effectively to each article.
So, so that’s the SEO portion. I don’t really delve into keyword density. I, I don’t get that technical. So that’s what she’s doing. And then the, the actual real editor is going through and tightening up the, the, the writing itself, ordering content if more needs to be added to it. If it’s a listical, maybe adding to the listical, updating it, better research, that sort of thing where I’m ordering a lot of custom illustrations trying to do, get more custom photographs added to the content as well.
So it really is an in depth overhaul, and again, painstakingly slow and labor intensive. That is the process that I’m doing right now.
Jared: I can’t say I like updating old content. It’s hard. You kind of touched on it. First off, if you wrote it, it’s, it’s intrinsically just difficult because you have this attachment, even if it’s older, even if it was a while ago, you kind of have this attachment like, Well, why isn’t this thing ranking?
I put a lot of effort into, and you gotta, you’ve gotta gotta find a way to update. It’s hard it. You know, we touched on already, we’ve talked about, hey, when do you diversify? When do you start sites? When do you kind of move outta your first site? Let’s stay high level, and I wanna ask you another question about that.
When do you sell when do you think about selling? You’ve got this huge site that’s doing really, really well. It’s big. You’ve also got a bunch of other sites. I just wanna get your opinions on Strateg. How to maybe think through and walk through holding a site for the long term versus preparing it to sell versus when the, the time might be to sell a site off.
Yeah. I don’t have
Jon: a sense of rules that I follow for selling site. Now. I’ve only sold eight sites in my entire life and they were pretty Still good though. Pretty good, You know, I mean, Yeah. Okay. So I, I know the process they were smaller sites, so, you know, if you, probably rule number one is I, I have to have a better use of the money, the proceeds from the sale than what keeping the site does for me.
Okay. So that’s rule number one. If I don’t really have a great use, like I’m not really interested in selling a site and turning around and buying another site, I, I actually don’t like buying sites. I prefer to start them from scratch. I bought a few sites, not a good fit for me. It, it’s a lot. It’s like kind of like editing a site.
I don’t really like doing that, like to do it from scratch. So, so I’m, I don’t, I don’t sell to buy another site. I will sell if I’m having a hard time getting good content. And, and that’s a big part of niche selection. You have to ask yourself, Hey, can I realistically actually produce good content for this niche?
Right. And, and we’re all different, We’re all different strengths that what I like to write is different than what somebody else likes. Right. What I’m interested in is different again and so maybe somebody is really good at making videos, and so the site offers a lot of type of articles where adding videos to it and creating a channel, a complimentary YouTube channel with that would be an excellent use of time and resources.
I’m not so good at videos, so I, I don’t tend to do those, so it really just kind of comes down to my gut. A site, let’s say I get it to a point, Let’s say I can get it to 50 bucks a day, so it’s making 1500 a month. It’s worth 75 grand, right? You could sell that pretty fast, and I, and I hit a wall and I’m like, Hey, I did a pretty good job.
I only had to spend, you know, 15 grand to get it to this valuation. That’s a nice return for me. I don’t really see the site getting much further. I’ve sort of, unless I really dig in and put a lot of time, so I’ll sell it. You know, on the flip side, you know, site might start working really well and I’ve got, you know, unlimited keywords and outsourcing or getting contents really easy.
I wouldn’t sell because I think, well, there’s a lot of potential with the site, so I’ll hang onto it. And so it’s just kind of a, a kind of a gut thing. And I, I launch in all sorts of niches just trying ’em out and seeing how it’s gonna work out and some work and, and some don’t work for me. And so the ones that aren’t working, I’ll, I’ll sell them.
And that doesn’t mean it’s a bad site, it’s just not a good fit for me. And so, you know, but it could be a great fit for somebody.
Jared: Let’s transition a bit. I, I’d love to get your thoughts on future proofing of sites and, I mean, you know, we’re in a season right now, we’re doing the interview kind of nearing the tail end of of 2022.
It’s been quite the year for updates from Google . Yeah. And I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like that’s gonna change. So whenever you’re listening to this, it probably could, the same could be said, but, you know, for website builders, it’s kind of added another layer of questioning on top of things, and it’s added this topic of, Hey, you know, does writing good content, is that alone enough to to, to kind of grow a site long term?
What are your thoughts on kind of securing your site or your sites from, you know, as many updates as possible kind of future proofing? You touched on how you, some of the article updating you’re doing is, In an effort to futureproof, like talk about some of those things as these updates have rolled out this year.
Jon: Yeah, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I mean, we we’re faced with, with threats for sure. I mean, you know, I think Google’s taking up more space on search results pages with its own information and people don’t have to necessarily click through to sites, which, you know, is a problem for us. And so I would say that’s, that’s a huge problem.
We’ve got a lot more competition jumping into the fray. People are jumping in and, and launching. So there you go. You got that facing that. So what am I doing to future proof? Well, that’s a good question. I, I, I think right now I’m, my, my best answer, and it’s not a great answer, is to constantly improve the content I’m producing.
And so this next phase. I am right now, starting probably a month ago, I started really thinking about how can I take content to the next level? And I’ve been playing around a lot of prototypes and a lot of ideas, and I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve been analyzing what’s working and what’s not working.
And a few times over the years I’ve done stuff that other people haven’t done. And it’s worked really well for me. And I’ve come up with some ideas and I think I’m onto something, and I’m not gonna reveal that here first because I’ve just started it so it’s premature. But I have some ideas that I think you take content really to the next level.
And so that, that’s my best answer. It’s not a great answer because it’s still dependent on search traffic. And search traffic is a volatile thing. And in terms of diversifying, I don’t really know. I think there’s a guy, Scott DeLong, he’s recently on Twitter. And he’s, he’s owned some really successful sites in the past and he started up again, and I think part of what he’s doing is, is really smart and he’s really good with social media traffic, specifically Facebook as part of a traffic strategy.
And he is really good at writing content. For now, I don’t, I don’t know his site, but I’m going with what he’s, he’s writing about that he’s really good at writing content for people and it works and it ranks and he gets traffic from Facebook and it creates this, It’s almost like this instant audience, and I think there’s something to that and I think you can move toward that and that that is where I’m moving toward.
In, in, with my sites and my business. That’s the, I think that’s a smart direction. And doesn’t have to be Facebook. It could, it could be anything. But it, you know, it’s hard to make Facebook work. It doesn’t work with every niche. And I’ve had some success with it this year actually, and last year, and I want to continue with that.
The other direction that I think a lot of people are going is just straight ai. Yeah. All right. And that is just cranking out, like trying to be one step ahead of the Google AI hammer and cranking out as much content as humanly possible and try to make money. And, and if a site gets pummeled, well, so be it.
The money, you know, the site made money, the content costs next to nothing and, and go that direction. I’m not going in that direction. I’m going it. More toward a higher quality, serving an audience with particular niches, what I’m doing is gonna slow down my content production. It’s going to increase the time it takes to actually make content.
And I’m not a patient person, so it’s a hard thing for me to do. I’m actually more involved right now, especially probably for the next month or two. I’m gonna be heavily involved in it, working up the kinks, but it’s going to be better and, and I think going forward with niches and a lot of the niches I’ve launched actually this last year since June, 2021.
They’re niches that I actually have experience and interest in, and I can demonstrate that with my own photos. It’s stuff I do like, for instance, I have a, a ski website. I’m an avid skier. We ski all the time. We live in an area where there’s a ski hole 20 minutes down the road. It’s a contained niche.
It’s, it’s got problems. It’s a winter niche. It’s not a summer niche. It’s not a, it, were my only site. I wouldn’t pick it. But because I have multiple sites, I have sites that are geared toward summer. I have sites that are geared toward winter, and so they balance one another out. So that works. And so that’s kind of the direction I’m going into.
We’re trying to focus more on these audience focused sites. We’ll, we’ll see how that works. But that, that’s my best answer. And it’s not, it’s not a great answer, but I’m, I’m not giving up on, on the business.
Jared: No, it’s, it, it is a good answer because I think it’s probably, it would be very difficult for someone at this stage of the game, the end of 2022 to get on board and say, Hey, I know it’s working and what’s not working for the future of ranking websites, Cuz so much of this kind of changed in terms.
The model and and whatnot. So I think it’s, I think it’s great. And I think you touched on a lot of key areas that people can learn from. The, the, you you’ve said many times before, and you went into it in the last interview with Spencer before, so I, we don’t need to kind of dive down the road of why, or, or, or the reasons, but you’re heavy on creating informational content that ranks and then makes the bulk of your income from ad revenue.
So as opposed to a lot of people who are affiliate heavy, you’re pretty informational heavy. And you know, speaking of future proofing, I would love to hear your thoughts. You probably have some, some insights, or at least some perspective with some of the changes coming up, whether it’s next year or the year after in five years from now with the way ads are served and the way that privacy hits and that sort of thing.
Jon: You know, I’m, I’m not terribly concerned about it. I know there’s the loss of the third party cookie coming from with Google and Chrome. I guess now it’s been pushed back 2024. I dunno. Some, some people are very concerned. I’m not particularly, I I, I suspect there’ll be my guess. And I, this is just speculative at best, a 30 to 35% drop in ad revenue initially.
But I think the tech is gonna be there and it’s gonna be mechanisms in place where that will recover over time. And I believe that the online display ad business will be as good as ever, but I think there will be an initial hit. And so that’s just a guess. Tyler Bishop at Zoic has suggested that this is actually going to increase ad revenue.
That’s an interesting take. I hope Tyler’s right, But who knows? I know Media Vine, which is the ad network I’m using, they’re, they. Things in motion to, to address this as well. Okay. So, so that’s a threat. But here’s the thing. Remember when the ad blocker was coming out right? And that was going to be the death of ads and nobody, everybody’s gonna have an ad blocker and no ads are gonna be shown.
That never happened. I, I didn’t even even notice a drop in ad revenue. In fact, it’s only gone on top. Mm-hmm. a a blockers have done nothing. I’ve tried ’em, I, I find them, It’s interesting. They’re more annoying than not to have them, and they just never really took, And so, you know, that, that was a big fear and it didn’t really happen.
So yeah, we have these things coming out down the road. I think you, you know, AI content, it is going to get better and better and better. And I, I, I sort of pay attention to it and eventually, you know, may maybe that will, will be the route that goes. I’m not really sure, but I also think at the same. If you’re writing content directly for an audience, and it’s about your experience, like the classical blogging model, right?
Which is almost teetering toward the influencer model where it’s really about your experience with whatever it is that you’re doing, and you make that clear in your, your information, your emails and, and on site. These are the sites that people are gonna want to go to. I mean, Fats is a, is a good example of that.
That’s just me writing about what I’m doing and that’s it. And that’s email newsletters and people join and read it for that reason. It’s just, it’s just me talking about what I’m doing. It’s not, I’m not firing up AI and creating some benign. Article and putting in an email is just me writing. And I, and I think really think that’s the way to sort of future proof against this stuff.
And you brought up affiliate marketing and, and I’ve always gone toward the display add stuff. I started in affiliate marketing for, for a number of years and it worked. Affiliate marketing’s great. I got nothing bad to say about affiliate marketing. I just kind of prefer the freedom of being able to write about informational topics that interest me.
I do do some affiliate marketing and I may do some more in the future if there’s some opportunities, but I really only like to do it. Let’s say your, your best of articles and that sort of thing. I only like to do it if, if it can be genuine. And you know, I just don’t want to crank out a whole bunch of cookie cutter regurgitation best of articles.
Yes, they can rank, Some people have done really well with that. This is not really interested in that. And I could be leaving a lot of money on the table, but I, if I’m gonna do a best of article, I know the product line well. I’ve used multiple of the products. Like for instance, I could write a best printer for a home office article.
I go through printers like crazy. They often don’t work and it’s annoying . So I buy a new one and you know, so I’ve got a whole handful of printers here that I’ve used and I could write an article about it. And there’s one that I like the most and that’s the one I would recommend. Now, I’m not gonna write that article because it’s insanely competitive and I’ll never rank for it.
So it’ll just be a big waste of time. Yeah, it’s
Jared: kinda boring to write about printers. Back to
Jon: your point, boring and I don’t know the tack and I’m not gonna, you know, go in there with a flashlight and a screwdriver and you know, show you all the stuff. It’s just not interesting to me. But that’s sort of, if I’m gonna do it, that’s where I would go with the affiliate stuff.
Jared: So one of my favorite parts leaning in on the ad revenue side of things, you know, cuz obviously we share your revenue numbers and then we talk about how, you know, your primary, primary driver of income is revenue. So, or is ad revenue. Sorry. So I’m gonna ask you some ad revenue questions, . Yeah. One of my favorite things about your course was where you talk about ways to maximize ad revenue.
I think a lot of people probably miss on this. You know, you kind of think like you go with Ezoic, a media vine and ad and ad thrive and you work with them. You get the ads up on the site and you’re off to the races. You go back to creating content. But you had a lot of thoughts you had shared, many of which really move the needle for me on how to actually increase the amount of money you earn from the same number of page views of ads.
Would love to get your thoughts on that and maybe, you know, kind of a 20, 22 version, what you’re seeing work these days. Or perhaps just some old classics that always tend to perform well.
Jon: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I mean, you know, I’m, I’m from way back when AdSense was really the only game in town and, and you manually had to put ads, it wasn’t done for you.
And so I spent an inordinate amount of time testing placements, years on it. I was just, I was fanatical about it because, you know, you could move an ad in one place, It could like double your ad revenue for that article and for the whole site. So it was a really cool process and I had a lot of fun with that.
And then I moved to Zoic that does all that for you. Okay. In a, in a. Roundabout way. You, you put all these different ad placements everywhere and then Oke will only fire the ones that are configured in a way to maximize your revenue. And the concept was like, Wow, this is, this is cool. At the time for me, I just thought, this is amazing.
Now you don’t have to spend all this time. Manually moving the ads. And as Zoic did move the needle for me big time, and I, I really liked working with the Zoic. And so, but I, I figured out, you know, there, there were problems with the zoic I would end up with sometimes with ads stacking you know, I, I do pay attention to user experience.
I visit my sites on desktop, tablet, and mobile. And I, I wanna see how it’s performing and if there are problems with ads, I, I want to deal with them. I want ’em to look good at the same time. So with a zoic, I would sometimes get stacking or I would get too many ads in that sort of thing. So I’d make adjustments and I figured out ways to sort of tweak the system to prevent that stuff.
And, and that is in my course. And I think that’s useful because it’s a way to maximize revenue without being that super obnoxious site that is like literally, you know, half, you know, above the fold, nothing but adds. I don’t like that at. Now I’m with Media Vine, which I’m thrilled with. I think they’re an outstanding ad network.
They’re, they’re kind of becoming more a tech company. They’ve got, you know, a WordPress theme. They’ve got a whole, a whole other panelist offerings that they’re moving into. I think it’s super smart. Anyways, from ad perspective, I don’t have to do anything and there’s, there’s a few options I can, you know, turn on and off in the back end.
But for the most part, they handle placement and everything for me, and I have no doubt that they are maximizing revenue for me, that I have no question about that. And, and it’s good to have confidence in that. And one of my favorite things about media buying is I’m, I’m generating a really good. Optimize revenue with no ads above the fold in the content area.
And that to me is a great user experience.
Jared: Any other tips for things people can do, you know, in an article that they write to maximize, to maximize the ad revenue no matter who you’re with? Maybe outside of ad placement, but some stuff you can do in addition to that.
Jon: Well, you know, I’ve read a lot of people talk about even if you’re even writing like non-affiliate content to try to write more content with the buyer intent or some sort of commercialization.
And that makes sense. You know I think Dwayne Lele, who is the founder of Zoic, posted some crazy screenshots of like $500 EP mvs from some zoic publisher. Like that, that kind of blew my mind. And he basically said it, this is content for that had a commercial intent behind it. He didn’t reveal the niche or the, or the article or anything like that.
So that blew my mind cause I’ve never come anywhere close to that. So you could do that. The, the more that there is a commercialization or, or a buyer intent behind the content, the, the more revenue it’s gonna generate. I typically don’t do that. I still tend to just pick articles. My, my ad RPMs range anywhere from like a dollar for a particular article.
Not, not good to a hundred plus for some articles. All right. So it’s, it’s a huge range. But really at the end of the day, I’m, I’d rather just do what’s gonna get me more traffic rather than focus on trying to goose up that ad rpm. That’s not really my mo, I mean, I’m, I do the best I can on autopilot with media Vine.
I do target US traffic. That’s important. I mean, if, if you’re, your site is mostly a India AU audience or European audience, you, you’re gonna have a lower rpm. There’s just no way around that. That’s just, that’s just the way it is. There’s less ad money going into that.
Jared: So Yeah. You know, it adds, you, you just, I mean, you bring up such a great point in general where there’s so much less effort that you have to do to manage a website that has a great ad partner serving ads than you do with affiliate content.
Cause you’re constantly dealing with products going out of stock, products going, how to date, all these things. But with ads, you know, you, you put up good content, it gets traffic and then you know, you earn money from it.
Jon: Yeah, you know, affiliate marketing, it sounds easy and passive, but there are definitely some hassles with it that I’ve dealt with.
And I, I don’t care for that sort of thing. But on the flip side, you know, I I don’t know, a month or two, I, I met a guy and he, he, he does some enterprise seo and he was showing me some affiliate earnings from single URLs, and we’re talking like quarter a million a month for some affiliate stuff. That was eye opening.
You know, I’ve heard of affiliates, you know dig Digo done well with some, you know, a few pages on a, on a larger site that generates the affiliate revenue. But I don’t know if he’s done that. But when I, when I, when he told me about this and, and he showed me the proof of it, I, I couldn’t believe it.
So, you know, there is a lot of money to be made in, in some serious affiliate marketing for sure. Good
Jared: perspective. Let’s let’s transition a bit, talk about keyword research, which, you know, just a total right, right. Turn there. But uh, , , I wanted to ask you some questions about keyword research. I wanted to get your take on.
You know, I think in general, keyword research is a topic that does get talked a lot about. But at scale, when you are, let’s say, doing keyword research for 20 niches, that you have 20 websites you have and deciding upon the type of content to write, I’d really like to get your take on how you go about doing that.
If I remember correctly, I think as recently that, that you do most secured research yourself. Is that right?
Jon: Yeah, I do. Except for that one person who is doing the Google search console stuff, she’s actually finding so many opportunities there that. I’m ordering those keywords that she’s finding if it has enough volume.
So that’s a new development that’s actually been really cool. But other than that, yeah, for the most part I do my own. You know, you know, what I really look for is I look for phrases that are like cross niche pot possibilities, right? So like, could be a phrase, it works in one niche, It generates like 30 article cons, you know, 30 different article topics based on this one phrase concept.
And almost always that same phrase concept will apply to every niche. Mm. So I’ll just, I’ll just bang ’em up for every niche, right? And so that’s what I do. And that, that take, that makes it pretty easy for me once you start looking for these opportunities. And that doesn’t mean I, I don’t go for the, for the one offs and stuff.
I mean, I use hfs, I use Keyword Chef for the most part, and some Google Auto suggest, but I gotta say, like, for the, for the long tails, Keyword Chef is, is Golden hfs. If you, if you go into the questions module, also pretty golden, You’re gonna find a lot of really long tail, fairly easy to rank stuff in there.
Now, I should caution, I should say, listen, I’m not, I’m not as discerning as I used to be and as probably as I should be, and that I know other publishers are okay, I see a keyword. If it has super low, like 10 searches a month, I just, I, I add it in and I order it up. Okay? If I took more care in my keyword research and really dug for the higher search volume, easy to rank stuff, and did more due diligence, I, I’d probably have overall more traffic to my sites.
I, I’m, I’m a little bit sloppy in the keyword research department, okay? So I don’t, if, if you have one site and you have the time, be a little bit more discerning. Look for those, especially if you’re writing it yourself. Look for those keywords that really, truly have more volume and lower difficulty that are pretty easy.
You know, actually search in Google, see what’s coming up. Do you stand a chance? Take those extra steps. Some months I order 4, 5, 6, 700 articles. I’m, I’m, I’m just not gonna do that. I’m, for me, it’s a numbers game at this point. It’s just, I’m throwing it out there and the ROI works almost like clockwork on every site.
But I, I’m, I am not actually doing as good as I could for every site, and I’ll admit that, but that’s because I’m not doing. All of the due diligence that I should to, you know, get the best results.
Jared: How do you decide which article, which keywords, which topics should be their own article versus which ones to say include in the article update?
Or when you’re looking at that keyword research, you’re going, Well, is that really a topic or is that just a part of another topic?
Jon: I don’t really have a a guideline on that. I mean, the best I could tell you is if somebody’s searching for one, are they really, Is that a, is that a totally different intent than the other?
But the, the, the lines are so blurred in that situation. I mean, I’m glad you said it, . Yeah, no, I, I don’t think anybody has a good answer for that really. I, I think you just take a chance. I think sometimes you just add it to a, already an existing article as another section. Other times it’s a, it’s a new, new article.
I, I don’t, don’t do both and Right. That, that’s my best answer and it’s a bad answer, but I wish I’d figured out something that was, that was better, but that, that’s how I go about it. How big
Jared: of a role does as your keyword researching and then ordering content and then publishing it at scale, How big of a role does topical authority, you know, some people call it topical siloing.
How big of a role does that play? Do you try to publish a bunch of content in the same silo and then, you know, finish that silo off before moving on to another, also called topical clustering, by the way. So there’s a lot of different ways to look at it. How big a role does that play? Or is it really just, hey, this is my niche, these are the topics we can cover?
I find keywords every month, every couple months that we’re gonna go after we publish those, and then when possible, we internally link ’em all together.
Jon: That’s a great question. I would say I, I do cluster and I have lots of clusters. I don’t necessarily exhaust the cluster. At one time, I. Sort of, most of my sites are fairly broad, although some of my newer ones are more contained.
So clustering is kind of like all, all the articles are tightly related. So for my broader sites, yeah, I might order 10 within a very tight cluster. It may not exhaust a cluster, and then I may order 10 from another one. That’s sort of, i, I tend to sort of spread it out, I think generally, rather than just like, go all in on one.
Jared: How do you plan out the internal linking part of it? Like is it part of the, or is it part of your, your content production process with your team, or is it something you do after the fact? Again, I’m just thinking content at scale, all these little things become so big at scale. Yeah.
Jon: It, it makes it harder.
And this is where your quality suffers. Admittedly. I mean that’s just, that’s just the nature of the beast. There’s just no getting around it. Like is my internal linkings far from perfect? The best I can do really is I’ve trained VAs who do all the publishing and the content to basically look for the three to five.
Tightly relate our articles and, and link back and forth between them and they do all know which one is the cornerstone for each cluster. So they will link to that one as well. So that, that, that’s my standing instructions. And it’s not perfect because there’s always exceptions to the rules and they wouldn’t really understand that.
And, and I would, but I’m not there for every article looking at that. And, and again, that, that is the problem of the scaling, right? It’s you, you lose control of every little part of the process, but you, if you wanna scale that, you have to live with it. And, and I choose to live with it. If I didn’t, I would be like, Okay, I am going to run the site a hundred percent myself.
I’m gonna write every article. I’m gonna format it. I’m gonna do the interlinking, it’s gonna be my thing. But the best I could probably do is publish 30 to 60 articles a month.
Jared: It’s a great, I I’ll say it’s a great reminder to people, I mean, I know you’re, you’re, you’re saying like, Hey, it’s a problem. But at the same time, I think what you are also saying is that you’ve really identified what moves the needle versus what could move the needle but isn’t as important.
And you’re, I think there’s some clarity that people can kind of get and understand if, if you’re talking about scaling, if you’re talking about adding multiple websites, there’s gonna hit a point where you can’t do everything and you have to pick between what moves the needle the most and put your time and effort into the areas of the highest roi.
So even if you’re saying, Well, there’s a problem there, you’re still really succeeding in spite of it. And there’s something to be said for that too.
Jon: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, as long as things are working, but, you know, we’ve had a, a space of Google updates and two sites got knocked down about 25%. And, and that, that is, I see that happening.
And, and one of ’em was my, my largest site. So it’s like, okay, well, changes need to be made, which is part of the impetus of, of moving, trying to improve the content, slowing it down, taking more care. So that’s my response to that. That’s really the only response I got. Plus trying to go back and update some of the content.
So I think I’m putting a, a bit of the breaks on the entire process. I’m not really sure how much I’m gonna, I think probably gonna slow down a little bit on growing some of the smaller sites right now. So to see how they play out and maybe in a few months then resume. So the, you know, they are growing. I, I usually front load pretty heavy with content in the first six months, and then just sort of let, and when I say front load pretty heavy, I’m talking like, you know, a hundred plus articles.
Some of ’em are up to, you know, 4, 5, 700. And then let’s see what happens. Maybe do some hair. You know, one thing I’ve done recently is some hair link building. I’m not really into link building. It’s not a thing, but to me that seems like pretty legitimate way getting from some like really, really good websites seems, seems white hat to me.
I’m not going too nuts with it. But for some of my newer sites, I think it could probably have a pretty, pretty solid impact on them, a positive impact. So we’ll see it, we’ll see how that works.
Jared: Wouldn’t be a interview with a website builder if we didn’t talk about links. So I’m glad you . Yeah, of course.
Jared: Hey, you’ve self-proclaimed, I think it was on the interview with Spencer that I referenced earlier that, that you’re really not much into the technical details and, and that’s not really your favorite area. How do you handle, and if, forgive me if I’m being presumptuous by that, but assuming that that still is the case, like how do you handle managing 20 sites and all the technical aspects of it at scale.
Like what, what do you pay attention to? What do you not worry about? Do you have an outsourced team you work with? Like, how does that look at scale?
Jon: Well, they, nothing ever really hap goes wrong with them. , like, I update I’m with rocket.net hosting. They’re awesome. I ask them a lot of questions.
They help with a lot of the, you know, anything database or redirects or anything like that. So they’re super helpful actually. In terms of like, I don’t custom code anything. I, I’ve done that in the past and that turns out to be a nightmare because I can’t manage it. And if things change and that code doesn’t work and I got mess in my hands, so, and I use themes right out of the box, I, I, I get a custom logo.
That’s it. As simple as possible. I, I try to, no moving parts and nothing ever really breaks. I, I don’t really have any technical problems. And, and if I do, if I need something done, I’ll go to Codeable. I always go to my hosting service first. If they can’t help me out, I go to code. And they’ve done, I’ve, I’ve ordered lots of little, little projects off them, and they’re not cheap, but they do a good job.
And that’s it. I, I don’t have like a, a web developer or anything like that. I mean, I, I know enough tech to launch a WordPress site. Like I can do that. And really, that’s all you need to really be able to
Jared: do. It’s so cool to hear, you know, that sites can be operating at a hundred, you know, 70, 80, a hundred thousand dollars in revenue and they’re just ticking along technically, you know, and as long as you have a good host, you can kind of keep the, and you don’t overdo a lot of the tech on it.
Like you talked about. You keep it simple. That’s just, it’s so great to hear . Yeah. I
Jon: know a lot of people get worked up about design, you know, think about it. I mean, can you really tell the difference between one site and another on a mobile phone, which is like most, most of our traffic these days? No, it’s just text.
Like, just keep it as simple as possible. You know, logos I get for like, 30 bucks off fiber. Yep. Piece of cake. Yep.
Jared: You can get some really good logos on fiber.
Jon: You can. They’re, they’re
Jared: spoken from someone who’s not a designer of course, but . Yeah. They’re pretty good neither. So, as we kind of come to a close here, talk a little bit about cuz you have a course over at Fats Tax Blog.
You blog a lot over there outside of the course, by the way, for people who just wanna drop by, have your income reports and then you know, just topical posts about different things that that seem to be on your mind or that you’re working on. But inside the course you know, what are the main components that you walk people through in that it’s
Jon: A to z I mean, the whole course thing just sort of started as a simple PDF a whole lot of years ago and.
I added another little course, and another little course, another little course. Then people would say, Oh, well can I get ’em all for one price? And it’s like, well, yeah, sure. Okay. So then I just scrap the individual, put it all in one. So it’s everything. There’s videos on how to, how I just launch, launch a site.
What, what settings. I got a whole thing on Ezoic, which I think is great cuz Zos a great platform for people getting started. They’ll take smaller sites, they do a good job, they’ll, they’ll earn you some money and it’s, it’s motivating. So the whole, cuz I was with the Zoic for years, I know it pretty well.
And I also show my media vine settings that I use. Pretty, pretty simple stuff. But I mean the, the, probably the most in depth module would be the content and the keyword research that that’s like, that’s, that’s this business in a nutshell. Good keyword research follow with good content and you’re well on your way.
And so, you know, I got a whole case study. I’ve ordered content from 27 services. I. Got the same article from a all I wanted to see who would do the best job. I posted it all on there. You can read all the articles from every agency. I, I ordered ’em anonymous anonymously, so I wouldn’t get any favorable treatment or anything like that.
And the price. And you can check out and you can say, Oh wow. I like, I like how this service did that. I’ll try them. All my ordering templates are on there, so, you know, tweak ’em. Don’t just copy, but you wanna adjust them for your own uses. They’re, they’re a bit generic you know, keyword research, I think there’s 21 different ways.
I look for keywords now, and I keep adding to that. When I launched the keyword research module, there were 10, I was using 10. Now there’s 21. In fact, I got so many, the, the course actually, I often jump in. It’s like, well, what, how did I do that? Exactly? I remember the, and I’ll watch my own video and it kind of good reminder and it’s like, that’s right, I’ll do that.
So it covers everything about this business. Really now. The only thing I don’t really go into is link building. Now. I think I’m gonna probably add a hero a whole hero module because I’m, I’m doing some hero and I think it’s really effective. I think it’s safe and I’m using a service, so that makes it easy.
But I think also, you know, if people are willing to take the time, they can do it themselves. So I, I think that’s something that’s gonna get added in a couple of months here once I see how my first few orders here go with it and everything looks good. But in terms of link building, I’m not a link builder.
I publish content that I hope will attract links. So, so if you’re looking for like a whole link building course, this is in it. If you’re looking for how to build up you know, an informational content niche site monetize with display ads it’s, it’s a, it’s a great
Jared: course. That’s the one for you.
Yeah. If you’re looking maybe also for affiliate, more affiliate, deep, deep level affiliate stuff. But when it comes to writing content at scale, that’s that’s your, that’s your bag . It is. That’s it. And you’ve become more it feels like more active on Twitter. I certainly, I’ve been connecting with you on Twitter.
Maybe you’ve been there all long and I haven’t noticed. I’ve become more active in recent months as well. But but your good follow on Twitter as well. Actually, I should pull up your Twitter handle over what is your Twitter handle? Fat sex blog. Okay. I could have guessed .
Jon: Yeah, pretty easy. Remember,
Jon: should’t. I’m on it out. I’m few times a week I jump on there. I try not to spend all my, every day, all day on there. ,
Jared: you could. That. You could. Well, John, hey, thanks for coming back on board and I feel like the hour flew by. Thank you for sharing so openly about where your sites are at. Congrats on the success.
You’re right. They’ve grown dramatically since the last time we were, we had John in 2019, and it was really great having you to chat.
Jon: Thanks for having me, Jared.
Jared: All right, we’ll talk again soon.