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Ezoic Cuts Affiliate Program and Lays Off 28% of Staff + Serp Volatility and Weird Niche Sites

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This week’s episode of Niche Pursuits News is hosted by Jared Bauman, of 201 Creative, and Shawn Hill, a previous podcast guest and the brains behind The Grilling Dad.

The first topic they dive into is Ezoic’s announcement of the end of its affiliate program and its plan to lay off workers. They talk about the blow to affiliates but also mention how it created an interesting juxtaposition in providing a financial incentive for referring people. 

They talk about the statement from Tyler Bishop, the company’s CMO, about the discontinuation of the program, in which he shares some interesting data, as well as the letter from CEO Dwayne Lafleur about the layoffs. They also discuss whether there needs to be an entry-level ad provider for website owners.

Watch the Full Episode

Jared and Shawn then move on to a different topic: the Claud 2 launch, by Anthropic. Claud is an AI language model which is gaining attention for having more human-like responses. Claud also allows users to upload files and ask questions about different documents, which is a unique feature. 

Shawn shares his thoughts on it after using it a little bit and comparing it with ChatGPT, and Jared has some ideas about how to leverage Claud for SEO. Listen in to hear what they have to say!

Moving on, Jared and Shawn touch on the recent volatility in the SERPs, suggesting that a Google update is underway. While the exact cause of the update remains unclear, there is evidence that changes are happening in the search engine landscape.

The next topic on the agenda is Wix’s launch of its AI website generator. The tool allows users to create complete websites with just the press of a button. Jared and Shawn discuss the implications of this new tool and its target market, noting that it will help certain types of businesses establish a web presence. 

In the Shiny Object Syndrome portion of the podcast, Jared goes first with an update on his progress with the Amazon Influencer Program. He continues to rake it in and recently surpassed the 300-video mark. He also talks about taking a brief break from his Weekend Growth newsletter.

Shawn talks about helping a friend build his first niche site and documenting the process publicly, and he also has a positive report on The Grilling Dad, which continues to grow and do well despite spending less time on it.

As for the weird niche sites, Jared kicks things off with HEIC to JPG, which is a great tool for iPhone users, as photos are sometimes saved as HEIC files. They talk about the site’s clean design and ease of use. It has a DR of 62 and only ranks for 5200 keywords, but it has a ton of number-one rankings and ranks for keywords with very high search volumes. They also talk about the idea of creating a tool that adds to your business or your website.

Shawn then shares his weird niche site: Cooler Spy. He highlights how the site is dedicated to just one product, how it has lots of addictive YouTube videos, and has just 24 pages. He estimates traffic of around 10k and earnings of up to $1k per month, and although it’s a small site, its quality is off the charts. 

And that concludes another thought-provoking and inspiring episode of the podcast, where you can learn about the latest in SEO and niche site news and what it means for you!

transcription

Jared: All right. Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. Today we have another episode of Niche Pursuits News. Spencer is out, and so we have a guest today, a previous podcast guest, Sean Hill. Welcome, Sean. 

Shawn: Yo, thanks for having me. Happy to be here. 

Jared: It is good to have you back. I was, I meant to look up before we started how long ago you were on.

It was probably what, six months ago, maybe, when you did your interview? 

Shawn: Yeah, that seems right. 

Jared: All right. Well, a lot’s happened since then. Hopefully, along the way, we’ll get a little bit of an update. I mean, from a high level, like, what are you up to now? We got to hear all about the Grilling Dad and where it was at, you know, coming through the holiday season and into the into the wintertime.

But, like, maybe give us an update on where that is at really quickly. A 30 second overview. Yeah, 

Shawn: I mean, it is still growing year over year growth, which is nice to see things turning in the right direction. So happy with that. And just since you’re here too, and that 201 in the background, those new reviews are looking super good.

So super pumped about those and the ones that are coming up. 

Jared: Yeah, we just got done doing some kind of collaborating on a project. We got steeped in meat thermometers as we created content for you and it turned out really well. So that was fun. Yeah. Well. We have another another week in the news, and of course, as in every week, we’ve got a lot to go through.

Looking forward to having your perspectives. For those who don’t know, you previously worked for Forbes in their SEO department as well. So, just so people get an idea, Sean has his own website that’s generating, you know, five figures per month. He’s an SEO strategist previously for Forbes and then moved on to another position in SEO.

So, we get a pretty well rounded take on the news this week from you. 

Shawn: Yeah, for sure. You’re happy to go over. It got some fun stuff to cover. All 

Jared: right. Let’s go ahead and talk about the first news episode or a story really. And it broke last week. I think right around the time we launched last week’s news podcast.

And that is the bigger topic of ezoic. Now we’ve talked about ezoic in the past on the podcast. Ezoic obviously is an ad platform for website content creators to publish ads on their website with. A lot of people will use them when they’re getting started. Many will stay for the duration, but they were in the news last Friday for cutting their affiliate program.

And then subsequently in the news on Monday for laying off somewhere around 25% of their staff. So got a couple of stories we can go through and want to talk through each of the finer points, but from a high level. You know, what, what are your, what are your take on both the affiliate program going away and then, you know, unfortunately laying off a bunch of people?

Shawn: Yeah, I mean, it’s always unfortunate when people are, you know, losing their jobs whether or not, you know, you like the company the people who are there, they’ve got livelihoods and bills to pay. So that’s always unfortunate, but as tough as it is to say, not surprised just all the negative I’ve heard about it.

I’ve only had positive interactions with people who’ve worked at Ezoic. I’ve never used their service. But just seeing how the folks used to interact on Twitter with other people anytime there was a less than stellar comment, it’s just not surprising to see them getting rid of the affiliate program and having to lay off some folks.

Especially, you know, it, it was a little surprising though, just cause looking at the CEOs Twitter account, he was talking about record growth and then all of a sudden a bunch of layoffs. So a little surprising, but a 

Jared: lot there, a lot to unpack. I mean, yeah, I guess I’ll start with the affiliate program. It was.

Probably regarded as a really good affiliate program if you were an affiliate. I don’t remember the exact percentages, but the big thing about it was that you got lifetime commission. So if you were approved as an affiliate, you referred someone to use Ezoic and sign up. And then, lo and behold that person kept their sight on Ezoic for three years, four years.

You were getting earnings every single month. And so as a result. It was a tough blow for a lot of people. Especially people who had a lot of people they had referred over the years. Now, I, I commented on this a bit on Twitter. And it was, I was being very agnostic about the whole thing. Because I, like you, have had positive interactions with Ezoic.

I have starter sites that I have on them. I do move them off when they get enough traffic to qualify for another ad network. But I think Ezoic fills a really important spot in the industry. With that being said, affiliate programs by nature, they create this interesting juxtaposition because whenever there’s a financial incentive to refer someone somewhere, you’re always going to have perhaps people that are referring for various reasons and then the kind of almost inherent kickback that comes from people who say the only reason you’re referring them is because you’re getting a commission, you know.

Shawn: Yeah, and it’ll be interesting to see that some of those folks who were referring them stop just because they, you know, if you’re an affiliate marketer, you’re going to push products that you get paid on. But if people trust you and, you know, value your opinion, and now it changes because there’s not money involved, that’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds.

Jared: Yeah, there aren’t a lot of other affiliate programs in the ad referral space.

Formerly AdThrive have affiliate programs? I’m pretty sure. 

Shawn: I’m not sure. I know Mediavine asks if someone referred you. I don’t know what happens. If you do refer someone. You didn’t put me down last time. Nope, not this last time. I was actually, yeah, a site that, a different site I’m working on is getting Mediavine added to it.

And I referred them. Even though I’m signing up for it, I guess, it was kind of weird, but so we’ll see how that, that works out, but. 

Jared: Let’s talk a bit about then the subsequent layoffs that happened on Monday. And well, one thing, before I move on to the layoffs, you know, one thing I did want to share, and I’ll share the screen here.

Bear with me if you’re watching on YouTube. Let’s see, where is share button? I always mess this up. So you know, there was a post that got shared by by Tyler Bishop. I believe he’s the CMO there and he talked about a more strategic approach was needed for Ezoic affiliates. So he did kind of go into depth about why they.

Stopped their affiliate program. I thought he did share some very interesting data. I’m going to try to find some of the data here. In fact the number of sites earning money in a meaningful way from the affiliate program was less than 50 total affiliates. Many of which who were not active promoters, but rather long time customers who referred customers years in the past.

And ultimately, He said that their decision wasn’t just about cutting costs or numbers, but about again, what you kind of mentioned, having a more authentic relationship with their with their customers. So to some degree, the things that you were talking about are present there and I want to make sure to share Tyler’s perspective.

So we’re kind of sharing a balanced opinion here, but but yeah, let’s move on to the layoffs that happened. And again, I will share my screen. With the CEOs I guess it’s a letter to employees where he talks about basically they over expanded and they went all in on growing and again, I’m I’m mincing words here, but growing things that were in addition to the basic ad platform and now with the global economy being what it is.

Inflation being what it is, et cetera, et cetera. They needed to make cutbacks. They had reduced, or increased the size of the team by 62% in 2022. And now they’re reducing it by 28% on Monday. Alright tough news. What do you think of that? We’re seeing a lot of cutbacks in tech in general. I know we don’t think about tech.

In our little niche here, but you know, Meta and Google and all these big tech companies are doing layoffs and cutbacks to some degree, perhaps somewhat following in that vein. 

Shawn: Yeah, I mean, that’s exactly what came to mind as you’re like reading through that. We’re experiencing that in, in the tech industry.

And I mean, it’s across several big companies, like you’ve mentioned. So it makes sense. A lot of people hired really fast. A lot of people wanted to work from home and new people were available to do so, I mean, kind of had to do so. So, seeing the numbers, I mean how much they grew and you know now they’re cutting it and he said like how how wrong they got it I mean again, it’s unfortunate that people are losing their jobs, but it didn’t seem like they got it that wrong I mean, they built up by 62% now, they’re slaying off 28% I mean, I don’t know all the numbers there as far as what that actually looks like from a numbers Yeah, 

Jared: but 

Shawn: I mean It seems like they they estimated a little bit, a little bit more.

Maybe if they kept the affiliate program, maybe they would have hit the numbers they needed to keep those employees. 

Jared: There you go. There you go. I mean, there’s a lot, you, you addressed it, like, and it’d be, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least touch on it. There’s a lot of weird feelings about EZOIC in our little industry.

There’s a lot of people that get triggered by them, partly, probably because of their presence on, you know, and responses, but a lot of people don’t like Ezoic ads, they feel like it slows their sight down, and these kinds of things, like, do you think, from a broad level, our industry needs a Ezoic, it needs something that serves the entry level market or, I’ll You know, you know, do they actually need competition?

Do they need more people, more businesses to compete with them to make them better in that place that they tend to live, that brand new site up to maybe a 50, page view site? I think it is 

Shawn: absolutely needed. And I think Tyler Bishops. Message there was spot on as far as the quality of affiliates. So if you take out the people who are just putting it out there, trying to earn commissions and aren’t setting proper expectations, they’re saying like, Hey, you’re going to get the highest RPMs.

You’re going to make the most money with this company. That’s a little bit different than saying like, Hey, you’re going to have really high quality ads. You’re going to have a really fast site. And that’s what you expect with Raptive and Mediavine, right? It’s quality. And so, I think an Ezoic definitely serves an audience.

It needs to be there for folks who are just starting out and wanting to monetize and not lose money every single month on hosting. And so, I think it definitely serves a purpose. I think that it will only get better now. I think that they probably learned a lot from this. They’ve definitely been tweeting less, like Tyler specifically.

And so it’ll be interesting to see how, how they grow and what happens after this. A little bit of an optimist. I think it’ll, it’ll be a positive move for him in the long run. 

Jared: I mean, I’m pretty much in total agreement with you. I think that it serves such a valuable purpose, like having, I’ll tell a quick story.

I didn’t start my first site back in 2017 with the idea of putting ads on it. It was kind of a, I don’t want to say a new thing cause it probably wasn’t, I just knew to me, but I was an affiliate marketer. I was going to do affiliates. And I was struggling after a year. I was struggling to really get and earn much money and somebody I got a lot of Pinterest traffic and so I qualified for Mediavine and that was my first couple of big months of paychecks.

A two, three grand a month coming from ad revenue because I was generating over a hundred thousand visitors in social traffic. It wasn’t getting me any affiliate commissions, but that was the shot in the arm I needed to go to that, to push to that next level. And it’s a little bit silly, but when you are working and typing to ghosts, that for many, especially new sites, that’s, that first check from a company like an Ezoic that can give you a hundred dollars for your five thousand page views.

It’s a big deal. It’s validating. 

Shawn: For sure. I know, like, I didn’t… I didn’t plan to add display ads at all to the Grilling Dad. It was just affiliate marketing play, and that was what I was going to do. And then watch some John Dykstra videos, and I’m like, whoa, I can make how much with display ads? And at that time, I qualified for Mediavine, so I went directly there.

And just had read negative things about Ezoic, so I just didn’t even think about it. But had I known it was an option earlier, I probably would have added it. Just to offset cost of running a site and just to be able to bring in money. And I mean, when you make that first dollar online or you hit your first hundred dollars or your first thousand dollars, it’s so motivating to keep going.

So who knows like how fast the site could have grown had I made money a little bit earlier. So kind of to go back to it, I think that they, they definitely serve a place. And again, I think if their reputation is kind of revamped, it could be great for them. Well, 

Jared: Azoke, if you’re listening, we wish you all the best.

Maybe refine a couple things. If you want my opinion, get rid of that whole I have to pay for premium ad thing, but that’s just one man’s opinion. That’s just everyone’s opinion. Okay, fair enough. Yeah, I agree. I don’t know why they do that. If you need 

Shawn: some new high quality affiliates and influencers, hit Jared and I up.

There you 

Jared: go. We’ll say it like it is. All right. Let’s move on to our next story here. And this is one you have a little more experience in than me. Although you were sharing, you don’t have a lot of experience in it. But what we have is a new… It’s well, I always say new. New to me. But Cloud 2 launched this past week or two.

And it is making waves. I’m gonna, again, I will go ahead and pull it up on the screen for those of you who are watching. And basically… what it is. Let me share the screen here and I’ll read it out loud to you. Cloud is in not so many words. It’s well, first off, it’s made by anthropop. How do you say?

It’s anthropic and it’s basically former open A. I founders. They built cloud on the premise that I should be helpful, honest and harmless. Apparently cloud offers a safer A. I with less toxic and hallucinatory responses. That sounds interesting. We’ve all experienced that. And it’s, it’s basically meant to be a little bit more of an advanced version of it.

Now you’ve played around with it a bit. I haven’t been able to get in yet, but, you know, maybe talk about what you experienced with it and anything else you can add. 

Shawn: Yeah, so. I, I think you plan on sharing a few tweets and so I started looking at it when Gail from Authority Hackers and Lily Ray had posted some of their, you know, initial insights and, and looks at it.

So they were uploading, you know, Different documents and having to analyze it and compare and it looked really cool. So I jumped in there and I just did some super, super basic prompts. I didn’t upload anything. I didn’t have it analyzed. I just wanted to see how it actually compared to ChatGPT from text prompts.

So I used the same prompt on ChatGPT side by side with cloud. And it was simple things like, hey, I’m starting a new barbecue website. What are the first 10 topics I should cover? The results were fairly similar. They were very, very similar actually, but I will say the cloud was more. It felt less robotic while reading it.

It felt like, yeah, it was more concise, felt more like a human had responded. Which is a nice feel for AI. And then, you know, I had to create a content brief, each one. I just picked one of the topics that was similar across both of those top ten posts. Had to create a content brief for both. And those were somewhat similar.

ChatGPT actually did a much better job, in my opinion, on creating the brief. But then I had to create the intro on both of them, and they both sucked, so… Heh heh heh. They’re equally bad. I’m also 

Jared: kind of like… Heh 

Shawn: heh heh. I’m also, yeah, not a big fan of AI writers as far as unedited AI content.

Jared: Yeah, I mean, the thing that intrigued me, I have I have Gale’s post up right here on Twitter, and that’s when I first learned about it, I think, or maybe Lily, one of the two. And it looks like he uploaded text files from four different podcast transcripts, Niche Pursuits being one of them. Well done, Gale.

If you don’t know Gail, by the way, him and Mark have a very, very, very good detailed podcast called Authority Hacker. You were just on, by the way, might I comment? I was. I have it queued up to listen to on my road trip tomorrow, so I don’t know anything. I can’t spoil it, but if you, I know it’s a good interview.

It’s all about your time at Forbes. Anyways, I digress. He uploaded four podcast transcripts and asked it to give a detailed list of tactics to improve on a website. I’m guessing that must’ve been. What those four were about and he said that it was really, really amazing results. Let me see if I can share the the tweet from Lily Ray here because she had some interesting stuff to share as well.

I mean, it, it, it intrigued me that I would be able to load a bunch of data sets up and, and have it analyzed that that’s a big gap. I’ve, I can’t upload anything to chat GPT, right? Like you just kind of have to dump text in there. So it can be a little hard. Here’s what Lily Ray says, cloud. Allows you to upload up to five files and ask questions about multiple documents.

The results are great. And Lily is a bit of a Sean in this, not always positive about some of the stuff she gets back from AI. So I, when she says it’s pretty good results, I tend to lean in a bit. So, you know, to me this gets, if it’s doing that well, it gets into almost like data analysis, which I get really excited by because, like, imagine you could download a couple of sets of competitors and their keywords they rank for and say, Hey, build me out a content plan based on the content that I don’t rank for.

Or, you know, here’s the stuff I rank for, here’s my biggest competitors. Don’t just give me a list of keywords that I don’t rank for that they do, but actually give me topics and articles based on that. Like I’m just trying to think through some different ways to maybe utilize what a cloud offers versus a chat GPT.

Shawn: Yeah, for sure it would clean up some, some dirty data for sure. And I think that’s something that AI has done really well is being able to summarize anything that it can read. But being able to upload things is pretty cool. You could also, you know, download files. Whether it’s the HTML file or, you know, a TXT file of the top, you know, five competitors on a SERP that you want to rank for and have it analyze those for, you know, salient score and certain entities and creating a content brief that’s more comprehensive, like you could do quite a bit with that.

Jared: That’s what Gail was kind of teasing. Like, yeah, I uploaded transcripts from podcasts, but imagine if I did the same with the top five results of something. 

Shawn: Yep. Yep, so I think there’s a definitely a use case for being able to upload 

Jared: well speaking of the top five Rankings it has been quite the week in the serbs I you know looking at the sem rush sensor, and there’s a bunch of these out there There’s the Moz weather which I do like the weather you know kind of get is it stormy is it is it warm?

But whatever analogy you want to use starting last week on Friday Well, Friday the 14th, we’re now recording and this will be released one week later on Friday the 21st, but it has been in the very high volatility for five, six days now. And again, these things look at SERP changes, and if they’re above normal or very high, if there’s a lot of SERPs that are changing, that’s what they’re reporting.

So, in other words, without verifying a Google update, there’s a Google update happening, right? 

Shawn: Yeah, I’ve thought there’s kind of been one for a while going on, kind of behind the scenes, but yeah, this seems to be, there’s a lot of changes and sometimes it’s like. I’m seeing certain SERPs change during the day.

Like if I check it in the morning, the results in the afternoon are slightly different. I’ve seen some where, you know, my site that’s, I feel like I’ve done a good topical authority you know, around certain aspects of the site, and those are starting to rank a little bit better. And competing with media sites where it never did before.

But I’m also seeing some SERPs that I’ve done really well on for a really long time now getting overtaken by media sites, so. It’s interesting, because I haven’t found anything that’s like super direct. As far as a correlation to who’s winning, who’s losing type of thing, but. I think something like this could also be, you know, just the, the SGE is rolling out.

So the SERPs of course they look different when a robot like SEMrush is crawling it. It’s going to look volatile because it’s different than what it has been and sometimes it shows up and sometimes it doesn’t. 

Jared: Google Bard got an update. SGE is rolling out. There’s a whole bunch of things that are changing in the SERPs.

I know last week we talked on the news about how Spencer did have the SGE. AdNative now, no longer beta, like built into his his search and we kind of went through some different prompts to see how that was. It’s a good point. I mean, I noticed the effects on one of my sites prior to last Friday.

I think I shared about it on Twitter on Wednesday or Thursday. And if you look at the graph, I mean, it was, there was some volatility those days. It just wasn’t super red at that point. But you know, for those of you who aren’t able to see the screen online, you’re listening on a podcast. There’s basically been so much volatility for the last week or so.

And Google hasn’t announced an update. You know, they really only tend to announce like core updates and that sort of thing. So, there is speculation online. I’ve seen some people say that they feel like this might be… The helpful content system, because remember, it’s not really an update anymore. It’s kind of baked into the algorithm.

Apparently, they feel like it might be learning at a faster rate. But, you know, I think at the end of the day, it’s anyone’s guess right now what’s going on. 

Shawn: Yep, for sure. For sure. 

Jared: Let me share this last, last news item. We’re going to, we’ll keep it brief here, because we’re getting up against time. And I want to make sure we have time to hear about some of the things you have going on.

And of course, Sean. is going to participate in our One Weird Niche episode that’s coming up. And I’m excited to see what you came up with there. But before we move on Wix launched an AI site generator. It claims to create an entire website with images, text, etc. with the press of a button. And I found that to be very interesting.

So it’s based upon four new AI features. They are coming soon, so they’re apparently not live yet, but we have the AI site generator, the AI assistant tool, we have the AI page and section creator, and then we have something called an object eraser. Again, the A. I. site generator creates a complete website for any kind of business from e commerce to restaurants and more.

Once the site is built, store owners can customize the site with integrated A. I. tools. What are your thoughts here, 

Shawn: Sean? Yeah, I think Wix has just created a really cool product, especially for folks who just want to get a site out quickly. Really good for like local businesses that are, just need a site up for social proof type of thing.

They’ve, they’ve definitely made some changes and upgrades as far as Wix sites being able to rank on Google. The, the video demo that Wix put out that’s on YouTube it’s about two and a half minutes, it’s a really good watch and it’s a really good overview, but being able to put in, like, a text prompt, like, it can create it just like it says, like, with one prompt, you know, it’s a minute later, you’ve got an entire website, and you can say, I think the example was, alright, well, I’m looking for something a little edgier, right?

And then it just redoes it for you. And there’s, like it says, like there’s certain aspects you can ask, like, Hey, I want a different color scheme or, Hey, I need a CTA here or a content form, you know, added. So it’s just really cool that you can just type it in and get it. You don’t have to know how to code.

You don’t have to drag and drop blocks. You don’t have to worry about downloading plugins. It’s just type it in and it’s done. 

Jared: I mean, in terms of the market that Wix serves, it seems brilliant. You know, I mean, I can tell you that like. My father in law ran a small business for 35, 40 years and I helped him build his first website and it was not a good website.

But it was just he just needed something right and I’m not saying that what Wix has created here is not good or just something but We forget because we’re so involved in the web building world in the website world like we forget that most people I’m gonna say Darn near 90% of businesses. They just want to have a presence online They don’t need all the bells and the whistles and you know They’re just looking that when somebody does a brand search Or maybe a little bit beyond that.

So, not that that’s what people should be shooting for, but being someone who runs a marketing agency and talks to people day by day, a lot of people are like, what’s SEO? Like, I thought it was just a website. So, I don’t know if that’s their target market, but like you said, Wix has made some dramatic improvements, and it feels like it’s perfectly targeted for those kind of businesses.

For 

Shawn: sure. For sure. And I think a few people… Probably people watching this, like 90% of people watching this are just going to say, like, why would I ever use Wix? But that’s not who it’s for, but it could be. And so it would be really, really interesting to see, especially people who are, you know, Influencers, but they’re not in the, you know, digital marketing space.

They can spin up a website that’s really good and have people sign up for their newsletter. Be able to actually put a blog and do really simple things without having to learn a new skill of building a site. 

Jared: I think you’re right. I mean, I know that, like, newsletter places have started to do that, right?

We have, like, Beehive and… These places where you can kind of use Beehive to replace what maybe used to be a website for people for the majority of people. So I think you bring up a good point. The opportunity to be able to have an idea and use your influence to drive traffic, but still give you a landing place like a Wix site is, is, is really good.

Here’s what we should do. Maybe if you want a side hustle challenge, we should see if you can rank. A website built on Wix for some competitive terms. 

Shawn: That’d be fun. That’d be a fun challenge. That’d be fun. 

Jared: Would be. Well, speaking of which, let’s move on to our side hustle shenanigans. This is where we talk about the different side hustles that we have going on.

Things that are not part of our day to day business. Whether it’s an idea that we’re going after kind of a something that we are attracted to, but probably will never work out, but it can’t be anything that’s core to your kind of primary business. Now you have an interesting name because you have a day job, so I’m curious if you’re going to consider the Grilling Dad to be a side hustle or your, your bread and butter.

We’ll, we’ll, we’ll wait to see. I’ll go first since this is your, your first time here. Let me pull up the agenda here so I have it in front of me, but. Yeah, so a couple updates this week, we we cracked the 300 video mark and then some on Amazon Influencer. I can tell that it’s it’s starting to catch on because I’m now getting roasted on podcasts about whether or not it’s a good use of time.

But but no, in all seriousness, I think getting across that 300 video mark was… Honestly, it felt better than the 100 video mark and the 200 video mark because like the first hundred products in your home, I came to realize were super easy. Like they’re all the products, you know, they’re all the stuff you use.

It’s like my coffee maker that I use every morning. I can talk about that really easily. But by the time I got into like the high two hundreds, I was really. Starting to hit a wall, preferably, you know, maybe it’s akin to when you are excited about building the website and you write for six months and then there’s still not necessarily life changing income coming in, but you still have work to do to ever even have a prayer of getting there.

And so I kind of hit this wall with the videos, but I kind of, I feel like cranking them out a little bit over the last week to week and a half has really helped break through that. So it’s one of those. Yeah. One of those accomplishments that probably isn’t going to show up in the numbers, the difference between 260 videos and 330 videos is not dramatic, but it felt good to get through a lot of those videos I knew I needed to make, but that I, I hadn’t made yet.

Yeah. Are 

Shawn: you noticing any, any certain styles or types of videos that you’re doing convert better than 

Jared: others? There’s certainly a seasonal component. So the stuff that seems to be doing well is stuff that people would want to buy during the late spring and early summer. I don’t really want to like reveal what my top selling stuff is, but let’s just say it’s summertime related, you know?

Yeah, for sure. For sure. Yeah. I have done a couple of like comparison videos and like how to videos. A lot of people think that me included when I first started, like you’re just supposed to do a review and move on. And that’s probably the highest converting one, but I did hear that if you have a, say a product that’s selling well, you can try to make another video where you are.

You can make another video about it, but maybe the second video would be comparing it to another thing like that, almost like a versus post. Or you can also do an instructional video, like how to set it up or how to use it or how to get the best results out of it. And you can actually kind of sit maybe in the product carousel with like a couple of videos.

And I’ve done that. And a couple of those have done well too. 

Shawn: Gotcha. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. 

Jared: The problem is you don’t know, the reporting is so bad that all you get is which products you sell. You don’t know which videos convert really well. Yep, that’s interesting. So, bit of a, bit of a, bit of a crapshoot.

But I am up to about 2, 400 in the last, last 30 days, so that’s positive. Yep, 

Shawn: it’s hard to, hard to roast somebody making videos with products around their house and making 2, 400 bucks in a month. 

Jared: Yeah. Yeah. I always remind people like, you know, I’m on camera all the time. It’s my second podcast of the day.

I’m used to being on camera. So, and I have a photo video background, as you know, so, you know, perhaps a little easier for me, but yeah, they’re really quick to make and pretty easy. And there’s certainly a case we made that it’s good use of time for sure. A couple more quick updates. I I’m going to take a week off.

The first time next week for the weekend growth newsletter. I don’t know if you knew I started a newsletter, I don’t even know how long ago, maybe I think back in March. And it’s July and I have sent one, at least one per week since March, since I started it. Which is great. I’m not sure if consistency matters a ton with a newsletter, but I have stuck to that, but I’m on vacation next week and I decided not to prepare one and send it out even though I’m not there.

I’m just going to take the week off. I feel like I deserve a week off. So I’m going to take a week off and hopefully that doesn’t throw anyone off and then we’ll be back at it in August for more emails. 

Shawn: Yep, cool. Yeah, I’m subscribed to it. I read them. 

Jared: Okay, cool. Well, good to know. I I’ll I’ll make sure to keep keep pumping them out starting in August.

But until then, I’m going to have to wait for another email. I think, Sean, it’s your turn. I’m going to turn it over to you. Yeah. Again, shiny objects, you know, you can go any way you want with this. There’s no real rules around it. But what are you working on that’s catching your eye and that’s got you distracted?

Yeah. Good or 

Shawn: bad. The biggest distraction in my life right now is… selling the current home we’re in, buying a new home, and doing it like across states. So we’re moving from West Virginia back home to Indiana. So trying to sell this home while I virtually toured houses in Indy while my wife FaceTimed me walking around houses.

So that’s been taking up a lot of time because You know, there’s always little things you have to do. You have to keep it, the house spotless because all the different, you know, showings and all the inspections and the appraisal. So there’s just been a lot of stuff going on around the house. So that’s been my, my shiny object.

That is unfortunately not a super fun one. But one that is really fun. Someone reached out to me. You know, grew up. We’re basically like best friends, but we’re cousins. And so his name is Marcus. He wants to build his first website, and I got super excited about it. He knows, well, at the time he knew nothing about SEO at all.

So I think we’re going to document the entire process from him going from knowing nothing to making his first dollar online. I think that’ll just be a really cool and memorable thing to be able to look back on. And, you know, if he’s asking questions that beginners have, I think it’ll be really helpful for other people too.

Jared: So has Marcus, like, kicked off the process yet? Has he started his website? Is he still at the, kind of, just exploratory phases? 

Shawn: Yep, just exploratory phases. We’ve been talking. Certain niches have not settled on one yet. And he has started the free Ahrefs SEO for beginners course. Oh, good. Let’s go with that.

I was like, you gotta know some terminology here. That’s a good 

Jared: one. I can’t remember. I remember taking that, I don’t know. It’s been out for what? Five or six years probably? Huh. Yep. Yeah, I remember taking that when I was, Yeah, it’s pretty, it’s pretty good. I agree. What are you, in terms of documenting, are you going to make this something that you share in your newsletter?

Are you going to make it something that you just bite sized chunk down into like a course? Like, what are you, how 

Shawn: are you planning on doing that? Yeah, so do not, I don’t plan on making it into a course at all. It’ll definitely be available for free. But whether that’s going to be a newsletter, Some, you know, weekly tweets or something, or just doing a video and publishing it and documenting it that way.

So we’ll see. Don’t know yet. We’ll figure it out. But should be fun. 

Jared: Good. Okay. Okay. Anything new on the grilling dad? Again, don’t know if, you know, if you’re counting that as a side, it is a side hustle. You have a full time job. I mean, it’s definitely a side hustle, but it’s just a very successful one.

Yeah. It’s definitely a side 

Shawn: hustle and it’s. It’s been really interesting that the site is growing year over year, and I keep finding myself spending less and less time on it. Because it’s just growing by itself, being able to partner with people like you who can go and create really good content. So I don’t have to go in there and do it myself, I’m not editing, I’m not, you know, adding internal links, I’m not doing all the little things that take time.

So it’s been… It’s been really nice to be able to look at it more like 10, 000 foot view right like what are the what are the things that need updated like let’s look at this from an SEO perspective Because I haven’t really done that before a lot of the older posts from the site You know it’s two and a half years old now They haven’t even been updated.

So it’s being able to go back and look at some of those. Some of them were a little embarrassing. Some of the content is just really bad. But I mean, that’s signs of growth. So that’s, that’s where we’re at with that. 

Jared: It’s like where YouTubers talk about going back and looking at their first video from that they published and you know, how far they’ve come, but you have to start somewhere, right?

You have to start. Where do you start? And you don’t know what you don’t know, so. Yep. Well, congrats on the Grilling Dad success, and it’s summer. I’ve got to imagine it’s kind of high season for the website in terms of page views and revenue and stuff. Yeah, 

Shawn: it’s doing well. Excited for 

Jared: Q4. Good. Well let’s move on to one weird niche.

Now, this is where we find an off the wall niche. It doesn’t necessarily have to be weird, like, We’ve had some weird topics. I think we had bugs one time. We’ve had marathon gossip sites. We’ve had cattex. com. That’s still my favorite one. I don’t know if you saw that. You can log, you can go to this website, put someone’s phone number in, pay a little bit of money.

That’s how they make money. And it will send that person 30 days of cat text.

Yep. And believe it or not, the site. The site was sold on flip up. We found the flip a listing where it was sold. We presume it was sold. Oh man. So anyways, those are the bizarre ones. But then, you know, we also have weird niches that it’s just bizarre that it makes money because you’ve never imagined that there’s a site out there that can make money on that or these different things.

Try to also kind of get into some of the different ideas that people can take home with them for their niche sites. So I will go ahead and start and I’m going to share my screen here. And today’s today’s weird niche from me and I wanna make sure I get it right, is h i c h e i c to jpeg.com. Now, if you are not an iPhone user, this won’t mean anything to you.

But if you’re an iPhone user, you will understand this very quickly. iPhone. It’s very odd, but they have basically a live photo and a non live photo when it’s a non live photo. The photo is flattened, compressed, and it’s rendered as a JPEG. It’s saved to your iCloud as a JPEG. If you were to send it to your.

Computer to i. e. maybe put on a website or something, it would be saved as a JPEG. But if you take a photo in live mode, in portrait mode, in all these other modes, it saves as an HEIC. And by the way, you can’t put that on WordPress. You can’t really put it much of anywhere because it’s native to Apple. And so this is a website that is drag and drop and it converts the photo into a JPEG.

Now, these types of things are kind of readily available out there, but this one seems to do it better. It seems to do it nicer. It’s, it’s prettier. And so, I, I, I kind of wanted to share at the outset. I’ll pull up some of the stats on it, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on these types of tools. 

Shawn: Yeah, one, I think they’re really helpful.

And I think that’s the, the thing that stands out. And this one right here looks so clean. Like I only see one ad on there, maybe two. I don’t know if that one over on the left side bar is an ad or not. 

Jared: That is an ad for the company that is behind this. Gotcha. Good call. 

Shawn: Yep. So, but yeah, it looks just super clean and when it’s helpful like this, I just, I like it.

It has a very. Purpose and it’s doing its job really well. It reminds me of like the, you know, not that I would ever do this, but you know, if I were to try to take a YouTube video and get to audio and then burn it to a CD, the YouTube to mp3. com reminds me of that, that site was a nightmare to use from all the ads.

Jared: And that’s the thing. Most of these companies will make a very, very basic converter that’s hard to use terrible UI and loaded to the yin yang with ads, right? Like it’s just such an experience to try to get through. And so you find yourself not wanting to use it. Whereas, you know, these guys make it so easy.

Everything’s black except for the box. You drop your your H E I C image file into, and you just drag it in and it does the conversion. I don’t have to hit a button. I know, man, when I use some of these other ones it’s like you hit the button, but it’s not the button to actually convert it. It’s the button to like go off to some weird site that I definitely don’t want to be going off to.

And. You know and I have a dress up in front of us on the screen here. This is a D R 62. It it only ranks for about 5200 keywords. But if we look at the keywords it ranks for convert H E I C to J peg. I mean, I imagine HEIC to JPEG is their primary search term. It’s got 178, 000 search volume per month and they rank number one.

They have a ton of number one rankings. And you know, again, I, I mentioned it, but they are backed by JPEG to mini JPEG mini, which I recognize from my days as a photographer. They started, it looks like in 2011, so they’ve been around for a while. And it’s a smart move and that’s kind of what I, what I wanted to I guess share a bit about is we talk a lot on the podcast on various different places about coming up with a tool to use to add to your website.

And in many ways, that’s exactly what JPEG Mini did here. They have a compression software that’s their bread and butter business. But they’re making these little add on tools. Now, they’re not putting them on JPEG Mini. They’re creating their own, you know, unique websites for them. But they’re all driving the brand, driving traffic in many ways, and probably driving adoption back to the core brand of JPEG Mini, which, man, we probably leave so many opportunities on the table with our own websites and doing something like that.

Shawn: For sure, yep, definitely see that. I actually talked with Nina today and we both recently had built tools for our own sites. So, who knows, maybe those need to have their own domain. 

Jared: I was going to say, you’re going to put the tool on your site? Yeah, it’s already live. Oh, it is? Can I 

Shawn: ask what it is? Yeah, so if you want to know how much pork to buy for pulled pork for a certain number of people, you can find out.

Since, you know, once you smoke it, it loses some weight that way you know how much to buy for a group of people. 

Jared: That’s a good one. You should make one that tells me how much seasoning I should how much seasoning I need, you know, for the square footage of my of my my meat. 

Shawn: That would be pretty cool, yeah.

Jared: It’d be pretty cool. You know, some have larger square footage. I always, I always use too much or too little. I’ll tell you that much right now. Anyways, if you are, that’s a perfect comment because it looks like I’m still in the phase of, I should do that for my website. And then there’s people like you and like Nina Clapperton and others who are in the phase of doing it for their website.

So clearly it’s something that people should probably lean into. Have you noticed, I mean, if it’s brand new, but have you noticed any like effects? Does it increase? Time on page, like, what are the 

Shawn: effects of it? So I didn’t have the page, like, how much pulled pork to buy. I think that’s, like, the title of it.

I didn’t have the page at all. It wasn’t live. So as I was publishing the post before publishing it, I built the tool and added it, but it ranked almost immediately top five, but there’s some other, other pages that rank for that, that are pretty, pretty good. 

Jared: Well, I have to see how it goes. I’m curious.

I’ve built one, one tool one time for one website and it didn’t really seem to move the needle. And I don’t want to say it soured me, but, you know, I probably just didn’t do it right. That’s for sure. There’s a couple different ways to do it. So let’s see. I think probably a good time to move on to your weird niche.

I’ll go ahead and pull it up on the screen, but why don’t you walk us through what you have for us 

Shawn: here. Yeah, so I, I just think it’s so cool that this niche here, it’s, it’s not home, right? Cause you could go really broad. It’s not backyard, which is more specific. It’s not patio. It’s even more specific than that.

And it’s just coolers. And it’s one product, and I think that’s super cool. I mean, clearly there’s more than one type of cooler, but that’s all they’re focused on. They do talk a little bit about other things very briefly, like tumblers and whatnot, but as you can see on there, I mean, the site itself is just really well done.

They do YouTube videos for just about all of them. And… You know, there’s not a lot of pages. There’s only 24 pages live on the site. My guess, just based on Ahrefs is probably doing around 10, 000 page views a month. Ahrefs estimates around like 6, 600. So I’m guessing it’s probably making somewhere between like 500 a month on 24 pages.

Granted, they’re ridiculously high quality. The YouTube videos are addicting. You get to watch him actually like chop these coolers in half. Like he literally saws them in half to see what’s inside. And if you look at any of the reviews, like the rating methodology, like how he’s rating these, the, you know, measuring the internal temperature after putting seven pounds of ice in four different types of coolers at the same time, and how well they.

You know, you know, how long they last and which ones did the best. It’s just did a really good job on the reviews. And made it where if I’m in the market for a cooler, like I can trust the site. And so just on a, a bang up job there it looks super clean. It’s really easy to navigate. And just the quality is just off the chart.

And so I think that’s kind of the, the message from that, you know, is. You don’t have to have some really big niche or write hundreds of pages of content to make money. Like, if your goal is to make an extra 500 bucks a month, like, this guy’s doing it with 24 pages. Granted, the quality is off the charts, but, like, if you take your time do your research, you put in the, the work, the effort, like, You cut coolers in half, like, you could, you could do it.

Jared: This is impressive. I mean, like you said, everything’s spot on. Like, the design is great all the metrics he uses, the, you know, custom imagery, the YouTube account. I mean, this is just… This is really, really cool. Yeah, 

Shawn: I mean, when I think of, like, the Google quality, you know, guidelines and all the ratings there that, that they tell you to do, like, this hits all, checks all the boxes.

Jared: It really does. Yeah. Like you said you know, not a, not a very big site, not a very old site. Definitely has some good backlinks I’m seeing. You know, some, some meaningful backlinks. I don’t know if they’re building backlinks. There’s a few there. But nothing nothing that anybody out there couldn’t do if they wanted to put their mind to it, kind of like what you said, I mean, it’s just, it’s clear that this content was all inclusive.

It took a while. 

Shawn: Yep, for sure.

Jared: Well, that about does it, that about wraps this up here. Sean, where can people go to follow along with all the different things that that you have going on these days? 

Shawn: Yeah, so really the only place that I kind of stay up to date on is Twitter. It’s at Sean Hill, without the vowels, allergic to vowels.

Jared: I find if you just type it in to Twitter, it does find you, but we’ll include a link to that. And again thank you for coming on and kind of diving into the news with us this week. You’re pretty active and pretty involved, so I felt like we probably wouldn’t be throwing too many curveballs with Spencer out.

I’m out next week. Not even sure if we’re doing one next week. We might take a break from this next week. I have to hear from Spencer if he’s back. But, thank you for for pinch hitting. I apologize to everyone. I didn’t, looks like I made it through without having a coughing attack. But, I do have a little bit of late night DJ voice going here.

Little under the weather. Feeling good enough, made it through today’s podcast without completely losing my voice. So thanks for anyone bearing with me. I you know, we’ll now go home and now go back and have a hot cup of tea to 

Shawn: get my voice back. Nice. Yeah. Well, thanks so much for having me on.

It’s been fun. 

Jared: Good luck with your move. Hopefully we’ll circle back and do one of these again soon until next time. We’ll be back again every Friday guys. So stay here for your news. And you know, again, just a reminder that if you do want to leave a review for the podcast, man, we’ve been going through all the different places you can leave reviews and mostly learning all the reviews that are out there, whether it’s not just on apple and, and, and those kind of places, but other versions of apple into the countries are audible, all these things, but if you do leave us a review, I didn’t do it today because I don’t have access to, to kind of pull in the repository, but we’ll get back into reading some reviews next time we get on.

And thank you again, everyone. Have a great weekend. See ya.



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