Today’s guest on The Niche Pursuit podcast is website builder Charlie from the Passive Priority YouTube channel. Charlie works full-time in the finance industry and has been building websites since the start of the Covid pandemic — so, just shy of two years.
His first website saw him publishing 500 articles in the first nine months, and the traffic started to come; however, in his admission, he realized that he had made some mistakes, so when starting his second site, he set out to learn from his errors and changed his process.
Better niche selection, keyword research, and finding better backlinks were top priorities; switching from affiliate to informational-based content was also part of the process.
Charlie walks us through his first site and tells us how he built the website, produced the content, and the reasons why he decided to switch his strategy with the second site.
As for the second site, it’s performing much better than the first. It’s just over a year old, has over 1000 articles published, and recently earned over $5000 in ad revenue from over 150,000 page views.
Charlie’s story will probably give you the inspiration needed to get started if you’re undecided about creating a website. If you’ve already started, his tips and strategies are sure to help you out too.
During the interview, Charlie discusses:
- The process and strategy for the second website
- Mistakes he made with the first site.
- How he manages to produce that much content
- Tips for finding and hiring writers on Upwork
- The importance of learning from your mistakes
- His earnings from the first and second website
- Creating a writing format for writers to follow
- The drop in traffic from a seasonal niche
- What motivated him to keep going
- His Keyword research process
- Logging articles to avoid overlapping keywords
- His link building approach
Links And Resources Mentioned In The Podcast Interview:
Watch the full interview:
Read the full transcription:
Jared: Welcome back to the niche proceeds podcast. My name is Jared Baufman today. We’ve got Charlie from the passive priority, YouTube channel. Charlie. Welcome.
Charlie: Thanks for having me on the show, Jared. Really excited to get things going and talk about. Yeah,
Jared: I always love when we get to interview fellow niche, pursuits listeners, you were telling me before we record, we’ll shoot.
You listen to the latest episode on the way home yesterday. So, I mean, this is great. You kind of are one of the family here, but it would be great to hear about your story. And it’s a really fun one. I mean, this is, this is going to be a fun interview. So why don’t you bring us up to speed on your background?
Give us a little, give us a little highlights in the life of Charlie. Maybe up to the point of where you started, that started some of the projects we’re going to talk about.
Charlie: Sure. Absolutely. So I think it probably makes most sense to talk about when I first got involved with building internet websites, brown six to eight years ago, I was very much involved with building websites and the old world of building a ton of links.
Being able to rank pages, very easily, making some decent amounts of revenue in a couple months, and then kind of having the project disappear because you know, the algorithm caught up to you, but you made a decent amount of money where it made sense to keep properly. And I definitely took advantage of that throughout high school and even the first few years of college, which was great.
And I kind of tried building another site in the middle of college and realized the algorithm change and SEO wasn’t what a once was. And I did kind of put it down for a little bit, but that kind of led me to the journey I am, where I’m doing today with this project. My to authority websites. So beginning of COVID, March of 2020, obviously everyone was home not going out, not doing things.
And I was like, you know what, a great time to maybe get back into building websites and understanding how all that works. So obviously it was daunting just to kind of jump on in, but I found a few stories on message boards. I started going on YouTube started looking up things. I found the niche pursuits channel.
I found some other YouTube channel. And it was very motivating just to listen to these stories and understanding it. And the key takeaway I first got was, ah, Amazon affiliates, right? Build a website, review products, make money. And that’s kind of where the first site came into play, where. Built a site in the hobby niche, something I was really interested about, and this was in April 20.
I figured it out. I’ll put up, you know, 50, 60 review articles, a couple of informational articles. I’ll write pretty much everything and I’ll start making thousands of dollars a month. There’ll be very easy. I know probably so much more about SEO that everyone else and I’ll make all of this funny. That’s.
Well, it wasn’t that easy as you changed so much and had so much to learn that I really was pretty much back to step one outside of maybe having an eagerness and the belief that it will work. I was pretty much just like anyone else getting involved with my first authority site. So that’s kind of where things were.
And that kind of brings us to this project today. And I’m ready to go more into depth on those two sites and whether. Well, you got,
Jared: I honestly, I could probably peg every year of the timeline, just judging by your story. I mean, you, it sounds like you really truly started some very niche sites back in the day.
And then, you know, we had all the different, the different Google changes come throughout the years, and then you got the itch to pick it back up again. Not so you have a full-time job, right? I think you mentioned your.
Charlie: Yeah. So I graduated college a four and a half years ago and I’m working full-time and finance definitely long hours, five days a week type of stuff, sometimes on the weekends, but yeah, still do the full time job and have no plan of.
Jared: when the pandemic hit, you still had your job, but you’re sitting around at home. It sounds like you’ve got some time back or you didn’t have any to do because nobody was doing anything. And then that’s kind of where this itch from the old days of CPA type style sites came back.
Yeah. I’ve always been very entrepreneurial, especially with building websites. And I love that part of doing it, not doing work on the side of. It was very attracted to that. Obviously it’s great to have the extra money as well, but I didn’t do it as an income replacement. I did it as something in addition to what I’m already earning, just because I was passionate about it.
Jared: So still full-time now to this day, and have you built, built these couple of sites while working full time? Let’s not maybe, you know, let’s actually fast forward, give us the end and then we’ll work our way through the how of it, where these two sites at now, if you’re comfortable sharing revenue or traffic, number of articles, just whatever you’re comfortable with so that we have in our minds, as we talk about how you got there, what the end result is right now.
Charlie: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s kind of daunting the numbers I’m going to give you, especially in terms of number of articles, but so the first website after. I guess it’s been what over 20 months or so since I first launched that site has about 500 rooms, 25 articles in the month of December, which was completely out of season for that niche.
It’s still made about eight to $900 in ad revenue. Then another couple of hundred dollars on Amazon. And the second authority site that I built, which is the main project that I’m putting all my time and resources. And now it’s continuing to grow guy over 150,000 sessions for the month of December. And it made just under $5,000 on media vine and ad revenue.
So yeah, those two sites of what I’m focusing my efforts on, but mainly new content, everything in terms of building up is all being focused on the second site.
Jared: When did you start the second site? Cause you started the first one and I think April, 2020. Right? So that puts us, like you said, about 20 months old at date of recording desk.
When you start that second.
Charlie: I started the second site in December of 2020. Geez. I don’t remember the date. Yeah, it’s crazy how fast this side’s grown, but it really shows you how it’s good to make that first site and make all those mistakes. Because I made so many mistakes that I was able to tweak improve on and maybe do a little bit more higher quality that our writers, stuff like that, where the second project moves so much quicker.
And I still think the main part of that is keyword research and seasonality. Moving those things quickly and allowing the second site to really thrive from what you learn on the first one was key to this project. Okay.
Jared: This is what I meant when I say we have some fun stuff to talk about here today.
That is that’s. Okay. Quick question. On the second side, how many articles? Because if you did 525 in the first one, I’m only guessing what the second one has.
Charlie: I published this morning, the 1046 articles.
Jared: Oh. So over a thousand articles over a thousand second site, over 500 articles on the first site. So in the last 20 months, call it, you’ve published over 1500 articles while working a full time.
Charlie: Yeah, it still sounds scary when you tired,
Jared: to be honest with you. I don’t know if it’s just the lighting or something, but you look actually like your plate. I don’t know where you get this. Okay. All right. So now let me have another way. Congratulations, by the way that is, I mean, you’re at like $6,000, it looks like, and combined from over 6,000 from December and we’re recording here in January of 2022.
Congrats well done on so many levels. That’s amazing.
Charlie: Thank you. Thank you. You know, it’s funny because it’s almost like the first sites and afterthought. Once you get into the growth levels that I’ve seen for the second site, that sometimes I have to go back and say, oh, the sites still made several thousand dollars last year, even though it’s kind of not where I’m focusing my efforts.
But it’s also the beauty too. Even when you make a mistake or don’t have a project that’s a whole broad, you can still bring in money and still contribute to your income on a monthly basis. So that’s been a nice part of having that first site still sit there.
Jared: It’s great. You know, I think most of us kind of been off our first site and it’s great that, like you said, like your first site, which is probably the most value that you got from that first site, I’m guessing is what you learned.
But yet it still has value in that it’s, it’s earning your money. So it’s almost like a cherry on top, if you will, you know that it’s throwing off money after you’ve learned so much from it, let’s go back to that first site. So maybe now let’s rewind back to April of 2020 talk about, because I think a lot of people.
I hesitate in starting our first site. Right. I think a lot of people have trepidation about, am I picking the right niche? Do I really know how to do keyword research? Do I really know how to write the articles? Do I have what it takes to get this site to where it needs to be? And it sounds like you really, yes, you had experienced, but in a much previous world of SEO, how did you make the decision to just jump all in?
And you clearly jumped all in with the amount of content that you publish on.
Charlie: Right. Yeah. So looking at the first site in April, 2020, my re only commitment early on was really just going to be my time and efforts, writing articles and publish. And I think once I got to the 50, 60 article mark, obviously I didn’t see much traffic growth the first two months, nor should I on a new website.
I started reading around, looking at different people, track their journeys. And I noticed the most successful journeys usually had a lot of content and I’m talking about like a hundred articles plus. So I remember setting the goal to myself. Oh, I got to get the site to a hundred orders. And then it can sit and start making money.
Like that’s the key, get it to a hundred articles. And that’s when I started putting a little bit money into the website, nothing crazy, a few thousand dollars money I saved up. I figured that was all it needed to really, you know, see some great growth, but I really didn’t have the keyword research side of it.
I was going after very competitive keywords that I was probably being index ranking on the fifth page. It wasn’t something that was really going to add to. And I really didn’t understand that as well as I should have, or could have early on. I figured out if I cover the topic, if it’s a 5,000 word article, ill rank, like it’ll be fine.
Like I’ll eventually build some links and it’s probably all gonna work. And that’s the plan. So I’d say I didn’t put too much money into the first site, but I kind of saw other people have success. And figured I should get my toes in and try it out. Obviously there’s ways I could have done a lot better as I learned later on, but that was kind of my thought process early on was saying, you know, people did it, they had a lot of content.
Okay. So let me put a little bit of money and helping produce more content. I still wrote articles in addition to my writers writing, you know, pieces of content, but by no means, were they high quality? I kind of throw a lot of money on crappy writers and bed agencies and different things that didn’t really add value to the site, which I learned.
Jared: Yeah, it sounds like you kind of went through a couple of the classic newbie mistakes targeting keywords that are too competitive or required too much to rank for in the short term, hiring lousy writers. Sounds like you kind of, you did. The usual mistakes. What about your keyword research? Do you think?
Cause you mentioned, you thought it was kind of flawed and you talked about how you’re targeting terms that were too large. Were there where their search terms or their keywords, sorry that you were glossing over it because they, they didn’t have a search volume or were you just not able to identify them because you didn’t have the skill sets yet?
Like what was it that maybe cause you to pursue these big keywords and then what did you learn about, you know, maybe fixing that mistake for the future.
Charlie: Yeah. So I think the fact that it was a hobby niche, and I think some other people can become a suspect of this as well as you become a little bit caught up in the key phrases and topics associated with the niche or hobby that you’re passionate.
So there was phrases that I was like, oh, I’m sure people are searching these, I’d check them in the keyword tools. And I was like, yes, they are 1900 searches a month, but I wasn’t understanding, and I didn’t have the skillset to interpret that if there’s a da 60 plus site ranking for that key. Even though their articles going to be less words than mine, I’m still going to have a real difficult time outranking them, especially in the first year of that project.
So me not understanding that early on was where a lot of money was spent on content for phrases that I had no realistic chance of. And also when I did even maybe start to slowly understand, oh, competition and authority and powers of these larger other websites, I thought the main solution was just, oh, just more words to the article.
And isn’t necessarily always that as the answer, I think that helps. I think that’s a part of it, but it’s a very small piece than what I originally weighted as when producing. Right.
Jared: Right. And then you talked about hiring lousy writers, you know, how did you identify that the content wasn’t good enough to rank, you know, like w when did you learn, oh, man, this isn’t this content.
Isn’t what I need, you know, w what revealed that to you? Because clearly you hired these writers and at the, at least at the initial out, you know, outbursts had had high hopes for them. What was it that made you realize that, that their content just wasn’t good at.
Charlie: Right. Yeah. So I remember hiring writers that were like 10 to $20 per thousand words for product reviews and me thinking, oh, it’s a product review.
Well, why do you need a great writer? They can just look up the stuff online. How hard, how difficult could it be? And then when I was reading the article and I was like, God, I got to spend an hour editing a 3000, 4,000 word product review. Like this isn’t fun. This isn’t great. Like this isn’t a good sign, but oh, you know what, I’ll publish it.
All right. Going to make money. So like, it’s fine. They’ll just click on the. And then I started realizing that’s probably not the best approach. And I learned from other people and watching other videos that like that wasn’t the way to approach it. So I was like, okay, let’s upgrade. Let’s do $40 per a thousand word articles.
And let’s go to some higher quality writers and I would send them the topics and I get those pieces of content back and I go, okay. Yeah, it’s definitely better written the materials more relevant. The research is higher, but that still wasn’t the solution. It wasn’t just spend more money and get higher quality writing that wasn’t the solution to what I was trying to do.
If the content wasn’t targeting a search query and it wasn’t a good keyword that was going to rank and bring in traffic, it could be the best written article ever. It’s not going to do much for growing your website and bring in traffic. So those were kind of the two steps to it was getting cheap content that wasn’t going to benefit the site and then getting expensive content that didn’t matter because the keywords are too competitive.
Jared: What kind of instructions at that time, were you giving the writers, were you building outlines and briefs for them to write by where you kind of more along the lines of trusting that they knew what they were doing and you just give them the key word? Because it can be, it’s pretty tricky, especially when you’re new to know how much guide, how many guidelines to give writers and how much input to give them, especially when you’re hiring people rather than agencies.
And I’m curious how much you were giving them
Charlie: to, to go off of. Right. And that was a big problem too. And I wasn’t giving them much to write off of, right. For the product reviews. I would maybe recommend a couple of products that they should highlight that I personally liked from using in my hobby. Like that was really all I did.
I trusted them to do everything. I don’t know why I thought that would work. I think usually what I would do is I actually would send them a competitor article and be like, oh yeah, make it just like this with the formatting. Like I like how they do. And they would kind of follow it. It wasn’t like great, but I really didn’t understand the whole template side of things.
I made some changes in the future from that me my content way better. But in this initial few months of outsourcing content, I gave them all the power, all the trust. I just sent them a link to an article to reference and it showed, I mean, the content, wasn’t what my content is now. So I came a long way from that movie stage of the building website journey.
Let’s go to,
Jared: let’s go to roughly December of 2020. That was when you said you started your second site
Charlie: and maybe
Jared: let’s talk about the buildup to the second site. Cause clearly. Based on what you’re talking about. You had some coming to nos, you had some realizations about the keywords you had gone after about the niche you were in about the writers you were hiring about what you were empowering, the writers like, you know, you’ve kind of alluded to all these things are.
What was going on in the quarter four of 20, 20 as you lead up to starting this new site? Like where was the site at, in terms of traffic at that point? The first one? What kind of revenue was it getting and what kind of things were going through your mind as you were thinking about pivoting to a new site?
Charlie: Yeah, I still remember that day. So clearly when I started the second side, it’s so iconic to me. I remember it was late at night, early December, and I was doing keyword research for my first. And I stumbled upon a site in a different niche that happened to be targeting that keyword. And when I put it into Uber suggests an age reps in the analytics, I saw it got over a million visitors per month, organically.
I was like, wow, that’s pretty crazy. Like I’m hoping I get 50,000 sessions. My first site to get into media buy. This site has like a million sessions per month. Like that’s insane. What’s making their site so unique. So I looked through it and they actually left the pages on their site. So you could kind of look at the homepage.
And see that there’s 10 articles on the first page and see those 96 more pages. Right? So simple math, 96 times 10 is 960 articles. So I was like, wow, this site is 960 high quality articles, definitely high quality, nice pictures, well formatted. And they got all this traffic. And I said, why don’t I just do something like this?
Go to an informational keyword, get away from the Amazon product reviews, pump out a ton of high quality content with good keyword research and. See where that takes me. So I bought the website that night that I wanted to start. I came up with the name and a few minutes still the same night into the website.
Now it’s amazing. It was actually a decent name. It worked out well, but I wrote my first piece of content that night. I wrote an article. I published it as a thousand words. There’s a informational query, just answering a question and I got it up and. And the whole thought process was, let me just pump out a ton of informational content.
I’ll start writing some articles. I’ll create the ideal format, the structure of how I want my articles to look. And once I have that in place, I’ll have something to give to writers. And when I go through the writing agencies and Upwork and trying to figure out, you know, who’s the best writers for this project, I’ll see who replicates my format the best who has good research and who could follow the structure.
And that’s when I started taking this way more serious as, okay, let me hire writers. Let me have them follow the structure. I subscribed to a premium image provider. I tried to put all these pieces in place to replicate what that other website was doing. I wasn’t replicating their topics or keywords because I realized they were a higher authority and that all of his power to them, I needed to take a different twist.
But it was the same niche. I was just going after lower competition keywords, but implementing a formatting to my articles and really high quality images. And that’s where the beginning of the project kind of. So
Jared: I have to ask you the question was that it was a success, so I’m not poking at it at all.
Was this a by-product of you realizing your first sight, wasn’t going the way you wanted, or was this more, a little bit of shiny object syndrome and you saw something that you thought, oh, wait a second. I can make this way bigger and way better than when I’m working on. I
Charlie: would definitely say it was, it was more because my first site wasn’t hitting the level of success.
I wanted it to, I mean, at this point that site did have over 400 articles. From what I remember, I think it was actually closed for like four 40. So it had plenty of content. It was definitely funded. It had time, maybe part of it was because I was going through that seasonality element. And I also want to go after a niche that wasn’t seasonal.
I think that was another factor. But then that goes back to the first part. You said, you know, maybe the first site didn’t go as planned. Right? I didn’t account for the seasonality component of it. And the second site, while obviously most sites do have some type of seasonal component. It wasn’t like this big drop off from what my first site would see in the winter fall and spring.
Got it. Okay.
Jared: Okay. I guess a bit of a happy accident, but maybe not so much because you were already starting to think down the road of starting a new site. Let me ask about that seasonality thing. You, you mentioned seasonality a couple of times. Now you mentioned when you were kind of reporting the revenue at the start of the interview, that there was a seasonality component.
And now you just mentioned seasonality. Did you know there was seasonality when you started that first site or was that a surprise that you realized.
Charlie: I knew seasonality existed. I didn’t think it was this much of a drop-off also the first part of it was when I started that site with Amazon affiliate articles.
I. December, it would be strong enough from affiliate earnings, from people buying gifts and stuff during the holidays. I wouldn’t see that impact really an earnings on that site. Like that’s what I thought would bounce it out. But then when I kind of made the push towards building more content on that site and adding more informational keywords, obviously those informational keywords weren’t going to be searched in the winter months for my niche.
So that was a big element to it as well. And I learned that as the months went on and as I started adding content. I tried to do some piece of content that focused on those other months, that related to my niche, they didn’t really do anything that crazy, but it was all good things that I learned. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
The value that I, the values that I got from understanding what that site didn’t do well, made my decision to start in the second site that much.
Jared: Remind me of what a mentor of mine in business has taught me. And he always says, you want to fail fast if you’re going to fail, because then you can figure out what went wrong and fix it.
But the worst thing is to fail slowly because it takes you forever to figure out
Charlie: what’s failing. I love that. And it’s so true. And it really matters for these sites. Like as much as you listen to people and watch. All that stuff helps. But until you put like, you know, I guess not pen to paper, but if you put words on your screen, publish an article, spend some money on it.
That’s when you really start learning and really start picking it up and asking those secondary questions that come with it for why didn’t this work? What happened here? Why is their thing working? Why is mine not? It really helps for growing these projects so much faster.
Jared: I couldn’t agree with you more.
I couldn’t agree with you more. And it’s so hard to get sometimes paralysis by analysis, right? It’s hard to get started because you’re. So concerned after having heard so many stories of quote unquote failing, but you know, sometimes you have to, well, I think in this line of work that we’re in, there’s so many more success stories that come from failing on the first project than the number of people.
Who’ve kind of really nailed it in the first project, you know?
Charlie: And it could be intimidating cause you may want you to step away from. The ideal altogether, like why build websites? If they’re going to fail like this, like it could give you a bad impression, but if you don’t realize, okay, it failed because of these types of things I did not because the idea or the business model doesn’t make sense.
It’s more because of how I approached it and how that can be improved in the next assignment or the next thing that you take.
Jared: Yeah. And you know, I mean, again, that’s the wonderful thing about this space. Again, you have a failure here and I keep using air quotes. If you’re on the podcast, I’m using air quotes.
Every time I see a failure because it’s generated over a, it looks like over a thousand dollars in December. That’s it’s slow season. I don’t know what it’s going to generate in the summer, but I mean, Again, I don’t really know exactly how to value the site with seasonality, but we could probably say it’s worth between 40 to $60,000 right now I’m using today’s multiples and you know that’s a heck of a failure, just to be honest.
Charlie: It’s funny because I put so much money in content on that site. I actually put more money and content on that site with half the articles that the second. But it just shows you how to, I had no idea what I was doing with who I was spending money on. So I’m in that site for almost for way more money actually than what I’m in on my second site.
So that’s probably why it’s a failure in my head relative to the second project. But yeah, if you use those valuation numbers, the sites still made money and still done. Well, if you factor in time, maybe I’m breaking even, or losing a little bit. That’s the beauty of this business. It is just your time, right?
Jared: At what price does that have? Right.
Jared: a whole other car. That’s a whole nother podcast. Actually. That’s a whole other interview. I’m really, I’m wondering if it’s the right time. I think it is to ask the burning question that I’ve had ever since we started talking about this interview and that is, I am dying to know how a full-time a fully employed full-time employed person is able to.
Pump out grant. You’re not writing, but pump out that kind of content volume. Again, over 20 months, you’ve produced and published over 1500 articles. I would love to hear more about your system and certainly it’s gotten much more refined because now you’re producing articles that are clearly ranking well and earning money via the traffic they generate.
Can you walk us through how a full-time person can publish that much content and exactly how you do it?
Charlie: Sure. And it’s probably a good time to discuss how I initially put content on that website and kind of what the publishing rate looked like those first few months, if so kind of expanding on building that second site in December of 2020 D plan was to invest a chunk of money into content.
So the number was $20,000 and the simple math was, you know, at a $20 per article for a thousand word article, I could do a thousand articles for 20. And I think I’ll have great growth. I’ll be able to join media vine. I can monetize it and it’ll produce a level of income on a monthly basis where I’ll receive a return on my investment in a one year and a half timeframe.
And then I’ll also have an asset that’s worth something. So for, in order for that business model of a work and fraud to be going as fast as possible, I want to get as much content up in those first few months. I hired writers from Upwork. I had some decent writers that I still work with today. I have writers that I worked with for a week or a couple of days and got rid of them.
But I, at the end of the day, I want to just have as much content as possible. So I was happy spending that time, editing the article, just to be able to publish another piece of content from that writer. One of the first full months I had writers was January. And I think I put up over 200 articles that month.
And there was days where I was literally editing 10, 12 articles and getting them on the site as fast as possible. I would wake up in the morning for work. I’d usually get started around 7:00 AM. Remind you, this is all remote. So I didn’t have to travel, which was a huge time saver for me. My door-to-door commute was roughly an hour and 20 minutes pre pandemic.
I would take a train, but whatever it changed, everything having that time back. So I’d get up to start working at seven. My day would usually be done around six 30 ish seven, and then I need some dinner hanging out with my fiance at the time. It was. And then once we kind of watch a show together, it’d be around 10 o’clock at night and I’d get to work on the website.
And I would just work late nights from 10 to one in the morning, 10 to two in the morning publishing, editing content. It was motivating, right? Like I see all these success stories that people putting out, these content, rich websites, all informational, and the business model really made sense to me. And that’s what motivated me to keep pushing.
And I was like, oh, every article I put up to. Yeah, it’s not going to bring in money tomorrow, but boy, eight months from now, I’m really going to be thanking myself that I publish those 10 articles. That one day got a little less sleep than I wanted to. Cause I really just wanted to move the business forward.
Right. Like I had my idea of how this would work. I had. The goal of hitting a thousand articles. And another thing I did to keep myself accountable was I documented the whole journey on YouTube as like a case study. And that was when I created the pastor priority channel, which is literally just step-by-step videos with updates and me publishing content, the traffic, I was receiving, the writers that I was hiring, what was my keyword research process, all these things that I didn’t know in the beginning that I now learned, I was trying to document it.
My goal was that it’s not that complicated of a process. As long as you have a little bit of structure. If you have some time, you have some resources to invest, anyone can replicate this at a pretty successful rate. I mean, I think putting all that together, I got the content up. I put 200 articles up in January.
I put probably another hundred plus in February that stayed pretty consistent to the summer. And then once I was around 800, 900 articles, I did slow down a little bit on content because I was almost approaching the goal too fast, where I figured, you know what, let me spend the next couple of weeks or months doing a little more keyword research.
Getting a little more data from articles that are now starting to rank, right? I’m in the summer months, the website’s six or seven months old, I’m seeing what Google starting to like. And I took that feedback and kind of put that towards the next 200 articles to get me where I am today, which is right around that 1050 article mark.
I think it was 1046 from what I said earlier, but that’s kind of how it all went together. There was no plans of monetizing it with anything else outside of ads. I just want to get content up as fast as possible. That’s all I cared about. I had the same website design on day one to what I have now, the logo is the same.
I think my site’s clean. The site has very good web vital scores. Everything is very quick. It moves fast. It’s simple. It’s straightforward. I’m focusing on having good content. Good pictures. And satisfy whatever the search query is that person’s looking for. And that’s pretty much the root of the model.
Jared: Wow. That’s a lot of content. So you did a thousand articles on the front side of everything. So you were really, you were just pushing heavy at the very beginning. Once you settled, you talked about the editing, the process of hiring a bunch of writers, some would stay for a while. Some would be gone after an article or two.
Once you settled into that group, how many writers were writing for this?
Charlie: So as of right now, I have four writers still that I picked up from when I first started this project and hired them from Upwork. So for them still work on the site, I think I have another three writers I just hired in the last couple of months.
So currently I’m at seven reminded they all, you know, write articles at different paces and different ways. Some of them are doing more research. Some are doing less. Like there’s some writers that I’m paying a little bit less money than I would be others, but they pink. They crank out more content a week.
I have to spend a little more time editing. And then there’s other writers. I spend, you know, upwards of $60 per thousand words, and they’re writing these epic 2000, 3000 word articles with a lot of pictures and graphics and things that are really helpful for my readers, but I may take a, it may take a week or two to get those articles back.
So I have a good team in place now, but I think the best thing about the structures, I usually give a writer, one topic or one type of topic cluster to focused on. So if it’s a frequently asked question and I’m just changing one or two. To make that a different key. Having that rider do all 5,000, 150 articles of that type of topic, because they have the structure down.
They’re starting to accumulate some knowledge on that niche and understand a little bit better. And it just saves me so much time editing it once that’s already in place. And they understand what the plan is, what the mission is. I like to bold certain things in my articles. They’re starting to pick that up.
Once they get to the fifth and sixth article to get really good at it by the 10th and 20th article. Again, it does make a difference. And that’s what allowed the team to kind of stay in place. So I’m continuing to use those writers for future articles. Give us some
Jared: tips on hiring writers on Upwork.
You’ve obviously hired a bunch of good ones. You have four mainstays had been with you for a while. Three more. That just started. You’ve also hired. I don’t want to say bad ones, but ones that didn’t work out. What are some tips for hiring an Upwork? I would like to hear, cause I’m not that great at it.
Charlie: Sure. So one of my favorite tips that I always tell people is I think it’s key to ask them a question. Related to anything about your articles or how you publish content or how they’ve written articles before that they have to div like a thought provoking and serve. They actually have to give like an opinion or say something and you can kind of just toss it anywhere in the application.
If somebody doesn’t answer that question. Cause they probably just missed it, rapid fire, their answer. I’m automatically like giving that a thumbs down and not following up that application. Cause it shows that they didn’t want to learn and understand what I was exactly looking for. So that’s a good thing to easily weed out writers early on.
The next thing I look at too. Making sure that rider has some type of familiarity with my niche. And if they don’t, when I ask for samples, I’m seeing how those websites are, how those pieces of content perform for that niche. Are they writing SEO, friendly content? Are they keyword stuffing, which is something I don’t want them to do?
Are they. You know, bolding the paragraphs, the way they wanted with good age, two subheadings. I try to see what type of things they’re doing already and what sites they wrote for, because if they had, you know, if they were hired by another site, in my niche or a site in a different niche, but it was the same type of business model.
And they worked with them, did a lot of work. Hey, can include the person has been, you know, verified by that site owner or verified by that business model where I could give them a shot at mine. And the last thing I look at too, and I guess this is once I really started talking to them. I don’t give them a price on articles.
I don’t say I’m looking to pay this. I ask them what they want to receive. And if it’s something that I think could make sense, I’ll give them a sample article. And then once they write that article, I’ll value it in my head. I’m not saying all my writers need to be a $20. Per thousand words are all needs to be a $50.
Without those words, I will value each article differently. And each writer differently, depending on what type of content they give back to me. So I usually give them that sample article. And when it comes back, I will value that article at either a price, similar to what they’re expecting above or even less.
And I tell them that too. And I told them that the way our business work, the way our structure is we reward loyalty. We’re happy to give bonuses and increase, pay on. But the most important thing is to find somebody that’s for fit for us. We have a strong budget, but we’re also evaluating you and your content based on what you’re giving us.
So there’s a lot of opportunity and flexibility. I think that does motivate them to research and write more knowing they’re not writing to a price they’re writing to what a value that they’re outputting to. I think that really, but there’s even one case where I had some writer she’s like, yeah, pay me this.
I’m like, I’m not paying it up. That is just way too low. Like you’re worth almost double that at least. And if you write it for us for, you know, a couple of weeks, couple of months, I’m happy to bump that up. Even further, the person was so grateful now they reread their articles like six times instead of four, they’ve just been doing such a great job, but you get a lot of situations like that.
And especially when you establish your site as an authority in. These writers enjoy writing for you, and they want to be a part of this mission and all upstair resume. It helps their credibility when they apply to other jobs, either during your project or after
Jared: with the amount of content
Charlie: that you’ve published.
Jared: Hey, we’re research is vital. How are you finding these keywords? I mean, you talked about how you found that the niche really, you just kind of stumbled upon it from a competitor. So I’m sure looking at some of the things that, that competitor, maybe other competitors are writing, serves into it, but what types of keyword research are you doing and how are you finding these keywords?
That again are ranking really well. Your site’s a year old. Got what’d you say 150,000 page views last month. So now where are you finding these people?
Charlie: Yeah. So I think it’s more of me understanding what’s in the. Like what’s in the search responses from that topic and understanding those sites power and the keyword targeting.
I think that’s like a big part of this, which has comes with time and skill of doing it. I don’t use any crazy tools. Like I don’t even pay for premium age reps. I eventually want to, I think I’m going to subscribe. But I use like Uber suggest I’m just typing in that question, seeing how much monthly search volume it has.
And it gives me an idea of what to expect when I outsource my articles. I keep every article of what I pay for it on the data, outsource it as well as the monthly search volume for that phrase. But the monthly search volume has no impact of me picking that keyword or not. Like, all I care about is what’s in the search engine for those first 10 results and mainly the first like three results.
Cause that’s mostly, what’s going to bring me in decent traffic. And that’s what I’m looking up, right? Like I’m coming to a phrase. Once you find those phrases, you’re able to build off them and kind of modify them small little ways that. You know, a huge chunk of keywords. It’s really all that’s to it. I use a lot of Google auto suggest to see what’s out there, but I’m also not doing things in a way where it’s like I type in, for example, you know, a very basic word.
And I just look at the recommended questions off that word. Like at this point, I understand my niche well enough where I know what people are searching. I know how to build off it onto phrases that you know, are related to topics on my site, but you’d be surprised how much articles I have that have no structure to other things.
Titles I have on my site, they’re literally just like a eight word question that somebody is probably typing it into Google about my niche. And it only gets 300 searches a month and I write an article for it and it makes sense. And it helps to know your niche. It helps to talk to people in your niche.
And it’s also good to just be walking around the house, talking to your family because the amount of articles I’ve come up from doing that also helps as well of somebody saying a word in the house or a phrase. And I’m like, oh, I’ll be a really good article. And that’s the beauty of having a niche that I chose.
That’s just so broad in general. And there’s so many opportunities to write a lot of articles. I mean, if that was an article, seems like crazy. I know a lot of people go, oh, okay. Right. Thousand articles about the niche that I chose, but I chose a niche that I could write tens of thousands of articles.
Like there’s always gonna be something. It’s an evergreen niche, but there’s also so much within that niche that can be asked or questioned or something that people are looking. Let me ask
Jared: you a question. I haven’t asked him in a while on here. And one of the potential pitfalls of publishing a lot of content quickly is that sometimes articles can end up overlapping each other, right?
A keyword cannibalization. Two articles are kind of competing for the same keyword. They’re touching on a topic. Maybe they’re not both targeting the same keyword, but inside the article they’re targeting as a subtopic, the same keyword as you could, as cannabis cannibalization effect. Is that something you pay any attention to you pay any mind to, or do you have any strategies to mitigate that or, or maybe it’s not even a big deal.
You don’t worry about it.
Charlie: So it’s definitely something I’m aware of. And I’m starting to get into a little bit more of those situations as, you know, pass a thousand article marks. Some things are overlapping more than I would expect. And there is some cases where I write an article and the main question, right, as the title.
And then there may be an H two subheading about it in the article and then the whole thing elaborates on it. And then there’s another article I published. It’s on the same type of topic. And maybe my question from that first article is an H three subheading. And that second article that just has a quick three sentences addressing.
I don’t worry about those situations. I think that’s actually a good opportunity to enter link that first article. It gets some link juice flowing into something that’s so relevant, but another thing that’s key to avoiding keyword cannibalization in terms of the titles or the main topic of the article is.
I log every article that I write into like a Google spreadsheet and every time I’m writing an article, I look at the main seed keyword, just like the main topic of what I’m talking about. And I type that in and I’ll see, it’s been like appearing eight times on my spreadsheet. Right. I’ll make sure all those articles aren’t related to that specifically in terms of what question I’m addressing about that.
If it’s not, I’ll publish it. If it is, maybe I’ll hold off or wait for a writer that I can at least communicate, Hey, you know, we already talked about this on the site. Maybe stay away from these types of things, but that’s why it’s important to be cognizant of what you already have on your site already documenting that.
It’s also good of separate thing or clusters where they don’t overlap too much. Some things you can’t avoid. And those cases, I use them as great opportunities to just interlink the articles. Oh,
Jared: good. Very good. Well, it wouldn’t be a podcast on a fast-growing site. If I didn’t ask you about link building back links and what you’re doing for link building and what importance do you think it has on your success?
Charlie: Right. So I, and then going back to the first site, I did build some links to the first website. Mind you, I had to understand the new age of SEO with links and whatnot. And all I really thought it was like, oh, I got to get guest posts and Mitch at it’s. It’s not that simple. And if you’re not that, you know, if you’re not that familiar with how those links work and their profiles, you could still get some pretty crappy like guest posts and niche edits that don’t move the needle at all.
And I wouldn’t say I got the worst links for the first site, but I don’t think I got the most attractive links for what I paid for the time I spent acquiring them. So when I came to the second site, I remember the first couple of months, like I mentioned, it’s just all content. Like all my efforts, all my money was being spent on content.
And once it got to like, you know, the middle of the year, you know, may June, I was like, okay, I got a great, some type of authority and backlink profile the way I wanted to approach. It was rather than using backlinks to rank articles. I wanted to use backlinks to create authority in terms of building a moat.
Like I wanted to protect my website now from competitors, I found some good keywords. I found some things that made sense, but what’s stopping someone else from pumping out 400 articles and catching up to me at some point in like February, March when I was still very new. I didn’t want anyone to do that.
So I figured if I had some type of authority, if I build some links out to create some type of boat, there’s a few things I did to approach that I did guest. Guest posted. I did. I only did guest posts on sites that had at least 10,000 visitors per month and at least 10,000 keywords ranking because I wanted to make sure that site was credible in my niche and had some type of juice towards it.
I didn’t really get caught up with the metrics on age reps, SCM rush MAs, all those. I think they’re meaningful to some degree, but I think it’s important to look at those backlink profiles of those sites, as well as what type of traffic they’re already receiving some of my favorite links to acquire, or the sites that have a ton of keywords ranking for it, but not a lot of traffic.
It shows their authoritative, they didn’t spend the time, you know, work focusing on keywords. So that’s kinda how I approach the guest posts. The other thing I did was HARO. Right? We always talk about this. I know you guys mentioned it all the time on the podcast. Getting these types of links from reporters and from journalists, I have a freelancer who I pay a hundred dollars.
Every time they get a link successfully on HARO, it works out great. They definitely do this for other people too, where I’m just like one person on their list. But yeah, I told them every time you get the link, I’ll pay you a hundred dollars. He’s got me like seven or eight links already. And I just send them a hundred dollars on Fiverr.
It works out. I do a little bit of that here and there on my own, there was one link I acquired where I had to do an interview. I kind of filled out all these questions. The reporter called me, we talked for 15 minutes. It was a unique situation where she was asking questions about an area that I live.
And it just was a great opportunity to get on a da 70 plus website. And I just said, oh, you mentioned my website. It’s something I work on when I’m in my home. And she’s like, oh yeah, sure, no problem. It just worked out really well. It’s just stuff like that. And then currently. The other thing I’m doing is I wouldn’t say it’s like a guest post.
It’s almost like a niche edit outreach, but it’s something I do personally. I joined these popular groups for my niche and I’ve just kind of mingle and talk to people that are building sites. We’re not direct competitors. There’s a little nuance to their keyword research versus what I’m doing and the traffic they’re going in.
But our articles can actually work really nice when put together. And there’s a lot of similarities between the type of things that they’re writing about and what I’m writing about that if we reference each other, it can really help. So what I did was I made a bunch of posts saying, Hey, this is what we do.
As a website, we have over a thousand articles or receive over 150,000 page sessions per month. We would like to reference reputable people in this. If you see any articles on our site that you think could make sense to, you know, include one of your pieces of content, please let us know. We’re trying to work with like 10 to 20 websites going forward.
That every time we publish content, we have these 10 to 20 websites are referencing. And the feedback was incredible. I had all these people reaching out to me, all them had sites with more than 25 to 50,000 page views. I was in like a very reputable forum that you only could get into if you have a big blog.
And I made a lot of relationships with people and the sole relationship was like, Hey, I’m Charlie, how are you? Yeah, I’m going to link to you here. Is that fine? They’d say, oh my God, this is great. Thank you so much because obviously they do the SEO part of it. They had a big site. And I’d be like, yeah, if you don’t mind, I’m kind of willing to more of your content in the future.
If we publish new articles on these topics, like your stuff is great. We really love working with you and maybe so happy to do this. And they would kind of sometimes question like, why are you doing this? Why are you reaching out? So it’s like this. And I would say to be honest, we’re an informational website.
This is what we do. You’re maybe more e-commerce driven. We’re trying to find the best things to promote to our readers. Right? Like our goal is to be an informed. You know, maybe your goal is to convert leads. Let’s give you some leads. Let’s give you some good content as long as that’s okay with you. And they would still be like, oh my God, this is incredible.
This is great. Is there anything we can do for you? In a few cases, I would just get some links back instantly. They’d be like, okay, great. You link to this article here. Let us link back to you. I was like, no, that’s great. That’s terrific. And then in some cases I would have to ask, but I didn’t get too caught up in the whole reciprocal link.
Because I wasn’t referencing a page that they were going to link back to the exact same page. I would write an article link to one of theirs, and then they’d write a different article that linked back to a different article out of my site. So it was the same root domain, but different URLs. And I think that’s very natural link building.
I think it’s networking. I think it’s building relationships with others. There’s very popular websites that have that happen all the time. So the fact that I was getting these links and they were like, da 50 VA 60 plus some that were having over 300,000 visitors a month. It was just a great way to diversify my link profile and also get these real authorities in my space to kind of vouch for me, but the duke Paul, like, and that was something I just started recently.
So I probably haven’t seen the benefits of that, but it’s something I want to do more of the next couple of months. Wow. See, actually,
Jared: you got out from behind in a shell of an anonymous website. And made real, genuine connections with people in your space and you’re reaping the benefits from it.
Charlie: I was, it’s funny.
I was scared at first because I had my first website, like my bio naturally on this like social media channel. And I was like, great, they’re going to find my first site. And the people were applying to like, wait, what’s your site, what’s your site. And I started realizing everyone has their stuff. Bio this community.
Like it’s not like that. And not trying to steal my keywords, like, all right, I’ll put my second site in there and I’ll be like the face of it. And like, let’s see how this goes. And I guess it’s worked out. I mean, watch, I’m gonna have someone probably replicate all my articles two months from now, but it really worked out well.
And I think it’s something on its own.
Jared: No, you built the moat, like you talked about. So, you know, maybe at this point you’re a little bit more insulated from that at this point. That’s a great strategy and it’s good encouragement. I mean, Obviously there’s some niches where maybe it doesn’t make sense, but I think broadly speaking, the majority of us could get a little bit more out in the public as it relates to our website and own it.
And then there’s a lot of benefits that come from doing that from really, truly embracing, you know, your website and getting out there, making connections. So I run a marketing agency for a living and we do, we, we build backlinks for clients and I always tell clients, I said, Hey, you know what? We’re going to, we’re going to be building these backlinks as part of a strategic SEO effort, but you probably have 25 back links that are hanging out right in front of you, just from colleagues, vendors, and partnerships that you have, where all you would have to do is create that, actually exercise that relationship.
And it would more than likely lend you a link if that’s something that you had the time and energy for. So it’s just a great reminder that these opportunities are hanging out in front of us. If we’re willing to go out and create community around. As we kind of come to a close here, I really, I want to ask a little bit about your motivation.
You know, your why behind this, you seem pretty successful. You have a, a good career in finance and, you know, gainfully employed. What is the motivation behind starting these websites? Where did the goal of a thousand posts come from? Why are you, why are you doing.
Charlie: It’s funny because if you asked me why I was just starting this today, I’d be like, oh, it’s so easy.
Cause everyone’s building these big informational websites. Now. I think it’s like a big thing. I’m just saying in the community with a lot of people back then, it was more of everyone’s so focused on these other sites that have these affiliate type of. You know, directions and whatnot. And I figured if I built an informational site, there’d be a little lower risk.
And that was something that was interesting because when I did the website, six to eight years ago, you know, you get hit hard, you get hit by these updates and your site’s done. Like I wanted to build something that was long-term. I think the passive income element to it was really rewarding. Put all this additional work upfront, and it’s something that could pay you out on a monthly basis.
The exit’s quite attractive, right? The fact that they sell at these very attractive valuations, right? My background is finance. I understand the value of multiples and how those can become large numbers. Very quickly. This business model is very exciting. I think it’s more just the entrepreneurial spirit.
I was always interested in building websites and now tying that back to like a content publishing type of business. I made a lot of sense. Bye. Like I don’t love writing. I think doing all this made me a better writer and maybe a better editor going through content. And by no means, do I love content? I like my niche very much.
So it’s not something I’d ever do a career. And I don’t like it that much, but I like it enough to build a website, make money from it. But the biggest motivator is just saying other people are having success with this. What do I have to do to achieve that success? And I realize it’s really not that many things I needed to change to get to a level.
As successful. So many people build websites that they hit, these five figures, six figures a month, a monthly income. I kind of wanted to poke the bear and see like how far I could get to that. And now I’m already at four figures a month, mid four figures. Can I get that 10 figure a month? Mark? That’s something that’s really exciting and rewarding.
I mean, everyone’s financial flexibility and stuff like that. It’s just, it’s another way to grow your revenue streams and have a little more diversity outside of just your day job, which is awesome.
Jared: Last question for you. What’s your advice for people who are hanging on the fence and haven’t started a site yet they’re waiting for something that everybody has a reason, but what’s your advice to them?
Charlie: I think my advice is if you’re say stuck on a niche, you’re delaying a niche and you don’t know what domain name to get, whatever it is, go see what other people are doing in that niche. Go see what other things are. You might be able to change one word or add a word, and it’s like unique to you. And it’s something that’s quick to change.
That’s all it could be. It’s we’re getting a domain name or maybe you don’t know what articles to write. Think about general questions in that niche that people ask. Sometimes it just takes like publishing an article or seeing what’s in the search engines for that current topic and realize that you can easily put out something that’s so much better and that’s all you need to do to get started.
My first article for my second site, I literally wrote about a topic that gets 20 searches a month, but I’ll tell you in a month and a half, when that article finally ranked it ranked on the first. I only got like one or two clicks a day on it, but it was so rewarding seeing that level of success. So if you do build some type of website, Do something that just gives you some type of, have a quick win make you feel like you’ve done something correctly, whether it’s targeting a super low competition keyword that gives you that positive reinforcement, whether it’s joining an ad network that pays you a few pennies a week or a day, you need those positives of wins and you’ve got to celebrate them and then kind of graduate to the next step.
And each time you do that, it’s going to show you that it’s working and to keep you motivated, to keep going. I
Jared: totally agree. I, I didn’t do those things along the way. When I started my site up and looking back, you know, those little shots of motivation in the arm are so valuable and they keep you going for a little bit longer until you can get to the next stage the next day.
It was great advice,
Charlie: Charlie, where can people follow along? How about you’re doing. Yeah. So I’m documenting the entire journey on my YouTube channel, passive priority. It’s usually every two or three weeks. I try and give an update. I’ll get like monthly income reports. One video is probably really helpful for all the listeners is I do have a video about my keyword research process.
Very simple, easy to follow. I kind of walk you through it in a quick, short little video, but this is really just an informational type of channel. I’m not really trying to do anything with it. Just want to track. More than anything. It keeps me accountable, holds me to my standards and my goals for my project.
And that’s been rewarding in itself from that regard. But yeah, no, I’m gonna try and do more of these podcasts and try and speak to more people and tell my story. I’m really excited what I’m doing here. And I think 20, 22 is gonna be really a great year for growing these businesses.
Jared: Well, I’m excited to see where these sites go.
I mean, geez, look us up and give us an update. When you hit that five figure a month number there on that second site, I imagined it might be sooner rather than later, based on the trajectory that you have so far, congratulations on your success. These types of stories are really motivational for a lot of people, me included.
And so I’m really glad you came on to share with us today. I’m imagining there’s me. A lot of people who really take a lot from what you had to say. Thanks for being so candid. With outlining your journey with us.
Charlie: Thanks again for having me on, I mean, the fact that you guys do this show is motivating for me over the months when things are really slow.
So it’s really nice to give back in this regard and I hope, you know, my next update could be even more motivating to the next people that follow along and understand what this business is. It’s awesome.
Jared: That’s awesome. Thanks Charlie. For joining us here on the podcast, really appreciate it until we talk.
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