How My 10-Year-Old Blog Grew Organic Traffic by 585% in Just 12 Months
In 2022, I set a goal to publish 1,000 articles on NichePursuits.com for the year.
Well, it’s now been a year later! How did I do with my goal? Did I see traffic growth?
Overall, I went big with Niche Pursuits in the past 12 months and saw organic traffic from Google increase by 585%!
Today, I’m excited to share my full story via interview with Jared for the Niche Pursuits podcast! I highly recommend that you listen to or watch the full interview.
Did I hit my goal of publishing 1,000 articles for the year? Not quite.
But I was able to publish 878 new blog posts! In addition, we updated 119 articles in 2022.
And here’s some of the results!
Google Analytics over the last 12 months:
Google Search Console Over the Last 12 Months
Ahrefs Organic Traffic Growth
Steps to Increasing Organic Traffic by 585%
Growing the traffic to NichePursuits.com involved SO much more than publishing a bunch of content.
I hired well over 20 writers, multiple editors, removed lots of old content, restructured internal links across the site, did a full site redesign, updated lots of content, and so much more.
Here’s a list of some of the steps and topics we covered during the podcast.
Removing myself as a bottleneck
Focus on evergreen content
Removing old content
Restructing categories and internal link structure of the site
Creating standard operating procedures
Updating 119 articles and the process
Setting big goals
Process of hiring writers and mistakes to avoid
Keyword research strategies
A strategy I call “following Google’s lead” to find new topics
How Niche Pursuits makes money
The importance of building a brand and email list
Connecting all areas of business
The importance of staying focused
This episode is sponsored by LinkWhisper.com
Watch the Interview
Jared: Welcome back to The Niche Pursuits podcast. Today we are joined by Spencer Haws, the founder of this very podcast that, uh, you’re listening to Spencer, welcome on.
Spencer: Hey Jared. It is good to be back on my own podcast as as odd as that is, but, uh, you are now the host. You’re doing a great job. I’m excited to come back and just share an update on my story.
Jared: I think it’s great. You know, obviously you and I are in lockstep. We both got the memo and wearing green today. Yes. So green is a theme, , and aside from the V-neck versus the straight neck, you and I might be wearing the same shirt. So I think we’re uh, we’re gonna have a good one today, . That’s
Spencer: right. You also wearing pajama pants or is that just me?
That’s just you.
Jared: No. Okay. I had to retire those, uh, post holidays. I’m now back to, uh, to shorts. , that’s next level
Spencer: stuff, right? Yeah. .
Jared: Hey, so there’s so many things that we could catch up on because it’s been a, it’s been a full year since you and I. Hung out on the podcast and chatted. Uh, I, I guess s I guess in theory I’m interviewing you today,
Yeah. But there’s so many things we could talk about, but I think perhaps the most intriguing thing that we should focus on is looking back one year ago when we were last on the podcast together, and basically we walked through the process that you were gonna go through in 2022 of choosing where to spend your time, removing yourself from certain areas of the business, and then from basically to put time towards growing niche pursuits.com without burying the lead.
I mean, let’s, let’s talk about how that’s going and what happened in 2022 as a result of that.
Spencer: Right, so that’s exactly right. About a year ago I had decided, you know what, I’ve had so many projects, lots of different things that I had been working on, but I had never really put my main focus on niche pursuits.com and growing it.
What would happen if I put all my focus there, tried to remove myself as the bottleneck from the business? How much could it grow? And, uh, people can listen to that podcast that I recorded a year ago. So this is really an update on that podcast. What happened when I tried to remove myself, right? I had just sold off a couple of niche sites, niche site, project four.
I finally had the time, okay. My main focus is niche pursuits. So the, the end result is, I am blown away by the traffic growth, the traffic itself, I can get into the numbers. The overall traffic has grown like 350% and the organic traffic has grown by over 500%. Right? So the traffic from Google, and I guess maybe I’ll, I’ll try to share some exact numbers, uh, here.
So at the end of last year, right after, you know, we had kind of recorded the podcast back in December. You know, my site was getting something around, uh, call it around maybe 2,500 to 3000 sessions a day. Right now my site is regularly getting 15, 16,000 sessions a day. Right. So I guess if you look at those numbers, that’s, you know, that’s more than a five x growth.
And, uh, yesterday got over 21,000 sessions. Wow. And, uh, things appear to be on a very nice trajectory. I actually think today might be higher than yesterday, so it’s just continuing to grow. Mm-hmm. And the bulk of that is organic traffic traffic from Google. So that’s the high. , let’s jump into it. Whatever you want to ask Jared.
Jared: Okay. I have a lot of questions about the details. I have taken some notes coming here, and the beauty about it is that I’ve kind of gotten a moonlight along the way by whether, you know, seeing stuff you’ve tweeted about throughout the year, having conversations with you offline throughout the year. So I’m gonna kind of sprinkle in a lot of the things that I think you were testing, doing, et cetera, and, and kind of also see how that played into your strategy.
I mean, let me start with a big, broad question and I, I feel like maybe a lot of people might feel this way. . I don’t actually work for niche pursuits. I run my own marketing agency. I just host this podcast. That’s right. I get a lot of people who do think I work directly for you and email me about blog content and stuff.
But as a result, I get, I kind of have a third party view of niche pursuits.com and I’ve watched Niche pursuits grow over the years and I feel like my perception is that Niche pursuits was just rocking and rolling Prior to this year that you were already doing very well, that you were already getting a lot of traffic.
You’ve now five Xed it. Like what were you leaving off the table prior that you were now able to go after? And I, again, I’m asking from kind of a broad perspective kind of shape maybe the strategy you, you engaged to to, to get this growth.
Spencer: Yeah. So I’m gonna answer sort of the two to get this. Yeah, so I’m gonna answer sort of the two parts of your question is one, you thought niche pursuits was already doing well, and, and it was in terms of my email list is huge.
I, I’ve grown it a lot. I would call that almost a bigger asset than my website, for example. But a lot of the content that I’ve done previously is like a lot of my niche site projects, those things tend to not necessarily go viral, but do really well on social media, is very shareable, but does not attract a lot of organic traffic.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Okay. And so it does very well in terms of, I built a, a great following, a great brand, right? This YouTube channel, the podcast, my email list is, is massive, right? But there’s not a lot of people that are continuing to search. For a lot of my old posts, they, they weren’t SEO friendly posts.
A lot of them. It was like, hey, so
Jared: NI niche site project two, call number four with Samara. Just wasn’t really ranking that well, five years later, .
Spencer: Exactly, exactly. A lot of the content wa was outdated and uh, and I, I realized that, so over the last, even the last two to three years, I knew that I needed to start writing more SEO targeted content to really turn niche pursuits into an organic traffic engine that I knew it could be because it’s got a lot of great authority, a lot of great links.
And so I started to write some of those SEO articles myself. I even hired a couple of writers, but it’s very slow when I’m doing it a lot myself. So that was a big part of it. Like I just gotta remove myself. I gotta go all in. I gotta believe in this site. I gotta believe that the authority, the process that I know of how to rank other websites that I’ve done is going to work on itch pursuits.
And so that’s what I changed is like, okay, no more producing all the content that is like, Can, can expire and is old, right? Uh, I’m focusing on evergreen content and I’m going big, right? Mm-hmm. . And so, uh, that’s the shift that I made is just producing a lot more content. I hired, gosh, over 20 writers to Wow.
To help produce all the content. And I guess since we’re talking about it, I’ll just share the numbers. I’m gonna look at it. I believe it’s, I just tweeted about this yesterday. 878 total articles were published in 2022 on niche pursuits.com. That’s a ton. And that is, I didn’t realize way more new content than, than I’ve ever published in any previous year.
Jared: substantial. That, so that makes a ton of sense. A lot of what probably a lot of people know niche pursuits for historically is these different types of things that work really well on social media, but don’t drive long-term evergreen traffic. Okay. Exactly. Okay, good. So that sets the stage you’re removing yourself and focusing on evergreen content.
You wrote 900 articles, in essence hired 20 rockers . Yep. How did you develop a process for that? And did you start by, maybe walk us through the beginning phases and the dichotomy that probably existed between going through a lot of this old content on your site that wasn’t Evergreen focused and then wanting to publish new SEO focused content and where you kind of split that up and then how you set out to, to, to
Spencer: do that.
Right. Yeah. So there, there was a ton of old content, I’ll just touch on that briefly, that I did do a lot of, uh, cleanup. There was a lot of updates. You know, nobody cared about niche site project one month three. Right. It wasn’t. Getting any organic traffic. And so, so basically I looked at two things to actually delete a lot of content is, uh, was it getting any traffic and did it have any good links?
Right? And, um, if it had good links, I might actually 3 0 1 redirect it to a relevant page. Yep. Or to the homepage. Or if it had neither of those, I’d just hit delete. Right. And so I did remove a lot of content. So there was a lot of cleanup of the site architecture wise, link wise, category wise, that went into sort of setting the stage for this, that I’m happy to dive into that in more detail as well.
But then the other part is setting up all these standard operating procedures for like, okay, it’s going beyond me. And one or two writers that I’ve kind of dabbled with in the past to like, yeah, let’s hire 20 people and, and see what we can do. Really, my goal at the beginning of the year was to publish a thou a thousand articles.
I felt just short of that, but still a significant number of articles. And so I knew that I needed these standard operating procedures, uh, so that I could hire someone not only to write the content, but to actually edit and be able to publish that content even if I wasn’t around. Yeah, right. When, when you’re looking at the number of like three, four articles every day potentially getting published, like that’s basically all I could do every day if I were to read every article and edit every article, even if I didn’t write it.
So I needed to have a team and system in place, uh, to be able to do all of that for me and. I wrote out very detailed instructions for like, here’s the voice of niche pursuits, here’s the audience you’re targeting. These are people that wanna learn specifics, be very upfront and honest, et cetera. Right. I explained everything that I try to do when I write in a nice, uh, document, and I, it’s in a Google spreadsheet that’s kind of like checklist format.
So when, mm-hmm. authors write an article, they can look at here’s like 30 points and here’s some loom videos, right? That explains things from voice to formatting, to how to add links, et cetera, all that, all of that. And so we can jump into that process, but I had to truly just, um, change my mind, shift of, okay, it’s no longer me doing this.
How can I make it as easy as possible for people to do this for me without a asking me questions every day? So I had to do, Tons of documentation.
Jared: I, okay. I wanna ask you about that. I wanna, I think let, let’s just camp really quickly cuz I think we can get through it quickly on this topic of deleting and purging old content.
And then we can move into all the new content because I think that that probably was an initial thing that was done. And then you didn’t really have to do it any longer. You cleaned up the site architecture, you got rid of a bunch of stuff. How could, can that be, did you outsource any of that? Can that be outsourced?
Cause I mean, a lot of people will have sites and have websites that are, you know, either they’ve bought and so there’s a lot of old content that maybe wasn’t tended for. Or maybe it’s just stuff that they’ve done over the years, kind of like you, and it’s no longer the focus of the site, but updating content and deciding to delete it and all that, it’s, it’s very nuanced and very difficult to outsource, I’ve found.
So I’m curious if you were able to outsource any of that or if you just decided to roll up your sleeves for that one time project.
Spencer: Yeah, I did all of that myself. I did not outsource it. Um, I suppose it’s, it’s maybe possible to outsource for a more standard website, but niche pursuits being my own blog, I had written almost a hundred percent of every article on the site.
I just had so much, I had such a good understanding of every article that was published and even some, like, I made decisions to not delete that. Like it just meant a lot to me. it is personal. Yeah. Like I wrote this, I know nobody reads it anymore. It doesn’t have any links. I don’t care. I’m leaving it. I just, I really enjoyed writing that, or it’s, it’s really great.
Right? And so there’s just too much nuance there that I, I felt I couldn’t outsource it. So I went through every article. I created a whole spreadsheet and I, what I, what I did is I actually export. All of the, uh, articles from Google Analytics, you, you can do that into a Google spreadsheet. They have a nice way to do that.
And so it showed all the traffic, right? And so I essentially went to all the articles that didn’t get a certain threshold and I don’t remember what that was. Maybe, maybe a hundred visitors a month or something. Okay. Mm-hmm. , right? Everything below that is what I kind of looked at. Everything that was getting more than a hundred visitors a month or a few visitors a day, I just kind of kept for the most part.
Jared: so you deleted a bunch of content. Yeah. And then obviously we’re gonna get into all the new content you created. What about. Was there any work? Did you put any effort towards, okay, this content stays, but maybe it could be better. Maybe I need to update it, maybe I need to target a new keyword. Did you do any content updating throughout 2022 and, and then we’ll get into all the new content, all the, yeah.
900 articles you published and all that, right?
Spencer: Yes, we did, uh, update a ton of content. Um, I also have that number, I, it, it’s like 119 or something like that. Um, so it was over a hundred articles were updated, refreshed. I don’t know if I have the exact number. Yeah, well that’s fine. But it was, it was over a hundred.
Yeah, it’s like 119 is what I wanna say. That’s, uh, articles. Yeah.
Jared: What was a content update process like? What did that look like for you? Were there certain things you were focusing on doing? Uh, were there certain things that those 119 articles, like why they stood out to you to update certain things you were looking
Yeah. Uh, so I have a, again, a whole spreadsheet for this. It. I actually, uh, looked at two different things, uh, for updating, for, for choosing the articles to update. One was, I, I just looked at my highest trafficked articles, right? I took like my 50 highest trafficked articles on the site. It’s like, these are winners.
Um, can we make them even bigger winners, right? If, if they weren’t number one for like every keyword, which I don’t know if any articles are ever number one for every, every keyword your agreed, your ranking, right? Um, and it’s older than a year. Uh, we, we would go back and update that. So that was at least half of them.
Um, then the other half was more review type or, uh, money type pages, right? Maybe they’re not getting a lot of traffic, but these are articles that have the potential or are making a lot of money already, and we’ll go back and update that. The process again, I had a spreadsheet. Um, I had a couple of my authors that I as assigned to do this, that I would allow them to choose which article they wanted to update.
So if something caught their eye, they’d just put their name next to it. They would go in and updated it, update it using, uh, surfer SEO or Market Muse. I’ve used both throughout the year they’re doing with H two s, that sort of thing. Right. So needs more
Jared: words or needs less words or something like
Exactly. Um, and then sort of the final step of that is we would look at, can the article be, be monetized better? Mm-hmm. , are we missing affiliate links? Do we need to add a button in the introduction that says, Hey, go try out this product, uh, or add something in the sidebar. We, we do some custom sidebar call to actions.
Right. So we’d look at that as well. I’ve gotta
Jared: imagine you track . You said you tracked pretty much everything so far. I’ve asked you about did you track any, um, of the performance that came with the articles you updated? Did the, did those get, or is that a result of some of the organic traffic lift, the numbers you were
Absolutely. That is definitely some of the lift. I did track some of it initially. I wish I could say I had those updated numbers. Um, I used to go in and, and sort of after I believe it was 90 days check, I was check, I was checking and seeing, and I may even still have a spreadsheet, but I, I don’t know that I have any handy numbers to share.
Jared: I know that a lot of your growth did come, I, I remember you posting a screenshot somewhere where you, and correct me if I’m wrong by the details, but you do track how much of your organic traffic was coming from your newer articles. And I saw that graph and I was always amazed. But I’m, you know, it’s so great when you’re working with a site that’s so authoritative.
You can probably publish an article and you know, you’re ranking. within a day, and you might be on page one within a week, and you might, so I’m sure that a lot of your traffic did come from new content, but I’m always curious for an older site that has so much history, um, how effective article updating can
Spencer: probably be.
Yeah. It, it’s, it’s very effective. I, and, and so I can just say, I can’t give you specific numbers, but I can tell you generally that absolutely updating content has driven, um, a lot of the, the traffic growth, uh, updating content has worked. Um, and I’ve seen a nice lift on that. Um mm-hmm. , and I do, I do also track, I have a custom report, and this is an old Google Analytics.
I don’t know how to do it in Google Analytics four just yet, but you can create, um, I, I have a custom report that every new article that gets published in like 2022 gets added to this report. And so I can see the trends of, okay, my content that was published this year, How much traffic has, is that bringing in?
And, uh, I should have done this right before the call, but I, I think I’m missing the last few weeks of articles on this report. So the, these numbers are higher, but I can tell you about 7,500 sessions a day are coming in from content that was published in 2022.
Jared: Well, that’s because you were saying outside of yesterday, basically you’re average about 15 to 16,000 sessions a day now.
That’s right. And that’s almost
Spencer: half, that’s almost half. That’s basically half, I mean, yeah. Yep. Wow. That’s what happens when you publish almost a thousand articles. Right? All, uh, doubled, doubled the, the content on the site. Right. So more, more than doubled the content on the site, actually. Yeah. But to your point,
Jared: if we take out, uh, just looking at my notes, if we take out the, the new articles, the seven and a half thousand page views a day that come from the new articles, you’re still sitting at seven and a half or 8,000 pages a day, which is still more than double the 3000 page views.
Yep. Or sessions a day you had a year ago. Yep, yep. That’s absolutely. So we just used back in the napkin math updating content. Definitely
Spencer: works. Definitely worked. Um, and I think there’s more to the story. Um, part of it, it, we touched on the restructure of the site, the categories. There was a lot of internal linking audits that, of course I used Li Whisper to do that, but that was part of my, uh, process when I removed content.
A lot of the content that I kept, um, that, uh, was performing well. And also when we do content updates, I go in and I audit the internal links and go, these are not relevant links. I’m gonna re remove a bunch of links that are pointing to this article, or I’m gonna add new links to that. Right. So I think that helps site.
Um, lift even stuff that we didn’t update. Right. Um, so some of the articles got lifted as well by restructuring a lot of that. And just to piggyback on that, I also, midway through the year, did a whole site redesign. Um, that’s right. I did a new brand. Um, it looks more professional. I feel like it’s more shareable and it’s a lot more mobile friendly.
So I think all of that, yeah. You know, the site restructured, new design, more mobile friendly and everything else we’ve talked about, all, all comes into play.
Jared: Yeah, it all plays in, right? Yeah. It’s hard to. Say it’s just one thing when you’re working on a ton of things on it. I will say, um, and, you know, this is, this is not a, a a, a plug for link whisper, uh, that we talked about ahead of time, but I shared this on Twitter, I think last month or a couple months ago about how I, um, obviously it’s a great tool for building internal links.
I had never used it for removing internal links, but we got a client that, um, had a ton of generic internal links, right? So every time. You know, a general word was used in an article. They would internal link it to a variety of different places. And so the internal linking was really poor and we were able to use Lin Whispers really quickly to remove a lot of those internal links.
And, um, it definitely had an impact because now Google could better understand what each page is about because it wasn’t just getting generic anchor text sent to it. So anyways, it’s really powerful for that . I can imagine. Speed it
Spencer: up. Absolutely. And, and just the reporting overall, you know, it, it helps when you’re, um, looking at your site.
Overall, what do I need to improve? One thing is I, I just go into my reports and you can see every link, you know the number of inbound internal links. Yep. There’s a report for that. You can just hit expand. And very quickly browse to see, is this really the anchor text? Right? You, you’ve got an article about A, B, C, and the anchor text is X, Y, Z and you’re like, you know, that’s really not what this article’s about.
Remove it. Right? And so it makes it easy to remove a bunch of those or just analyze to go, gosh, this has 50 inbound internal links. Do I really need to be putting all that link juice on this article? I actually don’t wanna rank that much. Um, and you know, side note that that happens a lot. I, I have an article on niche pursuits.
Um, it’s, people can try and find it if they want, but it was a guest post that somebody, you know, published on niche pursuits.com many years ago, eight, nine years ago, that was about building white hat internal links, right? Um, but for whatever reason, a lot of my writers thought that would be a good article to link to.
It would, it’s an article that has never ranked well, I. I’m not really trying to get it to rank well, you know, it’s just a guest post. So finally I did an audit and , so it’s got like, I don’t remember how many, you know, 30, 40 internal links. I’m like, yeah, I don’t wanna be sending link juice from these articles.
I am trying to rank on Google. Let’s remove that link. So they keep their pay rank. Mm-hmm. , you know, instead of passing it to this other article. And so Li Whisper made that easy, uh, to do and just remove that. And again, not a, not a plug for Li Whisper, but this was part of my process for that particular case.
Uh, there’s a setting you can go in and I finally just did this. You can put that. U r L is do not ever suggest internal links to that page. Oh, I didn’t know about that. Yeah, so I, and, and you can do categories. So I’ve actually got categories and, and that page that I. My authors will never see that as a suggested internal link again.
Jared: and like, well, and I, I brought it up again just to kind of fine tune the point, but I brought it up because I think there’s the classics you do when you update content, right? And we don’t need to dive into all those, but there’s a lot of times things that people do miss when they’re updating old content.
And one of those is those internal links that are pointing to it. And unless you’re, like, you don’t log into WordPress, open the page up and know what internal links are coming to us. So unless you’re actually including that as a part of your process, that could very easily get missed in your update, uh, updating of all content.
Spencer: So, yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. There’s, um, it, it’s just important to look at everything, right? Have a fresh set of eyes, look at Yeah. The content, the structures, new images maybe need to be added, you know, um, just looking at that content every year-ish. Um, especially your best performing content. Yeah. Um, , you know, and then of course the internal links is just so important.
Jared: Well, let’s get into the 878 new articles you published. Um, again, quick, back in the Apple math, you were 88% of the way to your, your goal of a thousand articles, which is a tremendously lofty goal. When you set out to do a thousand articles, was this like, did you sit down and kind of put together a keyword map, um, and say like, based on all of this, I think a thousand articles is the right number for us.
Was it more based on, um, like a, an internal metric, or was it just kind of a big pie in the sky goal that said, we wanna move the needle forward, I wanna start publishing optimized content and let’s just come up with a nice big.
Spencer: Yeah, it’s the latter. Um, just coming up with a big number. Um, I, I do, well when I commit to specific goals mm-hmm.
and I, I like to go big when I’m feeling confident, . Um, and sometimes setting a big goal actually makes me feel more confident. Um, I do this a lot with running, right? Setting a goal to run a marathon or run a marathon under a specific time. It’s sometimes not until I set that goal of like, , I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon and I want to do it in six months.
It’s kind of scary. I set this big goal and then all of a sudden I get really motivated to train really hard and work towards that goal. Right? Um, it’s the exact same thing with what happened here on niche pursuits is I need to set kind of a big scary goal. And a thousand articles is like five times beyond what I thought maybe should be normal.
Um, so let’s do that. Why not? And I, I’ve got some other friends that maybe encourage me to set big goals cuz they’re setting big crazy goals with their websites as well. Uh, one friend in particular that also was publishing about a thousand articles and he’s just crushing it, right? I’m like, gosh, I wanna see that trajectory of growth.
Growth. And he just says, in order to do that, you gotta publish a lot of content. There’s just no way around it. And so I bit the bullet, I set the goal. And I just, I set the number of, of a thousand because, you know, it’s just that nice round number. It’s this huge goal. Um, and so once I committed to it, I had to hire.
Yeah. There’s just no way around that. No. Crowded. Yeah. Did
Jared: you, um, this is a, a decision that, I mean, guy, probably every website owner, our listening right now has to face at some point, which is, do I start outsourcing to hit that next goal or do I keep doing it because I’m probably the best, I’m probably the most qualified.
I know the brand and all those sorts of things. And there’s a classic recommendations you could give on how to hire. And you already touched on some of the, the procedures you created, the processes you created. But I mean, were there any, any mistakes you made or things you might have learned along the way with outsourcing content on niche pursuits for really the first time ever, at least
Spencer: at scale?
Yeah. We went through a lot of growing pains. Um, One, gosh, lot of mistakes. . Um, one thing you wanna share? All of them ? Yeah. One thing that I guess we, we maybe did, did well, and then I’ll share the mistake that this didn’t fix all of that. But one thing that, that I like to do is just higher, uh, quickly. You can spend a ton of time, and I’ve made this mistake in the past of, um, you know, asking for all sorts of writing samples, maybe even, you know, exchanging tons of emails or maybe even getting on a call, right?
Um, w with authors, right? If I, but if I’m trying to hire 20, 25 authors, that is like a full-time job. And so what I did is I, I posted the job and do my best to filter and say, this looks like a decent writer. And then just give them an assignment, a a paid, paid article. That is just the best way to know if they’re actually a good writer.
And so, based on mistakes I’d made in the past, I pretty quickly just hired people and said, here, write this article. It’s going live on niche pursuits, right? Like, you’re, you’re an author, I’m paying you for it. And then firing quickly, right? If they, they produce the article and it’s not that great either, maybe don’t publish the article and, and just let ’em, you know, pay them anyways.
So I learned that through some of the mistakes. . Um, but even that, uh, once I turned over the reins to allow, um, my senior editor to start hiring, because there is a lot of turnover with writers. Yeah. We, we kept a nice core set, but there’s still always two or three on the fringes that we need to be replacing.
I turned over the reins of hiring to my senior editor and uh, he did a good job, but, uh, allowed some writers to stick around longer than they should have been allowed to stick around with. So that’s some of the growing pains that, that we made this year is not being more strict with some quality guidelines on certain authors.
We probably should let them go when we saw some initial mistakes in the first, you know, two or three articles, just let ’em go and try to find somebody different. Um, so that is definitely some of the mistakes that we’ve made because now we’re left with. Several articles that need updates, Uhhuh, that really weren’t written that well, that probably just need to be scrapped or rewritten.
And, and so that, um, has been one growing pain. Um, I’m trying to think of other things
Jared: that, well, let me ask you about that, cuz that dovetails nicely. Mm-hmm. I mean, hiring 20, well more than 20 writers, cuz if you have about 20 writers and, you know, you’ve had to let a few go along the way. You’ve obviously hired even more than that.
Like, what are some things at scale you’ve seen that Can that Mark A. Good writer? Have you seen any consistencies or anything stand out in the, in the, in the people you have that, like you said, make up your good core team of writers? Uh, you
Spencer: know, it’s one of those things, you just know a good writer when you see him.
It’s, it’s hard to explain, but I know when I. Start reading an article. I can tell, you know, within the first few paragraphs that this person just gets it right. They, they write in a conversational style or just a style that’s easy. Mm-hmm. . Um, it’s, it’s easy to read and understand. There’s no fluff. That’s a huge one.
Um, you might get authors that say all the right things and they’re smart, but, uh, there’s just a lot of fluff. You can, yeah. You can read, you know, half the article and I was like, well, that could have been said in a paragraph, you know, what did I really learn? And so a good article, uh, a good writer, you just know it when you see it.
I, and that’s so bad to say, uh, because I’m trying to train other people to do the same thing and I haven’t been able to successfully do that a hundred percent. Yeah. Um, so for me it’s kind of, I, I no fluff, um, easy to read, meaning that their, their sentences are structured well. Um, they’re short. Um, and then the third is content knowledge or, you know, sort of niche knowledge, expertise and, and expertise.
You know, niche pursuits is hard to hire for that. Somebody that just kind of gets the affiliate marketing world, SEO world. Um, I can very quickly when I read an article go, you know what, this person has probably never done keyword research or actually tried to rank an article and the writing about something that’s kind of, sort of related to that.
Right. And so just, um, yeah, expertise. Um, ki kind of shows through, uh, pretty quickly if you are an expert Yeah. In your
Jared: space. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense. I, yeah, I was curious if you had gone like, on this big kind of training program or if it was really more about.
Hire experts and let the ones that want to, uh, write a lot of articles, like if they’re doing a good job and they wanna write a lot, let them just continue to, to pour over the content.
Spencer: Yeah. That’s the more, uh, accurate statement there is. When I find. People that are experts, um, I really latch onto them, give them as much work as they want, um, and, uh, yeah, try to focus on on those good quality authors.
Jared: So you mentioned keyword research. Perfect transition. Who did all the keyword research? Was it you, uh, uh, doing all the keyword research? I gotta feel like that’s something you was probably one of the last things that you would wanna let go of , just knowing your background. Yeah,
Spencer: it is, it is. Um, I did pretty much all the keyword research.
Um, I went through and, uh, you know, developed a nice keyword plan. I, I would kind of do it in batches of a hundred to 200 keywords at a time, is really what I would do is go, okay, here’s the next a hundred keywords. I’d put it in a spreadsheet. Uh, the authors all had access to that spreadsheet so they could pick any of those at 100 or 200 keywords that were available.
And assign themselves. So I would not, it, it eliminates a step, right? Mm-hmm. , I shared access to a Google spreadsheet where authors could do a lot of stuff, um, was helpful. So I would do all the keyword research, uh, towards the latter half of the year. Um, I did have a senior editor help me do some keyword research, but I was still very much involved in, I would look at every single one of those keywords and approve, or decline them before the author saw those.
Jared: I’ve gotta ask you because, and, and I’ll give you, I’ll give you a little context for it. I, um, preparing for this interview, I, I popped, I knew we were talking about growth. I knew you published a lot of articles, uh, this year, and I knew we were gonna be talking about that. So I popped niche pursuits into H Refs and was looking at the keywords.
Um, and I was kind of blown away. There’s all sorts of topics I didn’t even know about that, uh, that niche pursuit has published articles on, uh, ha now ranks really high. Some of these are number top, number one spots for high volume keywords. And it got me thinking about, man, there’s some, uh, it feels like there’s some real strategy, not just to finding good keywords, but when you’re writing upwards of a thousand articles, I mean, were you, like, maybe just talk about the bigger picture of the research process because it seems like you’ve almost gone on an entirely new topical silos.
It seems like you’ve really gone down, uh, into, into depth on. On, on really in-depth silos. I guess that’s probably the best way to keep coming back to that I didn’t even really see prior to this year. Niche pursuit’s talking about.
Spencer: Right? Yeah, that’s a great question. And that opens up a whole topic here that, uh, yeah, I haven’t really mentioned.
And, um, so historically, niche pursuits.com, you know, it has been all about building niche websites. Yes. Affiliate marketing, right? That is, that is the core and still, I feel is the core. Um, but that is an incredibly difficult market to rank for when you start and a fairly, fairly
Jared: thin or, uh, uh, uh, narrow one.
Spencer: It, it, it is, right? So the fact that I was getting, you know, call it 3000 visitors a day in that space, it still put me as, you know, one of the top blogs in, in that space, right? Um, when you start looking at SEO blogs, right, like Backlinko or WordPress blogs like WP Beginner or Moz, or right. All of a sudden you’re competing in this.
Insanely competitive market. Mm-hmm. . And so I, I had to take an honest look and it was like, okay, am I fine with getting 3000, 4,000, 5,000 visitors a day, but, but getting this great, targeted, super valuable traffic, or do I wanna build niche pursuits into something bigger that can get a lot more traffic and make money in perhaps other ways?
Right. Um, and I, I chose the latter and the only way to, to do that is to expand the topics that I would be covering. Right. Uh, and so I decided, you know, what, what’s tangentially related to affiliate marketing? Well, there’s digital marketing as a whole, and that can over uncover all kinds of topics.
YouTube, Twitter, social media, right? So if you look at a lot of content I’m ranking for, it’s, it’s stuff related to some of that. Uh, it al also opens up sort of the silo of side hustles, right? What are some side hustles that people can be doing online besides affiliate marketing and seo, right? And that opens up a ton of keywords.
Um, right? And so that did open up a lot. And so a lot of the traffic is coming from like, okay, what are, what is a side hustle that a team can do online? Right? Maybe that’s not what the niche pursuits podcast listener, you know, wants, wants to hear about. Ok. We haven’t had one of those on,
Jared: uh, we haven’t had one of those on yet.
Spencer: right? Um, you know, is is topics like, oh, a team could flip sneakers online, right? Um, but there is a lot of people that do wanna do that. And so I want niche pursuits to be kind of an authority on like, Hey, these are legitimate business opportunities online that you can pursue. And if you happen to be ever building a website, join my email list and, uh, I got lots of great digital marketing tips, right?
Um, yeah. So, so that was part of it. And then the other big strategy was what I guess I’ll call following Google’s lead on that, right? So say I published a few hundred articles, then it’s going back and looking at what worked really well with those few hundred articles, what type of article, um, you know, is, is doing well, right?
And so, and then follow that rabbit hole, right? Like, okay, if I publish some articles about YouTube, uh, or, um, you know, sort of low-cost business ideas, find more keywords related to that mm-hmm. and or that, you know, type of keyword, um, that keyword structure if you will. And so that became a lot of what I did as well.
It’s like, okay, Google’s telling me that I should write about, X, y, Z topic. I’m gonna do that and just publish a ton of content about that. We’ll, I’ll in on that.
Jared: Yeah. On what Google’s rewarding you with initially.
Spencer: Exactly. Yep. Exactly. Y
Jared: when you came up with these, uh, new related silos, were you looking just at the keyword opportunities?
You know, I mean, I, we don’t need to get into the rabbit hole on, you know, volumes and difficulties and all that stuff, but was it more about the keyword or were you also trying to align new and highly, highly profitable monetization methods with those keywords as you were kind of looking around at which silos to go after?
Spencer: Yeah. Um, so it was, uh, sort of three different strategies. One is, um, like I said, what’s already, uh, working well on, on niche pursuits and how can I produce more of that content, right? Uh, the other type of keyword is exactly like you said, what can I monetize? Well, what has a good. You know, affiliate program that is related to, to my niche, right?
Can I do a review of this software tool? Um, and, and that can be a well monetized article. And a lot of, you know, reviews, especially in the digital marketing space, don’t get a lot of traffic, right? They, they’re just low, typically low, um, volume keywords that are hard to rank for, unfortunately, especially in this space.
Um, but they, they can be valuable. Mm-hmm. , right? And so that’s, that’s the other type. And then, um, the third type I guess is really just what, what is my, um, core audience? Um, that, that gets a lot of oppor, that, that has a lot of opportunity. Uh, high search volume, right? Can just get me a lot of traffic, um, and, and sort of fits my, my core audience.
And again, it,
Jared: it probably goes without saying for you, but I’ll say it cuz a lot of people, you know, listening forget, potentially can forget how interconnected. Niche pursuits is right? Like it’s not just about ranking the article and getting the affiliate commission from that article, but you also have an email list that you drive people to the email list, and then from the email list, uh, podcast grows from the email list.
You can also move into other products and other types of things. So it’s really so interconnected that it’s not just about, say, ranking that best of article, getting the affiliate commission and moving along
Spencer: a hundred percent. And so, um, you know, people probably generally understand my business model, but just to say it explicitly, right, is yes, I want a ton of traffic and I actually just added, um, display ads on, I was gonna ask you about that.com.
I was gonna ask you about that, right? And so, um, informational articles are now making money. You know, every day I, I make affiliate commissions. Uh, from that I make affiliate commissions on my email list, right? I can send an email related, um, to a product. So, Even if, uh, traffic is coming to an informational article that is not monetized, I’m cool with that.
Right? If it’s related to digital marketing, they might get on my email list. They might, uh, then eventually buy a digital product. But the real kicker here is that those people might be interested in my products Link whisper, right? They, they might, if they’re initially searching for something about WordPress, you know, how do I fix this in WordPress?
And they land on an article on niche pursuits.com, that’s a great visitor. And if they end up on my email list, even if they don’t buy anything for a year, if they turn around and then buy Link Whisper, um, that’s, that’s a huge backend, um, product for me. Right? And so, so it’s all very connected. Um, and so, you know, even though I’ve got display ads that is, you know, sort of bottom of the.
End of the spectrum of like what I really care about. Um, but it is bringing a nice amount of money just because I have a ton of articles that, um, as I follow Google Leads, right? There are some articles that’s like, eh, I don’t know if that person is ever going to Yeah. Be interested in link whisper. Like it just, it’s kind of sort of related, but I’ll just make the display ad revenue on that visitor.
Well, it’s really
Jared: taking , you almost, I don’t wanna say when about it backwards cuz that would, that would absolutely not be the right way to say it, but, Niche pursuits was a brand well before you embarked on this growth strategy, but you’ve used, you’ve really like what you have in front of you, especially over the last year.
And then the interview we have here, recapping the last year is a lesson and how to create a brand online, not just how to grow a blog. You know, and your blog has grown tremendously, but the traffic pales in comparison when you compare that to what the impact has been on your traffic. Your email subscribers, podcast growth.
Lin Whisper growth probably, you know, and, and, uh, and revenue. Because, because, because you’ve built a brand that benefits multiple layers from each thing that you’re doing. And it’s just, again, it’s a great walkthrough, everybody listening. It’s, um, you know, if you’re brand new at starting a website, yeah, getting, um, a hundred dollars a day for media Vine is a huge accomplishment.
But think about all the other ways you can monetize and grow that traffic down the road. Because at some point, you know, it could just be the tip of the iceberg, like you’re saying, for, for, for your traffic.
Spencer: Right. And so if I were to give advice to anybody sort of starting out is I think the better route is to build a brand right to almost.
E even though it’s taken me so many years to really like tap into like huge Google traffic, like in the beginning, maybe don’t worry too much about SEO traffic. Build a brand, do something interesting. Get people to join your email list, to follow you on Twitter, to, to, to recognize you as the face of your brand because they become loyal to you as, as a person and as a brand.
And if you sort of share your personality, even if it’s. You know, sharing, um, income updates, right? Or things that are never gonna rank in Google like I did. I don’t, I wouldn’t call that a mistake, you know, of, of everything that I did that’s, that’s built a very healthy brand, um, a great following podcast listeners, people that look to me for advice and tips and strategies, right?
And now that I have that base, I can kind of build and, and grow traffic and, and do a whole lot more. But, uh, I really am funneling all of that back into the, the, the email list and the bigger brand so that I’m not just reliant on Google, right? Because if I had, uh, this website that’s getting 20,000 visitors a day, and it’s all from Google and I don’t have an email list, I don’t have a brand that’s a very scary business, but me putting a thousand articles to try and grow the Google traffic, I can do that because I’ve got this nice base.
Jared: You almost answered the question, but I’ll ask it if you could. What do you think out of the different areas of, of the niche pursuits brand, the, the traffic to the website, um, the email list, uh, the YouTube channel, the podcast probably missing one or two, but what do you think is the most valuable out of all those to the brand?
Spencer: Yeah. Hands down it’s the email list.
Jared: Yeah. And that’s what you kind of were hinting at earlier.
Spencer: Yeah. Which, which is crazy, but uh, you know, so it’s like if I were to put my, my whole website and all the traffic on a table and my email list on another table, and I can only choose one table, like, I would probably give up the whole website and just say, , I’m keeping the email list.
As crazy as that sounds like, wow. That’s how valuable it is because, um, I can’t really reach everybody with my, you know, if I pub, like if I didn’t have my email list and I just published an article on my blog, a thousand, 2000 people might read that. Mm-hmm. . Right. But if I. Send one email, it reaches significantly more than one or 2000 people.
Jared: What, um, I don’t need exact numbers, anything like that, but what has, um, like we’ve talked so much about how you’ve grown the website traffic. What have the effects been in other areas like h what kind of email growth have you gotten? What kind of growth on YouTube or the podcast or maybe revenue, like what other numbers have changed as a byproduct of your focus on growing organic traffic?
Spencer: Yeah, so the email list has grown. It’s, um, probably grown, you know, 20, 25%, something like that. Uh, which maybe doesn’t sound like a lot. And, uh, I wish it was higher. I wish I was getting more opt-ins every day. But the number of opt-ins every day are definitely going up. Mm-hmm. , thanks to the increased traffic, um, the YouTube channel has grown primarily Thanks to you Jared, and the podcast.
Uh, the podcast has seen growth. Again, because I’ve removed myself and now it’s finally consistent and it’s got a great structure and, you know, uh, people can, can turn to that and, um, get, get value from that. Um, and so the podcast is, and really the YouTube, the
Jared: YouTube channel really is like the podcast I think it is.
I don’t check it religiously, but , I don’t need to see myself. Yeah. But, uh, there’s, that’s most of what the YouTube channel really is, so you could probably kind of merge the podcast and YouTube channel together into one
Spencer: channel. Really. Yeah. And, um, so those have seen growth. Uh, I, I, I’ve seen growth on Twitter.
That’s not because of me publishing more content on niche pursuits, though, that’s just because I’ve been more active on Twitter. Um, but maybe I’m more active on Twitter because now I have time to be active on, uh, on Twitter finally. Um, and, uh, yeah, just the final thing I’ll, I’ll say is that, uh, you know, I said maybe my email list is the most valuable.
Probably the podcast is the second most valuable, um,
Jared: may after all that growth. And I, I just think it goes back after all the growth you’ve had on the website. I, it’s just, I. Maybe the bigger highlight is how you’ve done a really good job connecting that traffic to the other areas of your business.
Because if you hadn’t connected that traffic to the overall brand, then you probably wouldn’t be sitting here saying that. I’ve gotta imagine, you know, but the fact that it’s not just about getting the traffic, but how you’ve connected that to the other areas of the brand, that probably really makes the success story even
Yeah. Yep. Absolutely. So, um, it’s, yeah, the, the, the, the brand, the podcast, the email list, those are great. Those have driven a lot of, um, growth in, in Link whisper and, and other businesses that I’ve been involved with. And, um, this year is all, again, been all about, you know, growing, uh, the traffic finally and turning, you know, just the traffic into a.
Source of revenue, you know, a great source of revenue. Um, and uh, I’d love to continue that over the next year. You know, I’d love to double it again this year. If I can be getting a million visitors a month, um, on niche pursuits like that would just be amazing. Um, well,
Jared: 2023, are we, I mean, you like big goals.
Should we just, uh, throw it out there? 5,000 articles? Uh,
Spencer: there you go. Take my goal five x that. I like the way you think . Um, You know, I do have big goals. Um, it’s not quite a thousand articles, but it still will be a very healthy, um, you know, I’m probably gonna do close to 700 articles plus a lot of content, uh, updates.
So I’m gonna kind of keep that machine running at what I think is an efficient, um, process, uh, to, to do there. Um, and then I, yeah, I have some, some other big ideas as well outside of just publishing more content. Um, in terms of, you know, I’d like to maybe invest in some other ideas or try some other, um, sort of fun, um, side hustle ideas and maybe even do some more, um, dedicated YouTube videos, produce some more, uh, interesting content on YouTube and grow that, uh, channel because I do feel like video it’s, it’s already here.
Um, you know, I feel like video is the future. Um, I love blogs, I love reading. I love content. That’ll always be near and dear to my heart, but I have to be honest, when I look at the younger generation, I look at my kids, they go to YouTube as a search engine, you know, they type in something, they go there for entertainment.
And uh, so if I truly want to tap into that younger generation, um, the video search, I need to be on YouTube. And so I feel like I’m gonna put a lot of effort into growing that channel, uh, this year,
Jared: 2023 maybe the year of video for niche pursuits. That’s right. Yep. Very good. Um, any final thoughts on 2022 in recap and, uh, where you know where things are going, uh, in 2023?
Spencer: So, I will just say that people shouldn’t be afraid to set big goals, set a big goal, find some people to motivate you, maybe a little mastermind group. You know, I’ve had a couple bloggers that I’ve worked with, you know, buddies that, uh, we chat about this and, um, I went through the first half of this year.
Seeing very little growth. Hmm. I, I was publishing, you know, 80, 90 articles a month and seeing very little growth. Um, it, it was growth, but not like, oh my goodness, I’m spending this much money on 80 articles a month. Is this really worth it type growth? Yeah. Okay. And so I had a couple buddies that are like, you just need to stick with it.
Trust me, this SEO game takes a long time. And I know that you know that. But again, people can do the calculations in their head for how much money I was spending. Right. Um, unfortunately
Jared: I was just doing it and I’m like, woo, .
Spencer: And these are not small little articles, right. These are not, uh, and this industry, you can’t get away with publishing a thousand, 1500 word article.
It just. It doesn’t happen. Right? Yeah. And so these are, these are in-depth, you know, good writers and so it’s very scary. Um, and so having, so setting, real, setting goals that you can’t achieve, having people to like, encourage you not to do anything stupid, um, but to stick with your goals. Yeah. And then it was really in July, August, September that I finally started to see all of this growth.
And by then I was like, I am so glad I stuck with this. Yeah. Because had I not, this growth probably would not have happened. And so that’s sort of the final tidbit that, that I guess I’ll share is just that, um, set big goals, stick with it, have people around you to, to keep you motivated. And the the growth can come, uh, in time.
And I don’t remember if there was a second part to your question there, uh, or not.
Jared: No, I ju any final thoughts on 2023? You’ve shared about YouTube and you’ve shared basically the engine, you’re gonna keep going at 700 articles plus the updates. Yep. Um, I would dovetail that also, like, and maybe this will be my final question for you on it, is, It’s funny because we started the conversation today by recapping what we talked about a year ago and a year ago.
It was really all about removing yourself from a lot of processes. There’s a tendency when you see people at the top of an organization start to remove themselves, there’s actually a tendency because they have more time for more projects to get created, you know, and you seem to have done a good job about staying really focused on niche pursuits, link whisper, and just really letting the other things, not just, not that you’re not just a part of them, but you actually let them really just take care of themselves.
And you didn’t dive into any new projects, I, you might have, but from, from what it looks like, you really stayed focused on niche pursuits. And I think that’s also something that, um, like avoiding the shiny object syndrome to some degree and staying true to your goal. Yeah, you needed motivation along the way, but you actually had to stick with something for a full year and not, not see a new idea along the way and
Yes. That, that has been my mantra all year is don’t start any new projects. is, I’m looking at a, you know, potentially huge business. I’ve got a great brand, invest in this brand. Uh, and that, that’s what I decided, you know, before, um, 2022 started is I will not start any new projects and I did not. Um, and that’s really hard because I was presented with a lot of really great opportunities.
Um, I invested in a couple of ideas Yeah. But I was very clear that I am not going to operate or be involved in these businesses. Right. Here’s some money you do it. Um, and, uh, so I’m gonna, uh, probably continue to do that in 2023, where my. Biggest focus is on niche pursuits. It’s Onlin whisper, growing those.
But I’m going to allow myself, um, I shouldn’t say start something new because everything that I’m going to start will dovetail and be content for niche pursuits.com. Yeah. Right. So if I start a little site hustle, like for example, I’ve tweeted about this, I learned about the Amazon influencer program and create, you can create videos and make money directly on Amazon.
Maybe I’ll talk about this more in the future, but that’s a little side hustle that, uh, I think the niche pursuits audience would like to hear about. Mm-hmm. . And so I’m gonna try that on my own. I’m gonna create some videos. I’m gonna try and make a little bit of money with the Amazon influencer program.
Then I’m gonna share what I learned through YouTube and blog, right? So anything new that I do start, that’s my requirement, is it has to be good content for niche pursuits. Makes
Jared: sense. Well, congratulations on five Vaccine Ugan Traffic, . Maybe that’ll be the headline for the story for the, uh, the interview.
But I mean, like you said, like, uh, 20,000 sessions a day at the time of recording is, is absolutely amazing. And um, like with every good story, like, you know, halfway into this year, it sounds like it was not crickets, but just nowhere near the kind of growth that we’re talking about today. So, and I’m glad you shared all the details, like you really got into some of the details.
So I learned a lot. Thanks for coming on and hopefully. We’ll do this again before 2023, uh, is over .
Spencer: Yeah. No, this has been a lot of fun. Jared, thank you everybody for listening to the podcast. I really appreciate your support as listeners. Jared does a great job. Um, and, uh, yeah, here’s to great 2023 to everybody in their goals and hopefully what I’ve shared with NI pursuits can just be a little bit of inspiration for people as they set their goals, whether that’s big publishing goals or otherwise.
Um, I’m gonna just keep trucking along and hopefully see some more growth here. That’s
Jared: great. That’s great. And, and the fun thing about it is we all know how to follow along on what you’re doing, you know? Um, and so, uh, it’s, it’s really, it, it really is a build in public kind of, uh, kind of scenario here,
Spencer: Absolutely. Yep. Follow [email protected] So thanks a lot. Thanks Venture. We’ll talk soon. Thank you. Hey everyone, it’s Spencer Haws here, founder of the Niche Pursuits Podcast. So I recently read a Twitter thread asking about the most underrated strategy in seo. One of the most common answers given was internal link building.
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